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Category Archives: DIY

Do It Yourself

Sofa Caddy

So you’re sitting at your couch and your cat takes up residence in your lap and starts making kitty bread on you and you realize his claws are SHARP! You need a nail clipper stat but there is a fuzzy anchor in your lap and no nail clipper within reach…

Does this only happen to me?

While a sofa caddy doesn’t solve this problem 100% of the time, I figured it might help some of the time. I also needed to make some other things accessible while sitting at the couch so this was a good one day project for me.

You’ll need 2 fabrics: the pretty fabric that shows and the backing fabric. Try to pick something that won’t slide on your couch for the backing. For example, satin is very slippery and a bad choice. Flannel is a good choice for a microfiber couch which is what I went with.

Materials:

  • 1/2 yard of fabric
  • 1/2 yard of backing fabric
  • 1/2 yard of lightweight fusible interfacing
  • one package of bias tape

Cut one of each of these rectangles from the fabric, backing fabric and interfacing:

  • 11″ x 30″ – sofa caddy base piece
  • 11″ x 10″ – large pocket
  • 7″ x 13″ – small pockets

Fuse the all the interfacing pieces to the back of the corresponding fabric piece.

Lay the sofa caddy base fabric on top of the backing fabric, wrong sides together.

Baste the 2 pieces together using a 1/4″ seam.

Do the same for the 2 pockets: lay the fabric on top of the backing fabric and baste. Using the bias tape, bind the top edge of both pockets.

On the small pockets piece, mark a vertical line 6 1/2″ from the edge

On the large pocket piece, mark a vertical line 5 1/2″ from the edge.

Lay the small pockets piece on top of the big pocket piece, lining up the vertical lines so that they are on top of each other.  Pin the fabrics in place.

Stitch down the marked line, make sure to sew a bit past the bias tape.

Stitch a 2nd line 1/4″ away from the vertical line you just stitched.

Now take the small pocket piece and line up the edges so they match the larger pocket underneath. You’ll have to put a fold in the bottom of each small pocket . Pin everything in place.

Place the pockets on the base piece, lining them up with the bottom of the base and baste the pockets in place.

The last step is to bias tape around the edges.

Find a handy sofa arm to put the caddy on and tuck the end without pockets between the seat cushion and the arm and you’re good to go!

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Posted by on January 29, 2013 in DIY, Tutorials

 

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Kitties need fresh water too

Hello Kitty Krafters!

Do you provide your kitty with a fresh supply of water? Then you probably know that sometimes cleaning a kitty’s water bowl can be kind of nasty! Due to my laziness I invested in a “kitty water fountain” for my cats, so that I only had to change and wash their water source once every three weeks. It’s a really great deal! I especially like the Drinkwell series, which is only about $30ish on Amazon.com. You can get the original Drinkwell, or the Drinkwell Platinum if you have multiple cats and have a little extra space.

Unless you are amazingly diligent, any water bowl will gradually get dirty/grimy from dust, bits of cat food, etc. The city I live in has especially hard water, so the calcium in the water gradually combines with the daily grime, resulting in rings of tough, stubborn stains! I used to scrub and scrub the plastic Drinkwell, with only minimal success – and it made me worry that I was damaging the plastic, too.

But then I found a great solution: Vinegar and baking powder! Here’s how I do it:

01-dirty

Here’s how the fountain looked after 3 weeks of neglect. You can see the lines along the filter switch, the waterfall base, and the ring around the water level.

02-ingreds

Here are my magical ingredients – plain old distilled white vinegar and baking powder. The vinegar does the majority of the work. for a bit of extra “scrubbing,” wet the dirty spots with vinegar and sprinkle the baking powder on top.

03-soak

Stubborn stains can be taken off by soaking a paper towel in vinegar, and applying it directly to the stain. Leave it on overnight.

04-powder

Vinegar + baking powder = instant bubbles! Great for an extra “scrubbing.”

05-brush

A soft bristled brush (i.e. a toothbrush) can also be used for those hard-to-reach-crevices.

06-rinse

When you’re done, give everything a nice warm water rinse.

07-happycat

Ta-da!! Clean fountain! Looks like Elton-kitty approves!

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2013 in DIY, Informational, Tips & Tricks

 

Cat Towel Holder

This week’s project for AJ: Towel hangers for my kitchen.

Our towels were forever falling off the oven handle so I decided to make some towel holders and of course, I had to do a cat themed one!

I got the idea for the applique from this adorable cat quilt I found on Pinterest.

This towel holder has a rod inside so that the towel can be swapped out. I didn’t want to make a towel holder that was permanently attached to the towel because I really did not want to have to make a towel holder for every single one of my kitchen towels. This seemed like a more efficient solution to my towel woes.

