AIM DIY: Finger Crochet a Round T-shirt Rag Rug

IMG_2201_roundtshirtrugFrom 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

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Despite my sister’s best efforts I’ve never been able to make sense of real crochet. The “finger crochet” method I describe below is something that came out of a lot of experimentation, but I’m guessing you fiber wizards could whip up something even better! If you’ve done a similar project, or have suggestions to make this DIY more clear, please feel free to tell us about it in the comments below.

When I finished re-weaving my t-shirt rug (updated photos at the bottom of that post) I figured out two important things.

  1. There is better way to cut a t-shirt into strips (fewer, longer strips.)
  2. Once you know how to cut t-shirts into long strips, no t-shirt is safe.

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Which translates to: I had a lot of leftover strips of jersey, and wanted to use them up! I started braiding, tying knots, and eventually settled on a method that can best be described as the frumpy cousin of crochet.

PREP: Cutting one long strip

Knotting small strips of jersey (demonstrated in the woven rug post) is time-consuming, so the longer the strip the better. After digging around a bit I found this video that shows how to turn a loop into one long strip.

IMG_2100_roundtshirtrugI started by cutting the large loop of the shirt from the top, and sliced across from one side, stopping about an inch from the other edge.


Then I slipped the loop over my arms, and starting at the end of one cut I cut diagonally towards the end of the next cut on the other side of the fabric. Then the whole thing unwound in a continuous strip.

MAKING THE RUG


To begin I tied a slip-knot near the end of the string by making a loop, reaching through and grabbing the strip, pulling it though and gently pulling to tighten. (There’s a great demonstration of a slip knot at the beginning of this video.)

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Then I reached through that loop, pinched the strip, and pulled it through to create my first chain stitch. (See steps 2 thru 4 on this Red Heart blog post). This whole project breaks down into pulling a new loop through an old loop.

I repeated this chain stitch about 5 times, then…


tucked the loose string end through the last chain stitch to loosely close the first set of chains into a circle.

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To connect the next ring of chains I pulled the next strip (navy) through two existing loops– the one I just made (pictured here closest to my thumb), and the inside of an earlier chain that lined up with my new one (closer to my fingertip).

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This way my newest loop connected my existing chain to the one inside of it. I then started a pattern of 3 chain stitches, 1 connecting stitch, 3 chain stitches, 1 connecting stitch, 3 chain stitches, 1 connecting stitch, 3 chain stitches, 1 connecting stitch, 3 chain stitches, 1 connecting stitch…

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going around and around the circle.

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When I ran out of strips, I pulled the end of my string through the last loop, and tucked it into the rug– because one day I will have more t-shirts to dismantle, and this rug will keep getting bigger!

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TIPS

  • As you are working, make sure not to pull your loops too tight, or stretch your chain when you’re doing a connecting stitch. The looser you work the flatter the rug will sit.
  • Different shirts will make thicker or thinner strings based on the thickness of their fabric. I opted for a very irregular look with lots of inconsistencies in my strips (width ranging from 1″ – 2″) but if you want a more regular look, stick with shirts of a similar weight, and cut your strips about 1.25″ wide.
  • If it’s looking weird, pull out your loops and start over! Once you get the hang of this version of finger crochet you’ll fly through this project, so you will quickly make up the time redoing it. Practice has never been more fun.
  • If you can, work for longish stretches to keep your tension consistent. This is a great “while watching tv or daydreaming” activity.
  • As always, plan to make one more rug than you have cats.

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AIM DIY: Paper Spiderwebs to Decorate Everything

From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

Step by step this house is getting properly October spooky. I’m a big fan of decorating with the things I have around, and this collection of tarnished silver and moody ornaments needed one little touch, so I decided to make a spiderweb table runner out of scrap paper and a piece of ribbon.

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SUPPLIES

  • A few sheets of paper, any color you fancy. I used card stock, which was a bit trickier to cut but more durable in the long run.
  • Small clips or tape
  • Your favorite craft knife
  • A hole punch
  • Ribbon
  • The spiderweb templateaim_paperspiderweb

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Once you have printed the spiderweb template, use tape or the clips to secure it to a sheet or two of paper, and cut the spiderweb shape out with a craft knife. You will also punch holes where each X is.

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Cutting Tips

Start trimming the small center pieces out first and move to the large pieces. I actually cut all the inner pieces, then moved on the the next sheet of paper until I have enough pieces. Then I cut the outer shape out of several pieces at once using scissors.

