The Best DIY Project for Your Fall Wardobe: Infinity Scarf

Sweater weather. Those are my two favorite words to hear in late September. However, with the weather we’ve been having in northeast Ohio, real fall weather hasn’t really appeared until the last week or so, and it’s still not consistent. It’s supposed to be in the mid 70s this afternoon. I’m hoping the fall temperatures become more reliable soon. Fall is, hands down, the best season in my book, and it always has been. Even though January 1 traditionally rings in the new year, I always feel like fall brings a fresh start with a new school year, or a second try if your year didn’t begin as you’d hoped it would. (At least this year it did for me, since I wasn’t heading back to class for the first time in 20-some years this fall. I just really like buying school supplies and picking out my “first day of school” outfit, ok?) Fall means great September thunderstorms, mugs of hot chocolate or hot apple cider (apple anything, really), watching the leaves turn beautiful shades of red and orange, new seasons of my favorite television shows, pumpkin ice cream, football and marching bands, and cozy scarves. Actually, I love all staples of a fall wardrobe, but cardigans and scarves are really at the top of the list.

I’ve already shared super-simple tutorials for DIY makeovers for your summer and winter wardrobes, and now I’d like to give you one to top off your fall looks. Infinity scarves have been popular for a few years now, and while I love my cute floral patterned ones from Charming Charlie’s, this scarf will take you through fall and into winter, and is much cheaper than anything you can get in stores. You should be able to make two scarves for less than $6 — keep an eye out for JoAnn’s Fabrics and Crafts coupons! If you’re using a sewing machine, this project should only take you less than a half hour. If you’re hand-sewing like I did, get comfy with your Hulu Plus queue — I’d suggest 2-3 episodes of Downton Abbey. (Not “Downtown Abbie,” as Brian referred to it.) I started watching this a couple of weeks ago and I absolutely love it. Anyway, here’s what you’ll need to get started with your new accessory:

1.75 yds of medium-weight plaid/flannel fabric
Mine isn’t very thick and not very fleece-like. Consider that it will be doubled over and then wrapped around your neck twice.
Spool of thread
Any color that coordinates with your fabric will do.
Straight pins
These are so much more helpful than I ever realized… I wish I’d used them for other projects I did this summer.

Step 1.

Put on moccasin slippers and refresh your mug of cocoa. Lay the fabric out flat on the floor or a long table, lengthwise. Cut the fabric on the folded edge along the entire length, giving you two identical pieces. Toss one piece off the the side and use it to make a gift for a friend later! Fold your piece of fabric lengthwise with the right side of it facing in. It should be about 10-ish inches wide now.

Step 2.

Pin your fabric together on the “open” edges, leaving about 3/4″ for a hem. Sew along the entire length of the fabric to close the open edges and create a tube. For this part, it was nice to have a straight line on the fabric to follow with my stitches. Once you’re done sewing the edges together, be sure to remove all of the pins.

Step 3.

Turn the fabric right-side out and lay the tube out flat. (It will be the same way it was when you were sewing the open edges together, except now the edges have been hemmed inside. On one end of the tube, fold the edge down about 1″ to create an even hem. It should look like a shirt sleeve at this point.

Step 4.

This part is a little tricky to explain, so I drew a little diagram to make it easier to understand. (I promise it’s easy to do.) Keeping all of the fabric flat, insert the open edges (cut end) from the opposite end of the tube between the folded down edges (hem end). It will be helpful here to pin everything together. Now, you’ll sew through all 6 layers of fabric, as shown in my handy little drawing. Make sure you’re getting all of the layers, since this is how you join the edges and close up the loop.

Step 5.

It doesn’t exactly matter where you tie the knot at the end, since no one is going to see it anyway. For my scarf, however, just so I didn’t snag it on anything, I flipped over the little flap created by the hem and tied my knot underneath.

