Category Archives: Tutorials

DIY Recycled Alphabet Book Wall Art

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We recently moved our daughter to a new room, and of course one of the first things that came to mind was ‘yay, we get to decorate again!!!’

What has been so fun about decorating this time around is that I can actually respond to her personality and likes, in addition to just doing what I want to do.

The fact is, our daughter, nearly three now (!) LOVES books. Ok, she’s a book-worm.  So, I wanted to do some wall decor that reflected that.  Normally, I would not “ruin” a perfectly good book for the sake of art, but I don’t believe I have done that here, mostly because it is actually the complete book up there on the wall, just in a different format.

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So without further ado, here is how I did it.

First, I had to find two alphabet books that were identical (since of course the book is printed with letters on the front and back of each page).  I really loved the illustrations in this book, called Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet.  Honestly, these letters are so great it’s almost a shame NOT to hang them on the wall to enjoy all the time!  I was really lucky to find both of my copies at a book sale run by my local library (for just 10 cents a piece!).  They were booth canceled copies from the library’s collection, so they had already had a long life of enriching children.

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This is a board book, so the pages are made from a thick, card stock material, which is perfect for this application.

Using an exacto knife, I very carefully cut each page from the binding.  With a sharp knife this is not hard to do.  Once I did that I had a page that had two nice rounded corners and two sharp 90 degree corners.  To make the corners look uniform I just cut the sharp corners so that they matched the rounded ones then ran some fine grit sand paper across it give it a nice, finished, and smooth look.

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When it came to hanging the letters on the wall I knew I didn’t want to do any unnecessary damage to the pages by puncturing them with tacks or or by using tape, so I found some cute binder clips in a rainbow of colors and then hung those by the smallest nails I could find.

The hardest part of the entire project was actually putting them on the wall so that they were spaced evenly.  Luckily, with the binder clips you have a little wiggle room in this area.  It didn’t help that my wall is actually an inch wider at the top than it is at the bottom.  I found it best to work from the center of the design to the outside and from top to bottom.  In the close up photos you can see my registration lines.  I still have to paint over these.

Over all I am so pleased with how this project turned out and my daughter is too!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Home, Tutorials, Upcycled

Owlet Costume for Halloween

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With Halloween less than two weeks away, you have plenty of time to whip up this cute owl costume for your little owlet!  This costume is great for a toddler who is just starting to walk and still holds out their arms for balance, making it look like they’re flapping their wings!  Virginia just started walking at the beginning of October so she’s definitely at this stage right now (as you can see!).

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Why make an owl costume you ask?
For over a month I’ve been trying to decide what Halloween costume to make for Virginia.  Now that she’s 15 months old, and starting to show her own personality and interests, I thought I’d like to make her a costume to reflect something she seems to like at this point in her life.

Right now she seems particularly drawn to all things outdoors, specifically leaves, trees, squirrels, birds, airplanes, flowers, and the moon.  I’ve been collecting ideas on Pinterest, which is always a good starting point for inspiration, and found some cute ideas for trees, squirrels and owls.

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Then this past Sunday I just had the urge to get this project started!  You know that feeling when you want to do something and you need to get it done NOW!?  Yeah, that’s pretty much how I felt.  At that point I was leaning toward making her a tree and incorporating a squirrel and a bird, kind of like this cute little costume from Probably Actually.

But I also just wanted to start making something and didn’t want to go to the store.  Does this ever happen to you?  I get so frustrated going to the store!  It seems like such a process these days and then I feel deflated because after all the time, effort, and money, I still don’t end up with what I really wanted.  So I was determined to make something work from what I already had in my fabric stash.

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After digging around in the attic I settled on an old pink paisley cotton bed sheet that already had a number of chunks missing from other past projects, as well as a large remnant of blue fleece material I got for free at an Etsy event which I attended a few months back at the local fabric store, Stitch.

At this point I had abandoned the adorable tree idea and started to think about this cute owl costume that I saw from Martin Family Times.  I figured I could make a new crocheted owl hat (I made one for Virginia last winter) from the Repeat Crafter Me free pattern instead of making one from fabric as shown in the above mentioned inspiration.

