Category Archives: Tutorials

30-Minute Craft: Cute Pincushion!

Yesterday my husband and I were antiquing (It was my husband’s idea!) and I came across an old homemade pincushion that looked pretty simple to make. It was basically a round beanbag with yarn wrapped around it — kind of like a stuffed Trivial Pursuit piece.

My rendition turned out cheerful and totally useful. I’m happy I finally got to toss my cheapo Wal Mart pincushion.

And here’s how to make it.

Materials:
a 6- or 7-inch bowl
a small amount of fabric
4 14-inch lengths of yarn
1-inch button
a cup or so of uncooked rice
funnel
pillow stuffing (I used chunky yarn cause I was out of stuffing)
Tapestry needle (make sure it can fit through the holes of the button)

Directions:
Trace your bowl onto the wrong side of your fabric. Double up the fabric and cut out the circles.

Fold one circle in half and crease the center of it. Draw a 2-inch line in the center of the crease and make a cut on this line. This is where you will stuff the pincushion.

Put right sides together and sew all the way around the edges. Cut small slits along the edge so that the fabric won’t ripple when you have it right-side out.

Turn the pincushion right side out through the hole you cut in the center. Stuff the cushion till it’s about halfway full. I didn’t have any stuffing so I just used scrap chunky yarn.

Using a funnel, fill the cushion with rice till it’s stuffed but not too tightly stuffed.

Stitch up the hole. It doesn’t have to be perfect because this seam will be on the bottom and yarn will be covering it.

Take a piece of yarn and double it. Then wrap it around the pincushion and tie it tightly with a square knot on the bottom of the cushion.

Do this with the other three pieces of yarn so it looks like a pie chart. Trim the ends of the yarn.

Thread your darning needle with a piece of yarn and push it up through the bottom of the pincushion so it comes up in the center of the top. Thread the button through and push the needle back down to the bottom. Tie this tightly and secure it with a good square knot. Trim the edges.

Now put pins in your new pincushion and enjoy!

How to Make Salmon Caviar

Last month I posted a short recipe for salmon caviar, or roe. In the past week we’ve had record salmon numbers run through the Kenai River. You couldn’t pass a person in the grocery store without hearing the word “salmon” escape his lips. I had coworkers whose fishing group caught 160 reds in two days. My friend’s family caught 60. Basically, if you had a dipnet and you dipped it in the Kenai River Friday, Saturday or Sunday, you’re probably patting your belly because it is full of grilled salmon right now.

In the spirit of all things salmon, I thought I’d post a more detailed tutorial on how to process and then eat salmon roe. So now when your friends go fishing you can have them save their roe when they are gutting and then you’ll reap all the benefits — all the tasty, tasty benefits. And it’s nutritious too!

Thanks Todd and Josh!

What you’ll need:

  • A piece of 1/4-inch wire mesh grate
  • Lots of salmon eggs
  • A carton of kosher salt
  • Cold water
  • Large mesh strainer
  • One gallon freezer Ziploc bag
  • Rubber spatula
  • Non-aluminum mixing spoon
  • Small mesh strainer
  • Two large bowls
  • One small bowl

Directions:
Place a large bowl in the sink and put the wire mesh over the bowl. Start pushing the eggs through the mesh. This will help separate the membrane from the eggs. You’ll smash some of the eggs, but it’s not a big deal. When you’ve pushed the eggs through as best you can, pick up the membrane and scrape off as many eggs as you’re able. Discard the membrane into a small bowl.

When you’ve pushed all of the eggs through the wire, use a rubber spatula to scrape off the eggs from underneath the mesh. Set the mesh aside for cleaning.

Now fill the other large bowl with very cold water. Add a ton of salt so that there is still salt visible on the spoon when you stir it. This is a basic brine.

Carefully pour the eggs into the brine and stir. Let them sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Put a spoonful of eggs into a small strainer and rinse them off with cold water. Taste them. If they don’t taste salty enough, let the eggs brine for a few minutes longer until they are salty to your taste. If they are too salty you’ll have to soak the eggs in plain cold water till they become less salty.

When the eggs are to your liking, pour them into a large mesh strainer and run cold water over them for a couple of minutes, while stirring. You want to remove the salt water as best you can without overflowing the roe.