And you’re done! Wasn’t that easy? Now go show your new fall scarf off to your friends and see if they believe you only had to sew two straight lines. Make a mistake? That’s ok, these scarves are very forgiving. After all, it’s just a piece of fabric wrapped around your neck. 🙂

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The Hunger Games: Catching FireBugs

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This spring two of my friends made a hypothetical Hunger Games.  Given that I am on the fringe of their friend group, I suspect I was included primarily to help their hypothetical Games reach 24 contestants.  During the Games, fringe-lurker that I am most definitely when I hang out with their group, I hung out in a tree while the rest of the now former friends battled it out in the arena.  Eventually only one other contestant remained.  I dropped something on him from my tree post and won.

Lately I have had some Katniss Everdeen meets the Incredible Hulk moments when it comes to bugs.  This weekend I trapped a centipede under a rug and then jumped on the rug to kill it.  Tonight I hunted a giant, flying cricket throughout my room until I finally squished it with a hand weight.  I simply am not as afraid of bugs as many people I know.

My classy, indoorsy brother and his classy, indoorsy girlfriend bore witness to the Mexican jumping bean routine I did to kill the aforementioned centipede.  I was kind of embarrassed.  Wouldn’t you be?  I suspect the only other beings known to do this are Bear Grylls and my cat.

I will leave the snacking to you, Bear.

Nonetheless, in an effort to make this less of a useless, gross narrative, I will share with you the bug hunting skills I learned as a jungle lady in Costa Rica.  Truthfully, I lived in a nice little house in the city, but saying that I was a jungle lady sounds more impressive.  The iPhone-sized cockroaches in my nice little city house were undeniably impressive.  Maybe you can pick up a thing or two from my bug hunting style.

First, a hard-soled shoe is your best weapon.  A shoe is a great tool because it is easy to hold, easy to wield, and both heavy enough and of a large enough surface area to get the bug.  Aim for the bug and swing the shoe like you mean it.  This is not the time to act like a dainty lady.

Second, if you catch a bug in a wad of toilet paper, flush it down the toilet.  You do not want it crawling back out of the trash can.

Third, prevention is key.  Make an effort to keep your living space a place where bugs do not want to hang out.  Holes in the screen, crumbs on the floor, dust in the corners all attract bugs yet are preventable.

That said, I have a slightly unorthodox view on killing bugs: if it is not likely to hurt you, you probably do not need to kill it.  I feel bad when I kill bugs, so sometimes I let them run along on their merry way.  Killing anything, bugs included, for sport and sport alone saddens me.  I think Katniss Everdeen would probably think the same way.

Easy DIY French Manicure

Do you ever wonder how some people have such perfectly manicured fingernails? Especially when those fingernails sport the always classy and in-style french tips? I always wondered whether everyone always went to the salon to have them professionally done, or whether the nails were complete fakes –simply too good to be true.

I’ve had my fair share of manicures and I know how talented nail artists/technicians are. It certainly is not a job that I could ever have the talent, ability, or coordination to do.

But, ever since I stopped biting my nails last summer, (hooray for kicking a bad habit to the curb!) I’ve been obsessed with keeping my nails polished and looking nice. This, of course, has led me to buying way too much OPI nail polish…but that’s a story for another blog post.

It also, though, led me to learn an easy an inexpensive way to french tip my own nails without going to the salon.

So, here’s my easy how-to guide to a Do-It Yourself French Manicure!

 

DIY French Manicure

Tools:

  • French tip white nail polish (or any solid white nail polish)
  • UV Top Coat (or any clear nail polish)
  • French tip nail guide stickers (any brand)
  • Nail polish remover
  • Nail file
  • OPI Drip Dry (optional)

 

Instructions:

1. Before you begin, you need to prepare your nails. Make sure your cuticles are pushed back and look even. Depending on whether you want your nails to be rounded or squared, file them appropriately and make sure they are even.

My fingernails are squared, so before starting my manicure I used a nail files make sure each of my nails looked neat and even.

2. Wash your hands and dry them thoroughly to ensure you are working with a clean nail surface.

3. Place one nail guide sticker on each nail. Be careful to leave enough room between the top of the sticker and the end of your nail for the french tip. Remember, the area you are painting will look smaller after you’ve removed the sticker guide.

The stickers are much wider than your fingernail. Try to center the sticker guide when you place it on the nail.

