Archive for the 'handmade' Category

DIY Cat Shirt

When Leah Reena Goren’s beautiful Feline Karma Dress first appeared at Anthropologie a couple months ago it immediately catapulted to internet popularity. Along with pictures of the dress have been rumblings about making DIY versions, and I decided to try my hand. I’m still hoping to snag the dress (please go on sale!) but am happy with the shirt it inspired me to make!

If you can, support Leah’s designs via the Anthropologie link above or her Etsy, which includes many beautiful items!

This shirt was incredibly easy to make! You will need: A shirt or other clothing of your choice, fabric paint, a craft or kitchen sponge, scissors, a paintbrush, and a pen or marker.

First, draw a cat outline. When I drew my template, Joseph said it didn’t look enough like a cat. He drew the “better” silhouette to the left… There’s a reason I do the crafts around here.

Make sure the fits the sponge (I used a regular [new and unused!] kitchen sponge because my Hobby Lobby had no craft sponges). Outline the shape onto the sponge and cut.

I was a bit worried about how to place the cats, so I used clear tape as a kind of marker. I ended up nearly ignoring the pieces, but it was a good way to get started. Remember to remove the tape before stamping! Be sure to place pieces of paper or some other blocker under the layer you are working on to prevent bleeding onto the other side.

Next, place a generous amount of paint onto the sponge and transfer onto the fabric. With a small paintbrush, fill in larger holes or outline as necessary to make the shape more clear. Repeat, let dry, and do the same on the reverse side.
I really should not have done this on the carpet but thankfully walked away without any damage. Make sure you put down paper or do this on a different surface. Usually whenever paint is involved, I work in the garage or outside on concrete–disastrous spills are way too easy to come by.

This is what I like most of mine to look like.

Seriously, how easy was that?

My First Sewing Projects

I’ve been wanting to learn to sew for years, and my lovely husband surprised me with a sewing machine for Christmas! I have been having an absolute blast using it! So far I’ve made a few too many pillows, a tote bag, two aprons, and a knitting needle case.

I’d ultimately like to make clothes, or at least learn to alter my own clothes. I have a major fitting problem–for every ten items I take into a fitting room, nine go straight back to the shelves because of fitting issues. Until I can make my own clothing, I made something similar to clothes–an apron! Aprons are one of the reasons I wanted to learn to sew because I really love them. I find half-aprons more comfortable, so that’s what I’ve been making.

My friend Aly helped pick out the material, and I’m so happy with the way they ended up looking together!

I added rickrack to cover my messy seams and make it look a bit more vintage.

It is so satisfying to end up with a product that looks EXACTLY like what you wanted!

I whipped this up yesterday! The green fabric is the left-over from the band of the first apron (amazing how different it looks as the dominant fabric, right?).

Even though I typically only like to buy craft supplies on sale (Hobby Lobby and Joann’s have a lot of sales), I couldn’t resist the cute birdcage fabric.

I finally have a knitting needle case!  I used this wonderful tutorial.

Detail. Nearly-straight stitches! That was the hardest thing for me to get used to.

The case rolls up and ties with ribbon.

My friend Aly helped me pick out this fabric as well, and I couldn’t be happier. It matches my bedspread perfectly!

That little blue pillow in the back was the first thing I sewed! It doesn’t match our living room, but Joseph put it on the couch anyway.

Fast Handmade Gifts

Need a last-minute homemade gift?

I’m sure many have their shopping finished, but some of us aren’t that perfect, okay? I’m always amazed at my sister-in-law Melissa, who smartly begins shopping months early. The rest of us are just avoiding the mall this week.

So here are things that you can make in just a few hours.

A cloud. You didn’t know you could make a cloud, did you? Well you can. I made this one for my niece’s birthday in August. I rolled up pieces of paper and loosely stitched them together to make the shape and then covered them with quilt batting. It is hung with fishing wire and “raindrops” dangle from the bottom.

Decoupaged frames. I made these using a torn-up map, a cheap wooden frame, and Mod Podge (for the glue as well as the sealant).

This one I made using pages of a spare copy of Pride and Prejudice.

In this one I used the same sacrificed book, but I soaked the pages in coffee and burnt some of the edges to make it look antiqued.

If you know how to crochet, there are lots of things you can do. I personally prefer knitting but find many crochet products faster and easier.

This potholder was the very first thing I ever crocheted. I watched a few YouTube videos and started on this right away. So even if you don’t know how to crochet, there’s time for you to learn. This one is just a granny square with chain-stitched border and a solid back.

I also made all of these headbands the day I learned to crochet!
Ravelry link
The pattern–free

This potholder/trivet/hot pad is so beautiful and took only a few hours for me to make. The red color reminds me of a poinsettia–perfect for the holiday.
I would love to make another one with inverted colors–the set would make a wonderful gift for anyone who loves cooking! I could imagine my mom and grandmother having a few of these in their kitchens.