Originally, I planned to make a cape of fabric feathers, similar to the inspiration, but I quickly changed my mind and went for a fitted poncho instead, mostly because I wanted something that she couldn’t easy take off!

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How to make the feathery fabric owl poncho:
First I measured Virginia’s “wing span” (24 inches from wrist to wrist), which gave me the diameter for my foundation fabric (the blue fleece).  I also figured out how big of a hole I needed for her head (about a 4.5 inch diameter circle in her case) then added a small slit to be able to put it over her head.

Next I cut a second circle 4 inches bigger than the first from the “feather fabric,” in this case a light weight cotton bed sheet.

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Now I took my paper pattern and folded it in half, than half again, and again, and again, etc, until I had a circle with evenly spaced segments to base my feathers off of.

Next I sewed the two circles together along the inner circle (where her head goes) and the outer circle to hold everything in place and cut out the outermost row of feathers.

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For each successive row, I cut my paper pattern 4 inches smaller in diameter, traced it onto the front of the costume using chalk, sewed along the chalk line, then cut the feathers out, staggering them over the previous row.  To cut out the feathers while the fabric was sewn down, I used a pair of small, sharp scissors and was very careful not to cut through the foundation fabric.  After the feathers were cut out, I flipped them up and sewed all the way around the row of feathers again very close to the edge of the fold, thus hiding the original line of stitching.  This gave the feathers a little more “lift” and dimension.

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I like the way the raw, fraying edges of the fabric adds to its “featheriness” don’t you?

Once the whole poncho was complete I sewed two vertical lines from the bottom up, leaving enough room for her arms, which created “sleeves” and also makes it nearly impossible for Virginia to remove it once it is on (HA!).

To finish it off I created my very own bias tape for the neckline (which I sewed on inside out, oops!) and a single, sew-on snap secures the neckline in the back to give it snug fit.

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Crochet owl hat modifications:
As mentioned above, the crochet owl hat pattern that I based Virginia’s hat on was originally by Repeat Crafter me, which is a WONDERFUL pattern all on its own.  I’ve made this hat in several sizes following the pattern to the letter and they always turned out beautifully.  But for this time I wanted to alter the pattern a bit to make it a bit warmer.  To do this I first switched yarns (from 100% acrylic to 100% super wash Marino wool) and used a slightly bulkier yarn BUT kept the same size hook (H) so as to make a tighter stitch.  In addition to using a bulkier yarn, I also worked the whole pattern in half double crochet instead of double crochet.  Of course this meant that I had to add more rows.  All in all I’m very happy with the way the hat turned out, even though the half double stitch shows the seam way more than when I did a double crochet stitch, but I can live with that.

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Oh, and did you notice that she’s got a little crocheted mouse?  I made it years ago from a pattern out of the book Amigurumi!: Super Happy Crochet Cute

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I couldn’t be a prouder owl momma!

Keep up with all things zween make sure you like me on Facebook, where I update regularly about all things crochet, baby, thrifting, and upcycling!

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this post!  Happy crafting and happy Halloween!

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Filed under Hollidays, Tutorials

Polaroid-Style Christmas Ornament

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Since this will be Virginia’s very first Christmas, my husband and I wanted to celebrate it by making photo ornaments of her to give to close family and friends.

If you would like to make your own Polaroid-style ornament, just follow along with my tutorial below.  There’s still enough time to make a nice DIY Christmas ornament with just the right amount of a retro flair!

Materials:
Here are the materials that I used.  Most can be substituted with things that you already have on hand.

wallet-sized photographs
ruler
Exacto knife/ cutting mat
bone folder (nice but not necessary)
heavy white paper (I used Reeves BFK)
ribbon
glue (I used a glue stick)
plastic sleeves to protect photo (again, nice but not necessary, I happened to have these laying around)
type writer (or just a pen if you want to have something written on your ornament)

Tutorial:
First choose the photo that you want to use and get it printed in wallet size. We ordered ours via email from Walgreens and they were ready for pick up in about an hour.

