Tag Archives: tutorial

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.

02

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

03

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

04

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.

05

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!

06

Not much instruction here; just paint.

07

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

08

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.

09

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

10

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.

11

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

12

Final design, pre-steaming with the iron.

13

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.

14

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!

Advertisements

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.

Instructions.

Instructions.

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.

IMG_6828

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.

Rinsing.

Rinsing.

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!!)


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!


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).

Kaylie 262

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.)

Kaylie 263

Glued all along the front…

Kaylie 264

…around the spine…

Kaylie 265

…and along the back.

Kaylie 266

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

Next came the lacing!

Kaylie 268

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.

Kaylie 270

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!)

Kaylie 271

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

Kaylie 274

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.)

Kaylie 275

I continued around the spine and onto the back cover.

Kaylie 277

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.

Kaylie 278

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.

Kaylie 279

(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.

Kaylie 280

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.

Kaylie 281

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.)

Kaylie 282

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.

Kaylie 283

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.

Kaylie 284

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.

Kaylie 285

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.

Kaylie 286

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

Kaylie 287

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

Kaylie 288

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.

Kaylie 289

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

Kaylie 290

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

Kaylie 291

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).

Kaylie 293

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

Kaylie 295

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.

Kaylie 297

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).

Kaylie 298

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.

Kaylie 299

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!)

Kaylie 301

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.

Kaylie 303

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.

Kaylie 307

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.

Kaylie 315

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!

Kaylie 318

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.)

Kaylie 321

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..

Kaylie 325

Finished product!  Front.

Kaylie 326

Back.

Kaylie 327

Inside.

Kaylie 329

Full outside.

Kaylie 331

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).

Kaylie 324

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!

 


DIY Onesies to Tees.

The weather here in Georgia is (off and on) warming up.  We’ve had a few days warm enough for short sleeves….at which point I realized that Kaylie, whom we bumped up a size in late fall, had only four short-sleeved shirts that fit.  But she also had three short-sleeved onesies, two gifted to us and one from a set.  As you may recall from my Buying baby’s wardrobe: What you need (and what you don’t) post, onesies are great for kids before the walking stage (they don’t ride up like tees do every time you pick the kid up), but tees are so much more convenient for diaper checks and changes, and now that Kaylie’s potty-trained, there’s no way I’m putting her in a onesie she can’t undo herself.  So I decided to hack them up!

Onesies to tees (in ten minutes).

Onesies to tees (in ten minutes).

Easy peasy.

That’s a weird phrase.

Onesies-to-shirts 01

Start with the onesies your kid isn’t wearing.

Onesies-to-shirts 02

Cut just above the leg holes.

Onesies-to-shirts 03

Like that.

Onesies-to-shirts 04

Turn the shirt inside out, and flip the bottom edge up.

Onesies-to-shirts 05

Pin.

Onesies-to-shirts 08

And sew.

Onesies-to-shirts 07

I totally pinned all of these the wrong direction, by the way–all the sharp ends were pointed toward me instead of toward the needle.  Fortunately (unfortunately?), I do this so often that it doesn’t even throw me off anymore.

Onesies-to-shirts 11

I stitched the white one first, and my tempermental sewing machine was not feeding the fabric correctly, so I thought I might be screwing up the hem while I tugged it along (if you’re doing multiples, it’s always a good idea to start with the one you like the least, in case it turns out like the proverbial first pancake).

Onesies-to-shirts 12

Instead, pulling it tight while stitching stretched it enough to end up with this suprisingly cute ruffly hem.  I think it might be my favorite.

Onesies-to-shirts 10

Normally, I’m a stickler for straight stitching, but this project was more about functionality and finishing during naptime, so it’s not the prettiest sewing I’ve ever done, but it took less than half an hour to do all three.

Onesies-to-shirts 13

And now Kaylie has three more shirts for spring!


DIY (No-Sew) Crib Rail Chew Guard.

Stabled horses often exhibit a particular habit called “cribbing”.  It’s when a bored horse begins chewing on what it can reach from the confines of its stall–usually the wood at the top of shorter walls and half-doors.  I always thought that was a weird name for the habit….

….Until I had a nine-month-old.

Ah, CRIBBING.  Got it.

Ah, CRIBBING. Got it.

Apparently, the name comes from the fact that that’s what teething babies do once they can pull themselves up in their cribs.

Not just Kaylie--this is the crib we're borrowing for Wil.

Not just Kaylie–this is the crib we’re borrowing for Wil.

