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.


SHOW+TELL: Turning an Old Sweatshirt into an iPad Sleeve

This is another typical Alison project; one part problem (needed an iPad Sleeve), one part recycling (awesome old hoodie sweatshirt.) I’ve been donating and repurposing things left and right lately, and this old hoodie was no different. It was made for me by a college classmate, and I’m not sure the last time I even put it on

I decided to embrace the ragged look, since the pattern was already worn and “vintage” and I knew it would be tricky to work with multiple layers of sweatshirt and zippers. (Also, I am NOT a tidy tailor. I’m just going to accept that about myself.)

To get the size right, I traced the iPad on a scrap piece of card stock to make a template.

I cut the tablet shape out of the card stock, used it to “frame” the part of the design I wanted to feature, and traced it with chalk.

I left an allowance of about half an inch on all sides, folded the sweatshirt there, and cut the a rectangle out of the folded sweatshirt.

I decided to line the pouch with another layer of sweatshirt, and used this as an opportunity to include the zipper that was already stitched on. I cut two more of my template pieces from either side of the zipper…
then stitched them together at the bottom. I refed the zipper pull into the zipper pieces– backwards because the raw edge of the zipper would face out when the pouch was finished.

I then stitched my original pattern pieces across the zipper on either side, leaving me with an almost-pouch with open sides. At the last minute I decided to slip a piece of chipboard through the side to reinforce the front of the pouch (and hopefully save the tablet from rogue poking accidents). After sewing up the open sides (pinked edges out) and reinforcing the ends of the zippers with a few hand-stitches, I was done.

I’m really glad I went with a rough-and-tumble look, because it hides a few of the difficulties I had with pre-worn stretchy material.




Now I don’t have to worry as much about carrying my iPad around with me, and I have one less piece of wearable nostalgia to hoard. Now to move on to the next pile….

SHOW + TELL: A-Frame Canvas Card Wall

One of the best things about having “a summer off” is that I am slowly getting to the projects that have been stacking up, with the help and company of Safety Husband. It feels great to make forward progress, but it is INSANE how much I expected to have done in a couple of weeks.

This weekend I finally got to a pressing project, and built an a-frame portable card wall out of two canvases and some scrap wood. There are a million options when it comes to displaying cards, but I wanted something light-weight with a little character, and I think this project absolutely fit the bill.


Safety Husband makes a great arm model. Safety goggles not shown, but surely present.

Since these canvases were big (~30″ x 48″) they were reinforced on the back, so our first step was knocking those bars out. Fortunately they came out pretty easily with a couple of smacks from a mallet.

We decided to use some trim leftover from the shop, and ripped it (on a table saw) to be the same depth as the canvas. That left us a scrap that made a perfect lip for the front of the card rails. We cut the trim to fit inside the frame of the canvas.

Once all 10 card rail pieces and lips were cut, I glued and clamped them together and left them overnight to dry. Once they were dry, I used a semi-gloss white spray paint to cover all the green painted sides (all that would be visible from the front of the display.)

I made a mark along my frame every 9 inches to allow for enough room for the cards, and the occasional journal.

The shelf pieces ended up being a tight fit in the frame of the canvas, so I decided that wood glue would be enough to hold up the light weight of the cards. I put glue on the ends to mount into the frame. I also put glue along the long back of the rails to attach to the canvas and keep cards from falling behind the shelves.

I then gently put the rails in place, using a piece of scrap wood and a mallet to tap some of the tighter pieces in.


I used painters tape to secure shelves in that were more likely to shift around. Most were held in place by friction and perfectly measured cuts.

When the glue had set, I finished by attaching the two canvases together with old door hinges. (The best hardware has a little character.)

I love the simple but rustic look of the a frame, and I adore how light weight and durable it is. It will soon find a home in a local store, and I’m excited to see how it looks.

I always get a sense of satisfaction when I finish a project like this, when I get over all the “What if I…” ideas and just get it done. This one is especially rewarding because I only used materials leftover from the shop and previous projects.


