Charging Station

In my house, we charge all of the devises between the couches. The chords are unsightly! So I had to do something about it. Here I make a charging station that fits in with my decor!

 

  1. Buy a box with  lid that will close and stay closed when sat upright. I found a bread box at target with a magnetic lid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make sure to try out your box to ensure that it works. Leave open on a flat surface. If you return and find a cat in it, then it’s a good box.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Measure the box. The lid will be the front. Choose which way you want the door to open and mark the top and bottom (short ends).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Measure the plug.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. On the center of the bottom mark a spot to drill the hole for the chord. I have an 1 1/4-inch long-edge of my plug, so the hole was 1 1/2-inch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Mark four evenly spaced (or however many chords can charge at once) ticks on the front lid.

 

 

 

 

 

6. On the back of the box (opposite side of the door), mark two evenly spaced spots along the center. This is to affix the box to the wall.

 

 

 

 

7. DRILL HOLES! Or have your husband do it. It’s his tools, so I just give good instructions. Let’s be clear, I know how to use all of his tools, and am perfectly capable of using power tools. However, I stick to my tools and he sticks to his. . . .and the ones he has absorbed from me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Use screws to affix the box to the wall. Use a level to ensure the box is not uneven.

 

 

 

 

 

The finished product in use. Note that our chord has a hub that is plugged into it. There are two standard ports and two USB ports.

Door Draft Blocker

I haven’t posted in a while, so let’s start this set of upcoming posts with a super useful item. A door draft blocker! I needed two for different reasons. First, the block the beer closet from getting dust, pet hair, and other items into the precious beer area. The second is to keep the kitty litter in the cat closet. Sometimes he is messy and gets the litter everywhere! Then we tread on it while walking down the hall, it’s the worst.

 

  1. Measure your doors! The beer door is 30-inches, the cat door is 24-inches and the width of both is 1 1/4-inches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Cuts!

Length, is obviously just a bit longer than the length of the door. I did 26-inches on the brown, for the cat door and 34-inches on the gray for the beer door.

Width is 15 inches: 1/2 inch on each side for seams, 6 inches on each side for the stuffing and a middle section 2 inches long.

 

3. Seams: I  did the seams two different ways to see which I like better, time will tell.

 

For the gray I did a serger edge on each of the long lengths. Always finish serger seams with some fray check.

 

 

 

 

 

On the brown fabric I did a folded over seam. I ironed a 1/4-inch fold on each long edge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Pin: Fold each side in on the long length. For the folded edge, ensure to keep the edge folded while pinning. I left an approximate 1-inch gap between the fabric.

 

 

 

 

On one of the short edges fold under the end to seal the end, leaving the other end free.

 

 

 

 

 

5. Sew. For the serger edge, sew at the inside edge of the serger thread. On the folded over edge give a little less than a 1/4-inch seam allowance.

 

 

 

 

 

Sew the folded under short edge closed.

 

 

 

 

 

6. Stuff and seal closed. The obvious stuffing material is the acrylic stuffing that you can buy from the store. I stuffed these with old clothes that weren’t going to make it to the thrift store. Always cut off buttons, take out zippers and save those!

 

 

 

 

 

7. Apply to the door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In use on the beer closet:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In use on the cat closet.

 

   

Table Runner

My foyer table needed a new runner.

As an aside, I recently bought a house so be prepared for a large number of new posts as I fill it with my style.

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The planning stage of my table runner:

  • 5 quilt squares
  • extra fabric for the trim
  • know your dimensions!

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  1. Cut the fabric into 2-1/2 inch squares. There is n picture of this so here is a picture of one of my helpers:

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2. Line up the fabric right sides together but offset by a predetermined distance. I used 1-1/8 inch. This will give it the horizontal effect. Make sure each strip is off by the same amount.

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3. Sew the strips together. Ensure you keep a standard seam with. I used 1/4 inch.

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4. Keep sewing! You will have one long  . . . .long fabric piece.

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5. Iron so that all the seams lay in the same direction.

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6. Cut the fabric piece in half.

