DIY: “Special Times” Perpetual Calendar

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Have you seen those family birthday calendars out there in the internet world?  They are a cool way to keep track of the birthdays in your family, for sure.  Most of the ones that I have seen are a long wooden sign that says, “Birthdays” or “Family” or “Family Birthdays” or something along those lines.  Across the bottom of the sign they list each of the twelve months or an initial to represent each month.  Then, under each month there are squares, hearts, circles all chained together; each one has a name and a number to represent a family member’s birthday.  Have you seen them?  Do you have any idea what I am talking about?  If not, Google or Bing “Family Birthday Calendar” right now.  You will be bombarded with all kinds of versions of what I just described.  See?   I would show you some pictures, but I don’t want to break any copyright laws.  End up in prison, or worse.

Well, a while back I had some requests from some ladies at church to make one of these birthday calendars for an upcoming “Super Saturday” craft making day.  I looked and looked and hemmed and hawed as I tried to find the perfect calendar to copy.  At the back of my mind were questions like, “What about small families?” and “What if no one has a birthday in Feb., or July, or September…the whole thing will look out-of-whack” and “What if a new child or grandbaby is born?  People will constantly be seeking me out to cut out more hearts or squares or circles.”.  I also got thinking about the anniversaries and other holidays that we look forward that aren’t birthdays.   This is what I came up with instead:

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Basically I painted a purchased wood plaque, painted it black and cut out white vinyl on my Roland Dr. Stika cutter.  The black with white lettering kind of gives a chalkboard-y look, don’t you think?

The hook is just a cup hook that I spray painted black.

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When doing this in bulk, just stick the screw ends into some cardboard to make them stand up and spray away.  Then screw it in your painted board.  Easy enough!

For my tags, I just hand traced and cut them out with scissors, but you can use any shape that you want…rectangles…hearts…circles…whatever.  Make sure that there is a hole to slip over the hook.  For a clean look, only use one shape and have enough for each birthday, anniversary, holiday that you want to remember to celebrate.  In fact, have extras for newbies that join the family.  I handwrote on my tags and added border details, but when I made one of these perpetual calendars for my parents (who have 10 kids plus their spouses and grandchildren…), I typed, printed and then hand cut out each tag.  Made it look more professional.

So, the way that these calendars work is that you put all of the tags in chronological order with the next special day’s tag on top and place the stack on the hook.  When the special day on the top is over, pull the pile off of the hook, put the top tag on the bottom of the pile and put them all back on the hook.  That way you can see at a glance when the next celebration is.  Cool, right?  (If two or more people share a special day, put both events on one tag.)

As I have mentioned before, I am losing the beige and going gray in my home and I decided to lighten my calendar up.  First I mixed up a gray-blue shade of paint and painted a couple of coats over the black.  While the paint was still tacky I distressed a bit to reveal the black layer below.  I like to use a damp paper towel and/or my thumbnail to gently rub and  scrape away bits of paint.

Just for fun, I added a stenciled detail:

I cut out some new vinyl using the LimaBean font, slapped it on and replaced the cup screw.  I think that I like it.

So, which look do you like better?

Next celebration?  Mother’s Day!  Have a happy one!

 

********* Linking up to these awesome parties!*********

DIY: Super Simple Satin Flowers

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There is something incredibly awesome about being able to take a flat piece of fabric and turn it into something 3 dimensional, useful and beautiful.   I don’t consider myself to be an expert seamstress, but I still love to create with fabric.  I’m in no way the inventor of this simple satin flower, but I thought that I would share how I make them.

First of all, you will need some sort of a polyester satin-like fabric.  You can find it everywhere.  Since you don’t really need very much fabric for each flower, it helps to check the remnants section of your fabric store.  I have even cut up items of clothing to make these.  Check out your own fabric stash.  Or, someone else’s fabric stash…with their permission, of course.  Seriously you only need a tiny bit of fabric.  How much depends on the flower size that you want.

I had a few different fabrics that were satiny that I quickly found they weren’t polyester. To see if a fabric is polyester, just place an edge of the fabric above (not into) a candle flame.  Polyester will melt on the edge, which is just plain neat-o.   This melted part will darken in color, which makes a pretty cool effect.  The fabric will pucker and bend, making the previously flat fabric more flower petal-like.

To get started, cut out your fabric.  If you are a perfectionist, you might have a problem with this, because it really doesn’t matter how you cut the fabric.  I usually just roughly cut squares, but circles or cloud-like shapes will work.  Play around with it…that’s half of the fun.

For each flower you will cut 4 or more shapes in descending size and a thin rectangle for the back so you can attach a hair clip.  The more layers you add, the fuller the flower will be.

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See how imperfect my cuts are?  I will admit that the white fabric isn’t satin, it is more of a sheer fabric, but it must be polyester because it melts.  It is fun to see what fabrics will work.

Next step, grab a candle.  I prefer small-ish candles in jars.  Think dollar store.  I’m not going to lie… when I first started making these, I just used the flame on my gas stove.  Works seriously fast.  If you are worried about fumes, I haven’t really had a problem with this… maybe do it under the stove vent.

The process is simple.  Run the entire edge of each piece of fabric above- not inside- of the flame.  As you get going, you will notice that there is a hot spot and that is where you want to place the edge of your fabric.