Be sure to wear your amethyst tennis bracelet while preparing this delicacy

Once the roe is rinsed, place the strainer in a large bowl. Make sure the bottom of the strainer doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl by inverting a small saucer or plate in the bowl. You don’t want the roe to soak in the water. Rather, you want the water to strain out of the roe.

Fill a gallon bag with water and seal it up. Place the bag on top of the roe, which is in the strainer, which is in the bowl. Place in fridge overnight or for 12 hours. This will remove excess liquid and compress the roe, which means tastier roe!

When the roe is ready, place it in small jars with wide mouths.

Wide mouths mean easy roe access

Ta-da! 

From here you can distribute your roe to all of your gourmand friends. It will keep in the fridge for three days, but really, you shouldn’t be storing this stuff. You should be stuffing this stuff into your mouth as fast as possible because it’s so delicious.

In case you have a surplus of prepared salmon caviar (my parents will be processing 40 pounds of it this weekend) the best thing to do is to vacuum pack the jars themselves. Your caviar can keep for a few weeks if vacuum sealed.

Before vacuum packing, poke a couple of holes in the tops of the jars. This will get the air out of the jars while in the vacuum packer.

Store your roe in the back of the fridge where it’s coldest. Eat your caviar with Carr’s crackers and white wine.

Officially YUM. For more caviar answers and insights, I recommend this site. For a more detailed tutorial, click here.

Tea Wallet — A Photo Tutorial

Here’s a step-by-step guide to sewing a tea wallet. It’s a good way to use up scraps. Enjoy!

Materials:
Two different patterns of cotton fabric
light interfacing
one snap
sewing machine
iron
needle and thread

The wallet is made of five parts: The outside material (piece A), the inside material (also piece A), the two inside pockets (pieces B and C) and a little strap to fasten the wallet together (not pictured below).

The body of the wallet is 6.5 inches wide x 4 inches tall.
The first pocket is 6.5″x 3″
The second pocket is 6.5″ x 2.5″
The little strap is made from the outside material and it’s 1.5″ x 3″

The first thing you’ll need to do is iron on some light interfacing to the inside parts of the wallet, namely the inside A pattern and the B and C patterns. It’s up to you what material you use for the pockets, but I like pocket B to be made of the outside material and pocket C to be made of the inside material.

Cut the interfacing for patterns A, B and C and iron the shiny side of the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric.

Turn down the top edge of pockets B and C and iron flat. Sew a straight stitch across the top edge of each pocket.

Arrange pocket C on top of pocket B, which is on top of inside piece A. Baste along the side edges of the pockets. Fold these basted pieces in half and iron. Make a stitch along the ironed line from the base of the wallet to the top of pocket B, making sure to backstitch. This creates a dividing line between each side of the wallet.

Next, you’ll make the little strap. Iron in the long edges of the strap and then fold the piece in half and iron. Basically, you’re making a small piece of bias tape. Sew along the ironed edge of the tape.

Sew one side of a snap to the outside piece of pattern A, about an inch inward. Place the raw edge of the little strap on the opposite edge of the outside pattern A, facing inward. Pin outside piece A to inside piece A, right sides together and sew all around the edge, leaving a 2-inch space open at the top of the wallet, closer to the snap side.

Trim the edges of the wallet except for the top edge. Turn right side out and iron flat. Sew the opening shut, very close to the edge.

Next, place the tea bags and sugar packets in the wallet and figure out how long the little strap should be in order to reach around to the snap on the body of the wallet. Trim the strap accordingly, fold under the raw edge, then fold it again and sew it down. My machine didn’t feel like sewing this part, so its easier to hand sew for me.

Finally, sew the other side of the snap to the inside of the little strap.

Ta-da!


Thread and Scissor Rack — A Tutorial

While my husband was busy at Lowe’s buying tie rack supplies, I found a piece of pegboard for $5.50. An idea popped in my head — a rack to hold my threads and scissors. So I had the hardware man cut a piece 2-ft.x1.5ft. I’m not woodworker, but with a few inexpensive supplies and a little elbow grease, I came up with this:

And here’s how to make it:

Materials:

  • 1 piece of peg board, cut to a size you prefer
  • 2 long wooden dowels, the thickness to fit snugly inside the holes in the peg board
  • 2 pieces of 1.5x.5-inch wood, the length of your peg board
  • 6 short screws
  • 2 big nails or a way to hang the board like a picture frame
  • spray paint
  • Metal hooks to fit in a pegboard (in the pegs section of Lowe’s)

Tools:

  • Piece of sandpaper, about 120 grit
  • A Saw
  • Drill
  • Wood glue
  • wet rag
  • Newspaper or big plastic bag
  • 2 pieces of scrap wood
  • pencil

Have your pegboard cut to your specifications. Mine is 1.5 ft x 2 ft. Lay out some newspaper in a ventilated area and rest the peg board on two pieces of scrap wood. Spray paint one layer onto the peg board. Let it dry and do one more coat.

