Archive for Tutorials

Crafting in a Winter Wonderland

I was so lucky to find an amazingly fun craft group when I moved to Charlotte, Crown Town Handmade. The free monthly craft workshops are always a great way to unwind and chat with other crafters. For our holiday craft workshop last night I taught a class on little felt ornaments. Here’s what I made, a teeny tacky Christmas sweater!

Felt is fun for accomplished crafters and beginners. It’s inexpensive and easy to find at almost every craft or fabric store, as well as easy to work with since it doesn’t fray when cut. I love all the beautiful colors, patterns, and textures available.

Other than felt, all you’ll need for this craft is:

  • Pattern template or thin cardboard to make your own design
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Thread in colors to match your felt
  • Ribbon or cord
  • Pen
  • Scissors
  • A little bit of stuffing
  • Decorations like beads, pom poms, ric rac, sequins, jingle bells, etc
  • Fabric glue (optional)

I made some templates for several different Christmas and wintery things. There’s a reindeer, an elf, a snowman, stocking, two different ornament shapes, and a little sweater.




Print out the templates provided or draw your own on thin cardboard or cardstock. (Cereal boxes work great.) Trace your template pieces onto felt and carefully cut them out. Try to cut inside the traced line so you don’t have pen marks on your finished piece. Sew any overlapping pieces together first, making sure the pieces are lined up the same on the front and back. If you’re not familiar with hand sewing, Alice Merlino at FutureGirl has some great tutorials on how to do a whip stitch and blanket stitch. Read about the selecting which to use here.

Decorate the pieces how you like with trim, sequins, pom poms, or whatever you like. This is a great project to use up little odds and ends left over from other projects. Be careful not to get too close to the edge since you’ll need space to sew.

Once you’re done decorating, put the two pieces together with pretty sides out. Sew around the perimeter as indicated. If you want to stuff the ornament, leave a small gap to insert the stuffing before finishing sewing around. (A chopstick works well for pushing stuffing into little spaces.) Sew a ribbon or cord in place at the top of the ornament for hanging.

These also make cute additions to wrapped presents or can be sized up to make cute little sachets or stocking stuffers. You could also make these into pins, keychains, or attach them to headbands.

Please send me pictures if you make one, I’d love to see it!


Sometimes I Am a Genius

I can’t believe it took me this long to think of this, actually. I’ve mentioned that I frequently have to hem up skirts I get at the thrift store. Because everyone else is too tall and not because I am kind of short. Anyway, I got this adorable skirt over the weekend that was perfect except for being about a foot too long. The solution to what I could do with the extra fabric just popped into my head.
The bottom hem leaves on side already finished. All I have to do is press and sew a small hem on the cut edge.

I am entirely too satisfied with myself.

Crafting Personal Style: Cute Bottoms

I bet that’s going to get me some interesting site traffic.

I have very much become a skirt person. Skirts are easier to fit and alter, giving me more options when thrifting and making them easier to sew for myself. There are lots of options for silhouettes, which means there are lots of options for finding a style that flatters your body. Do you want your skirt full and flowy, slinky, short and flirty? Look for a scalloped hem, tabs at the waist, bows, and buttons or create them yourself when altering.

Thrifted and altered skirt

So are you ready to start making your own skirts? Burda Style offers free patterns to download. Or blow a little dough on Sew What Skirts, which has some really cute ideas and gives you multiple styles to try. I also saw two skirts I want to try in the MS Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts, (as well as a hundred other projects).

I’ve been obsessing over this New Look pattern, which is what I used to make the skirt above (and like 5 others). I’d still like to make a few more, I think some flannel plaids would work for the fall and winter. I want to try using some large men’s shirts from the thrift store to turn into skirts. There’s a good tutorial at Craft Stylish that yields one very cute skirt. There’s also a video on Threadbanger that shows you how to make a skirt from shirt sleeves. (The video is for a lighter weight skirt from dress shirts, but you can definitely winterize by using flannel shirts instead.) Alright, now I need to go to the thrift store…

Speaking of thrifting, I found this freaking adorable owl skirt on a thrifting excursion. I think this would be pretty easy to do with some fusible web and a machine that does a satin stitch. (Tutorial time soon I think.)

Let me see how you rock a skirt!

Fabric Belt

These fabric belts are super fast and easy, and a great way to throw a little pattern into your outfits or draw attention to your waist if that’s your inclination. I started making these as a way to get rid of some of my stash and I got a little addicted. They are also suuuuper cheap to make, which is always awesome. These instructions make a belt about 3″ wide, but you can adjust the fabric width is you want.

Before you start, measure around your waist where you want the belt to sit. Add about 10 inches. Then gather up your supplies. You will need:

– Two strips of fabric measuring 4″ wide by the length you determined. (If your fabric isn’t long enough,  just piece two bits together.)
– Fusible interfacing 3″ wide by the length you determined less 1″. (For example, if the length you determined is 40″, you want to cut your fusible at 39″.)
– A wooden or plastic ring. I used a shower curtain ring that came in a pack of 12 for like $1.50. Purse hardware or decorative belt buckles would also work well.
– Big huge snaps
– Matching thread
– Monster needle
– Marker
– Iron

Fold your fabric in half widthwise and trim a sort of leafy shaped point. The shape is totally up to you, this will be the little fold over bits on the ends. Use the first one as a template for the ends of both fabric strips and the fusible interfacing.

