Tag Archives: crafts

Sassy Scrappy Fabric Flower Tutorial

30 Jul


If you are like me you have at least one magic color. I try to love all colors equally, but there is one shade that I look absolutely stunning in. (Incidentally, my roommate Rebecca looks equally fabulous in this color. We often match.)


Awhile ago I found a dress in the magic color on clearance  at REI. Fortunately Rebecca wasn’t there.  If we had both spotted it at the same time the resulting race for the rack may have resulted in injuries, property damage, and possibly several days of us not speaking to each other.


I loved the color of the dress but after awhile I realized that that I didn’t like the length.  I have great legs and I wanted a dress that shows them off.  Empowered by the fearlessness of the Refashionista, I measured it to a dress I liked the length of, added a little seam allowance, chopped the extra length off, and refinished the hem.

But this isn’t the end of the story.

The day after I performed this minor surgery I found a hat (at Whole Foods of all places) that matched my dress perfectly.  I loved the hat as it was, but I had all these extra fabric scraps and it seemed like a shame to waste them.  So I embarked on a mini millinery mission:

Sassy Scrappy Fabric Flower Tutorial


1. Cut a rectangular strip of fabric about 13 inches long and 3 inches tall.  Cut a smaller scrap about 2 inches square. (Don’t sweat the dimensions too much, they don’t have to be perfect. Just know that the longer the rectangular strip is the fuller the resulting flower will be.)

Fold over and finish one long side and both short sides of the rectangle.  (I saved time by using the original dress hem for one of these sides.)


2. Sew a running stitch along the unfinished edge of the rectangle then pull the thread tight to create a gather. Tie the thread off.


3. Roll up the half circle of fabric, pinching at the gathered edge to create the flower.


4. Sew the flower together by pushing the needle and thread through all the folds at the bottom of the flower. You will want to sew about ten stitches like this through the bottom of the flower to secure it. (Fortunately you don’t have to be super neat about sewing these stitches, they will be covered up at the end.)


5. Fold over the edges of the little square of fabric and stitch. Sew the square over the end of the flower, hiding the raw edges and stitching.


Voilà! Flower!


I sewed three flowers to the hat band to create one sassy summer hat.


P.S. This worked well with the heavy knit fabric the dress was made out of.  If you have thin fabrics or woven fabrics you might want to consider this tutorial.

P.P.S. Just in case you were wondering, I also look fabulous in purple.

Destash Bash

Materials Used

Thread (stash)
Dress (closet)
Hat? (I don’t know whether or not I should count this as a violation of the Destash Bash. I bought it without intending to craft with it, but it was in my house less than a week before it became a craft project. What do you think? Does it count as a “new” craft item?)


Swap Skort

11 Jun

Destash Bash

Picture 1

Summer has come to El Portal. On days like this most of us bust out the shorts and spend the entire day by the river, but not me. I need to spend my day packing and I dislike wearing shorts. Imagine an emu trying to wear a tankini at a cocktail party and you’ll have an idea of how awkward I feel when I put on shorts.

On really hot days I usually wear a skirt, but I still spend a considerable amount of time frolicking around the woods doing active things in the company of people who probably don’t want to see my underwear. This is why hiking skorts are my best friends in the summer. They’re practical, sassy, and they usually come equipped with handy things like pockets and belt loops.


I recently discovered the Refashionista’s blog and wondered if I could make my own hiking skort. My opportunity came when my friend Katie organized a swap party. I found a great pair of columbia shorts and a dress that was really cute except for the botched screen print on the front of it.


I sliced off the skirt of the dress with my rotary cutter, and used a seam ripper to open up the side seams about halfway down the skirt. I refinished those raw edges with a flat seam. This left a slit in the skirt that makes the side pockets on the shorts accessible. Then I carefully sewed first the back and then the front of the skirt to the shorts just below the waste line. I overlapped the front and back sides a little to hide the pocket slits.


I trimmed off the excess seam allowance and folded the skirt over and sewed it down a second time to finish it.


Here’s me wearing the finished skirt at Wapama Falls during our Hetch Hetchy backpacking trip. I may be totally disheveled after three days in the backcountry but dang…..look at that spiffy skirt!


Materials Used

Dress (free box!)
Shorts (free box!)
Thread (stash)

Thanks to Jillian the Refashionista for the inspiration, and to Katie for organizing the swap party (and for making crepes!)


