Saturday, September 24, 2011

Copy Cat- Matilda Jane ruffle pants

I've been 'filing' ideas for clothes for the girls on my pinterest board. I finally got around to attempting a look-alike pair of Matilda Jane Ruffle Pants. I just think they're darling. This pair is not outrageously priced, but I still wanted to at least try making a pair.

These adorable Matilda Jane Herringbone Ruffle Pants

I found a light blue version of this fabric and attempted to make them myself-combining components of two different pants patterns.

The Mindy Lou version ;) 

The Review: Required a lot of patience, but it was all worth it when Ava tried them on and looked cute as a button, leaping and twirling like the free spirit she is!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Super Silly Simple DIY Ribbon Wand

My oldest has been making homemade 'ribbon' wands by tying dish towels and pillowcases to an old toy plastic golf club handle. While I appreciate her creativity for improvising, I'm tired of continually washing dish towels that aren't really being used.... so, I figured I'd surprise her with a 'real' ribbon wand...  ;)

She looks proud, doesn't she?

Want to make your own? I had everything on hand, so this project was FREE.

Here's what you need-

1 tree branch, approximately 12" length, and 1/4" diameter (on hand or borrow from a neighbor)-free
screw eye (on hand or available at hardware store in picture hanging kit)-$1.50
ribbon, approximately 5 ft. (fabric would work too) (on hand or craft store)-$1.50
Total Cost: Free or $1.00 (considering cost/ item used for 1 wand)

1. Find a branch that's 1/4" to 1/2" in diameter. Cut to 12" in length.

2. Sand edges to create flat surface. 
3. Carefully screw the eye hook into one of the edges.

4. Twist end of ribbon and string through the eye hook. Tie and knot again to secure.

The Review: It's nothing fancy (maybe even a bit tacky), but it's for my little 5-yr old. She could honestly care less about what it looks like.

You can find a great tutorial here on how to make ribbon wands with dowels. They recommend them as guest gifts at weddings!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Toile Dish Towel Skirt

I made this skirt based on the tutorial for tea towel skirts that I found on the Dollar Store Crafts blog. I created the pattern by outlining one of Elyse's current skirts. It was quite simple to make, because I used the finished hem on one side. I needed to hem only one side of the skirt to keep the pattern upright. And it was easy to sew casing at top to run elastic through. For detailed instructions, click here for a tutorial to make a skirt out of cloth napkins. 

The Ava Top-made with love by mommy

I wanted to challenge myself to make something completely from scratch, creating my own pattern. I had the perfect fabric for my attempt at a loose fitting top for Ava.

How I made it:

(1) created pattern by tracing a loose fitted top by folding shirt in half, allowing a good 1" seam allowance on all sides (advanced sewers usually need only 3/8")

(2) folded fabric and traced the pattern against the fold -cut two pieces

(3) Turned right sides together, pinned in place then stitched the seam armpit to length of shirt, using straight stitch. Later reinforced seam with zig zag.

(4) Then, stitched the sleeves and collar.
*At this point, I had Ava try on the shirt. The bodice fit fine but the arms were way too snug.. :( So, I thought I'd cut seam 5" from edge of sleeves,to create an open flare-like sleeve, then stitched either side, creating an outward 'V'.

(5) I stitched a hem at the bottom, then decided to add a pull tie to the bottom. So I folded it up one more time to allow room to pull a tie through. I used some turquoise ribbon trim from an old pair of PJ's.

The review: a nice feeling of accomplishment. I love the fabric, and Ava loves the shirt! (yay!) If I make another shirt, I will sew the sleeves separately, making sure they are the size and shape I want them. Plus, I think it will be easier to try a different style of sleeve. I would also use a softer cotton fabric.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Upcycled knit shirt into ruffle capris

Thanks to my sister-in-law, I acquired a long-sleeved knit navy shirt. The front side had a screen print, but there was just enough fabric on the back side of the shirt to make a size 2T ruffle pant, from the pattern I downloaded on It's a Jocole pattern with multiple sizes for these everyday ruffle knit pants. 

