Tutorial: Resin Coin Display

Finshed display

Finished foreign currency display

A colleague was retiring from my group at work and he left some foreign currency in his office when he left.  A few colleagues and I thought it would be a great retirement present to preserve and present this money to him as a reminder of all the business trips he went on during his career.  Being the DIYer I am, I volunteered to make a display for him for the upcoming retirement party.

Supplies:

  • Wood for frame (I used a scrap piece of 1×8 for the back of the frame and purchased a strip of trim that was 1.25″ tall with a decorative detail)
  • Finishing nails
  • Wood Glue
  • Clamps
  • Hand saw or table saw
  • Gel stain and polyurethane (or your desired finishing technique, e.g. spray paint)
  • Resin epoxy kit (I used Parks Super Glaze (1 qt) from Home Depot)
  • Disposable plastic buckets (1 qt or larger), wood stir sticks
  • Coins and paper money or other items you want to preserve
  • Picture hanger with small nails (I used a sawtooth style hanger from the hardware store)

Instructions:
1.  Plan Frame.  Depending on the amount of currency, or other display items, you want to show, plan the size of the frame you want.  I used scrap 1 x 8 for the base, which dictated by width at 7.25-inches wide.  To fit the coins and bills I had to display, I made the base approximately 18-inches tall.  I cut pieces of decorative trim to frame the base, cutting the corners at 45-degrees to miter the corners for a tighter fit.

2.  Build Frame.  Assemble your frame according to your plan.  Be as precise as possible when fitting the frame around the base.  When you pour in your epoxy, you’ll want as tight of a seal as possible.  I used wood glue and a few finishing nails on each of the four pieces of trim along with clamps to hold it all in place while the wood glue dried.  I filled in any gaps with wood filler and used gel stain to stain my frame a mahogany color.  I applied two coats of polyurethane, focusing on the side trim pieces since the main front piece will be covered with coins and resin.

Building my frame

Building my frame

3.  Resin your coins.  When your frame is ready, arrange your coins and paper bills as desired.  I played with my layout for awhile to make sure the paper money was lying flat and the best side of each coin was showing.  Read the resin directions thoroughly if this your first time using this product!  Have all your supplies ready to use and arranged for easy access.  Have extra rags or paper towels handy to keep the area as clean as possible.  Mix the resin according to the instructions and pour over your display pieces.  Tap the frame and use a hot blow dryer to remove as many bubbles as possible.

Supplies for resin

Supplies gathered and ready for the resin step

4.  Finish display.  When your resin has dried completely, add a sawtooth picture hanger to the back.

Lessons Learned:
This was my first time working with the resin and I learned a few ways I would improve my process the next time.

1. The key to this resin is to use as thin a layer as possible.  I used most of my 1-qt of resin and filled up my display more than was necessary.  This led to a very heavy display and wrinkles in the surface of my resin as it dried.  Next time, I would make sure my coins and paper were as flat as possible and just put enough resin to cover everything.  you’re tempted to use all you resin since it is pretty expensive and one-time use.  if you can estimate how much you need more accurately, you can get a better result.

2.  Make your frame as square as possible using as light of wood as possible.  I used a 1″ x 8″ as the base of my frame and had some gaps in the trim when I assembled it.  This lead to a heavier item and more work in trying to seal the gaps with wood fill before the resin step.  The resin with dry quickly, but I got some leakage in the very beginning.

– Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Tips on Sewing a Custom Roman Shade

Close-up of Ribbon Detail on Shade

Close-up of Ribbon Detail on Shade

I was recently commissioned (i.e. asked very nicely) to make a custom roman shade for my friends’ new nursery. The job was first planned in the months leading up to the birth and the shade was installed when cute little Ellis was a few weeks old.