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When you’ve cut out and punched all your pieces, weave a piece of ribbon in and out of the holes to connect several spiderwebs.

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I overlapped the corners of each spiderweb piece to make my table runner…

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and hung them all on one ribbon for a creepy spiderweb banner.

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The possibilities are, as they say, endless! I’m even thinking of creepy spiders to add to them.

The motionless, paper kind.

What’re you decorating with?

AIM DIY: Spookily Free and Easy Ghosts

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From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

When I was a kid my mom came up with all sorts of awesome crafts for us to do, and being a typical goth-in-the-making I loved the halloween crafts most of all. One year we made cheesecloth ghosts with balloons and glue and it’s a project that has haunted me to this day.

I decided that I really wanted some ghost friends, but lacking balloons and cheesecloth I decided to make some up, Alison style. (IE: Free, Quick, and Fun.)

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SUPPLIES

  • At least a couple of feet of sheer or thin fabric – old sheets or window sheers work great!
  • All-purpose flour
  • Bottles: Soda, water, or wine. Glass or plastic.
  • Wire or wire coat hangers
  • Plastic bags
  • Rubber bands
  • Scissors
  • A bucket or bin to mix your flour paste in

Step 1: The Form

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To begin will make a simple armature out of wire (or out of a wire hanger). Cut a piece about 24″ long, and twist it together to form one big loop.

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Slip the loop over the neck of your bottle, and twist the arms slightly so that they sit securely on the bottle and point slightly upwards. Using a scrap piece of fabric or paper, form a ball shaped head over the neck of the bottle and secure it with a rubber band.

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To make the armature (form of the ghost) easier to remove, cover it with a plastic grocery bag, and secure it with a rubber band.

Measure the height of your ghost form from the base, across the head, and to the base on the back side. Cut a square of fabric this size to cover your form. (This is a great time to tear your fabric instead of cutting, if you want. Frayed edges are a bonus!)

Step 2: Stiffening and Forming the Fabric

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Although flour may not last forever when used as a paste, it works perfectly for a ghost that will only haunt your house for a year or two. Combine 4 parts water with 1 part all-purpose flour in a large container and mix well with your fingers. Soak your ghost fabric, and wring it gently.

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Spread the fabric over the ghost form, with a corner of the fabric pointing forwards.

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Using your creativity (and maybe a clip or two) shape the cloth as creepily as you want! (I loved adding a fold along the “hair line” so that it looked like my ghost was in a cloak.)

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If you’d like, remove some of the excess fabric from the “arms” of your ghost. (Make sure to leave fabric puddled at the front and back; this will ensure that your ghost will sit up when it’s all dry.)

Leave your new little friend to dry overnight, with a fan blowing if you can. When it’s completely dry, gently pull the bottle form out of the stiff fabric. (If it’s not firm enough to stand, you can mix up some more of the flour and water and paint it onto your fabric while it’s still on the form. You may want to use a higher ratio of flour to water.)

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Boo!

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If you’re feeling extra crafty, you can paint right on your ghosts with watercolor or acrylic paints. I have some scary plans for one of mine.

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Use What You’ve Got!

If you don’t have scraps of fabric lying around, this project is also fun with thin paper, tissue paper, or even paper towels. Just make one adjustment: instead of soaking the paper in your paste, lay the paper across your form and paint the paste on with your fingers or a craft paint brush. Saturate the paper slowly and let it fall again the form. You can add multiple layers of paper for more texture (like the tissue paper ghost above) and even cut out a mouth and eyes!

Stick an LED “candle” in it, and things get even creepier!

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Scary Ghost Sound!

What’s frightening you this season?

AIM DIY: No Sew Woven T-Shirt Rag Rug

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From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

A couple of months ago I tore up the carpet in my office and replaced it with a wood-ish surface. It’s been great through these warm months, but I want something to stand on when the cold sneaks in. Couple that need with a stack of t-shirts left over from the quilt project, and you have my newest best friend, the t-shirt rag rug.

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I built a 30″x30″ make-shift loom out of a piece of plywood and scrap wood, but if you search online you can find frames built from pretty much anything. (A Beautiful Mess used cotton scraps and a big piece of cardboard. Also, Pinterest)

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I put nails along each end, 1 inch apart. Good hammer practice for a hammer novice.

