Last Minute Christmas Scarf

Hi! I’m still alive! I’ve been so busy with this school year that I’ve hardly had time to make, let alone craft. But the past week or two, I’ve finally gotten back into some sort of crafting groove, and I have few things to share. But today, with a week left until Christmas, I thought I’d put together a tutorial for a quick project that makes a great gift!dscn4666

That’s right; today, I’m sharing not just a make, but a tutorial. It’s a super simple project that can be made in under an hour, and makes a wonderfully cozy present. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but still, here goes!

Two-toned Pull Through Flannel Scarf

Materials:dscn4667

  • 2 cuts of flannel, each about 1 foot wide
  • sewing machine
  • thread
  • pins
  • scissors

Directions:

  1. Cut your flannel to size. For length, I found the width of the bolt (56″) made a good length, so kept the selvedges the short ends, and cut strips 12″ wide.dscn4668
  2. Pin your two pieces together, right sides facing each other, and sew around using a 5/8″ seam allowance. Make sure to leave a 4″ opening along one of the long sides.dscn4669
  3. Trim corners and turn right side out. When you trim, be careful not to clip through your stitches!dscn4670
  4. Pin all around, making sure that the fabric around the opening in tucked inside. Sew around, about 1/4″ from the edge. If you’re having trouble getting the edges neat while pinning, feel free to break out the iron!dscn4671
  5. About a quarter of the way up from a short edge, mark a 4-5″ line in the center of your scarf. Zig-zag stitch around the line a few times.dscn4673
  6. Cut the line inside your stitching carefully, and avoid cutting the zig-zags. This is your pull-through opening. The flannel will fray a bit. I gently tugged at the cut edges and then trimmed all the little strands.
  7. Ta-dah! You’re ready to face the fiercest flurries!dscn4661

Variations:

  • Use a contrasting thread to make the edge stitching and pull-through really pop.
  • Add pom-pom fringe to the short ends.
  • Use a printed flannel with a solid, or be really vibrant and mix different prints!
  • Add a third layer of flannel and quilt the layers together.
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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 fancy  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!

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

Cute Lady Tunic Refashion

I have a new tutorial for you all this week!step 1Refashioning, also called upcycling, is perennially popular, and I love it! I’ve reworked a number of things, both clothes and nick-knacks, but this one turned out so well, I just had to share. I bought an XL men’s dress shirt a few weeks ago at Salvation Army, intending to turn it into a shirt. I neglected to take any photos of the original shirt, but trust me when I say that I was swimming in it! It was – and is – a lovely faux-suede woven fabric in matte black. In fact, it was the heavy weight of the fabric that sold me on it.But enough of the set up: Here’s the redone shirt!

Sorry about the image quality! I used my phone after dark...

Sorry about the image quality! I used my phone after dark…

Lovely, isn’t it? It’s tunic length, but fits my curves and has little cap sleeves and generous petals all down the front! If you want a shirt like it, just head to your local thrift store and pick up an XL shirt. I recommend using a heavier weight shirt if you can find one, but if not, go ahead and try with a standard weight cotton dress shirt – just let me know how it goes!

Materials:s materials

  • XL men’s dress shirt
  • needle and thread – I used a sewing machine, but it’s not too much to hand sew.
  • scissors
  • fray check or similar product

Procedure:

