Monogrammed Wooden Coasters

Monogrammed Wooden CoastersI don’t know if it’s just that I’m coming off of a hard year and need to keep things kind of simple, or if it’s just happenstance, but every idea I seemed to have this time around could be made in minutes. I had to repeat the stencil idea from yesterday, but instead of freezer paper – which wouldn’t stick to wood – this time we’re using vinyl shelf paper. Another exacto session and a little paint drying and this project is done in time to give to the hostess of the Christmas party that evening.

SuppliesYou will need:
a square wooden piece – I got mine precut in a bundle of 2 at Michael’s, but you could easily cut a piece yourself. You just don’t want it too thick.
a vinyl stencil – If you’ve got a vinyl cutter this is even easier, but without one you just get your image printed out, tape it on top of the shelf paper, and then use an exacto knife to cut through both layers at once.
Wood Stain

Step 1Peel off the paper backing and stick the stencil to the wooden piece. Take care to burnish all the edges down really tight to make a good seal.

Step 2Paint your image. I found that a thick craft paint worked best for this. Wood stain or dye or markers – anything very watery – will get absorbed by the wood grain and bleed through.

Step 3When your paint is dry, peel off the stencil. Give the edges a good sanding and if you want to distress your paint a little you can give that a sand as well. I like to take down the sharp edges as I’m sanding because I think it gives it a really finished look.

Step 4Use a paper towel or shop rag to rub wood stain over the entire coaster. Make sure to get the edges and the back as well. Let it dry thoroughly.

Step 5Repeat this process until you have a whole set ready for giving.

Wooden CoastersI’m not normally a fan of the rustic – I’m all clean lines and polish – but there’s something about wood that makes me throw all that out the window. I think these are lovely enough to just sit on a tabletop all the time, but because it’s unsealed wood it will also be the most absorbent coaster ever.


Stenciled Tote Bag

Stenciled Tote Bag
This is another project just like yesterday’s that came from my “Gifts for Dudes” brainstorm session, and once again, it will work for absolutely anyone. But what really inspired this tote bag is Bear. He will not carry a bag. He’ll carry a laptop bag if necessary, but otherwise he’ll just toss things loose in his car, he’ll stuff his pockets, he’ll do without, but he won’t carry a tote. This frustrates me to no end because if we’re together, it means his junk gets put in my bag. I wanted to make this tote to encourage him to carry his own dang stuff, but also to celebrate anyone out there who is caring enough about the environment to use totes instead of worrying about how cool they look.

Step 1
This is a simple freezer paper stencil technique, which is one of my mainstays. It is so very simple and so very effective. You just need a surface to stencil – a tote bag in this case – freezer paper, and paint. It has to be freezer paper (which you’ll find next to the tinfoil) because that has a wax coating on one side that will melt into the fabric just enough to hold it locked in to place.

To make my stencils I just work up my image on the computer and print it out. Then I tape that print out on top of the freezer paper, and use an exacto knife to cut through both layers of paper. Make sure you save the insides of all those letters because you’ll need those to make the stencil look right.

Step 2
Use a hot dry iron to affix the stencil to the tote bag. Those tiny little centers can be tricky, but you’ll want to take care to get those good and stuck. Your image will come out so much cleaner if you do.

Step 3
Then just paint your image. I use regular acrylic craft paint and I never bother with any of those fabric mediums. Especially not with a tote bag that doesn’t require flexibility. When the paint is dry give it a good iron to really heat set that paint in place.

Tote Bag
Not only is this a great project for anyone, but it’s a great super last minute gift. Depending on how handy you are with your exacto knife, you could have this project done and wrapped in a couple of hours. Now that I think about it, this would be a fantastic teacher’s gift too. Every teacher I know has to carry mountains of books and papers around, and if it’s an English teacher, you know they’ll enjoy the pun.


Leather Cord Roll

Leather Cord Roll
This year when brainstorming gift ideas, I worked really really hard to come up with some good stuff for dudes. The stuff I thought up is really appropriate for anybody, but they fit in those categories that men often show a lot of interest in – tech, gaming, travel. So, see? Anyone, but since most DIY projects land on the frilly side of the fence, anything that’s not made out of toile seems to count as for menfolk. Anyhoo, gender theory tangent aside, my point is that I’ve got some awesome stuff coming up that would be appropriate for dudes (as well as ladies) and today is the first of those projects.