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With the loom assembled, I moved to materials.

SUPPLIES

Stripping

The rug was built with 1.5″ loops for the warp (base strips) of my rug, and 1.75″ strips woven through.

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I used a large straight rotary blade and a metal ruler to cut three navy shirts into the 1.5″ loops, then cut the rest of the shirts into 1.75″ strips. (This is a very forgiving fabric, so estimation is ok!)

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I hooked the navy warp pieces on each side of the loom using the natural loop and stretch of the t-shirt.

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I prepared to weave by attaching the first strip to the first warp loop. I cut a slit in one end of the strip, fed the other end around the first warp piece and back through the slit. Then I pulled it tightly and began to weave.

Not a normal knot.

I connected a lot of strips to finish this rug using the method shown below. It’s quick and tidy, and ensured you don’t have a lot of extra bulk at your connection points.

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  1. Cut a small slit in the ends of each strip.
  2. Feed the new strip into the hole at the end of the other.
  3. Take the other end of the new strip and feed it through the slit on the same strip.
  4. Pull on the new end to tighten the knot. Smooth or trim extra material if needed.

(The video below shows how I knotted at the end of a strip.)

Now Weave!

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Starting at that first warp piece, I wove in and out of each loop to the end of the loom. At the end I wrapped either over or under the last piece to start back down the loom. The second strand went over the strands that the first went under, and vice versa.

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From there it was basically rinse and repeat. I wove back and forth, connecting strips and changing colors.

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When possible I fed the strip through the warp flat, then pulled it down with my fingers to bunch it up.

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The pattern and color combination were very important to me, and I got more and more excited as I worked on it. When I put the final strip in, I tied it off using a normal knot on the last piece of navy.

Finishing it off

Here’s where I admit this rug is really just a gigantic pot holder, and I finished it off the same way. I pulled the first warp loop free and fed the second through it, then fed the third through that one, and so on down the line. (Video Below)

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Once I was down to the last two loops, I changed tactics. I cut the loop of the last piece, fed one strip through the second to last loop and tied it off.

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I did the same thing on the other end and suddenly had a rug in front of me.

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After basking in the last moments of sunshine, I rolled up the rug and brought it inside.

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Where it was immediately claimed by another friend…

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Cooper.

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Looks like I’ll have to weave another rug for myself.

Next Time

  • The next rug will be bigger. Once I took this one off the loom it shrunk down a bit, and I love it too much for it to be small.
  • I won’t pull the woven strands as tightly, which will hopefully help with the shrinking.
  • Maybe I’ll try non-stretch cotton scraps?
  • I will plan to move the loom frame around a lot, and possibly rig up some way of leaning it upright while I’m weaving. Working flat gave me a back-ache.
  • I will take it in little batches, weaving in front of the tv or in public. If I weave in public I will look very serious about turning scraps into a comfy rug.

A sign of a successful project is the ability to look forward to the next one.

UPDATE: I enjoyed this project so much that I decided to remake this rug- BIGGER! I built a much larger loom using scrap wood and screws, then followed the same process to build this monstrosity. It sits cozily by my work table now, warms my feet, and makes me happy.

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AIM DIY: Build a Box and Lid

IMG_1006_buildaboxFrom 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

I love putting my creative instincts to good use in a 3d world, and that means I get a kick out of building boxes. There’s something magical about turning a little chipboard or cardboard and a little tape into a functional container, and it seems like I have plenty of opportunities to do just that.

The basics of building a box with a lid (which I call a hatbox) are very basic indeed. I drew up a little sample sheet with the very simplest version. Use cardboard or chipboard, scissors or a craft knife, and your favorite tape.


My challenge today was building a gift box for a set of wine glasses. (Recognize the etching process?)

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I measured the length, depth, and height of the set, and got my favorite materials out.IMG_0916_buildabox

SUPPLIES

  • Chipboard Pieces
  • Gummed Paper Tape – I like working with this kind of tape when I’m using chipboard or cardboard. It starts out un-tacky, and when you wet it with a sponge it is like you poured a whole bunch of glue on it. It can be kind of messy, but you can shift it around until it dries, making it very forgiving.
  • Craft Knife
  • Scissors
  • Ruler

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First I cut the 5 pieces for the bottom of the box, and pieces of tape for each seam.

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Since I knew some of the tape would show on the final box, I made sure to cut an angle on any piece of tape that overlapped another piece- especially on corners.