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You will then trim your photos so that they are 2″ x 2″ squares.
Next, cut out your paper to 2.5″ x  6″ using an Exacto knife and mark the “window” where your photo will be, as well as a center line at the 3″ mark with a pencil as a guide (this will help you line up your type if you are using a typewriter, though in this photo the type has already been added to the ornament).  There is a 1/4″ border around the window on the top and sides and about 3/4″ border along the bottom, giving it a Polaroid-like appearance.  If you are making several ornaments, as we did, it is easiest to make one and use it as a template for the rest.
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Now you can feed your paper through your typewriter to make your label. It is easiest to do this before you cut the window out.

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Carefully cut out the window using an Exacto blade and a ruler.

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Using your bone folder to make a nice, clean, crease; fold the paper in half, width-wise.

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To help protect your photo and make it look a little more Polaroid-like, insert it into a plastic sleeve, cutting off the extra plastic.

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Now spread glue all over the back of your ornament, sandwiching in your now-protected photo as well as your length of ribbon.

Your done! Now we’ll just have to explain to Virginia what a Polaroid and a typewriter is when she gets older!

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Happy crafting and Merry Christmas!

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Crochet Neckline; DIY Shirt Refashion

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Do you know how to crochet?  Do you have a plain shirt that is in need of a little pick-me-up?  Than this project is for you.  Crocheting a neckline is an easy way to transform a ho-hum shirt into something with a little more interest and feminine style.  I love how the openwork crochet creates a lace-like appearance without being overly fru-fru.

I only used three different stitches to create this particular neckline; chain stitch, single crochet, and double crochet.  The thread that I used was just a simple cotton crochet thread that I inherited from my Grandma.  It’s probably a size 10 thread, though it didn’t have a label so I’m not exactly sure.

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To begin, I used a 1mm crochet hook to pierce the fabric of the original shirt neckline and create a crocheted foundation for my new crocheted neckline.  This particular shirt has a double layer of knit fabric in the bodice, so it was a little difficult to pierce, which is why I used the smallest hook that I could use with the thickness of thread that I had.  In the places where I pierced the shirt I made a single crochet, then made three chain stitches between each single crochet stitch.  At this point, a fabric marker may come in handy so that you can be sure that your stitches are evenly spaced along the neckline.  Or, you can just wing it like I did.

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DIY Crochet neckline

Once you have a foundation row established, it is a good idea to find the middle of the shirt (front and back) and mark it with some contrasting yarn.  This will come in handy if you would like to do any shaping of your neckline.

From here on your stitches will depend on the look you want as well as the size and shape of your particular neckline.  For my shirt, I used various combinations of double crochet with chain stitches between and single crochet with chain stitches between.  Keep in mind that if you want your neckline to lay flat, the overall number of stitches will need to decrease as you add each successive row.

DIY Crochet neckline

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My original shirt had a neckline that was very deep in front and in back.  I really like it, but I thought that it was a bit low in the front, so I gave myself a little more coverage with the crochet neckline in the front than I did in the back.

To keep up on all things zween, please follow me on Facebook and Pinterest.

Happy Crafting!

This post has been added to the linky party make it, wear it Thursdays on The Train to Crazy, Make it Pretty Monday on the Dedicated House, The Inspiration Board Link Party on Caroyln’s Homework,  and Made By You Mondays on Skip to my Lou.

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Filed under Tutorials, Upcycled

DIY recycled sweater sleep sack

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Fall is in the air and it’s time to start thinking about how to keep our new baby nice and toasty warm once the cold weather settles in.

It has been said that loose bedding in cribs can pose a suffocation hazard in babies less than one year old.   So in my quest to negate this issue I came across some “wearable blankets” such as this one by Baby in a Bag and this one by Halo.  They seemed to be good products with good reviews and reasonable prices (about $30 each from what I can tell).  But naturally, I wanted to see if I could make one myself.