I spent the last month traveling somewhere every week. And that much travel in such a short period of time will really highlight some of the frustrations in the process. A big one for me? Cords. They turn into a snarled mess in my bag, but I might need them at any moment so I can’t pack them away somewhere that won’t lead to me unpacking my whole bag every time I need my wallet. This cord roll solves that problem, and made out of leather and suede, it’s manly enough for the manliest man. It’s also simple enough you could make it during a commercial break.

You will need:
A piece of leather or suede cut to 11″ x 4″
A strap of leather about 18″ long
Exacto knife
Hole punch
Eyelet setter

Step 1
Once you get your piece of leather cut to the dimensions you’d like, you need to cut the slits in them. If you’re using my measurements, cut each slit 1″ apart, and 1 1/2″ long. Then do it again 1″ directly below the first slits. I used an exacto knife to make my marks and then came back with scissors to get all the way through the leather.

Since there are no seams and no sizing, you can make this roll any size you want and it will work. My sizes were based on what was available at my craft store, and what I thought looked about right. SUPER scientific.

Step 2
Then it’s just a matter of coming up with a closure. I used my Crop-O-Dile to punch a hole through the leather strap and the edge of the leather body piece, and then used it again to press an eyelet into place. My leather strap was pretty thick, so I found it helpful to use a longer than average eyelet, like the ones Darice sells. But if your strap is thinner than mine a regular eyelet will work just fine. They only trick is to make sure your strap isn’t crooked when you install it, because once that eyelet is in place it’s not going anywhere.

Step 3
Bundle up your cord and slide it through the tab you’ve made in your leather

Step 4
To close it, just roll the leather up and then use the leather strap to wrap around it a few times, tucking the end under the loops you’ve made.

Leather Cord Roll
I made sure to make extras of this project so that everyone in my house wouldn’t be fighting over it every time we went anywhere. And really, it took so little time that I could probably crank these out for everyone in line with us at the airport. It would be a way better use of my time than digging through everything I own for the right charger.


12 Days of Christmas Gift Tower

Gift Tower
In all of my Christmas decorating, I haven’t done much with the theme of presents. That’s because all of my decorating is done in part so that the celebration isn’t just about getting stuff. But even I have to make certain exceptions, because there is little that is as pretty and thrilling as a wrapped up package. Except for maybe 12 wrapped up packages all tied up together. When I found this set of 12 nesting boxes, I knew I had to make a decoration that would celebrate the 12 days of Christmas.

You will need:
A set of 12 nesting boxes. I got mine at Joann’s and they’re made by Die Cuts With A View
Spray paint
Gift Tag

Step 1
You can decorate these boxes any way your heart desires. Since that top box gets so little, I wanted to keep the look pretty simple and traditional. I sprayed the boxes with a deep green or burgandy – planning that part out carefully so the colors would alternate correctly – and then misted some gold spray paint over the top to add an elegant metallic sheen.

Step 2
I added a glitter border around the lids of each box by running a line of glue around the very edge, and sprinkling it with glitter. Let this dry thoroughly before assembling, it’s easy to botch up the glue while it’s wet.

Step 3
Finish decorating the boxes however you’d like. I cut these numbers out of velvet paper and glued one on each side.

Step 4
Stack the boxes up by size and glue them in place.

Step 5
Wrap a ribbon around the entire stack and tie it off with a giant bow at the top. I love the effect I got from using a double sided ribbon.

Step 6
The gift tag I decorated with glitter in the same way as the box lids. A little glue around the edges and some glitter on top. Then just a handwritten message.

Step 7
When the tag is dry, tie it onto the bow.

12 Days of Christmas Gift Tower
This turned out to be a really simple project I finished in a matter of hours, and it’s a great way to add some height to a tablescape where everything is suffering from being around the same size. I think mine will go under my 12 Days of Christmas tree, as the perfect finishing touch I didn’t know I needed.


