Monthly Archives: May 2014

Busy.

I feel like I’ve been slacking a bit here on my blog. ¬†Don’t worry, I have excuses! ūüėõ

No, actually, blogging has been a good outlet for me, and I am committed to continuing. ¬†But the rest of my life has been a bit crazier than usual, so, while I’ve managed to get a few posts up this month, I haven’t had the time to write much, and it’s looking like that trend is going to continue a bit longer….

Here’s what’s going on at the moment:

1. ¬†My brother is moving in with us on Monday! ¬†He just graduated from high school and is heading to college in Texas in the fall, but since my parents just moved into an RV, that means he gets live with us for summers! ¬†We’re quite excited to have him….but it has meant that we¬†really needed to tackle unpacking all those boxes downstairs to get his room in live-able condition. ¬†The good news is, his room is about half an hour’s worth of work away from being as good as it’s going to get; the bad news is, we¬†still have boxes in the main room down there that aren’t unpacked yet (we moved seven months ago…..).

2. ¬†We’ve had¬†stuff going on. ¬†We’re not typically busy people. ¬†We intentionally try to avoid getting too busy. ¬†But, for some reason, we’ve either gone to some get-together or had people over here six out of the last ten days (plus a houseguest for a few days), and we have similar plans for¬†at least another five days. ¬†It’s a bizarre new trend for us, and it leaves little time in the evening to get anything else done.

3. ¬†I finally got my Etsy shop up! ¬†And then, while unpacking downstairs, I found some leftover “Firefly” fabric from a previous project, so I’ll be able to get a few new items up in my shop sooner than I’d anticipated! ¬†I’ve already started working on them.

4. ¬†I’m a full-time mom¬†first. ¬†And both my kids have been¬†getting sick lately. ¬†Kaylie had strep, so that was a solid week of her not feeling very well, and Wil still has issues eating anything with grain in it, so I spent most of Sunday covered in vomit while he slept on my lap between puking episodes (fortunately, I had just discovered that Joss Whedon’s “Much Ado About Nothing” is now on Netflix–and can I just take a moment to say that the “Buffy”/”Angel” fan in me was rejoicing to see Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker finally get a happy ending?), and this week, they have colds. ¬†Sick kids need a lot of time and attention, so other stuff falls through the cracks.

5. And finally, I have begun the arduous process of moving my blog. ¬†While I love almost everything about WordPress, I have come to the conclusion that the possibility to earn a little money, however small the amount, doing what I’m already doing, is worth the hassle of moving to Blogspot. ¬†But since I only have a few months’ worth of posts, I’m copying every post over to my new blog before I begin posting new material there. ¬†So¬†I will keep posting here until I am completely caught up, at which point I will shift to posting new material there. ¬†For my WordPress followers, I will keep this blog open so that I can alert you to new posts on Blogspot and link you to them, so you will not need to re-follow me there unless you want to. ¬†You can check out my progress on the new blog here!

So, all that to say, you may be in for some lazy posts in the coming weeks. ¬†I have more recipes and tutorials planned, but I just don’t have the time to put together longer posts with lots of pictures¬†right now. ¬†I will get back to those soon!

Our Sunday afternoon.

Our Sunday afternoon.

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Etsy shop: Open for business!

My Etsy shop is officially open! ¬†No more procrastinating. ūüėõ

I just have a couple items from my first two batches up for now.  Wanna see?

Doctor Who TARDIS ribbon tag blankets.

Doctor Who TARDIS ribbon tag blankets.

For your littlest Whovian.

Pirate ribbon tag blankets with coordinating pirate burp cloths.

Pirate ribbon tag blankets with coordinating pirate burp cloths.

And for pirates-to-be.

Head over to my shop, Little Dragonslayers, to see the full listings!

And if you want to see new products, then BUY SOME. ¬†ūüėČ ¬†Because I need to sell a few of these first. ¬†Next up, I’m planning similar products in “Firefly” and “Star Trek” themes!


Tutorial: Adding a pocket.

My husband and I share one absolute “must” when it comes to pajamas pants: they MUST have POCKETS. ¬†We spend a lot of time around the house in pajamas, because we’re lazy like that (all right, that’s mostly me), and we need pockets for cell phones and chapsticks and such. ¬†Pants without pockets are pointless, and ANNOYING.

My husband grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, and the 49ers and Giants will always be “his” sports teams. ¬†So when his parents gave him a pair of 49ers pajamas pants, he loved them–at first glance. ¬†Then he noticed they don’t have pockets.

