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!

Oct 31

I have made about eight costumes this year for my freelance writing jobs, but of course, my kids wanted to dress up as something else! So, this week, I got a bunch of felt yardage and made food costumes for each of my three boys. I discovered how wonderful felt is for costume-making!

Pros:

  • It’s cheap and
  • comes in really wide yardage (about $3.69 per yard, and 72″ wide, which is amazing)
  • cuts and sews up easily
  • comes in many bright colors
  • and it doesn’t unravel so you don’t have to finish the edges

It really is a fabulous fabric for costumes! There are cons, but they are not really a drawback for costumes:

Cons:

  • Will start looking shabby on clothing with prolonged use
  • Better for decorative projects (instead of projects that will see heavy use)

Neither of these things really matter with a costume that will probably be used for one day and no more. (But even if the costume is used again, it will probably hold up well enough for playtime).

The Costumes

My oldest son wanted to be a piece of pizza for Halloween. What a fun and unique idea! I made it like a very large pizza-shaped bib. Instructions are posted at Dollar Store Crafts:

Make a Pizza Costume

My middle son wanted to wear a candy corn costume. How funny that both boys wanted to dress like triangular food! The candy corn costume is basically a smock or simple A-line shift made out of felt. This costume was simple to make, and took about 30 minutes to sew. Instructions posted at Dollar Store Crafts:

Make a Candy Corn Costume

Because the older two boys wanted to be triangular food, I made a triangular food costume for my youngest son, too. His costume is either a watermelon or a strawberry (but I decided it looks more like a strawberry). This costume is kind of like a short-sleeved poncho. Again, instructions at Dollar Store Crafts:

How to Make a Strawberry Costume

If you want to see the other costumes I made this year, look at these links:

Sep 25

I hate to get rid of even the smallest fabric scraps. I just KNOW there has to be something fun to do with them. Do you have a lot of fabric scraps too? How about making some easy crazy quilt blocks? They’re great for quick and easy projects like coasters or placemats, or put a few squares together and try a more ambitious project like a tote bag or a quilt.

The basic process for making these is sewing scraps to a piece of stabilizer like interfacing, muslin, or light paper. I’ll get into the process of how to make the blocks in a minute, but first let’s talk materials.

Materials:

  • Stabilizer
  • Fabric scraps

Stabilizer choices: You have two basic genres to choose from for a stabilizer. Either fabric-type stabilizer (muslin, other scrap fabric, or light interfacing), or paper-type stabilizer (tracing paper or plain newsprint from a pad). If you choose the fabric-type stabilizer, you can just sew and go. If you use the paper-type stabilizer, you have to remove the stabilizer after you’re done sewing. I recommend these lighter papers if you are going the paper route, because removing anything heavier than this is ANNOYING! For my quilt, I used good-quality printer paper (that had already been printed on one side and was supposed to be thrown away), and then it took FOREVER to remove it all from my quilt.

There is also such a thing as tear away paper specifically for quilting, and there’s also a kind of paper that dissolves when you wash it in the washing machine. Personally, since I don’t think you should invest a lot of money in a project like this (i.e. a STASHBUSTING project), I’d recommend using whatever you have on hand, with the fabric-type stabilizers being at the top of my list. If you can avoid the paper, I recommend avoiding it.

Another cool thrifty option is to use old used fabric softener sheets for stabilizer. You just have to do a LOT of laundry. The drawbacks to these are that they are a lot smaller than a piece of paper, so you’ll need even more blocks if you’re making a big project. I used dryer sheets for the coasters shown above; they were a perfect size for that particular project.

Scrap choices: Don’t try to match fabrics up, just use whatever scraps you have. The amazing thing about a crazy quilt is how once it’s all sewn together, it looks like the pink and orange actually go with the turquoise and brown. If you don’t have that many scraps, ask someone who sews if they have any leftovers (your grandma, mom), or just buy some remnants (leftover ends of fabric bolts at a fabric store — usually marked down from 25-75%), or recycle some old clothing.

Other tips:

  • Each square will probably take you about 8-15 minutes, so it takes awhile to make a whole quilt. If you do it, put on Arrested Development and sew while you watch.
  • Even though this quilt takes awhile to complete, it’s actually not that tedious. It’s kind of fun to sew wacky fabric scraps together into something. And the fact that you are sewing without major planning does something for your creativity.
  • If you don’t have time or patience for a quilt, four blocks would make a spiffy pillow or tote bag! Or, put three blocks together to make a purse with a flap. You’re creative, you’ll think of something.

Now, on to the instructions:

To make a block:

Step ONE: Prepare your stabilizer. Square it up if it isn’t already. We all know how to make an 8.5×11″ piece of paper into an 8.5×8.5 square, right?

Step 2: Put a piece of fabric face up on the corner, across the diagonal folded line. Make sure the fabric hangs over the edges of the corner.

Step 3: Put another strip of fabric face down on top of the first piece of fabric. If you are using paper as a stabilizer, set your sewing machine stitch to fairly small (this will perforate the paper to make it easier to remove later).

Step 4: Sew the two pieces together along the edge.

Step 5: Open the fabric so both pieces are facing up, and finger-press to flatten them.

Step 6: Repeat this process with other scraps of fabric, until you have covered the whole diagonal of the paper.

Step 7: Put a long strip of fabric face down on the edge of the diagonal section. Sew across.

Step 8: Finger press and repeat this process for both sides, until the whole square is covered with fabric. Make sure there is no part of the paper showing!

