Gift Boxes Made From Cereal Boxes

Gift Boxes Made From Cereal Boxes

 Look at this!
A cereal box destined for trash re-purposed to a gift box.
(We’re still traveling with no option for recycling).
Clever, huh?
And it only takes about 5 minutes to make.
Even the busiest folk can churn this one out while enjoying a cuppa something yummy….
For anyone wanting to skip the jibber jabber & go straight to folding one of these,
 Another sign that I’m a craft-aholic?
I always pack a few supplies with me everywhere we go.
Sometimes it’s my crochet caddy and yarn.
Occasionally hand stitching stuff.
This trip,
My sketch book and a pouch stuffed with pens, scissors, glue and tape.
You never know, right?
Some trips, the craft supplies sit untouched the entire time.
But this week, I was glad to have something to work with.
While we were lucky enough to enjoy a chunk of warm sunshine everyday.
High winds, cooler temperatures and afternoon rain showers meant plenty of indoor time too.
Vacation means a moratorium on the usual junk food and electronics restrictions.
So once the colder wet winds blew us indoors,
The guys were content to plug in for the evening…
And munch on sugary cereals and such – they claim it’s the “taste of vacation.”
Which worked out for me since I came across this tutorial I wanted to try:
Converting a cereal box into a small gift box.
To make the box,
The instructions called for a cereal box, a pair of scissors and a hot glue gun.
I’m not quite nutty enough to tote a glue gun on vacation.
But the Elmer’s glue I had on hand worked well enough.
I could have used binder clips to hold the cardboard together as the glue dried.
Fortunately, the hair pins in my toiletry kit were a good substitute.
I did not measure as I cut and folded.
It’s not that kind of project.
As you can see, my finished box is slightly crooked along that top edge.
Suppose you can always be more precise.
I’m happy with this.
Planning to make more of these when I get home.
This is the perfect size box to hold cookies.
Wrap a column of fresh baked cookies in some parchment paper.
Tuck into a cereal box turned gift box.
Secure box with red and white bakers twine.
Or maybe an elastic round as I have shown here.
Add a gift tag.
A cozy homemade gift to share with friends this holiday.
Corner Bench Cushion

Corner Bench Cushion

 There’s a built-in cabinet in the corner of my new craft room.
The top surface area an isosceles triangle shape with two corners chopped off.
I think it was meant to be a TV stand back when TV’s had that big ol’ head protruding out the back.
We’ve been using it as seating.
 The two legs of this pseudo-right triangle measure 51 inches.
The diagonal 59 inches.
It’s the perfect size and shape for lounging.
It just needed some kind of mattress or cushion.
Rather than buying foam and fabric,
I decided to work with what I had on hand:
A old favorite, somewhat faded but super soft, king-sized coverlet and
Four down quilts that have sat unused for years.
 I’d saved some sheets of giant brown packing paper from our move.
Thought they’d make great drop cloths.
Turns out they’re also quite useful as pattern paper (a little heavy, but still perfectly functional).
I laid the paper across the bench.
Then folded it to fit the bench top.
 Once I had my pattern,
I moved to floor of my sewing room.
(So amazing to have this kind of space!).
I folded the king sized coverlet diagonally.
Then pinned the giant paper pattern onto it.
“Triangle” diagonal along fabric fold.
With straight edge and chalk, I marked a 1 inch margin around the other edges.
Sewed edges with a quarter inch seam allowance,
Left a large opening through which to stuff the comforters.
Flipped the giant cushion cover right side out,
Pushed all corners out.
I folded the largest comforter in roughly the same triangle shape,
Then fitted it in.
The three smaller comforters, I just folded and tried to layer uniformly.
Had to crawl inside the cushion cover to fit the comforters properly.
I’m sure I was ridiculous sight.
Whip stitching the opening closed was the most troublesome part of this project.
 I was quite pleased to see how nicely the new cushion fit in the corner.
I’m planning to use the left over fabric to make a bolster or two to go along the walls.
In the meantime, I just put pillows in their shams.
And tossed a cushion and coverlet on the new bench cushion.
And I’ve taken a nap or two here already.
The kids love sitting here as well.
It has a really comfy nest feel to it.
Best of all,
I repurposed stuff I already had, but wasn’t using, to create our new corner bench cushion.
Scribble Book