Here's go-around 2-I made a pair of capri (without the ruffles) for my 5-yr old daughter. If I do it again, I'll need to enlarge the pattern slightly, since she's more of a size 6.

I cut the length so the natural hem of the shirt would be on the pant. Worked out great! Happy with how they turned out. I'm having such fun making these clothes for my girls!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Shuffle for Ruffle

I'm SO excited. I actually danced after my first attempt at ruffle pants actually turned out-well they turned into capris. But, I still think they look adorable on Elyse. I followed a pattern I purchased from It's an awesome site with a variety of patterns available to purchase. You can even download some free ones! Great for starters-like me. The patterns include step-by-step tutorials, which have really helped me.

LOVE the ruffles and am now making some pants for my 5-yr old, Ava. Will post pics-hopefully soon.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Put a Label On It! (no fabric paper or Bubble Jet Set required)

UPDATE 4/5/12: Still looks good as new after many washes in cold water and bleach-free detergent!

I wanted to start putting size tags on the clothing I've been making for my friends' children. I found various websites that you can order from, but I didn't need that many and didn't want to spend too much money on the fabric paper. After some online research, I tried freezer paper technique and a solution of some household items.

You could also design a fun larger image and sew it to a T-shirt, tote or blanket, etc.

Want to try it? Here's what you need-

what you need: 
ink fixative to pretreat fabric to prevent ink from washing out (or make your own-see below)
cake pan for soaking fabric
ink jet printer
freezer paper
fabric (100% cotton works best)
piece of regular copy paper- 8-1/2" x 11"
computer program to design- I just used Word so nothing too fancy is required
iron-cotton setting
glue stick

(1) Select your fabric. I found 100% cotton fabric works best. I used an old pillowcase. I'm going to try using some flour sack towels I found at the Dollar Tree. (UPDATE 4/5/12: flour sack towels worked great and were very affordable)

(2) Pretreat your fabric with an ink fixative to help prevent the ink from washing out. I made my own.

I found a site that said you could use a fabric softener solution  here
I didn't have any liquid fabric softener, but I found a 'recipe' to make homemade fabric softener solution here

I just wanted to try it out, so I cut back the recipe to 1/4.

1/4 c baking soda
add 1-1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
4 c water

(3) Lay pieces of fabric (each approximately 8-1/2" x 11") and soak a few minutes, then allow to dry completely. (I put mine in the dryer for a bit too. Could also try a hairdryer.) You could also try putting the solution in a spray bottle. Spray onto the fabric and just make sure to spread the solution across the surface of the fabric. 

(4)  Gently iron dry fabric. (Make sure fabric is completely dry or you will get water I did the first time... :-(

(5) Right side of fabric down, iron freezer paper to adhere to fabric (smooth, shiny side down onto fabric). Allow to cool a few minutes.

(6) Use glue stick to apply freezer paper onto copy paper. Make sure to glue down the corners, so it doesn't get caught in the printer. No fabric or freezer paper should fall outside of the copy paper.

(7) Test your image. Print your image onto a regular piece of paper to make sure it's spaced right.

(8) If all looks good, run your fabric paper through. Do not touch ink. Allow ink to dry for 10 minutes.

(9) Peel off freezer paper. Place a cheese cloth/ dishtowel on top of fabric, and set ink with iron. Iron over images about 20 seconds. Allow fabric to cool.

(10) Run fabric gently under cold tap water. Gently wipe with your fingers to make sure ink will not smear. Do not wring the fabric. Dry with paper towels. Use hairdryer to speed up drying time.

(11) Cut your images out and sew to your creations for a professional, unique touch. Wash garment on cold, gentle cycle. The subtle vinegar smell will go away after first wash.

Would love to see your labels (which will be much more creative than mine). Please share pics!

Click here for a great tutorial using purchased fabric paper. I incorporated some of these steps in my version.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Something Blue

I wish I had the 'before' pic, but I don't. I'll have to just describe it-the top and base were painted dark green and the rest of it was an antique white. Paintings of flowers covered the drawers. It wasn't bad, but it just wasn't my style.

