Fun

Tutorial: Giant Ruler Growth Chart

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Posted on Jul 11, 2014 in Fun

ruler nursery growth chart

I think pretty much everyone has a story about where in their childhood home they marked their height as a kid. I always loved the idea of having a visual representation of a kid’s growth in the home, but I never loved the permanence of it all. I grew up in one house, and then moved to another when I was 11—and with that move, my growth marks stayed behind. I was always a little sad that part of my childhood didn’t get to come along with me. And of course, moving isn’t the only way the marks can disappear—maybe you want to paint a wall or remodel a room. Once those marks are gone, they’re gone forever.

ruler nursery growth chart

So when I was flipping through Pottery Barn a few years back and saw their ruler growth charts, I knew that was the direction I wanted to go when we eventually decided to grow our family. Not only were they adorable and quirky, but, most importantly, they were transferable. While Craig and I don’t plan on moving out of this house until we’re old and gray, the truth is, you never know where life will take you, and I love that wherever we go in life, we can take this growth chart with us.

Of course, I couldn’t stomach the $90 price tag on the Pottery Barn version. I mean, after all, it’s pretty much just a piece of wood with some tick marks and numbers painted on it! So when it was time to start working on Baby J’s nursery, I decided I was going to make my own. And I did, for about $15.

Here’s what you’ll need to make your own version:

Materials

  • 1-1” x 8” x 6’ pine board
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Stain and rags/brushes for application (optional)
  • Printer and paper (for the number stencils)
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Black acrylic paint (or white if you’re going with a dark stain)
  • Thin paint brush
  • Spray polyurethane
  • Hanging method—sawtooth hanger, heavy duty mounting tape, anchors and screws, etc.

We had nearly everything to make this at home, except the board. A quick trip to Home Depot and we had ourselves a 1” x 8” x 6’ premium board for less than $10. Make sure to look for one that isn’t warped and has a texture and grain you like.

board

We went back and forth about staining the board (after all, most new rulers have that light, pine board color to them), but decided we’d rather darken up the color a bit to match the rest of the wood in the room and help make it feel a bit rustic and old. We knew we wanted black numbers and tick marks, so we didn’t want to go so dark those didn’t show. So we landed on this oak stain. A small can for $3 was plenty—we could probably make 10 more growth charts with how much stain we had leftover!

stain

Before staining, per the instructions on the can, I lightly sanded the wood using a fine-grit sandpaper going in the direction of the grain.

sanding sandpaper

Then I wiped off the sanding dust and let it dry completely. Then, I used an old cloth and applied the stain.

stain board

I let the first coat dry per the instructions, and then applied a second for just a slightly darker tone. Like I said, we still wanted to use black lettering, so I didn’t want it to go too dark. All done!

board

I let it dry outside for a few hours until it was dry to the touch, and then I brought it inside to start putting on the marks. I used a ruler (this clear grid ruler worked really well for me, but a regular ruler would work, too). I decided that I wanted to hang the ruler 8” up from the floor in the nursery, so I started my first hash mark at the 9” spot. There, I just drew a pencil line. To keep the ruler looking authentic, I made the 1/8 marks 1-1/2” long, the 1/4 marks 2” long, the 1/2 marks 2-1/2” long, and then the foot marks 3” long. You can play with it to see what lengths feel right.

ruler growth chart

I made my way all the way down the ruler making marks with the pencil. It sounds tedious, but it really only took about 30 minutes. Then, I came back with a thin paint brush, black acrylic paint and a steady hand. I just painted right over top of the lines.

ruler growth chart

It definitely isn’t perfect, but I kinda enjoy the wiggly, handmade quality of my lines. And from two or more feet back, you can barely tell the lines aren’t perfectly straight.

ruler growth chart

The next step was to put the numbers on. I headed to my computer and found what I thought was a ruler-y looking font—Century Schoolbook, and printed out the numbers 1-6 at 200pt. Honestly, you could go with whatever font makes you happy, I just like the traditional look.

Then, I lined up the numbers with the foot hash marks. I did a little research about how “traditional” rulers do this, and they usually actually put the number directly before the corresponding hashmark, instead of below it. So that’s what I did.

ruler growth chart

And then I used a mechanical pencil (with the lead retracted), to burnish around the outline of the number. Because the wood was soft, this transferred an indentation to the wood.

ruler growth chart

And then I used a pencil to define the edge a little more on the actual wood.

ruler growth chart

I transferred the stencil for all the numbers, and then came back with my paint brush and black paint and filled in the lines. I love that the numbers are a little bit debossed.

ruler growth chart

Once all the acrylic paint was dry, I took the board back outside and gave it two nice coats of satin polyurethane. I went with satin because (a) it’s what we had on hand and (b) I feel like the satin will protect the board, but still allow us to write over it with a permanent marker or paint marker (whereas a gloss might not).

