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Make These Printable Pets!

Crafts November 17, 2017

Printable Pets

I have followed the evolution of printables for several years now. I signed up for Anne Vanture’s paper dollhouse minis ages ago because they were so detailed, adorable, and easy to make (if you want free printables for a range of dollhouse sizes, I highly recommend signing up for her monthly newsletter), and then it seemed as if the whole craft world imploded with ideas for printables.

Not all printables are created equal, however, and what you want to look for are high-quality, simple prints that can be printed on good quality paper. You may also want a specific kind of printable, so looking through Pinterest or other craft-heavy sites is a good idea.

Recently I was browsing through just such a website and I came across these absolutely adorable guinea pig printables. I’ve never had a guinea pig — I grew up with rabbits, cats, and dogs. But I had several friends who grew up taking care of their own guinea pigs and I’ve always thought them quite delightful. They’re like miniature pigs with their grunts and squeals, they’re soft, and they have quirky personalities. When you’re living in an apartment, however, or you have an older animal or one that wouldn’t get along particularly well with a guinea, you’ve got to resort to other measures — like printing out a few of these!

This is a great craft for older kids, as it does require some dexterity to fold and cut and tape these little guys together. But as long as you have patience and a good pair of scissors, you should be just fine. The first thing you’ll want to do for this project is make sure that you have good, strong paper, such as card stock. Print out the template using this paper and the guinea pigs will be sturdy enough to last quite a long time as long as they’re not handled too roughly.

You can of course experiment with the paper strength as well as color — if you want to make a rainbow family of guineas, go right ahead. The original post shows a photo of one of the guinea pigs that was printed with an earth tone paper, giving the little family a bit of diversity in coloring. This is a great way to use up ends of paper reams (some scrapbook paper is cardstock, but a floral family with regular scrapbook paper would also be cute).

Carefully cut and fold the template together. You can add mod podge over it if you want it to be even more sturdy. Once you’ve cut and folded all the templates, you can put them together for a family photo shoot. The more, the merrier.

These would make a fun craft for middle-school kids on a rainy day, or for someone who loves paper crafts. The guinea pig family can be arranged on a shelf, in a cardboard box “cage”, or in an old goldfish tank. However you decide to display them, and whatever you use them for, they will be cute and cuddly forever. And you don’t even have to worry about feeding them or changing their bedding!

If you want to make your own family of guinea pigs, you can find the template with photos and instructions on The Craft Train.

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These Paper Mache Cups Make The Perfect Centerpiece For Your Next Tea Party

Crafts November 17, 2017

Paper Mache Cups

I’ve long been a fan of paper mache and the beautiful, whimsical creations that arise from it, but have never been able to sit down and make something out of it for myself. However, upon finding this helpful tutorial and gorgeous photos from Ann Wood, I might just have to make some time and put some of these delicate cups together for my next tea party.

If you’re new to paper mache, it is quite a forgiving medium. Nothing has to be perfect. You work at your own pace. And the materials are cheap. It’s a great skill to learn for 3-D art, and there’s plenty of inspiration to find online, particularly on Pinterest. I’ve pinned a few dozen paper mache projects (including animals, dollhouse furniture, and jewelry) and am looking forward to giving this craft a go.

Whether you’re an old hat at this or are beginning your journey into paper mache, these teacups are a great project. There’s a template available from Ann Wood, along with a written tutorial and plenty of photos for the step-by-step process. To make your own teacup (or set), you’ll need the following materials: a template, paste (Ann recommends wallpaper paste), cardboard (thin like cereal and cracker boxes as well as thicker pieces from pizza boxes or Amazon packages), newspaper, scotch tape (invisible isn’t necessary), glue, a pencil, an exacto knife, scissors, and whatever you’ll be using to decorate the teacups, such as scrapbook paper, mod podge, magazine clippings, stickers, fabric, ribbon, etc.

Once you’ve gathered the materials, you’ll need a large, clean work space. Remember to wear older clothes that you don’t mind getting messy. Paper mache is for people who like to work with their hands and enjoy getting them dirty. Use the template to cut out your teacup and then slowly turn and tape it into the teacup shape. You can make a handle or not, as you choose. Ann suggests not using paper mache on the handle. You only need one layer, but if you prefer a chunkier teacup, add a few more.

After the paper mache, you can decorate the cup (and add the handle). You can use paint, markers, pastels, whatever suits your fancy. Allow for plenty of drying time between layers, or, if you’re using acrylic, keep some water nearby to refresh your brushes and keep the paint from drying too quickly.