“You can add pockets, right?” he asked me, already confident he knew the answer.

“Um, sure.” ¬†Yeah, I’ve never added pockets to anything.

He really just needed one, he said, so some time later, I sat down to figure out how to add a pocket. ¬†After all, most of my sewing is more about problem-solving and winging it than reading patterns anyway….

Turns out, it’s not that hard!

Tutorial: How to add pockets.

Tutorial: How to add pockets.

First, I grabbed a pair of my pocketed pajamas pants and used one of those pockets for a rough template, just to give me an idea of what size and shape I should aim for.  Then I cut my pocket out from a fabric scrap I had lying around.

Cut your pocket and mark pocket hole.

Cut your pocket and mark pocket hole.

Cut your pocket from folded fabric (not along the fold, though), so you have two layers.  Mark how far down you want the pocket hole to go.

Stitch.

Stitch.

Stitch both layers together all the way around, leaving the pocket hole open.

Cut pocket hole in pants.

Cut pocket hole in pants.

Lay out your pocket-less pants, inside-out.  Determine which side you want the pocket on, and lay it flat on the pants on that side.  If your pants have seams on the outside, cut the seam open; if not (like these ones), lay the pants down flat and smooth them down to find the outside edge, and cut the fabric.

IMG_9632

Use the pocket hole on the pocket as your guide, and cut only that far on your pants.

Flip pocket right-side-out.

Flip pocket inside-out.

For the purposes of this tutorial, I’ll establish this now: “inside-out” shall mean that the seams of the pocket shall be hidden; “outside-out” shall mean the seams shall be showing. ¬†(“Inside-out” shall not mean “right sides together” like it would with any other sewing project, as pockets are weird; “inside-out” shall mean that the inside of the pocket shall be showing. ¬†And the number of the counting shall be three. ¬†Five is right out.)

Ahem.  I just want to be clear, since pockets are sewn right-sides-together but then stay that way, unlike practically everything else.  I will always be speaking in terms of the inside and outside of the finished pocket.

Place pocket in pants.

Place pocket in pants.

With pocket inside out and pants inside out, place the pocket inside the pants, pocket holes lined up.  (So, the insides of the pocket will be against the outsides of the pants.)

Line up pocket holes.

Line up pocket holes.

Line up the edges of the pocket holes on the pocket and pants.

Pin.

Pin.

Pin one side of the pocket…

Pin some more.

Pin some more.

…and the other.

Sew.

Sew.

Sew the pocket in place, one side at a time.

Sew one side at a time.

Sew one side at a time.

Like so.

Sewn in place.

Sewn in place.

Once the pocket is sewn in place, you’re halfway done! ¬†Just one more step…

Flip pocket outside-out.

Flip pocket outside-out.

Keeping the pants inside-out, push the pocket outside-out through the pocket hole.

Lay flat and pin to front waistband.

Lay pocket flat and pin to front waistband.

Smooth the pocket out and lay it flat on the inside of the front of the pants.  Pin the top of the pocket just below the front waistband.

Sew.

Sew.

Sew the top of the pocket in place along the waistband.

Done!

Done!

You’re done! ¬†Turn the pants right-side-out to admire your new pocket.

Finished product.

Finished product.

My husband insisted that I get at least one good shot of the SF logo. ¬†(He loves his ‘Niners.)

IMG_9658

Here he is, testing out my work.

What’s it got in its pocketses?

IMG_9659

So…..it is fully functioning, but I did make the mistake of using¬†my pockets as a template….and his hands are bigger than mine. ¬†It’ll work, but, in hindsight, I probably should have gotten some input from him about the pocket size in the beginning. ¬†It’s a little tight! ¬†But not bad for my first try!


The perks of living in Atlanta: Part II.

Yesterday, I shared about a fun family outing we took here in the Atlanta area. ¬†Today, I’m sharing another¬†favorite reason I love living here….

When my husband’s employer first announced that they would be moving their headquarters to Atlanta, I had two immediate thoughts: 1. “That’s the home of Dragon*Con!” and 2. “That’s the home of Museum Replicas Limited!” ¬†Not kidding. ¬†Since then, I’ve found many other reasons to be excited about living here, but I’m no less excited about those two things than I was back then.

Museum Replicas Limited (MRL) holds an annual warehouse sale at their castle, which is just southeast of the city, and about an hour from where we live now. ¬†I’ve been drooling over their catalogs since one was mistakenly mailed to me back in 2000 (and I placed my first order with them shortly after), and I’ve always kind of wanted to make it to the warehouse sale. ¬†Last year was my first opportunity, so I dragged my husband and two-year-old along with my very pregnant self, and spent $20 to come home with these:

Three $5 fencing foils and a $5 pirate ship.