What are you working on?

DIY: Funky T-shirt Rag Quilt for Summer Picnics and Winter Snuggling

I come by both my weird sense of humor and my borderline hoarderness honestly. What that means is I have collections of really funny/awesome/unique/vintage/sentimental stuff that I can’t use, but I really don’t want to part with.

Like a bin of old t-shirts.

Now, I don’t really wear t-shirts. I don’t often find the need to wear old shirts from my ballet or flag twirling days. I stopped wearing the worn out vintage tees that my mom passed down, and I never really found the guts to wear the t-shirts with swears that I thought were my right as an adult.

So they all just sat in a bin in the closet until I found this amazing tutorial at “Sweet Tea in the South” to turning them into a quilt. I made a few adjustments to use supplies I had on hand, but she does an amazing job of going through the process step by step.

I just want to get this out of the way- this is a labor intensive project with lots of steps, and a metric ton of cutting. Jess at Sweet Tea in the South recommends splitting it up over a few days, and I have to agree. It takes a long time to do, and is exhausting, but here’s the thing…

I think this is my favorite sewing project, ever. I think there might be some romantic love brewing between me and this blanket. It’s thick and soft, and smells lovely. It’s washable and gigantic (mine is 6′ x 6′) and each square is a symbol of who I am and where I come from– the classic rock station I grew up to, the matching t-shirts Safety Husband and I wore to our after prom party, band shirts, and festival shirts.


• Old T-shirts- You will need two squares of shirt for each square of your quilt. I used the fronts and backs of shirts, and all-in-all I used about 36 large shirts for my quilt.
• Batting or flannel for the inside of the quilt. I used Cotton quilt batting that I had around. You will need one square for each square of the quilt.
• A template for cutting your squares (instructions below) I used some scrap chipboard.
• A sewing machine with a ballpoint needle and a lot of thread. (I used white all-purpose thread.)
• Straight pins
• Sewing scissors. Optional but recommended – a fabric rotary cutter, and probably a pair of embroidery scissors for snipping.

To Make your Square template

Measure across each of your shirts to see what size square would cut easily out of all of them. My shirts ranged from large to extra-large, and from 14″ – 16″. I used scrap chipboard to cut a 14″ x 14″ square template for my t-shirt blocks, and made another template that was 1″ smaller on all sides (12″ x 12″) for my batting blocks. You can cut your template from cardboard, wood, or anything else you have around.


Step 1: Cutting the Squares

Lay a t-shirt out smoothly across a protected surface, and center your t-shirt block template around the art.

Carefully cut around the template.

Repeat this with each shirt.

When you’re done with all of your shirts, use your batting template to cut out one piece of batting for every 2 pieces of shirt.

Step 2: Building the Quilt Squares

Each square of your quilt will start out as a stack of shirt|batting|shirt. One of your t-shirt pieces will be on the front, the other on the back. I decided that I wanted to make one side of my blanket cool colors, and the other side warm colors, so each of my stacks was coolcolorshirt|batting|warmcoloredshirt. You can arrange them however you want!

To build your block, lay out your first piece of t-shirt, face-down, then center the smaller piece of batting.

Cover with the other piece of t-shirt, face-up and secure with several pins, making sure to go through the batting layer.

Repeat with all your squares, until you have a tidy little stack.

(At this point I laid all of my squares out on the floor and arranged them how I wanted. I marked each square with a letter and number so I knew how to put them back together. It was a lot of work, and I wouldn’t necessarily do it again. Random is OK!)

Step 3: “Quilting” your Squares

There are several ways to quilt the block together, the important thing is to stitch through every layer to keep the batting and fabric from shifting. I used a combination of straight stitches and a zig zag stitches on my machine to make lines across each block horizontally and vertically.


Repeat in each square, and you’re ready to start putting them all together!

Step 4: Assembling the Quilt

The “rag” in this rag quilt means that instead of hiding your seams, you will leave them out to fray and fringe. With that in mind, you need to decide which side will have the extra fluff. One side will be clean and flat like

The other will be fringed and crazy

Start with two blocks, and stack them with the future fringed sides facing out.

