Welcome to My Bag of Tricks

This is a blog to share the things I discover, create and love. I have a passion for creating interesting things, and an equal passion for sharing how it's done! Join me on my journey, and watch what I'll pull out of my bag of tricks!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Correspondence Box!

The youngest daughter said she didn't really want anything for her birthday except something I made or money. She was trying to save up for her Opera Workshop this summer, which by the way is going very well.  She mentioned some time ago that she would love some kind of kit full of things to write letters and stamps and maybe make a few cards for those occasions she needs them real quick.   Hmmm, what would be the perfect container for such a kit?  Then I spied it, sitting in my entry hall, a vintage overnight bag! You know the thing, kind of boxy and stout with ample room for stuff.  It had already been decorated a bit by the previous owner so I just added a few more decorations in the form of a few fairies and Behold! The Perfect
Container for the kit.

She loves vintage, old looking things so this was Excellent. 

 I decided I needed to line the inside lid so I picked up some vintage looking paper with a travel to Paris theme and I was set. After a bit of Mod Podge and with a bit of black elastic and a staple gun I made little places to hang things. (scissors, adhesive,pens, whatever)

Next I made a bunch of blank cards and some decorative paper fronts, then I whipped up some embellishments that could be mixed and matched. Sentiments! She needed sentiments so I made a variety of add-ons that would be perfect for the occasion of the moment, (birthday, get well,  thank you, sympathy, congratulations.)  I made each type of embellishment a box and labeled them. I added all the necessary glues and adhesives and included some stickers and jewels, some assorted sizes in envelopes and filled an  envelope with all the different kinds of postage she might need and I had created the ultimate away from home Correspondence Box!  I'm pretty proud of it, and the best things is, she loves it, and uses it!

The finished box in all its glory. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Pioneer Days in Monticello

I did my booth at Pioneer Day in Monticello.  I've been preparing for this for a while as I've told you.  I had one goal in mind, I wanted to buy the Luttlerloh Pattern sewing system so I can sew better fitting things for my girls, and me I suppose.
 My booth was well stocked, I made it like a mini boutique for dolls.
   I DID IT!!!!!  I reached my  goal, and my new pattern system is on its way!  First project, performance dress for Jennifer.
 It was fun, but sooo stinking hot.  I almost melted, and I'm sure I could have burst into flames at any given moment!  But let's not remember that.  I did well enough that I've signed up to go do another booth, this time in Enterprise, UT . My sweet daughter in law set me up and since she's going to help her mom with a booth, I'm going with her and my son.   What a shame, more sewing time!  LOL

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Geppetto....or is that The Shoemaker......

Look, I even have hoodies!!!
She called me Geppetto the other day, and I looked at her and said..."No, Geppetto made a boy for himself, that's not what I'm doing here!" Her reply...."You made me!"  "Ok, fine, so that makes you Pinnochio or Pinochiette...Dance, or better yet, cut out some more soles for these shoes!"  I'm sewing, sewing, and sewing some more.  All kinds of fun things for an 18 inch girl/doll to wear.  Jeans, T-shirts, Capris, Bermuda Shorts, Jumpers, Princess Dresses and Shoes!!! I love making shoes!  I'm filling a booth for the Pioneer Day celebration here in Monticello.  I haven't done a craft booth on this scale in quite a few years.  I got my feet wet again around Christmas, and decided I would give it another whirl.  Come see me on July 21 at Veteran's Memorial Park here in Monticello, Utah.  And if you have any 18" doll lovers in your circle, do I have some great Christmas,Birthday, any time gifts for you!

Friday, June 8, 2012


Jeans and a cute t-shirt.... essentials for any girl's wardrobe.  Right?!  I've mastered sewing jeans, and I whipped up this "sweet" baseball T for the 18" doll.  I had to share a picture I was so proud of myself!  The pockets are just like the real big people version, as are the back pockets.   I used Expressions t-shirt vinyl to put the words on the shirt.  EASY!!!!
I'll post more and better pictures later when I have the time and the camera to do it right. Last night I settled for the phone camera and didn't clean off the work area to give the illusion that I'm a tidy person! 
Thanks to Liberty Jane Patterns for the amazing jeans and t-shirt patterns!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Just 5 minutes!