Last year’s haul: three $5 fencing foils and a $5 pirate ship.

I also may have taken advantage of their 15% everything else to buy myself a pair of gorgeous knives….

The pirate ship is now on our mantle (which is still in progress….pics to come eventually), and the foils are going to go up on a wall (…pics to come eventually…). ¬†They had three different styles, and for only $5 each, it was nice not having to pick–I just bought one of each!

MRL 01

This year, I went by myself. ¬†I got up ridiculously early (especially considering that Wil was up for an hour and half in the middle of the night), and trekked to the MRL castle to get there just after the doors opened at eight o’clock.

Going early was well worth it–I snagged a¬†beautiful¬†rapier for what must have been at least half off, along with a $12 pirate vest (I’ve made multiple costumes for myself, but Casey needs something to wear to the next Ren Fest!) and four more $5 fencing foils.

Gorgeous rapier, four $5 fencing foils, and a $12 pirate vest.

This year’s haul: a gorgeous rapier, four $5 fencing foils, and a $12 pirate vest.

They had the same¬†three styles of the fencing foils again this year, which made me wonder how many they have and how long they’ve had them….Anyway, since last year, I’ve decided which of the three styles is my favorite, and I figured when my kids are older, it might be fun to have somewhat “safe” swords to have swordfights with (fencing foils have a ball on the tip), so I bought one for each of us. ¬†I’m thinking the kids can each decorate their own a bit if they want, too.

Close-up of hilts.

Close-up of hilts.

I’m still planning out where all my favorite¬†swords are going in the new house–we only had two up in our old house, but I’d like to get more than that on the walls here.

Also, on a whim, I stopped at a garage sale on the way home.  And look what I found for $20:

Games!!!

Games!!!

Casey and I are big into tabletop gaming (that’s “Firefly: The Game” set up on the table behind my new acquisitions). ¬†We’ve played “7 Wonders” before (and really liked it), and “Catan” but not the “Star Trek” version. ¬†The other two–pirate game “Libertalia” and a “Walking Dead” card game–I’d never heard of, but they were dirt cheap and looked like they might have potential. ¬†Glad I stopped!

All in all, this was a very successful shopping day (of my favorite sort–sword shopping is so much more fun that shoe shopping!). ¬†I love shopping in Atlanta!

*****

P.S.  And on an unrelated note: Anyone else excited about the possibility of a Triple Crown winner?  Go, California Chrome!


The perks of living in Atlanta: Part I.

I¬†love Atlanta. ¬†We moved here from middle-of-cornfields-Indiana, and, while I’ve never considered myself much of a city person, it is¬†wonderful to live within ten minutes of Olive Garden, Target, Costco, and everything else that isn’t just Walmart (seriously, we used to hang out at Walmart, because that’s all there was).

So, last weekend, we drove twenty minutes to the fifth closest mall to our house (not exaggerating): the Mall of Georgia.  Just to hang out.

Kaylie picked her own clothes:

Kaylie asked to wear her Star Wars shirt and her pink skirt.

Kaylie asked to wear her Star Wars shirt and her pink skirt.

TOO. CUTE. ¬†I¬†love¬†that she paired her¬†Star Wars shirt with a girly pink skirt. ¬†That’s three-year-old fashion sense for you!

We went to the Disney Store (just to play), threw pennies into an indoor fountain, and ate lunch at the food court. ¬†There’s a carousel in the food court, and our seats were right next to it, so Kaylie enjoyed watching it go around. ¬†She asked to go on it, and we explained to her that sometimes fun things cost money, and so we can’t do them very often, so, no, we were not going to ride it today….and she was great about it. ¬†We had fun just watching it. ¬†But, as we were preparing to leave the food court, Casey discreetly checked out how much the carousel cost to ride…..and then we bought her a ticket.

First time on the carousel!

First time on the carousel!

We didn’t get any great pictures, because every time I asked her to smile at Daddy, she responded, “No, I’m just going to have fun.” ¬†Ha! ¬†But she¬†loved it….she kept exclaiming “I’m a cowgirl!” throughout the ride, and when it was over, she said goodbye to her horse.

The other one.

The other one.

Wil never seems to make it into these posts, but he’s getting cuter (I’m not a baby person). ¬†He was a doll waiting with Casey during the carousel ride, so we somehow ended up with better pictures of him than her at this point! ¬†He’s a good kid.