The couple wanted a shade in solid navy to complement the room. They looked into ordering one and got quotes of upwards of $800. I knew I could make it with a little Pinterest-ing and sewing time. After some research and fabric shopping, they decided on a navy thick weave upholstery fabric with a 3″ green grosgrain ribbon edge detail. We purchase the navy upholstery fabric and blackout fabric at High Fashion Fabrics, an excellent local Houston decorating fabric emporium and the 3″ grosgrain ribbon from TeaPartyRibbons on Etsy. The remaining supplies were from Home Depot and Joann’s (supply list in reference tutorial post).

Tha main challenge with this project is the size of the window – about 70″ wide x 58″ tall. They wanted it to be all one shade rather than two, which meant that wide width would add some complexity since there would have to be a seam to cover the whole window. After searching for tutorials, I found one that was very helpful. I won’t rephrase those instructions, but comment on modifications I made.

How to Make Custom Roman Shades by Brown Paper Packages
This was the main tutorial I followed. It is a great tutorial and carefully explains what materials you need (tube tape is one of the best crafting inventions ever! Never roman shade without it! I’m not kidding, ring tape is sooooo 1990s). She has very clear instructions on how to space your tube tape and drapery cord lines to make sure everything is well supported and a great materials list with formulas for calculating what you need to purchase – drapery cord, tube tape, lining, wood for mounting, etc.

I followed Brown Paper Packages’ instructions for the most part. I had to make some changes due to my width and I changed the side edges. Since we were adding the edge detail with the green ribbon, I created the front navy piece from three panels and hid the seams under the ribbon. For the blackout fabric, I made a vertical seam in the center. Offsetting the seams in the front and blackout panels also helped reduce fabric bulk when it was hung.

I followed the advice from another blog post (I’m bummed I can’t find the reference!) for the edges. I wanted the navy to wrap around the edge for a more finished look. I measured my panels so the navy wrapped 2″ onto the back.  The technique is to create the front panel 4 inches wider and the lining 4 inches thinner than the finished width. Then, stitch them together along each side at the appropriate point in the process.  This creates a 2 inch wrap around of the front fabric.

The ribbon embellishment created additional complexity. I wanted to sew over the grosgrain ribbon as little as possible while achieving a finished look – that is, as little visible sewing as possible. It required additional hand sewing, but I think it was worth it. Here is a summary of the steps I took for assembly that differed slightly from the referenced tutorial to eliminate the need to sew over the ribbon.

Assembly Steps:
1. Assemble blackout fabric lining panel (vertical seam in middle of panel) and hem bottom edge. I used a 1″ seam.

2. Assemble front panel from three pieces of fabric with two vertical seams where you want the ribbon to be. The outer edge of my ribbons are about 8″ from the finished edge. For a thinner window, you would likely have them closer to the edge.

3. Sew on the two vertical pieces of ribbon over the seams. I sewed an 1/8″ seam on each edge of the ribbon.

4. Hem the bottom edge of the front panel, switching thread colors when sewing over the ribbon. I sewed with navy thread in the three sections of fabric and then switched to green thread to sew over the ribbons. I sewed a 2″ hem to correspond with the 2″ overlap the navy will have in the sides. (Note: this is the only visible time I sew over the ribbon in this project.  I sew over it in step 7 with the horizontal ribbon)

5. Sew front and lining/blackout panels together on both sides with right sides together. I positioned the blackout panel about 2″ about above the front section to match the 2″ overlap in the sides. Flip right sides out. (Because of the size of this shade, I double checked all my measurements at this point)

6. Flatten the shade so the navy overlap on each side is equal at 2″ wide. I sewed down the length of each side about 1″ from the edge to keep everything together. I only did this step because the thick weave upholstery fabric completely hid my stitches. I wouldn’t recommend this on other fabrics that will show stitching unless you want that seam visible. You could also hand or machine baste the sides at this point. I felt it was helpful to steady the piece for the next steps.

7. Based on where I knew my lowest tube tape would be positioned, about 6 inches above the bottom hem, I was able to attach the horizontal ribbon to the shade, sewing through both layers. Depending in your spacing and shade dimensions, you may need to sew on the tube tape first or slightly adjust the position of the tube tape near where you want to sew on any ribbon embellishment.