  1. Wash your shirt according to its tag. It’s always best to pre-launder thrifted items to make sure you aren’t surprised down the line.
  2. Cut off the sleeves right where the join the body. Cut off the collar and shape the neckline into a scoop. Try to make your scoop hit in between buttons so you don’t have to re-sew any buttons or button holes.step 2
  3. Fit your shirt. You’ll probably need to take in the seems and, if you’re busty, add darts.step 3 I don’t have a dress form, so I just pull the shirt on inside-out, pin and mark, then carefully remove and sew.
  4. Once you’ve make fit adjustments and checked that the shirt fits how you like, trim off the excess material.
  5. Set the body aside and pick up those discarded sleeves. Cut the cuffs off the bottom and open the sleeve along its seam.
  6. From the first sleeve, cut out petals.step 4a I made a template before cutting, but it’s up to you how regular you want your petals. I used about 28 petals to make my shirt, but depending on your frame, you may want more or fewer. Treat the edges of the petals with fray check.
  7. The second sleeve will make up the edging for the neckline and armholes. Cut with the grain into 2″ strips. Fold each strip in half and iron. Open and fold the edges into the center and iron. Fold the whole thing back in half and press one more time, so each strip looks the the illustration.step 4b
  8. Assembly time! Once your petals are dry, pin down in overlapping rows, starting from the bottom and working up. Once pinned, use a zig-zag stitch to sew each row down, starting from the bottom row and working up. Once the petals are sewn, tack down a strip of fabric along the edge of the top to hide raw edges.step 5
  9. Pin the binding you made in step 7 around the armholes and neckline and sew down, close the edge of the binding. step 5
  10. Wear your shirt with pride and joy!IMG_1164

Tips and suggestions:

  • If you’re like me and fail to catch the edge of the binding in a few spots, go back and hand sew.
  • If your shirt has a distinct wrong and right side to the fabric, consider mixing up your petals for visual interest.
  • You could also make your petals and binding out of complementary fabric from another shirt!
  • For best fit, don’t take all the fabric in at the side: Take some in with back darts. I didn’t bother, as I don’t have a dress form, but it does make a difference.
  • If you want to shorten your shirt, just mark, cut, and put in a normal hem when you’re sewing the side seams and darts.

Create-Your-Own Cat

003Look at this dapper kitty! Isn’t he adorable? But wait! Who’s that behind him?

002Awww! Look at that fuzzy duo! Oh, look again! There’s a whole family!007

Don’t you just need some cats like these in your life? Well,  don’t worry! They’re quite easy, and don’t cry out for perfection! Before you know it, you’ll have a basket of cuddly kittens too. Here’s how to make one of your very own =^.^=

Materials:materials

  1. pattern
  2. fabric – I like t-shirt or fleece, and generally use two colors
    1. the amount of fabric will depend on the size of your cat
  3. 2 buttons
  4. needle and thread/sewing machine
  5. embroidery floss
  6. ribbon
  7. stuffing

Directions:

  1. Draft and cut out the pattern pieces. You can use the picture as a pattern or draw your own similar shapes. These cats are supposed to look a little home-spun, so don’t worry too much about exact proportions.step 1
  2. Using the pattern, cut out two body pieces, two tail pieces, and a bottom.
  3. Put the body together, right side of fabric together, and sew around the sides and top, but not the bottom edge. Do the same for the tail pieces. Then pin the bottom piece to the body of the cat, and stitch, leaving an opening like in the illustration.step 2
  4. Before you turn kitty right-side out, carefully notch the fabric at the neck and the ears. Then turn out and sew across the bottom of each ear.step 3
  5. Stuff the body and tail, and then insert the tail into the gap of the body. Using a running stitch, stitch the body closed.step 4
  6. Sew on the button eyes and embroider a face. Tie the ribbon around the neck to make a collar. step 5

Enjoy your new friend!

Tips and suggestions:

  • I like to cut my cats from the sleeves of old t-shirts, and then stuff with the scraps. Recycling 🙂
  • If you’re giving a cat to a small child, consider embroidering eyes – or drawing them on with sharpie – so there’s no choking hazard.
  • You can embroider the face before you sew if you find that easier. I like to do it last to I’m more sure of placement.
  • Make a whole litter in different sizes!
  • Play with different materials for collars. I made one cat with a snowflake-print fleece and gave it a scarf instead of a collar.

    100_1710

    Have fun with your new friends!

Braided Kelp Necklace

IMG_20140828_184556_367

Check out this beautiful necklace, inspired by seaweed! Mostly iridescent green, an odd stripe of lavender twists through it like sea foam, twined among the strands of kelp. This necklace is deceptively simple. If you can braid, you can make it! What I love about this design, and what sets it apart, is the play of texture and color. Using cylindrical seed beads keeps the individual strands distinct, and a single strand of contrasting color and texture add an unexpected twist, literally!