So, with a fresh coat of leftover wall paint, acrylic paint and fabric for the knobs (applied using good ol' Mod Podge), I brightened it up! I just love these colors together! Something blue accented with a touch of red!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sew far, pretty good

This week I've been obsessed with teaching myself to sew. I accomplished several projects, getting my inspiration from many creative, experienced and talented bloggers.

(1) First project: Update plain white T by adding ruffles 

kind of liked this shirt, but too much ruffle for me

so here's how my ruffled t-shirt turned out (cut up one of the hub's old torn t-shirts for the ruffles...thanks hon...)
used basting stitch to ruffle, then a backstitch to secure the ruffles to the shirt
I found a great tutorial here.

(2) Next project: pillowcase dress

I ran across many tutorials but they were a bit overwhelming and time consuming for the beginning sewer. This video inspired me to give it a shot. I was fortunate to have some beautiful embroidered pillowcases that were handed down to us.

my VERY first pillowcase dress-used an old hospital pillowcase

the review: Such fun projects. One needs to be patient if hand-sewing (like me)....but I felt like I had accomplished something as a newbie sewer! Yay me! ;)

and project coming up.....
another ruffle T-shirt using flour sack towels from Dollar Tree.... Not sure when I'll have the time. But we shall see how that one turns out.... ;)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

DIY Jewelry Organizer

Looking for something to neatly hang all of your bracelets and necklaces? Here's what I came up with.

if you want to try it, here's what you'll need-
foam board
Mod Podge (I used matte)
small brush
old picture frame with glass removed (I painted my old wooden frame with red acrylic paint)
scrapbook paper
screw-in hooks
drawer pulls with screws (or washers to help create a flat surface)
super glue (I used Elmer's Stix-All)

diy instructions-
(1) Carefully remove the glass from your frame,
(2) Trace the frame's cardboard backing onto a piece of foam board (I bought mine at Dollar Tree)
(3) Apply a medium layer of Mod Podge to the back side of your scrapbook paper (measured to fit your frame).
(4) Apply Mod Podge to the foam board and press paper over the board. Spread the paper down, making sure there are no wrinkles. Allow paper to dry for 15-20 minutes.
(5) Brush on a second layer of Mod Podge over the paper to seal it. Allow Mod Podge to dry completely.
(6) Push in several small screw-in hooks into the board, turn to tighten. Make sure they're not poking out of the back-they are a bit sharp. (I just covered them with poster putty.)
(7) Place the foam board back into the frame.
(8) Secure the drawer pulls to the bottom of the frame. (I ended up using super glue but needed to glue a washer to each to make a flat surface first to make a flat surface that would better stick to the frame.) Allow glue to dry.
(9) Hang your jewelry

*note: the fabric in the upper-left covers a magnet. I use that for my magnabilities magnets that go with the copper bracelet you see hanging.

The Review: Not too difficult. I had everything on hand except for the foam board. You could use fabric in place of the paper. You may be able to push earrings through the foam board too. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Pillow Fight

Slowly, our living room is coming to life. Brown on brown on brown can get a bit tiring, but as I'm finding on many blogs it's so easy to add a personal touch with fabric and some unexpected color. I can't paint now, so....

here's what I did:

(1) jazzed up the floor lamp with some fabric (as you can see here)
(2) dressed up a bare wall with fabric covered canvases and one with scrapbook paper that needs a bit more hot glue. (I'm going to add two more canvases-the wall still looks a little bare to me.)
(3) tossed two bright greenish-blue pillows on the couch that complemented the colors in the canvases. Then, took it a step further because I had some extra energy from a late night cup of coffee and made rosettes out of remaining fabric and secured them to the pillows (with fabric glue, because I can't sew.) The pillows are rather cozy and great for pillow fights among a mom and her two little girls! We'll see how long those pretty little rosettes can stay on.

