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“I Wipe My Hands On My Pants” Dinner Napkins

February 16, 2011

After messy meals I wipe my hands on my pants and t-shirts.  That is, I have transformed my old clothing and forgotten fabric into dinner napkins!  The black and red fabric was my pants, the grey napkins are from an old college club T-shirt, and the blue plaid is from fabric that has been sitting in a box in the garage for the past decade.

The inspiration came for this project from a desire to rid myself of paper products around the kitchen.  I stay away from paper napkins at the dinner table if I don’t need a napkin, but I do catch myself grabbing one-too-many paper towels when I’m cooking or cleaning in the kitchen.  I suppose the guilt has just been building, to the point where I decided to upcycle some old clothing and make small fabric dinner napkins for everyday use around the kitchen.  I would really like to find some kind of nifty holder for them, and use them frequently instead of all the kitchen paper products.  When my boyfriend and I move into our new place in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in about a month, we’ll put an extra bin next to the trash can to throw dirty fabric napkins in after each use.  Then I’ll just toss them in with the rest of the laundry at the end of each week!

If we can make it a habit to use these all the time we’ll save money from purchasing less paper products, but we can also feel a little less terrible about harming the environment after each disposable paper sheet.  I’ll make some large, fancy napkins to coordinate with my tablecloths and everything once it’s time for that, but I didn’t think too much about color coordinating for everyday purposes.  Besides, I kind of like the eclectic look.

Now, here’s how I made them.

1. I used a ruler to make my 7-inch square pattern.  After you finnish the edges, the napkins end up being a bit over 5 inches, so increase your square size if you want larger napkins.

2.  Pin your pattern to your fabric, and cut it out.

3.  I used this tutorial from Skip to my Lou in order to learn how to make mitered edges, as I did not know beforehand.  Its pretty easy but a little time consuming.  That’s why it’s a good idea to keep this project out and work on it over the course of a couple days.

4.  I pinned down the mitered edges.

5.   I then went ahead and used the sewing machine to sew it all down, using the red thread that was already in the machine at the time.

6.  After  using the iron one more time around the sides of the square, you have your final product.  You’ll be wiping your hands on your pants in no time.

I am really excited about how my dinner napkins turned out, and happy to finally have a good sized collection of re-usable dinner napkins to have around the kitchen!

Surprisingly, Blow Torches Do Not Fix Ugly Potholders

February 5, 2011

Not all my projects are successful.

 

What do you get when your boyfriend lights your potholder on fire with a blow torch?

...A Burnt Potholder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes my crafting adventures turn into misadventures.

How does one get to this point, you might ask, where someone thinks it’s a good idea to put a blow torch to your potholder?  When does crafting go wrong?

I started this project with the fantastic idea of using my old shirts and sweaters and jeans as material for an eclectic, woven potholder.

I started by lovingly sewing strips of old shirts together.

 

 

 

I diligently wove the fabric onto a loom.

 

 

 

I weaved in the fabric crosswise as well, and tried to finish off the edges nicely.  But when it was done, it was not a blog-worthy project.  Instead of looking like a crafty, eclectic potholder, it looked messy and childish.

 

 

This is when Boyfriend tried to come to the rescue.  “What about if we burn it a little?”

I know what your thinking….

Probably something like, “What the…?”

So was I, but my potholder was ugly anyway and I appreciated the creativity and support David was offering, so I told him to go ahead and give it a whirl.  His thinking is, “you pay more for jeans that look pre-worn…won’t that make your potholder look better too?”

Armed with my camera, we headed into the garage and laughed at ourselves with safety goggles on.  David lit his blow torch.  That is when he lit my potholder on fire, and discovered that indeed, blow torches do not fix ugly potholders.

Infinity Scarf from Upcycled Sweater

February 2, 2011

Last night I was cutting my old clothes into strips for a future rag rug or woven potholder, when I realized the ribbing at the bottom of the sweater I was cutting off was perfect for a scarf!  This particular sweater is extremely soft and the ribbing had just enough thickness and structure for this project.

