I freaking hate winter. It’s the worst. In summer you can go to the beach, the pool, play in the sprinkler, or just lay around to cool off. There is (thankfully) no snow where I live, so there’s just nothing to do. We’re all just trapped inside, stumbling over each other, fighting over the best blanket in the house. On top of that, one of my FAVORITE pairs of Halloween socks got holes in the heels. If you know one thing about me, it’s probably that I’m a cheapskate. If you know two things, you probably know that I love Halloween more than all the other holidays put together. That’s right, even more than Washington’s birthday! I mean, look at these awesome socks:
When these socks became unwearable, I stuffed them in my scrap bag, awaiting an epiphany. I couldn’t just throw them away! Well, here we are, epiphany-had!
I didn’t even have to cut a thumb hole! I did hem it, however.
Then, I put it on inside-out, and folded the top down until it was the length I wanted. I then pinned it in place, took the sock off, and hand sewed the seam in place. Because these socks have stripes, it also made it easier to ensure I was folding it straight.
And we’re done! The whole thing probably took an hour or so, but it’s hard to tell because toddlers and dogs kept distracting me. But now I’m ready to kill some zombies in comfort! And I can keep my amazing skeleton socks! Honestly, I’m so happy with these I’m almost jealous of myself for having them.
I am always looking for ways to cut my spending, make life simpler, and reduce waste. I have often seen and been tempted by those disposable, sanitizing wipe things that come in huge canisters, and I’ve found myself grabbing baby wipes to clean up more things than just my baby. Well, no more! We can make reusable, washable, non-toxic wipes ourselves!!
You will need:
Wipes, (I used baby wash clothes I had laying around, which I’ve found for about $6/12 pack online. You could also repurpose an old towel, sweatshirt, or other absorbent fabric), vinegar, dish soap, water, and a container or two. If you buy new wash clothes, make sure to run them through the wash first. In your container, mix 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup water, and a couple drops of dish soap. You can add essential oils if you like that kind of thing. I’ve also used less vinegar before, so they don’t smell so strong, and it worked fine. Swish that stuff around, then smush your wash cloths down into the liquid. You want them to ideally be damp, but not drippy.
And now you’re ready! Wipe up any little spills without guilt! For dried on stuff, I spray plain vinegar, let it sit for awhile, then wipe everything down. When I’m done, I just toss the wipes in with our regular laundry. Note: you don’t want to use dryer softener, like Snuggles or Bounce, with these, or any other towels. It coats them with softeners which reduces their absorbency.
I make one batch at a time, and have another container of dry wipes ready to go. Some people use this same recipe with paper towels so they can throw it away when they’re done, and that’s up to you. I use paper towels for exceedingly gross stuff, like anything that comes out of my cats, but kitchen counters aren’t heinously disgusting like those little hell beasts.
Anyway, this recipe is great. My kitchen is already oodles cleaner, and we’re not burning through paper towels at a frightening rate anymore! Now go forth, and save!
As I said in a recent post, we’re planning to travel with my 2 year old for the holidays! I know, it’s completely nuts, but I’m preparing as best I can. So here we have one of my solutions: DIY toddler sewing projects! You will need markers, some kind of tough card stock (I reused old manila folders), a hole punch, and shoes laces or ribbon.
I drew some simple pictures on the manila folder with sharpies, and colored them in.
The I cut them out and punched holes around the edge:
It’s surprisingly simple. If you need something more durable you can color on and cut out plastic from milk jugs, or laundry detergent. Since we’re traveling for Christmas, I made a Christmas tree complete with tinsel:
It’s so cute I amaze myself sometimes! Now we’ll see if Nacho enjoys them at all. I hope so, because I made four total.
Rainy days, blah blah, kids trapped in the house, yadda yadda, mom’s out of booze, we need an activity. My son can’t get enough of playing with balls, so I thought I’d look at the resources I had on hand to craft an activity for him.
What does every crafty mom having laying around? Cardboard tubes! Whether from paper towels or toilet paper, we know there MUST be a use for them, and we hoard them like canned goods in a bomb shelter. I have these things falling out of cabinets when I attempt to put dishes away, so I figured it was about time to use a few up.
You will need: paper towel tubes, a cardboard box, strong tape, scissors, balls.
I had this Costco yogurt box laying around, and it is the perfect size for this. You can use something bigger or smaller, it’s up to you. I’m going to show you the basics of how I made mine, then you can adjust according to the materials you have on hand.
