Make Your Own Plate Hanger

plate hanger4

When my husband and I were living in Idaho, we lived in an apartment that had space above the cabinets. Of course I had to use this space for decoration. Decorative plates seemed to be pretty popular in kitchens, so I painted some of our old plastic plates and displayed them above our cabinets.

plate hanger

Once we moved into our current home, the cabinets did not have room for any type of decor {or storage for that matter}. You can imagine my disappointment. Where was I suppose to put my cute decorative plates?! And then it hit me… The wall!! Of course. So many other people put their plates on the wall in the kitchen. But how? Unlike picture frames or other wall decor that already have wall hanging hardware attached on the back, how on earth was I suppose to hang a plate?!

plate hanger1

Here is an easy and simple solution to such a dilemma.

Paper clips and hot glue.

YES! It is literally that easy. Just take a paper clip and hot glue it to where you want it on the back of your plate. Let it dry and hang it on the wall!

plate hanger2

Now I have a place to display my fun and colorful plates!

plate hanger3

Heather signature

Quick and Easy Patch Fix

DSC_5814

I have one son who wears out the knees on every. pair. of. pants.  I think that is pretty normal for little boys who like to play hard, but I know I’m not the only mom to get frustrated when her sweet boy busts a hole in another brand new pair of pants. :)  And since not every pair of holey pants can become cutoff shorts,  we have started to just patch the holes.  Luckily, there are plenty of versions of patched- knee pants that are in style right now, so it doesn’t look too backwoods.

20150803_141818

My son brought his favorite sweatpants to me yesterday and asked me to fix them so sweetly, that I couldn’t resist adding a couple patches during quiet time.

August1

I drew out the shape I wanted for the patches, then I cut out two ovals (since I was patching with knit fabric and I want to avoid the whole patching the patch scenario. Hopefully another layer will add even longer life to the pants.). I made one of the ovals a little larger just to give some color contrast.

Collages3

I pinned the patches directly on the knees, making sure to only pin through the front of the pant leg. It was a bit tricky to sew around the whole patch, but I sewed one pass around each patch. I think it could also be cute… er, cool- looking to sew some horizontal lines across the patch or do some thread sketching. There you have it- a quick and easy patch fix. :)

DSC_5813

Hooray for favorite sweats being fixed!

 

30 Minute Wetbag Tutorial

I’m kind of embarrassed that this project has been complete, with pictures and everything for almost a year… I don’t know what I was waiting for!  This is a pretty simple, small wetbag that works great for mamacloth, nail polish, toiletries or cosmetics.  You could of course do this on a larger scale for cloth diapers etc. although I have not done that. (If anyone has done it, maybe you can share the dimensions in the comments section.)  In mine, I use fused plastic bags as a liner (do a google search to find tons of tutorials on how to do this safely) but you can also use clear plastic, oilcloth, vinyl, or skip the lining altogether.  These make nice gifts, and they are sturdy and functional!  You can bust one of these out in about 30 minutes or so.

Materials needed:
Lining
Fabric
Zipper
Sewing Machine and Notions

First cut your fabric and lining into equal sized rectangles (choose your dimensions to fit whatever purpose you have in mind- this one is about 9″x13″).  Then lay your fabric on top of your lining, right sides together.

Pin the top and bottom in place.

Sew or serge the top and bottom, leaving the side edges raw.

Turn it right side out so the seams are hidden.

Pin the zipper to the edge of the  fabric right on the seam as shown in the picture- no turning or folding necessary, since the raw edges are hidden inside.  Sew along the edge with a 1/4″ seam allowance.  This is basically just a topstitch.

It will look like so!

Now fold up the other side and pin it to the other side of the zipper just like you did in the last step.  It might be a little easier to do this with the zipper unzipped.

Now go ahead and sew the remaining edge to the other side of the zipper.  You’ll probably need to fiddle with the zipper pull a bit- just move it when the sewing machine foot gets near it by zipping it past the foot while the needle is down.  That will keep the fabric from moving and messing up your stitching.  Then continue on to the end.  You now have a tube shape.

