Quick and Dirty Sewing Needle Case

Why do I keep doing sewing projects? I HATE sewing! I promise you that the boxfish floor cushion is coming soon. LongJohn has been remarkably uncooperative these past two weeks so I’ve had to pick and choose my grown-up activities carefully.

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In the meantime, here’s a sewing needle case I made out of stuff I already had and was already using. As a needle case. Like, I had a box I was keeping sewing needles in already. And now I’m just keeping MORE needles in it. But it’s, like, organized and stuff.

Because, you see, I have this to currently stash my sewing needles.

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And because I’m me, this happens to the needles that I put in there. And that causes all kinds of problems, like making the wheel stick and having needles randomly stab me. So that’s terrible.

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This is my Altoids tin that I’ve had since probably high school.

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It currently holds my weird sewing needles and a bunch of other sewing stuff like stitch rippers.

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Ideally I’d like it to hold all my weird needles, a stitch ripper, a needle threader, and a wee pair of scissors. If the measuring tape fits, then even better.

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This is a magnet from my dentist. It’ll work to hold the big needles in place.

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I want something to hold the little tools onto the lid, but something that will allow me to change up the tools as events warrant.

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Hello, velcro!

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A little hot glue later …

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The velcro tabs allow me the flexibility of sticking whatever it is I want to the inside of the lid. It may not look pretty, but it works.

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Traditional needle books are basically just felt books all sewn up – but that doesn’t prevent the needles from being stabby if you hold the book wrong. So that’s where the metal tin comes into play.

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I cut out eight felt “pages” for my book the size of a business card (2″ x 3″). In the end I used only six of the eight because otherwise the lid wouldn’t have closed on the box.

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Then I cut out wee tabs to sew across each page to hold the needles. You can put the needles straight through the page if you like but it increases the risk of stabbiness.

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Then I sewed them on. The page with the two tabs is for my weird needles. Nobody ever said I could sew in the straight line.

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Then I sewed the pages together like an accordion, to make the pages sit flatter inside the tin than they would have if I’d sewn all one side like a book.

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Then we stick in our needles, weird ones first:

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Then the big huge ones …

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… then I had the monumental task of SORTING all the little ones I had. Ugh. This is super not easy when you have severe carpal tunnel …

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In they go.

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The finished “book,” from one side,

Sewing Needle Case 27and from the other.

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Then I needed to snazz up the outside of the tin. Something not super-cutesy, and something visible. Because my other issue with those wee plastic cases is I’m constantly losing them when they slide behind or underneath something else.

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I had some fun with craft paint and crackle medium to come up with this effect. If you’ve never used crackle medium, give it a try. It’s fun.

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Here’s my uncooperative baby being a butt while I wait for this to dry.

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And the finished ensemble! I ended up putting the stitch ripper in the bottom where it fits perfectly. The measuring tape alas did not fit.

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The pages pull out to reveal the needles you want.

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And at the bottom are all the big huge ones.

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I’m trying to consolidate a lot of the crafty/sewy/knitty stuff that I have as I go through our basement (post on THAT to follow), so this is a good start. Convenient to use and definitely un-stabby.

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Moveable Memories

Moveable Memories 1

For Christmas, I gave the Pie a stick. This stick, to be specific. It’s actually a piece of moulding too knotty for my dad to use, and I scavenged it out of his garage. Trust me though, I have a plan.

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I’m sure all of you have a relative with a cottage or grandparents’ home where, be it a door jamb or a piece of wall panelling, they have accumulated the heights of all the family members as they’ve grown over the years. At the cottage my great-grandfather built (now owned by my mother’s cousin), these height markings go back several generations. And it’s always sad when the time comes to leave that house behind, together with those memories that are so firmly a part of the house. Sometimes you can get away with removing the fixture they’re on, but sometimes not.

We plan to stay in this house for a long time, but you never know what will happen, so I wanted to make sure that when we leave we can take our memories with us.

First order of business is cutting down the wood to fit. I made sure it was cut so it sits above the moulding on the floor, runs parallel to the doorjamb in our guest bedroom, and ends at the top of the lintel, so it’s low profile. Then I drilled three holes (one at either end and one in the middle), and sanded it down.

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During one of LongJohn’s naps I popped just outside the backdoor and spray painted the whole stick white. Then I had to kick around my newly white leaves so the Pie wouldn’t see them. Fortunately it snowed soon thereafter so I was safe.