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To place the tape correctly on the board, I first laid the board out perfectly on my mat. I left a board’s width between each piece to allow for them to fold.

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I used a wet rag moisten each piece where I needed it, then attached the tape pieces to my boards.

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I’ve outlined my tape pieces here. The first pieces I placed were the a’s, then I moved on to b, then c.

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I flipped the whole thing over, and started folding up and taping the sides (applying more water to keep the tape sticky and smoothing out any bubbles.)

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With the bottom portion of the box completed, I measured the outside of the completed box and added about 1/8 of an inch to allow the lid to close easily. I chose 5″ at the height of the lid, and built another box like the first, using those dimensions.

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I’m a big fan of a simple kraft colored box, but since this was a gift, I wanted to add a little pizazz. I printed a design on card stock, and cut it down to fit each side of the box lid. I used spray mount to adhere it to the box.

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Then added a little ribbon, a card…
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and a divider inside to kept the glasses from clanking.

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I’m super happy with the way this box turned out– a perfect fit for gifting and storing the glasses.

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I hope you can build off the simple instruction sheet to create the perfect home for your treasures, and of course some treasures for your home.

AIM DIY: Marble Paper with Oil Paints

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From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

Whenever Rachel and I get together there is always a lot of making. We hang out, paint, draw, and then we party (ie: DIY TIMES). In anticipation for this visit, we made lists of possible crafts, and “Paper Marbling” appeared on both lists. Done!

We’d seen several methods, but we had almost all the supplies to marble with oil paints so we decided to try that out first. Having the best oil paints can make creating these easier. But it was a long, fun day; full of “oooooh” and “aaaaahhh,” sunshine, and turpentine fumes. We wanted to share our method and tips with you, so that you can make your own marble marvel.

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Basic Supplies

  • Oil Paint Colors – cheap oil paints should work just fine, we used the M. Graham paints we had on hand.
  • Turpentine – Easily found at a hardware store.
  • Big plastic bin to float the paint in
  • Small containers to mix paint colors and turpentine
  • Cardstock (We loved the colored card stock best!)
  • Disposable bamboo skewers or spoons for stirring
  • Nitrile Gloves

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Step 1: Prep

Before we got started we made a comb by taping toothpicks into a small strip of card stock. The comb was handy for pulling through the colors, and encouraging more “swirly bits.”

We set up our marbling table outside, which I recommend highly. You want to use a table or cover that it’s okay to get paint on. This is a messy craft, to be sure. We set out a tarp for drying our finished papers, put on our gloves and starting mixing things up.

We filled two plastic bins with about an inch or water and set them aside. Then we put out several colors of oil paints in our mixing containers.

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It was a little trick to get the right mix of turpentine and paint, initially. We discovered that the ideal texture was somewhere around the thickness of whole milk.

marbledpaper_IMG_0740We added turpentine to the paint containers in small pours, and mixed it thoroughly with a bamboo skewer. If we needed to add more turpentine we did it as soon as we had the paint mixed to a consistent texture.

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Step 2: Pouring the Paint

Then we just poured the paints on top of the water! Simple. Sometimes we did little drops, sometimes we just chunked it all in.

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Our first batch of color was always full of the same color family, so that as the colors mixed in the water we didn’t end up with a bunch of brown paper. (Towards the end we got a little more daring, and had great results adding in complementary colors to the batches.)

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We got a lot of mileage out of our toothpick combs, pulling them through the paint to swirl the colors together.

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Step 3: Dipping the Papers

Once we were happy with a design, we laid the card stock quickly on top of the swirled colors, and removed it as delicately as we could. (Rachel had a great dunking method that involved bending the card stock down the middle– hamburger style– then rolling down from the middle to the outside edges before lifting from the water.)

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Tada! It was amazing how unpredictable the results were. What you saw on the water might not be at all what showed up on the paper. We loved the look we got towards the end, when there was less paint and it all seemed to be thinner.

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We did two different color stories, one was reds and golds and one was blues and greens. The reds tended to get a little “gory” at times, but looked beautiful on colored papers.

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Step 4: Drying and Future Projects with Marbly Goodness

We laid the paged out for a few hours, while we cleaned all the paint up. When we were ready to go inside we stacked the sheets and set them aside to dry. It took a good 5 days for the oil to be dry to the touch, but now they are, and I have all kinds of ideas about what to do with my collection.