Here's the before (with the new pillows):


Don't you just love that table? My dad built it for me about 10 years ago. It's so near and dear to my heart.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Shadow Box Training

I'm not so sure about this one, and I'm rather embarrassed to share pictures with you, but perhaps it will inspire you to do something similar but MUCH, MUCH better and more creative.... I'm more or less attempting to train myself through much trial and error... but it's oh so fun!

anyway, there's a story behind this experimental project....

I was starting to smash down a surplus microwave popcorn box for the recycling bin and started reminiscing about growing up and watching movies on the big ol' box TV with my family and enjoying popcorn from the air popcorn popper.  Box TVs. .....then for some odd reason, a shadow box picture frame came to mind. Maybe I could make that box into a picture frame??

Here's the lovely box-before I 'shadowboxed' it... ???

First, I flattened the box and painted it. I tried the crackle effect (white acrylic, glue, red acrylic, blow dry), but really wish I just spray painted it red (although the weather is too dang cold for that!)

After the paint was dry, I turned the box over and used Mod Podge to apply a fun wrapping paper. This would be the inside of the shadow box. (Wallpaper or fabric would probably work better. This was kind of a trial and error project...) I applied a thin layer of Mod Podge over the top to seal. Allow to dry.

Next, I used the good ol' hot glue gun (high heat) to reassemble the box, keeping the wrapping paper to the inside of the box.

For now, I set it on top of my kitchen cabinet. I'll give it some time to see how I like it. I could use one of those velcro picture hanging things if I want to put it on the wall later, with a black and white picture. If that doesn't work, the box is just wide enough for file folders, so I can always use it in the office. :) I just hate to see those cardboard boxes go to waste.

The Review: I'd like to try it again but will paint the outside a solid color (preferably using spray paint when weather warms up). Next time, I'll either use wallpaper or paint the inside of the box a solid color. (I'll also make sure to disguise the seam at the back of the box).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Recycled Crackled Cracker Box Book

I'm still on a mission to master a quality crackle technique. I decided to try a cardboard surface, as the cover for my first attempt at a homemade book. The final book:

I was very happy with how the cover turned out!

How to make the crackled finish cover: 
(1) Dismantle cereal, cracker, etc. cardboard box, cut off flaps and lay flat (printed side up).

(2) Apply generous drops of acrylic paint (I used light purple), spread to cover the print, then allow to dry.

(3) Apply generous drops of Elmers Glue-All, then spread to cover painted surface with a thick layer of glue.

(4) While glue is still wet and tacky, apply a second color of acrylic paint (I used white). Immediately blow dry the surface with a hair dryer.

Here's the result....

To make the rest of the book, refer to the step-by-step instructions, along with helpful pictures at

The Review: Fun and easy. Just takes some organization.

Other Ideas: Cover the cardboard with anything- scrapbook paper, wallpaper, chalkboard paint, kids' artwork. In place of plain white paper, you could use a heavy card stock sprayed with chalkboard paint or dry eraser paint. Great activity book for kids. Plus, they could decorate the cover themselves-keeping them occupied while you have some time to yourself. There's no such thing as perfect. It's the story behind it that counts (and the fun you have making it). And you can't always judge a book by its cover, right? Have fun!

Paint+Glue+Paint= Crackle Finish

Yep, it's true. You can get that coveted look of aged wood and peeling paint without investing in the sometimes expensive specialty products. Plus, you probably already have these 'ingredients', so no special trip to the hardware store needed! Note: You can try this on any surface. 

My first victim: an old wooden oak stool alone in a dark dungeon of a room. Time to bring him into the light.The Before:

and After:

How I did it:

Starting tidbits: Try to turn object so the surface you're painting is flat. Use a thick paint (I used acrylic paint). Watercolors will not work. For most noticeable results, choose two contrasting colors.

(1) Drop generous globs of paint (I used black acrylic paint) onto the surface. Paint to cover surface. Allow to dry.

(2) Use a brush to apply a thick layer of Elmers Glue All on top of the paint.

