I can handle it!

Good morning from arctic Central Wisconsin! I can’t tell you how disappointed I am that the groundhog saw his shadow, this cabin fever is getting debilitating…

I recently finished a darling crochet bag (pattern will be in a future post), and even took my time with the lining and pockets. It actually looks somewhat professional! I had to decide on handles, and I didn’t think a crocheted handle would be sturdy enough.

In my thrift shop browsing I tend to pick up hardware and various items that may come in handy for projects.  Yes, I could be considered a hoarder… but anyway, I had found these resin purse handles for super cheap.  A couple of them were broken but that didn’t keep me from seeing their value.  I took them home, glued them with E6000, and put them aside until I found a use, and it seemed like it would hold.

Well, after adding them to the purse they worked great, but I grabbed the bag too fast getting out of the car recently and re-broke the handle in the same spot.  Ok… now what…. My first thought was a piece of plastic tubing, and that’s what I had in mind when I hit the hardware store, but then I remembered having seen this other product that might work a little better.  HEAT SHRINK TUBING– OMG.  This is in the electrical department by the wiring nuts and electrical tape.  Inexpensive and no bulk on my handle.

I rotated the handle so that the break part was accessible, and slid on a small piece of the tubing.  A dab of glue at the break (Power Grab), and I slid the tubing over it.

You can see in the picture where the break was. Being an instant gratification type personality, I didn’t wait for the glue to dry, I could have clamped and set it aside.  I figured the shrink tubing  would pull it back together and it would set in due time.

I used my paper crafts heat embossing tool for shrinking the wrap. It did take a bit, but it clamped down nicely on the handle plastic and I don’t think that baby’s going anywhere.  Rotated the handle so that the repaired part is hidden in the crochet, and back in business.  It seems to be holding, I think I could refer to this stuff with other craft projects!!

Just remember, never dismiss the hardware store, you might find the perfect fix there.

Piece out,

Lyn

 

 

 

 

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Mail call

As usual, it’s Sunday night and I have a gift that needs to be ready to go into the mail ASAP.  My options are to wrap it and put it in one of those mailing boxes, but it seems they never fit the item I want to send.  Or I could stick it in a cereal box or some other kind of product packaging and send it that way (tacky) but I really want it to be in a nice box.  So I decided to build my own.

A craft room must-have for me is white posterboard, or tagboard as it is sometimes called.  I try to have some on hand because you just never know when you might need some for pattern making, templates or DIY gift boxes.

To get started, arrange your gift as you would want it to be packaged.  Mine is a baby gift for my nephew’s new little one, and an extra little something for their older daughter.  (We live in Wisconsin, can you tell by the present? Wink, wink)  Measure the width, length, and how high the present is.  Mine was 7″ wide by 9″long, and I needed 2″ of height once I folded the little t-shirts.  So for you math geeks, to get your box bottom measurements:  (W+2H) x (L+2H). In easier terms, the width plus two sides by the length plus two sides.  To make the box top, add 1/16″ to the length and width to allow it to fit onto the bottom.

So from my piece of posterboard I decided I could get both a top and a bottom box from one sheet.  I measured 2″ in from one edge and marked a line.  Then I measured 7″ over from that line and marked another, and another one 2 more inches.  Turn the posterboard and measure 2″, then 9″ from that, and another 2″.  Cut the excess off with scissors or a rotary cutter and mat and ruler.  Mark the other half of the box the same way but measure 7 1/16″ (or 7 plus a smidge if you’re not the technical sort) and the same for the length. You just want it a teeny tiny bit larger just on the main part.  The sides should stay 2″.  Are you still with me?

On the second photo you can see score lines and cut lines. Use something like a bone folder or a dead ink pen (so you don’t make more ink lines), I’ve even used the pointed end of a golf tee when I was in a bind.  Line up a straight edge ruler and score the fold lines.  Then cut at the four corners where it is indicated.