4. Using French tip white nail polish, paint the tip of each nail. Try not to paint too thick of a layer — this could make the polish gummy and cause smudges later. You can always go back and do a second coat if necessary.

For this tutorial, I used Avon’s French Tip White nail enamel.

This is what my nails looked like after one coat of the French Tip White polish.

5. Allow the first coat of French Tip White to dry for at least 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, add a second coat of the white polish if necessary. Allow to dry another 15 minutes.

6. Once your nails have dried for at least 15 minutes after your most recent application, carefully remove the nail guides. Don’t be alarmed if the white polish pulls slightly when you remove the stickers. As long as you have let your nails dry long enough, removing the stickers should leave a clean line.

7. After removing all of the sticker nail guides, apply a coat of clear nail polish such as a UV Top Coat.

Here are my nails after one application of the UV Top Coat. For extra shine, apply a second coat after the first has completely dried.

 

8. To ensure that your nails are completely dry and to prevent smudging, consider applying a drying agent like OPI’s Drip Dry.

9. Your nails are now french manicured! Enjoy the classic and sophisticated look!

 

Own Your Initial: DIY Framed Button Artwork

After 21 non-stop years of school, I’m used to being busy. So, it’s no surprise that my graduated and unemployed state this summer has left me a little bored. The problem with this is that I a) don’t handle boredom very well and b) discovered over those 21 years of school that the busier I am, the more I get accomplished. And I have a lot to get accomplished — namely job applications.

I’ve been doing pretty good on that front though. Unfortunately, however, you can only fill out so many job applications in one sitting, so I have to find other things to do with my time. Not to mention that any down time I do have leaves me feeling guilty and depressed about not having a job in the first place.

So, I’ve taken to other pursuits, like scouring Pinterest for ideas. One of my favorites on the site are the various examples of Button Artwork that are constantly floating around.

I tried this particular project out once already when I made one in the Spring for my cousin’s daughter. I was supposed to make one for her son — I had all the supplies and everything — but life (namely my Master’s thesis) got in the way and I never made it. Lucky for you though, I finally got around to finishing it and remembered to document the process!

What You’ll Need:

  • Buttons (color of your choice)
  • White cardstock
  • Hot glue gun (and hot glue sticks)
  • Ruler
  • Pencil (with eraser)
  • Photo frame — NOTE: Since the button art is not completely flat, you will need to choose a deeper frame that allows for more than a flat piece of paper to be placed inside.

Instructions:

Step 1:  Assemble your supplies. For this project, I used lime green buttons that I bought at Pat Catan’s. They were less than $5 and I have more than enough left over for another button-related project. I also used regular white cardstock as the backing. Finally, I bought a plain white 8″x10″ frame from IKEA.

Pat Catan’s sells assorted bags of buttons in various colors. In addition to green, they have pink, blue, teal, white/pearl, and more depending on availability.

Because this button art is for a child, I decided to use a white frame and white background.

Step 2: Plan out your artwork ahead of time — you don’t want to start gluing and have to start over because your artwork is crooked or doesn’t fit on the paper. Using a ruler and pencil, draw out the letter you are creating on the cardstock. Make sure it’s centered and looks even. Tip: place the cardstock in the frame for a second to make sure the letter looks okay.

I traced the letter P on the cardstock lightly in pencil. Later, I erased it slightly so that that pencil marks wouldn’t show through on the finished product.

Step 3: Spread out your buttons on the table and plug in the glue gun.

Step 4: Start arranging buttons on the letter you traced. Try to vary the sizes of the buttons as you go so that you have both bigger and smaller buttons next to each other. Since my buttons were not all the exact same shad of green, I also tried to avoid putting too many dark or light green buttons next to each other.

Before you start gluing, lay some of the buttons out to get an idea of how they look and fit next to one another.

Step 5: Start gluing! The letter that you traced on the paper is meant to be a general guide — don’t worry about going outside the lines slightly. Also, don’t worry about the gaps that will show through between the buttons. Later, you can go back and add a smaller second layer of buttons to cover some of the holes.

CAUTION: You will be handling a hot glue gun to secure the buttons to the cardstock. Be very careful as the glue is extremely hot and can burn you if it comes in contact with your skin. Please use extra caution when applying the hot glue to the buttons as they have a very small surface area.