I started off with two strips of fabric.  One is the ribbing from the bottom of the sweater, and the other strip is fabric from from the rest of the sweater that I cut into equal width.  (If you think about doing this project in advance, unlike myself, you can jut cut one wide strip instead so you only have to sew one side instead of two like mine).

Then I pinned them together, inside out, and sewed them, like I would a pillow, but just on the two long sides.

Next, I stuck my arm through and turned the strip right-side-out.

The hardest part of this for me, was then folding in the ends on one side, and sticking the other end of the fabric inside of it.  I pinned it shut, then hand-sewed it because of the thickness.

Finally, for good measure, and to flatten out the sewed up sides, I ironed it all the way around.  It was very easy, and I’m very excited to have my first infinity scarf without spending a dime.

Chia Seeds Review

January 31, 2011

Ever have a ch-ch-ch-chia pet?  Chia seeds (in food, not on ceramic animals) are making their way around the food blogs and I thought I’d finally give it my own try.  Verdict?  Delicious!

I love trying new ingredients and reading about the latest foods that make their way around blogs and health stores, but after hearing about negatives of agave nectar from Marion Nestle on Good Food, I’m trying to do more of my own research and become a bit more distinguishing when it comes to the latest food fad.  As far as I have read, however, it seems that chia is a good source of protein, fiber, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (which is always great if you’re vegetarian like me!).  They also have a history in the pre-Colombian diets of Aztecs and Mayans.

Here’s a few decent resources (as in websites that are not also trying to sell the stuff) if you want to do your own nutritional resources on Chia:

I obtained my Chia seeds at the Whole Foods market, which they have in the bulk section.  To sample them, I heard the seeds are good in beverages, like a Chia Fresca, so I mixed a good squeeze of lemon, a good squeeze of orange, and a good amount of pomegranate blueberry juice in the bottle and filled the rest with water.  I then added my chia seeds.  I kind of eyeballed it but supposedly a good ratio is one tablespoon for every one cup of water.  Then I shook it up a bit and waited 5 or 10 minutes for the chia to do their thing.

As far as the taste and mouthfeel go, I was expecting some sort of weird jelly feeling with a super crunchy interior… kind of like gelatinous sand.  Its much more pleasant than gelatinous sand, however.  Its kind of like having small tapioca balls in your drink, that have just a very slight crunch to them when you bite into the center.  Contrary to being something I “tolerated” in my drink for their nutritional value, I actually really enjoy them in there and will be sure to keep this as a staple in my diet.

Comforter Cover “Picture Frame”

January 19, 2011

I made this several months ago for Dave’s Summer comforter, which had no cover on it and was looking kind of icky.  With lots of time and a $50 gift certificate for one of those super stores I rarely go to, I decided to purchase a few sets of cheap sheets and construct a comforter cover for him.

I knew that I wanted to do something relatively simple because he’s not into major frills for his bachelor pad, so I decided on the grey and red with an interchangeable “picture frame” on it.  I honestly don’t know how I came up with the idea of doing the interchangeable panels in the picture frame, but I guess it just came to me as I was trying to figure out a way to make it not so plain, and allow some amount of variation.

Making the frame on the duvet cover was pretty easy.  I sewed a wide frame onto the duvet cover, without sewing down the inner edges of the frame.  Then, I sewed square panels that would fit inside of the frame, using velcro on the bottom corners of the panel and on the duvet cover underneath the frame to get the panels to stay put.

To get the designs on my panels, I simply hijacked my desired images from the internet, and printed them onto iron-on fabric.  I cut out my images, and then ironed them onto the panels to complete my pictures.

What I think is especially nifty about this idea is how you can personalize it.  I picked a fleur de lis for Dave because it’s a symbol for his roots in Louisiana, as well as the tree branch because we’re both into nature.  If you’re making something like this for Grandma you can even iron on pictures of grandchildren, or make different panels to coordinate with different holidays.  It certainly doesn’t change the look of the entire room to switch out the panels, but adds just that bit of variation to spice things up sometimes.