I left the board outside for the evening to off-gas and finish drying, then, the next morning, we put heavy duty mounting tape on the back and hung it up on the wall (making sure to measure up 8” from the floor). You could also use a saw-tooth picture hanger or screws and anchors. We like the mounting tape because it’s crazy secure (we used enough to hold 20 pounds, but the board is less than 5), doesn’t require any holes in the wall, and the board is completely flat against the wall—no wobbling or bobbling.

ruler nursery growth chart

Just to make sure all is right, I then took a tape measure to verify that the ruler was going to measure correctly—and it does! Spot on, in fact.

ruler nursery growth chart

I am absolutely in love with this little project. Not only do I think it’s adorable, but I love that it’s functional and portable. I can’t wait to start marking Baby J’s progress as she gets bigger and bigger.

Did your family keep track of your growth when you were growing up? Did you have a special door frame or wall that shows your progress?

Tutorial: American Flag Yarn Wreath

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Posted on Jul 3, 2014 in Fun

flag wreath

The 4th of July is a big deal where I live. We’re in a teeny, tiny town, but, man, we seriously know how to throw one heck of a birthday party for the good ole U-S-of-A. In fact, our Independence Day celebration is our claim to fame—we have the oldest consecutive 4th of July celebration in the States. Which means, that even though we only have about 1400 residents, the town throws a huge party for days. There is a giant parade, a big festival with rides and games, a huge fireworks show, and tons of other events. On parade day, our little town swells with visitors and media. On a slow news day, they’ve even been known to cover our celebration on the national news! We’re kinda a big deal.

4th of july wreath

Growing up, it was a really big honor to get to march in the parade in front of the whole town. I was lucky enough to do it a few different times as a Girl Scout and as a member of the color guard in the marching band in high school (guard girls, rock, by the way). It was always so fun to get out there and show off how awesome our tiny little Midwestern town is.

I think my marching in the parade days are over, but we still try to get down and watch the parade every year. I’m not sure if we’ll make it this year or not with a teeny tiny baby tagging along (it depends a lot of the weather, if it isn’t too hot, we might try). But even if we don’t make it to the parade and festival, and don’t get a funnel cake and a lemon shake-up, we still have to do our part to celebrate this country we love! And that includes some festive decor.

flag wreath front porch door

This little flag wreath is such a fun and easy project to celebrate the biggest of summer holidays. I love how patriotic it is, and I love that it’s sturdy enough to last for years and years. I also love that it is really lightweight. I know that sounds strange, but we get a lot of crazy blustery summer storms around here, and I’ve learned over the years that heavy wreaths and door decor makes quite the racket during nasty weather. I had a metal Halloween sign up our first year here, and I’m surprised it didn’t end up shattering the glass! No problems like that with this little foam wreath—it’s light as a feather (well, a few feathers, but still).

flag wreath

Let me show you how to make it. First up, you’ll need to run to the craft store to grab a few supplies.

Materials:

  • 12″ foam wreath form
  • Marker
  • Red, white and navy blue yarn (you can just get the cheap stuff)
  • White star buttons (you could also use circle buttons if you can’t find stars)
  • 1″ burlap ribbon or a piece of burlap, cut into long strips
  • Glue gun and glue

wreath materials

First up, you want to mark some guidelines for yourself on the wreath. Start by marking the wreath into fourths. In other words, put a mark at 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock. No need to get out the ruler and measure it, just eyeball it.

flag wreath

The top left quadrant (from 9 o’clock to 12 o’clock) will be your blue star field. You’ll fill that all up with blue yarn. The remaining three quadrants, you want to go ahead and divide them up into thirds. That way, you’ll end up with nine red and white stripes. Again, just eyeball it.

flag wreath

Then, start tying on the yarn. I started with the blue star field. I took my navy yarn, and just tied it on tightly with a square knot.

flag wreath

And then tightly wrap the yarn around, making sure that the tied on tail of the knot goes under the yarn as you wrap. Looping the big skein of yarn in and out of the inside of the wreath form gets a touch tedious, so I recommend winding some of the yarn (you don’t need all of it) into a ball—which makes it a bit easier to handle.

wreath

Make sure you’re pushing the yarn tightly against the previous row each time you wrap so no wreath form is showing. Also, no worries about overlapping in some places—it has to happen because the inside circumference of the wreath is shorter than the outside, so you’ll need to do some layers.

