Category Archives: projects

DIY Wall Decor on the Cheap

Moving isn’t always an option when you get tired of an apartment, but changing what it looks like is. I got tired of the blank walls in my apartment, but didn’t want to over-saturate the space with photos (two are posted above our desktop in the living room). I decided to make my own with what I had (because buying new supplies for every project makes for a crowded craft space!). I followed a Pinterest post for an easy DIY wall art from origami paper, which was posted on How About Orange.

The first one I made with solid colored paper:

DIY Wall Art

The second one I made using origami paper that had a somewhat oriental theme. Just for fun, I reversed a row of the squares:

DIY Wall Art with oriental pattern

After only thinking about it for two weeks, I finally got a bug in my bonnet about it and did it. I had a bunch of spare origami paper that I have had around for years, and this project used up just about all of it. I also happened to have thin Styrofoam packaging laying around, which is what I used as the backing. Check out the original post for how to fold the squares.

I measured and cut the Styrofoam, then taped the squares on by looping small pieces of packing tape. This worked well. What I had more trouble with was getting my “wall art” to stay on the wall. I tried looped packing tape, but after a few hours, both art pieces would fall. I also tried hanging them, but this also turned out unsuccessful, as the strings would rip through the Styrofoam eventually. Finally, I bought some mounting putty and it stuck!

I also printed and posted the Fixer’s Manifesto, framing it with blue paper. Check it out below:

FixersManifesto

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Crochet Hot Air Balloons in the Sky

Sometimes when the news of something hits me, I am instantly struck with a thought that I must make happen. When we talk about moving, I think of a house with a garden. When it came time to rearrange the furniture,  I knew exactly where I wanted everything to go and what I needed to add to the walls. When I found out I was pregnant, I knew I needed to make hot air balloons. Several of them.

We’re excited about the prospect of a little one coming next year, but since we still don’t know the gender, it’s hard to plan cute dresses or dinosaur bed sheets (although no matter the gender, the tyke might get both!). But hot air balloons — who doesn’t love a hot air balloon? They’re colorful, fun and you can fly in them! When I let the knowledge sink in that I was brewin’ a babe, I instantly pictured five or more hot air balloons of different colors hanging from the ceiling of the future Edrington’s space.

Hence, this adorable kitten hanging currently from my living room window.

Weeeeee!

O hai there!

The hot air balloon pattern is from Amigurumi Two by Ana Paula Rimoli, and the kitten is from Super Cute amigurumi by Annie Obaachan. I’m a sucker for those Suncatcher cat eyes, too, which I bought on Etsy a while back from Michelle McLaughlin.  Such brilliant colors! Much better than the ones they used to sell at Joann’s (but don’t anymore, from what I can tell locally).

I’ll admit, the nose is a little sloppy. Before I had sewn the body parts together, my cat decided that it was a plaything. She tore the nose up a bit so I had to do some trimming. But I don’t know — I think it adds character. Anyway, I’ve started the second hot air balloon and I’m not sure which animal will be its passenger, but I have plenty of books and online patterns to choose from …

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St. Patrick’s Day Runner and Other Gifts From Mom

I haven’t had much time to craft lately, but my thoughtful mother sent me this surprise in the mail:

With Valentine Towel!

Gifts from Home -- Thanks, Mom!

The St. Patrick’s Day towel and runner are especially fantastic because I have a love of four leaved clovers. I love the fabrics she chose for the towels, too. Or perhaps they are heavy duty napkins? I suppose I could use them for either task.

She has used that runner pattern a lot recently — I’ve had a runner for almost every season for the past six months and I know my sister has received a few. No complaints here!

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Sewing Projects with my “Little Sister” (or How I Volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters and Taught a Child To Craft)

Sewing is often a solitary task, so being able to share the hobby with someone can be incredibly fun. I started volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the North Coast last year and have recently had my “little” join me for some sewing projects. We’ve stuck to small crafts mostly and next week we are having a Mend it Monday: Little Edition to repair clothes and add our own embellishments.