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7. Lay the right sides together and fold in half. Use the folded crease as a way to keep your fabric piece square. Line the crease along a line on your cutting board and then cut off the edges perpendicularly.

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8. You may have to square up the top edge again when you are done to ensure a nice rectangle.

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9. Cut batting to suit.

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10. Not shown: sew with the fabric pieces right sides together and batting on one side. Leave a gap in the seam so that you can flip the piece inside out.

11. Flatten the piece and then iron the edges flat.

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12. Create quilting lines: I did one seam along each white piece front and back. It turned out very nice.

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You can see the front and back here with the fabric folded.

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13. Cut your trim fabric in 3 inch wide lengths.

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14. Iron trim fabric in half.

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15. Sew the trim fabric to the edge of the fabric piece. The open edge of the trim should be in line with the outside edge of the piece. I did the long edges first.

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16. Before doing the trim on the short edges finish the long edges by folding the trim over the fabric piece and sewing down the side again.

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17. Next sew the trim on the short edge as done in step 15. Leave 2-3 inches on each side as extra. Also, start sewing just inside the trim for the long edges.

18. Now let’s set up our corners. Cut the fabric at an angle as shown below.

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Fold as shown:

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Flip the fabric piece.

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Fold over the long edge as shown:

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Fold over the short edge as shown:

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Pin your edges down and then do the final run along the short edge.

19. Now cut your thread and dab each end with some fray check.

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Clearly I was really making a cat blanket:

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Rand, the Dragon Reborn, thinks the new blanket is for him . . . .

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All done!

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On the table clutter free:

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The finished product looks AWESOME!

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Fabric Coasters

I’ve been wanting to make coasters for some time now since the wooden coasters I got in Ecuador are falling apart.  You may think: “Can’t you just sew two pieces of fabric together and call it a day?” Well, no because then you still have condensation seepage through the fabric or heat transfer from a hot cup. I can do better than that.

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First I started with some 4 by 4 squares I had left over from various quilts or other projects. I had a few other small scraps of fabric that I cut into 4 by 4 squares. The fabric color choice was to have a set of multi colored coasters to use while gaming; each person in our group has their own game colors they use everytime. The colors are typically red, yellow, orange, blue, green, purple, and black depending on the game. I didn’t have any black scraps ready so I used dark blue. My typical color is blue which is prevalent in every game, Kyle is always orange but will settle for yellow. The coasters will prevent our game pieces or cards from getting wet when we have drinks while we game! The owls are just cute extra fabric I wanted to use up.

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Next I needed some insulation. I used left over fabric batting. Remember – Never throw anything out! These were small and oddly shaped pieces that I was able to cut into 4 by 4 squares.

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Batting still doesn’t account for the condensation issue. I need plastic! I’ve made these before with painters plastic and I prefer to use that. However my stash was out and right now I’m not buying new supplies unless needed. Instead I can upcycle some plastic bags!

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I tried my rotary cutter first and it worked! Shown below are the bags cut into 4 by 4 inch squares.

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Time to make sandwiches! Put the two fabric squares right sides together. Then lay a plastic square, insulation square, then plastic square on top and pin.

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Next sew the square around leaving a gap along one edge for flipping. Then cut off the extra trimmings and thread.

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Next flip your squares so that the fabric is on the outside.

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Pin the mouth shut.

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Sew around the outside edge. (For a wedding present I made some for a friend and I added a 2-inch square seam and it really popped. I’ve also done some with a spiral square seam pattern and that also looks really good. I imagine you can do all sorts of seam patterns to add extra zest to the coasters and to make them lie flatter.)

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Finally a finished product! The coasters work on hot and cold beverages.

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Note: Since there is plastic inside, do not use these as mini oven mitts. They are machine washable, but I’d let them air dry.

Spicing Up Our Pillows

Our couch is old, it has old pillows. But until we buy a house we’re not going to replace it. While looking through the remnant section of Jo Anns, I found some upholstery fabric that i liked! And I decided that this is the time to spice up our old couch. I made two pillow covers out of the fabric.