wreath

Once you hit the line you marked earlier, it’s time to switch colors. Just lop off the current color you’re working with, and then tie on the next color right next to it. Start wrapping with the new color, making sure that the tail of the previous color and the tail from the new color’s knot are under the wrap as you go.

wreath

You’ll, obviously, want to alternate between red and white stripes for the remainder of the form. I started with red and ended with red, but you can start with white, if that makes you happy. Keep on wrapping until the whole wreath form is covered.

wreath

The next step is to add some stars. You could use foam stars, circle buttons, wooden stars—whatever! I happened to find this fun little mixture of star buttons on sale at the fabric store and thought they’d be perfect. I love that the buttons feel very….Americana.

star buttons wreath

Then, I took a glue gun and glued on the stars in a somewhat random pattern to fill in the space on the star field.

flag wreath

I didn’t really follow any rhyme or reason for attaching the stars, but you could put them in a pattern if you’d like—this would especially work if you’re using stars or circles that are all the same size.

flag wreath

The final step is to attach a hanger. I decided to go with burlap because I feel like it goes really well with the handmade, country feeling of the wreath (plus, I like the color contrast between the bright wreath and the natural burlap). You can buy burlap ribbon at most craft or fabric stores, or you can just lop off an inch wide piece of burlap from a big chunk of the stuff. A pretty satin ribbon would look really nice, too!

burlap ribbon wreath

Wrap the end of the burlap around the top, making sure it’s nice and centered over the left edge of the navy star field and the right edge of first stripe.

flag wreath

And then put a big dollop of hot glue on top, and wrap the burlap around to overlap. Go ahead and promise me you won’t use your fingers to push the burlap down. Burlap has holes in it. And the hot glue goes through those holes. And hot glue burns. Not that I know from experience or anything…

flag wreath

Let the glue dry completely, and then hang it up on your door! We have wooden doors, so I just use a flat-headed thumbtack on the top of the door (like, the tippy-top—the part that goes under the door frame) to attach the wreath. It works for us, but you could also use a wreath hanger or Command hook.

flag wreath

I’m kinda obsessed with how adorable this little wreath is. I feel like I’m doing my part to add to the festive decor of our little town! Happy birthday, America!

Does your hometown have a claim-to-fame? Any big festivals or events?

Tutorial: 10 Minute Maple Leaf Onesie

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Posted on Jun 30, 2014 in Fun

maple leaf onesie

Happy (almost) Canada Day, friends! I have a fun little tutorial to share with you today to celebrate the Great White North. Even though Craig and I live in the States (and love where we live), we both try really hard to make sure our house has a lot of Canadian love all year ’round—and we plan on passing around the love of Canadian culture to our little girl, too. It’s important to both of us that Baby J knows that she is both American and Canadian (quite literally, she’s a dual citizen).

Anywho, we’ve always done our part to celebrate Craig’s homeland on Canada Day every year, and this year, Baby J gets to join in the fun, too by wearing an adorable maple leaf onesie. This onesie took all of about 10 minutes to throw together. It’s so easy! Here’s what you’ll need:

Materials

  • Printed maple leaf template
  • Heat ‘n’ Bond Lite
  • Marker
  • Red fabric
  • Plain onesie
  • Thread, sewing machine, scissors, iron, other sewing stuffs.

onesie materials

We’re going to follow the same method we used to make the applique on this pillow. Except this one is even easier because I already did the template for you.  Print out the template—you can feel free to size it up or down if you want to tweak the sizing. At 100% it’s a good size to fill up the front of both a 0-3 month and a 3-6 month onesie.

Just like we did with the pillow, you’ll want to use Heat ‘n’ Bond Lite. This stuff is the bomb. I always have a giant roll of it kicking around, because I use it all the time. Basically, it’s a very thin, heat-activated adhesive with a paper backing—and it works great for adhering two pieces of fabric together. You can find it at most fabric stores (and even some discount stores—I’ve seen at both Target and Walmart in their crafting aisles). It comes in rolls, or, at most fabric stores, they also sell it by the yard on a bolt—which is a much better deal if you only plan on doing one or two appliques.