I had so much fun making the first trivet (the pattern is really cool!) that i immediately had to try it in a different color.  And I use these both all the time.
Ravelry link
The pattern-free

This owl hat also took only a day to make. Though that’s pushing it–you might want to schedule this one so you’ll have two days to work on it. But it’s worth it–who wouldn’t love an owl hat??

This is what the hat looks like with a normal outfit (sorry about the top being cut off!). Yes, I got some stares that day. Except at Hobby Lobby, where everyone understood.
Ravelry link
The pattern–$4.99
Or you can buy the pattern at the Ravelry link above (then you can download it instantly rather than wait for the Etsy seller to email it to you)

A painting. Trust me–a simple, beautiful painting does not require an extraordinary amount of artistry. I like to say I am one of the least artistic people alive but somehow managed to make four paintings this year I’m very proud of.  They’re not going to be in a museum, but they’re good enough to be hung on my walls. A simple painting on a white canvas can be really beautiful, or you can try for something a bit more abstract.

This is the very first thing I painted. I was ecstatic with the way it came out and proud of myself for trying something completely new.

The wonderful thing about crafting is the allowance for mistakes. You don’t need to be scared of making an imperfect product–just roll up your sleeves and try. Everything I’ve made has mistakes, and that’s what gives it character. I love receiving handmade gifts–knowing that someone took the time and thought to physically work on create something for me is unparalleled.

Here’s something that takes less handiwork–homemade spice blends. I sent these to my dad for Christmas last year (in extra large bottles because he cooks so much), and he is still using them. I found the recipes on various websites, mainly
I haven’t tried all the spices, but here is one I would absolutely recommend: Taco Seasoning. Even if you don’t plan on giving these gifts, you need to throw out your store-bought taco seasoning and switch over to this ASAP.

If you enjoy cooking, you might try giving your hard-to-shop-for uncle an assortment of holiday food. You can buy all kinds of cute packaging–I know Hobby Lobby has little boxes made just for that purpose. I would recommend Puppy Chow, Peppermint Bark, and Oreo Truffles

Embroidered Travel Pillow

Since we’re moving back home to Texas in just a few weeks, I felt I needed to make something to commemorate our time here. So while Joseph was out of town for a few weeks, I worked on this nonstop.

The top and bottom are lined with all the countries we’ve visited in the three years here: Austria, Germany, Italy, Egypt, Switzerland, France, Hungary, Croatia, and Slovenia.
In the center are some sites we’ve seen, circling around the Eiffel tower. Clockwise from the top: the Dolomites (where we live), a castle, the Great Pyramids of Giza (with a tiny camel!), Venice, Milan Duomo, and the Colosseum. I drew them all myself except for the Eiffel Tower.

I liked the front… kind of. I was disappointed that it didn’t really hold up to the amount of work I put into it. I would have loved to make the entire pillow myself and have a patterned back, but I don’t sew just yet. So I decided to double the amount of time I spent on the pillow and filled up the back with stitches.

The back. I’m still not decided on whether it’s finished now. I might add something to the inside eventually but can’t decide what.

One of the corners when I was only three rows in.

Even though it’s not exactly what I wanted, I’m really pleased. It’s so satisfying to complete a project that took an incredible amount of work and planning. And now I have something to display in my home that will represent the fabulous first three years of our marriage!

Crocheted Bow Headbands

I’ve been knitting for a while now–my mom taught me the basics when I was 14, and everything else I picked up through books and online (things really took off when we got high-speed internet and I could watch tutorial videos!). I decided it’s finally time for me to learn to crochet, and YouTube videos helped tremendously. I watched a couple explaining the chain stitch, and that’s simple enough. I had a hard time figuring out what to do from that point and how to go onto the next row–this is the only vide I found that explained it. After that I was ready to go–crocheting is very easy!

Crocheting is very tactile, which took me a while to get used to.  It allows a lot of creativity and is not very structured.  I think I prefer knitting still; it’s strange having to search to pick up the next stitch rather than have it on the needle. I can knit anything without looking at all, but crocheting doesn’t allow for you to enjoy a movie while working.

The very first day learned to crochet, I knit myself this bow headbands (that’s how easy crocheting is compared to knitting!). I’m still torn on whether it’s too childish or if Lady Gaga made bows okay, but I love wearing it. Headbands don’t normally work on me, but this one does. It’s also very comfortable and stays firmly in place.

The dress is from American Eagle. It’s so light, and I love the design! I only wish it weren’t so prone to wrinkles.  I fixed that particular headband so that the bow hangs crooked; the other ones I made are straight in light with the bands.

After a few friend told me they wanted to buy one, I spent a day making a few of different colors. I put five on my Etsy, but four were gone within two hours.

Sadly, I’m nearly out of yarn, but I placed an order for more yesterday so should have some fun headbands available soon. If you want to bookmark my shop for later, I’m selling them for just $5 each!

