DIY: Chipboard Village with Free House Template

You might have noticed things have slowed down a little over here at A-I-M. Life goes in cycles, as we know, and unfortunately it’s been tripping us up lately. I’m still making things (some of them more therapeutic than others- like the DIY below), but the timing is tricky, and sometimes things don’t make it online as quickly as they should. We’d like to ask you to be patient with us, and give us time to refresh and collect ourselves. We’ll be back to full speed before you know it.

I’ve been trying to simplify my life because I have accumulated too many “things”; and I’ve made a resolution to truly embrace the making of things, rather than the buying or the keeping. (Our house is getting smaller by the second. Someone’s cursed us, I swear!)

So rather than storing ornaments, sparkles, trees and lights, I’m making new temporary baubles from recycled materials.

With that in mind I sat down to make my version (sweet and simple) of a winter village. I built a template that you can use to start your own winter wonderland, and I hope you’ll get as much peace and joy out of it as I did.



  • Scrap Chipboard: I like to save the backs of paper pads for projects like this, or you can grab a food package out of the recycling.
  • Pen and pencil
  • bone folder or scoring device
  • Craft knife
  • Paper glue: Elmer’s works great!
  • The printed template: click here or on the pdf below.


Chipboard is great because you can mark it simply by pressing down hard on it. To trace the template on my piece, I clipped the paper down, then…

used a bone folder and ruler to score the dotted lines (that will eventually be folded).

Then I traced over the rest of the lines by pressing down firmly with a pen.

Once I finished tracing all the lines I had a faint guide to work with. (If you like, trace the lines lightly with a pencil to help when you’re cutting.)

Like most cutting projects, it’s easier to start by removing the small pieces of the template. In this case that meant cutting out the windows, the notch on the back, and two sides of the door. (Refer to the template to make sure you are cutting only the solid line pieces.)

When I had the building and roof all cut out, I used a bone folder to score the folds a little more deeply. Then I began folding each flap gently away from the score mark. (Including the roof piece.)

When I had the main part of the building folded, I applied glue to the flap (shown in gray on the template sheet) and held the pieces together until the glue held firmly. (You can also use clips or clothespins to hold it closed for a bit.) Once the base of the house was holding firmly, I added glue to the roof flaps (also shown in gray) and aligned and attached the roof. (You will want to hold this together by putting your hand into the house-box and pressing the flaps against the roof.)

To frost the windows, I took a piece of cello tape slightly larger than the window, and attached it to a piece that was even larger. Then I taped that frosted pane right into the window-sash. I left the door bent slightly in, to welcome little chipboard guests!

Now that you’ve got the hang of home-building, you can reuse this template by resizing it, or come up with your own design!

For my second building, I used the natural folds in a cracker box, and drew windows and a door with a pencil before trimming it out. Remember to leave flaps to attach the roof! (But in a pinch, a piece of tape will work as well.) Simply erase the lines, glue everything together, and plop it into your village… and when it gets dark…

slip a few LED Christmas lights under your buildings for ambiance. (The notch I included in the template is super handy for running the wires out the back of the house.) Make sure to use low-heat lights, since they will be surrounded by paper!

If you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to stop at chipboard houses. I really want to add some chipboard critters… These little houses make my imagination run free.

One thing that’s for sure, they need to be surrounded by a forest. Next week I’ll show you a quick and easy way to build your own magic woods.


One note: I’m a big fan of letting the materials show in my projects, but remember you can camouflage the materials quickly by adding a little paint (spray or acrylic would work great) or by using it as a base for decoupage or collage (like our shadowbox project). Go crazy!

DIY: Finger Crochet a Round T-shirt Rag Rug

Despite my sister’s best efforts I’ve never been able to make sense of real crochet. The “finger crochet” method I describe below is something that came out of a lot of experimentation, but I’m guessing you fiber wizards could whip up something even better! If you’ve done a similar project, or have suggestions to make this DIY more clear, please feel free to tell us about it in the comments below.

When I finished re-weaving my t-shirt rug (updated photos at the bottom of that post) I figured out two important things.

  1. There is better way to cut a t-shirt into strips (fewer, longer strips.)
  2. Once you know how to cut t-shirts into long strips, no t-shirt is safe.

