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Cyber Monday 2014 Sale! All handmade,all 20% off!

I can’t believe it’s already Cyber Monday 2014! I’m so excited about my first Scrapcycling Cyber Monday that I have created the coupon code cyber14 to give you 20% off of your purchase.You can pick out dolls for your favorite little girls and some extra dress up clothes, a bow tie for your favorite guy, some lavender sachets to scent your day and some stylish totes for shopping and craft projects and take 20% your whole purchase!Ice Princess Doll With Cape and Dress This code will work until tomorrow so tell all your friends!

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Photo-realistic Pumpkin Carving Tutorial

Guest post by Tom Fite

I have a bit of a strange Halloween carving tradition. Instead of the typical Jack o’Latern, I carve something far scarier — prominent Republicans. Starting with Richard Nixon, I’ve done John McCain, Glenn Beck, Stephen Colbert, Michelle Bachmann, Mitt Romney, and John Boehner.

This year’s Repumplikin is potential senate majority leader Mitch McConnell!

I’ve put together a how-to tutorial so you can follow along and see how I carve these freakish ghouls. You can use these steps to achieve a neat photo-realistic effect. It takes a long time and some practice, but the results are worth it.

Here’s what you need!

  • A pumpkin
  • Tape
  • Sharpie
  • Sharp knife
  • Carving tools for wood working
  • A tracing wheel (optional but very useful!)
  • Light source (brighter the better, I use an office lamp)


Step 1 – choose a pumpkin

While any pumpkin will work, pumpkins that are taller than wider work best. Make sure that it has a relatively flat end, free of weird bumps and scars. Ideally, you want one that will fit a full size 8.5″ by 11″ piece of paper, so bigger is better.


Step 2 – choose a photo

You’ll want a photo that is high enough resolution to print out on a full size piece of paper. Make sure that it looks good in black and white and has high contrast — you want a nice mix of light and dark. The less light area that the photo has, the less carving you’ll need to do, so keep that in mind.

Make sure that the subject of the photo, in my case Mitch’s face, takes up as much space in the photo as possible. You may need to crop the image to get rid of unnecessary background.

Here’s the photo that I chose:

Senate Republicans Speak To The Media After Their Weekly Policy Meeting

Print the photo on a full 8.5″ by 11″ inch piece of paper.


Step 3 – tape it up and mark it off

Tape the printed photo on the flattest part of your pumpkin. It won’t set perfectly flat, so you can help it by ripping up the page a little bit to relieve tension in the page so it lays better.

Mitch McConnel's Face on a Pumpkin

He looks a bit freaked out, doesn’t he? Well, he should because the next step involves sharp tools!

If you have one, here’s where a tracing wheel comes in handy. You can use it to mark off parts of the image to give yourself guide lines. The tracing wheel makes this really simple:

Tracing Wheel on Mitch McConnel's Face

I usually outline the head, the eye lines, the nose, the mouth, jawline, and anywhere else where there is a distinctive feature.

If you don’t have a tracing wheel, you can get the same effect by using a sharp knife or a pin to poke holes in the image where you need to mark off lines.

Once you’re done, you’ll get something like this:

A Pumpkin With Tiny Holes


Step 4 – sharpie time

Using the pinholes in the pumpkin as a guide, use a sharpie to make a good outline of the light and dark areas that you want to carve. I try to shade with the sharpie and I always fail miserably, and I’d probably get better results if I stuck to clear lines… but you just need something that is easy enough to use as a guide when you are cutting. I find that I can correct mistakes pretty easily when carving, because the process is slow going.

Marker drawing of Mitch McConnel on a pumpkin

There he is, all ready to get carved up! But first, we need to get our light source set up.


Step 5 – add the light source

Carving the pumpkin in the dark is the best way to go. As you take out more pumpkin flesh, the area gets lighter, and you need that immediate feedback. With the relief method of carving, you need a very bright light source. I have an office lamp that I use.

If you use a lamp, make sure to trace the size of the lamp so it fits through the top of the pumpkin!

Tracing a lamp outline on top of a pumpkin

Pumpkin stabbing!

Step 6 – pumpkin carving time

Turn your light source on, and turn the lights off!! It’s carving time.

The key to giving your pumpkin a photo-realistic effect is proper shading. It’s very important to not cut all the way through the pumpkin — if you do, the value will be so much brighter than even the thinnest layer of pumpkin flesh and it will look weird. (You can see that in my John McCain pumpkin).

Since you’re not cutting all the way through the pumpkin, you don’t want to use traditional pumpkin carving tools. Instead, use wood carving tools. A set like this works perfectly:

Excellent pumpkin carving tools

Work slowly, removing any area that needs to be light. This is backwards from what you’re used to and will take some practice.

Mitch McConnel Pumpkin Mid-Carve

Here’s Mitch about 1/3 of the way done, you can start to see some of the shading taking place, and he already looks freaky in pitch dark

Mitch McConnell Pumpkin Mid-Carve in the Dark

This process takes a long time! I think this year I spent around 5 hours carving over a couple of days. Here’s the finished result!