Clearly, it’s not just Kaylie who does this–we’re borrowing the crib pictured above for Wil (Kaylie was still in hers when Wil was born, and is now using it as a toddler bed) from some friends with two boys.  At least one of them apparently loved chewing on wood as much as she did.

Of course when Kaylie first gnawed through the finish on her crib, I freaked out at the thought of potential splinters lodging themselves in my baby’s little mouth.  (I don’t know if that ever actually happens.  First-time moms are allowed to freak out about that stuff, anyway, though.)  Fortunately, I had read a blog post someone had pinned on using a yard of fabric to cover the crib rails; unfortunately, I hadn’t repinned it and couldn’t find it again, so I started from scratch.

Two yards of fleece, numerous snips, and an afternoon later, and that ended the “cribbing” problem.

The pieces.

The pieces.

Kaylie grew out of that phase quite some time ago.  She was nineteen months old when we moved to Atlanta, and I don’t think we ever put them back on once we got the crib set up in our apartment.  But I kept the pieces for when we’d need them for baby #2.

Well, Wil is now eight months old, has his first three teeth, and has been pulling himself up into standing for close to two months now.  To my knowledge, he hasn’t started chewing on the crib yet, but he’s certainly capable of it by now if it occurs to him.  So I dug these out and washed them, and set about chew-proofing Wil’s borrowed crib two weeks ago (sorry for the lull in posting!).  I wasn’t sure how well they would fit the crib he’s in, since I made them for Kaylie’s crib.  There’s no one-size-fits-all pattern for this project.  It definitely doesn’t fit quite as well on his, but, fortunately, it should still work just fine.

Sadly, I have no pics of the cutting process, since I first made this over two years ago, but I’ll give you the basics on what I did the first time around and post pics of putting it on.

I bought two yards of fleece (definitely get something stretchy!), to be on the safe side, and I was glad that I did.  I did end up with some leftover, but I used most of it, and I did use almost the full length.  First, I measured the ends and sides of the crib, and added 8-10 inches for each tie (so, length + 16-20 inches).  Then I measured bottom-on-outside-to-top-to-bottom-on-inside the part that needed to be covered and added about three inches on each side for the ties (so, width x 2 plus width of top + 6 inches).  Once I had all my measurements, I figured out how to best cut the four rectangles (two ends, two sides) from the fabric.

(My measurements for the pieces were: ends – 46″ (30″ rail length + 8″ ties on each end) x 16 1/2″ (10 1/2″ bottom-to-top-to-bottom + 3″ ties on both sides), sides – 74″ (54″ rail length + 10″ ties on each end) x 10″ (4″ bottom-to-top-to-bottom + 3″ ties on both sides.)

Crib Rail 04

Lay one of your end pieces out on the floor and make cuts on either end for the big ties (measure the piece of railing it will cover and cut the excess on either side).  Then center your piece over the railing…

First tie.

First tie.

…and tie both ends in place.

My little "helper".

My little “helper”.

Next, make cuts three inches deep along each slat.  Don’t bother measuring the width of the slats; it varies crib to crib, and if you are a little off, it’s easier to compensate by just eyeballing it–this is one of those projects that is actually easier to approximate than to measure to death like I usually do.  Just measure how deep your cuts are (mine were three inches), to be sure they are consistent.  And make sure that the cuts are along each slat, not between them (the ties–between the cuts–need to lie between the slats).

I found it easier to cut on the outside, then take the whole piece off, turn it around so the cut side was then on the inside, and make the rest of the cuts on the outside.

For the second end piece, you can either repeat the process, or you can take your finished piece, lay it over the second piece, and make cuts on the second where they are on the first.

Next, do the exact same thing with the side pieces.

Side piece.

Once all your pieces are cut, tie them all into place!

This is not how it is supposed to fit.

This is not how it is supposed to fit, but that’s what happens when you custom-make these for one crib and try using them on another!

Since I originally made these for Kaylie’s crib, they did not fit as well on Wil’s borrowed crib.

I shoved it down on the inside to cover the wood...

I shoved it down on the inside to cover the wood…

The ends were taller on this crib than on Kaylie’s, so I had to stretch the fleece a bit to tie it, and then shove it down on the inside so it would reach the bottom.

...so it rode WAY up on the outside!  Oh, well....

…so it rode WAY up on the outside! Oh, well….

On Kaylie’s crib, both sides looked the way the inside of Wil’s does.

Start tying from the ends.

Start tying from the ends.

A tip: start by tying the ends of each piece in place, and then work your way from both ends toward the middle.  That way, if the fabric needs to stretch a little to cover the whole thing, you won’t be tugging it to fit as you tie the last few ties on the end.