Maybe I’ll revisit an old DIY, what do you think?

The possibilities are endless. I’m okay with that.

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Things We Learned

  • Working outside is key. The Turpentine is kinda smelly, and even with a light breeze we felt like we were standing in the fumes. Working outside also made cleanup a lot easier, with a big trash can and a hose available. Make sure to dispose of turpentine properly!
  • Initially we tried thinning the oil paint with walnut oil, but it did not allow the paint to spread out across the water. We had to drop everything and head to the store for turpentine to make the project come together. I have seen a couple of recommendations online for turpentine alternatives, but we didn’t try any (after the oil fiasco.)
  • If your paint drops to the bottom instead of floating, add a little more turpentine.
  • Sometimes less paint is better. I loved the last sheets we printed from each batch.
  • Opaque paint on black paper is tres cool.
  • Each sheet is cooler than the last, which means you won’t ever want to stop. Ever.

AIM SHOW+TELL: Turning an Old Sweatshirt into an iPad Sleeve

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This is another typical Alison project; one part problem (needed an iPad Sleeve), one part recycling (awesome old hoodie sweatshirt.) I’ve been donating and repurposing things left and right lately, and this old hoodie was no different. It was made for me by a college classmate, and I’m not sure the last time I even put it on

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I decided to embrace the ragged look, since the pattern was already worn and “vintage” and I knew it would be tricky to work with multiple layers of sweatshirt and zippers. (Also, I am NOT a tidy tailor. I’m just going to accept that about myself.)

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To get the size right, I traced the iPad on a scrap piece of card stock to make a template.

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I cut the tablet shape out of the card stock, used it to “frame” the part of the design I wanted to feature, and traced it with chalk.

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I left an allowance of about half an inch on all sides, folded the sweatshirt there, and cut the a rectangle out of the folded sweatshirt.

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I decided to line the pouch with another layer of sweatshirt, and used this as an opportunity to include the zipper that was already stitched on. I cut two more of my template pieces from either side of the zipper…
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then stitched them together at the bottom. I refed the zipper pull into the zipper pieces– backwards because the raw edge of the zipper would face out when the pouch was finished.

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I then stitched my original pattern pieces across the zipper on either side, leaving me with an almost-pouch with open sides. At the last minute I decided to slip a piece of chipboard through the side to reinforce the front of the pouch (and hopefully save the tablet from rogue poking accidents). After sewing up the open sides (pinked edges out) and reinforcing the ends of the zippers with a few hand-stitches, I was done.

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I’m really glad I went with a rough-and-tumble look, because it hides a few of the difficulties I had with pre-worn stretchy material.

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Now I don’t have to worry as much about carrying my iPad around with me, and I have one less piece of wearable nostalgia to hoard. Now to move on to the next pile….

AIM SHOW + TELL: A-Frame Canvas Card Wall

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From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

One of the best things about having “a summer off” is that I am slowly getting to the projects that have been stacking up, with the help and company of Safety Husband. As you’re probably aware, my hubby is a big woodworker and enjoys DIY projects. When he starts a job, he wants it to be done properly so he won’t start doing some of the projects if we don’t have the right materials. A few of the things he wanted, like a router table, seemed silly at first but then he explained the many router table uses and I understood why a woodworker would want one. Despite not being able to do all the projects I wanted to so, it still feels great to make forward progress, but it is INSANE how much I expected to have done in a couple of weeks.

This weekend I finally got to a pressing project, and built an a-frame portable card wall out of two canvases and some scrap wood. There are a million options when it comes to displaying cards, but I wanted something light-weight with a little character, and I think this project absolutely fit the bill.

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Safety Husband makes a great arm model. Safety goggles not shown, but surely present.

Since these canvases were big (~30″ x 48″) they were reinforced on the back, so our first step was knocking those bars out. Fortunately they came out pretty easily with a couple of smacks from a mallet.

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We decided to use some trim leftover from the shop, and ripped it (on a table saw) to be the same depth as the canvas. That left us a scrap that made a perfect lip for the front of the card rails. We cut the trim to fit inside the frame of the canvas.

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Once all 10 card rail pieces and lips were cut, I glued and clamped them together and left them overnight to dry. Once they were dry, I used a semi-gloss white spray paint to cover all the green painted sides (all that would be visible from the front of the display.)