Anyway, layer the Heat ‘n’ Bond over top of the printed template—smooth side up. You should be able to see through the Heat ‘n’ Bond to the template.

onesie template

Using a marker, trace the maple leaf pattern onto the Heat ‘n’ Bond.

maple leaf onesie

Throw your template in the recycling, and then take a pair of scissors and cut around the maple leaf pattern on the Heat ‘n’ Bond—no need to be super accurate, you just want to cut off some of the bulk.

maple leaf onesie

Then, take your red fabric, iron it well, and place the Heat ‘n’ Bond—sticky/rough side down—on the back/wrong side of the red fabric you’re using. Iron it down until it sticks.

maple leaf onesie

maple leaf onesie

maple leaf onesie

Using sharp scissors, clip out the maple leaf from the fabric.

maple leaf onesie

Then, take your onesie and iron it well. Peel the backing off the maple leaf, and place it where you think it looks good on the onesie.

maple leaf onesie

Once you’re happy with the placement, iron ‘er down.

maple leaf onesie

All stuck!

maple leaf onesie

Go ahead and open up the onesie, and set up your sewing machine on a zig-zag stitch with red thread (or, really, whatever color makes you happy, the red just blends away nicely). You’ll want to pull the onesie over the sewing table of your machine—you probably want to remove the sewing arm.

maple leaf onesie

Then sew all the way around the perimeter of the leaf using the zig-zag stitch. Stopping and picking up the presser foot to move the onesie/switch directions as necessary.

In some places, it’ll take some squishing to get the right direction, but just as long as you make sure you’re only sewing through one layer of onesie—not the back—you’ll be good.

maple leaf onesie

Once you’re done sewing, tie together the front threads and clip, and the repeat with the back threads.

maple leaf onesie

Iron the the onesie again to make sure it’s nice looking.

maple leaf onesie

And then put it on an adorable baby. And go celebrate an awesome country. Happy Canada Day everyone!

Anyone doing anything fun to celebrate Canada Day? Who’s having a big family cookout?

Word Applique Pillow Tutorial

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Posted on Mar 27, 2014 in Fun

nursery futon pillow

I know there are a lot of horrible things in this world, but let me suspend my usual perspective for a bit and talk about a first-world problem—the price of throw pillows is ridiculous. I understand that sewing is a lost art, and most folks would rather toss money over the counter at HomeGoods than learn how to sew a throw pillow, but once you do know how easy it is (and how cheap), you’ll never be able to look at those pillow prices the same way again.  I can literally make you a throw pillow for $2 in 10 minutes. Heck, if you want to spring for the zipper and pillow form, I can make you a fancy, washable zippered one for less that $5 in about 15 minutes. If you don’t learn to sew anything else, I urge you to learn to sew a zippered throw pillow case. And this is an adorable one to start with.

pillow

We have a hand-me-down futon in the nursery, and to make it a little more our style and up the comfy factor, I’m making a million throw pillows to go on it. It’s a cheap and easy way to really update an area. I’m planning on just making most of them pretty simple, with just some fun, patterned fabric. But I figure it’d be nice to mix it up a bit, too with some pillows with a bit of umph! And that’s where this appliqued pillow comes in.

pillow futon nursery

If appliqueing a pillow sounds hard, I promise you it isn’t. And it’s fun because it’s totally customizable. I chose to use the word “love” and a heart, because I’m incredibly twee, but you can easily make it say whatever you want. Put a name on it. Put initials on it. Put a place on it. Whatever! Actually, put “whatever” on it—that’d be awesome for a teenager’s room (or Cher Horowitz’s).

Let me show you how to make it!

Materials

  • Computer, printer and paper
  • Piece of Heat ‘n’ Bond Lite (iron-on adhesive), big enough for your appliques
  • Marker or pen
  • Scissors
  • Fabric scraps big enough for your appliques (fat quarters work, too)
  • Iron and ironing board
  • 2–13 1/2″ square pieces of fabric (fat quarters work for these, too)
  • Coordinating thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Straight pens
  • 1–14″ zipper
  • 1–14″ pillow form

A few notes about the materials: first up, the pillow forms. You can pick these up at any fabric store, and if you pay full price, you’re looking at upwards of $8 for one. But! These forms are almost always on sale for 50%+ off. And if they aren’t, most fabric stores offer printable coupons for 40% off or more on one item. Use it on your pillow form! There is no reason you should pay more than $5 for a pillow form. For an even cheaper option, you can also hit up the thrift store and look for throw pillows that you can unzip the cover, toss and use the form.

pillow materials

Please forgive how messy my sewing nook is. There are lots of sewing projects going on in there right now, so it’s pretty much just chaos. I’ll eventually get to Spring cleaning it…eventually.