8. Next, I followed Brown Paper Packages’ instructions in sewing on the tube tape. I sewed from the back (top thread white, bobbin in navy), but the big difference for me was that I did not sew over the ribbon embellishment. While pinning each length of tube tape, I also pinned to indicate the edges of the ribbon and did not sew over them.

9. Another difference was the edges since I wanted the navy overlap. I left about 1 inch of tube tape at each end. My shade had 6 rows of tube tape to cover the 58″ height.

9. Because of my desire to not to sew over the ribbon, I now had some hand sewing to do. I hand tacked the end of each tube tape row by tuning under about 0.5 inches and sewing it down with a hidden stitch. The tape ended about 0.25 to 0.5 inches from the edge of the shade. I also hand tacked the two edges of the horizontal ribbon. I folded a bit under to match the edge where eye navy stopped, 2″ in from the edge.

10. At this point I went back to following Brown Paper Packages’ tutorial for adding the drapery cord (I had 8 cords for my width!), covering the top wood piece with navy fabric, adding eyelet screws, and mounting it in the window. Instead of the Velcro that Brown Paper Packages’ used, installed the shade to the top wood piece and mounted it directly to the window frame. After hanging we inserted 3/8″ diameter wooden dowels in the tube tape to get crisp pleats. This is a must unless you have a very thin shade and so easy with the tube tape.

Overall, the project turned out pretty well. The navy fabric stretched a bit at the top because of the thick open weave, but it was able to be installed pretty well.

Roman shade installed in the nursery

Roman shade installed in the nursery

One word of warning when working with blackout fabric – it is not self healing. Because of the plastic layers used to create an opaque fabric, the fabric does not heal after being punctured with a needle. Therefore, take your time when sewing it since ripping out stitches will leave small holes through which light can pass. This was an issue in this project because the navy fabric had such an open weave. When the shade was hung and the bright sun was outside the window, I could see each seam of the tube tape across the shade. It’s probably something only a DIYer would notice, but worth mentioning.

-Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Hexagons That Were Made Easy

My guild, the Houston Modern Quilt Guild, recently had a workshop with Jen Eskridge, author of Hexagons Made Easy.  It was a great class where Jen shared her stories of publishing three books and her years of quilting experience.  She taught us the technique from her Hexagons Made Easy book and it was an enjoyable class with my guild colleagues.

The course provided a fabric kit with Art Gallery Fabrics (Bespoken by Pat Bravo) with hexagons in dark purple prints, a turquoise and a purple fabric for the main parts of the quilt, and a striped fabric for the binding.  I decided to use all the dark purple hexagons and make the front and back out of the turquoise or purple.  I arranged the hexagons in an organized pattern starting in the corner with a few that disperse out.  I did the same pattern mirrored on the other side.  I sewed on all the hexagons with a 1/4″ seam before assembling the quilt.

Turquoise side of the hexagon quilt

Turquoise side of the hexagon quilt

Purple side of hexagon quilt

Purple side of hexagon quilt

For the quilting, I sewed around each hexagon with small (1/16 – 1/8″) seam through all layers.  I matched the bobbin thread to the background color of the bottom layer when I quilted each side.  Then, I finished up the quilting with a few randomly placed hexagons to cover the quilt.  All in all, it was a great technique to learn and my class sampler will hopefully make a great baby quilt.

Close up of the hexagons and quilting on the turquoise side

Close up of the hexagons and quilting on the turquoise side

– Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Tutorial: Cheery Berry Wreath

Cheery Berry Wreath

Cheery Berry Wreath welcoming visitors

Now that I own a home, I feel motivated to decorate for the holidays. I don’t quite have the passion or time for elaborate house bedazzling with lights and sound. I thought I’d start with a winter wreath. I wanted something that wasn’t too Christmas-y so I could keep it up longer – a cheery winter berry wreath was the ticket.  I got some simple materials from my local arts and crafts store and whipped up this wreath in under 30 minutes.