For Mother's Day, my daughter Jennifer gave me a little journal, it's all plain so I can decorate it, and in the back it has a little pocket.  In this pocket, she inserted a little article about writing in journals.  She knows that some years ago, I stopped writing in my journal, this was mostly due to the fact that I was going through some very heart wrenching events and I found my journal to be depressing and full of sad things. I didn't want my future loved ones to read such miserable stuff, and so I fell out of the journal writing habit.  But, Jennifer wants to know what I think, and who I am, so being the persistent person she is, she gave me this journal.  I like the idea of decorating it, and after reading the article, I've given myself permission to write in my journal again because the article indicated that I should set  a timer for 5 minutes, and just write whatever comes to my mind, even if it's just a list!  How easy is that!  I started doing this every night, and I love it!  I don't always record events of the day, I just write what's on my mind, which truly is a better way to come to know me. I think some pretty strange things sometimes, and random thoughts blow through my head on a regular basis. So at least my journal will be great entertainment for generations to come and they'll know who I really was.  I'm  not formal, I just write precisely what my mind is thinking at that moment.  You should try it, it's very freeing and reflects who you really are.
Happy Journaling!!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Thoughts.....What I'm up to.....etc......

Since my last post, I've purchased a couple theme books to create my Commonplace books, sewed 5  princess dresses wrapped them in white tissue paper and put them in lovely miniature dress boxes and made a dozen cards.  I also learned how to make a photo box so I can take better pictures for the blog. I just need to put it together.  I've also been to Northern Utah twice, once to attend a concert  that Jennifer's Masterworks Chorale choir gave at The Cathedral of the Madeline, and again this past week to attend Jennifer's vocal recital in which she performed two incredible songs.  I love to hear her sing.  I took Chantelle on this trip and we made it a fun girls time. We attended a couple movies and went up Provo Canyon and had a picnic hiked around Bridal Veil Falls, shopped. We just had fun together!  But now it's time to put the nose to the grindstone and get some creations on this blog!  We'll see how the day off pans out.......In the meantime though, here's a picture of my goofball girls on our picnic.....
They called this picture....Mom Kidnapped Us!  I tell you, it is never boring hanging out with these two!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Common Place Books

As many of you may or may not know, I'm a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, I've read all the stories, and own several copies of the complete collections of Sherlock Holmes.  Anyway, Sherlock Holmes is always putting things in his "common place book"; I have wondered for some time exactly what that was.  I've done a bit of research and found out that during Victorian times people would write down things they had learned, formulas, recipes, poems, stories, whatever they thought was of importance and wanted to remember.I am going to start one for things I hear and learn.  It sounds lovely, and like another excuse to use all that lovely designer paper to make a cover.  I think a little theme notebook would work nicely, and would be easier to tote about. I'm always learning something or hearing a quote I like and I forget too easily these days.  It would also be nice to make one just for my crafting. I know there is Pinterest, but I love the feel of a book and turning each leaf to peruse what I've recorded. I also have ideas all the time and need a place to record them.  Hmmm....two lovely books covered in luscious designer paper...... Elementary!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Princess dresses in production

I've been trying with all my might to get my little AG doll clothing business going which means sewing,sewing,sewing....buuuutttttt.....life sometimes has other ideas for me. I get lots of requests for my presence and help and I do appreciate that I'm needed and loved, but I need a bit of time here people!
I've learned to make shoes, real shoes for the dolls which I'm quite proud of, and I did get this dress sewed up....almost. I still need to finish the back opening.  I love princess dresses......that's because I'm a princess....well maybe a Queen now.

Please excuse the background chaos, I'm in the middle of a creative frenzy.  I'll wave my magic wand later and poof....back to normal.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Snow Suits and Re-Purposing.....

