Category Archives: Crafts & Tutorials

Freezer paper t-shirt stenciling.

My husband is not as geeky as I am.  Fortunately, he loves me enough to not only put up with my geekiness, but to also engage in it.  Last year, he watched Kaylie all weekend so I could take Wil with me to Dragon*Con, and this year, since my recently-retired parents are in town and can watch the kids, he’s actually coming with me!  Yay for having a con buddy this year! 🙂

I’ve introduced him to quite a few of my favorite shows over the years.  He liked “Firefly” (my personal favorite) enough that both our kids share names with main characters, but his favorite Whedon show is actually “Dollhouse” (which is also an awesome show!).  So after I’d mentioned to him that maybe I ought to look into getting him some geeky tees to wear to Dragon*Con, he came to me with an idea for a “Dollhouse”-inspired shirt.  Cue new craft project!

Freezer paper t-shirt stenciling.

Freezer paper t-shirt stenciling.

This turned out to be a surprisingly easy project.  I found this tutorial very helpful in getting started.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Plus foam brushes, which I forgot to grab for this picture....

Plus foam brushes, which I forgot to grab for this picture….

  • T-shirt, prewashed
  • Freezer paper
  • X-acto knife
  • Cutting mat
  • Iron
  • Piece of cardboard
  • Fabric paint
  • Foam brushes (one for each paint color)

The first step is to sketch out your design.  My hubby’s idea was a minimalistic design with three flowers in a vase, all white but for the third flower, which would be green.  (If you’ve seen “Dollhouse”, you’ll remember the phrase “There are three flowers in a vase.  The third flower is green.”  It was one of those “HOLY CRAP DID THAT REALLY JUST HAPPEN OH MY GOSH THIS SHOW IS AWESOME” moments.  If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it for you, but I will instruct you to quit web-surfing right now to go watch it, immediately.)  Anyway, I sketched out a few ideas for the shape of the vase and the type of flowers on a scrap of paper, and once Casey picked what he liked best, I sketched it out onto the non-shiny side of the freezer paper (forgot to take a picture), and then cut it out with the X-acto knife on the cutting mat.


It’s a stencil, so the paint will go in the negative space.  Cut accordingly.


Next, you’ll iron your stencil onto your shirt, shiny side down (against the fabric).


I used a ruler to center my stencil.  Make sure when you iron it that all the little edges are firmly pressed down with the iron, so that the paint won’t seep under the paper.  I used my iron’s cotton setting, without steam.

Next, you’ll need a piece of cardboard bigger than your to-be-painted area.


Insert the cardboard into the shirt, between the front and back layers of fabric, so that the paint won’t soak through.

Then you get to paint!


Not much instruction here; just paint.


Finish one coat of one color and move on to the next.


I let it dry for about 45 minutes before applying a second coat of both colors.  Follow the directions on your fabric paint; mine said to apply 1-2 coats, let dry 4 hours, and then hold a hot iron on a steam setting 1/2″ above the paint to texture it, so after my second coat, I set the shirt aside for a few hours before removing the stencil.


Once the paint is thoroughly dry, peel back the freezer paper carefully.


I found it worked best to hold the shirt down with my fingers on the painted area right next to the edge of freezer paper I was peeling up; that way, I didn’t run the risk of the paint not separating at the edge, and pulling off with the paper.


I was very pleased by how well the freezer paper worked–no bleeding at all!


Final design, pre-steaming with the iron.


And after steaming….you can see that it made the painted sections curl a bit.  Not really sure what the point of this step was, and I kind of preferred the way it looked before this step, but I was following the directions on my paint.


I thought it turned out well!  We’ll see how it holds up to washing, but just to be safe, I won’t wash it before Dragon*Con! 😛

I made him let me take a picture.

I made him let me take a picture.

“There are three flowers in a vase.  The third flower is green.”

Counting down the days till Dragon*Con!


Dragon*Con onesies, part II: Embellishing.

Once I finished dyeing my onesies brown and black, I set about embellishing them.

I bought a pack of iron-on letters (I bought them in-store, but I think they were these ones) for my first two onesies.  After counting how many of each letter I had so I knew what I had to work with, I played around with various quotes/words from different fandoms and settled on “mischief managed” from Harry Potter and my favorite Doctor’s catchphrase from Doctor Who.

From the Marauder's Map, introduced in HP3.

From the Marauder’s Map, introduced in HP3.

I cut out my letters and followed the package’s directions for application.  By the way, lining the letters up in a perfectly straight, perfectly spaced line is about the hardest way to do it….hence me doing it for only one line of the two.  Plus, I felt like it made “mischief” look more mischievous this way…

My "Harry Potter" onesie.

My “Harry Potter” onesie.