You will pin and sew the two pieces together on one edge, about 3/4 of an inch in (seam allowance). I used a zig-zag stitch for these seams to allow a little more stretch and flexibility.

Attach the next block in the row the same way until you’ve completed a whole row, then start with the next row.

When you have every row sewn, sew each one to the ones beside it the same way. Make sure you keep your seams facing the same way so that all your fringe is on the front or back.

Breath deeply and look at all that you’ve accomplished! Now take a break, the next part is tedious.

Step 5: Fringing and Clean-up

The final step is to fringe all those seams so that they will roll up and hide any mistakes you may have made on this quilt, and to cut all your little threads. The embroidery scissors are great for this task, but regular sewing scissors work as well. To fringe the seams make a small cut almost to your seam, every half an inch or so. You will do this around the outside edge of your blanket, as well as at every seam. I suggest a watching a movie.

It may take a while (several evenings) of trimming in front of the tv, with your blanket in your lap, and your cat cuddled underneath, but when you’re done you might be as in love as I am.

Now that I’ve done the work, I’m going to use this blanket for everything: picnics, cold nights, hammock times, even make-shift shelter. So if you see a pile of funny/awesome/unique/vintage/sentimental old t-shirts walking around, make sure say hi.


DIY: Simple Flowers from Old T-Shirts + Free Templates

I’ve been in a major cleaning and organization mood, so most of my projects have been focused on “using up” materials I have around. One giant project used a bin full of old printed t-shirts (I’ll show you when I’m done!) and I ended up with so many colorful t-shirt scraps that I over-ran my rag box. I decided it was a perfect time to combine those scraps, and the May DIY Challenge theme to make some simple jersey flowers.

After playing with the fabric for a day or two, I came up with two basic flower-making methods that you can use to make a whole army of blossoms.



• T-Shirt or jersey scraps
• Fabric scissors and paper scissors
• Needle and thread
• These printed template files : Stitch & Draw-up Petal Template, Pinch & Piece Petal Template

Optional Extras

• Shredding scissors, or other decorative edging scissors
• Straight pins
• Buttons
• Felt for leaves and backing. I used wide grosgrain ribbon.
• Pin-backs, bobby pins, or other clips to attach to the back
• Fabric Paints, or floss, or other decorating tools.

The Stitch & Draw-up Method

This is by far the quickest way I made flowers, and was also especially useful for adding details to the center of other flowers, or for making the smallest simplest bonus blooms to add to a flower bunch. The template includes two example petal shapes to play with, and a feathered shape that I used for a center detail. It works with basically any shape you want to use, though, so be sure to try your own ideas for rows of petals.


Step One

Cut the template shape out of a piece of jersey. (This is from the arm of a t-shirt.)

Then stitch a loose line starting close to one edge and ending close to the other.


Step Two

Put a stitch through the end you started on, to pull it into a ring.


Step Three

Pull both ends of the thread to gather the fabric into a round shape. Make sure the extra puckered fabric from below your stitch line if on one side of the flower.

Step Four

Take a couple more stitches through the puckered side of the flower (which will be the back side, tie your favorite knot, and cut the thread.


Step Five

Flip the flower over and add a button or other decoration. You can also stitch a clip or pin to the back side.  I put a button in the center of this one by stitching through the middle of the bloom,

and added a couple of leaf-shaped pieces and a piece of ribbon to the back, by stitching them through the back of the petal.

Voila, a quick simple flower that I can use on a package, as a pin, or in my hair. (Or all of the above.)

The Pinch & Piece Method

This method takes a little more work, but I loved the way it makes a fuller and more complicated flower shape. I’ve given you four petal shapes to try on the template– each with a different number of petals per flower– but you can try all sorts of shapes for different results.


Step One

Cut the indicated number of petal pieces out of jersey material. For this flower, I also used the “Center Detail” piece from the other template page to create a fuzzy center for my flower (shown above in dark purple.)


