Tiny Foxes

Recently I sewed a basic t-shirt with some remnant fabric from Jo-Ann fabrics. It’s a fun shirt, and I’ve gotten a lot of joy out of wearing it.

fox shirt

(sorry for the poor quality shot…)

But I’ve gotten even more joy out of what I made with the scraps: Tiny stuffed foxes πŸ™‚DSCN4758

They are super easy to make, and would work with any fabric that has cute animals on it. The how-to for these cuties is pretty straight forward, but just in case you want to make your own, here goes!

  1. Cut out two of the animals, leaving a generous border.
  2. Face the pieces together, right side in.
  3. Sew around the outside, leaving an opening.
  4. Turn right side out (use something pointy like a dull pencil or chopstick to help!)
  5. Stuff with other smaller scraps or poly-fil, and neatly stitch closed.DSCN4754
  6. (optional) Have far too much fun placing them in your herb garden πŸ™‚DSCN4753

A few tips and ideas:

  • If using a stretch fabric, like my foxes, make sure the pieces you cut out have the stretch going in the same direction.
  • If there are a lot of curves, clip the fabric outside the seams carefully (don’t cut through your stitches!) to make for smoother turning.
  • Stitch or glue your finished tiny creatures to a pin and wear for a dash of whimsy =^.^=
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Just Zip and Swish!

A little while I ago, I shared a circle skirt I made out of an old sheet and thrifted zipper. After I posted it, a reader asked for a tutorial on putting a zipper in a circle skirt.DSCN4488

Now, what I’m about to share is neither revolutionary, nor is it even perhaps the best method. But it works for me! So without further ado, here’s how I do it!

Supplies:

  1. fabric, cut to be a circle skirt
  2. scissors
  3. a zipper – I use a 7 inch zipper, but a longer one will work.
  4. thread and sewing machine
  5. zipper foot
  6. seam ripper
  7. iron

Directions:

  1. Cut into your lovely circle, from hem to waist. Try your best to keep it a straight line.dscn4563
    1. Note: You can either attach a waist band using your favorite method before you cut, or after. You can even attach it after you’ve sewn in the zipper, and add a button closure, like you see in the photo up top.
  2. Now sew it back up!dscn4569 With right sides together, use your machine’s longest stitch from the waist down to where the zipper will stop, about seven inches, and then sew the rest of the way to the hem at a regular stitch length.
  3. Press the seam open.dscn4564-copy
  4. Now pin the zipper along the pressed seam.dscn4567-copy The key is to make sure the center of the zipper teeth line up perfectly with the pressed-open seam. If you’re off, then the zipper will be slightly wonky.dscn4565-copy
    1. In the interest of full disclosure, my zippers may sometimes be slightly wonky…
  5. Now hand baste the zipper. dscn4566-copyWhile you can technically skip this step, I highly recommend it. I always get a much better finish, and the hand basting gives you a chance to double check that the zipper is aligned with the seam. It also keeps the zipper in place even better than pins for the next step.
  6. Now, using the zipper foot attachment on your machine, sew the zipper in place. dscn4560Make sure to sew over the bottom end a few times so it’s secure.
  7. Once you’ve sewn both sides of the zipper, remove the basting stitches.dscn4559
  8. Finally, the magic happens. Turn your skirt right side out and grab your seam ripper. Carefully undo the top part of your seam, the bit that’s hiding the zipper.dscn4562 Don’t rip out any stitches from the bottom of the zipper down to the hem – only rip from the bottom of the zipper up to the waist!
  9. And Ta-Dah! Your circle skirt now has a zipper!dscn4557
    1. If you already attached the waistband, you’re good to go! Otherwise, attach the band and then add a button closure above the zipper.

Hopefully you find the tutorial helpful! If you have any questions, let me know. Good luck with your circle skirts!

 

DIY Painted Pebble Necklace

Every time I go on a trip, I end up bringing home rocks. Usually not very fancyΒ  ones. Instead, I bring home nice flat rocks, which would probably be perfect for skipping across ponds, if I were any good at skipping stones. They end up in little bowls around my house, or occasionally find their way into my beta’s tank.030 (3) The rocks are little works of natural art, and reminders of wonderful places I’ve been.