Which lead me to my new obsession with Pinterest, where I found this wearable blanket project by Ashley.  In her blog post, she gives an excellent tutorial on how to make a baby sleep sack made with fleece fabric.

I was all excited about this project but…

I had no fleece and did not like the prospect of driving a half hour (one way) to the nearest fabric store.  Wa wa.

But, lets face it, buying new fabric is not my style anyway, so I started to look around at what I already had.  That’s when I discovered two bags of old clothes set aside for donation.  When I found my old cashmere sweater (originally purchased at a thrift store) in the pile I had a eureka moment.  That’s it!  I’ll use this!

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(see how much she likes it!)

When I started this project I planned on using Ashley’s tutorial as-is, and even found a detachable zipper to use from a hoodie that I was also about to donate.

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The pink cardigan shown above is what I used as the guide for the neck, armhole, and torso width of my pattern as per Ashley’s suggestion (see Ashley’s original post for further explanation of this point).

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Notice that I lined up my neckline with the neckline of the sweater.  I also ended up extending my pattern to include the entire length of the sweater.

However, I quickly decided that I would need to make some adaptions to her project since I had a limited amount of fabric to work with.  Since my sweater was only so wide, I didn’t really have enough of it to make the two separate pieces for the front (because I would need about 1.5 inches more in the width).  You see, in the original design, the sleep sack is supposed to have a zipper running down the entire length of the front.  But, since my sleep sack was made from a stretchy knit sweater, I figured, why not make it a pull-over?

So that’s what I did, I just cut two pieces that were basically the same then sewed them together at the shoulder seams and down the sides.  Remember how I used the bottom of the sweater as the bottom of the sleep sack and the neckline of the sweater as the neckline of the sleep sack?  Well, that meant no fraying in those areas!

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The arm holes, on the other hand, were fraying terribly.  So I made a crocheted ribbed edging around them.  Just one row of single crochet worked directly into the sweater and 3 rows of double crochet worked into a “ribbed” pattern.  (first row; sc into sweater all the way around armhole.  Second row; dc in each sc.  Third row; front post dc in first two dc, dc in next two dc, repeat for entire row.  Fourth row, same as row three).

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Since I used the original neckline, I could have just left that as-is, but I decided that I wanted to open it up a little more. After I cut the neck hole I added a decorative crochet edge (row 1; sc all the way around neckline into sweater, row 2; picot in first st, sc in next st, repeat all the way around).

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I could have left this project alone at this point and basically have a baby-sized sweater night gown, but I wanted to make sure that her legs and feet would stay nice and warm (that was the whole point after all). So I added a zipper along the bottom edge, which gives easy access for midnight diaper changes!

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I love how light weight and warm this cashmere sweater is. And oh so soft! As you can tell, Virginia likes it too…

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to keep up to date with all things zween please like my facebook page.  And, if you’re a Pinterest junkie like me you can find me there too!

Find this post helpful?  I’d love to hear about it, so leave me a comment below!

Happy crafting!

oh yeah, I couldn’t resist making a “night cap” with one of the left over sleeves. Don’t worry this is just for fun and a photo shoot; she won’t actually be sleeping in it.

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This post has been added to the linky party Make it Pretty Monday week 16 over on the dedicated house, Made by you Mondays over on Skip to my Lou, and Make It Wear It Thursday over on The Train to Crazy, so check them out for some linky fun!

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Pin-spiration; DIY Nursing T-Shirt

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If you’ve read anything about breastfeeding I’m sure you know about the many benefits to nursing; it promotes bonding between mother and baby, it gives the baby’s immune system a boost, it helps the mother’s uterus to contract after birth and can help with loosing that maternity weight more quickly, plus it’s way less expensive than formula feeding.

But there are also some obstacles associated with nursing; cracked and sore nipples, plugged ducts, Mastitis, more frequent feedings (as compared with formula-fed babies), and the logistics of breastfeeding discretely in public so that you can some day leave your house!  So far, six weeks into baby number one, I have dealt with all of the above obstacles.  And today I’m going to address that last one; dealing with discretely nursing in public.