Secondly, you’ll notice an item on the materials list called “Heat ‘n’ Bond Lite”. This stuff is the bomb. I always have a giant roll of it kicking around, because I use it all the time. Basically, it’s a very thin, heat-activated adhesive with a paper backing—and it works great for adhering two pieces of fabric together. You can find it at most fabric stores (and even some discount stores—I’ve seen at both Target and Walmart in their crafting aisles). It comes in rolls, or, at most fabric stores, they also sell it by the yard on a bolt—which is a much better deal if you only plan on doing one or two appliques.

heat n bond lite

Okay, now that we’ve gathered materials, onto the making the pillows. First things first, you gotta come up with the design you want! I usually design my appliques in Adobe Illustrator, but if you don’t have that, you can easily do the designs in Word or Photoshop. Since we’re using a 14″ pillow form, a letter piece of paper turned sideways (landscape) is about the width of the applique we want. I open up a document that size, and type out my word in big ole letters.

computer pillow

And then, I go font-hunting. I end up landing on a font called KG Always a Good Time. You can pick whatever makes your heart happy. Just keep in mind, you might want to avoid overly ornate or thin fonts—you’re going to be cutting and sewing along each and every line of the word. Chunky and bold are good!

pillow

I then decide I want to add a heart to my pillow, too. So I head over to The Noun Project (my favorite spot to get free icons) and start navigating their heart section.

noun project laptop

I end up picking a funky, hand-drawn heart. I download the graphic file, and place it in my document with my word.

pillow

The template is done! Now it’s time to print it out. But before you go printing it exactly as it displays, you have to mirror it. This setting is in a different spot for every operating system and every printer, but on my computer, it’s as simple as clicking the little check box next to “Flip horizontally” in the print dialog.

print laptop

Voila! A backwards applique template.

pillow applique

Now, it’s time to make the actual appliques. First up, we have to transfer the applique template to the Heat ‘n’ Bond. When you look at your Heat ‘n’ Bond, you’ll notice two sides—one is a slightly-sticky, shiny adhesive, and the other is paper.

heat n bond

Put the applique template down, and place the Heat ‘n’ Bond, adhesive side down, on top. The paper-y side should be up, and you should be able to see through the Heat ‘n’ Bond to the template.

heat n bond pillow

Now, take a pen or marker, and trace around the lines of the template onto the papery side of the Heat ‘n’ Bond.

heat n bond pillow

Once it’s all transferred, you can recycle your template. Go ahead and roughly cut out the shapes from the big sheet of Heat ‘n’ Bond—no need to cut close, we’ll do that later. You’re just looking to remove some of the bulk.

applique pillow

Now, take the fabric you want your applique in—I chose a solid black for the word, and a cute pink mini polka dot for the heart—iron it nice and flat, and then put the Heat ‘n’ Bond on it, adhesive side down to the wrong side of the fabric.

applique pillow

Take a hot iron, and run over the Heat ‘n’ Bond a few times, until it feels like it’s stuck. While it’s still warm, it might not feel very solid, but as soon as it cools, it’ll be stuck. See, stuck:

heat and bond

If you’re doing another applique, repeat the process.

applique pillow

And then grab your scissors and cut around the outline of the applique. This is where you want to get precise! Aren’t you glad you picked a simple, chunky, bold font?

cut applique

Once you’ve cut it all out, you should have this on one side:

applique

And the papery backing still on the flip side:

applique

Now, we’ll attach the applique to the pillow case fabric. I used two pieces of the same fabric for both the front and back of the pillow, but you could use two different ones if that makes you happy. Grab one of the pieces, iron it well, and place it right-side up on your ironing board. Then, take one of your applique pieces, and peel off the paper backing. You’ll have the fabric side, and then a shiny, adhesive side (don’t worry, it’s not sticky until you apply heat).

pillow applique

Peel off the backing on all the applique pieces, and then arrange them on your pillow front. Keep in mind, you’ll lose about 1/2″ on all sides due to the seam allowance. Also, don’t forget, pillows curve! So you might want to give the applique some room to breathe around it.

pillow applique

Once you’ve found a placement you’re happy with, iron that sucker down!

iron pillow

It’s stuck! Don’t worry, if you end up not being happy with the placement, you can just heat it up again with your iron, and quickly peel off the applique and reposition it.

applique pillow

In theory, you could stop here with the applique. Honestly, the Heat ‘n’ Bond is strong stuff and probably won’t ever come undone—I know some folks even hem curtains with it! But I like to finish the edges of my applique with a zig-zag stitch. Not only does it really make sure the applique stays on, but I think it also helps make the edge look more finished. I chose to use matching thread to hide the stitches, but it’s also really cute to use contrasting thread and let the zig-zag stitch show—just depends on what look you’re going for.