Okay, now the square looks funky, right? Not really like a square exactly, anymore. And you may have sewed your rows kind of off center (like I did on this one). It doesn’t matter! This is a crazy quilt block.

Step 9: Iron, iron, iron.

Step 10: Turn over and trim excess fabric.

Step 11: Admire your new cool square! And repeat!

For the Quilt:

To make a quilt, sew these squares into rows. Then sew the rows together. (Try to match up the seams between each square with the seams of the squares next to them)

I chose to sew these together so that the diagonal is alternating like this: /\/\/\, but you can lay it out so it does this: ////// or \\\\\\ or just let it do whatever it wants to do.

If you lay it out alternating, like I did, your quilt will have a cool diamond pattern-y thing going on.

The quilt pictured here isn’t actually big enough for even a twin bed, but I made 56 squares — phew! I’m just going to sew some strips of plain fabric around it until it is big enough to do something with.

To complete the quilt, you will need to cut out batting in the same size, and also a quilt back (you can use an old sheet). You can either do some kind of binding around the edges (wide bias tape?), or do what I do and cut the quilt back larger than the front and fold it over the edges and sew around it, or you can make a quilt top, quilt bottom (facing the top), batting sandwich and sew around the whole thing leaving a decent-sized hole somewhere so you can turn it inside out and then finish the hole.

To “quilt” you can just use yarn or embroidery thread to make ties (google this for more info), or quilt any other way you know how or want to try.

Let me know if you have any questions!

For more thriftastic projects, check out my blog, Dollar Store Crafts.

Jul 6

I recently made some cloth diapers. If you have explored making cloth diapers yourself, you know that the subject is deep and wide with tons of opinions and “I’m right” ways to do things and “don’t do THAT” advice. It took me weeks of research to even figure out HOW to make a cloth diaper because the info out there is so confusing. I find this whole scenario rather ridiculous because when I was a baby, my mom used a padded flat diaper that she folded to fit me, changing the fold to fit me as I grew. The cloth diapering scene is a crazy confusopoly, and when I’m confused and overwhelmed, I just can’t buy into any specific radical philosophy. I finally decided to jump in and try a free pattern and discover my own radical philosophy.

—-Read the rest of this post, including the tutorial for how to make cloth diaper inserts – over at DollarStoreMom.com.—

 

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!

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!).

Sep 10

Craft a Day in September, Day 2 (Sept. 2nd): Quilted Pin the Tail on the Donkey game

My mom asked me to bring a Pin the tail on the donkey game to my sister’s birthday party, so I made this in less than an hour. I love how it turned out – so cute, and I’ll be able to use it for years to come.

Tutorial and more info in my blog entry at Dollar Store Crafts

Sep 8

I’ve made almost all the USA quilt blocks I have to make for the Craftster swap. This one is Arizona, and I love how it turned out. My original idea was inspired from the time I’ve spent in Arizona, and the houses and sights of Tucson (I was gonna go with purple, sage, and cream or red-rock orange). Then when I was hunting for fabric, I found some sort of Grand Canyony fabric that didn’t go with anything (bright purple, orange, yellow). I haven’t gone to the Grand Canyon yet, so that’s not MY Arizona. So instead of my original idea or the Grand Canyon, I chose this main fabric by Moda because of the Native American inspiration and the turquoise.  so yeah, I guess it’s the colors.

North Dakota: Done
Wyoming: Done
Arizona: Done
Oregon: Done
Missouri: Have 3 fabrics, all cut out
Colorado: Done

Just Missouri left to go!

I made two versions of the Colorado block (excuse the shoddy photos) because I didn’t have enough of corner fabric (in photo #1) — I got it and the white fabric with grey trees on it at my favorite craft thrift store in Portland, OR, Knittn’ Kitten. I chose the blue fabric (it has something like dandelions on it) because it reminded me of all the wildflowers in Colorado plus it also reminded me of snowflakes. The white has grey trees on it, which reminded me of winter in CO, and the purple reminds me of the Rockies.

I also had a CraftFail or three while sewing up some of the Colorado blocks:

Oops.

Here’s the Oregon block. The main fabric really looks a lot like Oregon (reminds me of Crater Lake). The 2nd fabric is green because when I think of Oregon, I think of GREEN! And the 3rd fabric is kind of funny but I guess a lot of people in Oregon hunt (and it coordinated w/the other fabrics)… altogether the block is a little more rural than I wanted since I’m so much a Portland girl, but it was so hard to pick fabrics for my home state!!

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 »

Mar 27

I participated in an Arrested Development (TV Show) theme swap on Craftster, and here is what I sent: a black t-shirt with a velcro strip on it and letters you can use to make it spell different AD-related stuff. The idea behind the shirt was from GOB’s Segway pouch that says “GOB” on it (and P/Resident in one episode, I think). I didn’t include all the letters, sadly, because I didn’t have them all…

I made this mug with a silhouette of GOB on his Segway (I wasn’t exactly aiming to focus on GOB & his Segway as a theme – ha ha!). I cut a stencil, spray-glued it on (that was a little much, by the way! I had to use Goo Gone to remove some of the adhesive!), and then used a Pebeo Porceleaine 150 Paint marker. You use the marker just like a regular marker, but then you bake the ceramic to fix the design.

Then, this is funky… it’s a needlefelted Buster finger puppet… Kinda creepy, but kinda funny!

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