For some, the answer is using a large bib-like fabric such as a Hooter Hider.  These are great and in fact I have one that was given to me by my sister-in-law.  You can even find tutorials (such as this one) for how to make your own.  But although they are fantastic and have their place, I don’t always want to have a huge piece of fabric draped over me, which can be awkward to maneuver with a hungry, fussy baby.  Plus, I also feel like it draws more attention to what I’m doing; feeding my baby.

This predicament lead me to start searching out DIY nursing tops on Pinterest.  I found several that I thought were cute, but chose this one from Project Open Hearts for my first attempt.  Allison wrote a very comprehensive tutorial on how to make a discreet nursing top using two identical shirts (or two nursing tops using 3 shirts).

For my top I used two shirts that I had on hand that had seen better days to say the least.  The short sleeve top, which is my main shirt, actually had several holes in the front, making it the perfect candidate for this project since that section of the shirt was removed.  Though both of my tops are brown, they are not exactly the same color, but it doesn’t really bother me.  I kind of like how the two tone turned out actually.

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The other way that my top differs from Allison’s is that I didn’t hem the overlapping section of the main shirt that hangs over the replaced section of the shirt.  Also, the long-sleeved shirt, which I used to make the new front panel, was not as long as the short-sleeved shirt.  Though I cut the long sleeve shirt just under the armpits, the fabric does not reach that far up on the finished shirt.  I don’t find this to be a huge problem though, because I did leave a generous amount of length for the overlapping part of the shirt.

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Below is my finished DIY nursing top using Allison’s tutorial and my own recycled shirts that were on their way to the rag pile.  I do intend to make more of these, possibly with new shirts, but using what I already had was quicker and I didn’t have to worry about messing it up and wasting money on new clothes if it didn’t work out.

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And here is how it works…

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And here is Virginia trying it out for the first time!

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See, very discrete.

Thank you for stopping by.  This has been another installment of my Pin-spiration series, where I do a project that I find on Pinterest and share it with you all!  Keep pinning and keep crafting!

Question; are you on Facebook?  Me too!  find me here!

This post has been linked up to Made By You Monday #11 6 over on Skip to my Lou and Make it Pretty Monday #14 over on The Dedicated House!

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Pin-spiration; Flip-Flop Rehab

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Trying to balance first-time motherhood and making things for my own enjoyment/ sanity, I came up with the idea to create a new blog series called “pin-spiration,” where I do projects inspired by things I see on Pinterest.

This flip-flop project seemed like the perfect place to start.  It looked simple enough and I thought it would be quick.  Lucky for me, it was both!

I saw this pin this morning, and since the little one was sleeping, I took the opportunity to get my craft on.  Unfortunately, there was no additional tutorial or explanation to go along with the series of photos, but the photos tell the story anyway, so it wasn’t difficult to follow along and recreate.

For my version I re-purpossed a pair of very worn (and uncomfortable) flip-flops as well as an old shirt that was in my “to use for other purposes besides wearing” pile.

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Next, I removed the plastic thongs from the flip-flops (the cause of my discomfort).

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Finally, I cut four strips of fabric from the shirt measuring roughly 2.25 inches by 18 inches each and attached them to the flip-flop soles, as shown in the photos below, adding a glob of hot glue to keep the knots in place.

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And there you have it!  A “new” pair of useable flip-flops that I can actually wear instead without getting a blister.

When was the last time you saw something on Pinterest that inspired you than actually made it (or traveled there, etc)?  A lot of times we have the best of intentions to do make things but then life kind of happens and it doesn’t get done, or you just plain forget about it.  So today I’d like to encourage you to go look through your Pinterest boards and find all those DIY projects on your to-do list.  Pick one out and at least get it started.  Or better yet, find one that you think you can follow to completion today!  Go ahead, get YOUR craft on!  Then come back here and tell me what you made.  I’d love to see it!

Thank you for stopping by.  Happy crafting!

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