Monday, November 24, 2014

Felt Meeple Ornaments

It's been so cold here this November. This weekend we had a warm snap and we put the Christmas lights up on the house for fear it would be freezing from here on out. We usually wait until after Thanksgiving, but we weren't alone. Several of our neighbors put up lights too. So it's officially beginning to look a lot like Christmas out there. So I knew I wanted to do another holiday craft this week.


Since I needed to drag my tiny sewing machine out to fix dear husband's Tae Kwon Do uniform, I figured I'd sew up some felt ornaments that I had cut out and waiting to be sewn. I actually cut these out years ago. I finished one of them to give as a gift and the other two just sat waiting to be completed. These felt cut-outs are in the shape of Meeples, which are popular game tokens for strategy games (especially Carcassonne). I found a meeple outline online and adjusted the size of it in Word, then I printed it out on paper and cut around it. I used the paper meeple as a pattern. I pinned it on top of two layers of felt and cut my shapes out.

With my two meeple shapes pinned together and a ribbon pinned between the layers for hanging, I top stitched around the edges very carefully.

I tried to guide it as best as I could, but when going around the arms and head, I had to stop with the needle in the fabric and lift the presser foot repeatedly to complete a curved edge.

I stitched all around the edge (a little sloppy on one of the arms, but not too bad) and left one of the legs unstitched along two sides so that the ornament could be stuffed with polyfill stuffing. 

Above you can see my stitched meeple with the leg left unstitched.  Below you can see me stuffing the ornament.  I used a stick pen to stuff the stuffing into the arms and the head (a pencil or chopstick would also work well).

When I was done stuffing, I carefully stuffed a little bit into the open leg and shoved it under the presser foot of my machine and top stitched the opening closed.  

When I was finished with the sewing, I trimmed the tiny bit of filling that was sticking out and any uneven felt edges.

My purple meeple ornament turned out about as well as the one I completed a few years ago, good with just a few crooked stitches. The green one was a tricky little ornament though. Apparently the two felt meeples weren't exactly the same shape, and I kept on having to restitch areas because it would be safely on the felt on one side, but not on the other. This is a pretty rare problem with felt--it doesn't move too much when you're sewing because it sticks to itself so well, so as long as your meeples are the same size and shape, you shouldn't run into that problem.

Fortunately, since the thread is pretty close to the same color as the felt, it would be a pretty easy fix to hand stitch some contrasting embroidery thread over the edge in a blanket stitch to jazz it up and hide the stitches, but I think learning how to do that will probably have to wait until next Christmas.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Mod Podge Decorated Holiday Candles

Last month when I made Halloween candles out of the Dollar Tree altar candles and some tissue paper, I mentioned that I had picked up 4 of them. Well, today I was inspired by last night's early season snowfall to make some snowflake decorated holiday candles.

This time I decided to use some cocktail napkins that I picked up after Christmas at Wal-mart last year and some glitter. So I gathered up my supplies and got started.  The first thing I had to do was clean the label off of the candle jars.  I soaked them in a couple inches of water in the kitchen sink for just a few minutes and used a dish scraper to scrape the label off, and then I sprayed some goo gone onto the residue and wiped them off and they were good to go.

Next I peeled apart the layers of the napkin so I could use just the top layer on the candles.  Once you get the corner peeled back, just carefully pull the napkin apart.

Next I trimmed the perforated part of the napkin off.  The cocktail napkins are just the right size with the edges trimmed off.  Then I crinkled up the napkin so that it would look more intentionally crinkled while applying it to the candle.

Then I applied Mod Podge to the candle with a foam brush along the candle jar's seam as a guide.  I made sure my napkin was lined up along the seam and along the top lip of the candle. If there is a little extra napkin hanging over the bottom edge, it's easy enough to glue it onto the bottom.  For the Halloween candles I lined it up on the bottom and ended up having to trim up the messy top--it's much easier to fold the bottom edge over and glue it.

