For this year’s Chinoiserie Christmas, I mostly used decorations I already had from our “white and woodsy Christmas,” with the addition of these hand-drawn ornaments! This post is coming late, because it took me all month to finish these ornaments, … Continue reading
“DNA, you’re in my heart
DNA, in fact you’re in every part of my body
Each cell has a nucleus, each nucleus has chromosomes
And DNA, baby, that spells DNA”
-That Spells DNA by Jonathan Coulton
I can thank Steve, who is at the forefront of all things nerdy, for introducing me to Jonathan Coulton over a decade ago. Of course, as a genetic counselor, I have a particular soft spot for “That Spells DNA.” If you’re as nerdy as we are, and you don’t already know and love this song, you will want to check it out!
So, when we found out we were having a mini baby boom in our work family, with two babies due within two months, it wasn’t too hard for me to decide on DNA-themed baby quilts as gifts.
I found the DNA-themed fabric, Color DNA stripe by Melissa McCulloch, on Spoonflower. The fabric in the quilts is actually left over from a few Halloweens ago when our group dressed up as (if terrible puns cause you pain, skip this next part!) Gene-gnomes. The colors were a perfect jumping off point for this colorful gender-neutral patchwork of yellow, blues, greens and coral-red.
This pattern is called Stacked Coins and is easy to adapt to scraps of all kinds.
Here are some close-ups of the beautiful fabrics. I wanted to use every last scrap of the DNA fabric, so there is one patch in each of the quilts that I like to call “CRISPRed.” Can you spot one?
And here are a few more pictures of the quilts during their photo shoot, before they went off to their new homes!
All the colors and patterns together make me so happy! I am excited to meet the newest babies of our work family and give them their quilts, so they can start their genetics lessons early!
These little luggage tags make wonderful gifts that are quick to make and practical!
Every kids loves having something with their name on it, and every adult fears taking the wrong bag at the airport. I’ve actually done this – and it was a huge pain, because I had to spend hours and $$ going back to LAX to exchange the bag, but I was relieved that at least the woman whose bag I accidentally took was really nice about it.
I love all the ways you can customize these luggage tags. I am showing these with scrapbook paper, but I’ve also made some out of wedding invitations to give as a gift to the couple, and you could use photos or lots of other ideas!
I’ve made tags with two different types of lamination:
There’s really nothing better than a beautiful combination of scrapbook paper and stickers, is there? … Well, maybe dark chocolate and red wine… or world peace… okay, but these are really fun and pretty, so go and make some, because world peace may take a while to achieve.
Most years, I try to make something creative as holiday gifts for our teachers and coworkers. There’s so much joy in giving, but we’re also living in a time and place where it feels like everything is at your fingertips, so something handmade feels like a good way to express how much we appreciate those around us. When I can manage it, I make a few extra to last through the year as hostess and grown-up birthday gifts. I’ve linked to previous years’ handmade gifts at the bottom of the post, if you’re looking for more ideas.
This year, I decided to make stenciled canvas tote bags as our holiday treat. They’re so pretty and unique, yet also practical, as we’re trying to minimize our use of disposable shopping bags. I had so much fun trying different combinations of colors and patterns.
What you’ll need:
- Canvas tote bags. These ones are great, because they are a cotton blend. They still look and feel just like cotton canvas, but they don’t wrinkle (I’m allergic to ironing)
- Stencils: I chose a tile design, arrows, gingko leaves, feathers, and birds (even though I just bought mine a couple of months ago, some are no longer available, so I’m linking to some similar ones. I got mine from Cutting Edge Stencils and Amazon)
- Craft paint
- Textile medium
- Sponge painters
- blue painter’s tape and old magazines
How to do it:
- Prewash the bags
- Choose a stencil and use blue painters tape to hold it in place
- Put an eye md magazine inside the bag, so the paint won’t go through to the other side
- Mix paint with textile medium according to the instructions
- Use the spouncer to apply light coats of paint
- Once thoroughly dry, iron the pattern using a press cloth to set the paint
- That’s all! Unless you’re me and repeat it many, many times!
Here are just some of the combinations I made!
Tile stencil in navy and in ombré blues:
Arrows, with a contrasting accent color and (bottom left) ombré blues:
Feathers,with a contrasting accent color or (bottom) ombré blues and greys.
I really liked the feathers!
I loved the tile in this mix of copper and gold paint. The metallic paints were very thick and made very crisp designs.
