Posts Tagged ‘How To’

Learning to Knit

March 26, 2010

Yesterday I arrived far to early to an eye doctor appointment, and it just so happened to be next door to a JoAnn Fabric’s craft store. I ended up picking up a pair of knitting needles and a little $2 booklet on knitting for beginners.

I was lucky enough to have a grandmother and a mother that taught me to crochet when I was little and I managed to get about half way through an afghan that ended up a garbage bag full of squares in the closet. I need much more instant gratification than that.

Despite my failure to keep up with crochet, I had always wanted to learn to knit. I think I like that the needles click, and that the work always seemed very light and flexible when it was done. I know crochet can be too, but mine never was.

Since yesterday I have made about 6 very crooked little bookmarks. They’re ugly and the stitches are terrible but I have discovered what I have always wanted to know….how on earth fabric is created by banging two sticks together.

Now that I know it I am not so sure what to do with it. I looked up beginner projects and came up with a list of pot holders, dish rags and scarves. None of which am I willing to put in massive effort for.

I think my foray into knitting will end here. I honestly cannot think of anything fun that needs to be knitted by a beginner for summer. Can you?

In the mean time, here is something knitted that I cannot make but Vegangurl can.

Fruit Cozy Set by Vegangurl

Fruit Cozy Set by Vegangurl

I don’t know why you would need these but I like that the fruit is dressed up. I guess it would keep an apple clean, but isn’t that what the banana peel is for? Is a banana not already cozy? Someday, I could knit something this interesting.


St. Patrick’s Day Party

March 22, 2010

St. Pat's Day party

The St. Patrick’s Day Party was on saturday and everything went off great! As usual, we have heaps of left over food but everyone really enjoyed themselves. The crowd was suprisingly shy about the games but once people got goin it was a lot of fun. For St. Patrick’s Day party ideas check out these posts…

St. Patrick’s Day Cocktail Ideas

Shamrock Candy Pots

How-To Party Puffs

St. Patrick’s Day Menu Ideas

St. Patrick’s Day Beer Mug Flowers

DIY Party Lights

How-To Paper Garland

How-To Rainbow Cupcakes

Lucky Libations

March 14, 2010

Over the past week I have been sharing with you the preparations for our St. Patrick’s Day bash coming this weekend. I’ve had a strict budget to keep to and I’ve been able to put together some great DIY ideas for decorations, food and last but not least, St. Patrick’s Day drinks!

Clearly one  choice item for Paddy’s day drinking is Guinness! Guinness can be expensive for a large party though. Instead, try mixing up a Black and Tan! A Black and tan is made by pouring a lighter beer over the back of a spoon and into a glass of Guinness. The spoon will keep your head of foam from deflating or the glass from bubbling over. If you buy a less expensive light beer you can cut the expense down on serving Guinness.

St Patricks Day Drinks

Irish coffee is usually the combination of whiskey and black coffee, but another version is coffee with baileys. Although both of these will be offered for our party, plain ‘ol non-alcoholic coffee will be on hand. Here is a fun way to spice up an old stand by. I’ve rubbed down sugar cubes with mint leaves to infuse them with a touch of flavor and give them a fun green color. Try using cinnamon sticks, rose petals, and lemon rinds. All of these will add lovely color and flavor to your coffee! Save the shredded remains of the mint leaves for a simple syrup.

St Patricks Day Drinks

Our fancier drink is going to be a Champaign cocktail mixed with green Cream de Minthe liquor. I bought plastic Champaign glasses at the party store and printed out little flags with Irish slang on them. Mostly insults…it will be fun to get everyone in the feisty Irish spirit! Download my St. Patricks Day Champaign glass flags here! StPatsFlags

I have decided to rim the glasses with green sugar and a mint simple syrup. Dying sugar is easy. Get a rubber glove or wrap a finger in plastic wrap to keep your fingers dye free. Fill a small bowl with sugar and add one or two drops of food coloring. Rub the sugar around until the lumps of dye disappear and your color is even. For the simple sugar, put in the left over shreds of mint from the sugar cubes in a pot with equal parts sugar and water. Dissolve the sugar and heat on low to make the sugar. Let the mint steep in the syrup to absorb the flavor. Strain it in a bowl and you can use it after it cools to rim the gasses!
St Patricks Day Drinks

For the designated drivers and non-drinkers of the party, we are putting together a green punch. Sprite or 7-Up with lime sorbet and pineapple juice is an easy, inexpensive mix!

Please read more about all of the St. Patrick’s Day ideas and enjoy the holiday!