Which translates to: I had a lot of leftover strips of jersey, and wanted to use them up! I started braiding, tying knots, and eventually settled on a method that can best be described as the frumpy cousin of crochet.

PREP: Cutting one long strip

Knotting small strips of jersey (demonstrated in the woven rug post) is time-consuming, so the longer the strip the better. After digging around a bit I found this video that shows how to turn a loop into one long strip.

IMG_2100_roundtshirtrugI started by cutting the large loop of the shirt from the top, and sliced across from one side, stopping about an inch from the other edge.

Then I slipped the loop over my arms, and starting at the end of one cut I cut diagonally towards the end of the next cut on the other side of the fabric. Then the whole thing unwound in a continuous strip.


To begin I tied a slip-knot near the end of the string by making a loop, reaching through and grabbing the strip, pulling it though and gently pulling to tighten. (There’s a great demonstration of a slip knot at the beginning of this video.)

Then I reached through that loop, pinched the strip, and pulled it through to create my first chain stitch. (See steps 2 thru 4 on this Red Heart blog post). This whole project breaks down into pulling a new loop through an old loop.

I repeated this chain stitch about 5 times, then…

tucked the loose string end through the last chain stitch to loosely close the first set of chains into a circle.

To connect the next ring of chains I pulled the next strip (navy) through two existing loops– the one I just made (pictured here closest to my thumb), and the inside of an earlier chain that lined up with my new one (closer to my fingertip).

This way my newest loop connected my existing chain to the one inside of it. I then started a pattern of 3 chain stitches, 1 connecting stitch, 3 chain stitches, 1 connecting stitch, 3 chain stitches, 1 connecting stitch, 3 chain stitches, 1 connecting stitch, 3 chain stitches, 1 connecting stitch…

going around and around the circle.

When I ran out of strips, I pulled the end of my string through the last loop, and tucked it into the rug– because one day I will have more t-shirts to dismantle, and this rug will keep getting bigger!



  • As you are working, make sure not to pull your loops too tight, or stretch your chain when you’re doing a connecting stitch. The looser you work the flatter the rug will sit.
  • Different shirts will make thicker or thinner strings based on the thickness of their fabric. I opted for a very irregular look with lots of inconsistencies in my strips (width ranging from 1″ – 2″) but if you want a more regular look, stick with shirts of a similar weight, and cut your strips about 1.25″ wide.
  • If it’s looking weird, pull out your loops and start over! Once you get the hang of this version of finger crochet you’ll fly through this project, so you will quickly make up the time redoing it. Practice has never been more fun.
  • If you can, work for longish stretches to keep your tension consistent. This is a great “while watching tv or daydreaming” activity.
  • As always, plan to make one more rug than you have cats.


DIY: Paper Spiderwebs to Decorate Everything

Step by step this house is getting properly October spooky. I’m a big fan of decorating with the things I have around, and this collection of tarnished silver and moody ornaments needed one little touch, so I decided to make a spiderweb table runner out of scrap paper and a piece of ribbon.



  • A few sheets of paper, any color you fancy. I used card stock, which was a bit trickier to cut but more durable in the long run.
  • Small clips or tape
  • Your favorite craft knife
  • A hole punch
  • Ribbon
  • The spiderweb templateaim_paperspiderweb

Once you have printed the spiderweb template, use tape or the clips to secure it to a sheet or two of paper, and cut the spiderweb shape out with a craft knife. You will also punch holes where each X is.


Cutting Tips

Start trimming the small center pieces out first and move to the large pieces. I actually cut all the inner pieces, then moved on the the next sheet of paper until I have enough pieces. Then I cut the outer shape out of several pieces at once using scissors.

When you’ve cut out and punched all your pieces, weave a piece of ribbon in and out of the holes to connect several spiderwebs.

I overlapped the corners of each spiderweb piece to make my table runner…

and hung them all on one ribbon for a creepy spiderweb banner.

The possibilities are, as they say, endless! I’m even thinking of creepy spiders to add to them.

The motionless, paper kind.


What’re you decorating with?

DIY: Spookily Free and Easy Ghosts

When I was a kid my mom came up with all sorts of awesome crafts for us to do, and being a typical goth-in-the-making I loved the halloween crafts most of all. One year we made cheesecloth ghosts with balloons and glue and it’s a project that has haunted me to this day.