Supplies:

  • 4 colors of felt – orange or brown for main color of cat, pink for ears, white for eyes, grey for the wall
  • 7″ plastic or wooden rod – I cut up a hanger to get my rods
  • 1 piece of 10″ x 7″ fabric for the front
  • 1 piece of fusible fleece about 11″ x 8″ (found in the interfacing section at Jo-Anns or you can use regular interfacing)
  • 1 piece of backing fabric about 11″ x 8″
  • 1 piece of 10″ x 2.5″ fabric to make loops for the rod – this won’t show so any fabric will do
  • 1 package of extra wide double fold bias tape
  • 2 large snaps
  • Black acrylic paint or black puffy paint
  • Fabric glue
  • Hotglue

You’ll need a 7″ rod to hang the towel on. I took a hacksaw to a plastic hanger to get my rods.

Now make a fabric sandwich with the backing fabric, the fusible fleece, and front fabric. Pin the layers together.

Quilt the fabric – that means stitch all the layers together. I chose to do a criss cross pattern for my towel holder.

I like the look of quilting but you can skip the quilting step and use interfacing instead. You just need to put something in the middle to give the towel holder a bit of stiffness.

Trim all the layers to match the top layer. You should end up with a 7″ x 10″ rectangle.

Cut out the cat applique shapes using the PDF pattern. You want to use the cat colored felt for all the pieces except for the inner ear pieces which are pink.

Cut a 1.5″ x 7″ strip of grey felt for the wall. Glue the wall down onto your quilted piece.

Glue the cat pieces down next.

You don’t have to do this step but I wanted to make sure the cat applique didn’t come off so I zigzagged around all the edges.

Now use the acrylic paint (or puffy paint pen) and draw a pair of eyes on the white felt.

Cut out eyes and glue them to the cat. Draw on the nose, mouth, and whiskers.

Finish the edges using the bias tape. I like to make my own bias tape but that’s usually because I’m too lazy to run to the store to buy bias tape that matches my project.

Now we need to make the loops to hold the towel rod. Take the 2.5″ x 10″ strip and fold it in half and iron.

Open the piece up and take each side and fold it to middle and iron.

Fold the entire piece back up along the center fold and iron one last time.

Stitch down both sides of the strip close to the edge.

Cut two 4″ pieces from the long strip you just created.

Sew the ends together to make a loop using a 1/4″ seam.

Flip loop inside out.

Stitch again with a 1/4″ seam allowance, going over the seam you just stitched. This traps the raw edges inside so they don’t fray.

Flip the towel holder over and on the side opposite of where the cat applique is, mark 2″ from the bottom edge.

Pin the loops at the mark and stitch them down.

Hotglue the rod to the loops.

You’re almost done! The last step is to sew on snaps. One side of the snaps should go above the towel rod loops, and the other side should be mirrored on the other side of the towel holder when you fold it in half.

Please ignore my mis-matching snaps. I was down to my last two and again with the “too lazy to go to the store”. I figured no one would see them anyways… well, no one except for anyone reading this tutorial…

And you’re done! You just need to put a towel on the rod…

And wrap towel holder around the oven handle and snap it in place.

You can use this technique to create towel holders from any fabric you have laying around. I also made a mouse one because my husband likes mice.  (Oh the irony…)

And now you have cute towel holders for your kitchen!

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2012 in DIY, Tutorials

 

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Easy Kitty Ear Hat Tutorial

Easy Kitty Ear Hat Tutorial

Brrrr!  Tis getting to the season of holiday cheer and nippy temperatures.  Perhaps this gift giving season a warm adorable hat would be appreciated by your loved ones (or, if you make one to keep for yourself…we won’t tell 😉 )

Yesterday I attended a hat making party.  The organizer, a lovely young lady named Miriam, holds these parties to sew geeky and cute fleece hats for kids going through chemotherapy – they’re going through a hard enough time without having to deal with ugly hats!  She very kindly showed me how to make a kitty ear hat.  Here’s the instructions for the pattern –  please also check out her super great tutorial for a basic fleece hat.

Picture heavy territory ahead!

Step One.  Pattern Pieces.  Fleece is very forgiving so you can sort of freehand it.  For a size Medium (most adults) you will need:

One triangle 6″ across the bottom, 5.5″ from the tip to the base.  All sides are rounded gently outwards.

One triangle for the ears, about 5.5″ across the bottom and 4.5″ from tip to base.

The hat band is 24″ x 6″.

Step Two: Cut 4 of the large triangles for your crown.  Fleece has a slight one directional stretch.  Be sure that the stretch is running across the bottom of the triangle; I give it a slight tug before I cut or sew to check.  (It’s much more comfortable for your head to have the stretch going the correct direction!)

Step 3: Cut 2 ear pieces out of your main fabric, then 2 pieces out of a contrasting piece of fabric for the inside of the ears.  Here’s the head and the ear pattern pieces on top of each other so you can see their relative sizes.