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Paper Flowers (How-To)

March 3, 2010

For this project you will need:

  • Glue Stick
  • Stapler
  • Scissors
  • 3 sheets of paper
  • Bone folder

For a recent Baby Shower I used these pretty paper flowers for decorations. I’ll show you how to use these and other paper craft ideas in your party planning with an upcoming post. For now, follow this tutorial and whip a few up!

I recommend using a hot glue gun on the flower for a cleaner look, but a stapler is still best for the stem and leaves.

How To (Make Paper Bags)

December 11, 2009

Here is another one of my promised posts that I am checking off of my list of things to do.

Last week I had my first craft show and tried to make lots to save money. One of the things I cut cost on were paper bags. The cheapest I found were 13 bags for $6 but I found that the office supply store sold a roll of shipping paper for $5 and with this sewing technique and the size bag I wanted, I was able to get 60+ out of it! Quite a deal if you have the time!

Firstly…I apologize for the terrible photos. There isn’t much good lighting once the sun goes down in this house and I was working frantically to get things done for the craft show.

How To (Make Fancy Paper Bags)Fold the paper back on its self at about the size you want your finished bag width. Add an inch or so for seam allowance and cut it off.

I then folded that piece in half and cut it to get the right height for my bag, but then that depends on what size bag you’re going for.

How To (Make Fancy Paper Bags)

Here are the two bags I can get out of one strip of paper. You are then going to sew down along the cut edge of the bag. I use a long and wide zig zag stitch to make it decorative. I also used bright threads, and mixed up my bobbin and thread colors.

Once that stitch is sewn, use a bone folder to center the seam over the back of the bag, press the edges of the bag and flatten the seam up the back.

How To (Make Fancy Paper Bags)The seam should run up the back like this. I then used my paper-cutter to add a scalloped edge to the top and bottom of the bag. You don’t need to but it looked nice!

How To (Make Fancy Paper Bags)Fold up the bottom edge of the bag and press it flat with the bone folder. Zig zag stitch it down. I again used bright colors and a different bobbin color to show up on the front of the bag.

All done! It’s the same concept as an envelope really and works best for flatter items. I was selling my custom coloring books so a little bright tissue paper, a book, and this cute bag customized with my hand carved stamp worked out great.

Good luck!

How To (Felt Strawberry Short Cake)

November 29, 2009

I’ve been hard at work sewing together my niece’s christmas present…a felt tea party!

Earlier I gave you a tutorial on how to make felt strawberry slices, and as promised, here is the strawberry shortcake to put them on!

For this project you will need pink felt, tan felt, white felt, pink thread, tan thread, and white thread.

How To (Strawberry Short Cake)

First step is to make the top and bottom of the cake. I took a cereal bowl that was the size I wanted my finished cake to be and traced it on the felt. The pink will be the top of the cake, the tan will be the bottom. To make perfect quarters for the slices of your cake, fold the circle in half and cut along the fold. Take the half circle, fold it in half again and cut along the fold. You should end up with 4 pink quarters  and four tan quarters like this.

The size of the next pieces will depend on the size of the circle you’ve cut. For the outer edge of the cake you will cut a rectangle out of the pink. Determine how tall you want your cake. Mine was 3 inches tall, therefore my pink rectangle was 3 inches tall. The length of your rectangle is determined by how long the curved edge of your cake quarters.

Pink rectangle = 3 inches tall x lenght of curve

The next piece you will cut are the insides of the cake slices. They will be cut from tan felt and have the same height of your cake. The length of the tan rectangle is determined by measuring the straight side of the cake quarter.

Tan rectangle = 3 inches tall x length of straight side of cake quarter.

You will need 2 tan rectangles per wedge, and one pink. Total…8 tan pieces and 4 pink pieces.

How To (Strawberry Short Cake) Next you will cut a looooooooong wavy strip of pink felt. This will be your layer of cream in the cake. Put two tan pieces together end to end, lay the pink strip over the top, and cut it to fit the length of each piece.  You should end up with 8 pieces of wavy pink filling, one for each tan rectangle. Stitch them to the center of the tan pieces with pink floss.

How To (Strawberry Short Cake)Start to stitch it all together! I started by putting the filling pieces beside the pink topping and sewing along the straight sides of the topping wedge with pink floss. From there I stitched the pink rectangle to the pink curve of the wedge.

How To (Strawberry Short Cake)

Continue on with the pink floss to stitch the pink rectangle to the sides of the tan rectangles.

How To (Strawberry Short Cake)

Switch to tan thread sew the point of the cake together. Stitch the tan wedge into the bottom of the cake making sure to leave a space to stuff the cake.