Scribble Book

Just wanted to show you what I did with those Grocery Bag Journals we made the other day.
Since I wanted to stay with the brown cardboard colored palette, I only used a West Elm gift box (saved from last Christmas), paper packaging tape and some white glue to create this “hardback” cover.  I also ended up redoing the stitching – still using pamphlet stitch but connecting each signature together as I stitched with one long piece of thread.
I’m calling it my scribble book.  And I can’t get over how nicely this turned out.  I actually danced a jig around my living room when I finished making it… so looking forward to writing, drawing and maybe even painting in my new scribble book.
But in the meantime, I’m in the middle of a bunch of other craft projects.  My dining table is a heap of pvc pipes and connectors, paper bags, cardboard scraps, glue, duct tape, scissors, fishing wire, screws and cereal boxes… lots of work in progress so guess I better get back to it! 

Grocery Bag Journals

Grocery Bag Journals

Up til now, my craft group has met once a month to visit with one another and to work independently on our own projects (usually knitting, crochet or embroidery).  But last night my friend, Kris, decided to shake things up a bit by teaching us all how to make journals from paper grocery bags.

The idea and techniques for this journal came from the book, “Art at the Speed of Life,” by Pam Carriker.  Carriker calls it the “10 minute journal” and uses a sheet of water color paper to create it.

But water color paper can be costly and feels too precious to scribble on, so Kris has been making her journals from grocery bags instead.  Everyone in the group laughingly admitted to at least one untouched fancy journal at home that was just too pristine and beautiful to use.  We all loved the idea of reusing an every day item destined for the recycle bin (at best).  There can be no hesitation about writing on a paper bag, right?  Especially if half the pages already have some type of print on it (it adds personality to the booklet and one can still write or paint right over it).

We all had so much fun making these journals.  This morning, I returned to my studio to make three more from our leftover bags.  Pics and instructions below for anyone who wants to try this at home:

  • 1 brown paper grocery bag (we used bags from Whole Foods & Trader Joe’s)
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Awl
  • Linen thread
  • Beeswax
  • Book binding needle (actually, we used upholstery needles)
  • Small bowl of water
  • Sponge brush (optional)
  • Bone folder (optional; I used a letter opener)
  • Cutting mat (optional) 
Creating the Grocery Bag Journal:
  • Remove handles from bag.  Be careful not to tear the bag.
  • Open the bag and locate the seam.  Cut along the seam until you reach the bottom of the bag.  Cut out the bottom rectangle.  Option:  if you prefer the fuzzy look of torn paper, use your finger or a sponge brush to wet the creases about the bottom of the bag and then carefully tear out that rectangle.
  • You should now have one large rectangular piece of paper.  If the creases bother you, you can use a low setting on an iron to iron the paper.

  • Fold the large rectangle in half, lengthwise.  You want to fold from top to bottom so your fold is on the top and your open edges are on the bottom.  You may want to use a bone folder to make the crease a sharp one.

  • Now fold the rectangle in half crosswise.  Do this three times.  Always fold from left to right.  Be sure to make sharp creases.  When you are finished, you have what is called a “signature.”  One grocery bag equals one signature.  This particular signature will have eight leaves which will end up as sixteen pages.

  •  Open your signature to the center.  Mark three spots in the fold:  the midpoint, and one inch from each edge.

  • Use the awl to pierce all layers at each marked point.  Be careful to stay on the fold when piercing through the layers – which is easier said than done…  And remember that awl is sharp so keep that point pointing away from you.
  • Measure 18 inches of thread, cut and wax.
  • Thread your needle.
  • Use pamphlet stitch to sew your signature together at the spine (tutorial here).
  • Lastly, there is the matter of opening all the pages of your signature.  The “cheater” way would be to hold a straight edge where you want to open the pages and cut through with a box cutter.  But my craft group & I were in the artisanal mood and opened each page by first wetting the creases, working the moisture in the folds and then tearing the pages open by hand.  You may want to use the sponge brush for this step.  I found rubbing the water into the folds with my fingers more effective.
And there it is.  The common paper grocery bag transformed into a charmingly rough little journal.  You can use a single signature as the entire journal.  Or you can bind them together to create something bigger.
I’m now figuring out how I want to sew my four signatures together to create on big journal.  I’m also looking around for materials to construct the hardcover for my journal and I’m thinking to pull out my paint and inks to do some artwork in it…
All of this inspiration from just one humble paper grocery bag… and, of course, my friend, Kris.