Supplies:
Wire wreath frame – I used an 18″ one from Michael’s
Fir garland or other green garland to cover frame
Floral wire
Scissors/shears
Berries!

[I bought 50 springs of berries from Michaels at an after Christmas sale. Each spring had about 10 to 12 berries on it. Depending in your wreath size and the density you want, you may need more or fewer springs.]

Instructions:
1. Prep your sprigs. For my sprigs, I removed the leaf on each one to leave only berries.  Depending on the look you want and the sprigs you buy, you could leave all or some of the leaves for a different look.

2. Cover frame with greenery.  I used a fir garland to cover the wire frame and provide a background for the berries.  I placed the garland twice around the wreath on the front, securing it with floral wire.

2. Attach your sprigs. My sprigs all had floral wire in the base that allowed me to simply wrap the end around the wire of the wreath frame. I spaced them out evenly around the wreath, attaching them on the two concentric wire rings on the frame that made up the front of the frame. I wasn’t worried about position of the sprig yet, that would be taken care on in the next step. The key is evenly spacing the sprigs.

Attach berry springs evenly around the wreath

Attach berry springs evenly around the wreath

3. Wrap your wreath in floral wire. This was the most important step, in my opinion. I wanted a smooth, uniform circle of berries so I decided to wrap the wreath in floral wire. I attached the end of the wire on my spool of floral wire and started wrapping the wire around the wreath, working my way around the wreath. I wrapped the wire about every 1 – 2 inches. The key for the look I wanted to achieve was to make sure the sprigs were all laying in the same direction. As I wrapped, I gathered them up and tucked the wire in between berries to hide it and secure the sprigs to the wreath. I went all the way around the wreath overlapping a bit with where I started.

Wrapping of wreath in progress

Wrapping of wreath in progress. Wrapping with floral wire ensures all the berries lie down in the direction you want.

This project was fairly straightforward and easy to assemble.  I love that the wreath works for fall and winter since it is too Christmas-specific.

Completed Cheery Berry Wreath - ready for your front door

Completed Cheery Berry Wreath – ready for your front door

For your project, you could easily add sprigs of other leaves, flowers, or other bling to jazz up your wreath.

– Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Scrappy Quilt from Jessica Darling Color Theory Workshop

As a member of the Houston Modern Quilt Guild (HMQG), I had the privilege of attending a color theory workshop by Jessica Darling at a recent guild meeting. Jessica is an awesome person and has years of experience in sewing and quilting and has a professional long arm service. Jessica led us through a color workshop using scraps everyone brought in from their stashes. We dumped the scraps on the floor and went diving into the pile to create a new project.

I was not a very good student since Jessica was encouraging us to expand outside of our normal color palette and I stick pretty closely with the cools and grays I know and love. I added some lime and dark yellow, but I wasn’t as adventurous as my guild colleagues.

Color Theory Quilt Front

Color Theory Quilt Front

Using the scraps, I made modified log cabin squares with varying sizes of squares and strips. I made about 8 squares during the workshop and came home and made 16 more. I wanted to make a throw size quilt and ended up with a top pieced into a 6 by 4 square, made from 12″ squares.

I pieced a scrappy, striped back with some gray fabric I had, using 100% cotton low loft batting, and pieced scrappy binding. I wanted to try something new for the quilting and decided on using teal and gray to make irregular triangle pattern. I’m not yet up to free motion quilting, so I stuck with straight lines and my even feed foot. I decided to hand sew the binding on the back to finish the quilt. It looks pretty good, but I think I’ll save hand binding for special quilts in the future and use my trusty binding foot. After binding, it ended up 70 x 47 inches.

Color Theory Quilt Back

Color Theory Quilt Back

I encourage you to dive into your scrap pile or hold a similar workshop with your guild or bee. It’s good practice and combining colors patterns that you may not normally think of combining.