How To (Strawberry Short Cake)Stuff your cake making sure that you don’t over stuff it! You want your slices to fit together on the straight edges. Stitch it up and shape it nicely.

Next we’re going to make frosting. I went nuts with this but you can make as little or as much as you like.  You’ll start by making a paper template of a pointed leaf shape about an inch long.

This next step can be done by hand stitching one by one, or you can cheat like me! Trace out this pattern on white felt so that the points of the shape touch but don’t over lap. Fold the felt over so that you will have two layers of this shape.

How To (Strawberry Shortcake)

On the sewing machine, sew down the center of your row of frosting.. IMPORTANT.. back stitch over every spot where the shapes touch end to end. This way, you can cut out the shapes and the stitching won’t unravel.How To (Strawberry Shortcake)

Cut out each shape!

How To (Strawberry Shortcake)

The two layer piece should unfold into an “X” shape. By sewing these pieces overlapping at the edge of your cake you create frosting!

How To (Strawberry Shortcake)

With the size of my cake and my one inch pieces of frosting, it took 5 pieces to line one edge of each slice. I frosted the top and bottom edges of each slice, as well as a small circle of frosting in the center of the top of the cake. Frost it up!

If you’ve made the strawberries as well, arrange them and stitch them into your cake. Decorate it however you like. Try red velvet! Dark chocolate! What ever your felt tooth desires 🙂

UPDATE: For the finished cake and related items please follow the link to this post!

How To (Felt Strawberry Halves)

November 24, 2009

I’ve been hard at work sewing together my niece’s felt tea party. I’ve used some wonderful patterns from UmeCraft on Etsy, but I won’t share her secrets! Sorry!

I’ve promised to keep you posted on the progress of the tea party and I’m currently in the middle of crafting a strawberry shortcake. This tutorial will give you an idea of how to put together the strawberry slices for the cake (tutorial to come for cake!)

How To (felt strawberry halves)

For this you’ll need some red, pink and green felt. I used a cream color embroidery thread for the seeds, green on the leaves, and red thread to pull it all together.

How To (Felt Strawberry Halves)

Your basic shape is a heart! Make sure the bottom is rounded and not a point, and that the lobes at the top are nice and wide and rounded. To start off, stitch in your “seeds” scattered around the surface of the heart.

How To (felt strawberry halves

First, ignore my nail polish. Sewing is harsh on nails…and I’ve never been diligent that way. Fold the heart in half with your seeds on the inside. Start whip stitching within the dip in the top of the heart. You’re going to sew along the humps at the top of the heart from the folded side to about where my white knot is. I like to start further away from the seem at the side with the fold, and as i sew outward start placing my stitches closer to the edge. When you turn your strawberry back out again, it will make the curve at the top of your berry rounder and smoother.

How To (felt strawberry halves)

Tie off your knot and turn your berry inside out. There should be a nice curve at the top! Place the berry down on the pink felt like you see here. I just cut around them but if you prefer, use a fabric pen to draw the outline of the berry onto the pink felt.

How To (felt strawberry halves)

This pink piece will be sewn to the open side of your strawberry. Cut an elongated red heart to stitch into the center of the pink piece. I hate tieing knots so I try to do all of this in one swoop! Before finishing off the stitches, stuff the strawberry and seal it up.

If you like (it depends on how you attach the berries to your cake) you can and a green star shape to the top of the berry with green thread. Free-style cut them and they’ll look more organic!

I will post soon how to make the felt cake to go with these berries…but they’re beautiful all on their own!

How To (Order from Megnificent Made)

November 17, 2009

Or any etsy store really.

I’ve had some confusion on how the etsy store works and how to order items. I hope this post will make it clearer what options you have available for payment and how your order is processed.

First thing you need to know is that behind every Etsy shop is a human being that sees and processes every order. Unlike big websites like Amazon, we see and manually handle everything that comes through our store so you can ask questions and be assured that mistakes, in most cases, will be caught and help can be given.

Another thing you need to know is that if you are ordering items that come from different etsy sellers, each item will be paid as a separate order with separate shipping as they are coming from separate people in separate places.

And finally, you do need to be a member of etsy to purchase on etsy. This is usually the case with most online stores. You need to be able to sign into etsy the same way you would sign into ebay or amazon. Go ahead and create a user name and log in. It’s a great place to join! I also recommend signing up for the newsletter, they send along really great selections from etsy sellers every day and it’s a great way to find gifts.