If you want a loop handle on the side of the wetbag, cut a piece of fabric into a rectangle about 8″x3″, and make a casing by folding it over on itself with right sides together, turn it right side out and topstitch both sides as in the picture above.  Set this aside for a minute.

Ok- back to the bag… now turn the bag-tube inside out, and pin the raw side edges together.

Take the handle you just made and place it between the two edges, right under the zipper.  So the loop will be poking back inside the bag.  Let the raw edges poke out a little so you can be sure to catch both sides when you sew it up.  The zipper should be completely unzipped.

Sew or serge up both sides.

The next part is optional, but I like it because it allows the bag to stand up on its own, and gives it a nice shape.  Starting at the top left picture above, going left to right, you’re going to pinch the corner, top to bottom, measure in from the corner about 1 inch, and mark a line perpendicular to the seam, about 2 inches long.  Sew along this line.  Repeat for the other side.

Turn your new wetback right side out!

Enjoy it from a few different angles, then go fill it up with… stuff!

Ring Box Photo Frames

I am going to be occasionally re-posting a few of my older posts (2+ years back) that most of you haven’t seen, starting with this fun recycling project!  I hope you enjoy it!

I have a couple of  shoe boxes full of those little boxes that rings, watches, and assorted jewelery come in- both the fancier hinged kind, and the cardboard ones.  Being the recovering pack rat that I am, I still have to look the other way when I am decluttering in my craft room, because they are just so dang cute that I cannot get rid of them!  And anyway, I might be able to turn them into something fantastic, right?

Well, after 12+ years of collecting these little boxes that I might use “someday”, I am finally figuring out how to give them new life!  I hope to share many different ideas; here is my first.

I kept the boxes my engagement ring and wedding band came in, thinking they were just too pretty to throw away.  I wanted to do something sentimental with them, and display them somehow without looking junky.  They reminded me a little of photo frames, and that seemed like a feasible option.

 

I had to rip out the padding so that photos could lay flat over each square opening.  I thought about also ripping out the other piece that covers the hinge, but decided to leave it in.
 
I used E6000 glue to stick the two boxes together, and the drying time was pretty short.  I recommend using some sort of clamp to hold the boxes exactly where you want them.

 

I measured the squares and chose 4 portrait- oriented photos and re-sized them to fit the openings, which for this project was 1.5 x 1.75 inches.  For sentimentality, I had to choose one photo from the day we were engaged, where my husband was actually holding the ring box- it seemed only fitting.  The rest are from right after we were married, and from our reception.

 

I glued each photo over the square opening, and let it dry.  I kind of wish now that I hadn’t left the white strip that covers the hinges, but not enough to rip the whole thing apart and start over.

 

For now, my little frame will live on top of my computer desk.

 

This idea works well if you have 2 identical ring boxes, but you could still use just one with cute results!  I am going to tweak the idea a little more with some of my other gazillion boxes and see what I can come up with.  I would love to see pictures if anyone else tries this (or some other way of recycling a ring box)!

Faux- Metal (TP Tube) Wall Art

Were you all as inspired as I was by this faux- metal wall art on Suzy’s Artsy Craftsy Sitcom?  If you haven’t been over there, you should really check it out- there are tons of great projects. Anyway, I saw her project and thought that I could totally do something like that, and besides, I have a bag of toilet paper and paper towel tubes I have been saving, much to my husband’s chagrin, for some time. So I picked up some bass wood from my local craft store, and a can of bronze hammered metal spray paint (I already had black and clear), and got to work. I don’t really need to give you the step by step- Suzy has already done that, but I might add a few notes…
– A smooth round pencil does a great job of “curling” the cardboard strips.
-Use hot glue- it dries way quicker than wood glue, although you will have to then pull away all the little strings.
-Spray paint first with black and be careful not to saturate it- it will fall apart. :( Paint light coats, let dry for 5 min in between.  After the black, find a metallic type paint and spray just enough to give it the look you want.
-When you spray paint, if you use some sort of protective material behind your art (because, you know, a big black spot on the lawn is not going to please certain other people you live with), use paper (like a big paper shopping bag) or fabric.  Do not use plastic, because it will stick, and you will be sad when it falls apart when you are peeling it off, and you have to re-glue it.  Not that I would know that from experience…  Anyway, I also sprayed mine with a clear coat to protect it and keep any paint from rubbing off onto the wall.  Since the finished art is so lightweight, I just hot glued black ribbon loops to the top and hung it with a push pin.