If you haven’t heard of Big Brothers Big Sisters, here’s the short version: they pair kids and teens with an adult volunteer to create one-on-one mentoring relationships. My “little sister” is under 10 and we meet up for about three hours every week. Aside from going to concerts and movies, we have also been making time for crafts and she is getting into it!

This week we  made little pillows for our cats stuffed with both fluff and catnip. Her cats were interested, but mine is unfortunately not the type to fall head over heels for catnip. As for sewing, this is what we went over:

  • Adding seam allowances
  • Clipping corners before turning it right-side out
  • Cutting the fabric
  • Drawing your own pillow pattern
  • Sewing in a straight line
  • Hitting the reverse button to reinforce the end of a stitch
  • Pinning fabric together

She did pretty well and it makes for a great Big Brothers Big Sisters craft project. I like small projects with kids because it holds their attention and they have something to show for it at the end. Starting with clothes can be a tough choice, as a shirt or skirt can take a LONG time if you aren’t used to sewing at all (I should know — my first project was a pair of drawstring pants).

But the DIY catnip pillows were pretty simple and I let her use scrap fabric (finally, a reason to keep it!):

Two catnip pillows for two lucky cats

Two catnip pillows for two lucky cats

This is a simple kids sewing project that is great for kids who love their cats!

She also embroidered a pillow a couple weeks ago:

Pink pillow with dove embroidery

Embroidery pattern from "Sublime Stitching"

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Turning a hardly worn scarf into a new favorite accessory.

As it turns out, one seam can take a scarf from hardly worn to a must-wear.

In the before photo, I’m wearing a scarf I made probably 5+ years ago. It’s the only handmade scarf I have, and I never wore it. Maybe once a season. Why would I not wear it? Because it’s wool, 10 feet long, wrapped around my neck 3 times, and the ends of the scarf would always get in the way.

This winter, scarf cowls are all the rage. One of my favorite blogs, Adventures in Dressmaking, recently posted two different tutorials on how to change up a scarf to a cowl.

The mechanics are simple: sew the ends of the scarf together with a matching yarn/thread, and wrap around your neck as loose or as tight as you want.

In the after photo, I have it wrapped around three times. I love this scarf now. It makes a huge statement when I wear it, and I can wear it all day long without getting too hot or the ends getting in my way. I get compliments every time I wear it, and it goes with so many more outfits than it used to. It looks good under coats, or on top of a short sleeve silky top (how I wore it to work yesterday). I did this in the beginning of December (the photos were taken by a co-worker now on maternity leave) and have worn the scarf at least once a week since then.

I definitely recommend this for any scarves you have that you never wear. It’s such a simple change up. And if you don’t like the way it looks, easy enough to revert back to the way the scarf was before. Just rip out your seam.

One Night, One Fabric, Two Projects

My sewing machine was still humming late into the evening yesterday as I anxiously attempted to wrap up the last few details. There are few things worse than going to bed with a nearly complete craft project — only a really good book is worse to walk away from. So I stayed up past my usual time.

One reason I was trying to wrap it up before bed is the two projects were (literally) cut from the same cloth — I had already finished one and felt I should complete the second one, too. The other reason is I am stubborn and I wanted to finish everything that night. Unfortunately, I got a bit sloppy and I was working with a few materials I’m not as used to.

The first project was a fabric waste receptacle to hang in the car. I’m hoping my husband and I will actually use it, but even if not, it’s pretty cute. The pattern is from the first One-Yard Wonder book and the fabric is Odyessa by Momo for ModaFabrics.com.

"Not-Ugly Car Trash Bag" from One-Yard Wonder pattern

"Not-Ugly Car Trash Bag" from One-Yard Wonder pattern

I love that fabric! I bought it quite some time ago with the intention of doing just this. The One-Yard Wonder book doesn’t always use up a whole yard, and that was the case with this one. I lso just noticed the loose thread on the bag in the first photo. Luckily it wasn’t attached — just a scrap.