First I measured the pillow, they are about 18 by 18, so i cut one 20×20 square, then two 20 x 15 rectangles.

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For the two rectangles, I did a double fold under for the hem on one 20-inch edge. I then overlapped those edges and put them right side in against the 20-inch square.

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I was able to sew one continuous seam around the outside edge of the square. Then I snipped the corners flat and flipped it right side out using the overlapped fabric gap.

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Finally I put the old pillows into the new cases and they look so good! It definitely brightens up the room. I don’t care that they do not match my couch mainly because nothing in my living room matches and secondly because nothing could match these old couches at this point.

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Indoor Plant Makeover

This shelf offends me. It’s my succulent shelf. Until yesterday it looked like a clutter shelf where I just put things that didn’t match. In reality it was a great window to place a shelf under so that my indoor plants could see the sun. It was about time I did something about this shelf so that I don’t look like a crazy hoarder lady with knick knacks everywhere. Also, why is there a broken bulb in that pot? (Sorry for the poor quality photo, the sun didn’t want to cooperate with my lighting choices.)

An aside: Indoor plants not only make the room more green and vibrant but provide oxygen. Succulents are great because if you forget about them for a while, they will still be ok.

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The supplies:

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The basic idea was to cover the outside of the pots with leftover burlap that I had lying around from another project and a strip of ribbon. I choose natural colored ribbons to keep a low key look. Super glue was the adhesive of choice and worked really well with the burlap.  I was going for a uniform minimalist look and I think I got it. The white pot was left alone to provide a little contrast.

The finished product is below. I replanted the other pot with some flowers. Will update once they grow.

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Some crafting tips for on-the-fly projects:

  • Always keep hot glue around, you should have a variety of adhesives on hand. I have Elmer’s glue, gorilla wood glue, super glue, glue stick, hot glue and goop.
  • Never ever throw away ribbons unless they’re beyond repair. Remember that basket of soaps you got? Save the ribbon. Those flowers he bought you last week? Usually good quality ribbon. I keep mine in the stein you see and it looks like a decoration accent for my sewing room.
  • While we’re on the subject, never throw out anything. Jeans can provide backing to fabrics, plus you can reuse the zipper. Metal hangers also can provide stiffening and are easy to bend. Old frames can be repainted and reused. Cardboard is always handy: I used it above to place the hot glue gun down, my craft table was currently occupied with another project.
  • Stay organized! Keep like items together so when you’re ready to create you don’t have to go far for inspiration.
  • Buy on sale. What is hot right now? Burlap and mason jars, old spoons, unique paper, small trinkets. When you see something on sale that you know you will use in the future, but it. My typical sale buys are yarn, ribbons, fabric remnants and unique items.

And don’t worry about the gnomes, it was about time they went back outside! They’re shown here in my beet pots.

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Upcycle Grocery Bags into a Macramé Potted Plant Holder

This is a recycle, upcycle, and craft DIY for all of those bags you have in your cupboard. Lets not lie, we all have a time or three where we forget to bring our cloth bags to the grocery store. Then the bagger tells you they’re out of paper bags so you cave and get plastic.  Next you are left with a multitude of plastic bags.

Aside from using them to pick up dog poo and to line your bathroom waste bin, there are a few craft options for you. My favorite is to make rope from the bags. In addition a lot of images of macramé potted plant holders have been floating around the internet which gave me the idea to make this item.  If you follow my instructions you will be able to upcycle 36 plastic bags. I do not provide macramé instructions in this post, your macramé will need to match the pot you want to use.

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Step 1. Lay the bag flat as shown below. Cut the bag in half.

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Step 2.  Align the bag-half on it’s side as shown below. Cut down from the handle to the seam at the base, but do not cut all the way through. The desired result is a circle. To make thicker rope, skip step one and lay the bag shown in the right image below and cut down from both handles at the same time until you get to the seam at the bottom.

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Step 3. Count them! I have 18 loops cut from 9 bags, you want a number divisible by 3 so you can braid evenly.