What do you do with these teacups? Well, you can use them as a centerpiece for your next tea party, but they can also be used for other things, like a jewelry case (put your earrings or rings inside), a paperweight to hold your paperclips, a tree ornament for the holidays, as containers for your tea bags, or as organizers for your craft notions. There are dozens of ways to utilize these pretty paper cups, and they also make great gifts — just fill with tea, chocolates, or potpourri and you have a present perfect for friends, family members, teachers, and co-workers.

If you do end up making one or several of these beauties, Ann would enjoy seeing them! You can upload them to Flickr or leave a link in the comments. You can find all the instructions and photos at Ann Wood’s Handmade site. Happy crafting!

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Use A Bead Spinner To Make These Cuff Bracelets

Beading, Crafts November 17, 2017

Use A Bead Spinner To Make These Cuff Bracelets

I remember when technology was not as advanced as it is now — I had to string tiny beads one or two at a time and hope I didn’t move too much in case they popped off whatever I was making. However, now that we are in the 21st century, there is such a thing as a bead spinner. The bead spinner is a simple device (sometimes wooden) that allows you to string tiny beads in mere seconds. Amazing, right? Just think of all the possibilities!

Instead of spending hours on one cuff bracelet, you can make 3-5 in that time. The bead spinner cuts time so you can concentrate on more important aspects of the bracelet, such as color, size, and accents. The Art Bead Scene has a post about making these beautiful cuffs that also includes a video tutorial if you’re interested in how to use the bead spinner to speed up your creation process.

If you’re wanting to make one of these gorgeous cuffs for yourself or a friend, you’ll need to purchase the following items (or locate them in your stash): memory wire (the tutorial recommends 3-5 loops unless you want a smaller or larger size than the original), seed beads (peanut beads and seed beads work the best — try different color combinations such as metallic and earth tones, or royal tones with black), a decorative headpin (optional), a charm (optional — you can purchase pewter, steel, or whatever metal-plated charm suits your color scheme), and a few jump rings. You’ll also need to have pliers (round and chain nose), wire cutters (the tutorial recommends that you use the specific memory wire cutters as the material is different and more difficult to work with if you are using regular wire cutters), and a bead spinner (The Art Bead Scene recommends the Spin-N-Bead).

Once you’ve gathered your tools and materials, you’ll need an area in which to work. First form a loop at the end of the memory wire so that the beads won’t slide off while you’re assembling. Then put your seed beads in the spinner and insert the memory wire. Watch the video beforehand so you know what to expect. This should take just a few minutes. Decide where you want your headpin, bead accents and charm(s) and then attach them to the cuff using the jump rings. And there you are — a fashionable cuff bracelet to wear and show off at parties, work, and during the holidays.

These bracelets would make great gifts for friends during special occasions such as holidays, weddings, and anniversaries. They would also be appreciated by teachers, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and nieces (of course, there are also men who enjoy cuff bracelet jewelry, particularly younger men — maybe your brother, nephew, or son would enjoy one!).

If you would like to watch the video tutorial for the bead spinner or walk through the instructions for the cuff bracelet, you can find them both on the Art Bead Scene blog. It’s also worth bookmarking The Art Bead Scene (they’ve moved to Art Bead Scene Studio) for their monthly challenges, free project tutorials, and inspirational photography.

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DIY Birdhouse … or Bird Trailer

Crafts October 6, 2017

DIY Birdhouse ... or Bird Trailer

My family loves birds. My grandma and grandpa live in the hills between North and South Carolina, and when I call I always ask my grandparents what birds have been around. They usually have chickadees, wrens, cardinals, and tufted titmouses (which happen to be my favorite). My dad loves hummingbirds and has several feeders on the front porch. There’s a feeder out back for the less exotic birds, and we keep an eye on it to make sure the squirrels aren’t hogging it. My in-laws have several houses and feeders, as well as stands for the birds they care for, even going so far as to avoid the corner of the porch where a wren nested for a couple seasons and had a batch or two of babies. I also have several friends that love birds, and we’ve spotted several beautiful varieties while traveling.

With so many bird lovers around me, I’m surprised that I’ve never built a birdhouse for one of them. I painted a birdhouse once at camp, but other than that I haven’t spent any time working on that particular craft. However, this little project just might change my mind. What’s cuter than a vintage-inspired birdhouse? This specific one is modeled after 40’s and 50’s campers, which has become very popular in the last several years. And what’s not to love? It’s a fun shape, it’s two tone with happy, bright colors, and the details make it pop.

Even if you don’t have the woodworking tools to cut your own pieces for this trailer, or you don’t have access to sheets of aluminum, or recycled materials, there are options if you still want this birdhouse for your backyard or a shelf in your home or the front porch. Of course, you can purchase the trailer already made, but sometimes it’s more fun to put it together yourself, especially if it’s going to be something an animal lives inside.