Meanwhile, figure out how long you want your pegs to be. I took my longest spool of thread and added the thickness of the board plus a little sticking out the end — about 3 inches? I didn’t measure. I sawed off that length from a dowel and then with a pencil marked that length all the way down the dowel. Saw as many pegs as you see fit. I made 28. It’s OK if they splinter a little bit on the edges.

Lay your sandpaper on a table, grit side up, and sand one end of each dowel so the edges and corners are all smooth. It doesn’t have to look perfect — no one is going to be inspecting them.

When the paint is dry, drill the 1.5x.5 pieces of wood to the top and bottom of your board, on the back. For each board, I drilled three screws from the front to the back through the holes in the peg board. Drill one on either end of the wood and one in the center. Here’s a picture of the back of my peg board, since I’m absolutely terrible at describing this:

My screws were slightly too long, but that’s because I didn’t bother to buy screws for this project. I just found some lying around my garage. I’m not a perfectionist so I was fine with it.

Now place the pegs on the board and figure out how you would like the layout to be. I knew I wanted to hang scissors on one side and I wanted room at the bottom for a possible shelf in the future, so I arranged my pegs off-center.

One at a time, remove a peg, add a little wood glue to the rough end, add a little glue in the hole the peg is going into and insert the peg, feeling in the back for the end. Make sure the rough end is as flush as you can get it with the back of the peg board. Make sure the peg is straight and wipe off any excess glue with a wet rag.

Do this for each peg and let dry a couple of hours. When everything is dry, hang up your board like you would a picture frame, if you have the hardware. I just put two fat nails in the wall and hung it up that way. Arrange the metal hooks how you like them. Enjoy an organized craft space!

How to Reupholster a Dining Chair

Recovering a dining chair is simple. It’s about a 30 minute project that can brighten up any drab, thrift store chair. I decided to use a dress I bought at the thrift store to recover a chair that looked as though it needed some love. The frame was in great shape but the seat was all torn up and let’s just say….ugly.

Old chair – $5 at thrift store

Sundress – $2 at thrift store
All you need are the following materials:
  • An old chair with a padded seat
  • A piece of fabric 3 inches bigger on all sides than the cushion
  • Screwdriver
  • Staple gun
  • Fabric scissors
Directions:
  • First, unscrew the cushion from the chair frame. Place the screws somewhere where they won’t get lost.
  • Then, iron your fabric and make sure it’s big enough for your cushion. My fabric was thin and see-through and the dress came with a lining so I decided to double up the lining and the fabric.
  • Trim the fabric all around the cushion so there’s about 3 inches on all sides.
  • With the cushion face down on the fabric, stretch one side tightly around and staple in the middle. Do this on each side, turning the cushion over once in a while to make sure there aren’t any wrinkles. 
  • Next, staple the corners of the cushion by gathering up the fabric so it looks nice. Staple all of the corners.
  • Now, staple along the edge of the fabric, stretching it taut as you go. Check the other side of the cushion for wrinkles. If there are any, either pull out the staple by the wrinkle and redo or just tug the fabric and staple it down.
  • When you’ve stapled all around the edge trim the edge so there’s about 1/2 inch of fabric next to the staples. 
  • Finally, screw the cushion back onto the frame.
Voila!
Before and after!

Oilcloth Headband with Photo Tutorial

Every time we go to Mexico I can’t resist buying oilcloth at the fabric store. All the bright colors, fruits and flowers just make me so dang happy.