But collecting dust in bowls is not the best way to display memories, at least for me. So I turned them into wearable art.032 (2) Some I leave plain, and some I jazz up a bit. If you’d like to make your own painted (or plain) pebble necklace, follow the tutorial below!006

Materials:035

  • Pebble. The best rocks for this project are thin and flat with smooth edges.
  • Necklace chain or cord or ribbon. Whatever suits your aesthetic.
  • Jump rings
  • Necklace clasp. I like lobster clasps, but again, whatever style suits you.
  • E6000 or other strong adhesive
  • Flat bit of metal with a hole in it. I used the tab a spring ring clasp fits into, but you could also use a bail. I’ve even used the clip part of disassembled clip-on earrings.
  • Pliers
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paint brush
  • Clear varnish. I used spray varnish, but a brush-on variety would work too.
  • Newspaper to protect your work space

Directions:

  1. Select your rock and wash it so there’s no loose dirt on the surface.
  2. Paint a design of your choosing on one side. I used bright blue to provide contrast with the natural surface. You can skip this step, if you like. Wait for the paint to dry completely before moving on.033
  3. Put down newspaper to protect your work area, and spray your stone with varnish, following the directions on the can. This will give your rock a permanently wet look and enhance its the natural coloring. As with the painting, this step is optional.034
  4. Once the varnish is dry, use the E6000 to attach your flat metal bit to the back of the stone. Make sure the hole or bail is clear of the top of the stone. Wait for the glue to cure before moving on.031
  5. Using your pliers, attach a jump ring and hook the stone to the jewelry chain. Also attach a clasp at this point.032
  6. And ta-da! Go out and rock your new necklace!

Tips and suggestions:

  • Try using metallic paint for a glam look.
  • If you find small enough rocks, try making funky earrings!
  • To get an idea how your rock will look varnished, run it under water. The varnish will mimic this wet look.
  • Don’t be afraid of puns! Use a paint pen to write “out” or “on” so your necklace reminds you to rock out or to rock on. You could also use a paint pen to write the date or location for your rock.
    • I made a necklace for a fellow swing dancer with a reminder to rock step, triple step (the basic footwork of swing dance).005

How to Make Winter Bright

It’s been unseasonably warm in my neck of the woods. Like 70 F, instead of 30 F. Weird, unnatural, and not the thing to get me in the mood for Christmas. So I decided to create my own winter wonderland to feel warm and cozy with. And you can too!

Materials:001 (2)

  1. empty glass jar
  2. paint brush
  3. acrylic paint
  4. candle

Procedure:

  1. Make sure your jar is squeaky clean. I wiped mine down with Windex.
  2. Paint a winter scene on the outside of the jar.002 (2)
  3. Stick a candle in it, turn off the lights, and pretend the snow is falling outside! Or that you wandered up to a winter campfire! Or that you’re going deep into the woods to find the perfect tree.lovely

Tips and suggestions:

  1. Make a few out of different sized jars to create a nice grouping.YES
  2. Pay attention to the direction and look of your brushstrokes and use them to your advantage. I kept mine going down and out from the center to make the pine tree jar.brush
  3. Paint a soft band around the lower edge of the jar to hide the candle and diffuse its warm glow.
  4. If you have a deep jar and a little candle, use a pair of tongs to help position the candle. 

So go forth and paint yourself a wonderland!

Sunflower Pie

Happy Thanksgiving Eve, for any of you in the US. 014

Happy Wednesday to the rest of you!

I’ve already done most of my baking for Thanksgiving, and thought I’d share a quick recipe of one of the pies. I call it a sunflower pie because of the decorating, rather than the ingredients. It is in fact a chocolate peanut butter pie, but looks like this:006

But here’s the recipe and decorating directions.

Ingredients

Crust:

  • premature graham cracker crust or
  • 1.5 c crushed graham crackers
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 6 Tbsp butter, melted

Chocolate layer:

  • four ounces chocolate – I use German baking chocolate, but you can use dark, milk, semi-sweet. Whatever floats your boat
  • 5 Tbsp light cream, divided
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 standard tub whipped topping (8 oz by weight)

Peanut layer:

  • 1/3 c creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 standard tub whipped topping (4 oz by weight)

Pretty bit:

  • handful of peanut butter chips
  • 1/4 c chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter
  • ziplock bag or pastry bag if you’re fancy πŸ™‚

015Directions

To make the crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Stir together crumbs and sugar. Add melted butter and stir until mixture is evenly moistened.
  3. Press into a pie plate and bake for 8-10 minutes.

