Category Archives: crafts

Sneak peeks

I have quite a few projects on the go these days.

These are some sneak peeks at a few of them.

Sometimes it’s fun to hop from one project to another…

the variety of media and techniques can be refreshing….

…but with only so much time in the day, it does take longer to complete any one project!

How about you?

Do you work on multiple projects at once,
or do you focus on one until it’s finished and then move to the next?


Embellished jute bags

I want to show you a cute project made by my niece, Robin Jones.  This girl has talent, she’s always making things and comes up with some great ideas. For this project, she took some inexpensive jute bags and added her own embellishments to personalize them. The woven grid of the bags works perfectly for counted cross stitch.

She did up several different bags as Christmas gifts. This one is mine, I love it!

I like the pretty, traditional image on the rustic background… it’s in my favourite colour, too!

Here’s a sweet little owl on another bag.

If cross-stitch isn’t your thing, you can apply other embellishments that you make or buy. Robin crocheted some pansies…

…and sewed them to a large tote. A lovely gift for her grandma.

Adding stitching or embellishments to a jute bag…  a clever and inexpensive way to make a personalized gift!

Retro Stocking

In our home, we are big fans of mid-century modern design. When it comes to Christmas, though, most of the decorations that are available are fairly traditional. I’ve kept an eye out the last couple of years for stockings that would fit our style, but have never found any, so this year I decided to make some.

Referring to these glasses (our prized set made up of eBay and second hand shop finds) for inspiration:

I cut two stocking-shaped pieces of grey felt, then some retro shapes from red and white felt, and sewed them on.

As a finishing touch I embroidered some atomic star shapes before sewing the front and back stocking pieces together.

Another one in red, with white and gray shapes, and we have a pretty cool pair of midcentury stockings!

This post is linked to Today’s CreativeMade by You Monday and the DIY Show-off

Hanging paper ornaments

Next in my series of inexpensive Christmas decorations… these paper ornaments.

I loved the shape of these when I came across a photo of them the other day… they have a midcentury feel to them, don’t you think? There are many images and tutorials online for these… here’s one at Design Sponge.

I had some red and turquoise paper, but wanted to add some shine. I couldn’t find any silver paper like the image I had in my head, but I did find a large bow at Michael’s made of flexible plastic, with one side completely covered in silver glitter. I took it apart, cut it into strips, and it worked perfectly…. aside from the fact that there was glitter everywhere! (as a good friend of mine always says, “glitter is NOT our friend!”) I don’t usually use glitter, but every now and then you just need a little sparkle.

I cut strips of paper 1″ wide, then cut the centre strip to the height I wanted the ornament to be. Cut the next two strips in a different colour, approximately 2″ longer than the first, and the last two (outside) strips about 2″ longer than those. I didn’t measure, though. Line up the ends and staple together, then line up the other ends – letting the outer strips curve into shape – and staple.

A cluster of them hung above our dining table was a festive addition for our Christmas party last weekend. You really can’t get much simpler or cheaper, but they are actually rather effective. Some of our guests remembered making these when they were kids and found them quite nostalgic!

Magazine Trees

Christmas is coming! Are you creating any homemade decorations this year? I am, mostly from paper or things I already had around the house. First up: some cute Christmas trees made from magazines. The instructions are on Martha Stewart’s web site.

Instead of recycling those old magazines, upcycle a few into Christmas trees! These are so easy, kids could make them… but I like their simplicity. I made one from a magazine and two from an old paperback book.

The instructions in Martha’s video say to do the first fold on every page, then the second fold on every page, etc. Instead, I did all three folds on each page, as I went. This way, when you get to the third fold where you’re tucking the corner under, you can make a crease by pressing it against the pages below, which makes it easier to get a clean fold and it’s much less fussy.

Also, the instructions say to use spray adhesive for attaching glitter to the trees. If you don’t have spray adhesive, a glue stick will work too. Just hold the folded edges together, and lightly run a gluestick along them. Then open out the tree again, place it on a plate or sheet of newspaper and sprinkle with glitter.

I found a package of silver stars from IKEA in a kitchen drawer (meant for decorating the stem of a wineglass) so I attached one to the top of each tree. Such a simple craft, but you know…. they look quite pretty lined up on our bookcase, with soft Christmas lights catching the silver sparkle.

Baby Boy Blue Brown Blanket

Here’s something I recently finished and put in the mail…. a little blanket for Mike’s new nephew, born on New Year’s Eve.

The pattern is the Running Stitch Blanket by Debbie Bliss. I used Berroco Vintage yarn, which is a washable wool/acrylic blend… practical for baby, but super soft. And I love the light blue and chocolate brown together!