NOW. Before you start getting all folded up – IF you wanted to further decorate your box with rubber stamps, markers, washi tape, or any other fru-fru, now would be the time to do that.  I was doing mine at half-past my bedtime and just didn’t have the energy.  Hopefully those of you visiting here are a little more on top of your game and don’t wait until the last minute.  I am known as Last Minute Lyn around here and I do my best to live up to that challenge.

OK, now you can start folding.  From here on, I think you can figure it out.  So… I’m going to bed. KIDDING.  Fold the tabs in and tape them in place on the corner of the box top and the box bottom.  Fit your gift to see that you got the dimensions right.  Once you do that, you’re ready to finish with tissue paper, confetti, shreds, whatever else you want to cushion your lovely little day brightener with. Be sure to tape it shut, possibly all the way around if you want to protect it during mailing.

Finish by wrapping the box in brown kraft paper or white butcher paper works too - some of those stamps or decorations would look good here, - and you’re ready to send it off to the recipient.  So much better than opening a cereal box or shoe box!

Next time you need to send a gift now you don’t have an excuse.

Piece out,
Lyn

 

 

 

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No Waste Wednesday..


 

 

 

 

A facebook friend has issued a challenge to not purchase any plastic bottles for the month of January. I love her commitment to preserving our earth for our ancestors.  You go, Laura!  I am trying to meet her challenge, but what to do with the plastic that we had previously brought home?  Last night I emptied a large 2 liter bottle and rinsed it out, knowing there must be some way to reuse it.  This morning I recalled a pin on Pinterest that was a great idea I had saved, but it did not lead to any tutorials. Well, Psh! I can figure that out.

The first thing is to get the label and sticky off the bottle.  Rather than use any kind of chemical I slathered it with peanut butter and let it sit for about 15 minutes.  It took two times, but with some hot water and a nylon scrubbie it did come off.  HINT:  fill the bottle with water and cap it so you can use pressure to do the scrubbing without making dents.

Next, cut off the bottle ends.  I punctured with a sharp knife (careful!) and cut with a scissors.  It does not have to be perfect, you can straighten your cuts later.  Save the top for a funnel – how many craft projects leave you searching for a kitchen tool? – and the bottom can be used for a paint palette, to plant seedlings in, or so many other things.

Now flatten the bottle body and really crease the sides. Then, fold and match up the creases to make the tube squared.  If you want a rectangle, don’t fold it in half, keep it off center, it depends on what you are wanting to put in it.  Really crease these edges too.

This next step is important – make sure your item fits inside the tube, then measure the height of the object.  I was just making packaging and didn’t have anything to put in it.  If you know the height you can plan on a better fit.

Score a line across both ends of the bottle to make fold lines. The distance between the lines should be the height of your object.  Be sure to leave enough on the ends to create folding tabs.  You may have to flatten it both ways to do this, and use a straight edge along with something fairly pointy but blunt.  Dork moment – I was too lazy to go find a ruler so you can see in the picture I grabbed the nearest straight edge – a back scratcher from the broom closet.  The back of my scissors made a decent scoring tool.

Use your scissors to clip each corner from the cutoff end to the scoring line to make four flaps.  Trim the edges nicely, and clip a tiny angle from the score line to the outside edge. You want the flaps to be slightly narrower at the end so they will fit nicely.

Fold each flap in on the scoring line and crease.  The length of the flaps should be less than half the width of the tube.  Mine were a little short, so what I am planning is cutting a small piece of tagboard to fit in the bottom to cover the hole. I will probably cover the cardboard with some nice scrapbooking paper since it will most likely be from a cereal box or pizza box.

Set your item in the box, fold in the flaps on top, and put on a nice bow.  Voila!  You have a fancy schmancy looking little package that won’t end up in a landfill somewhere.

In my hurry I didn’t know the candle would fit so nicely, otherwise I would have made the box a little shorter for a better fit.  Anyway, I think my sis will like it. Happy Birthday Kim!