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Step 4. Knot the bags together. You need three strands that are two bags long to start. Add additional bags as you go, do not tie all the bags together to start, it is HARDER that way.

This is one way to tie the bags. Lay them end to end and grab as I’ve shown in the 3rd and 4th images below. Pull with both hands. (I had to hold the camera with the other hand, so bare with me)

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Pull until the knot is tight, but do not pull so hard you stretch the plastic. You may have to work the bags a bit with your hands. Mine usually get stuck at the point below and I have to work the knot tighter; this is because the plastic bags have friction!

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The other way to do the knot, and the way I do all subsequent knots after the first, is shown below. Grab and pull. Once again work the knot when you get near the end so that it is tight. The desired knot is shown in the right image below.

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Step 5. Tie three of the strands in a knot and begin to braid. DO NOT attach all the bags together first and then begin to braid. Only attach two bags for each strand in the braid, when you get to the end, attach the next bag to each strand. I’ve done this before where I’ve had huge lines of bags tied together, braiding that is a nightmare.

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Once the braid is long enough I highly recommend tying it to a nearby post/table/chair so that the braiding becomes easier.  The second image below shows what the knots look like in the braid: there is a slight budge but it is really not noticeable. Usually the knots will be at different points along each strand so that you will never have a point where all three knots come together at once.

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Step 6. Macramé time. After you have all of your strands then it is time to macramé them together to form your potted plant holder. I used 4 strands made up of 9 bags each. The second image below shows the somewhat finished product. I hadn’t noticed that the knot was off center until much later, so that has been adjusted since this image was taken.

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This is what it looks like in my garden.

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Lessons: I need to macramé better and next time I may try to color coordinate the bags. Other than that I’ve made rope before from bags and each time I get better. This time I had much thinner rope because I cut the bags in half first. A thicker rope will look like the image below from last year. The rope was intended as a dog deterrent and it worked!

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Place mats, table runner, and hot pads

My friend is getting married and what is better to give a newly married couple than kitchen items? The idea was to make non traditional place mats that are his/hers reversible. After a bit of information gathering I found that her favorite color is purple and that he prefers marvel to DC.  So first I do the planning! (Also, this is my 50th post! Big step.)

1. His: I got quite a few designs, but none of them looked good enough, I just couldn’t figure out what to do. Hopefully you can see Thor’s hammer, a pow symbol, a shield and some others. Instead, I started on what I knew I wanted to do for her, which was butterflies. I went with the easiest design in the center bottom.

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There are three colors for both sides. His: marvel, purple, yellow. Hers: white flowers, sparkly purple and gold dragonflies.

2. First you get the fabric and you cut it, you cut it! 2-1/2 inch squares make 2-inch squares when you have a 1/4 inch seam.

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3. I made all of the triangle blocks first. Since there were 3 colors there would be 6 different ways to organize the colors into butterflies. I outlined them below and it follows: body, wings, background.  There are 10 spaces that need triangle blocks on each placemat, so that’s 20 of each dual-color combination.

  • Yellow, Purple, White
  • Yellow, White, Purple
  • Purple, Yellow, White
  • Purple, White, Yellow
  • White, Purple, Yellow
  • White, Yellow, Purple

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4. Sew! There are better ways to make triangle blocks, ways that save a lot of fabric. But I’m lazy so I aligned the squares face together, then folded the squares corner to corner to create a triangle. I then ironed to make a sewing guide line. Finally I laid a seam just to one side of the line, it doesn’t matter which side as long as later you cut off the excess fabric on that same side beyond the seam.

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5. Cut and iron. Cut on the same side of the fold as your seam about 1/4 inch from the seam and then iron flat.

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6. To make the 1/2 triangle blocks. I needed 4 of each dual-color combination. I also needed 2 each of 1/2-1/2 blocks

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7. Lay it out: All the blocks are cut, ironed and ready to go.  It is time to lay out the butterflies. The first one I laid out is actually incorrect, the yellow center should be down by one block. Luckily I noticed this before sewing. I did all my layouts at once separating each block with tissue paper.

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8. Sew the blocks together. I sew all the columns first and then I sew those together. You can do rows first, it shouldn’t matter.