Step 4: Using one piece of your main color fabric and 1 of your contrast fabric, stack the ear triangle pieces with the right sides facing in.  Remember to leave the stretch along the bottom edge, and stitch the two sides, leaving the bottom open for now.

Repeat for the other ear.

Step 5: Flip those ears so the right sides are on the outside.  Looking good!

Step 6: This part is pretty key on making your ears look right by helping them to stand up.  Make a fold on each layer of your ear, like so.

Step Seven: Stitch the fold along the bottom to hold them in.  Technically you don’t really have to do this if you can just pin them in place for now, but I think it is easier to do this to hold everything together.

Step Eight: With your 4 remaining triangles, sew the two halves of your hat crown.  Remember, the stretch goes along the long side!

Step Nine: Now you’re going to place the ears on one half of your hat.  You can tack them in place or pin them.

Step Ten: Put the other half of your ear sandwich on.  (I just left one corner folded so you can see the ears inside.  Remember, your hat crown pieces will be with the right sides facing in.  Sew that top edge all together, and flip…

Step Eleven: Almost there.  Take a sec to appreciate how cute this will be.

Step Twelve.  Fold your hat band so the short edges match.  Stitch along the short side (right sides facing in).

Step Thirteen: Flip the band right sides out, and fold it once length wise, so you have a short tube.

Step Fourteen: Put the crown of your hat through your little tube, so that all the loose edges meet up.  Everything is right sides out.

Stitch all along your tube, then flip it over!

And you’re done!

I hope this hat will keep you or your loved ones warm this season!

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2012 in DIY, Informational, Tutorials

 

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Needle Books

If you have pets, you need to be very careful with your sewing needles. Many years ago, Bobo rolled over onto a sewing needle that was in our carpet and it went into his leg. He had to be operated on to have it removed. I was a complete wreck for days with guilt and worry… The house we lived in had costumers in it all the time working on projects, so I don’t even know how or when the needle got dropped, but I’m super careful now to make sure I always keep track of all my sewing needles.

I’ve found a good way to store and transport needles is in a needle book! I love making these because they require very little fabric so are great projects for those pretty scraps you have sitting around.

Supplies:

  • A.  5 14” x 3 12” of cover fabric
  • B.  5 14” x 3 12” of inside fabric
  • C.  5 14” x 4 12” of inside fabric for pocket
  • D.  1 12” x 20″ of bias tape fabric
  • E.  4 34” x 2 34” of felt for needle pages
  • F.  2 12” x 3 12” of peltex, cut 2 (can be found in the interfacing section of JoAnns)
  • G.  2 12” piece of elastic
  • button (not pictured)

To start, fold the pocket piece (C) in half and iron flat.

Place the cover fabric (A) face down.

Lay the inside fabric (B) on top.

Lay the pocket piece (C) on top. Line up all the bottom edges and pin the pieces together.

Lay the felt piece (E) on top, centering it and pin in place.

Now you need to mark the 2 stitching lines that will make up the spine of the book. From one edge of the book, measure 2 12” and draw a line.

Do the same from the other edge of the book.

Stitch along the 2 lines. Remember that the bobbin thread will show on the cover of your needle book so you might want to pick a color that matches.

If you have pinking shears or scalloped scissors, you can trim the edges of the felt pages with a decorative edging. If you don’t (or have no idea what pinking shears are), no worries, you can just ignore this step!

Now take one of the Peltex pieces (F) and slide it in between the cover (A) and inner fabric (B).

Pin the Peltex in place.

Repeat with the other piece of Peltex on the other side of the thread book.

Baste around the outside of book with as small of a seam allowance as possible.

Make a loop with the elastic (G) and sew it on to the back of the book. (I forgot to take a photo of this step when I was making the first needle book, so I took a photo on the second needle book, which is why the fabrics are different here.)

I didn’t think any of the standard bias tape sizes you can purchase worked for the needle book so I opted to make my own. You don’t need a lot of bias tape so it goes very quickly!

Take your bias tape fabric (D) and fold it in half lengthwise and iron. 

Open up the fabric and then fold each side in to the center fold and iron.

Fold the bias tape fabric back up, iron it one more time, and you’ve created bias tape!

Take your bias tape and bind the edges of the book. I’m not going into the details of how to apply bias tape here as there are a lot of tutorials online on how to do it.

Random tip: if you have some stitch witchery handy, use that to hold your bias tape in place until you sew it all down. I find that helps me keep the bias binding on my craft projects very neat.

Another thing that I found helpful is pinning the needle book pages together and out of the way so they don’t get caught as you are stitching down the bias tape.