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Once the paint was dry I started marking distances with craft paint. We use mostly Metric in Canada but because we’re so close to the United States we are pretty fluent in Imperial as well, so I decided to go with both. For the centimetres I made a bigger mark every 10 and for the inches I made a bigger one every 6. I also made sure to start my measurements on the stick at the distance it sits from the floor, which when you take into account the moulding at the bottom of the wall, was about 10cm. In retrospect I wish I’d used a finer paint brush but what’s done is done.

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I added in the numbers in a different colour (again, wish I’d used a finer brush). Then I sprayed the whole thing with a clear lacquer to keep the markings fresh.

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Then I wrapped it and hid it behind a bookcase. Now when we take our measurements, we mark them in permanent marker and I dab a little clear nail polish over them to keep them from rubbing off. And when we’re ready to leave, we can take it with us!

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Found Objects with Fussellette

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Our Newfie friend Fussellette spent the entire summer this year wayyyy up in northern Ontario doing geology and getting really dirty (two things she loves). Like me, Fussellette likes to pick up random objects on her travels, and she found these two identical pieces of brick in a burnt out campfire full of tin cans.

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When she came to visit LongJohn recently she took advantage of my massive craft supply inventory and gave them a bit of a makeover.

Crafts with Auntie Sam. #alidoesit

A post shared by Alison Bell (@alidoesit.herself) on

Taking things you find and making them into something else is one of the things I enjoy the most about making and doing stuff. Fussellette is the same way, and I hope that LongJohn can come to enjoy it too when he’s a little older.

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With a little bit of craft paint and some Sharpies, she turned these pieces of brick into little pieces of The Rock.

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One was a gift for her hosts, and the other she left with me when she saw how much I liked it!

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Fast Tip Friday: No Effort Bulletin Board

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I told my partner at work that if he didn’t decorate his office, then I would. He told me to go ahead. I said I would. He thought I was joking. Dear reader, we all know I would never joke about something like that. I’ll show you more of the things I have been working on for both his and my office, but here’s the first one that I planted there when he wasn’t looking.

Our team leader always gets cheesed at him for having papers lying around on his desk (and we work in pretty much a paperless office so it boggles the mind that they’re there), so I figured if he had a place to put them then they wouldn’t be lying around.

I had a handful of cork tiles that I picked up from the dollar store at some point. I got two packages of two for two dollars each. Not bad. With some painter’s tape and some acrylic craft paint, I was ready to jazz them up a little to give them some form as well as function.

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So I laid out the painter’s tape to mask off the areas I wanted to paint.

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Then I painted.

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Then I peeled.

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So satisfying.

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Then I used 3M Command Strips to attach them to his office wall (the strips ensure they can be removed later with no wall damage).

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And a gentle reminder to put his crap away. 🙂

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Stay tuned for more quick and dirty office decor activities!

EDIT: My team leader, delightful keener that she is, took the idea and ran with it in corporate fashion in her own office:

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Found Frame Part One: A New Classic

A while back I found this picture sitting next to a neighbour’s recycling bin on one of my early-morning dog walks. I picked it up because the frame itself was HUGE and made of solid wood (it weighed a TON) and I thought it would make a great frame for a nice mirror some time. But that will be a matter of finding a mirror to fit the frame, so that’s a post for another day. After staring at it for a while, I kind of started to like the picture that was in the frame, as well. There’s a rural Canadiana vibe to it that appeals to me.

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And this wouldn’t be the first mystery painting my family has picked up and invented a story about. Unfortunately any identifying cards on the back have long since fallen off, but we have this signature to go on.

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The frame for the canvas itself had come apart and so the picture was damaged in the corner, but it was nothing I couldn’t fix myself. You can’t really screw up a painting that you found in the garbage, right?

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So I loosened the nails and popped the canvas out of the frame. The frame itself will wait for another day.

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You can see that the stretchers have come apart here (you can also see where some sort of card was taped to the inside of the canvas, probably detailing who the artist was or information about the scene painted). The wood has also warped a bit so I suspect this is an older injury.

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I did some cack-handed hammering and got a bit overzealous with the staple gun, but the frame held together after a while.

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Of course the picture itself was FILTHY. I mean I found it in the garbage. Also any painting sitting around someone’s house for any length of time is going to be covered with all sorts of grease and ick. It’s just a fact. Now if this was something done in oils or it was worth anything, I would not have dreamed of touching it. I would have taken it to a professional and they would have cleaned it with spit (literally, I’m not joking) and gotten it all up to snuff.

