Semi-homemade Gifts

This was originally posted over at Sunny Vanilla a few weeks ago when Jennifer asked me to be a part of her Homemade for the Holidays week. Enjoy!

When Jennifer asked me to participate in the Homemade for the Holidays series I was honestly a little worried.

You see, I’m more like semi-homemade. In fact, I’m the crafting equivalent of Sandra Lee.

I get mistaken for her all the time.

Notice the resemblance?

No? Huh. Must be a setting off on your computer.

Wait. Let me give it one more try.

See? I told you. We’re practically related. In fact, maybe “Sandra Lee & Me” should be my new blog title.

I love to create homemade gifts but don’t always have the skills to implement my big ideas so I do what I can and learn a little more each time. Hopefully one of these days I’ll move away from my Sandra Lee tendencies.

Today I’m going to share with you two crafts I will use as part of my Christmas gifts.

Both projects I’m going to share would be great used as ornaments, wine adornments, or gift tags.

The first ornament involves layering pieces of felt to create a desired shape.

It’s relatively simple and uses only a few materials.

Here are the materials needed: felt, objects to trace circles, scissors, a piece of wire, a Sharpie, and a glue gun.

Trace the circles onto the felt.

You end up with various size circles depending on the jar circumference used. Pardon the different colors shown as I dropped my camera after the picture below was taken and needed to take new pictures).

Stack your circles once they are cut into the desired shape.

Individually fold each circle and cut a small slice in the middle of it. This creates a hole for the wire to pass through.

Bend the bottom of the wired ninety degrees so the felt circle has a place to “sit.”

Take the circle you would like on the bottom of your ornament and slide it down the wire.

Place some glue on the bent wire and attach another felt circle to the glue. This new circle becomes the new bottom and the curved part of the wire should no longer be seen.

Stack the desired number of felt piece by simply sliding each felt circle down your wire.

Continue layering felt pieces into the shape you desire.

Glue on embelllishments in order to complete your ornament.

The shape and color combinations are endless. Adding wooden beads between layers gives the ornament a more rustic look.

Christmas tree, ornament, snowman, modern design

Since personalized gifts are always a hit, I created custom ornaments. The one below is for my father-in-law who is a proud Canadian.

Cut out a design using your scissors and felt.

I free handed the letter “a” but cut out the maple leaf using an image I printed out and placed on top of the felt. I then cut around the paper.

Glue all of the front pieces together.

Using the twine, glue a loop onto the back of the ornament. Next, glue a matching piece of fabric to cover the glue.

Add some fun and personalization to a tin of cookies…

… or use them as wine gift tag

This tag is for my sister Amanda and her husband Ben and it includes an image of their home states.

What about….A lively gift tag for the music teacher or the Saints football fan in your life? Really, the possibilities are endless.

In addition to brightening up a gift, they will look great on their Christmas tree.

Hope you’ve seen something that inspires you to create something handmade (or semi-handmade for some of us) for someone you love.


Have you been making any of your Christmas gifts?

The 36th Avenue

Chic on a Shoestring Decorating

Pennant Bunting

These are the windows in our office / playroom/ game room. They looked a little bare so I decided to spruce them up.

So here’s what I came up with:

The bunting has some pops of turquoise in it which matches with other bits of turquoise in the room.

I chose to use fabrics I had in my stash and stayed in the blue and orange families. After ironing the fabric I was ready to cut out my triangles.

I am an impatient crafter so I wanted to make this banner as quick as possible. I initially used a piece of cardboard that I had cut into a long triangle. FAILURE – this did not work. I cannot eyeball a triangle. I kept snipping away at it, after every few triangles I cut, and finally decided I needed a new plan.

I marched upstairs to my computer, printed out this triangle on card stock, and cut it out. My new template worked great.

Her’s a sampling on my fabric pieces. This picture is actually from the first few triangles which are not shaped like I wanted.

Roughly every six inches I pinned triangles to a long pieces of think white trim.

I then sewed two simple straight (ok, curvy) lines across the top and bottom of the trim.

Simply hung it with push pins after.

I love this so much that I’m thinking of all the places I could place pennant buntings in my house…Caroline’s room, on the stairs, a Christmas bunting, a birthday bunting, ……gotta go cut some triangles.

Mermaid Costume

I made my daughter’s Halloween costume this year.

She is going as a mermaid.

Or she might be Bette Midler.

You be the judge.

The resemblance is striking I know.

Caroline loves mermaids so this was a natural choice this year for her costume.

Beware of this tutorial – there are many photos and only rudimentary sewing instructions.

I first started with a long sleeve shirt which was given to us as a hand-me down.

I ultimately decided I would make her costume into a dress since it would be easiest for her. Plus, bikini tops on little girls creep me out.

I cut the sleeve off of the shirt and cut the collar to make it a little wider.

Next, I took purple cotton fabric and cut out two semicircles of material to try and make some cap sleeves.  I then sewed some purple flower trim onto the long edge. The trim was quite delicate so I had to sew it with a needle and thread.

I then gathered the top portions and held it with pins so I could use my machine to sew.

This gave the sleeves a curved shape.

When my six year old saw these he said, “Oh, are those for Caroline’s chest?”

The sleeves also received another line of trim on the gathered side. Once the sleeves were finished I hand sewed them onto the shirt.

Feeling that one more layer of flowers was needed I hand sewed the third line of flowers. I was very worried at this point. I was worried I had the “more is better” syndrome and would ruin the costume.

A little sequin sparkle in the center of the top and that section of the costume was complete.

Here are the materials I decided on for the tail. I know, low key. Nothing flashy here.