To make the chocolate layer:

  1. Melt the chocolate with 2 Tbsp cream. Stir frequently.
  2. Whisk in remaining milk and cream cheese.
  3. Allow to cool for about 20 minutes and then fold in whipped topping.
  4. Spread in cooled pie crust and place in freezer. This will start to set the chocolate layer and make it easier to add the peanut layer.

Make the peanut layer:

  1. Melt the peanut butter. You want it to be soft and runny, but not piping hot. I find about 30 seconds on high in the microwave does it.
  2. Use a whisk to combine peanut butter and whipped topping.
  3. Spread on the chocolate layer. Use a rubber spatula and pull from the center outward to make a petal design.

003You could stop here, and it will be delicious. Just pop it in the freezer for at least four hours before cutting. Or you could read on and take it to the next level.

Make the pretty bit!008

  1. Arrange your peanut butter chips in the center of the pie, like the seeds of a sunflower.
  2. Put the peanut butter and chocolate chips in a small microwave-safe dish and zap on high for about 20 seconds. Remove and stir, and then microwave for another 25 seconds.
  3. Stir very thoroughly. The chocolate chips will need to melt a bit more, so stir up. Maybe even mash stubborn chips with your spoon.
  4. Carefully pour/scrape this mix into your baggie. With a pair of sharp scissors, cut off the teeny-tiniest corner of the bag.
  5. Gently squeeze the bag and trace the outline of the ‘petals’ you made with your spatula. Once all the ‘petals’ are outlined, draw a line about 3/4 of the way up the middle of each.
  6. As a final touch, squeeze a criss-cross lattice over the peanut butter chip center. Just make a bunch of lines in one direction, rotate the pie 90 degrees and make a bunch of lines in the other direction.006

Freeze the whole shebang for at least four hours, and then let sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving. And then bask in admiration all evening.

I don’t have any pictures of the sliced pie yet, because it’s for Thanksgiving, but I’ll add them once I cut in. Trust me, thought, that it looks nice with the layers πŸ™‚

008

So go forth and enjoy Thanksgiving and do lots of tasty baking, no matter what time of year it is!

Frankly Giant Pom-Poms

POM-POMS! Great honkin’ big ones! Let me explain…

Okay, so I was looking into doing to some yarn-stash busting, and realized I have a few yarns that I’m never really going to use. Gifted yarns. You know the thing: a single skein of acrylic, well meant, but I mean, I already have approximately 3700 hats. What to do, what to do…

Well, I decided to make giant pom-poms! And you can too! Before I share the tutorial, here’s a list of totally practical* uses for giant pom-poms.

*may not actually be all that practical.

hat full of pom-pomsKeep them in a hat by your entry way. Throw them at visitors.Stairway pomsLine them up on your balustrade for a fuzzy trip up and down the stairs!plant pomJazz up your plantings!

pom mix pom bake

Bake with them!

pom head

Put a few on your head!

026Put a lot on your head!

So yes. Giant pom-poms. They have a lot of uses. There are a few ways to make them, including commercial pom-pom makers. But if you have the immediate urge to make giant pom-poms, here’s my simple, home-spun pom-pom tutorial.

Supplies:047

  1. Yarn – worsted weight works best. Fancy or fluffy yarns are tempting, but make floppier pom-poms
  2. Cardboard – preferably nice corrugated stuff, but thin board works in a pinch
  3. Scissors – please don’t use a particularly nice pair; cardboard is not friendly to finely honed blades

Procedure:0481. Trace a circle onto your cardboard and cut it out. The bigger the circle, the bigger the pom-pom (My circles were approximately 4″ in diameter). Inside the circle, draw a sort of keyhole shape. Cut that out too, so it looks the picture. You’ll need two identical pieces.0512. Hold the two cardboard shapes together and aligned, and wrap the yarn around the inner hole (the top of the “keyhole”). The more you wrap, the fuller your pom-pom will be. Ideally, fill the whole inner circle. Go nuts!0503. Now wiggle your scissors between the two pieces of cardboard. Cut through all the yarn, moving around the wrapped circle. Do this slowly and carefully.0494. Now cut a piece of yarn about 6 – 10″ long and wiggle it between the two cardboard pieces. Pull it as tight as you can, so the long piece of yarn tightens around all the little pieces. Tie it firmly with a square knot.