A close up of the feathers:
The birds were fun to arrange in different patterns and colors.
My mother-in-law likes gingko leaves, so I made this one for her:
And I got to keep this one for myself!
No matter how I plan, the holidays are hectic. I definitely all felt worthwhile when I went to give out the bags. Our teachers and friends were so excited – it definitely put me in the spirit of the season!
it made me happy to make the people I care about happy. My friend Liane took this great photo of her bag:
Looking for more handmade gift ideas? Here are some from past years:
- Dip-painted wooden kitchen utensils
- Stamped tea towels
- Magnetic desktop picture frames
- Washi tape gift jars
- Pancake and hot chocolate mixes in jars
Everything old is new again! I’m visiting my dad and fantasizing about magically unearthing some old macrame projects from the 70s. Meanwhile, I’m trying my hand at making some plant hangers. This macrame obsession pairs perfectly with my newfound love of plants!
Tying knots in string shouldn’t be that complicated, but I was nervous getting started, so I chose the simplest project I could. Using some heavy cotton rope leftover from hanging a birthday piñata, I based my plant hanger off of these instructions.
Because the rope was so thick, I chose to use a gathering knot in blue cotton yarn rather than tie a heavy knot with the rope at the top and bottom.
Being a busy mom, the first chance I had to work on this project was on a plane! Luckily, the tab that holds up the tray table works perfectly for attaching the loop at the top;)
And here’s how it looks planted with Golden Pothos.
Stay groovy and green!
So, it was just Valentine’s Day and we’re going to Steve’s sister’s wedding in a few weeks, so I’ve been busy searching for the perfect romantic gifts with a handmade touch.
Here are my favorite ideas. I’ve tried some of them and can’t wait to try the rest!
1. Printed pillowcases
I love this and all the other whimsical designs from ZCreate on Etsy, and how perfect that this business is run by a couple!
2. “I love you” collage
I made this collage for our family a few years ago. It took a lot of time and work, but it’s not technically difficult, and it’s almost free! You could customize this with a wedding date or other details.
3. A year of dates
This is what I actually ended up giving Steve for Valentine’s. One activity for each month, some at home and some out on the town, including some local adventures I have been waiting to try!
4. Personalized wine or bar glasses
I love these vintage monogrammed glasses I found for our Mad Men party a few years ago. You could also make your own with Glass Etching Cream.
5. Personalized wine labels
7. Message written with paper mosaic
I used Chinese characters (love, double happiness, and family), but you could do this with an English phrase, too. I printed out the template in reverse, glued one inch squares onto the back side of the paper, then cut out the template and glued it on a background.
8. String art heart
You can buy this from Etsy or make your own with some wood, nails, and red embroidery floss. I’ve been wanting to try this for a while!
9. Personalized luggage tags
I made these luggage tags and other art projects out of wedding invitations. I found the self-laminating tags here.
10. Framed wedding invitation art
Hope you’re in the mood to create something special for the ones you love!
The fact that I’m writing this when it is already Christmas morning in most parts of the world tells you what kind of crazy-busy December we had this year. I’m definitely looking forward to a few days of downtime with the family.
We don’t do a lot of shopping for Christmas. The adults in my family have generally agreed to not exchange gifts, and our kids get so much from their grandparents and aunts and uncles, that at most, we pick up one or two little things for them. However, on the night of December 23, I realized that I really wanted to have something to give to my dad and brother-in-law who are both celebrating Christmas with us this year. There was absolutely no way I was going to go near a mall on Christmas eve, so I wracked my brain and scoured my craft supplies to come up with a few meaningful projects that we could make at home.
We reprised the mugs that we made for Steve’s birthday and Father’s Day last year, and the boys also made these fun picture collages. We enjoyed going through old pictures to find our favorites, and I also added some extra copies of Christmas cards from the last few years. The boys did all the cutting and gluing themselves, as evidenced by the fact that there are duplicates right next to each other and other quirky touches. I think that our family is going to love these!
And for me, being able to stay in on December 24 was the best present of all.
I may need to have a new series called “Felting Fanatic.” Since raiding my mom’s stash of yarn over the Christmas holidays, I’ve been so excited to try making some felted projects. The first was a felted basket to my knitting. Steve calls it “Knitting Inception,” because of the yarn within the yarn thing… he’s a bit quirky that way. The next project was this felted shoulder bag.
