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]
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.
- 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.
- 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.
During any given week, I do at least two or three craft projects. I am posting them here, there, and everywhere, and sometimes it takes a month or more between when I make the project to when I can post about it. There are a few things I value in a craft tutorial: it uses fairly common household items, it isn’t complicated to do (anyone can do it), and is compelling enough that it excites people to actually make the project. Here are some of my recent projects.
Make a Peg Family: I wrote a tutorial for making peg dolls of your family members. This is a super-cute gift for kids (ages 3 and up. My 2 year-old put his own peg in his mouth and destroyed the paint job!). Find it at Skip to My Lou.
Make Paper Lanterns: I updated the traditional paper lantern craft project with a double layer of pretty scrapbook paper. I love this because it helped me bust into my stash of scrapbooking paper. Check out my guest post at Salty Pineapple.
I am a regular contributor at AmazingMoms, too, so here are some of my recent projects for them:
Make Bike Streamers
(This pic is my 2 year-old son posed on his brother’s bike. He totally can’t ride it! Ha!)
Patriotic Tablecloth Weights
Painting rocks is fun! They make super cute table cloth weight clips.
Recycled Clothing Crinkly Baby Toy
I used some stained clothing and a baby wipes container to make this crinkly baby toy. It was my infant son’s favorite toy for a long time.
Victorian Flower Cones
I love how these cones turned out! So pretty. I made them from party hats and used leftover broken jewelry and ribbon scraps from my stash.
And, sometimes crafts don’t work out, which is why I founded CraftFail as a place crafters could share their not-so-awesome projects. Check out my first draft of reusable cloth pads. Not pretty. I’m not posting a pic because I want you to be surprised when you check it out.
Are you planning your summer activities with your kids already? Here’s a fun little project they will have fun making: memory matching cards! My kids love to play Memory–my preschooler plays the official version at Grandma’s house, but we don’t have that game at home, so we decided to make our own with readymade stickers and cardstock. Such a quick and easy project!
The stickers that come with many stickers to a sheet, with repeating images are ideal, like the ones sold in the education/teacher aisle at your local dollar store. Or, buy two packages of identical stickers. Any kind of unmarked cardstock will work. The heavier, the better!
- Stickers (you must have 2 of each image), $1
- 1-2 sheets of cardstock or heavy paper, $.50 or less
- Paper cutter or scissors, on hand
Total cost: $1.50
You will need one card per sticker. Determine how many cards you will need.
Cut cards from cardstock. To cut 16 cards from one sheet of paper, cut paper in half from both directions. Cut resulting rectangles in half again in both directions. This is easiest if you have a paper cutter, but you can also do it with scissors.
Stick stickers to cards. Your child can help with this (my two year-old did a pretty good job! The images weren’t perfectly lined up on the card, but he didn’t care, and he had a ball sticking the stickers on the cards).
Note: it is best if stickers are different-looking enough to not be confusing to little ones. In other words, two different shots of the same doggie might be a little too similar! We used these stickers that all have a different baby animal on them!
Play the game!
To Play (ages 3 and up):
- Mix cards up.
- Lay all cards face-down on table (in a grid pattern).
- Youngest player goes first and turns two cards of her choosing over. If cards match, she takes the cards and has another turn. If cards don’t match, move to the next player.
- When all cards are matched, the player with the most sets of matching cards wins.
To Play Simplified Version (ages 2 and under):
- Limit total number of cards to 8, or four sets (you adjust for your child’s skill and interest level).
- Youngest player goes first and turns two cards of his choosing over. If cards match, she takes them, but does not have another turn.
- Next player takes a turn.
- When a match is made, everyone cheers.
- When all cards are matched, start over again.
The Not-Ready-For-Organized-Games version (younger 2s and under):
- Turn 4 sets of cards face up.
- Take turns looking at each card and trying to find its partner.
- Cheer when child finds a match.
- You can also use these cards to play other games like Go Fish!
- If you don’t have stickers that match, how about making your own? Print photos of your family (faces are good) on labels and stick onto cards. Avery has free label-making software that makes it super easy to print straight to labels! This would also be a fun handmade gift for a birthday boy or girl.
Make quick felt doily coasters:
I used pre-cut felt doilies and craft foam to make these bright and funky coasters!
- Glue the felt doily to a sheet of craft foam with craft glue.
- Carefully trim away craft foam.
- Pour yourself a nice, hot beverage and enjoy!
And here are some links to great projects I have found in the past week! Quick, go check them out before it’s too late!
- CUPCAKES: decorated with ice cream cones. So cute!
- Make your own rubber band guns (with dollar store stuff)
- Chic ideas for recycling your soda bottles – I love this fabulous Plastic Bottle Chandelier!
I made this hooded play cape for today’s Make Something Cool Everyday project – cost me a buck! Tutorial at Dollar Store Crafts.
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.
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.
I have instructions for making your own, but it’s long and has tons of pictures, so click for more:
My son loves to cook (for real, and pretend), and I am so drawn to all those adorable mini kitchens that are way out of my price range (not to mention out of my storage capacity). We were playing with his toy pots and pans the other day when I saw an errant plastic storage bin (the ones that are about the size of a shoebox). I turned it over and pretended it was a range, and then thought, a-ha! here’s a good solution to our lack of play kitchen!
