Mar 22

Paint Chip Setting
Karen over at Sew Many Ways has come up with nine great napkin and place setting ideas. My favorite is pictured above. The best part of that one? The supplies are free! And you can customize the colors to match your party theme! Check out her other napkin and place setting ideas, such as using an empty Capri Sun, a hose clamp or even an eyeglass case! [Tool Time Tuesday...Napkin and Place Setting Ideas]

Feb 20

We had a dilemma in our new home. Since I don’t have a china hutch, I needed a place to display my nice pieces. So, a tall Wal-Mart bookcase came in handy. Since we didn’t have room for storing Tupperware or other items that can also become a mess, two short bookcases (one on either side) seemed like a great way to round out that wall and add balance. Then the second dilemma. How do we keep the two smaller sets of shelves organized all the time when my husband’s old way of putting away Tupperware was to throw it in the cabinet and slam the door shut before it fell out?!

Tupperware Cabinet

Custom curtains! I picked up two $2.50 curtain rods from Wal-Mart and attached them to the front of each of the small bookcases. Then I purchased clearance fabric from Jo-Ann’s that matches our curtains, used some Mighty Mendit (a quick and easy to make seams and a rod pocket without a sewing machine), and voila! Now now one has to know what we’re hiding behind those pretty curtains!

Disclaimer: I organized the Tupperware in the photo above. It will never look that good again!

Nov 7

Thread Holder
If you don’t want to purchase multiple ugly thread holders, this is the project for you! Sew Knits made a framed thread spool holder out of some inexpensive items you may already have around the house. This is a great way to add style to your sewing area and keep all of your spools of thread right at your fingertips. [how to make a framed thread holder]

Project estimate:

  • Frame, on hand or $1
  • Scrapbook paper, on hand or $1
  • Sawtooth hangers, on hand or $1
  • Scrap wood, free
  • Mod Podge, on hand
  • Foam brush, on hand
  • Nails, on hand or $2
  • Superglue, on hand or $1

Total cost: Free, or up to $6

I may try this not only for all of my thread, but also for my Etsy products that are on hang tags! I’ll be sure to share pictures if I do!

Apr 7

I super love Absinthe and Orange’s series on retro crafting – she has posted some great ideas found in the dusty pages of old crafty magazines. One of my favorite projects are these squashed soda can owls. I used to see squashed soda cans on the road ALL THE TIME when I was a kid in the 80s, but I definitely don’t encounter them as much these days. I guess these days people don’t chuck their cans out their car windows when they’re done drinking, and that’s a good thing! I love the ingenuity of the 70s craft writers – they did so many amazing things with trash.

Check out these Tennis Ball Can Vases with mod girls on them! So cool! Craft from 1976 Better Homes & Gardens.

I don’t have tennis ball cans, but these also look like Pringles cans (uh, not that I have any of those, either!) You could adapt this idea to use any kinds of canisters you DO have, like juice cans, tin cans, baby formula cans, or even glass jars.

I don’ t have any 1970s Better Homes & Gardens books or magazines, but I am lucky enough to own the entire set of the Family Creative Workshop: over 20 volumes of 70s arts ‘n crafts goodness.

Resources for Retro Craft Goodness:

Mar 17

I’m having a good brooch week! With recycled and upcycled materials, too!



Recycled leather pins by Maize Hutton:
(I was the happy recipient of one of these this week – thank you Maize!). If you aren’t familiar, Maize is the genius behind the totally adorable reclaimed silver jewelry at MommyTags.com. Check this out: you can preserve your child’s drawing on a silver tag! So awesome! And it also comes with a wood-mounted rubber stamp of the same doodle so you can stamp that cute image on greeting cards and more.

Doodle Tag at MommyTags


Grape Soda Badge by WhimsyLove

Yes! Just like the badges from the movie UP (LOVE that movie! This link takes you to Amazon, where you can buy the Blu-Ray with a free DVD copy – bargain!) – you can have your very own grape soda badge made by Nikki at WhimsyLove. My son is obsessed with badges thanks to the movie, and he was thrilled with this grape soda badge!

Mar 7
recycling at Burgerville – photo by MikZ

We’re used to recycling: paper, glass, aluminum, soda cans, plastic — we’ve even gotten used to the idea of composting (sometimes even at fast food restaurants). Reusing is easy — shopping at thrift stores isn’t a stretch, and we might even refill old yogurt containers with leftovers instead of using plastic wrap or a zip-top bag, or bring shopping bags to the grocery store to reuse again and again.

Some of us are more vigilant than others.

And most of us have forgotten the cardinal command of the 3 R’s: REDUCE. Sure, we reuse and recycle, but what about minimizing our need to do those things?

I'm giving away some recycled goodie packs for crafting goodness - see bottom of post for details

We’re Americans (I know not all of my readers are), and we do what we like to do and have been conditioned to do: consume! We buy things whenever we want them, usually with little regard to the waste generated by the simple process of unpackaging them, and without a thought to all the waste that went into making them and shipping them from factory to store.