I was having a lot of fun with the big needles and chunky yarn, because everything came together so quickly. I had learned a little bit about the proportions from making the basket, and so I adapted my plans for this bag a little bit. It’s a simple shoulder bag. The main color is dark blue, and I used a mix of many colors for the stripes in between. Like the basket, I was able to mix different types of yarn by doubling or tripling the ones that were thinner.
Like with the basket, I knit on my chunky needles with a gauge of 3 stitches per inch. I cast on 90 stitches and knit in the round with stocking stitch until the bag was 22″ high, finishing with 4 rows of garter stitch at the top of the bag, so it wouldn’t roll over. The shoulder strap is 8 stitches wide in garter stitch, and I sewed this onto the top outside edge of the bag and started as 47″ long.
To assemble the bag, I sewed the handle onto the sides of the bag, overlapping the pieces by about an inch. I used a whip stitch to close the bottom of the bag from the inside.
Before felting, the bag was 21″ wide by 22″ long, and the handle was 47″ long. It was comically enormous, as the boys modeled. K said, I should go into business making bags for giants. If I ever meet a giant, I’ll think about it.
Thankfully, the finished bag is a much more comfortable 13.5″ wide by 11″ high, and the strap turned out about 30″ long.
As a finishing touch, I made a lining for the bag out of some vintage fabric, also from my mom’s stash. I sewed a simple rectangular lining, with some pockets on one side. I then folded down a hem along the top and hand-sewed it into the felted bag.
I’m excited to use my new one-of-a-kind bag with all its fun colors!
Just every once in a while, I plan a project, and then I actually do it! Yes, really! I recently collected some fun ideas for art projects involving paper, and now I’m excited to unveil my own paper creations.
I have a great weakness for pretty prints on paper and fabric, and these easy projects were a great way to display them and create inspiration in my craft studio.
I was feeling girly when I collected these pink and red papers – a mix of scrapbook paper, origami paper, scraps from card, and even some paper I made myself! (second row, center) – and cut out rows of matching hearts. Very easy – I made a heart template out of scrap paper and then traced and cut out this collection. I glued them onto a plain background and popped them into this frame I already had. I had also thought of folding the hearts and making them three dimensional, but I’m happy with how this turned out.
No butterflies were harmed in the production of this pretty display piece. While I have fallen in love with pink and red only recently (some kind of reaction to having three boys), I’ve long had a love for the color blue – in fact, my dad still talks about how much I love blue (do your parents also remember you exactly as you were twenty years ago?).
Anyway, unlike all the identical hearts, I wanted to make each butterfly unique. Again, I love the mix of papers many of which have stories behind them – an old stationery set, some wrapping paper, and more paper that I hand made (second row, left). These are mixed with some more scrapbook and origami papers for a soothing and pretty work of art.
And now, there is finally something to adorn the blank wall in my “studio.” Along with my new paper art, I framed a section of the hydrangea wrapping paper that I used for my desk accessories and added some botanical prints from a calendar.
I love how putting something up on the walls makes a space feel like home!
Do you have some plain towels calling out for a bit of interest? Adding some ribbon or a beautiful fabric – or both – to some towels is an easy way to transform them. The finished products make great accents for your home and would be great housewarming gifts! The sewing is all straight lines, so a forgiving and doable project. These plush towels were lovely already, but I felt like dressing them up a bit. I used a band of fabric and some bias tape.
Before you start this project, prewash the towels and fabric, so they won’t pucker later, if they shrink unevenly.
I started by cutting strips of each fabric to the width I wanted and joined pieces end to end to make a long strip.
Then, I joined the strips of different fabric to each other and ironed down a seam allowance on the top and bottom.
Finally, I cut sections a bit wider than each towel and pinned it onto the towels, folding a seam allowance on the ends before sewing the fabric to the towel.
This was really an easy project, and I think it makes a big impact! I used a little bit of the green and white fabric to decorate a basket in the vanity, to tie the room together.
A funny story along the way: ever wonder what the kids think of all these craft projects? Our six year-old saw the fabric pinned to the towels in my sewing room and asked, “But won’t the pins hurt?” It reminds me that all my great ideas might seem a little crazy to others.
Now that I’ve decorated these towels for our master bathroom, I’d love to try some more. I’ve seen some very pretty versions of this idea on tea towels or burp cloths, all of which would make great and special handmade gifts.
And with these towels, our master bathroom is pretty much done, do that room tour will be coming up soon!