Earth Day: Green Crafting Round-up

18 Apr

Earth Day Banner

I feel like we’ve been focusing a lot on being educational, which I’m totally into, but this is at least a part-time craft blog so there’s no way I could make it through April without an overview of eco-friendly crafting.

When Earth Day rolls around I get super excited because my favorite blogs, which are mostly on crafts and environmental issues, fall into perfect alignment.  Everyone is posting on green and upcycled crafts.  It’s basically heaven.  Every year I collect my favorites, but, being the procrastinator I am, I probably won’t get around to many of them.  I realize that this may not apply to you.  You, dear reader, may have that trait they call “organization.”  You may see a post on wonderful crafty ideas out there and actually act on them!  So, it is for those of you that are not INFPs that I present this list, in hopes of seeing the completed project on your Pinterest board (seriously, leave your link for your Pinterest board – I cannot follow enough people).

Reusable Lunch Bag from The Purl Bee
Iron on Decals from Plastic Bags from Filth Wizardry
Kitchen on the Go from Create Studio
Create Your Own Sun Jar from Lifehacker
Scrabble Board Picture Frame from Photojojo
Necklace Organizer from Laughing Daisies
Wood Crate Recyling Bins by Michaels
DIY Toms Repair by lil blue boo
Wine Cork Planters by Green Upgrader
Upcycled Strawberry Baskets by Homework
Bottle Cap Candles by Craftaholics Anonymous
Yogurt Lid Coin Purse by Idle Hands Empty Brain (don’t you love that blog title?)
Twig Candle Holder by babble

~ April

Easy Elegant Wine Glass Flair

19 Nov

The holidays are the only time of year I attempt to pull off fancy table settings. This is difficult if your dishes, like mine, are mismatched. (There are many dishes in our cabinet that don’t even match anything else in the entire house, let alone the other place settings.) I choose to compensate by thinking that it’s charming and bohemian, but you can also impress your holiday guests with these wine glasses. They are a quick and painless way to add some flair to your place settings.


Wire (somewhere between a 20 and 24 gauge)
Wire Clippers
Needle Nose Pliers
An assortment of glass or plastic beads ( Hard learned lesson; make sure the holes are big enough for the wire to fit through)
Wine Glasses


Start by stringing your beads onto the wire. I usually make the beaded section shorter than the length of the wine glass stem, but feel free to experiment.



With the needle nose pliers create a small hook in the end of the wire. Create a loop of wire around the base of the wine glass stem and secure it by sliding the length of wire through the hook, then close the hook into a loop with the pliers. If you want to add a charm to the bottom of the glass I found stringing the charm on this loop secures it the best.


Arrange the beads where you want them and secure them by looping the wire around the stem. Experiment with using different wrapping patterns and different amounts of wire and beads.


When you are done wrapping you need to bury the end of the wire somewhere in your creation. The easiest way to do is to clip the wire and leave a tail of about three inches. Thread the wire end through the wrapped wire close to the glass stem and trim. If you didn’t use a lot of wire on your glasses you can hide the wire by pushing it through a bead and trimming the end.

Wham-o. Impress away.

Full Disclosure: I once made (with the assistance of a few very gracious and patient friends) over a hundred of these suckers for a wedding. The finished product made for great wedding favors and got a lot of praise. However, such an undertaking is not for the faint of heart and will require many episodes of Doctor Who. You have been warned.


And That’s Why You Should Always Wipe Your Feet

16 Oct

Every October I try to add a new homemade Halloween decoration to my collection.  Last year it was my calavera.  The year before I made my Halloween countdown calendar.  This year, I have not just one, but two awesome projects to share with you.  The first one came to me on August 10th.  I know because I hurriedly entered into the notes section of my phone. The note reads, in its entirety, “Get Ikea mat and fake arm or leg to make Halloween door mat.”  This left me with some room for creativity.

I started with the door mat and some painter’s tape and a cat (the last part is not necessary or even advised).
I tried to take the easy way out and buy stencils, but a) I didn’t really like any of them and b) the ones I did buy were too large.  So I took to the internet (dafont.com specifically) and downloaded a likely font.  You could use any one you like, but I’d suggest sticking to their stencil section.  They’re generally a lot of straight lines (easy to cut out) and have “bridges” that keep the letters together.  You don’t want to cut out the center of an O and have to line it up later.  It’s better to have a section connecting the center to your paper.  I used XXII Army.


Although I printed my words onto regular paper, I then glued it to this adventure paper.  It’s a paper usually used for maps, but is great for stencils because it stands up to a few uses.  I wanted my stencil to survive its first application in case it didn’t turn out like I wanted.