It fit nicely on the passenger’s seat:

Not-Ugly Car Trash Bag

Not-Ugly Car Trash Bag in the car

It may have used half a yard or less, which is why I had enough to make this DIY Kindle cover:

Handmade Sewn Kindle Cover

DIY Kindle Cover to protect my little e-reader

Maybe I should call it a Kindle cozy? I just made up the pattern as I went. Basically, I cut two long strips of fabric a couple inches wider than my Kindle. I determined the length by doubling the height of the Kindle and adding five inches for the flap. I bought some batting to place between the two, then I sewed the red bias tape from my grandmother’s stash all the way around (this is where I got sloppy). I then folded the piece to create a pocket for the Kindle, leaving enough to create a flap over. I sewed the two sides together to create the pocket, and then I turned it inside out.

Unfortunately, my sloppy stitches meant that the bias tape had not been sewn in place on the bottom side (though it was all stitched on the top side). I had to make the pocket even smaller to make the stitching work, but that turned out to be a bit of a blessing. The Kindle now fits much more snugly than it otherwise would have.

Fabric Kindle Cover -- handmade!

My little Kindle fits nicely in my finished e-book cover.

I still haven’t decided how I want to keep it closed. I added that ribbon as a last minute effort, as I was fading and didn’t want to mess up any more stitching. I may actually stitch the ribbon in place to act as a tie or I may just use no-sew Velcro.

All things considered though, late night sewing or not, my DIY Kindle cover and car trash bag turned out pretty well, actually. Even more importantly, one of my craft New Year’s resolutions was to finish that trash bag project! On to that dress …

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Sewing Christmas Loot and Crafty New Year’s Resolutions

BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook

Custom outfits and patterns here I come!

My crafting time was severely reduced this year — Turns out starting your own business takes up a majority of your time (who knew?). However, I recently learned one of the most valuable pieces of advice a business owner can get: Take a day off!

Being an entrepreneur can be a 7-day-per-week job if you let it, but you risk burning out and closing shop if that’s the route you take. I realized that I have to give myself time off. Otherwise, I become a horribly unproductive person. So now that I’m taking weekends off, I can get back to crafting!

And my Christmas haul has made sewing even more tempting. My mother picked up the BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook for me — I’ve always wanted to learn how to make alterations effectively and I feel like this book is a step in that direction. They offer alteration suggestions and show you a few variations on five master patterns: blouse, dress, bag, skirt and coat.

Altered Clothing book

Not quite what I needed.

Last year I bought a book called Altered Clothing, but it really wasn’t what I was looking for. That book focuses on altering clothes you already own, and sadly there isn’t much you can do with a plain t-shirt (only one suggestion in that book). Most of the other options I either didn’t have the clothes necessary to alter or I didn’t want to alter them.

As for New Year’s resolutions …

Finish old projects (in various stages currently):

  • Finish blouse
  • Finish dress
  • Finish car accessory

Start new projects:

  • BurdaStyle skirt
  • BurdaStyle  dress
  • More amigurumi!

What are your crafty resolutions?

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Halloween Recap

I’d been so busy planning a Halloween party that I had no time to write about it!

Blood Spattered Halloween Invites

I invited four couples over, and everyone RSVP’d yes minus one husband who was buried in Physics homework. I had a lot of fun pulling together a bunch of different tutorials to decorate for the party.

Clothspin Bats on curtains and lamps.

I did the Clothespin Bats from Martha Stewart, the Bloody Invitation from HGTV, and Bat Straw Name Tags from Scrapbooks Etc., though I modified it and did it tied around the wine glass stems so that people would know which glass was theirs.

Wine glasses with bat nametags.

I also did a Henna Pumpkin from Think Crafts Blog, but I didn’t get a photo of it, and I wasn’t too thrilled with my work, even though it was really easy to do.

For costumes, the Mister bought a Robin Hood costume (minus the tights), and I made myself a regency dress to be Elisabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. I used Simplicity 4055, with View A, except no overskirt.

It came together really easy. It took me probable about 8 hours total between cutting out pieces on a Friday, Sewing about 5-6 hours on Saturday, and all of the hand sewing and finishing that I did on my downtime in the week leading up to Halloween.