sewing machine pillow

You’ll want to stitch around all the curves and holes—you’ll probably have to pick up your presser foot a few times and turn the piece of fabric. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to do almost the whole thing without stopping. Again, aren’t you glad you heeded my warning about a simple font?

sewing machine pillow

Once you’re finished, tie the loose threads together, and clip them off. The front doesn’t end up looking much different:

pillow

But you can see all that hard work on the back:

pillow

Now the hard part is over (seriously, that was the hard part), it’s time to put this pillow case together. Grab your zipper (you can use a coordinating or contrasting one, I had this pink one kicking around and it was too cute not to use) and line it up, right-side-down to the bottom of the front pillow panel.

pillow zipper

Basically, you want the business side of the zipper (the side that you can actually zip from) to be touching the business side of the pillow. Pin it in place all the way across.

pillow pin

Starting just inside of the zipper pull, sew along the outside edge of the zipper, removing your pins as you go. You’ll want to sew as close to the opening of the zipper as possible.

sewing machine zipper

Once you’ve got that sew on, open up the seam, and iron it flat.

iron pillow

Now, we attach the back of the pillow. With the zipper/front piece right-side-up, place the back piece on top, right-side-down. Again, we want the business ends to be touching.

pillow

Line up the bottom of the back panel with the bottom of the zipper. Pin all the way across.

pillow

Now, you’re going to repeat the same process of sewing on the zipper. Usually, at this point, I flip the entire pillow case over, so I can see the zipper better on the sewing machine.

sewing machine pillow

Once you have that side sewn on, open up the case, iron down that seam, and you should have two pieces of fabric joined by a zipper. Hip-hip-hooray!

pillow

Go ahead and unzip your zipper about half way. This is so you can turn the pillow case right-side out later.

zipper pillow

Alright, now we have one more sewing step to go before we’re finished. Go ahead and clamshell the pillow back together, putting the right-sides of the two fabric pieces together. Line up all the edges, and pin all along the sides.

pillow

When you get to the zipper, fold it in half, and pin it down, too.

pillow

Then, starting on one end of the zipper, sew all the way around the three open sides of the pillow—ending with the other end of the zipper. A word of warning: most zippers come with metal stops at the beginning and end of the zipper, and you really don’t want to sew over those, unless you’re a fan of flying needle shards. But you do want to sew all the way through the zipper on both ends, so just make sure those metal stops aren’t under where you’re sewing.

sewing pillow

Once you get around those three sides, your pillow case is done! But inside out.

pillow

Stick a hand inside, and pull the right side out.

pillow case

Make sure to push out the corners. Ahhhh, pretty!

pillow

Give it one last go under the iron before it goes on the pillow form.

pillow case

Stuff in the pillow form. Now, the pillow case ends up being about an inch smaller than the pillow form—that’s how I like ‘em! It makes the case fill out nicely and makes sure there isn’t a lot of extra fabric. But that small size does mean it takes some squishing to get the pillow in there right. Squish away!

pillow form

Zip ‘er up. And admire your handiwork.

pillow

This same applique process can be applied to all kinds of things. I’ve made onesies, t-shirts, bags—tons of stuff with appliques on them. It’s such an easy and fun way to personalize a normally lackluster object. In fact, my plan is to custom-make Baby J a fun onesie for her coming home outfit!

And the same zippered pillow method can be used with any size pillow and any fabric. I’m not exaggerating when I say that, after you have the method down, you can make a pillow case in about 10 minutes.

nursery futon pillow

So can we agree that there is absolutely no reason to pay $65 (!!!) for an applique word pillow? I promise you can make your own!

Do you have any items that you refuse to pay full price for?

Felt Shamrock Hair Pin

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Posted on Mar 17, 2014 in Fun

shamrock

Top o’ the mornin’ to ya!

Even though I’m only a teeny, tiny bit Irish, I absolutely love St. Patrick’s Day! I mean, how can you not love a holiday that requires you to wear bright colors and drink beer (well, no beer for me this year, but still)? St. Patrick’s Day is also extra special for Craig and I because it also happens to be our anniversary. Seven years ago today, on a very, very chilly Saturday morning, we got hitched at city hall. We’re not doing anything too crazy to celebrate our wool anniversary, but we are headed out to dinner tonight—but not to an Irish restaurant. Because we’re not crazy.

Anywho, to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, I have a fun little craft for you guys, today. These shamrock hair pins are a fun way to be festive without drowning yourself in head-to-toe green. I attached my shamrock to a hair pin, but you could easily attach it to a pin back to make a boutonniere/brooch or to a headband. The method for making the shamrock is the same either way.