This one won't tie--don't worry about it.

This one won’t tie–don’t worry about it.

The very first gap won’t have enough slack to tie, but the fabric should still be tight enough to cover the wood and keep those baby teeth from getting to it!

DIY Crib Rail Chew Guard: to protect wood from teething babies, and vice versa!

DIY Crib Rail Chew Guard: to protect wood from teething babies, and vice versa!

Finished product!

It fits a little funky on Wil’s crib (the ends aren’t covered as well, as pictured above, and he also has one fewer slat than Kaylie’s crib does, so one of the middle gaps has two knotted ties), but it works just as well as it did on hers!  All it cost to keep my babies from splinters, buy my peace of mind, and protect our cribs was the price of two yards of fleece–well worth it!


DIY Hanging Hair Clip Holder.

Little girls seem to come with lots of stuff.

First time in her fairy wings.

First time in her fairy wings.

Like tutus, fairy wings, and TONS OF PRETTY HAIR THINGS.

On a good day, our counter looks like this:

Here we have bows, and clips, and bows, and elastics, and bows.....

Here we have bows, and clips, and bows, and elastics, and bows…..

No way am I showing you what it looks like on a bad day.  Anyway, even with everything corraled, I always find myself digging for the right clip while trying to keep a squirmy two-year-old entertained and safe on the countertop.  Not always an easy task.  So I set out to organize the myriad of bows and clips in another way.

DIY Hanging hair clip holder: for clips, headbands, and ponytail elastics.

DIY Hanging hair clip holder: for clips, headbands, and ponytail elastics.

I totally meant to take process pics……but I blame Game of Thrones.  I juuuust found out last week that we can watch the first three seasons through Xfinity’s On Demand, and since I recently finished the first three books, I finally figured out how to work the TV/cable remote so I could watch them during naptimes.  It was around the crowning of Viserys that I realized that I was almost done with the project and hadn’t yet taken a picture…..oops!

So here is a shot of the finished product, before loading it up with all the hair stuff:

Empty hair clip holder.

Empty hair clip holder.

You will need:

  • About 3 1/2 feet of ribbon
  • D-ring (the width of the ribbon–mine was 1″)
  • Shower curtain ring (the kind pictured)
  • Thread

I cut two lengths of ribbon: 30 inches (2 1/2 feet) for the main piece of the hair clip holder, and a 9-inch piece for the loops at the top for headbands.  I used a wood-burning tool to cut and sear the ends so I didn’t have to deal with folding the ends over to hide fraying.

Headband holders.

Headband holders.

Sewing these loops is the hardest part of this relatively easy project, simply because measuring it all out and getting it perfectly even took me a few tries before I even started sewing them on.  I’ll give you my measurements, though, so that should cut out some of the trial-and-error for those of you who would like to make one of your own.

I started with a nine-inch piece of ribbon, flipped it over, and used a disappearing-ink fabric pen to mark the back at 3-inch intervals (so at the 3″ and 6″ marks).  Then I determined how far from the top of the main ribbon I wanted the loops to be (taking into account that I would be sewing the very top through the D-ring), and marked four points at 1 1/4-inch intervals on the back of the main ribbon, starting with where I wanted the top of the top loop.

I sewed the loops on by hand, mostly because my sewing machine chose to be tempermental yesterday (it tends to revolt when it feels I’ve been overworking it….*sigh*).  Start by lining the ribbons up, top (pretty) sides together (and the short length upside down, if it matters), with the short length below where you want the loops.  Line it up so that one end of the short length overlaps the bottom of the four marks just enough to sew it in place.  Once that is sewn on (as securely as you please–I sew the whole width twice), find the next three-inch mark on the short length of ribbon, fold it pretty-sides-together at that mark, and loop it up to the next 1 1/4-inch mark on the main ribbon (in such a way that the loose end of the short length is still hanging below where you are sewing); sew in place, through both layers of folded ribbon as well as the main ribbon (so, going through three layers).  Do the same at the six-inch mark.  Finish by sewing the top end of the short length onto the top and final 1 1/4-inch mark on main ribbon.

Next, sew the D-ring onto the top of the main ribbon–this will be what you hang the whole thing from.

Shower curtain ring for hair elastics.

Shower curtain ring for hair elastics.

Next, I sewed a large loop at the bottom for a shower curtain ring.  I happened to have an extra set of these, and they are perfect for holding ponytail elastics!  You can turn the ring and slide the elastics around so that you can always get to the one you want without taking others off.

