Crochet puff stitch slouchy beanie

slouchy beanie 1

When I was 10, my grandma decided to teach me how to knit. I picked it up pretty quickly, but would get so uptight that my stitches were *squeaking* when sliding off the needles. A few years ago, I picked up loom knitting, it is super rewarding as projects come together quickly so you get that instant gratification, but the large gauge creates only one sort of “look”. Then I saw these amazing crochet beanies by “the hook nook” that she posts on Instagram, and decided I need to figure out how to make one!
After some googling, the best tutorial I found was by Sewrella, she does a great job explaining all the different stitches– especially for someone like me who has never even picked up a crochet hook before! Check it out:

 

I picked up a crochet hook and some cheap acrylic yarn, and got to work! This came together surprisingly quickly- one evening at home, and then breaks during work, and it was done! Of course, I had to add a droopy pom pom to finish it off haha 🙂 I am really happy with how it turned out, and have been wearing it pretty much non stop the past few days. I am definitely planning on expanding my crochet skills to make more projects like this, so rewarding!

slouchy beanie 2

Handmade felt stocking ornaments / gift card holders

3 stockings

For holidays, I like to give gift cards. I’m terrible at buying gifts, so this is a good option that takes the pressure off. Since it is a small sized gift, I like to present it in a way that makes it feel more substantial and special, for those who deserve it of course (see my craftworthiness article to learn more).

This is a very affordable project, and you only need basic sewing skills. Here’s what you’ll need:
supplies

Felt: you can get this for $0.30 a sheet at Michaels, and my local dollar store has it for $0.25 a sheet, so a very inexpensive material. I had some felt at home already from a previous project (like my felt succulents), so I wanted to use it up.

Needle + Thread: I like to use embroidery floss to make the stitches stand out. I got a pack of 8 colors for $1 at dollar tree. If you only have regular thread you can double it up on your needle to get thicker stitches.

Ribbon: You don’t need a lot, again you can get cheap ribbon at the dollar store. I always keep ribbon I get with gift wrapping and re-use it.

stocking templateA template: I traced around a gift card on some cardstock, then shaped my stocking around it, leaving a bit of space around the sides for stitching. You also need a little rectangle piece to go at the top of the stocking, you can leave it plain or scalloped.

Decorations: you can use buttons, sequins, appliques, or anything else you can stitch on there! A few other ideas are little jingle bells, or metallic charms.

 

Let’s get started!

1) First, trace the template on a piece of felt, then cut it out. You will need two of the “sock” shape, and two of the rectangle shape.

parts

2) Now is the time to decorate the pieces. You can use basic embroidery, or add anything else you would like to make is special and personalized for the person you are making it for. Also add the ribbon at the corner of the stocking with a few stitches.

stockings halfway

3) Now sew around the sides and bottom of the stocking, connecting the 2 pieces together. Lastly, sew the rectangle parts to the stocking, and to each other around the sides.

finished stocking

Done! Now you can tuck in your gift card, or any other special treats, and you are finished! If you want more of a glitzy look that is not quite this rustic, you can sew or glue on some sequins or beads, or go crazy with glitter glue. I like both looks, so its up to you!

I hope you try this affordable and gift-able holiday craft, and leave a comment for any other projects you would like to see! ❤ Happy Holidays! 🙂

 

Paper Trees- Free DIY

Our local library hosts monthly craft classes, teaching how to make different projects out of discarded books. Since I love books, and also love crafts, I have been really enjoying these! The most recent one was holiday themed, making trees out of paperback books. Unfortunately, I could not attend it, so instead I set out to figure out how to make it myself! Now, I didn’t have discarded books, so instead I used old magazines, which resulted in a colorful, though not as dense, result.

magazine paper tree

Here is the YouTube tutorial I relied on for the detailed steps on how to fold these:

 

Materials:

Old magazines (FREE!)
Glitter + Glue (optional, I left mine plain)

Steps:

For each page of the magazine, you will fold the top corner of the page down towards the magazine’s spine, then fold again, creating a narrow triangle. Fold the bottom point that is hanging down so that it lines up flat with the edge of the magazine.