Ready for the tutorial? Here goes!

Materials:materials

  • strong thread
  • beading needle
  • fine chain – approx. 10″
  • 6 clam shell bead tips
  • 1 lobster clasp
  • 4 jump rings
  • quite a lot of seed beads – mine were cylindrical
  • about 1/9 as many seed beads as the other type
  • scissors and pliers

Directions:

  1. Cut nine lengths of string, each approximately 15″ long.step 1
  2. Thread three strings through each clam shell. Knot, trip the ends, and use the pliers to close the bead tip.step 2
  3. Using the beading needle, bead all but one of the nine strands with about 12″ of seed beads. Bead the 9th strand in a complimentary color. I used chartreuse as my main color and lavender for the accent strand.step 3
  4. Braid each group of strings. I recommend putting a small piece of tape on the bottom of each string so the beads don’t slide off.step 4
  5. Thread the tail ends of the braids through another clam shell, one bead tip per braid. Knot, trip, and close the bead tip.step 5
  6. Wiggle one jump ring open, and loop it through one end of each braid. Before you close it, also loop it through the end of your chain. Close with pliers.step 6
  7. Now braid the three braids together.
  8. Open a second jump ring and loop it through the three clam shell bead tips and the other end of the chain.step 7
  9. Find the half-way point of the chain and, using the pliers, open a link. On each of the newly separated chain-ends, put on one jump ring.
  10. Add the lobster clasp to one side, and voila! IMG_20140828_184720_312

Tips and Ideas:

  • Play with color and texture! Make one whole braid a contrast instead of just one strand.
  • Use multicolored beads in no particular order to create a braid that looks almost woven.
  • Experiment with differences in length. Maybe a shorter beaded section? Or maybe make a braid long enough to go all around your neck!
  • Try different bead sizes. Larger seed beads or even pony beads would make a chunkier statement piece.

Lux Little Boxes (Part III)

Welcome to the final installment of lux little boxes! You can find part 1 and 2 here and here.

ImageToday I tackle the boxes for which I’ve always had the least affection: plastic ones. You know, the sort medals and pins come in. They often have clear lids, and drive me nuts because you can’t really glue anything to them or paint on them. But as I was cleaning out a craft drawer, inspiration hit! Dimensional paint – the “puffy paint” of t-shirts past. I tried it on a box, and it worked like a charm. That one up there was inspired by the wrought iron work seen on balconies and gated doors.

I’m sure you’ve all grasped the gist of this tutorial (you paint on a box with fabric paint), but here’s the detailed process, complete with tips!

Supplies:

  1. little plastic box with a clear lid
  2. dimensional fabric paint
  3. scrap paper
  4. pencil/pen/sharpie

Directions:

  1. Trace the box lid onto your scrap paper.Image
  2. Plan your design. Protip: use a writing implement that’s as thick as the paint. I found out the hard way that the paint comes out thicker than pencil lead, meaning fine details will be lost when you use the paint.Image
  3. Cut your scrap paper so it fits inside your box lid and wedge it up there.Image
  4. Trace over your design with your fabric paint. You may notice that my sketch has some of the ‘scales’ colored in: If you’re planning to fill some regions, do all the outlining, let it set for about an hour, and then go back and fill in. This keeps the colors from mixing too much.Image
  5. After an hour or so, fill in areas, if necessary. If not, just give it a few hours to set up!Image
  6. Et Voila!

Of course, you don’t have to stick to patterns, or even plastic boxes!

Try words, perhaps giving a hint to the contents of the box.Image

Or paint on cardboard boxes! Here, I was covering a store logo. Much more mod and awesome, no?ImageAnd now you have three different methods to jazz up many types of small boxes. If you haven’t started to collect any, I hope these posts inspire you! And if you’re crazy like me and have a collection going, now you can jazz it up 🙂