Woven Seed Bead Necklace

Woven Seed Bead Necklace
I’m such a sucker for seed beads. Despite their small size, I’d rather work with seed beads than any other kind of bead. Which means you have to be really creative so you don’t just make the same necklace over and over again. To shake things up I thought I’d combine a couple of beading techniques – stringing and weaving. The woven sections are such a great contrast to the strung sections, and the strung sections means that it’s wearable and drapes beautifully. If you’ve never woven beads before, this is a great first project since you’ll only have to weave a few small sections.

You will need:
Beading thread
Beading Needles
2 colors of small seed beads
1 color of larger seed beads

Step 1
You’ll save yourself a lot of grief if you give yourself a stopper so your beads don’t all just fall off the other end of the thread. Use a bead that brightly contrasts the color you’ll be weaving and thread it towards the bottom, leaving a few inches you can weave in later. Loop the thread around the outside of the bead and bring the needle through the other side, like you’re making a cursive L. Pull tight.

Step 2
Thread on your first row of beads to be woven. I made my sections 9 beads tall, but you can do as few or as many as you’d like.

Step 3
Thread on the first bead for Row 2, then in the same way you did for the stopper, bring the thread up and around and push the needle through the left side of the last bead on Row 1. Again, think cursive L.

Step 4
Bring the thread back up to Row 2 and push the needle through the bead you’ve added. Then repeat this process to add the next bead. Thread the new bead, push the needle through the bead directly below it…

Step 5
Then back up and through the new bead again. Keep pulling tight as you go, this looks best with nice tight tension.

Step 6
I made my woven sections 9 beads tall and 5 rows wide, but again, you can customize this however you’d like. Weave in the ends of your thread by running them through several beads and then cutting off the extra.

Step 7
Next comes the strung parts. Start with a stopper bead, then string a bunch of the smaller beads onto the beading thread, and when you get the length you need, thread on one of the woven sections by running the needle all the way through one of the rows of woven beads. When you come out the other side, continue stringing on the smaller beads.

Step 8
You’ll want to measure so that you get the overall size of the necklace you want, and then use that measurement to decide how long each section should be. I just figured it out as I went and held it up to myself, but if it’s a gift you’ll want to plan better than I did.

Step 9
When you’ve got all your strands done you’ll have a collection of tails to deal with. Gather all the tails on one side together and pull until you’ve got the beads lined up at the same point.

Step 10
Use a crimp bead to keep all these threads from escaping. Set aside two or three threads that are nice and long and then snip off the rest.

Step 11
Thread the remaining long threads through a jewelry cone and tuck all the unsightly thread stumps up inside.

Step 12
Thread on another crimp bead and then a jump ring. Bring the threads back around and back down through the crimp bead, and then smush that sucker to hold the jump ring tight. Thread the remaining threads back into the jewelry cone or just cut them off and dab with glue.

Step 13
Repeat with all the threads on the other side, and add a clasp on to the jump ring.

This necklace is a classic, so depending on what colors you use and how long you make it, it will not only work for everyone from grandma to your niece, but it will never go out of style. I liked the opportunity to use just a pop of neon so I could get with a trend without getting swept away by it. I can do neon in doses this small.

Woven Bead Necklace


How to Finish a Quilt

Finish a Quilt
So yesterday I showed you how to use my favorite technique – machine applique – to make a city street scene your kids can use for playtime. Today I want to show you how to take that play cloth – or any other quilt top or even large piece of fabric – and turn it into a quilt.

Finish Step 1
Before you begin quilting the first thing to do is make what we call a “Quilt Sandwich.” You sandwich the batting between the top and bottom layers of the quilts. Take your backing fabric – it’s easiest if this is larger than your quilt top so you don’t have to struggle to keep things lined up – and tape it to your floor with the right side facing down. Take your time with this, you want to get it as flat and smooth as you possibly can. Any care you take in the sandwich step will pay off with no wrinkles and neat quilting later on.

Finish Step 2
On top of that lay out your batting, and then your quilt top, taking care to smooth and stretch each piece.

Finish Step 3
Now you need to get that quilt sandwich to stay put, which means basting. There are many ways to do this, some old fashioned hand stitches, some spray glues, but I just like to grab every single safety pin in the house and shellac the quilt with them. I don’t think you can pin too much. Once you start quilting, especially if you use a small sewing machine like I do, the fabrics will be pulled and pushed and rolled in so many different directions that you’ll sew pieces together if they’re not held tightly in place. This is so so so easy to do. So take the time and lock everything in.