Warning:

Although this craft is extremely simple and completely free, it is not quick! Depending on the thickness of the magazine / book you choose, this can take a long time! My recommendation is to do this while watching your favorite TV show, or listening to music or a podcast, and taking breaks! The 3 trees I made were done over a few days, a bit at a time.

20151125_222958

I am currently displaying these trees on our entry way console (see how I painted it here.) I was debating if I should leave it as is, or add glitter and decorations, but I think I’m going to leave it as is for now. What do you think? Will you try this free craft for the holiday season? 🙂

DIY Crisco Candles- does it really work??

My friend and I were discussing having a craft night, and one of the projects she brought up was candle making. Hmmm, never attempted it before! But being the true self-taught DIY’er that I am, I set out to google and youtube the crap out of it, until I can figure it out! I love using scented candles in our place, and whenever guests come over they always comment on how nice our place smells, so this would definitely be useful for me. On top of that, large candles are expensive! I can spend hours in the candle aisle of a home decor store just sniffing all the different ones…. So making my own could be economical AND useful! The majority of tutorials I ran across were “traditional” candle making, involving wax, double boiling, and all other kinds of steps I wasn’t too excited about. Enter the “Crisco Candle“. Haha you read that right! I found a bunch of tutorials showing how a tub of Crisco could be used as an emergency candle in case of a power outage, but also a few brave souls who have melted the Crisco into their own scented and colorful candle creations! I decided that if I’m going to attempt this, the cheap and easy route is the way to go! Sorry, THRIFTY, not cheap!

Here is one of my favorite tutorials showing this technique by Lisa Pullano:

Here is what the process looked like for me:
candle 2

The steps were easy enough to follow- microwave a bunch of Crisco until its melted, add oils for scent, and bits of crayon for color. Pour into heat-safe vessel with a wick, and voila!

The Crisco itself was fairly affordable, about $2.50 for a brick pictured above. about 80% of one brick was enough to make one candle. A pack of crayons was $1 at the dollar store. I already had a bunch of essential oils from previous projects (hello, soap-making!). For containers, I re-used tea tins!

The process itself was easy enough, although messy! The result- a soft candle that burns slowly. Not sure if I used too little essential oils, because mine doesn’t really “throw” the fragrance around the room, it just smells like ‘candle’ (if that’s even a scent), and you can only pick up on the actual scent by standing right next to it 😛

candle1
I made one orange colored candle, scented with tangerine and lemongrass essential oils, and one purple candle, scented with vanilla and peppermint oils.

What do you think? Would you attempt this form of candle making? Personally, even though it was a fun experience and a neat technique to learn, I found it too messy and not fragrant enough, so I will stick to buying conventional candles- despite the price! ❤

DIY Felt Succulents

So I think it has already been established that I cannot keep any type of plant alive.  However, I could not deny how cute succulents are (yes, I just referred to a plant as “cute”) so I had to find a work-around. At the same time, I had quite a bit of leftover felt from a previous project, so in my effort to smash my stash, I set out to make succulents out of felt!

First thing is selecting colors. I tried to stick to greens and neutrals, but had to work only with the colors I already had in my stash. If I could go out to buy some, I would pick up different shades of grey, light purples, dusty greens, but avoid browns and creams.

After looking at a few different tutorials online, I figured the most realistic way (but not the easiest or fastest!) would be to cut out individual ‘petal’ shapes and glue them together going from smallest to largest.

leaves1

Here is an example of the petal shape I was using, and also an idea of the size variation going from small to large. I also experimented with other petal shapes, using both pointy ones  ‘>’ and completely rounded ones ‘)’ . I found that this shape ‘}’ ends up looking the most realistic.

I stuck to around 25 petals for the large succulents, and about 20 for the small ones.

Starting out with the smallest petal, I glued it folded in half, kind of like a taco shape. Then I glued additional petals one at a time, wrapping around the center petal, keeping the glue only at the “base” of the flower, and staggering the petals so they don’t overlap.