I started out laying the cardboard tubes in the box to measure how many I would need. I cut the tops off, long ways, just using scissors. I didn’t cut them directly in half, but if you have a shortage of paper towel tubes (Ha! Yeah, right) then you can do that and use each half.
I used pieces of toilet paper roll to add extra support to the paper towel tubes, with double stick tape. Important note: make sure the balls you’re going to use for this will fit through with those supports on there. Mine did not. I used whiffle golf balls and had to remove my beautiful supports.
I used big loops of masking tape to stick the tubes into the box. You can also use duct tape, or whatever you have laying around that’s fairly tacky. Again, test this thing before you hand it to your toddler so you don’t have to frantically rip pieces off while they run off to play with power outlets.
Success! He played with it!
Disclaimer: it does not work with kangaroos. I apologize for this huge oversight.
On my previous post about altering baby clothes, the most common comment I got was “You know there are these things called onesie extenders, right?” Yes, yes I do. Remember how I told you to keep your onesie scraps for a mystery project? Well here it is! DIY onesie extender!
Take the scraps from your onesie-turned-t-shirt, and pin them together. Make sure you pin it so the snap parts are facing the right direction, and will actually snap onto a onesie.
I simply trimmed off a little extra, folded the raw edges under, and sewed it together. It’s a little wide, and round, but it doesn’t really matter. I made another one later that came out much nicer, now I have two!
As you can see, my son is now enjoying an outfit he’d grown out of! He looks terrified, but that’s because the camera makes crazy lights and noises he can’t understand, yet.
So with these two tiny sewing projects, you gain another baby t-shirt, and a way to make several outfits last longer. Pretty damn clever, if I do say so myself!
A friend of ours, Sara of the Long Red Hair, hand made us this adorable baby pirate outfit. Unfortunately, I gave birth to a behemoth, and he never fit into it. We decided to use it to revamp one of baby Nacho’s stuffed animals.
Here is Hobbes, a gift from Hubby in years past, when he was still Boyfriendy, which doesn’t have a great ring to it. He agreed that Hobbes would probably enjoy the new outfit. The bow simply came untied, and a seam ripper detached the heart easily (that is a grotesque sentence).
Fortunately, Hobbes is MUCH easier to dress than Nacho:
Now we have another pirate to join Nacho’s crew! You can do this with any really special baby outfits. When I was growing up, my clothes got handed down to my sister, Beans, and then to my Cabbage Patch doll.
For the bulk of the clothes, since small kids generally outgrow things before they’re messed up, hand them down to friends and relatives kids, or donate them to thrift stores (assuming you aren’t saving them for your next kiddo).
Sometimes a well-meaning friend or family member will get you a gift of some kind that really doesn’t reflect your aesthetic ideals. But maybe you still want to keep said item around for when this person stops by. There are ways to alter the item in question so that it fits into your decor, but it still recognizable by the Gifter. For example, if someone gives you a hideous throw pillow, you can simply recover it, and remove the cover when the Gifter comes to visit.
It obviously took a lot of skill to create this, but since I’m going for more of a pirate/pin up/Bohemian look in my house, it really doesn’t match. This particular piece was not a gift, it was thrifted, but I’m just using it as an example.
Step 1: Turn it over and screw in picture hooks:
I have no idea what these are called. They came in a “picture hanging kit” I have. They’re little squares with a short screw shaft. I just screwed them in by hand, no drilling or anything.
Step 2: I then painted the whole thing black. It’s best to do a uniform color as the background so that you don’t have any weird shapes or colors showing through the front painting. If you’re worried about the colors showing through, coat it with white first and let that dry.
Step 3: While that was drying, I sketched out what I wanted to paint (and took a blurry photo of it). If you’re a great artist you can probably skip this step, but there’s a reason I didn’t complete a degree in art.
Step 4: Cut out the main shape and use it as a stencil. Mine was very simple, but you can see a more complex stencil here. Trace it in pencil.
Step 5: I filled in the whole thing with white. I’ll be painting the other colors on top of this, so the white underneath them will really make them pop, as opposed to painting directly on the black. I tried to free-hand my little scroll at the bottom, and you can see that didn’t work out great. I was able to fix it, however.
Step 6: And you’re done! Just kidding, I hate it when “how to” shows do that. They show the first, easy steps in minute detail, then the host says “next you simple recreate the Sistine Chapel ceiling in 1/8 size on the wall, and you’re done!” And you think “I hate that lady, but now I’m compelled to do this!”
