Sweet Messages

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Happy Sunday, all!

Only 2 more days until V-day and perhaps you or the child in your life still hasn’t made up their mind about cards to give their friends. I’ve found some great, quick ideas for DIY Valentine cards that leaves a lot of room for personalizing and creativity. First up is a throwback to one of my other posts dealing with peg dolls:

Make them as nerdy as you want!

I could just imagine making some Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter peg doll Valentines with sayings like “Be my precious” accompanying a Gollum or “I’m mad about you” with a Mad-eye Moody (find the tutorial here). No? Just me? Ok, then. How about something slightly simpler that could help you reduce your fiber stash? The saying could also be adjusted to the situation:

Perhaps you could go with “Why knot be my Valentine?’ or for closer friends “You make me feel knotty.”

These are definitely customizable to favorite colors and appropriate puns, tutorial found here. Or maybe you already had a little bit of a splurge and find yourself with a bunch of chocolates that would be better off going to new homes PLUS it could help reduce a stash of scrapbooking materials:

It’s like a mini piñata!

Small toys or (if you are actually sending an anti-Valentine) glitter would also fit well into it, tutorial found here. Finally, if you find yourself with a lot of time or want to make a really big impression, I highly recommend taking a look at the hexagon explosion box:

Adding quotes, pictures, and rose petals is highly recommended. Glitter is not.

These beautiful three dimensional cards are simply amazing! When you do peruse the tutorial, make sure to scroll down to examples of what others have made because there are some that create a tower when you pull on the center! Again, the geek in me is super excited to turn this into a Tower of Sauron with hearts and pictures of the ring all around it. I know, not for everyone. Well I hope I am leaving you with some great ideas to send to your friends/sweeties/worst enemy (that glitter thing I mentioned, seriously). Have a great week!

Stay crafty!

~Laura


A Hand Warming Experience

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Happy Sunday, all!

While we are enjoying some unseasonably warm weather this week, it’s still winter and the Midwest US is famous for it’s sub-zero temperatures. So how to keep warm? With a little help from some grains (or seeds)! I’m talking hand/feet/neck warmers here. If you spend any time at all on Pinterest, I am quite sure these have popped up in your feed at one point.

If they have unicorns on them, even better!

They are pretty fantastic and a tutorial for the rice type ones has been posted before on Craft Hackers (here) but I want to go a little more in depth because these things are super effective, easy to make, and great for gifts. I’ve seen tutorials for rice, corn and flax seed types but hadn’t quite settled on which one would suit me. Lo and behold, someone has actually done some informal research on the subject! Sew4home compared the three for the time it take for each type to cool down (read the entire article here).

Which will it be? Will longer grains prevail? The seeds? The round kernels?

It turns out that flax seed keeps the heat steady for the longest period of time but there are other parameters to consider such as smell, feel, and cost. Each has a bit of a smell when heated but this can be reduced by adding in some aromatherapy (a great tutorial with different smells can be found here).

A little lavender can go a long way!

As far as feel goes, corn with all of it’s round bead-like size can be the most soothing against the skin. Corn also heats up faster and has great heat staying power as well. My favorite tutorial for making corn bags comes from the PlaysWithNeedles blog where she has a handy dandy tip sheet for making a “Cozy”:

The final parameter they mention is cost but I would also put in an honorable mention for availability. Rice is generally cheapest and most widely available but if you have a feed/grain store nearby, corn and flax can still be very economic. Flax does recommend itself as a reasonable option, especially as it is a seed and won’t need replacing as often (a purely flax tutorial can be found here).

Although I can just imagine the mess that comes with flax vs rice vs corn cleanup.

Whichever you may choose, there are some items they all share in common when making a warmer/cooler (yes, these can be stored in the freezer for soothing ouchies and headaches as well):

  1. Only use 100% cotton fabric, flannel is preferable for feel but not a necessity.
  2. Only partially fill the bag so that it still has movement and is not as hard as a rock – this also helps when sewing the end closed.
  3. Ensure that before the first use, you zap it a couple of times in the microwave to kill off any possible bugs and eliminate moisture.
  4. A funnel is your best friend when filling.
  5. Put a double seam around the edges to prevent these from breaking open (the temptation to toss them like bean bags is great).
  6. A cover is a great way to prevent these from getting too dirty but again, not a necessity.
  7. Heat in a clean microwave as I’m fairly certain you don’t want them to pick up the smells of leftovers.

That’s everything I’ve saved along my way in the quest for fantastic hand warmers! I think I’m going to use some of this good weather to open the windows while I get some sewing done, in prep for colder temps I know are just lying in wait.

Stay crafty!