After I cut my words out of the adventure paper, I arranged them how I wanted them on my mat.


I covered anything that wasn’t going to be spray painted with painter’s tape.

And then I sprayed.



So now it was a nice normal door mat.  “Please Wipe Your Feet” is a perfectly reasonable request right?  Unless maybe you lost one from a psycho killer…


For the Halloween flourish, I glued a leg I bought at the Halloween store across the street and replaced “feet” with something more appropriate by painting over it with blood acrylic paint.

What do you think?  And by the way… the next project is the wreath.  It glows in the dark!



The Case of the Missing Pinterest Link

26 Sep

The other day, I was complaining how whenever I see something cool on tumblr it almost never has a link to the original source.  It drives me absolutely nuts that there could be a great tutorial out there that I can’t access because someone else didn’t see fit to post their inspiration.

Today, I had an epiphany.

See, I’m also a librarian and I figured I should know better than most how to track down lost information.  I took a class on Google searching awhile back.  They shared all kinds of cool tricks that I knew I’d rarely use, but there was one that I thought was particularly spiffy and I realized I could use it in just this type of situation.

Say you’re on Pinterest and you see this:

Peek-A-Boo Pumpkins found via http://pinterest.com/susan766/boo/

Cute, right?  But when you click on the picture, you see something like this:

(You actually get directed to another website for this particular pin and that site doesn’t have a working link to the tutorial, but the gray screen is a common occurrence as well.)

Boo!  How are you ever going to find out how to do this project which you are so desperately obsessed with making tonight?

Google-fu, that’s how.

Google has a cool feature that allows you to search for images by dragging a picture into the Google Images search box.  Simply open the image in one window and Google Images in the other.  Drag the image into the search box.  Google comes up with images that match yours, making it simple to find the source of the image. You can read Google’s own instructions here.

Often, as is the case on Pinterest,  the picture you want to drag will actually be a link and the technique won’t work.  If that’s the case, you have to right-click the picture and choose “View Image” before dragging it to the Google Images search box.

Now, it’s easy to find the instructions for the Peek-A-Boo Pumpkins at HGTV’s website… Be sure to scroll down below the first set of results and image results.  The first set is best guesses on links with similar keywords.  The images are visually similar images (which is fun to play around with).  The third set is links to pages that include matching images and that’s what you want.

Easy enough, right?  If you have any questions, let me know.  Happy Googling!

~ April

Happy Spring!

8 Apr

Winter passed us by this year and barely gave Yosemite so much as a glance. I’ve been wonderfully distracted for the past few weeks, in part because this spring has been blissfully unlike our last spring. It was a little startling, having grown up in Ohio and experiencing spring in places like New Hampshire and Illinois, to have actual spring weather on the first day of spring.


I’m going to spend this weekend hanging out with the poppies and the redbud trees. Have a happy Easter if you celebrate it, and a happy spring if you don’t!


P.S. Congrats to Amber and Kevin for winning the Hobbit Birthday Giveaway! Amber, I know where you live. Kevin, I will contact you to mail your prize!

Crafters Anonymous

18 Jan

My name is Robin and I have an addiction….

While there were many things that contributed to the utter lack of blogging before the holidays, two of my craft projects were major time-sucks. I loved them and I wanted to write about them, but they were gifts for people who read the blog and had to be kept top-secret.

The clandestine projects were two Yosemite inspired wall hangings using the same fusible web applique technique that I used for the Witchy Wall Hanging.   I’m insanely proud of how they turned out.

Photo by Jason Clancy

When I first came here I was completely overwhelmed by all the scenery. Much of it went by so quickly that I couldn’t really take it in. The first sight I really remember is this awe inspiring viewpoint of Yosemite Falls, and when I decided to make a wall hanging for my parents I knew right away that it had to be of this.

In addition to edging the fused pieces with a satin stitch, I machine embroidered extra detail to mimic the vertical cracks that Yosemite rock climbers know so well.  While it added some needed embellishment, it was tedious work, and the thought of messing up terrified me.   I learned the hard way that one disadvantage of using fusible web for applique is that if you have to rip out any stitches on the finished piece the webbing leaves big unsightly holes in the fabric. The quilting I kept to bare minimum, just around the edge of the falls, skyline, and border to add a little bit of contrast.