I used my original drawing to sketch pencil guides onto my big white blob, then painted that. I used shirt paint for the eye lashes and script, because I find it much easier to use for fine lines than paint brushes. It’s just my personal preference. I use Liquitex paints, but again, that’s just a personal preference. They come in all kinds of colors, or you can get the basics and mix your own. They aren’t paying me or anything, but I would TOTALLY take it if they would.
A couple things to remember about painting: acrylic paint dries slightly darker than when you mix it, so if the shade is really important, mix some, let it dry, then see if it’s what you want before you use it on the final product. Also, I used glitter nail polish on the lips, but nail polish WILL melt acrylic paint if you aren’t careful. Dab it on, don’t run it around, and DON’T touch it once it’s in place. Let it dry for a disgusting amount of time.
I added some fake flowers I had laying around, and then added this to our wall of artwork. If this were an actual gift, I could just flip it over on the hook when the Gifter stopped by. This was a fun project that only took a few hours (with drying time) to complete.
As you might know, Mi Madre has a tiny quilting hobby, and that hobby creates a lot of mess in the form of fabric and thread scraps. Being the thrifty, eco-friendly (aside from her GIGANTIC PICK UP TRUCK) lady she is, she came up with a method to use all those scraps. I don’t create nearly as much detritus as she does, but I eventually had enough scraps to use for this project.
Loyal readers/stalkers may remember that my sweet, cutest-dog-until-the-end-of-eternity Flapjack already has a handmade dog bed. They may also remember that he once did this to my carpeting:
He basically did the same thing to the bed in his crate. So we’re going to start with a new bed, and toys while he’s locked up, because he obviously needs something to do other than dig.
You will need a thrift store or other unneeded pillow case, and a bunch of crap to stuff it with. If you are reworking some of your t-shirts, save the scraps for this type of thing. This is a great way to reuse holey socks, stained undershirts, or other fabric that is too messed up for the thrift store.
Stuff it with all that crap you’ve been saving (you can even store scraps in the pillow case while you’re hoarding them up), and make it nice and fluffy. Then pin it shut like so:
Sew that beast shut, and BOOM dog bed! I even wrapped Flapjack’s in another thifted pillow case so I can wash it:
What if you don’t have a dog, or all your dogs already have beds? Make them anyway and donate to your local shelter or pet rescue organization. Dogs can be destructive, as my sweet angel pie has shown, so they need that stuff constantly.
I love to crochet, but I have huge gaps in my knowledge of it. I can’t read patterns, and I have no idea how much yarn it takes to make what I want. For this project, I started out with 4 rolls of yarn from my Gram. I was trying to make a throw blanket, but it came out too long and skinny, and it looks ridiculous. I didn’t want to rip it all out and start over like I did with my giant blanket, so I stuffed it in a closet out of frustration.
Recently, on pinterest I saw a tutorial to make your own poof foot stool. I didn’t actually know that was a thing, but apparently it is. The tutorial it linked to was for knitting, but the gist is that you need a long skinny piece of fabric (I think. A lot of the site seemed to be in French). So the messed up blanket now had a purpose! I folded it in half, and sewed all down the short side. On one end I gathered the edges together like this:
Basically, I kept it folded in half, sewed one stitch in the middle to hold it together, brought the middle of each side in and sewed that together also. Once I had it divided into quarters in the picture above, I brought the middle of each loop to the center and sewed it all together again, which gives you this:
I hope I explained all that clearly. If not, send me ten dollars (enough for a box of wine!) and I’ll try again. Then flip your poof right side out, like this:
So you can see it gives you a nice, gathered look. On the tutorial I read, the creator got some blankets at the thrift store to stuff her poof. I think that’s genius, but I already have a plethora of blankets laying around; I just don’t want to permanently stitch them into a foot stool. What’s a Clever Chick to do? Drink. What’s a Clever Chick to do next? Use a blanket I want to keep, but find a way to make it still accessible. I used this comforter we have that is way too hot for the Texas summer.
I laid it out like this, then rolled it up, and stuffed it into my poof. I then closed it off with…a hairband! BOOM. I’m awesome. Since I chopped my hair off, I don’t need all these hairbands I have laying around, so this is the perfect solution. I can get to my blanket whenever I want, and it’s actually serving a purpose, rather than just cluttering up my linen closet right now.