These are crazy easy to make—once you have the materials gathered, it’ll take you less than 10 minutes from start to finish. The one speciality item you’ll need is a bobby pin with a pad. You can try to attach the shamrock to a regular bobby pin, but these speciality pins make it so much easier! Plus, they’re much sturdier than regular bobby pins. You can find packs of these at almost any craft or fabric store in the jewelry-making section. And once you have them, you can use them as a base for all kinds of fun hair accoutrements.

hair pin

Alright, let’s get started.

Materials

  • Shamrock template (PDF)
  • Fabric marker
  • Lightweight green felt
  • Scissors
  • Matching thread
  • Needle
  • Glue gun and glue
  • Small button
  • Bobby pin with pad

shamrock materials

Directions

Cut out both the clover leaf shape and the stem shape from the template. Using the fabric marker, trace the leaf shape four times onto the felt and the stem once, for each hair pin.

felt shamrock

shamrock

Cut out the shapes from the felt. Make sure to transfer the dots to the leaf shapes. Double knot the end of the thread, thread the needle, and stitch on the dots of each leaf piece using the same piece of thread (this will form a chain of the pieces).

shamrock

shamrock

While holding onto the knotted end of the thread, push the felt pieces together, to create pleats in each leaf.

shamrock

Keep pushing until the pieces come together to form a shamrock.

shamrock

Flip the shamrock over, and then connect the first piece and last piece of the shamrock together with a few stitches.

shamrock

Pull it as tightly as possible, but don’t worry if it’s a bit loose—the glue will keep it together. Tie off and trim any extra thread. Hey, it’s a shamrock!

shamrock

Using the glue gun, attach the button to the middle of the shamrock, and the stem to the back of the shamrock.

shamrock

shamrock

Then, attach the shamrock to the pad of the bobby pin. Let glue cool completely before wearing.

shamrock

And, you’re all done. That wasn’t too hard, now was it?

shamrock

I hope you have an amazing holiday. Drink some green beer for me!

Who is doing something fun to celebrate today?

super easy homemade cinnamon ornaments

8

Posted on Dec 10, 2013 in Fun

cinnamon ornament tree christmas

I don’t know what it is about Christmas that brings out the raging craft monster in me, but it’s pretty much guaranteed that I’m covered head to toe in glitter and glue for the entire month of December. There are so many craft projects that I could never “find time” for during the rest of the year, but magically, they bubble up to the top of the priority list come Black Friday. Suddenly my brain is like, “Oh yeah, I know you have a deadline for an article, but the most important thing right now is for you to drink egg nog, listen to Christmas music and finish those red sparkly throw pillows for the couch. It’s vital. The world will end if these pillows aren’t done.” #truestory

couch pillows christmas

One of the fun craft projects I took on this past weekend (after the pillows were done) was making cinnamon ornaments. If you’ve never made cinnamon ornaments, they’re crazy easy, smell amazing, and last for pretty much forever. They’re meant to look like gingerbread, but unlike the regular cookie version with sugar and butter and eggs and all that perishable stuff, these ornaments are made from only three ingredients—ground cinnamon, unsweetened applesauce, and craft glue—which helps them last for pretty much ever. You mix it all together into a dough, cut it out just like regular cookies, dry, decorate and hang. And you have a bunch of amazing smelling ornaments that will last for years and years!

christmas ornament cinnamon

Making these would be a super fun project with kids (keep in mind: although, the dough isn’t toxic, it also isn’t edible, keep little fingers from nibbling might be tricky). But of course, Craig and I had just as much fun decorating as any kid would have. It’s nice to have some fun homemade keepsakes on our tree that we can look back on and say, “Hey, remember that snowy afternoon when we brought out the puffy paints and glitter glue?”

ornament decorate christmas

There are a million different recipes and processes out there for how to make cinnamon ornaments, but let me show you how we did ours. Let’s get to crafting!

First up, as any good crafter knows, gather your stuff. You probably have just about everything you need already in the house.

cinnamon ornaments

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1-1/2 cup ground cinnamon (look for the cheap, off-brand stuff, you aren’t gonna eat it)
  • 2 tablespoons craft glue, optional (I think this makes the ornaments a bit more sturdy, but you can do without it)
  • Mixing bowl
  • Drinking straw
  • Plastic wrap
  • Rolling pin
  • Baking racks and baking sheets
  • Cookie cutters
  • Sandpaper
  • Oven, food dehydrator, or just a spot out-of-the-way (for drying)
  • Glitter, puffy paints, rhinestones, etc. for decorating, optional
  • Ribbon or hooks for hanging

As far as decorations go, these ornaments can really be as simple (just plain dried dough on a pretty ribbon) or as crazy (GLITTTEERRRRR!) as you’d like. I really like the use of puffy paint, because I think it looks like big, thick, creamy frosting when dried.