Photo by Jason Clancy

I went crazy with hand painted fabrics on both of these projects. I found a few printed fabrics with convincing rock and forest textures, (like the brown border fabric that looks exactly like the bark of a Ponderosa Pine,) but the variegated look of the hand painted fabrics was stunning. I particularly like the way the dark brown fabric in the upper left hand corner looks like rockfall scars. (We call that the Forbidden Wall, because rockfall is so frequent that we aren’t supposed to stop there when we hike the trail beneath it.) The striped fabric also mimics very well the streaks of water and lichen that color  the cliff faces.

Photo by Derek Ferguson

I was so happy with the first wall hanging that I decided to make a second one for my friend Meg, who’s exploits include climbing the Snake Dike route on Half Dome during a full moon. This was a going away present for her since she’s headed off to Colorado to “CLIMB ALL THE THINGS!!!

I tried to use the texture of the fabrics to their greatest advantage and only used a tiny bit of thread painting on the left half of the face of Half Dome. I quilted it with a silver lamé thread to give the impression of moonlight.  Apparently “stars” and “silver seed beads” are forever associated in my head because I made the stars with the same beads I used for the night sky pendants.  I am particularly proud of the bias tape border with mitered corners. I’ve been trying to perfect this technique for a long time and I think I finally nailed it.

So yes, I may have a bit of a wall hanging problem. I have plans for three more and I have no desire to quit. Brace yourself.


Día de los Muertos (with a necklace tutorial)

3 Nov

Although Halloween is over, there’s still a little bit of the Halloween spirit held over into November for Día de los Muertos.  At work, we celebrate this day by bringing in pictures of our loved ones, writing their names on cards and having a small memorial service.  I never celebrated the day outside of Spanish class before moving to California and I’ve developed quite an appreciation for it.  It feels so nourishing to gather as a community to remember those we’ve lost.  So often, we go about our day-to-day lives, sometimes remembering and missing the dead, but it’s normally a very solitary experience.  When we get together and publicly remember them, it creates such a bond in that shared experience.  It takes the stigma away from having to be “strong.”  It allows us to comfort and be comforted.


People bring in favorite foods and flowers to decorate the altar.

Afterwards, some people will point out their loved ones and share stories over pan mexicano and chocolate.

Inspired by the holiday, I put together a really simple necklace last night.  I used a lotería card, but I’ve followed the same process before using maps.  You could use anything at all. The whole project takes about 5 minutes, not including drying time.

Lotería card (or any other image)
Plastic microscope coverslips (or other semirigid plastic shape)
Mod Podge
A jewelry awl
Large jump ring
Exacto knife


Place your slide over the are you’re going to cut out. Trace around it and cut it out.


Using your jewelry awl, poke a hole at one of the corners of the slide. I very gently rotate mine until it just goes through and makes a hole large enough for a jump ring. If you go through too far, you might crack the plastic. I have tested this theory.


Mod Podge over your image and place the slide over it. If the paste is thick in parts, that’s okay. It ends up giving it a lightly textured look, which I think is slick.

Using an Exacto knife, cut around the perimeter of the slide, making sure the edges of the image are completely flush with the slide.

Turn the slide over and Mod Podge the back of the image and the sides of the pendant.

Let dry.

Once your pendant is dry, use the awl to put a hole in the cardboard as well. I go through both sides for an even circle.


Put a jump ring through the hole and attach to a necklace. Voila! Almost instant DIY pendant necklace.  ¡Disfrútalo!

~ April

Countdown to Halloween: Activity Cards

17 Oct

A year has passed since I made my Halloween countdown calendar and you would have thought that some time in the last 365 days I would have made an awesome replacement for the grow-your-own werewolf that hops from pocket to pocket, but then you would be wrong.  In fact, I lost said werewolf for a bit and he was replaced by a koala holding an Australian flag.  Very Halloweeny, those koalas.

I wasn’t losing any sleep over it, but then I saw a cute idea on Pinterest, where all cute ideas these days reside.  The blog All Things Simple presented the idea of substituting candy for activity cards in your Advent calendars so you could have a fun activity every day leading up to Christmas.  In the tradition of Jack Skellington, I decided to co-opt this Christmas tradition and give it a Halloween makeover.

Below you’ll find a pdf with cards of Halloween activities to put into your Halloween countdown calendar.  If you don’t have a countdown calendar, you can just put them in a jar, or better yet, one of these.  There are more activities than days so you can take out your least favorites.

Countdown to Halloween Activities

If you have a Halloween tradition that you would add to this list, I’d love to hear it.

~ April