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9. Time to decide what to do on the reverse. The butterflies ended up being approx. 12 by 17. So instead of doing a fancy design I decided to keep it simple so you can see as much of the themed fabric as possibly. Below is the plan, and remember to add 1/4 inch on each side for seams.

10. Cut the fabric! I decided to do 3 with purple on top and yellow on the sides and three the opposite way.

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11. Sew them together! Here is an example of each style.

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12. Then I laid pairs of butterfly and marvel together with a layer of batting.  Sew together leaving a 2-3 inch gap from end of seam to beginning of seam to be able to reverse the place mat to right-side out.

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13. Reverse and Iron each place mat.

14. Pin the place mats together and quilt the pieces. I decided to go with a seam around the outside edge, a seam one block in (on the butterfly side) and a third seam the next block in (on butterfly side). After consulting with my boyfriend I decided to use the thread of the minor color (i.e. the color of the body) to do these seams, it offered a great contrast. I used purple thread on the marvel side throughout. The finished results are below.

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15. The table runner. I am not going to break this down as it is the same process as above but with a different design. I went with diagonal lines on the ‘her’ side and solid panels on the ‘his’ side.

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16. I then added a border to each to ensure that the sides would match up. I did a bit of a miscalculation on the width so the diagonal lines were wider than the panels meaning I needed a wider border on the marvel side.

17. Pin right sides together with a layer of batting and sew. Leave a gap so you can invert! Then invert and iron flat.

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18. Pin it.

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19. Quit it. In the image below you can see the different colors on the outside seam. It is approx. 1/4 inch from the edge.

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20. I did diagonal lines along the ‘hers’ side which gave a good effect on the reverse. The finished products are below.

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21. All the finished products together:

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22. Finally With some left over squares (from the diagonal lines on the table runner) I made a few hot pads. they aren’t very big but they will work under pots, pans, and hot plates

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Lessons and Mistakes: Making two different designs that should match up, is HARD to match up. I ended up cutting corners or stretching fabric so that everything would work. In addition, when quilting the fabric a seam on one side might look fine, but it would be crooked on the other side due to the mis-match.  I really wish I could have make a more intricate design on the marvel side, but by the time I was done the butterflies, I didn’t want to do much more. I’m really happy with the end result, but maybe next time I will avoid dual design items.

Hanging Organizer: Fabric Square Project

This is another fabric square project! I saw quilted baskets in a small quilt shop and I thought (as most crafters do) that “I can make that myself!”  My original intention was for the cloth basket to hold lint from the dryer, so naturally I considered magnets. However not everyone has a set up where they can put their basket on their dryer. My parents sure don’t. So the basket would also need to hang on shelves or other surfaces.  I then moved to a weighted based craft. However Velcro or a hooked version of the basket would work as well.

Supplies:

  • 1 fabric Square
  • A plastic circular shape that can be cut or is no more than 1/2 inch wide or no more than 18 inches around. I’m using a plastic food safe bucket that a friend left at my house and said I could have.
  • Dried beans
  • Regular sewing supplies.

Note: The instructions below don’t quite match up with the pictures. After making the pink prototype I made quite a few more and perfected the process. However I didn’t take photos along the way for the later baskets.

Note: Unless otherwise mentioned all seams are approx. 1/4 inch.

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Step 1. Iron the fabric flat.

Step 2. Cut a 13 by 19 inch square (shown folded in half) Your 19 inch side will be the top/bottom

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Step 3. Not shown, cut your remaining fabric into two approx. 8 inch long strips about 3 inches wide and into an approx. 4 by 9 rectangle. These are approximate, each fabric square is cut slightly different so you will have slightly different remaining fabric dimensions.

Step 4. Cut your circular plastic into 1/2inch thick strips.

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Step 5. Iron one of your 19inch long side of your rectangle over by 1/2 inch, then over again by 1 inch to make the top. Shown below is the top only ironed over once so you see the edge. Obviously this is not preferred on a finished product. Once again, this is the prototype.