The Unemployment Blanket

January 18, 2011

I knitted a blanket.  I started it in October 2010, and working on it line by line I finished last Friday.  Ta-da!

Before knitting this blanket, I had only knit scarfs.  I learned how to knit from a woman named Lila when I was living in Costa Rica (in 2007), and I don’t really know other women that knit so I haven’t really advanced in the complexity of my knitted projects.  Someday I strive to learn to knit beyond square-shaped items, but making a blanket was a pretty awesome accomplishment for me.

Thats not to say there aren’t any “flaws,” as some might call them: the blanket is incredibly, outrageously wide.  In fact, as I put it on Boyfriend’s bed it is folded over, so it turns out it’s double-y warm.  Since I never knitted a blanket before and had no pattern, I just guessed at the width and it’s quite difficult to tell while starting out on the needles.  I really think of it as a positive though- not only does it provide more warmth on the bed, but it fits across the entire couch (and then some) when you are cuddling up with the fam to watch a movie on a cold night!

As far as the cost goes in the construction of this thing, I initially want to say that the end result is priceless, but lets face the wool facts.  Each line on the Unemployment Blanket represents one entire skein of yarn.  Thirty-five skeins of yard went into the construction of this blanket.  At 5-7 bucks a pop, that’s about $200 worth of yarn alone, but I have to say it was worth it.  Knitting is meditative, and it helped me get through football season.  But it is also more than that.

As a person that is unemployed, $200 in yarn is a lot of money.  However, as other unemployed folk know, it can be really hard to have all that time on your hands on a day-to-day basis.  I have a daily job search, a volunteer gig, and do a decent amount of working out and cooking, but I will just be candid and say that things can seem pretty bleak after a while.  Giving myself this blanket to complete has really helped me out during this tough time, giving me a task, a goal, a purpose.  I made something beautiful!  I hope you enjoy it as well.

 

 

Home-Etched Carafe with Glass

January 10, 2011

I went to Atascadero with Boyfriend a couple months ago to visit my Aunt and her husband.  We hit the road pretty late after Boyfriend got off work, ate some Thai, and let the Friday night Los Angeles traffic die down.  We arrived at nearly midnight after they were asleep, and in the guest room, my aunt had placed a carafe with lemon water and a glass on top to quench our thirst before we hit the hay.  I thought the carafe was adorable, and the concept very welcoming, so when my mom and sister and I decided to get together for a glass etching crafting session it wasn’t to difficult for me to figure out what I wanted to do.  My brother-in-law lovingly dubbed our weekend crafting sessions “Arts and Crafts with the Wafer Women” and jokes that we should have our own T.V. show, but I think we’ll stick with the blog for now!

I went to Michaels for all of the supplies, thanks to a very generous gift certificate from Boyfriend’s mother for Christmas (joy!!), and got some Armour Etch Cream and blank etching stencils since I already had my carafe and a razor (for making the stencils).  You can also buy pre-cut vinyl stencils, but I like doing my own thing.  I also read at Martha Stewart that you can use contact paper as well, but I imagine those don’t hold up over time quite as well if you want to use your stencil more than once (and take my word for it, after putting all that patience and effort into creating your stencil, you will).

I picked my design by modifying a couple things I snagged from the internet, then carefully taping my drawings over the blank vinyl stencil, and proceeding to cut out my stencil with a hand-held razor blade.

Once that part was done, it was all pretty easy.  I stuck my vinyl stencil to my carafe in the desired spots, which did take some patience and skill as it’s more challenging on a curved surface (keep that in mind with your designs! My sister couldn’t use her large, complicated stencils on her champagne glasses like she had wanted).  Use a paintbrush to put on the Armour Etch, and wait.  The bottle says to wait for five minutes, but I wanted it to look even more etched than five minutes allowed for so I left it on for fifteen.  Then I just rinsed it off the Armour Etch under running water, and took off my stencil.  I am so excited to use this for visitors in a guest room!

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