Alright, onto making the dough. First step, the applesauce, cinnamon and glue go into a mixing bowl.

cinnamon ornaments

And then, dig in there with your hands. This really isn’t the job for a spoon, you’re gonna need your fingers to get it all mixed it.

cinnamon ornaments

Depending on a number of factors (wetness of applesauce, humidity, etc.) you might need to add more applesauce or more cinnamon to make the dough come together. You want it to be just a touch dry (because it’ll dry faster), but you also want it to hold together enough to roll and cut.

cinnamon dough

When you can form it into a big ole ball, you’re done mixing. Go wash your hands.

cinnamon ornament dough

Now it’s time to roll. To keep things clean and easy, I just take a hunk of dough (maybe 1/3 of the whole ball) and place it between two sheets of plastic wrap.

cinnamon ornmanets

Now roll. You’re looking for between 1/4″ and 1/3″. The thinner you go, the quicker it will dry and the more ornaments you can get out of a batch, but it also makes them more fragile and less likely to last from year to year.

cinnamon ornaments

Remove the top layer of plastic wrap (set it aside to use on the next batch of dough), and then go at it with your cookie cutters.

cinnamon ornaments

Before you transfer your ornaments to baking racks, take the straw and poke holes where you want them to hang from.

cinnamon ornmanet

Unfortunate gunshot wound gingerbread man.

cinnamon ornament

If there is a shape you want to make but don’t have a cookie cutter for, no problamo. We’re actually using these ornaments as stocking markers, and we wanted dog and cat shaped ornaments for their respective stockings. So I just did a Google image search for  “dog silhouette” and “cat silhouette” until I found ones that resembled our furry family members. Then I printed them out at the size I wanted.

cinnamon ornmanet

I cut the silhouettes out with scissors, then placed them on the dough and cut around them with an Xacto knife.

cinnamon ornament

Once all the ornaments are cut out, they go onto a baking rack on a cookie sheet, if you want to bake them to dry them.

cinnamon ornaments

There are three methods that work for drying the ornaments:

  • Baking: Pop the ornaments on a baking rack on top of a baking sheet in a 200° oven for about 2-1/2 hours until the ornaments are dry and hard. This is the fastest method, but it also results in a little bit of curling and bubbling.
  • Food Dehydrator: Place the ornaments on the racks of a food dehydrator, and dry at the highest setting for about 6 hours.
  • Air Dry: You can easily just put these ornaments on baking racks and dry them in an out-of-the-way place. This method takes a few days, and obviously works best in dry climates (I wouldn’t try this method at the beach house in Florida).

I’m impatient, so we baked them.

oven cinnamon ornaments

After a glorious, snowy day nap with the scent of cinnamon wafting around, these ornaments were ready to get glammed up. Just let them cool out of the oven, and then you can start decorating. Or, if you prefer, you can just tie a pretty ribbon through the hole now and hang them.

But we glittered the heck of these guys.

cinnamon ornaments

You might notice that the edges of the ornaments look a little rough.

cinnamon ornament

Nothing a quick buff with a fine-grit sandpaper won’t cure.

cinnamon ornament

Then let your creativity go wild. If you like the shimmery, snow-fallen look, I highly recommend picking up an extra fine translucent glitter to go over everything. It makes everything look like it was kissed by a sunny snowy day.

glitter cinnamon ornaments

This recipe makes about 20 or so medium-sized ornaments. Which just happens to be the perfect number of ornaments for two adults to decorate in about an hour.

ornaments

Because we were heavy-handed with the glitter glue and puffy paints, we let them dry out on the kitchen table overnight.

cinnamon ornaments

And then we strung the ornaments with coordinating ribbon the next morning.

cinnamon ornament

And wrote the year on the back with a Sharpie. Because it’s always nice to know when something handmade was handmade. I have a handmade ornament on our tree that I made in Kindergarten, and I always get a kick out of seeing the year “1989″ on the back.

cinnamon ornament

And up on the tree they all went.

cinnamon ornament tree christmas

Making these was so fun and so delicious smelling that this might have to be a new yearly tradition for us. Although, our 9′ tree is so packed with ornaments (as you can see), that we might have to get a second one just for a cinnamon ornaments!

Happy crafting!

What’s your favorite holiday craft? Do you have any holiday crafting traditions?