Liz and Lisa dressed up for the Halloween party at work.

Liz and Lisa dressed up for the Halloween party at work.

Project Notes:

  • I lengthened the pattern by 7 inches because I’m ridiculously tall, and ended up turning up the hem 2.5 inches.
  • I cut out a size 16, and used size 18 for the sleeves because I am not a fan of tight sleeves.
  • I left off the overlay dress for view A, lined the top, but didn’t line the skirt.
  • I really should have paid attention to the notes on PatternReview because the top really could have used lenghthining. The bust line hit just under the swell of my girls, and the bust seam would creep up while I was sitting so I spent a lot of time at the party and at work on Halloween making sure that it was pulled down.
  • I finished off the costume with a long strand of pearls and long white gloves.
P.S.: Standing next to me is my co-worker and friend Liz. She made that costume all by her self after I sent her a picture of a pregnant skeleton. She cut-out a freezer paper stencil by hand (no printouts) and painted it onto her shirt and leggings. I think she might be craftier than me!

12 hours to Make a Mermaid Costume for Halloween

It was my step-daughter’s first Halloween to trick-or-treat this year and she had a blast with the costume I made her … yesterday. While I was working all day today and did not get to enjoy the festivities with her, she was able to go to two carnivals plus door-to-door with her father. She picked out all the fabric from Joann’s a few weeks ago — going for the satin and princess-style fabrics, of course.

Mermaid Costume from McCall's pattern M5498

Mermaid Costume from McCall's pattern M5498

The pattern was McCall’s M5498 — unfortunately there was a misprint in the mermaid costume instructions, mislabeling the skirt pieces with the wrong numbers. Fortunately the cut out instructions were right or else I wouldn’t have been able to make the dress at all.

I’m still not much of a seamstress, so I had some trouble following the instructions and messed up the bodice quite a few times. I did decide to use Velcro and snaps instead of a zipper to close the skirt and shirt. There is also a crown that goes with this and I cut it out, but after 12 hours I didn’t have the time or energy to sew it together. Maybe next year? The costume was a bit big on her so she may be able to use it again next year.

She had a blast for her first Halloween in Humboldt County, so the labor was completely worth it!

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Gift giving, only a few weeks late.

So, the Mister and I have been dating for three years now. We don’t have an actual anniversary date–just a general idea of when we first started dating. This means that sometime by the end of September, we’ve given each other our “anniversary presents.” Now, this is never on the same day from year to year, nor do we exchange presents on the same day.

For example, in the middle of September he bought me a new tire for my car that I needed desperately (which also matched very nicely with the tire that he gave me for Valentine’s day. It may not be romantic, but it’s practical and my job requires me to drive a lot, so it’s definitely welcome). I in turn make him something every year. For our first anniversary, I made him a camp fire. For our second, a small computer.

This year? A monster joined our menagerie.

This is Cecil. He’s a monster from The Big Book of Knitted Monsters by Rebecca Danger. He took me forever to make, seeing as I can only knit on free time when the Mister isn’t around, and that only happens on my lunch break. I started him in August, and didn’t finish him until October 7th. I probably would have finished him loads sooner if I had taken him to Texas with me, but I didn’t want to deal with knitting needles on the airplane coming home (I know you can take them through security, but metal needles in Texas seemed like something that would get me pulled out of line.)

Cecil was a really easy project. I had originally thought I would use different feet for him than his pattern said to, but when it came down to crunch time, I followed the pattern exactly as written. And this pattern is very well written, as is the rest of the book. Each monster is laid out row by row for exactly what is happening when. I am definitely planning on making a few more monsters and sending them on their way.

As I took Cecil’s photos yesterday evening, he was very chatty.

“Grrr grrr gggrrrrrrrr grr grr, ” he said.

He thinks he’s going to be a celebrity and has chosen the stage name Stripy McEarballs for all his cameo work. When he’s not posing for photos, I usually find him working on the small computer that I made for the mister last year. All of the other boys in the house seem to really get along with Cecil, and they all cuddle together to watch Sunday football.

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