Of course, if you have the woodworking know-how, all you need to do is create a blueprint and choose the wood you want to work with. You can go to a craft store and pick up some balsa wood, or you can try some pine or other soft wood. With some heavy-duty tools, you should be able to create the pieces in an afternoon. After that, you’ll need to attach them to each other with a strong glue, and then you can decide whether you want to varnish the outside or paint it. If you’re going to keep it inside, you could use something like chalkboard paint and decorate it with doodles and quotes. You can also put it on a stand and wrap it in Christmas lights. You can also hang it on a rafter, or put it out on the front porch, or you can use it as the base of another project, like a centerpiece for the table.

If this sounds like something right up your alley, you can make your own after looking at the inspiration below. If you’d rather buy one pre-made, you can find them on Etsy. Or, you can buy a kit and put it together yourself. There’s one available for purchase on Bird Folk Collective.

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Crochet a Doll House Style RV!

Crafts October 2, 2017

Kate Bruning’s site Greedy for Colour is a must-bookmark for those crocheters who love tiny things, amigurumi projects, and bright colors. There are dozens of projects available, with written instructions as well as plenty of photos to guide you on your own journey of making these adorable creations. If you’ve ever wanted to try amigurumi, then we’ve got the perfect project for you, straight from Kate’s website: a crocheted RV, which you can make into a mini dollhouse, a Christmas tree decoration, a centerpiece, or a stuffed toy.

While the instructions may look a little daunting at first, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Read through the pattern, and then take it one line or two at a time. You don’t need to do all the stitches at once, you just need to put one after the other as you follow along with the pattern. This is something I have to tell myself quite often, as I tend to want to rush ahead and get the thing done, but it’s always more aggravating going about it that way, so take a breath, relax, and do a little at a time. You’ll be done in no time.

To make this cute little caravan, you’ll need the following materials: two skeins of cotton dk yarn (one in white or cream and one in a vintage color such as light green or light blue), and three skeins of 4 ply yarn in black, silver, and pale blue. You can, of course, change up the color palette, but be sure and check your colors against each other in order to ensure that they are complementary. You’ll also need two crochet hooks (the pattern recommends sizes 3.5 and 2.5mm), a black button, a needle, thread, and scissors. If you want to stuff the RV, you will need some type of stuffing. You can also leave it empty, or fill it with potpourri, old t-shirt scraps, or foam pellets.

Once you’ve gathered the materials, you’ll need to look over the pattern and be sure you know the stitches, which include: chain (ch), stitch (st), slip stitch (sl st), and single crochet (sc). If you’re using more than one color, you’ll need to organize them and switch between “color a” and “color b” and so forth. It might be helpful to put them in ziploc bags and mark them as such so you don’t get confused while in the middle of the project.

You’ll be making parts of the RV (the two sides, then the door and windows, etc.), then sewing them together, so be sure you have a regular sewing needle for affixing the button, and a tapestry needle to sew the RV’s seams together. After you finish sewing it together, you can embroider a name underneath the window to further cement it in nostalgia territory.

Does this little RV tickle your fancy? If you want to create your own mini travel van, you can find the full pattern with photos at Greedy for Colour. You may want to follow Kate’s blog, as there are dozens of tutorials to try, from Christmas decorations to toys to miniature food. Enjoy!

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Make a Bird House from PVC

Crafts October 1, 2017

Make a Bird House from PVC

PVC is one of those materials that, like duct tape, that can be used for so many more things than the original intended purpose. I’ve seen PVC used for everything from cosplay to birdhouses. PVC is a strong material, easy to work with, and a hardy product that can withstand plenty of hard knocks and bad weather. If you love birds and want a fun weekend project, you can try this PVC birdhouse – simple, inexpensive (provided you have the right tools, or know where to borrow them from), and really cool.

One of the perks about making this birdhouse from PVC is that you can match the color to your house, although of course you don’t have to. If you want, you can make the birdhouse in any color. Just be sure that the paint and PVC will adhere to each other (also, make sure the paint is weatherproof). If you’re going for the matched look, however, the nest will be safer, as it is better camouflaged.

Another perk is that you can probably find the materials for free – there are plenty of people who always have extra PVC handy, and might be interested in some sort of trade. If you get to use their tools, you just make an extra birdhouse and return the tools along with a birdhouse as a gift. The birdhouse is easy to install too, whether you hang it on the porch, put it in a tree, or attach it to your house underneath the roof.

