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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Winter Sun

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There have been a slew of babies born into our circle in the past few months, with more to come in the new year, and it’s all very exciting. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to hand-make presents for everyone this year, but for the babies I spared an hour or so. This project, inspired by Made by Joel, is super easy and makes use of those little scraps of fabric you have on hand. If you don’t have a sewing machine you can do this by hand but it certainly saves a bit of time when you’re making them in bulk.

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So I have here some fabric scraps, a huge hunk of soft yellow terry cloth, and some empty plastic bags that previously held potato chips (but that are now clean, because you probably don’t want your baby to smell like potato chips).

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Grab your terry cloth (or whatever fabric you choose) as the centre of your winter sun and cut from it two circles of the same size (you don’t have to measure but think of how big a baby’s hands are and act accordingly).

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Cut out some circles as well in your chip bags. These things will be layered and stuffed inside your little creation to give it a delightful crinkle.

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I also decided to dress up the faces of my winter sun with some scraps of felt. I made one side a sleepy sun and one side a happy sun.

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Then I sewed those on carefully. You can use whatever you want to decorate your sun, though I would avoid buttons, as babies tend to swallow those.

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Then grab some more scraps. You’re going to want to cut out long triangles from this stuff. It’s easiest to fold it and then cut a diagonal line towards the fold.

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Then you can sew the open long end closed (leave the bottom open).

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Jam your thumb into the triangle and squish it up so it’s easier to turn inside out.

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Use a paintbrush or pencil to help you get it inverted properly.

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You’ll want enough scraps of differing colours to make enough triangles to go around the circumference of your sun. I eyeballed it and came up with eight.

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Cut ’em, sew ’em, reverse ’em.

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Now grab one of the faces of your sun and start attaching the rays. You want to attach them to the right side of the sun with the rays all pointing in towards the centre (so that when you turn it inside out they will stick out).

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Like this.

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Then grab the other face of the sun and make sure all the rays are tucked safely inside before attaching it to the whole shebang. Leave a few inches open so you can invert it.

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Grab your chip bags and stuff them inside the now right-side-out sun.

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If you have some, you can add a little bit of cotton batting or fill for fluff purposes. Then it’s a simple matter to hand-sew that opening shut.

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Then grab each of the rays and tie a single knot into each one for texture.

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Easy peasy!

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Matchbox Gifts

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My mother is absolutely obsessed with match boxes and the things you can put in them, so I kind of had a lightbulb moment when trying to figure out a present for her birthday last week (normally I handle the cake but this year my dad insisted that he had it under control). If you have a mother with a similar fetish, maybe this will work out for you for a nice Mother’s Day present.

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For my mother’s wee giftie, it was just a silly little thing: I decided to give her MAGIC BEANS. But instead of magic beans it was actual bean seeds that she could plant shortly in the garden. And then we could eat the beans. I also gave her some rosemary seeds because I killed her rosemary tree while she was in Florida.

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I love these little tiny glass jars you can get at the dollar store.

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Don’t worry, I DID label all the little jars.

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I decided to make a matchbox from scratch so I could ensure it was the right size to fit my beans. In order to do that I downloaded a template from the internet. I cut it out and used scrapbook paper (it’s a decently stiff cardstock) for my boxes.

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I used a craft knife to get things exact, but it’s a pretty easy template to cut out.

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Then a little bit of strategic adhesion with craft glue.

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And the beans, they fit! They’re a little loose though.

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So I padded the bottoms of the boxes with a bit of felt.

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I broke this photo. It’s okay, though, because it wasn’t a very good one anyway.

 

Then tied up both boxes with pretty ribbon to give to my favourite mother!

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Match boxes (even custom-made ones) are a great creative way to package up smaller gifts of jewelry or what-have-you. Keep that in mind the next time you’re doing some complex wrapping and you don’t have a perfect box to hand.

Nautical Knot Necklace

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I was trying to come up with some last-minute present ideas back in December when I came across this one on the internets. Everyone likes necklaces, right? And nautically-themed things? Yes. Yes, they do.

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So there’s some things you’re gonna need: a couple metres braided nylon cord (you can pick this up in craft and fabric stores; small pieces of felt in colours that match the cord; some tiny pliers; hot glue gun and glue; small split rings or jump rings; ribbon ends (or pinch crimps or whatever they’re called); and spring rings or lobster clasps.

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You might also need a little bit of tape if your cord comes unbraided when you cut it. The coiled stuff will come undone, whereas the braided stuff will probably stay put.

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Next, decide if you want your necklace to be four or six strands wide. The version I saw on tuts+ had six strands, but with the amount of cording I bought (6 metres each), I ended up having only enough to make two necklaces of four strands each. So cut your cord into four (or six) equal pieces, and make them a little longer than you would like your finished necklace to be. Divide your strands into two groups.