Finish Step 4
Now it’s time to quilt. The pattern you choose is just as much a feature of the design as the fabric you pick out. A great quilting pattern can make an otherwise ho-hum quilt sing. But for something like this play quilt, I just used a freeform stipple pattern. The video goes into great detail about this including the sewing machine foot I use and some gloves that offer enough friction to help push the quilt through the sewing machine easier. If you want to keep things as simple as possible, you could always just sew along the edges of your appliqued pieces and that would be enough for this project.

Finish Step 5
The last part of every quilt project is the binding. This part is difficult to write out, but I go through step by step in the video, so again, refer to that if anything I say here is confusing.

Trim the quilt so you get a clean edge and all the layers match up. For the binding I like to cut strips of fabric to 3″ wide and then sew them all together to create a long chain. Fold the strip in half with the wrong sides in and line the edges of the binding strip up with the edge of the quilt, so all the raw edges are facing the same way. Start sewing about 18″ from the start of the strip and sew all the way to the corner.

When you get to the corner, lift the needle and presser foot and turn the quilt to feed through the next side. Pull the binding strip up behind the side you’ll be sewing, making a triangle at the corner where the binding strip changes direction. Then, keeping that triangle in place, bend the binding strip over the top of it and down to line up with the side you’ll be sewing. Then just sew.

Finish Step 6
Now the binding is sewn onto one side, but the raw edges are still exposed on the back. So we have to wrap the binding around to the back and sew it in place. If you’re in a rush you can do this on the machine. You just hide the second line of stitches in the seam where the binding meets the front of the quilt. But I really prefer to take my time and do it by hand. It really doesn’t take that long and it just looks immaculate.

Finished Quilt
Quilting was always one of those things that lived in my imagination as something Super Women did. They quilted and made their own bread and canned fruit. It seemed so intricate and hard to me, and it can be, like any artform there are advanced and beginner techniques, but the entry isn’t as hard as I imagined it was. It probably isn’t as hard as you’ve imagined either.


City Streets Play Mat

City Streets Play Cloth
If you watch the video, and I hope you do because not only is it clearer than the few photos I took but I think I love making youtube videos even more than blogging and I’m having oodles of fun with it, you will know that this project has been in the work for, like, years. It was something I knew I wanted to make for Atti but there was always a deadline or a crisis so it’s been sitting on my desk for ages taunting poor Atti with the promise of playtime. No longer. It is finally finished and Atti is rolling around and driving his cars on it all day long. A quilt might seem ambitious to do before Christmas, and it’s certainly not the easiest thing to do, but using machine applique will speed the process up dramatically.

Top 1
The fabric for your quilt top should be whatever you want the ground to look like. Brown for a construction zone, Gray for a city center, or green for the suburbs like I did. Since this was a play size I didn’t get particular about the measurements, I believe I made it about 2 yds long and as wide as it came off the bolt. For the city you just need to cut a bunch of shapes out of whatever fabrics you want. Squares with a triangle on top make the houses, and rectangles with different sized circles make up the trees.

Top 2
To make the roads I cut strips of dark fabric 3″ wide, and then sewed them together to get plenty of length. If I wanted to make curving streets I’d have to cut these strips on the bias, but I was uninterested in that noise, straight streets worked just fine for me.

Top 3
To get the fabric pieces to stick until you sew them down, you’ll need to use fusible web. It’s basically a double sided iron on glue. Just cut the fusible web to the same size as your shapes and iron it on. Once it cools you peel off the paper backing and iron it on to the quilt top fabric.

Top 4
To machine applique you don’t need a special sewing machine, you just have to use a zig zag stitch and set the stitches super close together. Using a thread that matches each piece, just zig zag around the outside. I give more detailed instructions in this post, as well as in the video. Don’t forget your trusty coffee filters behind the top of the quilt to keep everything stable and smooth.

Top 5
With all the pieces stitched down, I used a little more zig zag to make the center lines of the streets. I think it’s a little touch that really adds a lot to the quilt top.