This faux metal art went very nicely with some frames in my living room (you can kind of see the reflection of those in the picture frame in the center) but this wall was pretty plain, and these really helped tie things together.

 

I kept the ends of the wood that I trimmed when I was making my large faux metal art, and made two small pieces for my bedroom.

Below are the small pieces, on either side of my fabric-covered-foam picture wall art. (If you are new and didn’t see my tutorial in February on how to make these, click the link above for the tutorial).

A few people have commented on my “new wrought iron wall art” and have been surprised to discover that not only is it not metal, but it is made from toilet paper tubes.  Haha.  I should probably stop telling people my secret…

By the way, I posted a tutorial on how to make these natural home decor balls (above) earlier in the spring, but now is the time, if you have access to these materials, to harvest and start making them- check out the tutorial!

Easiest Shower Cap (and so cute!)

DSC_8066

When I was a teenager, I believed you had to shower every day. Well, since I put it that way- I still do, but after my first son was born, I found it was too much work to wash and blow dry my hair every day, and in our arid climate, my hair was getting dry and brittle. In order to save myself time and energy, and to help my hair get healthier, I decided to stop washing my hair as frequently. Of course, trying to just shower without getting my hair wet at all was impossible. My hair would become limp and frizzy and I would have to style my hair all over again. Shower caps were the natural solution, and for a while I used the disposable shower caps you sometimes get in your hotel room.  But those can easily get holes, or the elastic stretched out, and let’s face it- they’re just not cute.  Naturally, I decided to make my own.  I wanted a simple solution- I didn’t want to layer fabrics, or plastics, or have to spray scotch guard.  I didn’t want to hem.  Or iron.  So I trimmed down a vinyl table cloth that was too long for my square kitchen table.  And I cut the extra length into a circle, and I sewed elastic around the perimeter.  Done.  It worked wonderfully, and I even gave some out as gifts a few Christmases ago.  Now, I am ready to make more- I really need one in each bathroom, and I would like to be able to give more as part of a spa- themed gift.  I promise this is easy…. here are the particulars, tutorial style:

 

Gather:

Flannel-backed vinyl tablecloth, scissors, pen, newspaper, pins, 1/4″ or 3/8″ elastic, ruler and/or tape measure, sewing machine.

1. Make your template.
Easy Way: pick a diameter for your shower cap circle (measurements below based on “average” head sizes, perhaps 21 or 22 inches):
18″ diameter (9″ radius) is snug, good for short hair.
19″ diameter (9.5″ radius) is roomy, good for medium- long hair that needs to be clipped up.
20″ diameter (10″ radius) is quite spacious, perhaps for large hairstyles.
22+” diameter is for your bouffant hairdo needs. 😀
FYI, my head measures 22 inches and an 18.5″ cap diameter is perfect for my head.

Hard(er) Way: Measure your head circumference around the largest part.  Let’s call the number you get “A”. Now divide A by PI, or 3.14, then multiply it by 2.65.  That gives us the diameter, or “D”. Divide D by 2 and there you have your radius (“R”).
A/ 3.14* 2.65=D    D/ 2= R
R is the number you need to make your template.

Now that you know the radius of your shower cap circle, let’s go ahead and make the template.  Take a piece of newspaper (or wrapping paper, or whatever you have on hand that’s big enough), fold it in quarters, then in eighths, then sixteenths.  Then take your ruler, and measure and mark your radius measuring from the pointy end.  So, if your radius is 10 inches, then measure 10 inches from the point and mark it at intervals of about an inch.  Then connect your marks and cut on the line.  It really doesn’t need to be perfect.  When you open it up, it will look like a circle even if it is a tiny bit wonky.