Completed Color Theory Quilt

Completed Color Theory Quilt – ready for watching a movie on the couch

– Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Tutorial: Play kitchen oven mitts and pot holders

DIY Tutorial: Play Kitchen Oven Mitts

DIY Tutorial: Play Kitchen Oven Mitts

I have two adorable nieces under 5 years old. In an attempt to foster and support their creativity, I wanted to make something for them this past Christmas rather than just buying something from the big box stores. My nieces love to ‘play kitchen’ with play food, a play kitchen set-up and lots of dishes, tea sets, and pots and pans. I decided to add to their kitchen stash with child-sized oven mitts and hot pads. Warning: these are only for play time and are not oven or heat safe – just for imaginary food preparation.

Supplies needed:
Sewing machine with basic sewing supplies (scissors, thread, etc.)
Scraps of two coordinating fabrics (<1/4 yd each)
Scrap batting (medium or high loft preferred)
Double fold binding (scraps, store bought or handmade)

1.  Draw a template.  Draw a template from scratch for the oven mitt outline onto printer or craft paper. I used a full size oven mitt as reference and tried to scale it down to about toddler size. My completed template is about 8 inches tall and 6.5 inches wide, including seam allowance.  Remember, it’s just for fun so don’t worry about the shape too much.

2.  Cut out all the pieces.  Cut out 2 oven mitt shapes from each of the two fabrics and 2 pieces from batting (2 x fabric #1, 2 x fabric #2, 2 x batting = 6 total pieces per mitt). For each of the fabrics, make sure to cut out a ‘right’ and a ‘left’ mitt by turning over the template before cutting out the second. If you are making a pair of mitts, you’ll need twice the number of pieces (12 total pieces). Instructions that follow are for a single mitt.

Oven mitt pattern and assembly

Oven mitt pattern and assembly

3.  Quilt the pieces.  Next, create 2 sandwiches (‘left’ and ‘right’) from fabric #1 lying right side down, then the batting piece on top of that, then fabric #2 on top, right side up.  Make sure your sandwiches of fabric – batting – fabric have right sides out.  Next, using an even feed foot of you have one, quilt these sandwiches however you like.  I just quilted a grid of straight lines for simplicity.  After quilting, sew around the edge of each sandwich with a serger to bind and finish any uneven edges. If you don’t have serger, trim the edges of the sandwiches if there was any slipping during quilting and sew a seam 1/8 inch from the edge around each sandwich to keep everything together.  (For more advanced sewers, you can make a sandwich from a square at least 6 inches tall x 10 inches wide, quilt, cut out the two sides of the mitt, and serge the edges)

4.  Assemble the mitt.  Decide which fabric you want on the outside of the mitts and make sure then are facing inside for this step.  Stack the two quilted pieces with wrong sides out. Sew a 1/4 inch seam around the mitt, starting and ending on either side of the mitt opening, leaving the opening unsewn.

5.  Bind the bottom edge.  The final step is binding the bottom edge of the mitt. This can be challenging since the opening is quite small. I recommend applying one edge of the binding to the outside of the mitt (when it’s inside out) with the raw edges of the binding aligned with the raw edge of the mitt. After sewing, turn mitt inside out. Fold over binding to the outside (right side) of the mitt and top stitch binding down around opening.  I added a loop to mimic a real mitt.

I followed the same technique to make the play pot holders. I created a single quilt sandwich about 5 inches square and bound the edge. It’s that easy!

Finished play kitchen oven mitt and pot holders

Finished play kitchen oven mitt and pot holders

– Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Tutorial: Filled Table Lamp

It seems like a blog post every other week is going to work out better for my schedule, every week might have been a bit optimistic on my part J.  Here is my next tutorial.

I love decorating my new condo by combining items from lots of different stores and making a things to add a super personal touch.  This week I am going to show you how to make a filled table lamp to match your décor.  I am usually NOT a fan of silk faux flowers as a rule, but I decided to try them in my idea for this lamp since it will be contained within the glass.  When I think of silk flowers, I usually think of dusty, old things.  You could also use colorful stones, rocks, souvenirs, colorful paper, or anything you like.  I am already thinking of doing a second one with colorful shredded paper.

