Sunday, December 18, 2011

Projects for Procrastinators: Fast and Fabulous Holiday Gift Tags

Receiving cards and notes from friends and family around the holidays is something that always makes me really happy. They're warm, charming, and great for catching up, but then comes the question: Er... so, what's the right amount of time to keep these things before they get chucked into the recycling bin? Something about this whole act makes me weirdly guilty. (Surely, I'm not the only freak who thinks about this, right?) Ultimately, they always seem to make their way into my box of holiday decorations so I can procrastinate the inevitable for another year.

So after a couple of weeks of gazing at the ghosts of Christmas Cards Past this year, I've come up with a compromise that I feel comfortable with... making them into gift tags.

There quick, a little more charming than the regular store-bought fare and totally, 100% free from guilt!

-recycled cards
-used gift tags (optional)

Step 1: Cut away parts of the card that have writing on them.

Step 2: You'll need some tags to use as templates for tracing onto the useable parts of the cards. The ones pictured below I made, but it's just as easy to skip this part by tracing some old gift tags that you've already got sitting around.

Step 3: Trace your tags on to the backside of the card. (You may want to plan where you're going to lay each tag to make sure you getting the most interesting parts of the image.)

Step 3: Carefully cut out the tags you've drawn on the traced lines.

Step 4: Use a hole punch to make a little hole in the top of the tag.

Packages pretty, guilt assuaged!
Happy holidays y'all!

*hole punch

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Color Block Headband

Yes, it's color blocking again! Seeing as I'm still far from over it, I thought I'd do a variation on the color block scarf project from a few weeks ago. Like the scarf, this project is a quickie with bold, colorful results and only requires two pairs of old tights to make.

My habit of wearing boots with tights and no socks has given me plenty of holey-footed tights that are still in pretty good overall condition. One of these days I'll learn (maybe), but in the meantime it's given me plenty of material to choose from.

-2 pairs of tights

Step 1: Cut one leg off from each of the two pairs of tights.

Step 2: Lay the legs over top one another so that they create an X.

Step 3: Fold the bottom right side upward to lay over the top left side, so that the two edges are flush with one another.

Step 4: Repeat the previous step, this time bringing the bottom left side up over top right.

Step 5: Wrap the pieces around you head to see where the two sides meet.

Step 6: Put a line at this spot on each side using tailor's chalk.

Step 7: Lay the right side over the left side, making sure that the two lines are directly over top one another.

Step 8: Sew directly across that area.

Step 9: If you have a lot of excess material, cut it off with a pair of scissors.

*When you flip the headband right side out, your back seam will be nice and clean.
The back will look like this...
...and the front like this!

You can use the other half of the tights to make a second headband to give as a gift. Nobody will ever realize that you used to wear these on your legs.

*tailor's chalk or pen
*sewing machine (or needle and thread)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Scrap Leather Snap Cuff

I'm always eager to find good uses for my material scraps, especially the leather. The primary inspiration for this project came about from discovering the excellent Lark book, The Art of Jewelry: Paper Jewelry. There was a lot of great stuff in here but the amazing K. Dana Kagrise bracelet (featured on the book's cover) is what captured my imagination the most. I love the concept Kagrise used of employing techniques associated with book binding to create her elegant vellum cuff. It got me excited to try something new with my stuff in my scrap pile. For my variation on this idea I was finally able to use these super pretty turquoise pieces I've had sitting around!

Materials needed
-leather scraps
-4 piece snap set
-embroidery thread

Preparing The Leather

Step 1: Begin cutting scraps into 1 1/2" wide strips.

Step 2: Straighten the uneven end on each of the strips.

Step 3: Measure lengths of 2 1/2" and cut.

Step 4: Trim the two shorter sides with pinking shears.

When you're finished the first 4 steps, you'll have a bunch of pieces that look like this. (To make my cuff it took a total of 34 pieces, but you may want to cut a few more just in case.)

Step 5: Cut a piece of pattern paper into a 2 1/2" x 1 1/2" rectangle, then score it directly down the center using an awl. Follow by making two pin marks directly on the score, 3/ 8" from each side.