5. Pull, twist, and otherwise coax the cardboard pieces out. I find it easiest to do this one at a time. Roll your pom-pom between your hands to fluff it up, and trim any longer strands to make it spherical.

6. Enjoy the ridiculousness that is giant pom-poms!

pom yum

Splish-splash, Bath mat!

Despite March technically being the first month of spring, it’s still freezing here in PA. One of the coldest spots in my house is the tile floor right in front of my bathroom sink. I had a thin, worn out blue bathmat that wasn’t doing anything to keep the chill away. I also happened to have a stash of 3XL t-shirts left over from some event or other. I decided to do away with ol’ blue, and make myself a spankin’ new bathmat with the t-shirts!super-squisy awesome!If you want to knit up one of your own, read on!

Materials:Materials list

  1. Lots of t-shirts
    • I used 5 3XLs plus a small for the trim, but if I’d had more, I’d have used more and made my mat a bit bigger and neater
    • You want all your t-shirts to be of similar weight and stretch, or you’ll wind up with a really wonky mat
  2. Scissors and/or a rotary cutter
  3. size 13 knitting needles
    • gauge isn’t too important, so feel free to go up or down a few sizes as needed

Procedure:

  1. Cut your t-shirt all the way across just under the arms.Steps 1 and 2
  2. Make long horizontal cuts about every one inch down the shirt. Do NOT cut all the way across!
  3. Pick up the shirt and drape it around your arm so the uncut side rests on top. Cut diagonally up the uncut “spine,” as shown below:Making one long strip
  4. Repeat with each t-shirt.
  5. Once all your shirts are strips, join the ends with a knot or a few quick stitches and roll up into a ball for easy working.Knot or sew!
  6. Cast on about 30 stitches.
  7. Knit in garter stitch until your mat is as long as you want.Knit in garter stitch

Ta DA! Your new bathmat is super squishy and comfy and warm and absorbent. TA DA!!

Tips and suggestions:

  • If you run out of t-shirt yarn from the main part of the shirt, you can use the same cutting techniques on the sleeves, and then you can cut straight strips from what’s left between the sleeves.
  • Keep in mind that if your knots are bulky, or you have a lot of them (like, say, if you join a bunch of short strips), your bathmat will be thicker and wider.
    • I learned this the hard way. If you look at my mat, the right side is skinnier, because it’s made of the long pieces. When I switch to the short strips from the arms, it gets bulky and widens.See that narrow end on the right?
  • As you work, the t-shirt yarn will roll in on itself. Watch the way it folds and manipulate it to hide, or show, logos/print on the shirt

Hexi Earrings Tutorial

IMG_1202I recently got second holes pierced in my earlobes, so have been playing around with wearing – and making – more post earrings, rather than the beloved dangles I usually favor. This pair was inspired by the hexagonal geometry of snow and the shine of the holidays. And they can be made with recycled materials, so an extra win!

Materials: materials1. Sturdy scissors or tin snips
2. Washed coffee can – one with a metal bottom, not a plastic one
3. Sharpie or similar marker
4. E600 or other strong glue – a hot glue gun won’t cut it!
5. Earring posts – or wire and pliers to make your own
6. Metal file

Procedure:
1. Using the sturdy scissors, separate the metal bottom of the can. You don’t need the cardboard cylinder, and can dispose of it.step 1
2. Draw two identical hexagons on the metal disc. Mine are about 1/2″ between vertices.
Tip: cut out templates out of paper and trace on if you’re having trouble free-handing.step 2
3. Using the sturdy scissors or tin snips, carefully cut out the hexagons. Try to cut just inside the line. If some marker is still left on your cut hexagons, you can remove it with rubbing alcohol.step 4
4. Use the metal file to smooth off any rough edges and round the corners slightly.
5. Follow the directions on your glue and attach the earring posts to your hexagons. Once the glue cures, you’re done!step 5

Tips and Suggestions:
1. While I made hexagons to reflect the six sides of a snow flake, you could also do triangles, rectangles, diamonds, etc.
2. If you have any tin flashing or similar metal scraps, it will work just as well as a can bottom. Aluminum cans can be cut too, but I find them a bit flimsy for post earrings…
3. Nail polish adheres pretty well to these, so paint on a coat or two for an enameled look!

IMG_1204

May you get lots of compliments on your new earrings!