Before you begin the birdhouse, you’ll want to measure and cut the pieces to fit. Using a permanent marker is preferable, and you can sand off the markings once the cut has been made. Then you can spray paint the pieces in whatever color you choose. After that, you’ll need to use some very strong glue to attach the pieces. Allow them to dry in a garage or outside for a while to solidify the bond. That’s really the entire process. You can make a few birdhouses at the same time without adding a lot of extra time. These would make great presents for the bird watchers in your life.

Now of course, if you don’t have the tools or the materials, but you’d still like to have one of these birdhouses, you can find them for sale on places like Etsy. They’re available in multiple colors, and for a great price. We found a seller who had multiple options for sale for $20. Even if you aren’t a crafty person, you can still enjoy the craft that someone else made. It takes all kinds, as they say.

If you don’t like this particular design but still want to make a birdhouse out of PVC, there are several tutorials with differently shaped birdhouses that you might prefer. Whether you want a written tutorial with photos, or a video tutorial, there are plenty of options available.

Does this sound like something you’d enjoy doing this weekend? If so, you can shop Cedarhill Woodshed on Etsy to purchase your own birdhouse, or you can find a written tutorial with excellent photos at DIY Network. And if you’d rather watch someone put a few together, you can watch DIY Easy Crafts on YouTube.

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Hand Crochet Your Own Rug

Crafts August 1, 2017

It’s always the most beautiful handmade items that you can’t find a pattern for – no matter how long you comb through the internet, weed through Pinterest photos or how many craft sites you sign up for, there’s always that one item that eludes you. Until today, that is – if you’ve been dreaming of making your own rugs and mats, you might have seen this crochet doily rug in your search. Luckily for you, someone took the photos as inspiration, created their own version, and wrote it down so the rest of us could follow suit.

Always Rooney’s beautiful doily rug is made using hand crochet, a technique that makes big projects less formidable, as it conserves both time and effort. The rug is constructed from cotton piping, which is cheap (Courtney on Always Rooney purchased hers for 37 cents a yard) and hardy material for a comfortable yet elegant rug.

While the pattern does begin with a hook, once the first circle is complete, the hand crochet begins and from there it takes about four hours from start to finish. If you like the idea but don’t love the pattern, this one would be easy to alter as it is basically a giant doily. Find a small doily you like and use the piping and hand crochet instead of a hook and yarn and you’ll have your own variation on the rug in no time.

For this pattern, however, you’ll only need to know the following stitches: chain (ch), slip stitch (sl st), double crochet (dc), single crochet (sc), skip (sk), and treble crochet (tr). There are only ten rounds to the rug, but if you’re wanting a smaller or larger size, it’s a cinch to leave off a row or add on a few more. You might want to measure the space you plan on occupying with the rug before you begin to ensure the right fit.

If you haven’t tried a hand crochet project before this, there are plenty of options for tutorials available on YouTube. You can, of course, jump right in and craft this rug, but if you prefer to start small, you can hand crochet a scarf before you commit to something larger.

This rug would look adorable in a bedroom, guest bedroom, living room, sunroom, or even on a porch. You could try it in any number of different colors (spring or fall colors, holiday colors, stripes, or variegated would all make for an interesting rug), shapes, and sizes. You could even use this (in a smaller size) as a tabletop decoration, a wall hanging, or a couch throw. And with how easy it is to make, you could always add to your collection as you find different shades and uses. Of course, with how beautifully it turns out, you might be asked to make some of these for friends and family.

Ready to make your own living room rug? Head over to Always Rooney to get started. You might want to check out other areas of the site too, such as the personalized leather goods store or the digital print shop for ideas, inspiration, or even a little shopping spree.

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DIY Rustic Farmstool

Crafts August 1, 2017

So you’re out poking around in an antique shop, a flea market, an evening auction, or a thrift store, and you come across the perfect stool. There’s just one problem – the fibers need to be re-strung. Normally, you’d just pass it by and wish that it were in better condition, or briefly wonder if it would be worth the money to get it reupholstered or redone. And then you’d say goodbye and think no more of it.

But wait – what if you could re-finish the stool on your own? What if there were an easy way to make it look brand new, a beautiful DIY addition to your cozy home? What if all it took were a few hours and a few materials to create a like-new footstool?

Anderson + Grant have just the thing to help you, a DIY farmstool tutorial that will help you turn your cheap find into a chic footrest. The only materials you’ll need to bring this item back to life are the following: a footstool, 4-ply jute twine, an electric stapler, and craft scissors (Anderson + Grant recommend purchasing via Amazon and Home Depot).