I decided that I really wanted some ghost friends, but lacking balloons and cheesecloth I decided to make some up, Alison style. (IE: Free, Quick, and Fun.)



  • At least a couple of feet of sheer or thin fabric – old sheets or window sheers work great!
  • All-purpose flour
  • Bottles: Soda, water, or wine. Glass or plastic.
  • Wire or wire coat hangers
  • Plastic bags
  • Rubber bands
  • Scissors
  • A bucket or bin to mix your flour paste in

Step 1: The Form

To begin will make a simple armature out of wire (or out of a wire hanger). Cut a piece about 24″ long, and twist it together to form one big loop.

Slip the loop over the neck of your bottle, and twist the arms slightly so that they sit securely on the bottle and point slightly upwards. Using a scrap piece of fabric or paper, form a ball shaped head over the neck of the bottle and secure it with a rubber band.

To make the armature (form of the ghost) easier to remove, cover it with a plastic grocery bag, and secure it with a rubber band.

Measure the height of your ghost form from the base, across the head, and to the base on the back side. Cut a square of fabric this size to cover your form. (This is a great time to tear your fabric instead of cutting, if you want. Frayed edges are a bonus!)


Step 2: Stiffening and Forming the Fabric

Although flour may not last forever when used as a paste, it works perfectly for a ghost that will only haunt your house for a year or two. Combine 4 parts water with 1 part all-purpose flour in a large container and mix well with your fingers. Soak your ghost fabric, and wring it gently.

Spread the fabric over the ghost form, with a corner of the fabric pointing forwards.

Using your creativity (and maybe a clip or two) shape the cloth as creepily as you want! (I loved adding a fold along the “hair line” so that it looked like my ghost was in a cloak.)

If you’d like, remove some of the excess fabric from the “arms” of your ghost. (Make sure to leave fabric puddled at the front and back; this will ensure that your ghost will sit up when it’s all dry.)

Leave your new little friend to dry overnight, with a fan blowing if you can. When it’s completely dry, gently pull the bottle form out of the stiff fabric. (If it’s not firm enough to stand, you can mix up some more of the flour and water and paint it onto your fabric while it’s still on the form. You may want to use a higher ratio of flour to water.)



If you’re feeling extra crafty, you can paint right on your ghosts with watercolor or acrylic paints. I have some scary plans for one of mine.


Use What You’ve Got!

If you don’t have scraps of fabric lying around, this project is also fun with thin paper, tissue paper, or even paper towels. Just make one adjustment: instead of soaking the paper in your paste, lay the paper across your form and paint the paste on with your fingers or a craft paint brush. Saturate the paper slowly and let it fall again the form. You can add multiple layers of paper for more texture (like the tissue paper ghost above) and even cut out a mouth and eyes!

Stick an LED “candle” in it, and things get even creepier!

Scary Ghost Sound!

What’s frightening you this season?

DIY: Glitter Pumpkin Candles

DIY: Glitter Pumpkin Candles  #autumn #fallcrafts

Fall is my absolute favorite time of year to make things. There’s something about the crisp autumn breeze that makes me want to spend an afternoon with a hot cup of tea and a craft project. I’ve been collecting small pumpkins for the past few weeks and drawing inspiration from this post by Hello Natural, I decided to make my own pumpkin candles.

DIY: Glitter Pumpkin Candles  #autumn #fallcrafts

Supplies Needed

• Small pumpkins
• Soy wax flakes
• #2 candle wick
• Wick tabs
• 30 drops clove essential oil (optional)
• Glitter

Additional Tools

• Carving knife
• Spoon
• Pliers
• Tin can (or double boiler)
• Popsicle stick
• Clothes pins
• Scissors

Cut the top off of each pumpkin and use a spoon to scrape out the insides.

DIY: Glitter Pumpkin Candles  #autumn #fallcrafts

Prep your wick with metal tabs (alternatively you could also use pre-tabbed wicks). Cut the wick to size and insert it through the metal tab with the end of of the wick lining up to the bottom of the tab. Use pliers to pinch the metal tab tightly around the wick. Place into the center of each pumpkin. Use a clothespin to hold the wick into place.