Step Two

Stitch a loose line across the middle of each the petal (shown as a dotted line on the template) starting close to one edge and ending close to the other.

Put a stitch through the end you started on, and pull to gather the fabric.


Step Three

Bend the petal piece in half, and put a stitch in the fold. Then do the same to each petal to connect them all together. Tighten them together, and tie a knot at the first petal.


Step Four

Wrap your thread between each petal  section to draw the center together and fluff the petals out. Then stitch through the back of the flower, & tie off the thread using your favorite knot. For the center on this flower, I used the “Stitch and Draw-up” method on my dark purple center detail piece, and then sewed through it and the center of my bloom. I attached a leaf shape and a piece of ribbon to the back like my first flower, and used that to bobby pin it in my hair.

I’ve started flipping through my flower books for inspiration, and I love the flexibility and the whimsy of using old t-shirts like this.

Soft, sweet, flowers.


Remember that if you do this or any other flower project, send us a picture to enter the May DIY Craft Challenge.

DIY: Simple Handmade Paper Heart Cards with Flower Seeds Inside

The sun has made a couple of appearances, and when the sun comes out all I want to do is make paper. Why fight it?

I decided to take the opportunity to make a bunch of plantable heart cards, using flower seeds and a simple pour-over paper making method (instead of my usual dip method featured here and here.) The pour-over method uses paper scraps and things that you probably have around the house; making this an awesome, kid-friendly, activity for a sunny afternoon.

Pour-over Paper Making Supplies

• Shredded scrap paper Mix your favorite color and white paper for the best results. You can use a shredder, scissors, or your hands to tear the paper into manageable bits.
• Smallish flower seeds I felt several packets of seeds before settling on a combination of chamomile, viola, and alyssum seeds. You can also give it a cooking theme by using tiny herb seeds.
• A “Deckle”- This will be the template for your sheet of paper. I used an inexpensive, wood, heart-shaped picture frame that I picked up at the craft store.
• 2 screens, slightly larger than your deckle- I used small pieces of window screen material from the hardware store. I have also had some luck with sheer curtain material and other porous fabrics.
• A blender
• A large bowl (or two)
• A wire cooling rack for support
• A rectangular cake pan to catch the runoff.
• A sponge or absorbent rag
• A couple of flat absorbent rags larger than your intended paper size.


Step 1: Making Paper Pulp

To make the pulp for your paper, first soak the shredded paper in water for a little bit. Typically I will dunk them all in water while I’m getting all my supplies together. Once they are saturated put a handful into your blender, with about twice that amount of water.

Then pulse your blender to pulverize the paper pulp. (If you feel like your blender is having trouble, add more water to your mix. The paper pulp quickly becomes thick sludge that’s harder to cut through. It’s better to err on the side of too much water.) When your mix is starting to look like a disgusting smoothie, open it up and take a look at the mix. I like to stop when the mix is a little bit chunky, but mostly liquified.


Step 2: Preparing your Mould

Stack the cooling rack, screen, and deckle on top of your cake pan. This is where you’ll be pouring your pulp in a minute.


Step 3: Mixing in the wildflower seeds.

Transfer your pulp from the blender to a pouring bowl. You will be using several batches of pulp, so pour just a little bit of your flower seed into the bowl and stir gently with your fingers.


Step 4: Pouring the Pulp

Slowly pour your pulp mixture into the deckle. The water from the pulp will run through the screen and leave you with saturated paper fibers in the shape of your deckle.

Fill the space completely by pouring, and (if needed) gently pushing the pulp into the corners of the frame with your finger.

Very gently, lift the deckle directly up towards the ceiling. (A note: One of the best parts about paper-making is that almost any mess up can be fixed by dumping the sheet back into the pulpy water, breaking it up with your hand, and starting over again. So if your shape doesn’t look right, or your get a tear or a bubble, just dump it back in and try again!) You will have a nice pile of wet paper mess.