~Laura


A Pin in the Hand

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…is not something you want! At the tail end of last year, I took up machine sewing in order to practice for the Nintendo BOM Quilt-a-long detailed in the Crafthackers forums. During the beginning stages I gathered appropriate materials, watched a ton of tutorials, and used a lot of scrap material as my rehearsal. Finding a couple of quick and easy starter projects to get comfortable with my machine were also a must. The very first project I scouted out was something that would not only help me work on my skills but also benefit my sewing supplies – a pin cushion! I think the hardest part was deciding what type to make. When push came to shove, I did not use any of the ones featured below (I’ll let you see that next week) but these are some decidedly good runner-ups. All of the following are links to Beginner/Easy tutorials if it is also your first time.

First up I found a tutorial that was not only quick, easy, and useful but also super cute! This particular pin cushion features both hand and machine sewing. A felt cupcake from Art Threads:

Just don't try to take a bite after you finish this prickly sweet.

Just don’t try to take a bite after you finish this prickly sweet.

The next is a very convenient and lovely take on a cuff pin cushion. I liked the idea of a cuff so much that I eventually chose one that was not quite so frilly. A fabric flower cuff from Ruffles and Stuff:

A blooming convenient place to stick those pins while working.

A blooming convenient place to stick those pins while working.

The third one I came across is still on my to-make list as I very much like the idea of having a way to distinguish my tools from others’ in a useful fashion. Small strawberry pin cushions from V and Co:

Freshly picked craft tools, my favorite!

Freshly picked craft tools, my favorite!

I think I was feeling mildly intimidated by the last one I was considering at the time, honestly. Now that I have a bit more experience I may consider re-visiting this one as well. A combination pin cushion/thread catcher from Merriment Design:

A quick solution to all of those thread ends and loose pins!

A quick solution to all of those thread ends and loose pins!

Next week, I will take you through the tutorial I used to make my own cuff pin cushion to satisfying effect.

Hope everyone is staying warm, winter has finally hit! What a perfect time to work on some sewing projects.

Stay crafty!

~Laura

 


The Wreath is the Thing

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I live in a condominium so decorating for the season can be a little restrained. My home has a very prominent but underutilized feature, though: the door. A wreath can be welcoming and fun so with it being autumn (my favorite season) the possibilities could include a riot of leaf colors or spooky Halloween themes or even some interesting gourds. Now, I could just head out to the local big box store and purchase one of their prefabricated creations but where is the fun in that? After a quick bit of search engine magic, I found a bunch of tutorials for some neat seasonally appropriate wreaths. First up is a very colorful and rather frugal project made with cardstock and yarn. This one is all about creating the right texture to achieve that leafy look.

Into scrapbooking? This leaf is for you!

Into scrapbooking? This leaf is for you!

Next up, if you have a big pile of yarn sitting around (like me) then this one is perfect for reducing some of the excess. It’s simple yet striking and you may even have some felt in the stash to make those coordinating flowers.

We've got that yarn stash all wrapped up.

We’ve got that yarn stash all wrapped up.

The following tutorial really caught my eye by being texturally different from most of the others. Yep, this is another paper wreath but this time made with paper plates and sprinkles! Innovative and includes a little bit of fun with fire, this one is not for the kids regardless of those sprinkles.

This is made from paper plates. I couldn't believe it, either!

This is made from paper plates. I couldn’t believe it, either!

Ok, I’ll have to be honest here…the above probably wouldn’t find their way to my door even if they are visually stimulating. There just aren’t enough skulls for me. Which is why this black burlap beauty of a wreath shall be mine! The textures and the little pops of color are just the right amount of eye catching.

Little bit of spook, little bit of lace, just my style!

Little bit of spook, little bit of lace, just my style!

So maybe you aren’t into the whole burlap thing that seems to be quite popular now? Or maybe you want something a little more flamboyant? How about some feathers WITH a skull?! I really love the little surprise colors of green or blue in the feathers.

Feathers and skulls and pops of purple!

Feathers and skulls and pops of purple!

Whichever route you take, there are plenty of options out there and the local craft shops (or even dollar stores) often carry wreath forms in different sizes and shapes. Stay crafty and have fun!

~Laura


Books Breed Like Rabbits…

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I love to read. Even before I really knew how to read I was ‘reading’ to my younger siblings when they were babies, as I had memorized what was said for each page on classics like ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ and would ‘read’ it to them while I sat on the couch. 🙂

Even with the paperless future we are slowly moving towards, I wanted to highlight a simple craft that anyone can do for that avid reader in their life. What is it you ask? Well, making bookends obviously.

Gold Pile Bookends

I’ll be linking a few more tutorials I found, but all of these were wonderfully creative bookends that could all be done at a low cost, while still adding a really fun and nice looking decoration. Besides the gold rocks, my other favorite is more pop art:

Telephone Bookends

Some of the others I found really inspiring were the Book Bricks, the Rope Knot, and these adorable plush ones. The last one I may be biased on, lol. 😉

All of these projects can be done for $10 or less, and they even range based on your skill level with crafting. Don’t be surprised if I make some for myself when my husband and I move into our new house. 😉

~Nicole