My most adorable niece lives near me, and has an 18" doll named Martha. Martha is very special and a dear companion to said niece. I understand, I had cherished dolls too, in fact two of those dolls sit in my room always, and when I move, they don't go in a box, they travel with me and are set out immediately.  I had many dolls as a child, but these two are most beloved. Anyway, I digress.  Since I understand this love of dolls and since I LOVE  to sew anything doll related, Martha has a wardrobe to make any Hollywood starlet jealous.  But, she didn't have a snow suit!  My niece was worried about this because Martha goes everywhere with her and she was getting cold.  With her huge eyes and charming little face, she once again came to me and shyly asked if I could make Martha a Snow Suit!!! A Snow Suit?! Ummmmmm, I slept on it, and pondered it and finally decided I would re-purpose an old coat!  This also meant making a pattern for a pair of snow pants and a coat. I visited the Salvation Army thrift store in Cortez, Colorado and picked up a nice coat for just a couple dollars and went home and de-constructed it.......( aka: cut it all up!)  Theresa, I'll be coming to your store soon for more coats! 

You can see I'm cutting off the sleeve here.
Then I designed a pattern. I use paper towels to do pattern designing because you can try it on the doll as you go. It acts like fabric, and if needed, you can even sew it.
This is the snow pants pattern I finally decided was right.
Coats have filling, that's what keeps you warm and makes them puffy so you have to sew carefully.
Yes, I'm still using the antique!
I used the rib knit cuff material from the coat to make the cuffs on the  little coat, and waistband and collars on the pants and coat.  It all worked quite nicely.
Here are the snow pants.....
And here's the whole outfit with coat!
I decided since the coat had a label, I'd add said label to the outfit.....so I did......

I now know how to make snow suits, and I have enough coat left over to make one maybe two more. And, I know more what I'm doing so the next one should be even better.   Martha always gets the prototype!
FYI, I'm diving into this 18" doll clothes market, so keep your eyes out for my soon to be coming Etsy site!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Latest Creations.....Made on the Antique!

I think I'm in Love with this antique machine.  It is the smoothest, consistent sewing machine I've ever used.  It's so nice that instead of just finishing the little t-shirt/jeans outfit, I made two and another little jumper dress with blouse. I looked at my clock and it was 3 am!!!! Wow!!! I didn't even hear my bed calling me.  See what love does to you! 
Here are the two little t-shirt/jeans outfits I whipped out, please excuse how dark the picture is, I'm not all together that late or early depending on whether you're getting in or out of your bed.
I'm thinking I'm going to sew me a few more little outfits......I know some wonderful little girls who have dolls!
Now I'm off to Las Vegas to listen to my niece sing in a big performance! Plus I get to see my sister and my own sweet song bird, Jennifer!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

More Tales of a Sewing Machine.....Oh My!

So I borrowed a sewing machine from my church. The sweet lady in charge of that dropped it off at my house while I was at work.  I had sewed on our church's sewing machine before, it's a lovely older Bernina, kind of like mine, so I was prepared for a relaxed evening of sewing.
I carried the sewing machine in its case to my room and set it lovingly on the table, Oh what a night I was going to have.....Little did I know exactly what a night I was going to have!!!!!!!
I opened the case and............Oh My!!!
This is an antique!  This is something I'm not sure I can do!  I drove quickly to the church and looked in all the cupboards for that elusive Bernina....it was NOT there....Who took the Bernina?  Really?
By this point I was feeling a little panicky, but a little voice in my head said, "Pull it together girl, your Mom sewed on one of these once, your Grandmama and your Great Gran, you can do this, you come from a long line of amazing women."  I went home ready to tackle the unknown.  I sat down to thread it and was completely baffled, everything was there, but it didn't thread the way anything I've ever used threaded.  And again that little voice said....."You have the internet!"  Duh!!! YouTube saved the day, they had a video with just this same machine and how to thread it, put the bobbin in and even wind a bobbin.  I fiddled around with sewing different stitch lengths and discovered reverse and I was on my way.  The only thing this machine doesn't do that I kind of need is zigzag.  I love this machine, it's so smooth and sews like a dream.  After too much time had elapsed, I actually completed an outfit and a half! I'll show you the other one when I finish it.