Step 5: Drying the Paper

The final bits are all about drying the paper. Although much of the water falls through while you’re pouring, the fibers hold on to a lot of moisture. First, place your second piece of screen on top of the pulp and absorb as much of the water as you can by pressing gently with a sponge. This will flatten the pulp into something that looks more like a sheet of paper. (You can wring the sponge out into your pulp bowl, and dump the excess water in there that runs into your cake pan.)

The sheet is still delicate at this point.
Transfer it to a flat absorbent rag by flipping the whole screen onto the rag, and gently peeling back just the screen.

Next, place another rag on top, and press the paper gently with your fingers or a rolling-pin. You should start to see water in the shape of your card.

Use the same flipping method to transfer your sheet onto a surface that it can remain on to air dry. (I like to cover my dining table with bath towels.) Once you’re done making paper, you can dump the remaining pulp and water outside.


See! Paper!


An army of plantable paper hearts!

Usually the paper will dry overnight, but may take a little more time in a damp or cold room. Once they are completely dry, you can decorate them however you please.

Since Mother’s Day is coming up, I decided to use one of my sheets as a card. I used the seed packets as inspiration and wrote a little message on the back, including directions for planting the card.

When you’re ready to toss out this card, plant it instead! It has a mix of viola, alyssum, and chamomile seeds– just cover with a little soil, water, and you might find yourself  with a few new blooms.

Since every card needs an envelope, I decided to make a simple one from a paper grocery bag.

Simple Envelope Supplies

• A paper bag
• Your handmade paper deckle
• A Pencil
• A Ruler
• Scissors or craft knife
• Glue


Step 1

Open up the paper bag by cutting until you have a flat sheet. Place the deckle in the center and trace the inside with your pencil.


Step 2

To make your envelope guide, draw a box around your deckle shape, leaving about a quarter of an inch of space on each side. Extend the lines out from the box (as shown above).


Step 3

Cut the corner portions out of the form you drew, leaving a plus sign shape with your heart-shape in the center. Fold along each of the straight lines, and trim the flaps so that they overlap about a half an inch.


Step 4

Fold in one of the side flaps, then apply glue to the other side flap, fold it over, and do the same with the bottom flap.

You should have the perfect envelope for your card! Just slip it in, seal the last flap and send it to somebody special. (Remember that oddly shaped envelopes require more postage. Check with your post office for more details.)



I’m really happy with the way my card turned out, and glad that I was able to come up with another way to recycle materials I had already.

Now I have a nice stack of paper hearts packed full of flower seeds- what should I do with the rest of them?


SHOW + TELL: Gift Card Mosaic Letters

With one week before our March DIY Challenge deadline, we thought we’d throw a little more inspiration your way! This letter project incorporates a bunch of our favorite things – thriftiness, recycling, bright colors, and kiddos! Here’s what Deb shared…

Hi. I’m Deb DiSalvo and I live in Dublin, Ohio. I’m excited to share with you a letter project that I taught with a group of elementary school kids. I was teaching a recycled arts and crafts class after school with kids in the 3rd and 4th grade. Over the years, I had accumulated hundreds of used gift cards. I am an avid Starbucks coffee drinker and loved the designs on their gift cards. I started saving them and had friends and co-workers saving their used gift cards for me as well. I came up with the idea of having each child cut out the letter of their first name. I helped with this part and cut the letters using heavy cardboard for the base of this project. I, along with the kids, cut up the used gift cards in various shapes and sizes and then glued the shapes onto the letter to create a mosaic look. It was such a good way to use the colorful gift cards and the kids had a great time coming up with their own style mosaic letter.
The kids are so excited that I submitted this project. They are so proud of their work and should be!


I bought the thickest cardboard I could find in the art section of the craft store (Hobby Lobby and JoAnn’s sell this), drew the letters and cut them out using an xacto knife.


We used heavy duty craft scissors to cut the gift cards.


We used turbo tacky glue to glue the cut up gift cards to the cardboard. Double sided mounting tape works as well.