Embroidered French Knot Monograms

I embroidered these monograms for Joseph and myself a few weeks ago. I’m dreaming of setting them up in a round or oval frame but can’t find any at a reasonable price! If anyone has any ideas, please let me know. I’ve read some very technical terms describing why round frames are much more difficult to make than rectangular, but I still want some!

They are made of hundreds of french knots that look like tiny roses.

The three I’ve made so far–the “c” is for an art swap I’m doing with my friend Carly. Hers is mounted on a 5×7″ white canvas

And good news for you–I’m now selling these on Etsy! If you need a handmade (keep in mind these take anywhere from four to eight hours to make!) gift or something to spice up your beside table, these are a great option. They are available in any color and letter–the sky’s the limit, really!

I’m sorry, that was some really pathetic self-promotion. But I’m very excited as I only made my shop today! I can’t wait to get many more items listed :)

More Paintings

I don’t know what’s come over me the last few months! I’ve never considered myself remotely creative or artistic but have suddenly been flooded with ideas for paintings (I’m also dreaming of carving, working with mosaic tiles, sewing, and more but those are a bit too ambitious now). No complaints here since it’s fun, and I can now produce decorations for my house exactly as I want them to be. All our walls were so bare before!

I made this for Joseph last week. I painted it one night and then hated it the next morning and completely redid it–that’s one nice thing about acrylics! He was surprised to come home and find this on the shelf by his computer.

I love texture!

I made this set for Joseph’s computer area as well:

Just kidding, these are now hung above my computer.


I feel like I need to round this off with this terrifying photo of my cat yawning

Decorating Frames

I had a bad morning and needed to make myself busy with something, so I went to the BX and bought a cinnamon roll, some cheap little frames, and a world map. The cinnamon roll was unrelated to this project but significantly improved my mood.

I just tore strips of the map and arranged them on the frame with rubber cement. I’d still like to find something to help seal them but will have to look to see what’s available around here. Edit: I soon got my hands on Mod Podge, and it fit my needs perfectly as both a glue and a sealant!  I’ve been making these for a while now, using a variety of papers and switching between glossy and matte glue.

I tried a few different designs–the one in the front has a lot of water, the middle is mainly land, and the back is a good blend of both.  It was lots of fun!  I don’t know what I’m going to do with four of the same frames but I’m still itching to make more.

Name the book (I make sure the photo had a few recognizable names)! I had to sacrifice one of my (four) copies for this, but it’s worth it. I wanted to use a novel that will make me happy when I read snippets of it on the frame.

I have the perfect photo to put in this frame!

Since I first posted this, I’ve made even more frames. I used the same book, but “antiqued” the torn pages using coffee and a flame. The frames smelled strange for a few days but are fine now!

I also finally got my hands on Mod Podge–a absolutely fantastic glue and sealant. I’m obsessed with it now!

All the frames are available in my Etsy store

Colorblock Painting

Let me preface this by telling you an am not an artist! Nothing revolutionary–I just picked up some paints and had fun.

The idea for this had been floating around in my head for over six months. When my [extremely talented] sister Victoria visited me over the Christmas holidays, I bombarded her with questions. The last time I’d tried to paint anything was likely with my fingers in a classroom.

I bought a set of about 20 paints and went to work! Besides the bright blue, all of the colors are mixed (is that the correct way to phrase this? I told you I know nothing about painting).

Proof that it was actually painted by myself ;) Now I’ve got a few more things to get started on!

How to: Mount an Embroidery

When I first took up embroidery a few months ago, my good friend Genevieve commented that she would love a stitching of a Boston Terrier. Since I can’t draw, I one-upped her and made a portrait of her beautiful Bostons Clementine and Hogwarts.

The embroidery is based on this photo. I’ve never met Genevieve, her boyfriend Michael, or their dogs, but I love them all! I hope I was able to capture them correctly. Af for the areas around their mouths and the gray in the crowns, I colored the areas with crayons, put a piece of white paper over them, and then ironed until the wax melted a bit.

More original drawing. I loved the way Clementine looked but couldn’t figure out what was off with Hogwarts (he looks a bit like a pig int he picture, right?) Somehow, the thread changed Hogwart’s face so that it actually looks like him!

Frames can get a bit old in a house, so I decided to mount this one and thoughts others might benefit from a mounting tutorial as little help came up when I Googled.

Prepare the fabric by ironing out the wrinkles. This is also when I cut the threads short in the back and sometimes tape them so the tied-off ends don’t show through the fabric. Then cut the fabric, making sure to leave at least half an inch around the board on each side.

Center the fabric around the canvas (you can use a variety of things here–cardboard, particle board, foam board–anything sturdy) and fold the edges under. I actually ironed the folds to keep them in place.

Using a thick thread, make a knot and begin stitching! I used a tapestry needle.

Continue reading ‘How to: Mount an Embroidery’


'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

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