Once I got a succulent-like shape, I added shading around the edges in a different color using eye shadow. Yes, you read that right. Felt doesn’t take on paint or ink very well, so I used eye shadow to brush on some dusty color on the edges to add depth and color. I tried to stick to neutral shades, and purples, and concentrated the color along the edges and tips of the petals.

succulents 1

Warning- these are pretty addictive to make, so plan to put aside enough time!

I added in spiky bits, and more “leafy” bits so that there is some variety, and tried to have a good variety of colors and sizes for more realism.

succulents 2

I ended up painting the bowl with some leftover paint, for a more modern and clean look for our entry way table.

succulents 3

I was originally thinking of gluing down the succulents to the bowl and adding some pebbles around, but I am having too much fun playing around with them and re-arranging them in the bowl, so not now, but might do that at a later time.

This project is also great with felt scraps, and would definitely work on a smaller scale- picture a single succulent “bloom” in a tiny terracotta pot, or even better, an ornate teacup!

Let me know what you think, and if you will try this project! 🙂

Coloring for grown ups

Recently I have been hearing about coloring as a meditative hobby, and running into a few gorgeous coloring books for adults in stores. Needless to say, I had to try it! But, as I am currently on a “no spend” in my attempt to smash my stash, I could not bring myself to buy any of them 😦

So, I looked for a free option! This first one that I tried is a free app called Colorfy. There are in-app purchases for extra colors, or to unlock extra pages (which I’m not going to buy!) but even with the free version, you get lots of coloring options, and some very intricate and beautiful pages.

Admittedly, it doesn’t give the same satisfaction that you get from putting pencil to paper, but for now (or at least my birthday next week, hint hint nudge nudge!…) it will do to quench my coloring cravings!

I recommend you give it a try since its free, here are a few pages I colored, pretty happy with the outcome!

kkacmand1mand2birds

 

Painting Laminate- My First Experience

Do you have an old, tired looking piece of furniture at home that you would love to make useful and pretty? Do you need to add an extra piece to your home, but don’t have the budget to splurge on the bright and modern piece of furniture you dream about? Well, this might be a good solution for you!

We needed a small storage unit for our entry way, for things like keys, purses, scarves, etc. We wanted a modern piece, that will stand out from the gray walls and white tile (while I am a fan of monochromatic looks, I prefer more contrast in my own space). Our options were- a) get an expensive piece that we are in love with, but break the bank, or, b) get a cheaper piece and fancy it up ourselves.

We went with option B. After week of going through every thrift store in our area, and not finding a piece to our liking, we folded and made a trip to IKEA. After much deliberation, we picked the Brusali TV bench, as it was narrow enough to fit the space, and cheap enough to fit our budget. I assembled it without the backing piece, to save on paint.

brusali-tv-bench-brown__0354125_PE543686_S4

Our next challenge was- how to paint over the ugly dark laminate finish? Spray painting was out of the question, as we don’t have a balcony or any outdoor space, so it had to be something relatively clean and low-fumes. Painting with regular latex paint was an option, but has to be preceded by long steps of prepping the piece, and sounded a bit daunting. After hours of googling and youtubing, I landed on using chalk paint, as it saves some of the sand-prime-sand-paint process. According to what I was reading, chalk paint is self-priming, and can stick to pretty much anything, even completely smooth and non-porous surfaces like glass- sounds promising! I read a few personal accounts of people who successfully tried it, and figured it would be worth the shot. I picked up a container of Americana Decor Chalky Finish paint in Treasure.

treasure-chalky-finish

And let the painting adventure begin! I did not sand or prime the piece prior to painting, and just started to slather it on in long strokes using a synthetic paint brush. Here is a before shot:

console1

Some of what I was reading online recommended sanding between layers of paint, to even out the surface texture and minimize brush strokes. I was too lazy for that, and didn’t really mind the look of brush strokes. If I wanted it to look perfect I would have spray painted it! The chalk paint that I was using had pretty good coverage, but I still needed 3 coats to get an even finish. The 8 oz container I got was just enough for that! Chalk paint dries very quickly, and by the time I was finished the first coat, the spot where I started was already dry and ready for a second coat, which made the process go by very quickly. Here is what it looked like after the second coat of paint:

console2

Since Chalk paint is porous, it needs to be finished, or sealed, in some way. Most sources recommend applying the corresponding wax, but my local store was out of stock. I also wanted the finished piece to have a shiny glossy finish that is very durable, so I ended up choosing a polyurethane varnish in clear gloss by minwax.

