Embroidery Thread Organization- for free!

If you are like me, the majority of your crafting supplies stash is a cluster of cardboard boxes and zip bags stuffed to capacity, organized in a way that only makes sense to you! While this may work most of the time, it definitely can cause some frustration, as materials may get entangled and become unusable, especially thread and ribbon. Here is my mess of embroidery thread / floss before:

threads

You could always order these cardboard floss bobbins, or, you can very easily make your own! AND you get the satisfaction of re-using a discarded material for a new crafty purpose! 🙂

To make my own organizers for embroidery thread, I used an empty granola bar box, and cut it up into flat pieces, and then into squares with two slits on one side:

cardboardtemplate

You can make these pieces any size that works for you, I ended up with more narrow pieces towards the end as I was running out of cardboard!

Once you have all your pieces cut, you can start winding your thread. Start by securing one end of the thread in one of the slits, then loop the rest of the thread around the cardboard piece. When you reach the end of the thread, secure the end in the second slit, and you’re done!

embroidery thread

This organizational project is very rewarding, as you will be able to see exactly all the different colors you have, making it easier to come up with new color combos for your crafts! Now all my embroidery thread stays compactly contained, and no more dreaded tangles!

rainbow thread

What are some fun ways you organize your stash? Share your tips in the comments! I am in the process of re-arranging my crafting space, so any advice helps! ❤

Crafting Disasters -or- The Reject Pile

We have all been there: excitedly take on a project and dive in head first, only to get frustrated that it does not turn out the way we wanted or imagined it, and end up feeling defeated and deflated. Nobody’s perfect! And despite what Pinterest or Instagram would have you believe, not all craft projects turn out perfectly picture worthy the first time, or at all!

scraps1Being a life-long crafter, I have known my fair share of disappointing crafts, and have had a good portion of what I make end up in the garbage. Here are some examples:

Topiary Tragedy: A few years ago I took a floral arranging class, and as it was around the holiday season, we made mini Christmas tree topiaries. Sounds cute, right? Mine was coming together nicely, having a rustic vibe going with red ribbons and gold bell ornaments. That was when I discovered a can of gold spray paint in a forgotten corner of the craft room, and decided to mist my topiary for a “golden glow”. I got carried away. Like, AWAY away. My cute little topiary ended up completely gilded, looking more like a trophy, or award for “worst Christmas topiary ever”. I was crushed, after so much work to have completely ruined it. Everyone else seemed to really like it though, and kept complimenting it, but in my mind it was all out of pity. Needless to say, the evidence has since been destroyed! 😛

Coaster Calamity: My brother is an engineer, and has a mind built for figuring out how things work, and understanding materials. We sometimes bounce ideas for projects off each other, as we both love making things. He was over for dinner and saw a box of a puzzle we had under our coffee table, alongside magazines and board games. He said: ” Wouldn’t it be cool to build the puzzle, and then cut it into squares to use as coasters? You will have to back it with some cork or felt, and coat it with some kind of lacquer to water proof and heat proof it…”. We discussed this concept in depth for a while, going over different options. After he left I decided to attempt it, and spent the next 2 weeks putting together this 1500 piece puzzle. I coated it with lacquer, and got to cutting. It turned out choppy and messy, and there was no way I could make the ragged edges look polished. After a lot of hot gluing, some felt, and ribbon to cover the edges, it looked like a miserable children’s craft gone wrong. I stopped after the first coaster and threw the rest of the puzzle in the garbage.

Bracelet Bonanza: We all had that one childhood friend who would spend recess and lunch time hunched in a quiet corner cranking out incredibly intricate colorful friendship bracelets, for those lucky chosen ones. I have mastered the braided, and wrapped style, but not much more. I was persuaded by a Pinterest project to attempt this craft again, this time adding beads and metallic bits to glam it up. In my head, I pictured it as a cool boho chic festival-style accessory. In reality, it turned out looking childish and gaudy, and none of the new knot and braid styles I was attempting to learn turned out like the picture. I was so convinced this would turn out great, that I forgot I don’t even like wearing bracelets! Needless to say, another waste of materials and time.

So how do you overcome these crafting disasters? Do you throw in the towel and exclaim “I give up!” or do you try again? Personally, I have a certain threshold for failure, and after a while I just need to step away and take a break to re-assess the situation. We can get so caught up in the idea of something turning out a certain way, or a beautifully photoshopped picture of a perfect looking craft, that we forget our own abilities and limitations. It doesn’t always turn out right! And that’s OK! you learn and you move on, but don’t let those little disasters deter you from continuing your craft journey! Just maybe in a different direction… 🙂

scrapy

Wallpaper- take 1 and 2

I have always loved the look of wallpaper, and how it can give a space so much style and personality. Now, I’m not talking about your grandma’s flowery faded pastel kind of wallpaper. My taste in patterns is a lot more modern, leaning towards more geometric shapes and neutral colors.