How To (Order on MegnificentMade)

The first thing you will see is your shopping cart. Every time you select an item for purchase it gets put in your shopping cart. At this point you can order or you can continue shopping. An item in your shopping cart has not been purchased yet! If you’re shopping around you can get back to your shopping cart by clicking on the shopping cart link in the upper left corner of the screen. This feature is pretty much the same as online store and I don’t expect any problems here. If you’re ready to check out, click on check out!

How To (Order on MegnificentMade)

This next screen is where you commit to buying your item. On this screen you will see your item added with the shipping and handling total. If you’ve purchased from multiple shops, each shop will show it’s item (or more than one) added up with the shipping charges for a total charge. Often if you purchase more than one item, there will be an initial charge for shipping, and a few dollars shipping extra per additional item. This is where the human beings behind the stores is a big plus. We put in these prices as a general guide but many etsy sellers will refund excess shipping charges if they turn out to be more than necessary.

On this screen you can also add information you’d like to share with the seller. If you have a custom item you can add details here. At the Megnificent Made store I sell fabric notebooks and the buyer has a choice as to what kind of writing utensils and paper they’d like included. This is where you can share that information. If you are purchasing a Megnificent Made Custom Coloring Book, you can give little bits of information like how you will be getting your photos to me or any special instructions.

When you click on COMMIT TO BUY, you’ve placed your order.

How To (Order on MegnificentMade)

The next step is to enter your shipping details. If you’re a regular on etsy you normally have an address saved. If you’re ordering from paypal you will be entering an address in the paypal forms as well. This is the address I use for shipping regardless of what you enter in your paypal form. Make sure this is where you want your items to arrive!

How To (Order on MegnificentMade)

This window is important. With the etsy store, Ordering and Paying are two different activities. Most etsy stores accept paypal because as an etsy seller paypal is used to pay our shop bills. You can see what other options your seller accepts near where I’ve placed the pink “X”. This seller takes money order or check. The Megnificent Made shop accepts Money Order and you can find more about where to send, and who to make them out to under the seller’s profile.

If you’re paying by check or money order, your internet steps end here. Get to the bank and send out your payment. As an etsy seller we can see in our website who bought something and we have the option of checking a box next to your name when payment is received and when we have shipped the item. When we get your payment in the mail, we go into the shop and check that box. When we get email notification of your paypal payment, we go into the shop and check that box. It’s a human involved activity and you can expect contact from us if there is an issue with payment. You can also contact us at any time.

If you’re using paypal, go right ahead and click “Pay Now”

A lot of people don’t realize that you can pay with credit card without being a paypal member. To use this option click “Pay Now”

How To (Order on MegnificentMade)

Again, if you pay with paypal, go right ahead and sign in.

It is often overlooked but I’ve highlighted here that you can pay with credit card without being a paypal member. Follow those links to go through the process.

Remember, at any time you can contact your seller and the etsy store is a much more human involved process than big shopping websites. We’re here to help! Happy shopping! Etsy is a wonderful place.

How-To (Carve a Rubber Stamp!)

November 7, 2009

Carving your own rubber stamps can add a beautiful and professional touch to your hand-made items. It’s so easy to do and worth the time it takes to carve.

I’ll be carving a version of the Megnificent Made logo to stamp my shipping products with. For this project you’ll need a printed or hand drawn design, a stamp pad, carving tools (speedball makes really great gouges with interchangable nibs), and a rubber eraser or carving block.

I’m using ezy carve printing blocks by Renoir. They’re really really easy to carve and cut like butter! I have memories of carving blocks in high school and struggling to get through the materials and gouging my hands with our super sharp carving tools….but no worries these blocks are heaps better!

I used a printed piece of artwork for this stamp. If you’re artsy you can draw your artwork right on your carving surface and skip this step. If you are using printed work, color in the image with a soft drawing pencil.

Stamp Carving7

Put your artwork face down on your carving surface and tape it in place.

Stamp Carving6

Rub the back of your artwork with a pencil, credit card, or bone folder. This presses the pencil off of the paper and transfers it to the carving block.

Stamp Carving5

Your image should show up nice and clear! It’s backwards but that’s perfect for a stamp…

Stamp Carving4

Use a sharpie marker to darken in your image and keep it from smudging while you carve.

Stamp Carving3

Use your various sized carving gouges to carve away the negative space of your design.

Stamp Carving2

Stamp Away!

Stamp Carving1

You may find after your first stamping that there are some high spots in the block leaving ink on your page. Carve them back further as you find them.

You can mount your stamps on wood blocks for a more professional look. Some craft stores sell stamp handles. Clear ones are best so you can see where to line up your stamp.

Good luck and happy carving!