While you're gluing the napkin down, be careful not to get glue on your fingers and just gently tap the napkin onto the glue.  If your fingers get tacky or if the paper starts to rip, just put the candle down and let it set up a bit.  It's really easy to tear the napkin by simply grasping the candle when the napkin is wet with glue, so be careful.  If you do end up tearing more than a little (a little you can hide with glitter) you can mod podge a second napkin over top to hide the tears.

I had just a couple of minor rips since I am starting to get pretty good at this whole mod podge and tissue paper/napkin thing, so after I let the paper dry, I started adding some glitter.  I had some fine white glitter from the dollar section at Michael's that I sprinkled on to my candles after I applied another coat of Mod Podge. Then I let that dry and put another layer of Mod Podge over top of the glitter to minimize shedding.

I think they turned out pretty snowy, so I took the opportunity to take some of my last outdoor photos of the year in our freshly fallen snow. As lovely as the snow is, they look even better inside lit up where it's warm.

Monday, November 10, 2014

As Seen on Pinterest: Baking Soda and Peroxide Nail Whitener

I've been wanting to test this pin for quite some time.  With the fall in full force and a week with flurries and highs in the 30s forecasted next week, I knew it was time to try to lighten my toe nails after a summer of wearing polish.  I've been polish-less for a week or two, and this year wasn't too bad.  It's just one big toe that's really discolored, the rest came out ok.  So I found the pin for whitening nails: Mix 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide with 2 1/4 tablespoons of baking soda.  Stir into paste and let sit on nails for 5 minutes.

So to start off with I was a bit skeptical because I don't know what a 1/4 tablespoon is, but I estimated and did my best.  I mixed my tablespoon of peroxide with 2 and a little extra tablespoons of baking soda and stirred it into a paste.

I massaged the paste onto my nails and made a nice big mess. It gets all over your hands and quickly turns back into a powder, so be sure to try this in the kitchen or bathroom where it's easy to clean up.

I let the paste sit for a little longer than 5 minutes for good measure--I think it ended up being about 8 minutes. I hobbled into the bathtub and scrubbed my toes off.  The paste comes off easily, but then I buffed them off.  I think this paste would work as a great gently abrasive way to clean your nails, but it didn't really whiten mine at all.

Just to prove it, I included some gross looking photos of my discolored toenail. You're welcome internet. The top one does look a smidge darker, but that could be the lighting, my toes look no different in person. At any rate, the pin says it will make your nails white--it didn't, so I have to rate this one as a fail.

Let me know if the comments if you had luck with this pin, and I can try again--because I'd love to see that nail look a little less discolored. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Thrift Store Makeover: Paper Mache Reindeer

The Holiday season has officially begun. I know it's still early, but I gotta get a jump on my crafting before crunch time.  Besides, I found this paper mache reindeer way back last spring at the Goodwill Outlet (where they bring all the crap that doesn't sell and can't be recycled from the area Goodwills and let people fill up their carts and pay by weight). Paper Mache is light and I could see his potential, so I tossed him in my cart. I'm sure I paid like a quarter for it. Upon closer examination of my new reindeer, I noticed he had a crack in one of his antlers. This is what he looked like before:

So my first step was fixing the crack in his antler. I put some tacky glue in the crack (figuring a slightly flexible glue would work better, but elmers probably would have worked fine). After I let the glue dry, I set about making my reindeer a little antler bandage.

I grabbed some white tissue paper and my Mod Podge.  I ripped some small strips of tissue paper and applied them with the mod podge.  I covered the antler with a few layers of paper and let it dry. Good as new!

Then I set about giving the reindeer his makeover.  I figured spray painting it would be easier than trying to cover that patterned paper, so I dropped it in a cardboard box and sprayed it silver.

When it was all dry, I made a new bow for it's neck from my stash of ribbons I picked up after Christmas on clearance.  I just happened to have a nice little silver and white bow.  Now he's all ready for Christmas--but maybe we can hold off on winter coming back for a little while longer.