2. Cut out your shower cap circle.
Pull out the (preferably cute) tablecloth you’re going to use.  Buy it on clearance, or use one you already have (that could stand to be shortened a bit).

Lay out your shower cap template on the vinyl.  Pin it, and cut the whole circle out.

Now remove the pins and newspaper and admire the circle that will soon be a lovely shower cap.

3. Pin the elastic to the circle.
To make this step easier, you may want to mark eighths around the circle with pen or using pins, as I did below.

Take your elastic and cut a length that is about 3-4 inches less than your head measurement (so, with my head being 22 inches, I cut an elastic that was about 18 inches long).  Sew the two ends together with a zig zag stitch.

If you want, you can make marks on the elastic to correspond with the marks on the circle.  Then pin the elastic in intervals around the circle.

4. Sew the elastic to your circle.
Set your machine to a wide zig zag (just about as wide as the elastic) and start sewing the elastic to the fuzzy (wrong) side of vinyl circle.  I didn’t get a good picture of this step, but just know that you are really going to have to stretch the elastic, and you’ll probably need to pinch the vinyl to make little pleats every inch or two.  This is the most tedious part of the process, but it actually goes pretty quick.  Finish it up with a back stitch, and you will be set to go.

The cap will look great in your shower, and even better on you!  It might even inspire your inner diva, who knows?!

Kid’s get well kit

My friend’s almost-four year old broke her toe the other day and now my friend has the task of keeping her off her feet for the next few days while the swelling goes down.  As you may know, that is the last thing a four year old girl wants!  So we thought we would take over a little get well package with some activities that can be done while sitting.  And of course, it had to be girly and cute, so this is what we came up with:

Cute, right?  Haha.  Ok, I’m only kind of kidding.  We started with this pop-top can, (we had a case of crushed pineapple that had this type of lid and the non-round kind of bottom) which I had opened from the bottom with the kind of can opener that un-crimps the lid and doesn’t leave sharp edges, leaving the pop-top intact.

First step: add snacks.  Goldfish are pretty much the classic snack, right?

Cheerios do a double duty: They are of course also snacks, but perhaps too babyish for a four year old… unless you are making a cheerio necklace on a beautiful ribbon!

Don’t forget to knot one end of the ribbon and put some tape around the other end for easy stringing. You could use a thin shoelace instead too, or a piece of string or twine.

Some little toys and treats are necessary…

We had the spinning tops and stretchy spiders left over from Easter, and I know from experience that those can entertain a young child for a long time!

Clearly a girl needs her chocolate, especially when she can’t be jumping on the tramp with her dolls and trucks.

 

It all goes in the can.

I didn’t go out and buy anything, I just opened the cupboards and found snacks we already had.  My kids love these little rice crackers, so we occasionally splurge on them to keep in the diaper bag etc.

It was the perfect size to fit in the top (bottom) of the can.

I hot glued the lid shut (you can use epoxy glue I’ve heard, but then you’ll have the smell when you open the can… icky.)

I cut a rectangle out of scrapbook paper to fit around the can, and a piece shaped like this to go on the top.

Embellishments are necessary, of course.  You can make this as simple or as fancy as you can imagine!

And there’s a fun get well package… in a “gift can”!  I love this type of upcycling project!  Have your kids help you fill the can if they’re old enough.  You can obviously use this type of packaging for all sorts of occasions… it’s a great size for cookies, candy, popcorn, small toys, notes, etc.  Just remember that whatever you put in first is going to be at the top when it is opened, so plan accordingly if order matters.

Reusable sanitary pads= education opportunities

For the month of May, we are inviting you to make the world sweeter with us, once again!

We thought that this month we would focus on making the world a little sweeter by doing something about the needs of the developing world.

In about 2 weeks, I (Marissa) will be going to Uganda to do some humanitarian work with an organization called HELP International. While there, I am planning on teaching people about health, and specifically, teaching women about menstruation and how to make their own reusable sanitary pads.