Center the interfacing onto the back side of one of the fabric strips and iron in place. Pin the fabric strips right sides together and sew together with a 1/2″ seam, leaving a 2″ gap for turning. (Sew right along the edge of the interfacing so it is not caught in your seam.)
Before turning, trim down the seam allowance on both tips. This will keep there from being too much bulky fabric. Turn right side out through the gap. Use a chopstick to push the seams out from the inside and press the edges with a hot iron. (It helps to kind of roll the edges in between your fingers before pressing.)
Once the belt is all pressed and pretty, wrap it around your waist and feed the ends through your ring, folding the belt back on itself. (Look at the picture at the top for reference.) Play with it until your sides are even, mark where each tip ends with a pin and remove from the ring. Fold one side over the ring, matching the end to where you marked with the pin.
Make several small stitches on each side, trapping the ring. (Since you are going through four layers of fabric and 2 of interfacing, this is where a monster needle comes in handy. I use an upholstry needle.)
Fold the other side of your belt over the ring, making sure your flaps are on the same side. Mark where the fabric folds over the ring and measure about 1″ away. Stitch the male part of the snap in place (the one with the sticking out part in the middle), centering on the fabric.
Color the sticky out part of the snap with a marker. (See how mine is blue?) While the ink is still wet, fold over and mark where the other side of the snap should go. Stich the other side of the snap in place. To take the belt on and off, just wrap pull through the ring and and snap.
I want to try one with some trim around the edges; I think ric-rac would be really cute. You can also sew a cute button and buttonhole instead of snaps.

Another Tutorial

Wow, I am terrible at updating. (I think I smell a resolution.) To make up for it, here’s a tutorial!


You will need:
-Wooden doll head (the kind with the flattened bottom). I used one with a diameter of about 2.5 inches, but you can scale up or down as you like.
-Felt of fleece for the body plus scraps for clothes, tummies, etc
-Acrylic paint
-Fine tip permaneant marker
-Fabric marking tool
-Matching thread
-Sharp scissors
-Hot glue gun
-Ribbon or small scale trim
-2 pipe cleaners
-Other bits for decoration (beads, ribbon roses, etc)

1. Lightly sand the wooden dolls head and wipe clean with a slightly damp cloth. Paint. If your piece has a hole in the bottom, stick a chopstick in there so you don’t get paint on your fingers. Set aside to dry.
2. Print out the pattern on cardstock and cut out. (Scale as you need to using the 1 inch mark at the bottom.) Layer two pieces of felt or fleece and trace the pattern. Pin and sew directly on the line.
3. Trim away the extra fabric, leaving a small seam allowance. You can either turn the body right side out or leave the seam allowance on the outside. (If you leave it on the outside make sure to trace with something that will either disappear or that can be removed, like an air soluable makrer.)
4. If you want you can use pipecleaners to make the toy posable. Use one for both legs and one for both arms, bending as needed and folding each end over several times to make a bit of a lump for each hand and foot. Put the pipecleaner in the legs and stuff firmly, moving on to the body. I found that using a pencil or paintbrush handle helps. Put the pipecleaner in the arms and stuff these firmly as well, continuing up to the neck. With a needle and thread, sew a running stitch around the neck opening. Pull tight and secure.
5. Make sure the head is dry before attaching. Put a good amount of hot glue on the flat part and squish it straight down onto the neck. Hold in place for a minute or two to let the glue set a bit.
6. Use markers and more paint to add facial features. You can also glue on bits of felt or yarn to make ears, hair, etc.
7. Glue some trim around the neck to hide the seam. Add clothing, embroidery, or other trims.

Other Stuff:
Skeleton Gent’s hat is made from a long strip of felt rolled tightly and secured and then glued on to a felt circle and trimmed. You can make a little bowler hat in a similiar way by cutting a circle and gathering it (like a fabric yo yo). Stuff it before pulling tight and securing it and glue to a felt circle for a brim.

Styrofoam Skulls

I made these little guys today. They’ll be going on a Halloween wreath I think.

You’ll need:
– Styrofoam balls (I used 3″, but you can use whatever size you like)
– Butter knife
– Pencil
– White and black paint
– Red sequins and pins
– Paintbrush
– Sandpaper

Start by cutting a small slice off the bottom of the ball with your butter knife.

Cut another slice parallel to your first, at about a 45 degree angle to the last, making the front and sides rounded and the back squared off. This makes your jaw line.

Set the ball so it’s resting flat on the surface made by the second cut. Make a slice on each side, perpendicular to the first two slices. This makes the sides of your head.

Flip your little skull over and use the handle of the butter knife to make a jaw. Press in with the handle. Come close to were the chin is and along the sides you made with your last slices.

Use your pencil to make the facial features. Press the eraser end of the pencil in to the styrofoam where you want the eyes and move it in small circles to make the eye sockets. Use the pointed end of the pencil to make nostrils and the press in the teeth. Press the eraser straight in on either end of the mouth.

Sand along the edges of your cuts to smooth them down and make them look more natural. I painted my skulls to make them less shiny and see-through. If you’re really impatient you can blast it with a hair dryer to dry it. Use black paint to highlight the eyes, nostrils, and mouth. I also put a red sequin into each eye socket to make it look more eerie, just stick a pin through the center of each sequin and press it in with the pencil eraser. Now you can use it however you like.