I had to have her model the new dress beside the machine that made it!  Now comes the hilarious part...
Years and years and years ago, my Mom gave me an old sewing machine that had belonged to my Great Gran, I wanted it because it came in this amazing table that folds the machine inside so you can use the top. I use it as my nightstand.  As I was sewing along on the borrowed antique, I realized I have that same machine, sitting right beside my bed!!!!! Oh brother......When I return this sweetheart, I'm breaking out my Great Gran's machine until mine comes home from the doctor. Who knows, I may just keep sewing on it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tales of a Sewing Machine.....

As many of you know, I love to sew, especially for other people and especially for other people's dolls.  I got a request for some doll clothes for a birthday. I was so excited to get home and get to sewing.  I broke out the fabric stash and found just the right fabrics and cut them out. Then I pulled out my beloved sewing machine.  It has been acting strange lately, but it seemed ok. It turns itself off, and I know what it is, it's the plug for the power supply cord. But, it wasn't too annoying until last night. The sewing machine simply would not stay on!  You will laugh, but I even taped the cord down in just the right position but that gave out too.  Imagining myself a handyman I unscrewed the back panel and took it off. Hmmm......Greek to me! So after putting it back on, it wouldn't even pretend to come on.  Whoa is me....I LOVE my sewing machine. I bought it myself, I picked it out from the sewing machine store, it was the one that looked at me with big eyes and I was in love.
 Ok, so it doesn't have eyes, but I do love it.  Looks like it's making a trip to the Sewing Machine Doctor in Provo next week.  Thank goodness Jennifer is meeting us all in Vegas and can take it back.  In the meantime, I'm borrowing a machine to whip out a few little outfits.  I'll post pics when I'm finished.  

Monday, March 5, 2012

Beautiful Crafts from the Auto Parts Store! Really!

This week I'm going to make these cute little bracelets with the American Girl Doll Book Club. They are so cute and simple, and best of all......inexpensive!
I think I puzzle the men at our local auto/home supply store on a regular basis because I often go in to buy auto/hardware type things for crafting, not at all what they were made to do. Years ago I saw this wonderful clear plastic tubing on their shelves in the back and I've been trying to devise some way to play with it.  Well, this week I did!
To make these charming little bracelets, you will need about 8 inches of clear tubing with an inside diameter of 1/4 inch. This size is for little girls, to make a longer one, of course you'll need a bit more. You will most likely trim the 8" to fit the specific girl.
Also you will need to get some 3/8" inside diameter tubing. You'll only need  one inch per bracelet.
Gather up some tiny beads (ones that will fit in the bigger tube) and glitter if you want.
I used beads I had on hand in my stash.
Slide the little tube into one end of the big tube, like this...
Then fill the big tube with as many beads/glitter as you like.  I didn't use glitter because I didn't have the kind that would look good in it. I think larger glitter would be best.  Now.....fill the tube with water, leaving a bit empty so you get some movement. Be sure and block one end of the tube or you'll just send all the water out the other side. No, I didn't do that!  If you're not using glitter, I suppose you could skip the water, but water is so fun.
Slide the open end of the tube over the little tube as far as it will go and Voila'....A really cool bracelet.
The bracelets for all 12 girls cost less than $4!  How cool is that!
Get crafting.....

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I wish I knew why I had the anxiety when I start a new endevour. I know I can do it, but I just worry and beat myself up. Years ago when I started my porcelain doll business, I did the same thing.  Luckily I had a wonderful friend who also did dolls who helped me and directed me to the best way to be profitable.  She got me to teach all over Utah Valley in night classes, and in my home and I taught at the college. But when we would go to do Big doll shows, I would be a nervous wreck the whole time. I did ok, but my teaching always trumped my selling.  I love teaching and people aren't critiquing your wares.  I loved competition for some reason, and entered and did well in those, but for some reason people looking at my dolls for sale and deciding to buy was just too much judgement.  I guess with competitions there are specific criteria and I could meet those. (BTW, I'm a trained porcelain doll judge so I had a wee advantage) 
I've been looking on ebay and Etsy to get some ideas for what is selling and for how much.  Ebay is a little tawdry in my eyes for selling handmade things.  Kind of like a big ol' swap meet.  I'm leaning toward Etsy.  I suppose I should just jump in the water and quit dilly dallying on the sidelines. So, if you see me all pale and wan looking,  you'll know why. 
Onward.................and Upward.........wish me luck..............