When we bought our place in the summer we had some renovations to do. Nothing major, just changing the floors from carpet to laminate, and some painting. One of the design elements I wanted to include in our place is some wallpaper. Thus began the adventure…

Take 1: Textured paintable wallpaper
textured wallpaper 1

The wall above our fireplace had some icky “popcorn” texture, and also a giant mirror glued to the wall that I wanted gone. Once we removed the mirror (it took lots of duct tape and 2 hairdryers… don’t ask) we realized that there is a recessed part of the wall behind it. That area was looking pretty gnarly- lots of leftover mirror glue and some tearing in the drywall. We decided to cover it up rather than patch it, so we got a small piece of drywall from the hardware store. We measured and cut it to fit the recessed area, the drilled it into the studs using drywall screws. We patched up the “seams” with some filler. The next dilemma we faced was- how do we make the wall texture even? The one patch of new smooth drywall was surrounded by areas with the “popcorn” texture. My solution was: Textured wallpaper!

Since no stores nearby us had textured wallpaper, we ordered it online. The pattern we picked is called “Shatter” and you can see it here and here. We bought some regular wallpaper glue from the hardware store, and I got to work! Now, I have never done wallpaper before, so through some trial and error I figured it out. Here are some tips:

1. Take your time to line up the pattern and generally pre-cut your strips, one at a time.

2. I found it much easier to put the glue on the wall, rather than on the paper. Walking around with a giant soggy piece of paper that keeps sticking to itself felt very counter productive.

3. What I ended up doing is putting the glue on the wall in sections, and squeezing out the bubbles / adjust alignment for each section. Much easier than doing the whole strip in one go!

4. To trim the wallpaper once it is covered in glue, resist the urge to use a knife! using scissors might not give the most even and straight cut, but using a knife often rips through the wet paper leaving a ragged edge 😦

textured wallpaper 5
The wallpaper we picked did a great job camouflaging the difference in textures that was going on underneath, and we also painted over it in the same paint color as the rest of our walls. We ended up mounting our TV on that wall, which works perfectly. This textured wall gives a great subtle interest to our living room focal wall.

Take 2: chevron print wallpaper
chevron wallpaper 1
I love chevron print, but could not imagine myself painting a pattern on the wall myself. Even with lots of painters tape and painstaking measurements, I could not see myself being happy with the results, especially with such a clean geometric pattern. So wallpaper it is! This one was for our dining room focal wall, but it is also a “hallway” wall, since you have to pass through our dining room to get to our living room. Whenever we have people over, whether it is for a meal, or tea, or watching a movie, everyone passes by it!

I do not remember the exact name of the pattern we chose, but we ordered it through our local Benjamin Moore store. They were great about letting us borrow book after book of wallpaper patterns until we found just the right one! This white and grey pattern works great with the wall paint we picked, and the subtle lines of shiny texture add interest.
chevron wallpaper 2
Putting this wallpaper up ended up being a 3 person job! This wallpaper was a lot thinner and so much more delicate than the previous textured one I experienced. It was also much more important to make sure the pattern lines up just right at the seams, since it would be very obvious if it was even just a little bit off.
chevron wallpaper 3
Overall I am very happy with how it turned out. You can see the rest of my dining room in my previous post here (even though I ended up replacing the photo on the wall- update will be coming eventually!). I will probably not be tackling wallpaper again in the near future though, and if the budget permits hire a professional to apply it next time.

Have you tried putting up wallpaper yourself? How did it work for you? I would love to hear your wallpaper success stories (or disasters!) 🙂

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

What a crafty year!

Can’t believe 2015 is over so soon, and at the same time sooo looking forward to all the great things 2016 has in store! In bullet form, here are some of the personal highlights for me this year:

  • Started this blog! duhhhh!!
  • Moved to a new apartment and got to decorate it!
  • Bought an apartment, and got to renovate it! Phew… enough moving for one year!
  • Started planning our wedding for next year- stay tuned for details!

And here, at a glance, are all of the crafty projects I have posted about in the past year, as a quick reference if you are feeling crafty during these cold winter night:

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Toilet paper roll wall art

 

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Melted vinyl record bowls

 

bottle after

Beer bottle vase

 

bunting 2

Recycled pennant bunting

 

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Thrifted cake plate / cake stand

 

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Painting laminate furniture

 

succulents 3

Felt succulents

 

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Crisco candle

 

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Magazine paper trees

 

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Felt stockings (ornament / gift card holder)

 

I hope you find some inspiration and give at least one of these projects a try! And here’s to a crafty, inspired, thrifty, and colorful 2016! 🙂

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.

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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.

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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