Well, we’ve been working on Letter projects all month, and now we’re inspired to do more! How about you?

DIY: Scrap Paper Ironwork Letter

IMG_6993I’ve been playing with black card stock a lot lately, which deposited a nice collection of paper scraps in my “use it this week or dump it” pile. I decided to use the Diy Craft Challenge as an inspiration to use them, and play with another thing that’s been catching my eye– quilling. (Although, in typical fashion I looked up a couple of tutorials on You Tube, promptly forgot what I learned, and did things my own way.)


• A 5×7 Frame without glass, painted black to match the paper
• A print of a favorite letter, sized to fit inside the frame (I printed my letter backwards using a setting on my printer called “emulsion side up”. It works just fine to print it the right way round, you just might have to erase your tracing paper lines.)
• Black paper (I used 100# Cardstock)
• Tracing paper
• A piece of cork to pin to (A cork trivet like this works, or a bulletin board or pinning board. Styrofoam also works in a pinch.)
• Straight pins
• A few toothpicks
• Tacky glue
• A craft knife and ruler

First I measured the depth of the frame, and cut a bunch of strips of paper that width using a craft knife and scissors.

I cut the paper against the grain so that it would curl as evenly as possible. (Grain is very important, especially when working with thicker papers. For a little more about grain, and to find the grain on the paper you are using, check out yesterday’s post.) You will use less of the paper than you think, but it’s better to have too many strips of paper than too few! (I used about 15 pieces of 8″ lengths for mine.)

I used tracing paper to trace my letter onto a larger piece of black card stock,

then carefully cut it out with a craft knife.

IMG_6819Next step was to outline my letter with a strip of paper. I dipped a toothpick in a pond of glue and drew a light line of glue down the center of a strip of paper.

Then I slowly wrapped the paper around the letter, holding the piece down to give it time to attach. At sharp angles I either folded the paper (if I could) or tore the strip and started a new one there. This task is finicky, but forgiving. I found that as long as I went slow and worked with the paper, it turned out fine.

IMG_6830I made sure to outline the whole letter, then I gave it a few minutes to rest and dry.

Once it was mostly dry, I moved to my cork backing. I used straight pins to firmly place my black frame so that it would not shift around on the cork, and decided where I wanted my letter to fit in.

I applied glue with a toothpick all the places my letter touched the frame, then used pins to secure it as well. I set pins up against the letter wherever it felt like it might flex or slide.

Finnicky steps done, now to the decoration!

To make the various curls I used inside the frame, first I ran the strip against my nail to loosen it up a little. (Kind of like curling that terrible plastic curling ribbon) Then I wrapped it around a clean toothpick to get the size curl I wanted. I also played with folding then curling, curling multiple pieces, and curling different ways. I basically went curl crazy.

IMG_6867When I had a nice pile of curls to choose from, I was ready to place and glue them.

Gently I squeezed each curl in place, and used my glue-toothpick to apply glue to any place a curl touched another part of the piece. I left the space around the letter pretty open so that the R would stand out. When I had everything glued in, I let the whole thing sit for an hour to let the glue dry.

IMG_6985bI really love the way these turned out. They’re crafty, but classy, and they are now hanging in our guest room for our two most frequent guests.

I bet you can do even better! You still have a few days to enter our DIY Craft Challenge by March 30th.

DIY: Heart Stamps from Stuff your already have.

Creativity isn’t always about going to the craft store and stocking up on the newest trendy supply- sometimes it’s about getting clever with what I already have. I save money (by using the things I have and might otherwise throw away), save time (by avoiding a shopping run), and tickle that part of my brain that adores a challenge.

Fortunately, I have a LOT of random supplies, so I get to experiment.

Since the DIY Craft Challenge theme this month is hearts, I decided to sit down and make an assortment of heart stamps using different techniques and supplies. I hope they will inspire you to put your heart making skills to work!