Thanks Laura for the challenge and the inspiration!

Piece out, y’all!

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let’s make something fun

I have an affinity for odd junk sale purchases, especially game pieces or old hardware. Recently I found this bag of Jenga blocks for what?? Fifty cents?! Well, heck yeah I’ll buy them. I had no idea at the time what I would do with them, but they are uniformly cut, completely sanded and would require very little prep whatever I chose to do.  (Why be crafty when I can be lazy??)

So one day when I was supposed to be cleaning up my room (why do all the good ideas happen then?) I had a thought. Or a cleaning aversion. Whatever. I painted a bunch of the blocks with acrylic craft paint, some brown, some black.  Then I cut some scrapbooking paper to fit the sides – God  knows I have enough of that.  I also had an old map that showed up a week or so ago, so I cut some of those.

 

A little Mod Podge and some teeny tiny screw eyes and split rings, and an embellishment or two, and I had a whole bunch of cute little key rings.  Ever the doubtful crafter, I attached one to my keys thinking I would tire of it quickly and decide it was a dumb idea, but no, I really like it!  It’s large enough to find in my bag or pocket without turning on a light or dumping my purse, and it’s really lightweight so it doesn’t make my keys too bulky.

Some things I learned during the process-

Heavier cardstock works better than the thin paper.  The map wanted to bubble up and was more difficult to get on the block nicely. That, and I was afraid people would start requesting certain map locations and I am just not into doing custom stuff.

I started with cutting the paper to the exact size of the sides of the block, but if they weren’t lined up exactly it left edges that would have to be trimmed or sanded.  I ended up cutting them just a smidge smaller. I like the “framed” look better, and the Mod Podge seals the paper edged cleanly.

After painting the blocks but before adding the paper I slapped a coat of Mod Podge on what would be the top surface, and added the screw eye at that point.  That way I had a little handle to hang onto while adding the paper and doing the final MP coat.

I used an old tape measure on some of the blocks, just used a strong glue like E6000 or when you can’t find that (I searched my room for a bit but dang it, let’s get it done) I grabbed a tube of Loctite Power Grab that was sitting on my window sill.  It worked super, I used an old paint brush to spread it out so it wouldn’t squish out the sides. Those key rings looked a little bland so I added a small ribbon knot around the screw eye.

Add some split rings, and you’ve got some really fun little gifts or craft sale items.

Piece out, Crafters!

Lyn

 

 

 

 

 

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A trifle bit noggy

I am not a domestic goddess.  I repeat – I am NOT.  I don’t keep a spotless house, I only do laundry when we are out of certain – ahem – undergarments, and I don’t match my earrings to my outfit.  I consider it a successful day if I get to work without wearing something inside out.  On occasion though, I do have an itch to try something new and exciting.  In the kitchen. I’m talking food, people, sheesh.

So in the grocery store I noticed that they started putting Christmas things out right after Halloween.  Really? Eggnog and Tom &Jerry Mix? in November?  Not being one to pass up a rich artery blocking treat I picked up a carton of eggnog.  And not the lowfat,  noooooo sir.  Might as well do it good.  I had an idea…

A coworker makes an amazing dessert with pudding and cake and candybar bits, omg! Why not use eggnog?  So I kind of whipped up this little holiday trifle.  I took it to work because we were all so bloated at home after the turkey feast that we didn’t even cut into the pies (!)  Well, the consensus was — it was great! IF you like eggnog. I farmed the recipe out to a couple of inmates, er, colleagues and now here it is for your holiday pleasure.

Holiday Eggnog Trifle

gingerbread cake mix – prepared as directed on package

two boxes of instant vanilla pudding (yes there is only one in the picture but more is better, yes?)

four cups of eggnog

cool whip

To make: prepare the two boxes of pudding using eggnog instead of milk. Let it set up slightly before using.  Add in layers to a glass bowl: crumbled gingerbread, eggnog pudding, and coolwhip.  Repeat layering until the bowl is full or you run out of ingredients.  Top with gingersnap cookies.  And that’s it!