The pattern piece will look like this when you're finished:

Step 6: Stack four leather pieces on top of one another, with the pattern paper on top. Press your awl firmly into each of the two pin marks, so that all the pieces of leather will have holes in those precise spots.

Step 7: Cut two 2" x 2" square pieces of another scrap leather and set aside. These pieces will later be used as anchors to the rest of you project. This is also where the snaps will go, so the sturdier the better!

Step 1: Now the leather pieces are ready to be strung together. Begin by cutting a fairly long length of embroidery thread and threading through two needles, one at each end. Do NOT knot.

Step 2: Place two pieces of leather on top of one another and put the two thread needles into each of the holes. Pull both sides evenly through until it looks like a large stitch.

Step 3: Bend the piece of leather you just sewed though, in half and flip the pieces over. Now you will put the needles through the opposite holes. This time going only through the single piece of leather.

When it looks like this...

... you're ready to add the next two pieces of leather.

Step 4: Repeat steps 2 and 3, always adding two pieces of leather at time, until you have a chain that look like this, with approximately 17 pairs.

Step 5: Securely tie off your knots and cut away the excess thread. You can give the knots a little extra reinforcement by using a drop of glue on them.

Step 6: Place a small piece of double stick tape on the back side of each of the two ends. Then, firmly press down on to the leather tabs you had set aside. The placement should be about 1 1/4" away from the top edge. (The tape will prevent the leather from shifting while you are sewing it into place.)

Step 7: On the side where the turquoise leather is going in the same direction, use your awl to make 6 holes (2 rows of 3). Follow by sewing through them all until you are sure the two pieces are secured.

Step 8: On the side where the leather is facing in a different direction from the leather tab, you will only make three holes with the awl. The holes will all be made in the crease separating the couplet. Sew straight across until you are sure the two pieces are well secured.

Step 9: On each side, use a leather punch to make a hole in the leather tabs, where the snap will be placed. Insert the snap components and set with a snap setter and pedestal.

You're done! Your finished cuff will look like this:
Step 10: The final step is using scissors to trim away any pieces that have moved out of alignment, until all are looking clean and straight.

**If the leather pieces are a little too unruly, keeping a rubber band round when it's not being worn will reinforce a more tame appearance. (You can also force the pieces to lay down by putting pieces of double stick tape between them.)**

-It takes a bit of time to get this one done, but because the steps are repetitive it makes this a fantastic project to do with a movie playing. You'll probably be wearing this thing by the time the credits roll:)

*2 needles
*snap setter
*cutting pad
*pinking shears

This project was featured on


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Color Block Scarf

I'm obsessed with this project for a number of reasons. One is that it involves scarves, my favorite accessory. I have a gazillion of them (Grandma is a chronic knitter), some of which see the light of day less often than others (Grandma is a chronic knitter). Also, this is officially the easiest project I've ever blogged! From start to finish this project only takes about 15 to 20 minutes. It keeps me from feeling guilty when I don't wear a lovingly made gift as often as maybe I should (seriously, it's her only hobby), plus it's color blocking!

Materials needed
-2 knitted scarves (each at least 35" long)
Step 1: On each scarf, measure a length of 35" and cut.

Step 2: To prevent unraveling, sew straight across on the two ends you just cut. (If you're still worried about the knitting coming loose, sew two rows of stitches.)

Step 2: Once both pieces are the correct length, lay the two scarves out flat so that they form an X.

Step 3: Fold the bottom right side upward to lay over the top left side, about 2 1/2" away from the top edge. (This staggering will help to eliminate some of the bulk.)

Step 4: Repeat the previous step, this time bringing the bottom left side up over top right, again 2 1/2" from the top edge.

Step 5: Binder clip or pin each of the edges to prevent them from slipping out of position.

Step 6: Sew straight across on the two pinned sides.

When you've finished this step it should look like this:

Step 7: Fold your project in half so that the top edge of one scarf is aligned with the top edge of the other (the good sides should be touching one another). Clip or pin into place.

Step 8: Sew straight across.

When you finished flip your right side out and the back seam you just sewn will look like this:

Like I said, crazy CRAZY easy.
Depending on how long your scarves were to begin with you may even have enough leftover to make a second one.

*tape measure binder clips
*sewing machine (or needle and thread)