So, reducing.

Pam at Gingerbreadsnowflakes has been saving her packaging for awhile. She is doing a series on making things out of trash, but she posted some photos of just how much she has saved and started a discussion on how much stuff we buy only to turn around and throw most of it (the packaging) away. Sure, we can reuse some of it, craft with some of it, but in all honesty, there’s more than we can reuse and we have to dispose of the rest.

Pam said it best:

And think about it – just how many oatmeal boxes, glass jars, tin cans, or plastic bottles can we realistically repurpose?

The answer seems to me to be – not very many and certainly not as many as pass through our hands in a years time.  Don’t misunderstand – I am all for repurposing!  But there is a limit to how many items even the most energetic among us can repurpose.

I’m not preaching to you because I’m as guilty as anyone. I have high intentions, but often my tiredness/laziness/need to just get it done outweighs my desire to be kind to the earth. Being idealistic doesn’t do anyone any good; action is what makes a difference.

There are a lot of things I do wrong. A lot of things I can change without much impact on my current lifestyle. And a few things I can do with a slight impact on my lifestyle. Not that I’m opposed to changing my lifestyle, but baby steps are usually more effective than making grand pronouncements that I have no chance of living up to immediately. You have to train before you can run a marathon.

Playset I made from recycled box

Things I currently do:

  • Recycling almost all packaging (cardboard, cans, plastic containers, glass)
  • Buy in bulk sometimes
  • Reuse some containers
  • Go out of my way to recycle plastic (it isn’t accepted in the recycling bins in our neighborhood)
  • Buy used if possible (no packaging)
  • Buy from local outlets (farmer’s markets, mostly)
  • Make crafts from recycled materials (sometimes)

Things I could do without even breaking a sweat:

  • Look in my recycling bin first before buying new (paper, cardboard, containers, or for craft supplies)
  • Design projects around recycled items instead of new
  • Buy less stuff (ask myself if I really need it – the answer will often be no)
  • Buy bulk more often
  • Cook from scratch with bulk items (instead of using readymade stuff: cookies, other baked goods)
  • Avoid buying overpackaged items or items with unrecyclable packaging
  • Reuse certain packaging I throw away (washing zip-top bags)
  • Buy toys and other items that are made from recycled materials

Thanks for your post, Pam, and for getting me thinking about reducing (instead of JUST reusing and recycling).

Fun ways to Reduce-Reuse-Recycle:

Thanks for sticking with me this far! I want to share some amazing scrap packs I got from SCRAP with two of my readers, so comment here with your favorite recycling crafty idea (with a link if you like) and I will choose a winner via random.org on Tuesday.

The giveaway booty:

I super-love these packages the kind folks at SCRAP have put together with random goodies for your crafting pleasure (LOVE those recycled labels they used to close up the bags).

Cute ingredients label.

Once again, to win one of these goodie bags, comment here with your favorite recycling crafty idea (with a link if you like) and I will choose a winner via random.org on Tuesday.

Dec 15

mittens2

Have some felted sweaters on hand? Make some quick & cozy mittens. You can find wool sweaters at the thrift store (just make sure the tag says it is mostly or 100% animal fiber such as wool, alpaca or cashmere). Need to know more about the process of felting? Check out this post by Diane Gilleland at Craft Stylish about felting your sweaters.

Project Materials:

  • Felted sweater
  • Scissors
  • Sewing stuff (sewing machine & thread)
  • Paper and pen

mittens-07

To Make Mitten Template:

Trace your hand (or your child’s hand) on a piece of paper.

Add a seam allowance line about 1/2 inch around the outside of your traced area.

Place template on sweater and cut out two pieces for each hand.

mittens-08

Place pieces right sides together and sew around the edge. Be sure to reinforce the seam at the cuff of the mitten by backing your stitch up a bit.

Clip any excessive extra fabric (pay attention to the area near the thumb), and turn mitten right side out. Try on mitten to see if it works. If you need to, you can turn it back inside-out and adjust.

Smile because that was so simple and quick!

mittens

Visit me at Dollar Store Crafts for more great holiday ideas and tutorials!

Oct 12

14bookcover-2

I have a tendency to save all kinds of random uh, trash because of its crafting potential. I try to watch those hoarding shows to help curb my tendency to “save” – ha ha! Well, I managed to use this pretty Kettle Chip bag for a craft project, but I’m off to throw a few things away and donate the non-trash items to goodwill. In the meantime, here are the instructions for making a recycled chip bag book cover.

You can use a variety of destined-for-the-dumpster materials to make unique bookcovers that, along with duct tape, will be sturdy and protect textbooks when they get shoved into a locker or a brimming backpack. I used two potato chip bags, but you can also use cereal bags, paper sacks (an old standby), or a variety of other product packaging. With the addition of colorful duct tape, bookcovers become almost indestructable! Using recycled packaging also teaches kids about recycling, and demonstrates that it’s a good idea to reuse things whenever possible.