Looking down.

Looking down.

When I first finished it, and hung it on the wall, I thought it seemed way too long.  I’m really glad I didn’t cut it right then!  Turns out, all of Kaylie’s clip just barely fit onto it as it is!

Lots of bows!

Lots of bows!

Sadly, you can’t really see Belle anymore once it’s loaded up!  I found that ribbon a couple years ago, by the way, and bought it on a whim, hoping my daughter would end up liking my favorite Disney princess.  So far, she prefers Rex the dinosaur from Toy Story….

Headband holders.

Headband holders.

Kaylie only has one headband so far, but I made three loops in anticipation of that number growing.  Each loop could easily fit multiple headbands, as well.

Ponytail elastics--sorted, of course.

Ponytail elastics–sorted, of course.

Before loading them onto the ring, I sorted the ponytail elastics by color, of course.  Or rather, by shade of pink…..I need to find some more colors!

Problematic clips.

Problematic clips.

These flower clips were the only ones that presented a problem–they would probably clip around a narrower ribbon than the one I used, but alas, I had to toss them back into the little box on the counter.  Still, it’s nice not having to dig for them anymore–they’re very easy to find now!

By the way, a quick recommendation for anyone buying clips as gifts or, like me, before your daughter has enough hair to use them:

Buy the bottom kind, not the top ones.

Buy the bottom kind, not the top ones.

See how the clip part is covered by ribbon on the top one?  If you’re using them with loose hair just to clip it back out of the face, that’s fine, but I usually use bow clips with a ponytail, clipping it just above the elastic.  The top ones DO NOT WORK for this–the ribbon catches on all the hair you’re trying to push it through.  But the bottom kind, with the metal clip bare, is perfect!  It glides right through the hair with no catching.

Anyway, hope this inspires your own creative solutions to keep your counter clutter-free!  Or clutter-freeish….

All the pretty hair things!

All the pretty hair things!


DIY Menu Board: A Tutorial.

Time for my first tutorial!

DIY Menu Board.

DIY Menu Board.

I have my hands full with a two-and-a-half-year-old and a six-month-old, so menu planning is a necessity if we’re going to eat anything that isn’t microwaveable.  Otherwise, I forget to make dinner until it’s time to eat dinner….

I’ve seen a number of creative menu boards on Pinterest (who hasn’t?), so I decided to try my hand at making one myself.  I wanted to be able to plan a full week at a time, I wanted to be able to plan multiple dishes for a single meal, and I wanted nothing hand-written (I’m a perfectionist, and my handwriting isn’t perfect enough for me).  So here is the board that I made to work for me. Here’s what you need:

Supplies.

Supplies.

  • A large frame (mine was a float frame from Target)
  • Scrapbook paper (from JoAnn Fabric & Crafts)
  • Clips (seven – one for each day) (two four-packs from Walmart)
  • Letter stickers (to spell the days and “menu”) (from JoAnn’s)
  • Organizer bin (for entree/dish cards) (from Target)
  • Not pictured: entree/dish cards (made from index cards)
  • Not pictured: washers (if your clips are magnetic like mine, you will need washers if the magnets are set back into the bottom of the clip…I’ll explain when I get there) (from Walmart)

(Obviously, you can get your supplies from stores of your choice; these are the places I got mine.)

Tools.

Tools.

  • Mod Podge glue
  • Foam brush
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Super glue (suitable for glass)
  • Uber helpful: paper cutter thingy, for straighter lines!

Let’s get started!

Step One: Measuring

Step one: Measuring.

Step one: Measuring.

Lay out everything in your frame approximately where you will want it to go on the final product.  (If you only divide up your frame into seven sections for days–no bin at the bottom–you will need to be very precise in your measurements and in cutting so that your final strip is not fatter or skinnier than the rest!  Adding one unique element–like my bin, or a header or space for a quote or grocery list–is helpful in giving you a little wiggle room.)

Step Two: Cutting

Step two: Cutting.

Step two: Cutting.

Once you know how wide each section needs to be, begin cutting strips of scrapbook paper to go between the glass.  I chose two different patterns of scrapbook paper that complemented each other; you could use as many colors and patterns as you like.  But it is always a good idea to buy more paper than you expect you will need!  I managed to mutilate almost an entire sheet before I realized I was using the wrong blade to cut it; fortunately, I waaay overbought since JoAnn’s was having a sale on scrapbook paper the day I went shopping.

Since I had a little wiggle room, I cut my strips slightly wider than I needed them, so that I could overlap them just a hair.  That prevented gaps between the strips from imperfect cutting.  I would especially recommend overlapping like this if you are cutting by hand with scissors.