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I made a mark along my frame every 9 inches to allow for enough room for the cards, and the occasional journal.

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The shelf pieces ended up being a tight fit in the frame of the canvas, so I decided that wood glue would be enough to hold up the light weight of the cards. I put glue on the ends to mount into the frame. I also put glue along the long back of the rails to attach to the canvas and keep cards from falling behind the shelves.

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I then gently put the rails in place, using a piece of scrap wood and a mallet to tap some of the tighter pieces in.

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I used painters tape to secure shelves in that were more likely to shift around. Most were held in place by friction and perfectly measured cuts.

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When the glue had set, I finished by attaching the two canvases together with old door hinges. (The best hardware has a little character.)

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I love the simple but rustic look of the a frame, and I adore how light weight and durable it is. It will soon find a home in a local store, and I’m excited to see how it looks.

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I always get a sense of satisfaction when I finish a project like this, when I get over all the “What if I…” ideas and just get it done. This one is especially rewarding because I only used materials leftover from the shop and previous projects.

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What are you working on?

AIM DIY: Funky T-shirt Rag Quilt for Summer Picnics and Winter Snuggling

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From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

I come by both my weird sense of humor and my borderline hoarderness honestly. What that means is I have collections of really funny/awesome/unique/vintage/sentimental stuff that I can’t use, but I really don’t want to part with.

Like a bin of old t-shirts.

Now, I don’t really wear t-shirts. I don’t often find the need to wear old shirts from my ballet or flag twirling days. I stopped wearing the worn-out vintage tees that my mom passed down, and I never really found the guts to wear the t-shirts with sweats.

So they all just sat in a bin in the closet until I found this amazing tutorial at “Sweet Tea in the South” to turning them into a quilt. I made a few adjustments to use supplies I had on hand, but she does an amazing job of going through the process step by step.

As I wasn’t familiar with what to do, I did some research into finding the best t shirt quilts online, just so I could take some inspiration from other designs. I also watched some tutorials too, which helped.

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I just want to get this out of the way- this is a labor intensive project with lots of steps, and a metric ton of cutting. Jess at Sweet Tea in the South recommends splitting it up over a few days, and I have to agree. It takes a long time to do, and is exhausting, but here’s the thing…

I think this is my favorite sewing project, ever. After I saw some of the

I think there might be some romantic love brewing between me and this blanket. It’s thick and soft, and smells lovely. It’s washable and gigantic (mine is 6′ x 6′) and each square is a symbol of who I am and where I come from– the classic rock station I grew up to, the matching t-shirts Safety Husband and I wore to our after prom party, band shirts, and festival shirts.

Supplies

• Old T-shirts- You will need two squares of shirt for each square of your quilt. I used the fronts and backs of shirts, and all-in-all I used about 36 large shirts for my quilt.
• Batting or flannel for the inside of the quilt. I used Cotton quilt batting that I had around. You will need one square for each square of the quilt.
• A template for cutting your squares (instructions below) I used some scrap chipboard.
• A sewing machine with a ballpoint needle and a lot of thread. (I used white all-purpose thread.)
• Straight pins
• Sewing scissors. Optional but recommended – a fabric rotary cutter, and probably a pair of embroidery scissors for snipping.

To Make your Square template

Measure across each of your shirts to see what size square would cut easily out of all of them. My shirts ranged from large to extra-large, and from 14″ – 16″. I used scrap chipboard to cut a 14″ x 14″ square template for my t-shirt blocks, and made another template that was 1″ smaller on all sides (12″ x 12″) for my batting blocks. You can cut your template from cardboard, wood, or anything else you have around.

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Step 1: Cutting the Squares

Lay a t-shirt out smoothly across a protected surface, and center your t-shirt block template around the art.

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Carefully cut around the template.

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Repeat this with each shirt.

When you’re done with all of your shirts, use your batting template to cut out one piece of batting for every 2 pieces of shirt.

Step 2: Building the Quilt Squares

Each square of your quilt will start out as a stack of shirt|batting|shirt. One of your t-shirt pieces will be on the front, the other on the back. I decided that I wanted to make one side of my blanket cool colors, and the other side warm colors, so each of my stacks was coolcolorshirt|batting|warmcoloredshirt. You can arrange them however you want!

To build your block, lay out your first piece of t-shirt, face-down, then center the smaller piece of batting.