Here’s a photo tutorial on how to make a lovely headband. It’s pretty easy and looks pretty profesh. Enjoy!
Sorry, my usual photographer was taking a nap.
Materials:
One piece of oilcloth, 1.75 in. x 18 in.
One package of double fold bias tape
One four-inch piece of 1/2-in. wide elastic
1. Cut two lengths of bias tape to run along the long edges of the oilcloth. Slip the edge of the oilcloth into the bias tape. It should fit snugly in there. Sew the bias tape in place, making sure you’re sewing through the top layer of the tape, the oilcloth and the bottom layer of the tape
2. Using a zig-zag stitch, secure the elastic to the raw edge of the oilcloth.
3. Fold in the corners of the band so it makes a taper. Sew in place with a zig-zag stitch.
4. Place the headband around your head and adjust the elastic so it’s comfortable. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the other end of the band.
It’s as simple as that. Only took me about 10 minutes total. 

Springtime Headband with Tutorial

The apparel store I work at always gets fun headbands in this time of year. They are simple construction with bright, pretty fabrics, but they always cost way more than I’m willing to pay. Eighteen dollars? I could just make the same thing with materials I already have at home. That’s free!

Here’s step-by-step instructions on how to make your very own springtime headband. Enjoy!

Materials:
A piece of cotton, 18 in. x 4 in.
5-inch piece of 1/2-in. thick elastic

Directions:
1. Cut your fabric to a dimension you prefer. I wanted about a two-inch thick headband, so I cut my fabric to be 4 inches wide (it’s a little narrower than two inches because of the seam allowance). You also might have a different sized head from mine, so you could always measure the circumference of your head and subtract four inches.

2. Sew your fabric together on the long edge, right sides together. I use a very small seam allowance. I line the fabric up with the edge of the foot. You are essentially making an inside-out tube. Turn your tube right-side out and iron flat with the seam going up the middle. This will be the inside part of your headband.

3. Iron the edges in on each side of the strip so that no raw edges show.

4. Place the edge of the elastic inside one of the ends of the fabric strip so about 1/2 inch of the elastic is inside. Sew in place using a zig-zag stitch.

5. Iron in the corners of the same side of the strip so it makes a tapered edge. Zig-zag stitch the folds in place.

6. Now place the headband around your head and figure out how much elastic you will need to make it comfortable. Once you’ve figured that out, repeat steps 4 and 5 on the other edge.

Presto! I think I’m gonna whip out several of these for my friends.

Corsages and Boutonnieres — A Tutorial

My friend Rosey is organizing a banquet Saturday and she decided to make her own boutonnieres instead of paying for them. The first job I ever had was working in the flower shop at my local grocery store when I was 14. I picked up a lot of techniques that have been useful in my crafting endeavors throughout the years. I was totally stoked about teaching Rosey how to make boutonnieres since I won’t be able to make them for her banquet.

The following is a tutorial on how to make gorgeous boutonnieres. I’ve posted a tutorial in the past, but this one is more thorough since I had a second person to take photos. Please excuse my dirty, unmanicured nails.
Oh, and happy St. Patrick’s Day! My friend Josh came over toward the end of the night and I taught him to make his own boutonniere. You’ll see him at the end enjoying a Guinness. 
Materials:
1. A sturdy flower such as a rose, carnation, or chrysanthemum. I prefer tiny spray roses.
2. Corsage accessories such as a piece of fern, ivy, a leaf, twig, berry, bead, baby’s breath, small greenery
3. Ribbon (not satin as it’s tricky to work with. Wired ribbon is preferred)
4. Wire cutters or scissors you don’t care about ruining
5. Floral wire
6. Floral tape
7. Scissors
8. Pins for securing corsage
9. A pen, straw or dowel (not pictured)
10. Needle-nosed pliers (not pictured)
Step 1:
Each element of the corsage is going to be individually wired and wrapped. Trim the flower about an inch below the bloom. The other plant accessories should have about two inches of bare stem. Tear off any branches or small flowers that get in the way of the stem. Create a bow with your ribbon. 
Step 2: Cut about 7 inches of wire for each corsage element. Straighten out the wire as best you can, then fold each wire in half. 
Step 3: We’ll first start wiring the main flower. Take one end of a piece of wire and stick it through the base of the flower. Roses are very sturdy. Carnations are a little more delicate so be more careful. Run the wire through the flower till you get to the crimp where you folded it.
Step 4: Wrap the edge of the floral tape around the base of the bloom, where you inserted the wire. Tightly wrap the tape around itself a couple of times so it’s secure, then begin twirling the flower so the tape wraps down the stem.
Stretch the tape as you go and firmly run your thumb along the tape as you secure it. This will help it stick better. Wrap the tape all the way to the bottom of the wire. Tear or cut the tape and stick it to itself to hide the end.
Step 5:
Wire and wrap your plant elements by placing the bent part of the wire in the crux of the lowest branch. Use needle-nosed pliers to crimp the fold of the wire to better secure it to the plant. Then wrap the wire in the same way as in step 4.
Repeat step 5 for all other plant elements.
Step 6: run wire through the back of your bow. Crimp the fold of the wire with pliers and wrap the wire with floral tape. If using wired ribbon, curl the ribbon using a straw or pen.
Step 7:
All your elements should be wired and wrapped.
Now you’re going to place the elements together in a way that pleases you. I usually start with the plant elements in the back, followed by the main flower and ending with the bow. Bend the wires till they are situated well, then twist all the wires around each other. They will stick together.
Step 8:
Wrap the whole clump of wires with floral tape starting at the top and working your way to the very bottom of the wires. Cut the tape and wrap it into itself so the end doesn’t show.
Step 9:
Using a pen or straw, wrap the wire around to make a decorative spiral.
Step 10:
Bend the spiraled wire upwards a little and rearrange all the elements so they are just so. Place in a tupperware container and set in the refrigerator till ready to wear. These should keep well for a whole day if not longer in the fridge. 
Guinness time!