Check to make sure everything fits before gluing!

Check to make sure everything fits before gluing!

Before you begin gluing, double-check how everything fits together.  Re-cutting paper is far less work than removing glued paper from the glass if your measurements are incorrect!

Step Three: Gluing

Step three: Gluing.

Step three: Gluing.

Remove the backing from the frame.  If you are using a float frame like I did, you will glue your scrapbook paper to the back piece of glass; if you are using a standard frame, you will glue your paper to the backing or a piece of cardboard cut to fit, or you could glue the front of the paper to the back of the glass.  I suppose you could even glue it on top of the front piece of glass, but I like the multi-dimensional depth of having a layer of glass between the paper and the stickers and clips.

(I’m not a Mod Podge expert.  I had some leftover glue from a project a few years ago, but I am not the person to ask about which type of glue is best for a project like this.)

View from the underside.

View from the underside.

I cut my scrapbook paper the appropriate height top-to-bottom, but I didn’t trim the sides until after gluing.  I found it worked well to line up one side of the paper with the glass, and then I went back and cut the extra paper from the other side with scissors after the glue had dried a bit.

Glue, glue, glue.

Glue, glue, glue.

Next, I coated the entire thing with a layer of Mod Podge.  I did not take great care to be sure that every edge and corner laid perfectly flat, since the front piece of glass would go over the glued paper.

Step Four: Framing

Step four: Framing.

Step four: Framing.

Once the scrapbook paper is completely dry, reassemble the frame.

Step Five: Stickering

Step five: Stickering.

Step five: Stickering.

I used letter stickers on top of the glass to label each day.  Other options would be to sticker the scrapbook paper before reassembling the frame, hand-writing the days onto the paper or the glass, or using dry-erase markers to label days (a good idea if you often menu-plan mid-week or your schedule fluctuates).

I laid out the clips, with cut index cards, on the board before stickering, so I knew how much room I had to work with.  Originally I had planned to spell out entire days, but “Wednesday” was just not going to fit!

Step Six: Adding clips

Step six: Adding clips.

Step six: Adding clips.

First, I measured how far from the left side I wanted my clips; then, I lined up my metal 18-inch ruler along this proposed line and held it absolutely still while I worked.  I very precisely measured the height of each section and marked the exact middle with a permanent marker, right up against the ruler.

Plotting dots.

Plotting dots.

Dots in a straight line!

Gluing clips.

Gluing clips.

I used super glue to adhere the clips to the glass, centering each circle on my dots.  Since the clips were magnetic, and rather cheaply made, the magnet part was set back into the metal circle, leaving a gap between the magnet and the glass while the circle’s metal edge is against the glass.  The clips began pulling off with some use, so I went back and glued metal washers, slightly smaller than the circle, between the magnet and the glass.

Step Seven: Adding the bin

Step seven: Adding bin.

Step seven: Adding bin.

This was the one thing I didn’t measure to death.  I centered it by sight and super-glued that puppy on.

Finishing touches.

Finishing touches.

I bought raised metallic stickers at JoAnn’s for the “Menu” at the top.

Dry faster, dang it!

Dry faster, dang it!

I let everything dry much longer than I probably needed to.  Being both extra careful and extra impatient can be frustrating sometimes….

Finished menu board!

Finished menu board!

My menu board is done!

Now for the entree/dish cards….

Planning entree/dish cards.

Planning entree/dish cards.

This is obviously a very customizable step.  I wanted to be able to display up to three different dishes–one entree and two sides–for each meal.  I also wanted to color-code dishes to easily plan out having an entree, a carb side, and a veggie side, so I could tell at a glance if a week was too carb-heavy or too low on veggies.

Finished entree/dish cards!

Finished entree/dish cards!

I used blank unlined 3×5 index cards.  I cut them in half lengthwise.  For veggie dishes, I used a full half; for carb dishes, I cut off a quarter of the strip and used three-quarters; for meat entrees, I used half of the half.  I measured how much space was viewable on each piece when they were overlapped, taking into account that I would need some room to color-code, and typed up the names of my favorite and most-used dishes in a Word document using columns and setting the column width to what I needed.  I printed them off, cut them out, cut color strips, and taped it all together with clear packing tape.  Laminating them would be preferable, but I don’t have the tools for that.

My menu board!

My menu board!

Here it is!  My finished menu board, with a week’s worth of meals planned.  I hope you are inspired to plan your own menu board–I’d love to hear about it!