Supplies to Gather Up

• Scissors
• Carving tools like these from Speedball
• Craft Knife
• Permanent Marker
• Pencils, with new erasers
• Stamp Pads
• Washable Markers
• Glue/Gluestick
• Wine Corks
• Sheets of Craft Foam
• Large Flat Eraser (or Speedy-Carve Carving Block)

Stamp 1: Scissors, Glue, Craft Foam, Stamp Pad

This was simply the easiest, quickest, and most surprisingly amazing stamp I made. If you’ve got some craft foam and a pair of scissors you should make a million. First I cut out a square of foam the same size as the flat top of the stamp pad. I then free-hand cut a heart out of that square, and glued it onto the top of the pad with a glue stick. Now all I have to do is take the lid off the stamp pad, tap it on the ink, and print. I love the way it stamps!
(Inspired by the gift wrap experiment.)

Stamp 2 : Flat Eraser, Scissors, Marker, Stamp Pad

IMG_6108IMG_5977It takes a little effort to make this one work with scissors (a craft knife would be easier) but it prints beautifully. I drew a heart shape on the eraser with a marker, then cut around the stamp until I had just the heart shape. Then dabbled it in a stamp pad.

Stamp 3: Pencil (with fresh eraser), Marker, Carving Tools, Stamp Pad

This one get the award for the most adorable. I drew a tiny heart on the eraser of the pencil, then carved around it to leave just the heart shape standing out, then stamped that in a stamp pad.
(Similar tutorial here.)

Stamp 4: Flat Eraser, Carving Tools, and Washable Markers

This is definitely the most compact and kid friendly, since you can use the marker instead of a stamp pad. First I cut a small piece circle of eraser and shoved it into the end of the marker. Then I drew a heart shape on it and carved out the material around the heart. Once the shape is all cut out, I used the marker itself instead of a stamp pad, by coloring on the heart and stamping away.
(These stamps used the same technique at my tiny bug marker stamps, and you can find an extended tutorial here.)

Stamp 5: Craft Knife, Cork, Marker, Stamp Pad

Although this little stamp get pretty rustic, I think that it is the prettiest. First I drew a heart on the wine end of the cork (the other side had a hole from the corkscrew) then I traced the heart with my knife, before cutting about 1/8 of an inch all the way around the cork. It took some back and forth between those two steps, but eventually I had a raised heart, all ready to stamp.
(Check out this even simpler version.)

See! Five heart stamps without even pulling out a potato or a sponge.

So what now? Check back tomorrow for a Valentine template that will put those stamps to good use!


DIY: Corked Display Box

When you’re setting up a shop, or a booth for the first time, it seems like everyone has advice. What they don’t tell you about  is the agony, exhilaration, and frustration that is display.

I think that I could spend every waking hour working on display pieces in my store, and never be done– and yet, I love putting together something unique that shows off the artist’s work (and my cleverness.)

I’d been using this stripped-down silverware box for display, but didn’t feel like if was as useful as it should be. I starting thinking about buying a piece of cork board to hang jewelry pieces from the back- then realized I was ignoring a free material right at my fingertips, those wine corks someone had been hoarding. (Just so you don’t worry about me being crushed in a pile of old newspaper and wine corks, I wasn’t the one saving them; and this project used up almost all of them.)

I decided to line the back of the box in little slivers of cork. So I laid each cork out on a cutting board, and

cut it into four pieces. (It’s not an exact science. I wanted the cork backing to be a little uneven, like old masonry.)

After I had cut a whole bunch of corks, I got ready to glue.

I used Aleene’s Tacky Glue to glue each cork sliver down, packing them in tightly to fill the space.

At the edges, I cut the cork slivers in half to fill in where needed.

Once I filled in the whole back, I let it dry overnight, before filling the bottom portion with dry rice. (Rice is a display staple, not just a food!)

I pressed straight pins into the cork to hang jewelry. (I’ve found that the less fidgety a display is, the more comfortable people are using it. The pins are easier to pull earrings off of than clips.)

One more display case down.

(The jewelry pieces seen here are from Christine Stoll jewelry, available at the So There store, and her shop