Supplies:

  • Fillable table lamp (mine was from Target, they are available in lots of shapes and sizes and from various stores)
  • Lamp shade (again mine was from Target)
  • Faux flowers in colors you like
  • (Alternative items you want to fill your lamp with)
  • Scissors or other basic supplies you may need, depending on your filling
  • Glass cleaner
Tutorial: Filled Table Lamp

Here are the supplies for my Filled Table Lamp

To start, I opened up the top of my lamp by unscrewing the top socket.  I cleaned the lamp inside and out well with the glass cleaner.  Mine had a sort of film on it, probably from sitting in the store for a while.  Once your lamp is clean, you’re ready to get creative.

For the types of flowers I bought, I cut individual orchids off of the vine and cut up my hydrangeas to create smaller flower bunches and individual leaves.  I chose to do this because the tall and skinny shape of my lamp wouldn’t fit the full hydrangea bloom.  If you have a shorter or wider one, it would be interesting to keep some larger blooms.

Remember that your lamp needs to be interesting 360° around so plan for how you are going to arrange your items.  I started by placing some leaves in the ‘back’ of my lamp (the side with the cord exiting on the bottom).  Then, I placed my taller grass pieces toward the back and spread out.  Then, I started placing the purple hydrangea pieces with orchids interspersed throughout the bottom.  I made sure all the orchids were facing out and you couldn’t see any of the stem I cut off.

Tutorial: Filled Table Lamp

Here is my new Filled Table Lamp

I played with my arrangement for a while until I got it how I liked it.  Once I was happy with it, I reattached the socket and installed the lampshade.  Then I chose a spot for my new favorite lamp.  Get creative with this great idea!

Tutorial: Filled Table Lamp

Here is my new Filled Table Lamp in its new spot in my condo!

Tutorial: Simple Paper-backed Shelves

Happy Superbowl Sunday, everyone!

This week’s tutorial is a really simple project to quickly update a room while adding a bit of personality.  Lining the back of shelves or shelving units is a great way to spruce up a living room, guest room, or in my case, my craft room.  My project using inexpensive, assemble yourself shelves that you can buy at your local Target or Walmart.  This project could also be used on smaller, wall-hung shelving units, or anything with a backing already included

Supplies you’ll  need:

  • Shelves or shelving unit (easy to find in the closet organization section of your favorite Target or Walmart)
  • Craft or scrapbook paper in the designs you like
  • Paper glue; I used glue sticks meant for scrapbooking
  • Scissors, measuring tape

Instructions:

The shelves I chose to cover had a separate backing that slid into place and was nailed down during the final assembly step.  I treated the shelf backing before attaching it to the shelving unit.

To start, I selected the paper I wanted to use to cover the backing.   Make sure you have enough of the same design, or have a plan for arranging the paper if you are using pieces of differing prints.

Tutorial Simple Paper-lined Shelves

Supplies for the Simple Paper-lined Shelves

Next, I trimmed a piece of scrapbooking paper to fit the width of the backing, shown above as the white board folded in half lengthwise.  I started by measuring the middle of the backing in the longer direction.  Then, I started covering the backing by gluing the first piece in the middle of the backing, as shown below.

Tutorial Simple Paper-lined Shelves

The first piece of paper is glued to the middle of the backing

Then, I trimmed the two remaining pieces of scrapbooking paper to the correct width and length, allowing a small overlap with the center piece already affixed to the backing.  I then glued the top and bottom pieces of paper to the backing.  Finally, I let the glue dry and then attacked the backing to my shelves as instructed by the manufacturer.  My newly updated shelving unit is shown below.

Tutorial Simple Paper-Lined Shelves

Completed shelving unit

I covered three of the same shelving units in the same way with different papers to update my craft room.