Next came my tribute to my favorite Doctor:



My letters did not come with any punctuation, so that hyphen was actually cut out from a “Q” I wasn’t going to use.

My "Doctor Who" onesie.

My “Doctor Who” onesie.

Next came the more labor-intensive designs.  For the next two, I bought a few sheets of felt.



First came a Captain Hammer onesie, from Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog.  I googled a few pictures to get it right, like this one:

Original here

Original here.

Then I sketched a basic hammer design onto a piece of paper, cut it out, traced it onto the felt, and cut out my pieces.

"Stand back, everyone, nothing here to see--just imminent danger; in the middle of it, me!"

“Stand back, everyone, nothing here to see–just imminent danger; in the middle of it, me!”

I hand-sewed the hammer pieces to the yellow backing…

"Yes, Captain Hammer's here, hair blowing in the breeze--the day needs my saving expertiiiiiise!"

“Yes, Captain Hammer’s here, hair blowing in the breeze–the day needs my saving expertiiiiiise!”

…then hand-sewed the whole thing onto a black onesie.

Captain Hammer onesie.

My Captain Hammer onesie.

Next, I planned a minimalist Chewbacca design.  Here’s Chewie, in case it’s been a while:


“Aaauuurwwch!” Original here.

Here are the felt pieces, cut out and pinned together:

Chewbacca bandolier pieces.

Chewbacca bandolier pieces.

I pinned them all together, then hand-stitched the sides of each grey piece, and all along both edges of the middle brown piece.

Chewie bandolier.

Chewie bandolier.

Then I sewed the whole bandolier across the onesie, trimming the ends at angles to fit.

DCO 11

The bandolier ends at the seam.

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I decided to stitch the top end under the shoulder flap of the onesie, so it wouldn’t interfere with the mechanics of wrestling a onesie over a wiggling baby’s head.

My "Star Wars" Chewbacca onesie.

My Chewbacca onesie.

That gave me four onesies, for all four days of Dragon*Con.  But I had extra onesies, and babies do occasionally need a change of clothes while out and about (after public spit-up fests and diaper blowouts)…so I made one more.

Using this fabric, I cut out the Firefly “Serenity” symbol, leaving a small border that I could hand-stitch under before sewing it onto the onesie.

Serenity symbol.

Serenity symbol.

It would have been nice to find a version with the English text over it the way it’s painted on the ship, to be more recognizable, but I figure any true fan would know it in a heartbeat anyway. 🙂

My "Firefly"/"Serenity" onesie.

My “Firefly”/”Serenity” onesie.

And that concludes the making of my son’s Dragon*Con onesies!

Here’s the full batch:

My son's homemade Dragon*Con onesies.

My son’s homemade Dragon*Con onesies.

And with the two ribbon tag blankets I made for him (the grey one is Star Wars, with this fabric, and the brown one is Firefly, with this fabric):

My two-month-old son's homemade Dragon*Con gear.

My two-month-old son’s homemade Dragon*Con gear.

The Firefly crew background, by the way, is the minky-backed blanket I made for him.  It came in very handy in the air-conditioned hotels during the con!

These were really fun to make, and Wil got lots of “awww”s and a few pictures taken, but I do want to note that these were not the most durable after the con.  The felt began pilling after the first washing, and a few of the letters began to peel a little at the edges, so if you’re thinking about making anything like this for regular wear, you may want to consider using a different type of fabric for the sewn on bits and maybe a fabric pen or fabric paint and stencils for lettering.  Whatever.  Since I made them specifially for a one-time event, it wasn’t a problem that they didn’t hold up as well after.  They served their purpose–letting me “dress up” for Dragon*Con even though, at two months post-partem, I didn’t want to spend much on dressing up myself (got by with a couple oversized Star Wars t-shirts).  It was worth it!

Dragon*Con onesies, part I: Dyeing.

I was just a couple months pregnant when we moved to Atlanta in late 2012.  Nevertheless, I was absolutely determined to make it to Dragon*Con the following fall.  I bought my membership early (after calling their helpline with questions about bringing a two-month-old) and eagerly anticipated attending my very first con.

Of course, I would only be two or three months post-partem by then, so that meant no costumes (1. no way to know what size I’d be then; 2. wouldn’t have time to make one after giving birth; and 3. not investing money in something that would only fit that one year).  But, I’d be bringing Wil with me, so I could dress him up…

I wanted him to be comfortable, so it was an easy choice to keep it low-key with simple embellished onesies instead of true costumes.  I brainstormed quite a few ideas across multiple fandoms.  In the end, I picked ideas from five different fandoms that could be done in just two colors, so I wouldn’t need to buy more than two dyes.