(3) While glue is still wet, use a brush to quickly cover with a fairly thick layer of your second color of paint (I used a light blue). Be sure NOT to overbrush any areas. Get enough paint on your brush, so you don't need to cover it twice. If you paint over any areas more than once, the crackle process won't work. (I made this mistake in some areas.)

(4) Allow to dry thoroughly, then apply Mod Podge Hard Coat Finish for Furniture with a sponge brush  to seal.

The Review: Very fun but definitely takes some time and can be challenging with a little one around. :) (Be sure to wear old clothes. I need to squeeze in any free time I have to do any kind of project, and I don't want to be in my scrubs all day. So, I added some unwanted black to my favorite jeans.) This will take some practice though. I overbrushed on a couple of areas, so they didn't crackle. I also didn't apply a thick enough layer of glue on this. Will be sure to do so next time. I'm going to try using a hair dryer to speed up drying time and deepen the crack finish.

Click on this link to the Elmers Glue website for instructions for this technique.

I hope this inspires you to find an old piece of furniture, plant pot, canvas, picture frame (of any surface-plastic, wood, etc.), ceramic, etc... and give it a shot! Would love to see your finished projects. Please email pictures!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

It's Definitely Unique

So, this may not be anything fancy but I think it's extra special because my daughter made it for her friend's gift.

I ran across a tutorial for recycled cardboard box made into gift bag project this morning. Thought it would be a great way to keep my daughter busy while I had fun cleaning house....
Here's how we did it.

what we needed:
recycled cardboard cereal box, granola bar box, etc... (we used large oatmeal box from Sam's Club, probably thicker than needed to be but needed something that would fit the gift)
tempera paint, craft acrylic (any craft paint except watercolors would work)
hot glue gun
ribbon (fabric, twine would also work)
paint brushes/ stamps

(1) carefully open boxes at seams, then lay flat

(2) paint inside of box, allow to dry

(3) glue box back together, painted side on outside
(4) punch holes or use exacto knife to cut set of holes on two sides for handles
(5) string ribbon through holes and tie to secure as handles

There you have it....May not be anything fancy, but it's definitely unique! :)

You'll find a tutorial for cereal boxes turned into gift bags here.

"What's in a Name"....

Letters, of course. I know, I shouldn't joke about the work of Shakespeare. I apologize.

Anyway, an overview on a recent project- I wanted to use wooden monograms to spell my daughter's name. I found some at Michaels, but they only had white. To add a bit of character and to complement the new wall color, I used some of my favorite scrapbook paper to cover them.

I just traced each letter onto the paper. (I traced on the back side of the paper, so I had to turn the letter backwards.) Then, I cut it out and applied it to the wooden letter with good ol' mod podge. I brushed over the paper with two coats of mod podge to seal it.

I found a project similar to this at foodwineandmodpodge blogpaper mache letters

The Review: Something anyone could do. Fabric, paint, wallpaper would work great too!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Brighter Shade of a Rainy Day

Because South Dakota spring has kicked off with cold temps, rain, snow, hail, thunderstorms-(all in one day!), we are cooped up in our house wrapped in chunky sweaters and fuzzy socks. I needed to do a project to keep my mind occupied while the little one took a nap. I browsed the house and thought of a gazillion projects I wanted to do, but decided to tackle our living room lamp-not literally, of course but you know what I mean...

I have a chestnut brown square floor lamp with a beige paper shade that I bought at Target two years ago. They still have them. I've wanted to add a pattern to the shade and found an ivory fabric with green vine pattern in my collection of fabrics.


First, I  removed the paper shade, then opened it up flat. (It folds into a square and closes with velcro). 
Next, I used Mod Podge to apply the fabric to all sides and closed the shade with the velcro. Next, I trimmed the excess fabric to fit the shade and used the Mod Podge to secure the fabric inside the top and bottom parts of the lamp shade. I had to go back and trim the inside fabric a bit more so that it did not fall outside the top and bottom trims of the shade.  


The Review: I'm very happy with how this turned out. I'm sure I'll try this again with another lamp.