After you’re done binding the edges, sew a button onto the front. You can use a regular button or a decorative button. In one of the samples at the top of this post, I used a decorative cat button which I thought was appropriate for this blog!

And you’re done!

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2012 in DIY, Tools & Accessories, Tutorials

 

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D.I.Y. Magnetic Thread Rack

I’ve been pretty ADD with my projects lately. I’ve got like 4-5 projects going on at once, each with their own thread spool and as I no longer have room for a  thread rack on the wall, the spools sit on my sewing table, getting lost in the piles of fabric or waiting for some errant cat to come along and knock them off.

I decided I needed to make a small thread rack that could be put away when not being used, so I made a magnetic thread rack.

Supplies:

  • magnetic tray like a toaster oven pan or small baking pan. (I found mine at a dollar store.)
  • magnets
  • long screws with flat screw head
  • super glue
  • fabric to cover the tray

I used really small earth magnets because that’s what I had on hand. If I had to do it over, I’d use bigger earth magnets because these magnets aren’t strong enough to support really large spools of thread.

Create your thread rack pegs by super glue-ing the magnets to screw heads.

Cover the tray with fabric. I used hotglue to glue the fabric on.

Now you just put the screws with magnets on the tray so they can be used for thread spools.

I wanted to have the thread rack propped up, or hanging on the wall, so I swung by the framing section of JoAnn Fabrics and picked up a plate holder rack and a plate hanger.

A plate holder rack is like a small easel and is perfect for when I want the thread rack on the table within reach.

The plate hanger attaches to the back of the tray and is good for when I want the thread rack hanging on the wall.

Or in my case, when I want to hang the rack on the mirror behind my sewing table. I used a suction cup hook to hang up my magnetic tray.

My last sewing project was making a bunch of sewing organizers that I assembly line produced, and I had to constantly swap threads spools and bobbins on 2 different sewing machines. The magnetic thread rack was super useful in helping me keep track of all my thread.

As an added bonus, it kept Bobo from chasing my thread spools right off the table which is one of his favorite activities.

I’m pretty happy with how my makeshift magnetic thread rack turned out! It’s been really handy and when I don’t need it anymore, I can take the pegs and throw them in a baggy and put away the tray.

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2012 in DIY, Tools & Accessories, Tutorials

 

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Home made cat donuts :) (beta testing version)

Has everyone out here seen the pictures of incredibly cute cat donuts floating around the interwebs recently?  Just type “cat donuts” into Google or Pinterest and you’ll see tons of pictures of these guys.  Wow!  Trust the Japanese to continue to make incredibly cute things that I would have serious guilt over eating!  (And not just because I always feel guilty about the unhealthiness about fried things coated in sugar.)
AJ brought these adorable guys to my attention and suggested that we try making our own!
So, honestly, deep frying kind of scares me.  Wei-ling has a deep fryer but all that boiling oil makes me pretty nervous.  The home cook’s alternative to deep frying are baked donuts.  I borrowed a co-worker’s donut pans and set to work.  Here’s how they turned out!

 

1. I used a recipe from King Arthur Flour – I have had great results with their whole wheat flours and this was no exception.  I used 100% whole wheat pastry for the donuts and they really did turn out with a great texture.  The batter was quick thick, more like a muffin batter in consistency.  These will be more like the “cake like” donuts verses the Krispy Kreme kind, but even though I didn’t do a 50./50 of all purpose flour with the pastry flour, they turned out nice and soft and had a real donut shape.

2. Now the tricky part.  I almost never ice or frost my baked goods because I don’t really like gooey things on top of my delicious cake.  You can tell I don’t really do this a lot.  I thought I’d try a simple sugar glaze, the type you’d make for a gingerbread house.  I started with 1 cup of powdered sugar and added water 1 tablespoon at a time to get it to the right consistency.  (About 3.5 tablespoons.)  Then I dunked the donut it.

3. Ok,  Here’s where things where pretty wonky.  Once the glaze started to try, it turned really transparent.,  So I started to dunk them in repeatedly and the icing started to drip everywhere and boy, that icing goes fast.  I ended up using like the whole box of powered sugar for 12 donuts.  Healthiness fail…

4. And then the chocolate chip ears go on….I’m pretty sure that in the original donuts these guys have chocolate chip ears.  But with a much BETTER icing that coats and holds everything down and isn’t all transparent and is smooth.  I texted a picture to AJ, at which point she did say that well..these would be some super SPECIAL cats.  Like how Igor or Frankenstein were kind of special, with weird lumps all over them.

At this point, I just hoped and some frosting faces would save them!

 

Whew.  Kind of saved.

Round 2 of kitty donuts will have to include different flavors and nailing down a good icing.  Still, I think these turned out pretty cute in the end…even the one I forgot to take a picture of until I took a bite.  Cute or sad?

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2012 in DIY, Tutorials