DIY: Glitter Pumpkin Candles  #autumn #fallcrafts

Using a double broiler, melt soy wax flakes over medium heat. Use a popsicle stick to stir the wax. Once completely melted, add the essential oil (optional).

DIY: Glitter Pumpkin Candles  #autumn #fallcrafts

Pour melted wax into the prepared pumpkins. Allow wax to dry almost completely, then sprinkle glitter over the top. Use a hairdryer to ‘hot top’ the glittered wax. The wax should remelt slightly and allow the glitter to set on the top. Allow to dry completely and trim wicks.

DIY: Glitter Pumpkin Candles  #autumn #fallcrafts

Simple as that! Now you can light them up and enjoy a hot cup of pumpkin spice.

DIY: Glitter Pumpkin Candles  #autumn #fallcrafts

Three DIY Projects To Try This Fall

1. Black Cat Stamped Scarf

Carve your own cat stamp and make this purrfectly cute scarf to keep you warm on the brisk autumn days ahead. [Click here for the full tutorial]

DIY Cat Stamped Scarf #craft #kitty #blackcat #fashion #fall

2. Mini Pumpkin Macrame Hanger

Add some unique pumpkin decor to your home with this simple DIY. [Click here for the full tutorial]

DIY: Mini Pumpkin Macrame Holder

3. Felt Sugar Skull Sachets

Watch your favorite fall movie and practice your embroidery stitches to make some felt sugar skulls. [Click here for the full tutorial]

DIY: Felt Sugar Skull Sachets #dayofthedead #diadelosmuertos #embroidery

Hope you all have a wonderful and crafty weekend!

DIY: No Sew Woven T-Shirt Rag Rug

A couple of months ago I tore up the carpet in my office and replaced it with a wood-ish surface. It’s been great through these warm months, but I want something to stand on when the cold sneaks in. Couple that need with a stack of t-shirts left over from the quilt project, and you have my newest best friend, the t-shirt rag rug.

I built a 30″x30″ make-shift loom out of a piece of plywood and scrap wood, but if you search online you can find frames built from pretty much anything. (A Beautiful Mess used cotton scraps and a big piece of cardboard. Also, Pinterest)

I put nails along each end, 1 inch apart. Good hammer practice for a hammer novice.

With the loom assembled, I moved to materials.



The rug was built with 1.5″ loops for the warp (base strips) of my rug, and 1.75″ strips woven through.

I used a large straight rotary blade and a metal ruler to cut three navy shirts into the 1.5″ loops, then cut the rest of the shirts into 1.75″ strips. (This is a very forgiving fabric, so estimation is ok!)

I hooked the navy warp pieces on each side of the loom using the natural loop and stretch of the t-shirt.

I prepared to weave by attaching the first strip to the first warp loop. I cut a slit in one end of the strip, fed the other end around the first warp piece and back through the slit. Then I pulled it tightly and began to weave.

Not a normal knot.

I connected a lot of strips to finish this rug using the method shown below. It’s quick and tidy, and ensured you don’t have a lot of extra bulk at your connection points.


  1. Cut a small slit in the ends of each strip.
  2. Feed the new strip into the hole at the end of the other.
  3. Take the other end of the new strip and feed it through the slit on the same strip.
  4. Pull on the new end to tighten the knot. Smooth or trim extra material if needed.

(The video below shows how I knotted at the end of a strip.)


Now Weave!

Starting at that first warp piece, I wove in and out of each loop to the end of the loom. At the end I wrapped either over or under the last piece to start back down the loom. The second strand went over the strands that the first went under, and vice versa.

From there it was basically rinse and repeat. I wove back and forth, connecting strips and changing colors.

When possible I fed the strip through the warp flat, then pulled it down with my fingers to bunch it up.

The pattern and color combination were very important to me, and I got more and more excited as I worked on it. When I put the final strip in, I tied it off using a normal knot on the last piece of navy.

Finishing it off

Here’s where I admit this rug is really just a gigantic pot holder, and I finished it off the same way. I pulled the first warp loop free and fed the second through it, then fed the third through that one, and so on down the line. (Video Below)

Once I was down to the last two loops, I changed tactics. I cut the loop of the last piece, fed one strip through the second to last loop and tied it off.