I knitted each side, added the constrasting stripes, then joined them together with a crocheted edge. I should clarify that I do NOT crochet, so the edging is far from perfect, but the double thickness and soft yarn made a lovely squooshy-soft blanket for the new wee boy. Hope he likes it!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Are you wearing green today? Here’s something I’m wearing…

… this sweet little shamrock pin made by Cheryl at Creative Miscellany. I was intrigued by the giveaway on her blog last week, and I was one of the lucky readers to receive one of her handmade pins. Cheryl’s blog, Flotsam and Jetsam, is intelligent and funny. And you’ll find more of her handmade pins, toys, jewelry, haiku books and more at her shop, check it out!

Now that I’m Irish (as I like to say, having discovered two years ago that my great-great-grandparents were from Limerick) I am definitely wearing green today… although I seem to have a shocking lack of green in my wardrobe so am making up for it with jewelry and this little pin.

Erin go bragh!

Just a little thing

Well, that was quite a blog break! After being away for so long I felt like I should come back with something big – and the longer I was away, the bigger I thought it needed to be… and therefore the longer I was away…. do other bloggers go through this, I wonder?

Lately, though, I’ve been inspired by talking to some creative people I know, and I’m hoping to feature some of them here soon… I’m looking forward to introducing them to you!

In the meantime, I have no large projects on the go so I’m back… with nothing big or exciting, just a little thing I made the other day. This necklace was a simple, next-to-no-thought-required, fun little project… just what I was in the mood for the other night. Actually, it seems like a stretch to say I “made” it, when it’s just a matter of choosing beads and stringing them together… I can’t even take full credit for choosing the beads… Mike picked out the big, slightly retro-looking medallion. He has a good eye!  I went with an asymetrical arrangement, and I’m pretty happy with how it came out. Using elastic thread means this project takes no time at all – just tie the ends in a knot, touch it with a dab of hot glue, and trim the ends. Couldn’t be more simple… and sometimes that’s enough.

Man’s shirt to sweet dress

Here’s a recent sewing project…. I made a little dress for a friend’s daughter, who just turned one. I used this tutorial,which shows how to make a toddler’s dress out of a man’s shirt. I started by going to a thrift shop, where I found a few shirts for $3.

The tutorial has excellent instructions, so I won’t repeat all the details here. As you can see, I kept it handy for reference while I was cutting the pieces.

I measured the tiny recipient for chest and length, and also measured a few dresses in a store to check proportions and the length for the shoulder straps.

A shortcut I made… for the shoulder straps with their fluttery cap sleeves, I cut pieces from the bottom edge of the shirt sleeves. That way, I didn’t have to make elastic casings – I just used the hemmed edge that was already there, it worked quite nicely. I also made some little cuts on the curved edge to make it easier to fold and iron neatly. The pleated trim at the top of the bodice, and contrasting band at the hem, are from a second shirt with complementary thin stripes.

I left the sewing until the day of the birthday party (no surprise there…. I have been given the nickname “The Procrastinatrix,” after all) but I finished it with half an hour to spare. It was good to get the sewing machine out again and let it stretch its legs, even if I couldn’t remember how to thread the bobbin and had to wind it by hand!

The finished dress, front and back. I’m rather pleased with how this turned out…

….but sweeter than that – here’s the wee girl herself modelling the finished product.

Smashing! Tips for broken china mosaics

Making mosaics out of china has to be one of the most enjoyable crafts I’ve tried.  Here’s a tea tray I made using china plates and saucers.  It started when I broke one of my mother’s Blue Willow plates (an accident!) and then snatched up the pieces before she could throw them away. The other plates I found at a thrift shop. My mum now has this tray… with pieces of her broken plate visible in the lower left corner.

There are many tutorials on mosaics available online so I won’t go into all the steps, but here are my top five tips:

1. If you use china, rather than tile, try to find pieces of a similar thickness so you end up with an even surface to your mosaic.

2. Teacups, bowls, or other curved china pieces won’t work as well as plates, if you’re covering a flat surface.

3. Test your adhesive! Glue on a couple of pieces of china, let them sit overnight, and then see if you can pry them off. I learned the hard way on an early mosaic project…  I made a pretty blue and yellow mosaic picture frame, only to discover after a few months that the pieces were falling off.

4. Mix up the pieces randomly, group them by colour to make a design, or keep the patterns from the china intact. Or do as I did, and use the edge/rim pattern from one plate, and the centre from another. Save the plain white pieces for background.

5. Don’t leave gaps of more than 1/4 inch between pieces of china. If your china pieces are far apart and there is a lot of grout showing, it will be harder to distinguish the design of your mosaic. Or it might look like you didn’t have enough pieces of china, or were in a hurry to finish.

Most of all, enjoy the process… mosaics are a lot of fun. I particularly like the part where I get to smash the dishes!  It’s also a great way to turn something broken into something beautiful.