The best part? When you’re done play-cooking, you can turn the range over and store all your play dishes inside!
- Plastic storage bin
- Construction paper
- Double-sided tape
- Cut out one piece of construction paper the size of the bottom of your plastic bin. I used black.
- Cut out two spirals for the range-coils on the stove. I used red. (To cut spiral: Cut a circle, then cut a spiral into it. When you get to the center of the spiral, turn around and cut a bit off of one side of the spiral all the way back out to the edge of the circle.)
- Glue spirals onto base piece of paper.
- Attach paper to inside bottom of bin with double-sided tape.
- Draw the range-coil shapes onto the paper instead of gluing separate paper spirals.
- Glue the paper to the bottom of the bin instead of double-stick taping.
This is Fred the Hamster. Isn’t he cute? I sewed him a custom hamster cozy using two different dollar store scarves (for a swap on Craftster). Sewing a hamster cozy is pretty simple, and using scarves for fabric makes it even simpler!
Since the project was simple and I wanted to make it special for Fred, I embroidered his name on the cozy with my sewing machine. My sewing machine is in sore need of a tune-up (it barely zigzags–what was I thinking trying to monogram like that?), and the letters are a little wonky, but I am happy with the personalization.
Scarves are abundant at the dollar store during the winter (and especially before the holidays! I have noticed that the scarf supply is waning now that we are heading toward spring); I picked up a fleece scarf and a woven plaid scarf. This cozy is fully reversible, too!
If you are making a cozy for a hamster, just sew securely, trim threads, and you’re good. If you are sewing for a gerbil (or other chew-loving animal), you might want to choose fabrics that can’t be easily chewed into and make sure you reinforce the seams by sewing a second seam millimeters away from the first seams. Don’t try this project for a gerbil! Fred’s mommy told me: “I really wouldn’t recommend any fabric for gerbils. They are maniac chewers. Cozies would be excellent for rats and mice.”
- Fleece scarf, $1
- Plaid scarf, $1
- Sewing machine and thread, on hand
Total cost: $2 (with scarf leftover–you could make a couple hamster cozies with two scarves).
- Fold one scarf over lengthwise until scarf is desired hamster cozy size. Add two inches to the length for seam allowance. Cut.
- Fold second scarf to same size and cut. If the scarves aren’t the same width, trim to the narrower scarf’s width.
- If you want to add an applique or monogram to outside scarf, now is the time. Sew it to the scarf that will be facing outward. Make sure you sew it to the outside-facing side of the scarf.
- Fold both scarves with right sides together and sew up sides of each scarf. (And again, if sewing for gerbils).
- Turn inner lining scarf inside out (right side should be facing out now), and put it inside the outer scarf.
- Pin top seams together. Leave a spot where you won’t sew about 2″ long or so – you will turn the cozy inside-out through this hole. You can mark it with double pins to remind yourself, or just remember it – you’re not gonna be sewing for long, here!
- Sew around the area you just pinned, remembering to leave the 2″ gap.
- Turn inside out through gap.
- Turn exposed fabric (where the gap is) into the gap so the seam looks finished. Iron lightly if desired (use a very low setting – dollar store scarves, y’know!).
- Sew around top seam, making sure the place where the gap was is sealed satisfactorily.
- Fold top over, and you’re done!
Don’t be scared by the instructions here. They sound more complicated than they are. Even if you are a beginning sewer (or have never sewn anything before), you can do this project!
I bought three frames at the dollar store to frame some cupcakes that I needlefelted. The frames were square and had a nice wooden finish, but I had to modify them a bit to make them work for my project.
I added a gingham fabric background and a polka-dotted ribbon to up the cuteness factor. The ribbon also served to add perspective to what would have otherwise been a floating cupcake. it also added just a bit more visual interest.
- Wooden frame, $1
- Spray paint, $1.88
- Fabric, on hand
- Ribbon, $1
- Thing to frame, on hand
- Paper, on hand
- Hot glue, on hand
- Craft glue, on hand
- White glue, on hand
- Paintbrush, on hand
Total cost: $3.88
I bought three frames, and already had the spray paint on hand, so actual cost to me was $4 for all three pictures including the ribbon, which I used on some other projects as well.
I used a sheet of origami paper on top of the frame backing as a sort of “primer” to go under the fabric, which was kind of thin. I believe I got a yard of the fabric for $1 awhile back, by the way!
I removed the glass from the frame as well, because my “cute thing” was a very flat but still 3D object and it didn’t fit with the glass in the frame.
1. Brush white glue on frame backing. Place paper.
2. Brush white glue THINLY on paper. Place square of fabric (cut larger than backing so you can fold it over the frame backing.)
3. Cut notches in corners of fabric, as shown.
4. Glue fabric edges to frame backing. I started with hot glue, but it dried quickly and made it hard to get the whole strip of fabric at once, so I switched to quick-drying craft glue. Use whatever you have.
5. Glue ribbon onto front of fabric, and glue around back as well.
6. Glue cute thing onto picture, and if you like how it looks, you’re done!
In my case, I didn’t like how the picture looked in the wooden frame, even though the frame was relatively nice. It just didn’t go with the pink and cupcake theme. I tried “whitewashing” it by rubbing white acrylic paint on it lightly, but it didn’t make a big enough difference. I ended up spray painting several coats of white spray paint on the frames and I liked the look much better that way!