Bonus: you can find patterned duct tape (like the plaid in the photo above) at big box stores right now. I found the plaid at Target, and some tie-dye printed tape at Wal-mart. Clear packing tape is also a great choice because it will allow the artwork on the recycled packaging to show through.

Time Needed for Project: About 15 minutes per book.

01bookcover

Materials:

  • Recycled packaging, such as a potato chip bag (I needed two to cover my medium-sized book.
  • Duct tape in one or more fun colors (or packing tape)
  • Book to cover
  • Scissors
  • Dish soap, water, and sponge or washcloth
  • Optional: Stickers

02bookcover

Preparing the Packaging:

  1. Cut off the bottom of the bag above the sealed seam.
  2. Cut off the back seam.
  3. Wash bag thoroughly with dish soap and a sponge or washcloth to remove all residual oil and crumbs. You can do this in your dishwater if you wash dishes by hand!
  4. Wipe both sides of bag dry. Make sure bag is completely clean and dry before you begin covering your book.

03bookcover

Here are my two chip bags, all clean and dry.

Note: if your kid isn’t jazzed about the idea of using an old chip bag for a book cover (disclaimer: my kids are 3 and under, so they think everything is cool! I don’t know if recycled chip bags will fly with your middle schooler!), let the inside of the bag face outward, and they can decorate it with stickers or duct tape as they prefer.

04bookcover

Assembling the Bookcover:

Tape your two packages together using a piece of duct tape. Allow the tape to extend over the edge of the package.

05bookcover

Turn bags over and wrap tape over the edge. See how the two bags don’t perfectly line up? Don’t worry about that because you will be folding this part again anyway, and it won’t be seen. You can also tape the inside of the bags where they overlap, if you want.

06bookcover

Lay your book on your prepared chip bags. Make a crease in the bag along the top of the book, as a guide. Remove book and fold chip bags at the crease, keeping fold as straight and even as possible.

07bookcoverLay book on top of folded edge (leave a tiny bit of room at the top of the chip bag to make it easier for the book to slide into the bookcover once it’s assembled). Crease chip bag at bottom of book to make a guideline. Remove book and fold bottom at crease, keeping fold as straight and even as possible.

I taped each folded section in the middle, but not at the ends (you want to leave the ends open so the book covers can slide into them). Chip bags don’t maintain the folds as well as paper does, so the tape helped keep everything in place.

08bookcoverClose book cover over book, and check the placement of any artwork you want to show on the front of the book. Fold end over the edge of the slightly opened book cover to make a crease.

09bookcoverInsert one side of book into the folded end of the bookcover.

10bookcover

Tape to secure (make sure you aren’t taping any area where the book is, and that the bookcover is able to slide when opened and closed.

11bookcover

Repeat process for other side of book (trim bookcover if necessary, before you put it onto the book). I found that it was slightly more tricky to coax the book into this side.

12bookcover-done

You can stop here if you want, or add additional decorations like stickers or cut-out pictures covered in clear tape, or a nametag or book label.

13bookcoverI added a couple extra pieces of duct tape just for fun.

14bookcover-2

I really wanted to try my new plaid duct tape out!

Sep 11

I went to the Pendleton Woolen Mill store a couple weeks ago and picked up some of their waste-wool products. This is “blanket leader” – strips of wool blanket waste. I sewed them together to form a backing for a rug. They cost $2 a pound, and they have a variety of patterns and colors (and they don’t all look this rough – I just knew I could use these for the bottom of a rug).

I LOVE using these upcycled materials!

I also picked up some off-white waste strips of blanket. I had a couple ideas in my mind. One, I could just sew the strips together to make rug. Two, I could get crazy and twist the strips. I was intrigued with the idea of that, and I wanted to see how it would look, so that’s what I ended up doing.

I just started by sewing the strips to the end of the prepared rug backing.

This is what it ended up looking like. I wanted it to look kind of trashcycled, but I’m not sure I love the look I achieved (although it looks a bit better in real life). Yeah, it’s kind of a CraftFail. BUT,

My three year-old likes it. He immediately hunkered down on it and proceeded to “nap.”

Although this particular rug isn’t perfect, I enjoyed the process, and using the reclaimed materials. I would definitely like to try making another rug (with a different technique!).

Apr 14

monksbag-outside

This month’s Project Threadbanger mini challenge was to make an accessory out of a pillowcase. I had this pretty floral pillowcase so I made a modified monk’s bag because I like over-the-shoulder bags. It’s modified because I added a curved bottom, and traditional monk’s bags have square bottoms. It’s also fully lined and reversible. I made sure to include tons of pockets too, because I hate losing my phone and keys in a giant bag.

I’ve never made a monk’s bag before, but the shape of the king-sized pillowcase just suggested it to me.

monksbag-insidepockets

Here’s the inside of the bag. See: it has four pockets inside. I also attached a ribbon with a clip on it on the other side of the inside so I can clip my keys to it.

monksbag-insidekey

I have instructions for making your own, but it’s long and has tons of pictures, so click for more:

Read the rest of this entry »

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