Living in a developed country, I don’t think that we typically think about the idea of not having feminine hygiene supplies at our disposal. It is something that I know I have always taken for granted in the U.S. It wasn’t until I learned about an organization called Grow. Learn. Give., that it struck me that not all women in the world have access to feminine hygiene supplies. Whether there are no nearby stores that would have the supplies, or because there just isn’t the money to buy them, many women and girls in under-developed countries never have the opportunity to use proper feminine hygiene supplies. Sadly, what is used instead is things like old rags, and in some cases, even bark or mud.

Now, this may seem like a trivial issue. What’s the big deal? Well, it is a much bigger deal than simply being clean. Often times, girls will stay home from school each month during their period, to avoid the embarrassment and discomfort associated with having a period without the proper supplies to care for it. The result can be very heart-breaking – dropping out of school, losing a job, etc.

The following is a video that talks about this problem. (We are not affiliated with this group in any way, but the first part of the video explains the problem very well.)

Ok, Rochelle speaking here: Every child- girls included- should have the opportunity to get an education. Society in general should have a deep interest in seeing girls obtain an education, because when girls and women are left ignorant, we see families as a whole that have poorer health and education. So, how can we address this problem?

One thing you can do to help is sew reusable cloth pads and donate them. There are non-profit organizations that provide education and sanitary supplies to girls so they can attend school and work.

There are so many free patterns for pads available on the internet, with different designs and pros/cons (Check out Jan Andrea’s pattern, and Make Your Own Pads). Our favorite is the type with the base pad with removable top liner. There are many reasons for this. First, when laundering the pads, this type is less bulky so it washes and dries quickly. This is especially important when handwashing and hanging to dry. The second reason is that having a removable liner means that you don’t have to deal with changing bulky pads every time- just the top piece. So, for most women, just one pad and three liners (or less) are necessary each day of their period. Third, unlike envelope-design pads with removable liners that go underneath the top layer, you can change the liner and be totally dry- no soiled layer still on top after changing the liner. Fourth- versatility! This design means you can mix and match based on you needs for the day- heavy or light protection.

So where can you find this type of pattern? You may want to start with this very simple pattern on the Grow. Learn.Give. website, or this one from Empower Women in Africa (scroll down).

Marissa and I sat down a couple days ago and made several pads from fabric we already had- old towels, scrap batting, a couple of t-shirts, and an old diaper changing pad for the waterproof layer. Marissa even sewed one by hand just to make sure it could be done, since she is not sure what kinds of resources will be available to the women she’ll be teaching in Uganda.

Now, I admit that I heard about reusable pads a couple years ago and I couldn’t get past the first “Ewwww”, but after taking the time to learn about all the benefits and possibilities of cloth pads, I have to say that I am definitely going to give them a try. Here is a good article to read about how to actually go about making the switch, if you are interested. I am not going to focus this post on converting anyone to cloth pads, but I find it worth mentioning that reusable cloth pads save a lot of money compared to disposable products that you have to continually purchase. Also, reusable pads don’t contribute to waste in landfills, and are a nice alternative when dealing with allergies, sensitivities, and yeast infections. Even if you love using disposables, these would be a great addition to your 72 hour kit (eek- ever thought what would happen if you ran out of pads during an emergency and there were none available anywhere?)

Ok- back to business. Would you like to get involved?! Make reusable cloth pads and send them to the Days for Girls International Feminine Hygiene Program (there are actually many programs like this, like Empower Women in Africa, but we really like this particular program as a whole, so for the sake of simplicity we are providing contact info for only one program. Feel free to research other programs if you wish.):

Days for Girls HQ
810 H Street Road
Lynden, WA 98264

Days for Girls will distribute the pad kits in Cambodia, India, Haiti, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. They have a goal to meet over 1000 requests for these reusable pads by the end of June. If you can take an hour or two and sew up a few pads (patterns are also provided on their site), you will be directly affecting the life of at least one girl- and the influence of one girl can be far reaching. Ahhh! Let’s make the world sweeter by helping young girls stay in school!