If you’re looking for a last-minute gift idea for the person who has everything, the person who appreciates all things quirky and vintage, or the person who has a strong addiction to sewing notions (trust me, there are more of them out there than you think), then look no further than right. Here.
I have a large collection of vintage sewing buttons, but my favourites are the ones with the pearlescent sheen — so I have extra of those.
I picked up this mini wood frame at Michaels back when I was doing the coffee stirrer wall art.
At the time I figured I would make another, smaller version of the same, but it was not to be. Instead, I painted it purple and started sticking buttons on with Mod Podge (though any white glue — or non-white glue — would work here).
I kind of went with an ombre sort of pattern from purple to red to white.
These buttons attach with that little sticky-outie thing and won’t lie flat, so I glued them into small spaces between other buttons, where the other buttons would hold them up.
Don’t forget to stick some hanging hardware on the back.
The finished product. Easy peasy blamo kablam.
Here’s a great gift idea for avid picnic-ers that you know. This was a Christmas gift for Doodle and her man.
I found a brand-new Scouts Canada campfire blanket at Value Village in the fall, and I immediately thought of Doodle, who, although she has lived in the United States for several years now, is a staunch Canadian, and, like my brother Ando, who is also an ex-pat Canuck, likes to surround herself with various items of Canadiana.
Normally the little Scouts cut holes in the centres of the blankets to wear them like ponchos, and often sew badges and other things onto the blanket itself. Then they sit around the campfire and tell dirty stories.
I’m not sure exactly what the blanket is made of, but I hope it’s flame-retardant.
Anyway, I purchased a measure of bright red vinyl to match the red thread on the blanket itself, and cut it to fit. Because the blanket wasn’t an exact rectangle, I made a little mark on the vinyl to indicate where the Scouts Canada logo should go.
I used pinking shears to finish the edges of the vinyl. Then I cut buttonholes at all the corners and along the sides. I reinforced the buttonholes with red thread in a blanket stitch.
I then sewed on all the buttons, making sure that none of them matched each other. I saved the big silver button to go under the Scouts Canada patch.
And there you have it, a simple picnic blanket. Just unbutton it to wash it and you’re set!
This isn’t really a how-to kind of post. I just wanted to show you one of the other things you can make with old wool sweaters that you have felted. You may remember KDB, in whose house Kristopf and I made those amazing cocoa-caramel-pecan cookies. This was a present for her for Christmas.
I found an image of a scottie dog on the internet and used it as a pattern to cut it out of a sweater. I then blanket stitched it onto a red background from another sweater.
Then I took a cardigan that was slightly larger than the cushion I wanted to make out of it. I cut out two squares, from the front of the cardigan and the back, making sure that the buttoned opening to the cardigan was in the centre on the front.
Then I sewed the scottie square onto the back of the cardigan (which will now be the front of your cushion) and then sewed the back and the front together.
Now you have your cushion. The button-front of the cardigan now serves as a way to pull out your cushion when you need to wash the cover. And it’s super cute!
Martha Stewart has a clever method of dealing with almost everything. In this particular case, it’s the leftover buttons you have lying around after they’ve fallen off shirts or come as spares with clothing you can’t even remember. It’s easy to make fridge magnets out of them. Well, easy if you’re not me, of course.
I picked up a selection of rare earth magnets from Lee Valley for a reasonable price — ninety magnets, to be precise. I like to go whole hog into things like this. Rare earth magnets are super strong, so be careful not to get them near your electronics or credit cards.
If you like the shape of some of your buttons but not the colour, you can always paint them with model paint. I of course managed to get myself coated in model paint when I did this, but I’m sure you have more advanced motor skills than I do.
The process is pretty simple.
You take your magnets. You take your buttons. You take a glue gun. You apply burning hot glue to either the magnet or the button (be careful here because of course the magnet will try to stick to your glue gun and unhappy situations can arise from that). You try not to swear too loudly when you miss and accidentally apply burning hot glue to your finger. Or when you accidentally adhere either the magnet or the button to your person. Or the table. Or the floor. These things happen.
Once the glue is cooled you can click those babies right onto your fridge or wherever else you want to put them. I found that some buttons didn’t like the glue and fell off, so I just used different buttons. You may find the same thing.
Do you have knitters in your family? I do. I am one. Though not a very good one.
In any case, knitting needles are a remarkably easy thing to make (according to Martha Stewart) and they make a great little gift.
You can get doweling of several different thicknesses at any hardware or craft store.
Saw the dowel to the desired length (my dowels were all 36″, so I cut most of my needles to 12″ lengths, though I did make a set of four 9″ double-ended needles). Use a pencil sharpener to create a point.
Sand the dowels down to create a smooth surface that won’t catch on the yarn. Make sure as well to dull the points a bit. It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye. You can rub the needles with a bit of warm beeswax, just to protect them and let the wool slide a bit easier.
Then all you have to do is use a glue gun to put colourful buttons at the ends.
And there you have it. Tie them with some pretty ribbon and give them all away!
Or keep some. Your choice.
As you know, I have been making things out of felted sweaters.
And, if you don’t know, MacGuyver is a television character out of the eighties who could engineer an explosive device using only a paperclip and some pocket lint. I tend to use MacGuyver as a verb when I’m describing how I successfully completed a task with my own ingenuity and a little bit of elbow grease.
Such was the case with these mittens. I wanted to do a practice run with sewing together the felted wool, just to see how well it worked and how they felt to wear, before I made them for real. So I thought, why not use the sleeves? And the sleeves of this particular sweater had a beautiful row of buttons on them. It would be a shame to waste them.
So I cut off the sleeves.
Measured them roughly to my hand.
Cut them out.
Flipped them inside out. You can see that I was able to leave the original seams on the sides.
Sewed them together.
Not the best fit, I grant you, but a decent first effort, considering I didn’t use a pattern. “Real” ones to follow.
First order of business in our mad scheme to have an entirely DIY Christmas: the felted wool slipper. You may remember this blue sweater that I felted recently.
I borrowed a template from Martha Stewart. These were originally supposed to be felt slippers, not made out of old sweaters, but when do I ever follow instructions?
Anyway, I printed out the template and had it photocopied in the sizes I wanted.
To save myself time and to ensure my pieces were exactly the same, I cut through two layers of wool in cutting out my pieces. I used two pieces for each sole to make them extra squishy and more durable.
I also took advantage of the shoulder seam in the sweater I was using to serve as the heel of the upper.
It’s Ralph Lauren. That’s what the pink blotch is.
I pinned all the pieces together and found that the upper actually was a little longer than the sole, so I did some trimming.
In the end it turns out my trimming job made them look a little funny, but I will fix that next time.
I used a blanket stitch with a contrasting colour of thread and went all around, making sure to get all the layers of wool sewn tightly together.
I also went around the open edge of the slipper for consistency.
Then I embellished them a little with some buttons.
Not the prettiest of things, but they’re warm and light and soft.
And they fit, which is always a bonus.