"I want to go inside!"

“I want to go inside!”

Then we walked around some more, and we found a cardboard TARDIS in a shop window. ¬†Kaylie kept asking to go inside while I was trying to take her picture, and at first we thought she meant inside the¬†store…and then she corrected us–she wanted to go inside the¬†TARDIS……me, too, honey.

Dancing with Darth Vader?  Flashing him?  I'm not quite sure.

Dancing with Darth Vader? Flashing him? I’m not quite sure.

And then we met Darth Vader.  Well, a cardboard version of him.

It’s nice living in a real city!


Command center: take two.

Last time I showed off my command center, I mentioned that I intended to make some changes. Well, I finished that project a few weeks ago, and finally got around to taking pictures!

Our command center.

Our command center.

Looks pretty much the same as it did last time:

BEFORE.

BEFORE.

It’s like a spot-the-difference game, right? ¬†(I’ll give it away: I redid the sign at the top, abandoning my last name idea and moving the partial quotes from the calendar frames there¬†instead.)

"It's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff."

“It’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff.”

The quote is from “Doctor Who”. ¬†The calendars are interchangeable (I can erase the top one, move the bottom one up, and write up the new month on the now-bottom one), so, the way it was before, the “wibbly-wobbly” and “timey-wimey” would have been switched every month….which would have been okay, since of all the quotes in the world, this one about the non-linear-ness of time seems the most appropriate to be quoted non-linear-ly half the time. ¬†But I like it better now, both for keeping the quote in order and because it looks more cohesive than my silver-painted letters did.

Menu board.

Menu board.

By the way, I still LOVE my menu board (see my full tutorial here to make your own).

Finally having my own version of a command center was one of the perks I was most looking forward to about buying a long-term house after we moved here (I felt SO DISORGANIZED living in an apartment with only half our stuff for almost a year!). ¬†I had been pinning SO MANY ideas for it! ¬†I knew there were three things that we absolutely needed to maintain our long-term sanity: 1. a weekly menu board with room for a main dish, carb side, and veggie side; 2. two months’ worth of calendar space, with room for multiple things per day; and 3. incoming/outgoing mail slots.

Notice anything missing?

There are two things you need to consider when planning out a command center of your own: 1. what you need, and 2. where you need it. ¬†The way our house is laid out, the menu board and calendar are on a wall in the kitchen about as far from the front door as you could possibly get. ¬†Which is not the best place for incoming and outgoing mail. ¬†So, as much as I like all those pins of one major command center where everything is organized in one place, it just didn’t make sense for our house.

So here’s the “other half” of our command center:

Outgoing/Casey/Sara mail slots.

Outgoing/Casey/Sara mail slots.

Putting up mail slots on the wall between the kitchen and the entry was perfect. ¬†We bring the mail in, sort it in the kitchen, and file anything that needs follow-up into mine and Casey’s respective slots, and anything outgoing has its own slot as well, and can be grabbed on the way out.

(Also, I abhor coat closets–especially when they aren’t within arm’s reach of the door; ours is upstairs. ¬†So we use coat hooks by the door, and shoe racks. ¬†My coat closet is now my second pantry, which is so much more useful!)

Kitchen command center.

Kitchen command center.

The kitchen half is still the real “command center” in my mind, though. ¬†I love it!


Chocolate peanut butter protein shake.

I have trouble finding ways to eat protein. ¬†I hate the taste of pretty much all meat (I’ve come to tolerate chicken; I do like turkey bacon and chicken nuggets, however), nuts give me massive headaches, eating eggs regularly makes me feel sick….It’s difficult.

One of my favorite ways to get a little extra protein, though, is my chocolate peanut butter protein shake.

Chocolate peanut butter protein shake.

Chocolate peanut butter protein shake.

As with all other protein sources, my body rejects it and makes me feel sick if I make it too often, but¬†boy is it yummy! ¬†I would drink one of these every day if I could. ¬†(I envy all you people who can, you know, eat food….)

Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients (not pictured: ice...because, you know, it melts).

Ingredients (not pictured: ice…because, you know, it melts).

  • Ice
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp Nesquik chocolate powder
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 scoop protein powder, vanilla flavor
  • 1 Tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips

And, of course, a decent blender: I love my Ninja. ¬†It came with two single-serving cups, with blades that screw right onto the cups, and both blades and cups are dishwasher safe. ¬†I swear, I would never use my blender if I had to wash a pitcher by hand every time! ¬†This blender rocks. ¬†(And no, no one paid me to say that. ¬†I wish they would, though–it’d be easy money!)