Just have fun selecting and gluing the buttons — don’t worry about perfection!

Step 6: Once the letter is completely filled in, go back and place a few additional buttons in a “second layer” to cover any gaps that exist.  Don’t worry about covering all the gaps — the second layer can cover up any mistakes, globs of glue, or pencil marks as well. It also gives the project additional depth.

Here’s what the art work looks like after both the first and second button layers have been completed.

Step 7: After the artwork has dried and cooled completely, place it in the frame.

And you’re done!

The finished product!

Another, close up view, in the frame.

From start to finish, this project only took me about an hour and a half. Some letters may take longer than others.

I’d love to see your button artwork! Let me know if you attempt your own (or someone else’s) initial and definitely feel free to contact me with any questions!

DIY Braided Strap Tank Top

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a DIY tutorial on this blog. The last one was how to revamp a pair of plain Jane high heels into something a little more fabulous. This time, I’ll show you how to make an item from your t-shirt surplus a little cuter and much more suitable for hot summer days. (In Ohio, that’s all we’ve had lately.) If you’re anything like me, you have drawers full of “free” t-shirts from college or high school. I’m pretty sure that t-shirts were the currency of the realm during my undergrad, getting a new shirt for every major event in which I participated. Many of those t-shirts are being transformed into a quilt as a sort of souvenir for my years at YSU. I’d be further along in the project, but I didn’t realize how tedious it was to iron on interfacing to the backs of each of the quilt squares. I went through half of them and quit to start on a new craft project. It will be finished this summer, though, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

I also have a lot of t-shirts that I’ve picked up along the way from different things. Concerts, travel, or even a random wandering through Goodwill… I’ve found some pretty cool shirts. I really only wear t-shirts to work out, but lately, it’s been too hot to wear a t-shirt with sleeves, and it gets annoying to have to push them up every twenty steps or so. Sometimes, I like the graphic on the shirt, but wish I could wear it under a cardigan (the basic staple of my wardrobe) without the bulk of sleeves. Taking those t-shirts and making them into cute tank tops easily takes care of both of those problems.

This step-by-step tutorial should take about an hour or less, with very little sewing involved. You’ll want to use a baggy shirt in your size or a shirt one size larger than what you normally wear.

Step 1.

Lay the shirt out on a flat surface. Cut the sleeves off just outside of the seam. Measure about 2 inches down from the bottom of the collar, and make a small mark. Starting at the sides of the collar, cut down to the mark in a “V” shape through both sides of the t-shirt.

Step 2.

On the front of the t-shirt, use the bottom of the “V” as a guide. Draw a horizontal line straight across the bottom of the “V” from sleeve to sleeve. Flip the shirt over and cut each shoulder section into thirds. Stop when you reach the same level as the bottom of the “V” on this side (the back) of the shirt.

Step 3.

Pull on each of the strips to stretch it out. The edges will roll in a bit, but that’s ok. Braid one set of three strips and sew the strips together at the end to secure them. Repeat on the other side. At this point, I stretched the braids out a bit too, just to keep the length.

Step 4.

To do this step, I put on a tank top I already like and put this shirt on over that one so I could find where I like the straps to fall. On me, that’s about 10-11 inches apart. Pin the straps where you want them to be. Sew one strap securely onto the inside of the t-shirt towards the top. Repeat on the other side. It should look fairly tank-top-y by now.

Step 5.

Using scrap material from the “V”s you cut out or from the sleeves, cut a strip about an inch and a half wide by four inches long. Wrap this strip tightly around the area where you connected the strap to the t-shirt to cover it and make it look a bit neater. Sew the strip to itself on the back of the braid so it’s on the inside of the tank top and not easily visible. Do the same thing on the other braid. You’re done!

This is my sister, Carmen. Thanks, Carmen!

The top may roll a bit, and you can feel free to fold it over and hem it, but it’s not necessary. That’s the great thing about t-shirt material. The tank top does a cool drape-fold type thing in the back where the braids start.

Give this refashion a try and let me know how it goes for you! I’d love to see a picture of your refashion!