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The fabric will curl up as it melts, and that is great.  I like to have the shiny side of the fabric facing me as I do this, but play around and see what works for you.  The cool thing about the square edges is that they seem to disappear, get rounded, as they melt.  I like to mess around a bit and even allow the heat to “cut” in a bit.  Experiment with it… it is seriously fun.

Here are my same pieces, after melting the edges:

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Now it is time to layer the pieces.  Start with the largest one first, add a drop of hot glue to the center, then place the next smallest piece, and so on until you have used all of the pieces except for the thin rectangle that goes on back.  For the center, you can get creative with buttons, gems, beads, whatever.  As an alternative, just scrunch up a couple smaller melted pieces of fabric to form the center of your flower (see brown flower at the top of this post).

Of course you can be done right here and just hot glue the thing on a frame or pillow or whatever, but if you want your flower to be a hair clip or easily moveable, add a hair clip to the back.  Michaels has them, but a beauty supply store (Sally’s) seems to have them cheaper and of higher quality.

To attach, clip the center of your melted thin rectangle piece, with the flat side of the clip facing down, then glue onto your flower like so:

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Now flip it over, ooh and ahh over it, run to the mirror and put it in your hair and admire it…

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…or grab the closest nearby child (with this excitement, it doesn’t matter if it is a girl or boy… well, I’m sure it matters to the boy).  Doesn’t it look great?

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What else can you do with these beautiful flowers?

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My Scriptures bag that I take to church gets changed out regularly now:

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Here’s how I packaged a pair that I made for a baby gift:  I just printed up the words on cardstock and cut to size.

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Classy, huh?  Or you can make it the “bow” on your gift.  Get your thinking cap on… I know that you will come up with a hundred ways to use these awesome flowers that you made.  What was once a boring, flat piece of fabric is now an awesome accessory.  How simple was that?

Stay tuned to see how I took this project and amped it up for home décor.  You’re gonna love it!

 

 

 

 

 

DIY Gift Express: Neck Warming Rice Pads

Christmas season is fast approaching.  Yay! I thought that I would share a gift that we love to give that is always a hit, no matter who we give it to… Neck Warming Rice Pads.  Do you have any of these?

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Yeah, we have a lot of them in all shapes and sizes.  I just thought I would grab a few to show you.   Our microwave is kept extra busy all winter long heating these babies up.

Last year I stumbled upon a faster, cheaper way to make the neck warmers using…dun…dun…DUN: Pillow cases!

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I was in my favorite fabric store, Goodwill, looking for fabric and noticed some really great flannel pillowcases.  I’ve since learned that they always seem to have great pillowcases there and they are always $.99.  You have to be super picky, though.  I don’t buy it unless it looks brand new, and then I go home and wash it twice just because.   Flannel is my favorite, but any sturdy fabric should work just fine.

Look how many neck rice pads I can make with just one pillowcase:

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THREE!!!  The thing that I like about plaid is that it already has cutting lines.  Other patterns certainly work, though.  Since the edges of the pillowcase are already sewn, this project is already part done.   Yes!

You may have noticed that the bottom portion of the above pillowcase is way off.  Quality control must have been napping that day, but that’s ok.  It’s just a quick re-cut and re-stitch fix.

Here are the easy steps to making a Neck Warming Rice Pad:

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Turn the fabric so right sides are together, then pin.  I’ll admit that I don’t always pin because flannel seems to stay put quite well.  As a side note, that is not a yellow stain just below the pin cushion, just a weird shadow.

Now sew that long edge with a fairly tight straight stitch then turn it right side out.  Also, I cut off the hemmed edge, but that is really optional.

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That took, what, maybe 60 seconds? Tops!

Now you need to decide how you want to section out your pad so all the rice doesn’t clump to one spot.  I like to have three sections with the end sections the same size and the center section slightly bigger so it easily fits around the neck.  In this case I made each outward section 6 3/4 inches (don’t forget to allow an extra inch or so on the open end for closing it all up) and the center was whatever was left over.

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Now’s here’s where the fun begins: add rice.  For this particular neck warmer I added 1 1/2 cups in the smaller outer sections and 2 cups in the larger center section.  You don’t want to completely fill each section or it won’t bend easily and will be too heavy on the neck.

I like to contain the rice by pinning it away from where I am sewing.  The rice adds weight, so I hold it up with my left hand as I sew, so the fabric eases through the machine smoothly.

Now put rice in the center section, stitch as before, then fill the final section.

At this point, fold the open ends of the fabric inward (trying to duplicate the size of the section on the opposite end) and then stitch.  I stitch it twice just because.  I also go back to the opposite end and stitch across it so both ends visually match.  And it is DONE!

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Last year we made about 25 of these.  My daughters helped me by turning the fabric right side out and adding rice to the sections.  Fun memories!

Here’s a pdf Gift Tag with RicePadInstructions that I created to add to each gift.  I don’t like to add giftwrap since the weight would likely tear through.  Just fold end over end, secure with ribbon and add the tag or whatever pretties you might like.

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Over the years we have given these rice pads to so many people: to teachers, friends, relatives, neighbors.  Men, women and children all seem to appreciate ’em.  There is nothing like the warmth and comfort they provide.  Yep!  They are a hit, which is exactly why we will make up another batch to hand out this year.  We can’t have our loved ones freezing, can we?