Even if you have an ugly stool sitting around, you can cover it with this weaving technique and create a beautiful new piece out of a plain bit of wood. And if you don’t want a natural hue, splash it with color! Jute twin comes in all sorts of colors and you could even create an ombre effect with three different shades.

Itching to get started on integrating some crafting knowledge with DIY refinishing? Visit Anderson + Grant, scroll through the tutorial, then roll up your sleeves and get ready to work. You’ll be proud of the results and eager to show it off to your friends and family – it will perfectly complement a relaxed dinner party atmosphere.

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Surface Crochet – Why Crocheters Need to Try It

Crafts June 13, 2017

Surface Crochet - Why Crocheters Need to Try It

Ever finish up a project and feel like it looks a bit dull? What do you do with a project that doesn’t turn out quite like you imagined? How about adding in some decoration after the fact? I’m not talking about detachable decorations like buttons, ribbon, or lace. How about some additional crochet?

With surface crochet, you can add stripes, shapes, edging and letters to scarves, blankets, hats, purses, sweaters, whatever you wish to spruce up with additional stitching. It’s a simple technique that takes the plain and simple to another level.

Surface crochet is basically using slip stitch on top of completed crochet to create additional patterns and textures. While it works best in the round, it works on flat patterns as well, and with just a little practice, you’ll soon be adding extra special stitches to several projects.

Read through the tutorial we found at The Snugglery and look at the photos of surface crochet (there are examples with both in the round and flat patterns) to see how simple this stitch can be – whether you’re adding a stripe or two to a rug, edging to a sweater, or a star to your scarf. It’s up to you how detailed you want to get with the surface crochet additions, but it’s definitely worth trying out on at least a few projects, especially if you have some that you’re not quite satisfied with. There’s always room for improvement, right?

If this technique piques your interest, visit The Snugglery and try some surface crochet to spice up your past and present projects. If you prefer viewing a video on the subject, visit Tamara Kelly’s YouTube channel for some pointers.


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Crochet Hat (Free pattern)

Crafts June 2, 2017

Crochet Hat (Free pattern)

Want the comforting slouch of a beanie without having to make one out of the same old boring pattern as every other beanie? You should try the Go With The Flow Hat, which is made simple by repeating the same four rows, but looks chic and unique due to its special stitches (never fear, there’s a step-by-step photo tutorial for each of them).

The way the hat is made without increasing or decreasing, relying instead on the single crochet and slip stitches to create back and forth rows that are joined together at the end by a (mostly) invisible seam. Sound like something you want to try? You’ll need the following items:

  • Chunky yarn (recommended: Red Heart’s Chunky Soft, 1 skein)
  • Crochet hook (8mm)
  • Scissors
  • Yarn needle

The gauge should measure around 4 inches for every 10 single crochet stitches. The pattern is sized to fit most adult women but you might want to read the instructions and measure before committing to the wrong fit. You’ll also need to know the following stitches: chain (ch), back bump of chains (see the included tutorial), single crochet (sc), single crochet in back loop only (sc blo), half double crochet (hdc), double crochet (dc), stitch (st), and back loop only (blo).

If you aren’t familiar with the following stitches, there is help available online: yarn over slip stitch (yo-sl st), yarn over slip stitch back loop only (yo-sl st-blo), back cross double crochet (bcr dc), back cross half double crochet (bcr hdc), front cross double crochet (fcr dc), and front cross half double crochet (fcr hdc).

Once you’re familiar with these variations on the back loop and double crochet stitches, you’ll have an easy time reading through the pattern. Make sure you look through the photo tutorials and that you’ve got a strong understanding of how each of the stitches work prior to jumping into the pattern to avoid confusion and frustration.

The end result, however, is well worth the effort. It’s a soft, breezy, elegant beanie that’s designed to turn heads and keep yours warm! Show off your best stitches and style with the Go With The Flow Hat — and if you’re up for it, you can add an extra challenge and make the Go With The Flow scarf.

Of course, if you find yourself wanting to make more of these delectable hats, you can always find someone else to wear your lovely creations. These make great gifts for friends, aunts, moms, grandmothers, teachers, and caretakers. You can adorn each hat with various additions (such as ribbon, buttons, or beads) to make them extra special. You might want to make a bevy of these beanies and present them as gifts during the holidays or for an upcoming excursion. Have some handy and get creative with a variety of patterns, spots, stripes, and colors.

If you’d like to make your own Go With The Flow Hat, you can find the free pattern at My Hobby Is Crochet. Be sure to share a picture of your finished product on the My Hobby Is Crochet Facebook Page, and if you want to pair the hat with the Go With The Flow Scarf, you can find a link to the free pattern on the hat’s instruction page.

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