I did the same thing on the other end and suddenly had a rug in front of me.


After basking in the last moments of sunshine, I rolled up the rug and brought it inside.

Where it was immediately claimed by another friend…


Looks like I’ll have to weave another rug for myself.

Next Time

  • The next rug will be bigger. Once I took this one off the loom it shrunk down a bit, and I love it too much for it to be small.
  • I won’t pull the woven strands as tightly, which will hopefully help with the shrinking.
  • Maybe I’ll try non-stretch cotton scraps?
  • I will plan to move the loom frame around a lot, and possibly rig up some way of leaning it upright while I’m weaving. Working flat gave me a back-ache.
  • I will take it in little batches, weaving in front of the tv or in public. If I weave in public I will look very serious about turning scraps into a comfy rug.

A sign of a successful project is the ability to look forward to the next one.

UPDATE: I enjoyed this project so much that I decided to remake this rug- BIGGER! I built a much larger loom using scrap wood and screws, then followed the same process to build this monstrosity. It sits cozily by my work table now, warms my feet, and makes me happy.


DIY: Build a Box and Lid

I love putting my creative instincts to good use in a 3d world, and that means I get a kick out of building boxes. There’s something magical about turning a little chipboard or cardboard and a little tape into a functional container, and it seems like I have plenty of opportunities to do just that.

The basics of building a box with a lid (which I call a hatbox) are very basic indeed. I drew up a little sample sheet with the very simplest version. Use cardboard or chipboard, scissors or a craft knife, and your favorite tape.

My challenge today was building a gift box for a set of wine glasses. (Recognize the etching process?)

I measured the length, depth, and height of the set, and got my favorite materials out.IMG_0916_buildabox


  • Chipboard Pieces
  • Gummed Paper Tape – I like working with this kind of tape when I’m using chipboard or cardboard. It starts out un-tacky, and when you wet it with a sponge it is like you poured a whole bunch of glue on it. It can be kind of messy, but you can shift it around until it dries, making it very forgiving.
  • Craft Knife
  • Scissors
  • Ruler

First I cut the 5 pieces for the bottom of the box, and pieces of tape for each seam.

Since I knew some of the tape would show on the final box, I made sure to cut an angle on any piece of tape that overlapped another piece- especially on corners.

To place the tape correctly on the board, I first laid the board out perfectly on my mat. I left a board’s width between each piece to allow for them to fold.

I used a wet rag moisten each piece where I needed it, then attached the tape pieces to my boards.


I’ve outlined my tape pieces here. The first pieces I placed were the a’s, then I moved on to b, then c.

I flipped the whole thing over, and started folding up and taping the sides (applying more water to keep the tape sticky and smoothing out any bubbles.)


With the bottom portion of the box completed, I measured the outside of the completed box and added about 1/8 of an inch to allow the lid to close easily. I chose 5″ at the height of the lid, and built another box like the first, using those dimensions.

I’m a big fan of a simple kraft colored box, but since this was a gift, I wanted to add a little pizazz. I printed a design on card stock, and cut it down to fit each side of the box lid. I used spray mount to adhere it to the box.

Then added a little ribbon, a card…
< a href=””>IMG_0993_buildabox
and a divider inside to kept the glasses from clanking.

I’m super happy with the way this box turned out– a perfect fit for gifting and storing the glasses.

I hope you can build off the simple instruction sheet to create the perfect home for your treasures, and of course some treasures for your home.

DIY: Marble Paper with Oil Paints

Whenever Rachel and I get together there is always a lot of making. We hang out, paint, draw, and then we party (ie: DIY TIMES). In anticipation for this visit, we made lists of possible crafts, and “Paper Marbling” appeared on both lists. Done!

We’d seem several methods, but we had almost all the supplies to marble with oil paints so we decided to try that out first. It was a long, fun day; full of “oooooh” and “aaaaahhh,” sunshine, and turpentine fumes. We wanted to share our method and tips with you, so that you can make your own marble marvel.