T-shirt Baby Pants Tutorial

I woke up at 7 this morning and couldn’t get T-shirt baby pants off of my mind. So I made some T-shirt baby pants. And here is a step-by-step guide so you can make them too. This pattern includes a reverse applique heart. You can leave it out if you like, but it adds a little flair to these cute little pants.

First, download the pants pattern from Make-baby-stuff.com. I made the 0-3 mos. pattern.

Materials:
One large T-shirt with no seams on the sides
One extra shirt of contrasting color (for reverse applique)
About a foot of 1/2-inch wide elastic
Sewing machine
Stretchy material needle (this will make everything MUCH easier)
Straight pins
One safety pin
Chalk or washable fabric marking pen
Fabric scissors

Directions:
Lay out your T-shirt flat and trace your pattern on either side.

Make sure the pattern’s leg holes are flush with the bottom of the shirt. This will make it so you don’t have to hem the pants. Be sure the bottom hem lines up on both sides before cutting.

Next, cut a shape from a piece of paper. I made a heart about three inches tall. Cut a piece of fabric from the contrasting shirt that’s an inch bigger than the shape on all sides.

Next, trace the shape onto the pant leg using chalk or washable fabric pen. I put mine on the front panel (there is no front and back to each leg, so it doesn’t matter which side.) Pin the contrasting piece behind where you want the shape to be, on the wrong side of the fabric.

Sew along the trace marks and backstitch just slightly so it doesn’t unravel. Carefully pull the two fabrics apart and cut away the main color so the contrasting color shows. Trim to your liking.

As you can see, I could have placed the heart farther down, but oh well. It was my first try!

Now you’re going to sew the inseams of each leg. That’s the straight edge you cut from the pattern. We’ll worry about the curved edge in the next step. Make sure you sew the legs with the right sides together.

Here’s the fun trick of this pattern — Take one leg and turn it right side out. Slip this leg inside the other leg (which is still inside out) and pin the curved edges together.

Pin the curved edge so that the seams you just made match up in the middle on both sides. This is the front and back crotch seams. You’re going to just sew along the curved edge. You may want to sew another stitch to reinforce this seam.  After you sew the crotch, take the inside leg out. Your pants should now be inside out. If one leg is right side out and the other is inside out, you didn’t make sure the right sides of the legs were together when you sewed the crotch.

Next step (no photo since it’s easy), turn down the waistband about an inch and sew all the way around the waist, leaving a 1-inch hole in the back (the opposite side from the heart shape) so you can thread the elastic.

Attach a safety pin to the end of the elastic and feed it through the channel you just made.

Make the elastic as tight as you see fit (I honestly don’t know baby waist sizes. I just judged it by how it looked). And zig-zag stitch the elastic together, trimming the excess elastic.

Sew up the 1-inch hole, making sure to back stitch. Turn your pants right side out and TA-DA!

Pants!