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To create the basic nautical knot, start by making a wee fishie out of one set of strands: create a loop where the strands cross over themselves, as shown below.

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Do the same thing with the other set of strands, in the opposite direction. Lay the second loop over the first loop such that the top loop part is over the crossed strands of the loop below, and the crossed part of the top loop is over the loop part of the strands below.

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Now things get a bit complicated to explain, but once you do it you’ll totally get it. The idea behind tying these knots is that the top strands will alternate going over and under the bottom strands. So in this picture you can see that all the top strands are currently above the lower strands, and that’s not going to work.

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Here’s where we pull out the loops and start alternating the over/under part. So to the right you see the part where the bottom loop strand crosses under itself. That means the next one, in the bottom centre, has to go under. You can see that the far left one goes over, and the one in the middle goes over. So the one that I haven’t done yet therefore will have to go under. Yeah so that’s not easy to talk about.

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Basically make sure that each time your strands cross over each other, that they alternate going under and over.

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Then you do the same with the other side. Under. Over. Under. Over …

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So when your cording looks like this, with all the appropriate unders and overs, then you’re ready to pull.

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Grab the ends of your cording and gently pull them away from each other and tighten your knot.

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Keep pulling, and then you have an honest-to-goodness nautical knot!

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You can tug on the individual cords to make the knot even.

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So that’s cool and all, but I figured once I had that basic knot down, I should go a little bit bigger, and better. So I doubled the number of loops!

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This takes a little bit more finesse.

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And certainly a longer time to weave all the under/overs.

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Then you can carefully pull it tight.

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And adjust the individual cords.

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AND THEN YOU HAVE THIS AMAZING THING.

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This is the version I did with the larger coiled cord.

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So then you arrange your necklace how you’d like it to look.

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This red one is going to be off-centre. Because asymmetry is cool.

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Trim the ends of the cording straight across but at a slight angle.

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Then cut a tiny square of felt and glue your cord ends to half of it.

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Fold it over and glue it down. Trim off excess felt.

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Then you take one of those ribbon end/pinch crimp things and use your pliers to crimp onto the piece of felt.

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Do it to the other one as well.

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Add a jump ring to each side.

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DO NOT EAT THESE THINGS. I like how in the warnings it’s only the Spanish version that uses exclamation points.

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Next you’ve got the spring rings to deal with. Lobster clasps are easier, but I couldn’t find any at the time.

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Add those suckers on.

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NECKLACE COMPLETE.

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And it didn’t take long!

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The Keep

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Her Grace, my niece, does not read this blog, so I can tell you now that this is a present for her. It started when I found this wooden box at Value Village with hinged openings, and some delightfully tacky rhinestone clip-on earrings. Bear with me. This is how my mind works. You’ll see.

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HG is at that age where she is into all things shiny and all things miniature. Originally, I planned to create a miniature castle-doll house on the inside, with three levels, a grand staircase, and a chandelier. It quickly became apparent that this idea (WHILE TOTALLY AWESOME) was beyond my abilities and time allowances. Plus it just wasn’t glittery enough. There were few if any rhinestones involved. I managed to come home from my visit to NYC with a red rhinestone adhered to my sock, and HG wasn’t even there while we were in town. She seems to have magic powers where fake gemstones are involved. I also found a pretty little rhinestone necklace, but I didn’t yet know how that was going to fit in.

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She’s also at that age where she’s starting to want to keep some things to herself. I’m not talking about drug smuggling or anything (though she would make an adorable mule), but I remember having the desire at that age (9-13 or so) to have a space to put things where nobody else could see them. Even if it was just a pretty rock I’d found.

So I wanted to build HG something, like a little fortress or keep (because she does love the miniature stuff) where she could, well, KEEP stuff.  But it was also important that it reflected HG’s glittery style. There’s a reason her mother calls her Sparkle.

I took the ugly wooden knobs off and cleaned out the box.

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I grabbed myself some battery-powered LED Christmas lights from Dollarama. A classy keep needs a chandelier, after all.

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I decided to make two chandeliers, because it was easier to drill the right-sized holes if they were a bit smaller.

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I used a power drill to make the holes. Here is the basic idea.

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I also picked up some beaded glass bracelets from Dollarama that would make great chandelier crystals. But that will come a bit later.

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First I needed to make up the top of my Keep so it would look all fortress-y and also camouflage the battery box for the lights. I used Model Magic because it’s lightweight and it sticks to itself.

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So I cut out little squares like stone blocks (the texture of Model Magic makes it kind of look like stone, which I like). I had to make it so you could still access the battery pack to turn the lights on and off.

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Then I set them to dry elsewhere. I’m going to paint them when they’re dry and then glue them in place.

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Figuring out the placement of my glorious rhinestone earrings as new door knobs, and the hasp (Wal-Mart) and mini padlock (Dollarama).