Basic Supplies

  • Oil Paint Colors – cheap oil paints should work just fine, we used the M. Graham paints we had on hand.
  • Turpentine – Easily found at a hardware store.
  • Big plastic bin to float the paint in
  • Small containers to mix paint colors and turpentine
  • Cardstock (We loved the colored card stock best!)
  • Disposable bamboo skewers or spoons for stirring
  • Nitrile Gloves


Step 1: Prep

Before we got started we made a comb by taping toothpicks into a small strip of card stock. The comb was handy for pulling through the colors, and encouraging more “swirly bits.”

We set up our marbling table outside, which I recommend highly. You want to use a table or cover that it’s okay to get paint on. This is a messy craft, to be sure. We set out a tarp for drying our finished papers, put on our gloves and starting mixing things up.

We filled two plastic bins with about an inch or water and set them aside. Then we put out several colors of oil paints in our mixing containers.

It was a little trick to get the right mix of turpentine and paint, initially. We discovered that the ideal texture was somewhere around the thickness of whole milk.

marbledpaper_IMG_0740We added turpentine to the paint containers in small pours, and mixed it thoroughly with a bamboo skewer. If we needed to add more turpentine we did it as soon as we had the paint mixed to a consistent texture.


Step 2: Pouring the Paint

Then we just poured the paints on top of the water! Simple. Sometimes we did little drops, sometimes we just chunked it all in.

Our first batch of color was always full of the same color family, so that as the colors mixed in the water we didn’t end up with a bunch of brown paper. (Towards the end we got a little more daring, and had great results adding in complementary colors to the batches.)


We got a lot of mileage out of our toothpick combs, pulling them through the paint to swirl the colors together.


Step 3: Dipping the Papers

Once we were happy with a design, we laid the card stock quickly on top of the swirled colors, and removed it as delicately as we could. (Rachel had a great dunking method that involved bending the card stock down the middle– hamburger style– then rolling down from the middle to the outside edges before lifting from the water.)

Tada! It was amazing how unpredictable the results were. What you saw on the water might not be at all what showed up on the paper. We loved the look we got towards the end, when there was less paint and it all seemed to be thinner.

We did two different color stories, one was reds and golds and one was blues and greens. The reds tended to get a little “gory” at times, but looked beautiful on colored papers.


Step 4: Drying and Future Projects with Marbly Goodness

We laid the paged out for a few hours, while we cleaned all the paint up. When we were ready to go inside we stacked the sheets and set them aside to dry. It took a good 5 days for the oil to be dry to the touch, but now they are, and I have all kinds of ideas about what to do with my collection.

Maybe I’ll revisit an old DIY, what do you think?

The possibilities are endless. I’m okay with that.


Things We Learned

  • Working outside is key. The Turpentine is kinda smelly, and even with a light breeze we felt like we were standing in the fumes. Working outside also made cleanup a lot easier, with a big trash can and a hose available. Make sure to dispose of turpentine properly!
  • Initially we tried thinning the oil paint with walnut oil, but it did not allow the paint to spread out across the water. We had to drop everything and head to the store for turpentine to make the project come together. I have seen a couple of recommendations online for turpentine alternatives, but we didn’t try any (after the oil fiasco.)
  • If your paint drops to the bottom instead of floating, add a little more turpentine.
  • Sometimes less paint is better. I loved the last sheets we printed from each batch.
  • Opaque paint on black paper is tres cool.
  • Each sheet is cooler than the last, which means you won’t ever want to stop. Ever.

DIY: Culinary Herb Wreath

DIY: Culinary Herb Wreath

Herb gardening has become one of my favorite hobbies and this year I’m growing over 25 different types of herbs! There’s nothing better than a backyard garden full of fragrant edible plants. Now that it’s harvest season I’ve been researching ways to use them. I mainly use fresh herbs in cooking. Last year I made up a batch of yummy oregano pesto. I plan to make my own herbal vinegar and infused olive oils this year, but first I wanted to try something completely new- I made a gorgeous culinary herb wreath!

Not only was it fun choosing and harvesting the herbs I chose to use in my wreath, I also love that once the wreath has dried it becomes both decorative and functional. Find a spot in your kitchen (near the stove) to hang an herb wreath and all you have to do is snip off a few sprigs here and there to add to your cooking!

DIY: Culinary Herb Wreath

Read the Tutorial

You can find the full tutorial and make your own herb wreath by visiting my guest post over at Garden Therapy!