Play Cloth
If you’re not interested in turning this into a quilt – because you don’t have the time or you just don’t feel like it, you can leave it as a play cloth by just folding the edges under twice and sewing a hem. Then it can just work like a table cloth and you can neatly fold it up and bring it out with no fuss. Although, if your kid is like my Atti, you might not ever need to put it away.


DIY Christmas – Inspirational Glitter Canvas

Inspirational Glitter Canvas
Bear made me promise no new trees this year. Since you have to make multiples of every project, they are so dang labor intensive and I’m incessantly talking about what needs to be done instead of celebrating the holiday. With how craptacular this year has been, I couldn’t go full tilt.

BUT! I am eager to get things moving around here and my brain is practically boiling with ideas I need to get out of there. So instead of ornaments, I’m going to be doing another month stuffed with DIY tutorials perfect for all the people on your gift list. And since I’m doing my best to take it easy, they’ll all be projects you can make quickly. (Except for tomorrow’s, but you could make a version….I’m getting ahead of myself.)

For today, I’ve got a project that would work for anybody who likes a little bling. Teachers, tweens, sassy grandmas, anybody with a desk, anybody who could use an inspirational kick in the pants that comes covered in glitter.

Step 1
Supplies are simple. You need some kind of a backing, glue, paintbrushes, and lots and lots of glitter. You could use a canvas or a flat piece of wood, but I used a wood panel so that it would have a finished look, not require framing, and I’d have a smooth flat surface to glue on.

Step 2
I found this inspirational quote at Doodle Art Alley and loved it, so I just printed out one of their coloring pages and used some mod podge to glue it straight on to the wood. I cut the paper to have a wobbly edge so there wouldn’t be a visible straight line underneath the glitter.

Step 3
Then it’s just a matter of coloring things in. Since I have an expansive glitter library, I jumped at the chance to get as many colors in there as possible. I worked with the smallest areas first, and then went from the center out.

Step 4
To color with glitter, you just need to apply the glue wherever you want each color, working one color at a time. I love these little Martha Stewart paintbrushes for skinny little areas. I also like to water my glue down just a touch so that it’s easier to spread without clumps.

Step 5
Once you have the glue all over the section you’re working on, sprinkle the glitter over the top. You don’t want to be shy here. I also like to take another piece of paper and lay it on top of my pile, then give it a gently press so that the glitter gets good and stuck into that glue.

Step 6
Let the excess glitter run off onto some kind of a collector. I use glitter and beads and powders so much that I have this cool little tray with a funnel on one end, but before I had that I just used a piece of paper I’d folded in half to make a crease. The glitter collects in that crease and works great as a DIY funnel to get the glitter back in the jar for next time.

Step 7
Let the glue dry thoroughly before coloring in a surrounding section.

Step 8
Keep coloring in with the glue and glitter until your whole coloring page is filled in.

Glitter Canvas
I think this project is destined for Atti’s room. My little perfectionist could sure use this message, and the colors work great. But if I toned down the colors I’d hang it over my own desk too. I don’t think there’s a person out there that couldn’t use this little inspirational reminder.


Monogrammed Button Bracelet

Button Bracelet
Mom’s Day crafts aren’t always simple. Sure, they’re not as hard as Father’s Day, but it’s still hard to strike the balance between honoring the holiday and making something that looks like a school project made by a Kindergartener. You could just make something pretty, or you could make something sentimental. Or you could make this button bracelet, that’s both.

The buttons make it a charming vintage looking bracelet, but the subtle dyed monogram makes it touching and sentimental without looking like you’d have to be touched to wear it. It’s the best of both worlds.

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Singed Flower Headband

Dyed Headband
My organza flower tutorial is, still, one of the most popular things I’ve ever done on this site, and every time I see another link to it I chuckle to myself, remembering that it was a total accident and not what I intended to make at all. There’s little I love as much as a good happy accident.

After all this time I wanted to revisit that tutorial and update it with a fresh technique and a fresh use. Perfect for Spring and Summer, everybody needs a flower headband, and if you’re the type that doesn’t love headbands – like me – you can use it like a fascinator by just making your flower extra big.

Click through for the full tutorial.

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