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Cover with the other piece of t-shirt, face-up and secure with several pins, making sure to go through the batting layer.

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Repeat with all your squares, until you have a tidy little stack.

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(At this point I laid all of my squares out on the floor and arranged them how I wanted. I marked each square with a letter and number so I knew how to put them back together. It was a lot of work, and I wouldn’t necessarily do it again. Random is OK!)

Step 3: “Quilting” your Squares

There are several ways to quilt the block together, the important thing is to stitch through every layer to keep the batting and quilting fabric from shifting. I used a combination of straight stitches and a zig zag stitches on my machine to make lines across each block horizontally and vertically.

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Repeat in each square, and you’re ready to start putting them all together!

Step 4: Assembling the Quilt

The “rag” in this rag quilt means that instead of hiding your seams, you will leave them out to fray and fringe. With that in mind, you need to decide which side will have the extra fluff. One side will be clean and flat like

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The other will be fringed and crazy

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Start with two blocks, and stack them with the future fringed sides facing out.

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You will pin and sew the two pieces together on one edge, about 3/4 of an inch in (seam allowance). I used a zig-zag stitch for these seams to allow a little more stretch and flexibility.

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Attach the next block in the row the same way until you’ve completed a whole row, then start with the next row.

When you have every row sewn, sew each one to the ones beside it the same way. Make sure you keep your seams facing the same way so that all your fringe is on the front or back.

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Breath deeply and look at all that you’ve accomplished! Now take a break, the next part is tedious.

Step 5: Fringing and Clean-up

The final step is to fringe all those seams so that they will roll up and hide any mistakes you may have made on this quilt, and to cut all your little threads. The embroidery scissors are great for this task, but regular sewing scissors work as well. To fringe the seams make a small cut almost to your seam, every half an inch or so. You will do this around the outside edge of your blanket, as well as at every seam. I suggest a watching a movie.

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It may take a while (several evenings) of trimming in front of the tv, with your blanket in your lap, and your cat cuddled underneath, but when you’re done you might be as in love as I am.

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Now that I’ve done the work, I’m going to use this blanket for everything: picnics, cold nights, hammock times, even make-shift shelter. So if you see a pile of funny/awesome/unique/vintage/sentimental old t-shirts walking around, make sure say hi.

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AIM TOOLBOX: Gingher 4 Inch Embroidery Scissors

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From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

Change is afoot for me, and I’ve been drowning any anxiety of said change by keeping busy every. moment. of. every. day. It’s working for now, but at some point the constant movement and sleepless nights are going to catch up with me.

All of this to explain why I gave myself permission to spend too much money on a pair of scissors.
(Correction, not “too much”. “Just enough.”)

In a fit of productivity I decided to tackle a big project that included a metric ton of tiny snips. (There’s a sneak peak later in this post.) After struggling with my trusty pair or sewing scissors, I pulled up Amazon, and ordered a pair of Ginghers off of my wish list. These Gingher 4 Inch Embroidery Scissors appeared about a week later, and I was very happy.

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First things first. These guys are tiny. 4 inches is the length from the tip of the blade to the end of the handles. They come with a little leather sheath, which is good because they are VERY sharp. (On Amazon, several of the reviewers say they have had major cut on their hands while using these scissors. Most of these are 5 star reviews, showing that people who need embroidery scissors appreciate quality– even if that particular quality is “deadly.”) I have only cut myself once so far, but Safety Husband has been watching me closely.
You can use them to make all sorts of fabric messes:

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narrow, even snips for fringing or other decorative details,

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smooth detailed shapes out of picky fabrics,

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and they cut easily through a thick roll of fabric.

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They made quick work of my project, and I know they will become an indispensable part of my sewing kit.

Things To Love

• Sharp to the very end, which means it’s easier to line up snips.
• All metal with a nifty screw for adjustment down the road.
• Opens and closes very smoothly.
• Simple handle means it’s easy to hold at that weird angle you need to get into that corner seam…

Things to Hate

• Sharp. Dangerous. Use caution when inebriated or distracted.
• The handle is a little small for my fingers, and I have to stop periodically to readjust.

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Want your very own pair? Follow this link to buy them from Amazon. I didn’t get any incentive to post this– just wanted to share something from my toolbox– but if you use our link we could get a small part of the proceeds to further our Adventures (and my tool addiction.)

Do you have a favorite tool you’d like to share? Tell us all about it!