I’d never dyed anything before this project.  I pinned several tutorials (this one and this one have some helpful tips), and researched RIT versus Dylon (and settled on Dylon powder for my project).  Then I bought my materials and got started!

Materials and supplies.

Materials and supplies.

I bought two five-packs of white Gerber onesies (everything I read online about dyeing said to prepare for a few failed tries, so I overbought) and Dylon powder dye in brown and black.

Supposedly you can dye things in your washing machine or in a stainless steel sink, but I didn’t want to risk leftover dye in my washer and I didn’t want to ruin the kitchen sink in our apartment, so I used a plastic bucket that I didn’t mind getting stained (it survived with only a faintly dark line where the water line was highest).  I used a wooden spoon to stir everything and wore rubber gloves.  You’ll also need a glass measuring cup (to initially dissolve the powder dye in) and salt.

My first batch was actually the brown one.  They turned out more…tan.  I did the black ones next, and this time, I used VERY hot tap water, dyed only four of the five onesies, and rinsed them in cold water much more thoroughly, and they turned out just fine.  Redid the brown ones, using only three onesies, and they turned much better than they had the first time.



I followed the instructions on the back of the dye packet pretty closely, but used hotter water and left them in they dye a good bit longer.

Stirring onesies in the dye.

Stirring onesies in the dye.

After prewashing the onesies and leaving them damp, I followed the instructions to dissolve the dye, filled my bucket with hot water, added the salt and dye, and tossed in the onesies.  I stirred them regularly for a good two hours or so.


The stitching stayed white, but I like the contrast, so I was fine with that.  I rinsed each onesie out in cold tap water (cold helps the dye set) and put them in a glass bowl while I dumped the dye from the bucket.



I put the bucket in the sink and filled it partway with cold tap water, resubmerged the onesies, and squeezed and stirred them around.  I left the tap water running, and every time the water filled the bucket about halfway, I dumped it out and refilled it, working the excess dye out of the onesies the whole time.  It took forever for the water to stay clear, but as long as I saw little clouds of bluish black puffing out under the water when I squeezed the onesies, I kept at it.

Black onesies!

Black onesies!

They faded a little after washing, but chalk that up to me being new at this and not really knowing what I’m doing! 😛  They turned out well enough for me!

Part II: Embellishing coming next!  (That’s the fun part!!)

Etsy shop: Open for business!

My Etsy shop is officially open!  No more procrastinating. 😛

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.  😉  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 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.


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 one side of the pocket…

Pin some more.

Pin some more.

…and the other.



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 the top of the pocket in place along the waistband.



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.)


Here he is, testing out my work.

What’s it got in its pocketses?


So… 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!

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:



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!

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! 🙂

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 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.

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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.

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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

Kabela Design gears from

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 offers free shipping with only a $10 minimum!

Kabela Designs gears from

Kabela Designs gears from

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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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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!


Command center: take one.

Well, I got halfway through writing a different post yesterday, but then I spent the rest of my afternoon cuddling with my puking nine-month-old, both of us covered in vomit for several hours (it’s pointless to try showering until he’s done; as it was, I misjudged it and we ended up taking two showers).  Full-time mom, right?  (He’s fine today.  Apparently he hasn’t outgrown his intolerance of/aversion to grains yet, so it was yesterday’s lunch that set him off.)

So, instead of finishing that post (I haven’t had time yet), I’ll give you a brief update on that sign I finished last week, now that it’s made it onto the wall alongside my menu board.

Our command center.

Our command center.

Of course, it being me, as soon as it was on the wall, I thought, “You know, I should actually……”  So, when I have time, I have some changes I intend to make (hence this being “take one”).


I’ll post “take two” once that’s finished.  Hoping to get to it this week!

“The Richeys” sign part II: Painting.

Back to the sign I started making in this post!

The rest of our command center (pictures coming soon!) is made up of things with black frames and silver lettering.  So, obviously, this had to match.

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To start with, I spray painted the whole thing black.  I made sure to get the sides of the piece as well, since there will be gaps on all sides between the sign and the rest on the wall.


You can still see the letters burned into the wood under the paint; that was the idea.  I didn’t want to trace the letters over the paint, because it would be harder to cover up any mistakes; since I already had the wood-burning tool for searing ribbon (like I did for this project), this seemed like a logical alternative.


Next, I hand-painted each letter with silver paint.  (I’m a lefty, so I started on the right side.)  I did two or three coats on each letter by the time I was done.


I used a toothpick for the smaller letters.


When the silver paint had dried, I went back with a small brush and black paint to touch up a few areas where the silver spilled out over the lines a bit.  You can see the difference between the black paints close up, but it shouldn’t be noticeable on the wall.


Finished lettering!


Next, I just need to get it hung on the wall!