Ice.

Ice.

Start with ice.  I fill my cup about halfway, but I like my shake thin enough to drink easily through a straw.  Add more ice if you want it a bit thicker.

Milk.

Milk.

Add one cup of milk. ¬†(I usually use skim, but all I had on hand today was Kaylie’s whole milk. ¬†Any kind will work.)

Chocolate powder.

Chocolate powder.

Add two tablespoons of Nesquik chocolate powder. ¬†And don’t use that sugar-free crap; you can totally taste the difference with this stuff! ¬†Don’t be one of those people.

Peanut butter.

Peanut butter.

Add approximately one tablespoon of peanut butter.  Peanut butter is one of those things that is a beast to measure out, of course, so I just eyeball it.

Protein powder.

Protein powder.

Add one scoop of protein powder. ¬†I like this vanilla-flavored stuff from Sam’s Club.

Chocolate chips.

Chocolate chips.

Add one tablespoon of semi-sweet chocolate chips. ¬†Or two tablespoons. ¬†Or half a cup. ¬†You know, sometimes it’s just one of those days when you need half a cup of chocolate chips. ¬†Don’t judge.

Assembled.

Assembled.

Mine always ends up a little past the “max fill” line, but I’ve never had a problem.

Love my Ninja cups!

Love my Ninja cups!

The blade screws right onto the cup…very handy.

Ready to blend!

Ready to blend!

Screw onto blender…

Blended!

Blended!

…and blend!

IMG_9967

Done!

Chocolate peanut butter protein shake.

Chocolate peanut butter protein shake.

And for your cut-and-paste convenience:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Shake (435 calories/31.5 grams protein)

  • Ice
  • 1 cup skim milk (90/8)
  • 2 Tbsp Nesquik chocolate powder (60/0)
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter (95/3.5)
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (120/20)
  • 1 Tbsp chocolate chips (70/0)

Combine all ingredients and blend thoroughly.

Enjoy!


Etsy sneak peek.

I’ve recently gotten back into crafting…..and gosh, does it feel good! ¬†I love¬†making things.

…So I’m starting an Etsy shop. ¬†I haven’t listed anything yet, but I just finished making the first two batches of what I intend to sell. ¬†Now it’s just down to the logistics of getting the listings up and figuring out policies and such. ¬†But I’m so excited about finishing this first step that I thought I’d give y’all a sneak peek before I get them up for sale!

So, here they are:

Doctor Who TARDIS ribbon tag blankets.

Doctor Who TARDIS ribbon tag blankets.

Pirate ribbon tag blankets with coordinating pirate burp cloths.

Pirate ribbon tag blankets with coordinating pirate burp cloths.

I’m sure you’ll hear more from me once I’ve officially gotten my shop up and going. ¬†For now, thanks for letting me share! ūüôā


Tutorial: How to turn a cheap journal into a steampunk Kindle cover.

My parents gave me a Kindle Touch for Christmas a few years ago. ¬†There are a lot of ways in which I’m still pretty old-school on the issue of books vs. ebooks, and I will never quit buying worthwhile books in paper form, but….I¬†love my Kindle. ¬†No more vacations¬†where I have to limit how many books I bring (like that time when I accidentally packed book five of Harry Potter¬†instead of book four, or the¬†time I assumed¬†The Hunger Games¬†book one would take the whole trip to read), no more getting¬†boooooored while breastfeeding (neither of my kids were good enough eaters for me to go hands-free with a paperback), no more “where on earth are going to put these ones” moments in front of our overflowing bookshelves (in our old house–I have a proper library in our new one now!). ¬†There are definite advantages to e-readers, and I get good use out of mine.

But when I started shopping online for a cover (not sleeve) to protect my Kindle, I realized for the umpteenth time that I am a total cheapskate. ¬†I’m sorry, but I’m not shelling out $30+ for a basic, boring, personality-less cover. ¬†So I set out to make my own, with a self-imposed thirty-dollar limit.

DIY Tutorial: How to turn a cheap journal into a Kindle cover (and steampunk it) for under $30.

DIY Tutorial: How to turn a cheap journal into a Kindle cover (and steampunk it) for under $30.

I promise, this isn’t as complicated as you’d think. ¬†There’s a lot of attention to detail if you embellish it in the ways I did, but the ideas are simple ones. ¬†And you obviously don’t have to decorate it the way I did; you can apply the steps to turn a journal (or a hardcover book would work, too) into a Kindle cover and ignore the rest, if you like.

Here are my supplies:

What you'll need.