Tutorial Simple Paper-Lined Shelves

Trio of newly updated shelves

This project is quick and easy, give it a try!

-Stephanie

Tutorial: Quirky Yarn Beard

This post is a tutorial for a super fun project that is easy for a beginner at sewing.  My friend Tracy asked me to make her a beard so she could go to a costume party as her boyfriend.  I thought a beard made out of yarn would suit her needs.

Supplies you’ll  need for this project:

  • Yarn in the color(s) of the beard you’d like.  I recommend one skein, or scraps of yarn if you have it
  • 1 square of felt in a color to match your beard
  • Ribbon for the tie, scrap will work if you have it
  • Piece of cardboard
  • Thread to match yarn
  • Fabric scissors, Cardboard scissors
  • Sewing machine
Tutorial Quirky Yarn Beard

My supplies for the Yarn Beard

Instructions:

To start with, I cut a rough pattern for beard from paper including a mouth hole.  I used the paper model to fit to my face before using the felt.  Next, I cut out the beard shape from brown felt.  This will serve as the base of the beard and should be fairly soft against your face.  Then, I attached two pieces of brown ribbon to each corner of the felt.  This will be used to tie the beard onto the wearer.  It is easier to fit the ribbon length and make sure the shape of the beard is what you want at this stage, before any yarn is attached.  Make sure the felt is the right size and the tie is long enough for an easy closure before moving on to the next steps.

Next, I cut a U-shaped piece from the cardboard.  I suggest a deep, thin U about 8-10 inches long and up to 6 inches wide.  Choose the width of the U based on how shaggy you’d like your beard to be.  Each individual beard strand will end up half the length of the width of the U.  If you’d like a shaggier beard, like mine, make your U up to 6 inches wide.  If you’d like shorter beard strands, make the U narrower.

Once you have your cardboard U, start wrapping yarn around the U as shown in the picture.  I wrapped the whole length of my U with one color, and then added an accent color.  I used scotch tape to secure the ends of the yard while I was working with the U.

Tutorial Quirky Yarn Beard

Yarn wrapped around the cardboard U

Once you have the U fully wrapped, cut the yarn off the main ball so you can work with it easier.  Now, use your sewing machine to sew the yarn together.  Start at the open end of the U and sew down the middle, catching all of the criss-crossing yarn.  I had to manually feed the U through the machine since your feed dogs likely won’t like the yarn and cardboard combination.  I pulled it slowly through to make sure that all the yarn was secured to each other.  My yarn began to come off the cardboard as I sewed it, which was fine.  After it is secured down the middle, it is ok if it falls off the cardboard since it should stitched together.

Once you are done securing the yarn to each other, you are ready to affix it to the felt backing.  I took my largest strand of yarn loops and positioned it around the bottom edge of the felt backing.  Once the yarn loops are stitched together, they had some flexibility so I could position them along the edge.  Next, I sewed the yarn loops on to the felt backing as shown in the picture.

Tutorial Quirky Yarn Beard

First row of yarn loops sewed onto the felt backing

After sewing the line of yarn loops, I used fabric scissors to cut all of the loops to create individual beard strands.  Here is what the first row of the beard looked like after clipping the loops.

Tutorial Quirky Yarn Beard

First row of the beard with the yarn loops clipped

I repeated this procedure to add one more row of loops in the middle of the beard and one row above the mouth to create the mustache and top of the beard.  After clipping all the loops, you have an awesome new yarn beard to enjoy!

Here is me trying on my yarn beard for the first time.  Since my U was pretty wide, you can see how my individual beard strands ended up being pretty long.  Feel free to adjust your cardboard U to end of up with a beard as fluffy as you’d like.

Tutorial Quirky Yarn Beard

Yarn beard in action

Tutorial: Towel Seat Belt Covers

Welcome to the first sewing tutorial!  I posted this previously on my sister’s blog (www.icanfindthetime.com) and will repost it here to get mine going.