minwax poly

I did two coats of that with the same synthetic paint brush, straight from the can. Some sources recommended diluting it with water to make it thinner so that brush strokes are less visible, and to give it more of a self-leveling quality. They also recommend sanding between coats, and doing at least 3 coats. As you can probably tell by now I wasn’t following any of these recommendations anyways, and I think the end result looked perfectly fine. The poly dries very quickly too, but I gave it overnight to cure before touching or putting things on it.

console3

I am really happy with the color, and how it looks in the space! I also love the glossy shine that I got with the poly coat, and actually don’t mind the brush stroke look at all, I think it almost makes it look like a real piece of furniture made of real wood, rather than MDF covered in a thin film of laminate pretending to be wood.

console4     console5

This process would be perfect to do over a weekend, and since it is fairly low fumes, was fine to do indoors. I can see this working perfectly for an old piece of furniture that just needs to be woken up a bit and freshened up, for a totally different look. Its amazing the difference paint makes! Do you have a piece that needs a fresh look? Or a thrift store find with great bones that needs to be modernized? I hope you give this process a try, and let me know how it goes! ❤

 

 

Smash your Stash

smash title

As I was putting away all my craft supplies after our move, I got to thinking- I have A LOT of craft supplies! I have already briefly addressed my habit of accumulating an unnecessary amount of crafting supplies in my previous post, so I got to thinking. What if… for a whole year I didn’t buy any more crafting supplies, and only used what I had? Crazy and extreme, I know! But I think it would be a good idea for a couple of reasons:

1) It will make space for more…. Just kidding! But it would help if it took up less space. So if I use it up without replenishing = more space!

2) It will challenge me to create within restrictions. From my experience, that is usually when I come up with the best and most creative ideas.

3) It will reinforce my “consume less” attitude that I already apply to other aspects of my life.

So- will it be difficult? You bet! But I am willing to give it a try. I know 1 year is a long time, but I figured with the size of my stash it will definitely last me that long. Also, a caveat- gifts don’t count! (Haha you knew there had to be a loop hole!).

Feel free to tag along with me on this challenge, or share your experiences of working from your stash!

DIY Cake Plate / Cake Stand

cake plate collage

I have been wanting a cake stand like these ones above for a while, but they are pretty expensive! So for about $5 I put this just-as-lovely alternative together…

I used:

– Short glass candlestick holder

– Shallow glass plate / saucer

– Hot glue gun

I wasn’t going to write steps, as this is pretty self explanatory, but here goes:

Step 1: Glue the candlestick holder to the plate.

And you’re finished!

blur plate pic

If I didn’t tell you otherwise, you would have never guessed that this ‘crystal-look’ elegant cake stand is made out of thrift store finds hot-glued together!

This would look awesome spray painted as well, or made using a ceramic saucer. I’m thinking a really cute antique-y one with dainty flowers and gold around the edge would look stunning.

DIY could not be easier than this, so I hope you give it a try!

blur cookies

 

Easy and FREE Pennant Bunting DIY

bunting 2

If you are like me, you have probably been pinning and coveting all these awesome bunting ideas that are so popular for parties or room decor. I wanted to make something like that, but didn’t have a budget for materials. So I decided to make one for free!

I used:

– Cereal/ cardboard-y food box

– Washi tape

– Ribbon / yarn / string / twine, etc.

– (I’m assuming you already have scissors, a pen, and hole punch)

bunting 3

I decided to do a notched shape, but the traditional triangular shape will work perfectly. Cut out your shapes, and decorate them to your liking. String them up and you’re done!

letters

I like bunting with lettering, so I decided to go with “HOME” for the entrance to our apartment. I used a regular black pen, and doodled / zen-tangled the insides of the letters, which by the way is a very calming process!

Lesson: If you are craving a craft but have no budget, there is always a way! Use things you already have, and make something out of nothing 🙂

bunting project