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Little Buckaroos.....

I've decided to go into the business of making embellishments for people so they can make their own cards or put them in their scrapbooks or whatever.
The mascot for our schools is the Buckaroo....a fancy name for a cowboy really if truth be told, but everyone is a Buckaroo, be they in 1st grade or 12th...or even if you're grown. We even have a Buckaroo Blvd.
So I whipped up some little Buckaroo embellishments. These cowpokes will have some other small things to go with them, but I haven't decided yet which ones I'm for sure going to include.
Our colors are Black and Orange, thus the black and orange get ups. But I did some cowgirls in pink.....
These little Buckaroos even have silver belt buckles!
Stay tuned for how to make a little box from a walnut!  Really!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Morning in The Life of Mi......Mimi

Every morning I have a little routine with the furry characters in my life. My little dog Alexander anxiously reminds me that we need to feed the Chickens, he hardly lets me get dressed and my morning rituals done before he's bouncing off the door and my legs...so it's off I go with a scrap bucket in hand.
First I feed my little pony......Esmerelda!  I love her, she makes little whickery noises and acts coy so I'll give her some oats.
The other day the geese came up and hissed and flapped their huge expanses of wings at her and tried to persuade her through intimidation to leave the hay so they could eat it.....Geese eat hay in the winter in case you didn't know.  Esmerelda was having none of that and a fight soon erupted! She backed up and wound up for an enormous kick, luckily the geese had moved. Such a squawking and flapping and hissing , kicking and bucking began, I just cowered in the hay barn behind my safe fence until she won!  The geese were incensed! But...today, they've made their peace...See!
Essy has her breakfast oats, Toulouse and Berliouse have their hay.  So on to the other chores.....
Anna always hangs out for some loves while I fill the water bucket for the chickens...
I'm trying to teach her not to jump on me........I'm trying....she's forgetting....but she's a sweetie anyway.
I'm  generally accompanied by one of our many cats, quite often Henry, he's the outdoorsman of the bunch.
Alexander is now about ready to explode and he gets right to work herding his chickens.

These are a few of the girls. 
And that's a morning in the life of Mi.....I love this life!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Night Out With My Girls....LaTraviata....Art Gallery...

Jennifer and Chantelle
My  girls and I spent the weekend together and attended the Opera; La Traviata; and visited an art showing at the Covey Center for the Arts.  La Traviata was simply magnificent!  Jennifer's voice teacher had the lead...he is so handsome, and his voice is like butter. Of course the play is tragic, but all operas are.It was romantic and sweet and made us cry. Perfect! 
We all got dressed at Jennifer's apartment and to our surprise, we had all chosen red and black outfits.  We are so related.
Before the opera started, we attended a gallery showing of some amazing art and sculptures.  I snapped some pictures so I could share.

This horse was incredible. I was totally fascinated by its tail which is made  from motorcycle type chain.  Its hooves were pistons.  All the sculptures are made from mechanical bits and pieces. I had these visions of picking through some of the shop's old parts and crafting something too.   Hmmmm, I need to learn to weld.
This ostrich's body is a motorcycle gas tank......I bet we have one of those laying around.

The tree is actually made mostly from rebar, who would have thought to make something so lovely from rebar?  The man reminded us all of the commercial for the bladder control drug....You know, the people made of pipes! 

I absolutely love Dinosaurs and Dragons so I was tickled with these versions.

This was another horse they had on display.  He was selling for $7500, just not in my budget this year. 
I thought you might like to take a little gallery stroll without leaving your warm house.
Keep crafting!