Making Towel Seat Belt Covers

I thought of making a seat belt cover from a hand towel that can help avoid getting your seat belt sweaty after a great workout (especially Bikram yoga!) or after getting caught in a down pour.  After taking up hot yoga, running in Arizona anytime of year, and experiencing the sudden downpours of the Hill Country of Texas, having some extra safeguard against a sweaty or musty car seemed like a good idea.

Supplies you’ll need:

  • 1 Hand towel (for two seat belt covers)
  • 1 package of 36” soft, sewable Velcro in complimentary color (usually just white or black are readily available)
  • Fabric scissors
  • Matching thread
  • Sewing machine and sewing accoutrement you may need (seam ripper, etc.)

Instructions:

So, I’m making two sets, one for me and one for friend I do yoga with.  I bought two 2-packs of handtowels at Walmart for $3 each.  I liked them since they had the corresponding stripes down each end and that is where I’ll make the cover.  I like the use of hand towels since there are lots of nice, finished edges.  I’ll be making two seat belt covers that are 16” long since I’m using the width of the small edge of the towel, along the stripes.

Towels chosen for seat belt covers

First, cut the hand towel in half on the longest side.

Cut each towel in half, hamburger style

Cut each piece of Velcro in half, leaving a 15” length.  Place one of the halves of the Velcro (I did the Velcro hook side first) towards the finished edge of each half of the towel.  I centered it on the width and just behind the finished edge, about 1” from the bottom of the towel.

Pin on the first half of the Velcro

Sew down the Velcro tape using a sewing machine.  I used white thread for the top thread and blue for the bobbin so that it was as hidden as possible.

Sew down the Velcro with matching thread

For the next part, you need to choose the finished width of the cover that you’d like and sew the finished edge.  Standard seat belts are 2” wide, so I was shooting for 2.5” to allow some extra room.

Fold over the seat cover like it will end of being to determine where you should trim the extra.  I measured 2.5” from the final fold and marked it with a pin.  I think measured an additional 1” for seam allowance.  The pins are in the picture at 2.5” and 3.5” pins.  I did this on both ends and then cut off the raw edge at the second pin.

Fold over the towel to make a casing for the seat belt

Make casing approximately 2.5″ to accommodate the seat belt

Trim off extra towel to avoid bulkiness in casing

After trimming the raw edge, turn up the edge 0.5” twice and pin it in place.  Then, sew it in place to create a hem.  I switched the top thread to blue to hide the seams.

Fold raw towel edge to create smooth edge

Then, place the second piece of Velcro tape (make sure it’s the opposite type!) just inside the seam you just sewed.  I placed mine as close as possible to the new seam and I folded it over to ensure that the Velcro parts line up to make a 2.5” wide tube.  The hem is pretty thick (3 thicknesses of terry cloth), so you’ll probably have to offset it a bit from the hem to allow you to sew around the Velcro tape.  Alternatively, you could switch to a zipper foot to allow you to trace the edges of the Velcro better.  Pin the Velcro tape and sew it down like the first strip.  I switched back to white as the top thread to hide the seams.

Sew on the second piece of Velcro

Finally, there is just one step left.  I decided to sew two extra seams on each cover to help stabilize the tri-fold of each cover.  I sewed in about 3/8” on each edge with a single straight seam so that the cover would always fold to the same place if you take it on and off the seat belt.  This wouldn’t be possible if I hadn’t made it 2.5” wide in the first place.  If you decided to just make it 2” wide, you can forgo this extra step.

Sew down each side to stabilize casing

After sewing on that Velcro, your seat belt covers are done.  Here are the two sets I made, one blue and one red.

The finished sets. Red fish, blue fish…

Here are my new seat belt covers in action!

Happy, sweat-proof seat belt!

There are lots of ways to personalize this depending on your towels and car.  In my case, the covers were as long as the short length of the towels to avoid refinishing more edges than necessary.  Depending on your car, you may need to shorten one for the top section of a tri-point seat belt so it can retract when you exit the vehicle and keep the clasp from getting in the way of the closing door.