I folded the sequin material in half so that once I cut around my template (not the actual template in the photo, can’t figure out where it went) I would have two full tails.

I sewed the tail together, turned it inside out, and stuffed it.

It is about this time where I realized I was making a slightly deformed mermaid. The size of the tail should probably belong to a mermaid which is 7 feet tail. But I was this far into it and not about to turn back.

I left an opening on the side so I could sew in some elastic for her to wear around her wrist in case she wanted to hold the tail up. I should have sewed it in when I initially sewed the tail.

This actual bottom portion of the costume I pondered for days. I looked at mermaid costumes online and watched the Little Mermaid intently (not!), I finally decided on a side tail for her. I thought it would be fun for her to have something to drag but I also needed her to be able to walk. Here’s what I did.

I gathered the material (have no idea how much) and made it come to a rough point at the bottom. I sewed the edges down and sewed across the whole bottom.

My next challenge was to figure out how to get the bottom section attached to the shirt.

I finally settled on cutting the side of the shirt about 8 inches and then pinning the shirt and green material together.

This is the costume after sewing the two major pieces partially together. I left one side of the costume open in order to add the middle trim.

My idea was to sew the purple sequin trim by hand.

I tried and failed. It was cumbersome and the thread kept getting caught on individual sequins.

Instead, I brought out the trusty glue gun. Normal sewers are gasping at the thought.

Glued the tail trim on as well.

Finally sewed up the side of the costume

You can see the arm elastic on the tail here.

The final result:

My Little Mermaid!

Showing off her mermaid swimming skills

One costume down, four to go.


Making Todays Creative Blog Weekend Bloggy Reading

Pitching a Tent

Our house is where bed linens go to die.

It is beyond ridiculous. Enter my closet and you will find an abundance of old comforters, worn sheets, mismatched pillowcases, and scratchy throws. We could probably open a homeless shelter in our backyard if we so desired. We don’t.

Actually we have more sheets than all the other linens combined. We have inherited sheets from our parents, been given sheets as a gift, and received my sisters’ old college sheets.

I choose to ignore any subtle hint they are sending about the state of the bedding in my house.

The sheets leave our house at a very slow rate. If they ever escape it was via the Goodwill box so we have a large stack of sheets in my closet. Stack might be a nice term to describe the linen mess. It is actually a huge pile of sheets thrown every which way. I believe being able to see your closet floor is highly over rated. Technically, I think the experts call it protecting your carpet. After all, I do have children pooping in my closet.

After reading about Fort Fridays on All About Boys I was inspired to make good use of the old sheets and create a massive tent for the kids. The size of the previous tents constructed have been restricted to the size of the sheet, often leading to yelling and complaining, “He pulled the tent down!”  Factor in space taken up for chairs to hold the tent up and the actual sitting space is quite limited.

So….I started with 1 king top sheet, 1 queen top sheet, and 3 pillow cases.

I sewed them together on my machine in a haphazard fashion refusing to pin anything. It took, ten minutes at the most.

The result was a massive section of material roughly 10 feet x 25 feet. I could be exaggerrating here. I am just taking a guess. Put a queen sheet and a king sheet together and you will have the exact measurements.

The pillow cases spaced out created nice entry points into the tent.

When I peeked into the tent I saw this – Alex reading to Caroline while she sat quietly and listened. I am now putting him in charge of nap time.

The boys have requested I add another sheet onto the tent. I will certainly comply if it means more time pretending and less time asking to play the computer.

Any tents in your house this summer?

Photobucket Weekend Bloggy Reading

IKEA Elephant Off My Back

Why is it projects always take 98% longer than you think they will?

I bought this IKEA chair back in January. It was in the clearance section since it didn’t have a bottom.

chair with no cushionI picked it up and thought, “Great project for the weekend.”

I don’t know why I still think I will get anything accomplished the first weekend it’s on the to do list. By now I should know once I put it on the list it may be completed within the same season it was initially written down in. For instance, my list for this weekend had 12 things on it, we accomplished three of them – actually, not too bad for us.

One of the projects was – FINISH BLUE IKEA CHAIR

suppliesSupplies: oval wood disk, batting, fabric, staple gun

Fabric: Urban Circus Laurie Wisburn Elephant blue – bought here

We used two layers of batting for the “comfy bun” factor.


Uhhh, more stapling


This project was frighteningly simple and it took us just 15 minutes to complete.

That is, 3 months and 15 minutes.

Sew Wrong

I have no idea how to sew correctly.

I do not read tutorials. I do not read books. I cannot read a pattern.

I simply look at pictures and try to copy the idea.

Sometimes it turns out. Sometimes not.

I bought some fabric in October from City Craft but had no idea how I would use it. I just loved the animals with the mix of red and green. I eventually settled on the idea that I would make some Christmas place mats.

Measuring is also too much of an extra step for me.

So I took an old place mat I have and placed it on top of the fabric I was using. I then ironed over the edges of the fabric. I made some rudimentary cuts in order to create some corners. I did the same thing for the back piece of fabric.

I then pinned the front and back pieces together and sewed them together.

placematNot pretty, awful craftsmanship, unbelievably ugly corners but… I had 4 place mats done.

Problem was I wanted 6 place mats. Since I didn’t buy enough fabric I had to think of an alternative design. I settled on a small strip of the animals down the place mat. I needed some sort of border between the 2 fabrics so I bought some red ribbon to go down the sides. You can see how it turned out.

other placematI was pretty proud of these place mats until I washed them. My abysmal sewing skills made themselves abundantly clear. Part of the animal fabric came out from under the ribbon and instead of 6 rectangles I now have 6 oddly shaped place mats.

Have you ever had any sew wrong moments?