What you’ll need.

For turning the journal into a Kindle cover:

  • Journal (this leather one was $9.97 at Walmart)
  • Felt (I had some leftover from another project, but you can buy it by the yard for a few bucks or by the sheet for under a dollar)
  • 1/4″ elastic (again, I had some leftover already, but you can buy it here¬†for $2.49)
  • Thread

For “steampunking” it the way I did:

  • Lace and ribbons (mine totaled $2.94, from a local craft store)
  • Chain ($3 at Walmart)
  • Gears (I got mine at artbeads.com for $9.09 total–they offer free U.S. shipping on orders of $10+, so I added something else to bump it up)

You’ll also need:

  • X-acto knife
  • Super glue
  • Ruler
  • Fine-tip permanent marker
  • Needle (for hand-stitching)
  • Safety pins
  • Plier-thingies to cut the chain

I pulled it off for $25, but if I’d needed to buy the felt or elastic, it would have come closer to $30.

The first thing you’ll need to buy is the journal.

Kaylie 233

I wanted a brown leather one. ¬†I thought I’d have to check a few places, but I lucked out at Walmart and found one this one for $9.97.

Kaylie 236

It was a little taller than I’d hoped for, but the width and depth were perfect. ¬†SOLD.

Once you know what you’re working with, plan out how you want to embellish it. ¬†This was my first foray into steampunk crafting, so I stuck with the basic trademarks of the genre: leather, lace and laces, and gears and chains. ¬†Obviously some of what I did wouldn’t have worked on a journal that didn’t have the elastic closure, or if the spine¬†had not been smooth ¬†all the way around. ¬†And some of my ideas had to be thrown out the window when I couldn’t find in a store what I had in my head, or I found it had a higher pricetag than I’d expected.

I was pretty excited to find these gears, though.

Kabela Design gears from artbeads.com.

Kabela Design gears from artbeads.com.

Each of the three styles (solid, open, and spoked) comes in three sizes (16mm, 19mm, and 25mm), and they can be purchased individually for $0.70-1.54 (you can get discounts buying in bulk, too, though).  They are pretty high-quality, solid metal.  And artbeads.com offers free shipping with only a $10 minimum!

Kabela Designs gears from artbeads.com.

Kabela Designs gears from artbeads.com.

Before ordering them, I planned out how I wanted to arrange them, using coins to trace it onto paper.

Kaylie 243

(The coins pictured are just keeping the paper from curling up while I took the picture).

Kaylie 250

Once I was happy with my plans, I placed my order.

Laying out the pieces.

Laying out the pieces.

The next step after finding the gears was gathering the rest of my materials and planning out exactly how it all¬†would fit together. ¬†I didn’t think to keep my measurements for the lace and ribbons, so I don’t remember the exact numbers (I made this more than¬†two years ago now), but I remember I measured all the way around the width of the journal (around the front, spine, and back) and bought a couple inches more than that for the lace and doubled it for the dark brown ribbon; the lighter brown, narrower ribbon was for the laces, so I measured the width (not length) of the lace, multiplied that by how many centimeters were in the first measurement (all the way around the width of the journal), doubled it (it’s lacing–you work with two¬†ends, like shoelaces), and added some extra length to be on the safe side.

But before I began the embellishing, I tackled the removal of the pages from the journal cover.

Kaylie 254

I used an X-acto knife, cutting along the crease, to remove the pages from the cover.

Kaylie 255

There was an extra layer I went back to remove. ¬†You’ll want to cut out everything you can, especially from the inside of the¬†spine.

Kaylie 258

To cut through the back, I found it easier to go at it from the binding side.

Kaylie 259

There was also this random cardboard pocket in the back, which I pulled out (that’s why the back inside cover looks white and torn). ¬†The only repercussion of that was that the ends of the elastic closure came loose as well. ¬†Easy fix, though–I just glued them back down. ¬†(The felt will¬†end up covering them anyway.)

I wanted the ends of the lace and ribbon lacing to be hidden neatly under the felt, so I tackled the lacing next.

Kaylie 260

First, I glued one end of the lace to the front inside cover at the appropriate height (I wanted it to cover the top end of the elastic closure on the back).

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Then I wrapped the lace all the way around the cover, with the back end sticking out so I could be sure it lined up with the front end, and began gluing the edges down.  (The glue shows up A LOT even when dry, so I only glued the parts that I planned to cover with the ribbons.)

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Glued all along the front…

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…around the spine…

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…and along the back.

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And, of course, I glued down the end inside the back cover.

Next came the lacing!