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Step 6. Sew along the bottom of the folded over seam.

Step 7. Insert your plastic piece into the top so that it curves towards the wrong side of the fabric. Shown here the fabric has already been sewn length wise – don’t do that yet!

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Step 8. Flip your fabric so that the right sides are together and sew down the length of the fabric.  You will be sewing your plastic piece into the top, you may have to trim it back some to allow for the seam. Your plastic piece should be bending the “wrong way” as you sew. Do not sew along the bottom.

Step 9. The bottom. You will fold your fabric flat, right sides together so that the seam is in the middle, shown below.  Place two pins at approx 2 inches from each end.  Then sew from pin to pin.

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Step 10. This is tricky to describe but the picture below should help. It’s easier to do this with one hand inside the bag and one hand on the bottom. You will open each end of the bottom that should not be sewn yet. Then  lay down flat so that the next seam will be perpendicular to the first seam. Pin! This gives the bag a more 3-D aspect and helps keep it open for use.

Step 11. Sew along the two bottom seams. It is REALLY easy here to grab other fabric as you sew so go slow and do it right.

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Step 12. Sew your straps right sides together down their length and invert. (shown below are the straps not inverted) Then iron flat!

Step 13. Here is where we diverge from the images greatly. Fold your remaining piece of fabric (the bean bag) right sides together into the shape shown below.  There will be three free edges. Opposite of the fold you will pin each strap onto the inside of the bag so that the ends hang out side of the bag, and the main part of the straps are inside the bean bag.  you may have to pin the straps to the middle so they aren’t sewn into the side seams.  Leave 1-2 inches between the straps.

Step 14. (sort of shown below but without straps) Sew two seams starting from just inside the strap on each side and go to the fold. This will leave you a small opening opposite of the fold. Invert the bean bag through the hole and your straps will come out too.

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Step 15. Fill the bean bag with beans (I made a funnel out of paper!) and then sew it closed; your seam will be exposed.

Step 16. Sew the straps to the bag. First tuck in the edges of your strap and pin so that they sit evenly. For my seam I went along the bottom edge of the strap and turned to do a diagonal seam up about 1 inch, then a parallel horizontal seam, turn and another diagonal seam down to where I started. (Once again the last two steps are out of order with the pictures, but it’s the better order.)

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Step 16. Hang on your dryer for use!

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Changes from the prototype:

  • Sew the straps into the bag closer to the top so it does not sag like in the final image.
  • Note in step 13 I did sew the straps into the bean bag first. Originally I made the bean bag, inverted,  filled it with beans, then did the final exposed seam with the straps inside. This leaves the straps too close together. It looks better the way  I did in step 13 and helps keep the bag open.
  • On the bag I originally did the lengthwise seam BEFORE I put in the plastic piece. If you want to be able to take out your plastic to wash, do it this way but make sure to not sew the top 3/4 inch of the vertical seam in order to be able to insert the piece. This would be best if you were maybe using something you couldn’t wash as the stiffener.

Below you can see a few different baskets completed after I nailed down the pattern. The one on the corner was a minor experiment with strap placement that I likely will not repeat.
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Revamp a Stool

A friend gave me a table with two stools or smaller tables (we aren’t really sure the intent) last year after they moved.  We revamped the table in the fall to go in our back room and act as an inside plant incubator for 3-4 potted plants through the winter.  The process was the same.

Remove seat. Sand off rust. Wash the metal. Spray paint top and bottom! (Obviously let dry in between).  Pails in the pic below keep the wind from blowing the plastic onto the paint as it dries.

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Add topper with a few screws. The topper was made back in the fall when we fixed up the table. First it was cut to size, sanded, then finished with outside poly/stain.

The main reason for this project was to have a small table by the window for the inside plants after we rearranged the room.  Otherwise we would have left the stool outside to act as a plant holder. Our outside plant holders keep the plants at a dog pee-free height. Since the stain and spray paint are weather proof the stool may be put back outside in warm weather. However our bamboo and aloe stay inside.; aloe does better indoors for me and bamboo is an invasive species in this area.

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