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But this was an acrylic painting of an unknown vintage by an unknown painter. And I found it in the garbage. So I used some Method all-purpose cleaner to get the first layer of grease off. DO NOT DO THIS IF YOU PAID MONEY FOR YOUR PICTURE.

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I was hoping to remove the yellow stains on the paint itself, but then I started to realize that the painter actually meant for those to be there.

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This other greasy goo on the other hand was better off left on my cleaning cloth. I know: GROSS.

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I also deduced at one point that someone had wrapped this painting in newspaper, as this appeared after a bit of cleaning:

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I also decided to try to lighten some of the age yellowing with some lemon juice, and I think it helped a bit.

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The nice solid frame had an extra frame piece nailed to its innards and rather than build/find a new frame for my brand new free piece of art I decided to pop it out of its moorings and use it.

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It was only held in place with a few finishing nails after all, which were easy enough to remove.

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It did need a good cleaning and sanding, however.

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After that, I painted it. I decided to go with a blue frame to complement the blue in the mountains in the background and also to counteract some of the yellowing in the picture itself.

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I used some small nails to wedge the canvas back into the smaller frame.

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And I attached hanging hardware to the canvas stretchers, as they stuck out farther than the frame insert.

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Then I hung it. I am quite fond of it at this point, and it fills a lovely spot in my basement that gets a lot of light in the afternoons.

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You have to look pretty closely to see that this was the damaged corner.

 

I would normally not hang anything of value in this spot because it would fade in the sun but this was free, so I’m not concerned what happens to it.

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Fast Tip Friday: Cheater Wall Art

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We moved into The Tower in May of 2013 and as yet we still don’t have everything set up the way we like it. In fact, the wall behind our bed is entirely blank. While I have a plan for above the bed (post to follow this spring), there are still two giant spots on either side of the bed that need some filling. The Pie and I are not fans of blank wall space, so until we find something we like, I decided to make something up as a placeholder for now.

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We had a large piece of flat corrugated cardboard lying around from a project that the Pie started an age ago so I made use of it and some craft paint and did some abstract impressionism on that puppy.

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I started by laying a wash of white down just to even things out.

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I didn’t want to lay it on too thick, as I liked the texture of the cardboard coming through.

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Then I picked a handful of colours and went at it. I used the same brush for everything, so I could blend nicely between the colours.

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I poked some holes in the corners and strung it up on some jute before hanging it in the bedroom. I’m still not sure that I like it (I’m no artist), but it fits the space I want it to go in and the colours complement the colours in our bedroom so it’ll do, for now.

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A Magic Christmas Eve

Happy Christmas Eve everyone! I wish you all the best and the happiest of the holiday season.

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Everybody knows one. There’s at least one in every family. Sometimes there are several.

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I’m talking about Harry Potter fans. Yes, those people.

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I found this amazing tutorial on DeviantArt to make Harry Potter-inspired wands a couple years ago and I’ve been saving it for that special someone in my family.

Items you will most def need: chopsticks. I have six of the normal kind you get in fast food restaurants, and then a set of cooking chopsticks, because some wands are longer than others, after all.

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You will also need a hot glue gun and appropriate hot glue sticks. Kind of key. You’re going to use a lot of glue for these so be prepared!

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Optional are beads. Plastic, wooden, whatever. Doesn’t matter what colour. I also added some string. Because I like string.

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Then I sat myself down with one of her favourite television shows to inspire me and I got to work (I probably should have watched Harry Potter but I’m on season two on Netflix and things are really starting to get good!).

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From here what you do is pretty much up to you. I glued on some of the larger beads at the butt end of the wand as kind of a backstop.

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And one on the tip as sort of an extender.

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Then I added some texture and filler with glue.

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Twirly whirly.

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On this one I went with some string and some small beads.

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Here I let the glue and gravity do their thing. If you use the high setting on your glue gun the glue will stay liquid for longer.

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You can roll almost-cold glue between your hands to shape it but I tend to burn myself so I didn’t do that. I just let the glue cool unadulterated.

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Now you can paint! I used craft paint, in a few different shades of brown. I painted the tips of the wands a darker brown, almost black, because I figure if they’re shooting sparks all the time they might get a little singed, right? I also added bits of silver here and there.

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After the paint dried I coated each with a liberal layer of gloss Mod Podge and let that dry overnight. Any other form of sealant would work well – but you should definitely seal them with something because craft paint will just scratch right off hot glue.

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Pretty fancy, no?

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I’m not sure what she’s going to do with EIGHT MAGIC WANDS but that’s really not the point of this whole exercise, is it?

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