Have a noggy holiday!

Lyn

 

 

gingersnap cookies

 

 

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Owl tell you how to make these, whoooo wants to know??

Soooo, it’s getting close to the Christmas crunch for all you DIY-ers out there.  I started some crocheted gifts and am having so much fun!  You’ve probably seen these cute owl hats all over pinterest and ravelry.  I can’t take credit for that pattern, you can find that here at Sarah’s blog. Her directions are very well written and so easy to follow, you won’t have a problem at all.

 

Once I made the hats though, I thought a little matching scarf would be perfect to complete the gift.  I’m going to tell you how I made those.

OK, pay attention, this is highly technical stuff here.  ;0)  If you know me, you know I don’t do technical.  I do “looks ok” and “close enough” , so some of you may be a little uncomfortable with my directions.

First the details – size H crochet hook and one or two colors of worsted weight yarn.  One color will give you a nice texture, and two colors will yield a scarf that is kind of double sided.

Start your chain.  I didn’t count, I just chained… and chained.. and chained some more.  I measured my chain by my wing span – held it up from finger tip to finger tip.  It is approximately 62″, or about 5 feet long.  Make it as long or as short as you want. (this is why I love scarves, no math, and when you’re out of yarn the scarf is done).

DC in second chain from hook, and across the whole row.  If you are using two colors, switch after the first row is done and on all alternate rows.  Working  back across the scarf DC in the back loop of each stitch.  Change colors, turn and continue each row in the back loop.  One note:  the back loop stitching is what creates the ridges and texture, be sure you are working across from the opposite end of the previous row.  If not, you will have a flat color join – still pretty but not as *magical*.  I apologize for the low light in the picture, but I think you can see what I am referring to.

Anyway, continue until you have nine rows, five of color 1, and four of color 2.

Make tassels from both colors – I wrapped them four times around my hand with my fingers spread out (too lazy to get up and get some cardboard).  Use the crochet hook to pull the halfway mark of the tassel through the end of the scarf and loop it back through itself.  I did a tassel on each of the color 1 rows, which gave me five on each end of the scarf.  Lay them on a flat surface and trim even across all of them.

Stand back and admire your work.  Perfect!

Piece out,                                                                                                                                              Lyn

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Thread cones – how to manage them

If you are an avid sewer you probably have learned that buying thread by the cone is much more economical than the smaller short round spools.  The downside of this is trying to keep the thread spool feeding properly through your machine without getting caught, broken, and/or rolling across your table and onto the floor.

I have tried the coffee cup, the extender wire off the top of the machine, and countless other ways to wrangle my thread.  Here is my simple fix:

All of us have those dried out ink pens  – you know, the one you grab when you’re trying to take an important phone message? -  yeah that one.  And then you throw it across the table and scramble to find something that makes some sort of mark on the paper.  Or… you use the dead pen to write the number invisibly and hope you can make out the indents after you can hang up and do a search and rescue for a working implement… but I digress.

Anyway…. if you take the pen apart – everyone knows how, I think it was on the curriculum for grade school along with coating your fingers with white glue and peeling if off like a ghost skin – the outside part – the only part worth keeping at this point – fits perfectly over the metal pin that is supposed to hold the thread.  Slide it onto the pin, and voila! it’s the exact height for the tall thread cones.  Seriously, did the thread manufacturers conspire with the ink pen company on this one???

And that, my friends, is my sewing room hack for today.  Get rid of those coffee cups and wires, and stop picking dust off your cone after you retrieve it from under the table.

Piece out,

Lyn

 

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How about a cartoon?

Once in awhile I have a thought and I jot it down, I thought I’d share one with you.

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the dog did it..

My daughter came home for a weekend with her rescued dog, Zelda, a husky/weimaraner mix.  She felt it was time for Zelda to meet her step brother and step sister, Buddy and Lil’ P.  The visit went well, but there were a couple of short stints in the kennel while we ran some errands in town.