Here’s the bottom once the whole thing was stuffed and poof-ified:
There was extra fabric on top where the hairband was holding it shut, so I just flared it out, and I have to say, it’s pretty adorable. It’s also very stable and solid. I think I stuffed an extra towel into the center of the poof once the blanket was in to make it more solid.
It came out super cute, and now 4 things that were just sitting around are being useful! Cause that’s how I roll.
Back in college is when I really started getting crafty. I made my own purse, made some dorm decorations, and made my own body pillow cover. That body pillow cover finally gave out after lasting
ten three years. My beautiful stitches stayed in place; the fabric itself gave out. I had hand sewn the whole thing, and Mi Madre thought I had machine sewn it, that’s how awesome I am.
I decided it was time to make a new cover, and in fact I made two, so one could go through the wash. I also made them using two different methods, because I’m awesome, and that’s the kind of crafting that keeps you on the edge of your seat! The first one is just plain old fabric sewn together. Maybe “plain” is not the right word for this fabric. It is faux quilt fabric from probably the 70’s that I found at a thrift store years ago. I have hoarded it, and used it periodically, but this is the biggest piece I’ve used so far. This piece is a yard wide, and I just laid the pillow down on top to get the length.
I then hemmed one of the short sides to be the open end of the pillow case.
Next, I folded the fabric in half, inside out, and pinned along the back end and long side, a couple inches from the pillow. You want the pillow case to be snug enough to stay on the pillow, but easy to slide on and off.
I ran it through my magical sewing machine, and BAM! Look at that crazy fabric! It’s so amazing, and yet terrible!
So, pillow case #2 is MUCH tamer. For this, I’m using 2 normal pillow cases. This is a great way to do this, because you can easily match your existing bed sheets, if that’s a concern of yours. If you can see the picture above these words, and the one below, you can tell that is OBVIOUSLY not a priority of mine.
I decided to have the open ends of these pillow cases both facing outward. First, I used my trusty seam ripper to open up the short end of both pillow cases.
Now here’s the tricky part: I turned one inside out, and left the other rightside out, then stuffed one inside the other so that rightsides were against each other, and the insides were both showing. The one that is rightside out goes inside the inside-out one. lined up the long seams on the pillow cases first, then the open seams I had just made. I then pinned it to death.
This picture shows the two “right” sides of the fabric touching each other.
And this is after I had pinned it all the way around the circle.
I then did a running stitch, by hand, all the way around. After that, I turned the whole thing right-side out, to make sure everything had worked as I planned, then turned it inside out and sewed one end shut.
I then turned the whole thing back rightside-out, and put it on the pillow. Fabulous!
This is a great way to use extra pillow cases you might have, like I obviously did. The hand-sewn one took a little longer, maybe a total of 45 minutes, and the first one took maybe 30 minutes. These are both great projects for someone beginning to learn to sew, or learning a sewing machine for the first time.
I have been having a lot of fun with my friend Kornberg’s sewing machine. I found this skirt at the thrift store, and knew I needed it in my house. I didn’t know why or how, but I needed it. What’s cool about it, is it was already repurposed by a company in San Antonio, Texas. I think it was a dress which they then transformed into a skirt, which ended up at the thrift store, and became a throw pillow at my house. I love it! Screw you, landfill!
Here’s the pillow form I used, that I happened to have laying around. Another thing you could do, is just re-cover an ugly throw pillow (which I’ve done), or even just make another cover for a throw pillow you like. Then you can change your look around without burying your couch in pillows.
I turned the skirt inside out, and sewed the top of the skirt shut. The sides were trickier since they were curved, so I used a ruler and drew dots as a guide.
I then pinned along the dots. If you use a washable marker, this will just wash out in the machine. I would still use a relatively light color, just in case.
Look at that beautiful seam! One thing I learned the hard way, was not to use a really tight stitch on the sewing machine. If you screw up, it is REALLY hard to pull out by hand. So I sewed down both sides, and left the bottom open to insert the pillow.
Here we are! Finished pillow:
I hand sewed a few snaps on the bottom so I can take it out and wash the cover if I need to. You can also use velcro, which is harder to sew on, but looks better in the end, in my opinion. Someday I need to take a picture of my couch to show you all the throw pillows I’ve made. It’s getting ridiculous. Flapjack is always losing his toys in them, and Hubby prefers sleeping on the couch to the bed. I guess I better get cracking on some bed pillows.