A huge Thank You to Kris for sharing this project and for all goofy commentary that had everyone in stitches all night.  Book art rocks!

I feel so lucky about my growing circle of crafty friends.  Making is always a cool thing… but sharing inspiration, knowledge and skills with others bumps it all to a whole new level.  By the way – if anyone wants to join us – November craft night will be something dreamed up by our Crochet Queen, Edita!

Scrap Metal Guys

Scrap Metal Guys

Check out what we made today – funky scrap metal guys.  Not at all what I’d intended to work on when I suggested pulling out the metal bits.  But in the end, ever so much better than what I could have dreamed up.

I wanted to make monster cans like the one I’d seen floating around on pinterest.

Both kids listened when I told them about the monster cans but then declined to follow my lead.

Si told me flat out that making a face-on-a-can pencil holder wasn’t interesting.

Then he picked through all the tiny nuts and bolts.  Screwed.  Unscrewed.  Assessed.  Switched a piece here and there and came up with…

A little jousting hero ready for a quest to go out and fight monsters (it must be all those Percy Jackson books we’ve been reading).

Ethan went straight for the light switches (where did those come from?) and copper pieces.  He wanted to make a metal man with one giant claw.

In his first attempt to assemble his metal guy, he pulled him together with pipe cleaners.  By that time, I was in total agreement with the boys.  The can-faces didn’t even come close to being as cool as their metal guys.  I wanted in on their vision!  I offered to help E rewire his guy with actual wire…

… Here’s how “our” guy turned out.  E told me exactly how I was to put the pieces together.  When I’d point out my limitations on where I could or couldn’t attach pieces, he’d make the call on how we’d change things.

Working alongside my boys is something I treasure.  Sometimes I get frustrated when they don’t want to go along with my original plans. But on a day like today, when they see what I have planned and then take that idea and leap frog right over me… I find it exhilarating and inspiring.  Today wasn’t me leading anything.  I stayed out of Si’s creative process and just helped E to execute his.  In the end, it was my boys leading me.

From Dress Shirt to Apron

From Dress Shirt to Apron

I have a really neat upcycling project to share with you today –  remaking a men’s dress shirt into an apron.

I came across a brief tutorial for this when cruising around pinterest.  I thought the idea so clever, I immediately had to make it for myself.  As usual, I only loosely followed the instructions.   Let me show you what I came up with.

I left more fabric across the front so if you look at my apron straight on, it actually looks like a dress.  Cute, huh? 

I added two pockets made from the shirt sleeve.  They are the perfect size to hold my cell phone, a pen or even a small needle book (‘cuz you never known when you’ll need to whip out needle & thread).

The most difficult part of this project was pinning and finishing the curved edge that forms a big circle from collar, around the front, under the arm and on through until ending up at the collar again.

I practiced lots of slow yoga breathing while finishing this troublesome edge.  I pinned, pressed, measured and pinned again for a really long time before finally going to the sewing machine.  The end seam is not perfect, but I’m satisfied with it.
I opted to sew the back of the shirt back together instead of making apron ties.  I love the look of the closed back and the little vent at the bottom.
One part that I’m not pleased with is the rounded piece behind the collar.  I’d intended for it to lay flat, but it insists on flipping up.  I’m going to make another variation of this apron (with my seemingly endless supply of dress shirts from my husband’s toss pile).  Next time I’ll to cut diagonally from the center back of collar – hope that will do the trick to make the part under the collar easier to finish and look smoother.

I’m anticipating wearing my new apron a lot.  In fact, I think I’m going to put it on right now.  I get such a kick out of this pretty, yet functional piece that it just might make doing tonight’s chores a little more fun (are “chores” and “fun” an oxymoron?).