Zelda is a beautiful dog, but is a bit anxious whenever she doesn’t have her mom in her sights.  Returning from a dinner out we came back to find Z in her cage surrounded by bedding fluff and torn fabric.  I have no idea how she did it but she managed to get her very large paw between those closely spaced wires and drag the messenger bag that my daughter used to carry Z’s stuff into the cage and rip it to shreds. Great…

Oh well, I needed an excuse to go to my sewing room…  We found a pile of scraps from a black/white/red quilt that I had done that just happened to all be dog prints. Score!  We started with a simple idea which very quickly became a much more complicated design.  We used the wrecked bag as a makeshift pattern and started piecing the scraps to fit the pattern pieces.  Since it was all cotton I did use an interfacing to make it a heavier, more sturdy bag.

We were working against the clock – she wanted to head home soon – so it would’ve maybe looked even better if we had had a little more time, but hey, I’m pretty tickled with how it turned out.  We even did a fused web monogram on the front pocket for extra pizzazz. This is so cute I might even have to make one for myself, too! Thanks, Z, for the inspiration!

 

 

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Beary sweet

A dear friend at work lost her father recently after a lengthy illness.  I wanted to do something special for her and her daughter, with whom I’ve become close also.  There was the usual collection and card at work, but I knew I could do something more.

I messaged her daughter and asked her to bring back two of Grandpa’s shirts when she came home from the funeral.  I had an idea…..    Thank goodness for the internet, I googled teddy bear patterns, and found tons of information.  I was looking for just the right kind of bear, the one that I had in my mind.  I ended up downloading an archived pattern that had to be searched on a program that locates patterns not readily available with a quick net search.  He was exactly what I was looking for.

I set about enlarging the pattern pieces to 120% and printed them on heavy card stock so they would last (even though I don’t anticipate doing alot of these, this was a pattern I think I want to keep available).  I dug through my fabric stash for some scraps to make a draft bear, testing the pattern and final product.  Turned out the pattern wasn’t as explanatory as it maybe could have been, so I did improvise in a couple of parts. I needed to figure out how to insert the head gusset, and the body pieces weren’t labeled very clearly as to which way to attach them to each other.  It was a little tedious and I was starting to rethink my intentions… maybe a pillow instead? or a picture frame mat with a poem?  But eventually I finished the little gray toile bear and added the final details.  Yes, he would do just fine.

The shirts I got back were men’s extra large flannel, a bit of a loose weave so I decided to use a lightweight fusible interfacing.  I cut along the seams to give large flat areas of fabric, and carefully removed the buttons to use for teddy bear eyes.  With the interfacing in place I was able to trace out the pattern pieces, remembering to flip the legs and arms for mirror images. I carefully cut out all the pieces and grouped them according to what they were – legs in one pile, arms in another, head pieces together, etc.  I set about sewing all the seams, this was a little easier now that I knew what I was doing.  Once the pieces were assembled they had to be turned and looked like flat little deflated body parts.

I started to push poly-fil stuffing into the little body parts and they started to take on a little life and personality.  I stuffed them quite firmly, I didn’t want to have a squishy bear, this was going to be strictly for memories, not a toy for a child.  Once I got all the pieces stuffed I put all the little bear parts in a wooden tray and transported them to the living room where I could finish the handwork and still have time with hubby.  There is quite a bit of hand sewing on these little guys, probably more time spent there than the actual cutting and machine work.  I stitched the openings closed on all the parts and then assembled them into a sweet little teddy bear, finishing with the button eyes, and adding a white satin ribbon bow around the neck.

There was enough shirt fabric left to make another bear, so I ended up making two more, one for my friends’ daughter, and a last one for her mother.  Seeing the look on her face when I gave her the bears was priceless, and I knew I had done the right thing.  I will definitely will be making more of these.

 

 

 

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