Mitch McConnell Pumpkin

It’s a bit hard to see in the photos, but I for the hair I use an exacto blade and slice the area repeatedly until thin strips of light start showing through.

Here’s what he looks like with the lights on. Even scarier, in my opinion…

Mitch McConnell Pumpkin with the Lights On

That’s it! Hope you enjoyed the tutorial and I hope I didn’t give you too many nightmares.

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Make a Handmade Upcycled Trick or Treat Bag!

Handmade Trick or Treat Pumpkin Bag

This is my version of a trick or treat bag made from upcycled materials. It is both reused and reusable!

Poly blend tablecloth

Choose your bag material, I used a huge poly blend tablecloth that I bought for $1 at a reuse store. I picked white because it makes the kiddos a little more visible in the dark and it shows off the wacky pumpkin!

You will also need scraps of material for the jack o’lantern decoration on the bag front. I used some felt, leftover cotton and fleece and buttons for the eyes.

Pumpkin bag material

There are a few different shapes you can make for the pumpkin body. If you want a circle I recommend tracing a small round plate if you don’t have any other templates.

Pumpkin bag material

I like to cut a stem, one or two leaf shapes and a jagged type of mouth from fabric scraps or felt. I use 2 different shapes of dark colored buttons for the eyes but you could also use felt or fabric.

Felt pumpkin

Place your choice of facial features on your pumpkin body and hand sew them in place.

At this point you can choose one of your bag pieces and sew it with a standard machine to the right side using a straight or zig zag stitch in either matching or contrasting thread.

You can also choose to attach the pumpkin after the bag is complete by hand stitching. To keep the tutorial cleaner looking, I chose to add it later, but you may find it easier to machine stitch it while the front piece is still flat.

Orange trick or treat bag

Determine your desired measurements. I used a common type of bag that a friend lent me,measured it and added 1/4″ seam allowance (SA) for my serger.

If you are using a standard sewing machine instead of a serger you may want to have 1/2″ SA and either use pinking shears or a zig zag stitch along the edge of the SA to prevent fraying.

Use the measurements to cut:

2 bag sides

1 or 2 straps (your choice)

Trick or Treat Bag Construction

I chose to make a bag 13″H  x 12″ W and 1 19″ L x 2″ W strap you can vary these measurements as you see fit.

Trick or Treat Bag Construction

If you have a serger, pin all 3 sides of the bag body right sides together (RST) and serge.Open up the top and serge all around the top opening.

 If you are using a standard machine:

  • Either zig zag stitch all 3 sides of both bag body pieces first or pin both bag pieces RST
  • Sew your 1/2″ SA and then use your pinking shears along each side of the SA to prevent fraying.

You will then need to:

  • Press open the SA with your iron
  • Zig zag or use pinking shears on the edge of the bag opening

For the strap(s)

  • Fold it in half lengthwise and serge all 3 raw edges
  • If you are using a standard machine fold it in half lengthwise sew along SA for each raw edge

Trick or Treat Bag Construction

This is how the finished edges look when serged. Note, the top edge of the opening is serged and folded over 1″ and all 3 raw edges of the strap are serged from corner to corner. If you used a standard machine these are the same SA areas.

Trick or Treat Bag Construction

Now we will create volume in the bag, this is faster and simpler than cutting and sewing separate side panels for the bag and serves to keep it open and easy to fill when it is empty.

With RST grab the bottom corner of the bag and pinch it at the side seam ( SS) while flattening it into a triangle.

Place your ruler at one edge and adjust it until you reach your desired width. I chose 2 1/2″ but you could choose a different width.

Make a light mark along the ruler edge with chalk, fabric pencil or other suitable marking instrument.

Trick or Treat Bag Construction

Pin along your marked line.

Trick or Treat Bag Construction

Stitch along this line with a standard sewing machine or cut 1/4″ from your marked line, pin and serge.

Repeat these steps on the other side or you will have one funny looking bag!

Trick or Treat Bag Construction

This is how it looks when both sides are stitched.

At this point I like to press the triangles toward the inside of the bag and turn it right side out.

Trick or Treat Bag Construction

Pin each side of your strap to the side seams of your bag RST and stitch close to the edge.

Trick or Treat Bag Construction

Turn the top edge of your bag to the inside at least 1/2″ and pin.

Trick or Treat Bag Construction

When it is pinned all the way around your straps will be in the proper position.Stitch close to the finished edge. Stitch again close to the top edge on each strap to keep it in place. If you are feeling ambitious stitch each strap down with a box shape. On my nicer bags I make a rectangle with an x shape through it for reinforcement.

Trick or Treat Bag Construction

This is your complete bag with straps. Follow the same strap process with more than one strap,just place them on each side of the bag instead of at the side seams.

Press your bag and your straps for a crisp, finished look.

Finished Trick or Treat Pumpkin Bag in Store

This is one of my bags hanging up at PDXchange on Mississippi Ave in Portland, OR. You can see it yourself if you’re in the area!