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The earring part of these babies popped off easily, but I was concerned about the stones rattling around in their settings, so I pried them out, filled the setting with hot glue, and then stuck the rhinestones back in.

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Then with some craft paint in hand I started in on the keep itself. The inside is silver, with black borders.

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The outside I tried to make kind of stone-y. I’m not the best at this sort of thing but you get the idea.

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While that was drying I dismantled my beaded bracelets.

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I cut some floral wire and formed it into a spiral for the chandelier. I stuck the biggest bead at the bottom and folded the wire back so it didn’t fall off.

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Then I just continued with the rest of the beads.

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Tested them with the lights.

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Still waiting for all the paint to dry, so I made a quick little beaded keychain for the keys to go on, with HG’s initials.

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I’m not sure how durable it will be but it will do for the initial giving-over of the key.

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Finally the paint on the box was dry, so I installed the lights and chandeliers loosely. I haven’t glued them yet as they will need some adjustment in terms of how high they are inside the box and how much clearance I need on top for the Model Magic stones. I also lined the sides with adhesive rhinestones (Dollarama) to add to the glitz and glitter.

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The rhinestones kept falling off, so I slathered them with a gloss Mod Podge to hold them on. You can’t expect amazing adhesion from Dollarama rhinestones after all.

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Now the time has come to attach the exterior hardware. I also blinged out the hardware.

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The screws that came with the hasp are going to be way too long, so I will have to camouflage them on the inside.

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When in doubt, add gemstones!

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I found these cute little mirrored clips in the clearance bin at Michael’s forever ago and I thought they would be good for secret stuff organization.

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So I used hot glue to stick them to the inside of the box.

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I hot-glued on the rhinestones.

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I used hot glue to keep the lights and battery pack in place, though I was careful not to accidentally glue the battery pack shut so they could be replaced.

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I did some adjusting and then carefully placed the Model Magic parapets on top. It’s best to use white glue with Model Magic so I used hot glue to get it to stick. I’m not good at following instructions.

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Then I painted it to look like the “stones” below. I also hot glued some felt to the bottom of the main section of the box so that the “doors” could swing open freely and so that the box wouldn’t scratch any delicate surfaces.

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All finished. I hung the rhinestone necklace inside if she wants to wear it, and added some perfume samples that came with a present from the Pie a while ago. Just to start off the secret-stuff collection a little.

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I hope she likes it!

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Felty Feather Cat Toy

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I do not really understand cats. We had a cat when I was very small but as my mother says, the cat was the sole property of our dog and didn’t really have time for the rest of us. When my dad was posted to the UK we had to give both of them up and I haven’t had a cat since. My mother and Krystopf are both allergic, so it makes sense. I *like* cats, but I really don’t know what to do with them.

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The Pie, on the other hand, loves cats. He spent his whole life with one or two running around his house. And he’s really allergic (what’s with people who are allergic to cats having cats?).

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Anyway, most of our friends who don’t have dogs, have cats. Or both. So this is something for them. I took the idea from Martha Stewart, but I didn’t follow her instructions exactly, nor did I feel the need to use a template to cut out these feathers. A cat is not going to critique your cutting technique. Cats don’t care.

I have a pretty decent collection of craft felt. My mother and I keep our eyes open when we are wandering through second-hand stores, and the result is this sweet pile.

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So. Grab some felt, two different colours if you prefer.

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Cut a big feather shape out of one of them, probably four or five inches long, with a nice long stem.

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Cut little feather marks in it. I know they’re not perfect. But again, cats don’t care.

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Then make a smaller one out of a different colour (can you see how taxing this is? I’m stressed out already). Martha recommends ironing a crease into the middle of each feather but seeing as most felt I have is polyester or made out of recycled pop bottles I don’t think that’s a good idea.

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Grab some nice cording and a jingle bell and tie the bell to the feather stems. Leave a nice long tail in the cord for dangling purposes and knot both ends to keep them from fraying.

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Oh man that was difficult. I made nine of them.

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Long-Distance Greeting

The Pie and I don’t usually celebrate Valentine’s Day, but I thought I would make up a little card for Cait and send it home to Ottawa.

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The base is cardboard with construction paper overlaid on top and I used construction paper to make the “hinges” of the card.

The “clothing” for the figure on top is a textured origami.  The limbs are pipe cleaner and the heart is made of felt.  Heartfelt.  Get it?

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I originally just had glue holding everything down, but you see I had to resort to tape. Alas.

Under the “clothing” is a hole to accommodate this chocolate bar (which I bought from the Newfoundland Chocolate Company here in St. John’s, specifically because their bars are small enough to fit in an envelope), which is wrapped in origami.

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I used a circle punch to make confetti out of my paper scraps and stuffed a bunch of it inside the card so it will all fall out when she opens it.

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♥ Happy Valentine’s Day! ♥