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First, I used a fine-tip permanent marker and a ruler to make marks at one-centimeter intervals along both the top and bottom of the lace, all the way around the cover.

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Next, I found the middle of the narrow, lighter-colored ribbon and glued it in place at the first top and bottom marks on the front of the cover.  (Again, super glue is very visible, so be careful to only glue at the edges of the lace throughout this whole process!)

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Then I zig-zagged the ribbon and glued it in place a mark at a time.

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I started with the initial top piece and glued it down on the bottom, and from then on, always started with piece at the bottom right, glued it at the next top mark (to the left), then glued that same piece at¬†the next bottom mark (to the left), and then switched to the other ribbon (now bottom right) to repeat the process. ¬†(If you don’t do it in the same order every time, then sometimes you’ll get one side going over the other and the next row will be the other way around, which just looks messy. ¬†This way, the top piece of every X is the one going from bottom right to top left.)

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I continued around the spine and onto the back cover.

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When I reached the final marks (at least a full centimeter from the edge of the cover), I glued both sides down and cut the excess.

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I forgot to take pictures of the bow and small straight piece before I glued them on, but here’s¬†what I did: I tied a small bow out of a piece of ribbon from the excess, cutting the tails to the length I wanted, and then cut a small straight piece the width of the lace. ¬†I actually sewed the bow onto the middle of the straight piece (if you don’t have thread that matches your ribbon, you can sew just the back of the knot in place so it won’t show on top) before gluing it on, but you could also just glue them both down one at a time.

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(I wanted the bow on the back a} so it wouldn’t interfere with the elastic closure in the front, and b} because the front was busy enough and the back had little else going on.)

Next, I cut the dark brown ribbon in half and glued each piece in place over the edge of the lace and the lacing, all the way around.

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This is the biggest¬†thing that I felt I didn’t do neatly enough for my satisfaction; there were several sections that I glued too heavily, so the glue soaked through and remains visible.

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Then I glued the gears in place!  (No process pics of that step, but all I did was lay them out according to my sketched plans and glue them down one at a time, starting with the corner piece and working my way out in either direction.)

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This step got a little messy, too, unfortunately.  There are a few spots where you can see a little excess glue on the leather; some if it I was able to scrape away (lightly!) with my X-acto knife.

Next step: lining the inside of the cover.

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Cut a piece of felt to line the inside of the cover. ¬†My opinion on the best way to do this is to lay the cover, inside facedown, on top of the felt, and, holding the cover as flat as possible, trace around the cover onto the felt with a permanent marker. ¬†Then cut the felt¬†just a little smaller than the shape you’ve traced.

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Next, trace the Kindle onto a sheet of paper.  Determine where you want the elastic (that will hold the Kindle in place) to lie over the corners of the Kindle, and mark where the ends of ONE elastic loop will go onto one corner of the paper (the marks should match the width of the elastic you are using).  Then fold your paper in half, and half again, and trace your two marks onto the edge of the paper on the other three corners.  (This way, the loops will all be symmetrical.)  Unfold the paper and darken your marks as necessary.

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Place your paper template on the felt, where you want the Kindle to go.  (I wanted mine held in place on the back cover, centered top-to-bottom.)  Copy those marks on your template onto the felt with your permanent marker.

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Those marks will be where you cut slits for the elastic loops.

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Use scissors to carefully cut slits just large enough for the elastic to fit through.

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You’ll make two ovals out of the elastic, with the ends forming the loops on opposite corners (this picture is taken from the back of the felt–the side that will be glued down to the cover). ¬†Cut the elastic generously; once it’s stitched, you’ll cut off the excess.

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Here are the two loops, from the back (the side that will be glued down).

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Here’s a shot of the front (the side that will hold the Kindle).

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Place the Kindle into the loops, then pull the ovals tight from the back and safety pin the ends to overlap. ¬†You want the elastic to be tight enough that your Kindle won’t slip out, but not so tight that you have difficulty pulling a corner loose–the elastic should be taut, but not stretching (it will stretch as you place/remove your Kindle).

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Make adjustments as necessary until you are satisfied with the fit.

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Next, hand-stitch the elastic ends where they are safety pinned to complete the ovals (this part won’t show, so using thread that matches isn’t really necessary). ¬†Cut off excess elastic.

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Now, you’ll begin gluing the felt to the inside of the cover! ¬†(Remove Kindle from loops first.) ¬†Line up the back edge of the felt and glue that in place first, being careful to glue¬†just the felt (not the elastic).

The more super glue you use, the more it will bleed through the felt and be visible when dry. ¬†Don’t use more than you need (like I did! ¬†Oops).

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Once the back edge is dry enough to stay in place, glue the felt down in increments (about half an inch to an inch at a time).  Flip it up and place glue directly on the felt (staying well between the elastic ovals), then lay it back down on the cover and press to adhere.  Allow to dry for a minute or two, and then repeat the process.

The reason you are avoiding getting glue on the elastic is that you don’t want the elastic glued in place onto the cover. ¬†In order to stretch to allow you to place and remove your Kindle, the elastic¬†needs to be able to move freely between the felt and cover.

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Make sure you hold the cover as flat as possible as you glue the felt onto the inside of the spine. ¬†If you don’t, you may not be able to open the cover all the way once the felt is in place.

The front cover is much easier to glue, since you don’t need to worry about avoiding the elastic. ¬†I’d learned by then, too, just how much the glue can show through the felt, so I glued this side more lightly. ¬†(Advantage to starting with the Kindle side: the Kindle covers all those sections where you can see the dried glue!)

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Lining is finished!  It is now a fully functioning Kindle cover.  (You can see in this picture that I got tired of getting super glue all over my fingers: I wrapped a piece of saran wrap around one finger, held in place with a rubber band, and used just that finger to smooth down the felt as I glued it in place.  Hey, whatever works!)

Just one more step: adding chain to the elastic closure.

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I didn’t want the chain to wrap all the way around the elastic (which would severely limit its ability to stretch); I just wanted it along the portion that stretched over the front of the cover. ¬†After placing my Kindle inside the cover and closing the cover with the elastic closure, I safety pinned one end of the chain at the top of where I wanted it to start, and then pinned it at the bottom. ¬†Don’t cut the chain yet!

I hand-stitched it into place exactly as I had pinned it, but when I tried closing it over my Kindle again, I realized that it was too tight–I should have given myself a little more slack in the chain. ¬†So I had to pull the stitches loose and try again. ¬†The second time, I pinned the top, laid out the chain, and then gave myself a few extra links before pinning the bottom. ¬†The chain looked a little too loose this time, but once it was stitched into place, it worked perfectly.

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I hand-stitched the chain in place by going up through the middle of each link and over to the left, then up through that same link and over to the right, for each link,¬†while holding the elastic slightly¬†stretched to match the length of the chain.¬† Once it’s done, the chain loosens link by link when the elastic isn’t stretched, so it doesn’t look loose at all, but it has enough give for the elastic to stretch comfortably to pull it over the cover to hold it closed.

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This is what the stitching looks like on the back; not my prettiest work, but you can see how securely the chain is stitched to the elastic!

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I opened and closed the cover a few more times (with the Kindle inside) to make¬†extra sure that it worked before I cut the chain! ¬†Once it’s cut, there’s no going back. ¬†(Of course, the chain I bought had more than enough for me to cut a second length if I’d had to discard the first.)

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I dug around in my husband’s toolbox for this to cut the excess chain at the top and bottom (I cut the first link past the stitched links). ¬†I don’t know what they’re called (I want to say “needle-nosed pliers”?); I just knew how to use them to cut it..

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Finished product!  Front.

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Back.

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Inside.

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Full outside.

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Since the cover is a tad longer than the Kindle, it bows slightly when closed. ¬†Not a big issue for me, but I did consider adding foam padding or something above and below the Kindle to fix this; ultimately, I decided against it, though–it just didn’t seem a big enough deal to be worth the hassle (or extra expense).

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In the end, I was very happy with my work. ¬†The cover held up well (though it didn’t¬†see much opportunity for wear and tear, as I don’t travel much, so my Kindle mostly just sits at home) until my dad passed along a Kindle cover he didn’t need that fit one of my needs better than my own homemade one–his flipped all the way open so the front cover could be folded under the back cover, which was much easier to hold open one-handed while I breastfed. ¬†So my steampunk cover isn’t in use at the moment, but I’m hanging onto it–I plan to use it again at some point!

 


May the Fourth be with you.

Happy Star Wars Day!

To celebrate, my kids and I decked out in our Star Wars shirts and took a Stormtrooper-style selfie:

Our Stormtrooper-style selfie, in celebration of Star Wars Day.  May the Fourth be with you!

Our Stormtrooper-style selfie, in celebration of Star Wars Day. May the Fourth be with you!

Get it? ¬†‘Cause¬†Stormtroopers always miss. ¬†Haha!

(I can’t take credit for the idea; see my inspiration here.)

May the Force be with you! ūüôā