Category Archives: DIY

Crafternoon Activity II – Book Thongs

2015 - Book thongs for Tita Fely (19 December)(2)

If you have an idea for book thongs or charms, let me share with you one tip: look for beads that have heft or weight in them. But not too much, though. You’ll want just the right amount of weight that will easily slip over the pages of your book.

Are books still in vogue? I think they are. Printed materials may be on the wane, but if bookstores are any indication, those paperbacks and hardbound reading materials will always find loving ‘homes.’

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Crafternoon Activity I – Key Rings

2015 - Project key rings (12 December)

I think gone are the days when everything inside a handbag should be in black. (Admittedly, I used to do that.) Something has to stand out, especially if they need to be ‘fished out’ every so often.

Some may find these key rings ‘bulky’ in the pocket. Not really, and I’m not saying that because I made them. For a tactile person, it’s reassuring to know that as long as I can feel the beads, the keys are safe along with them.

Work in Progress – Fabric banners

Image - Fabric banners (22 November 2015)

This is a result of the “Create something new today” quote that was posted last 18 November.

The original pattern was for a heart-shaped bumper. You know, those softies hanging on one side of a crib? But since I didn’t have fiberfill (also referred to as cotton or poly-cotton stuffing) on hand, I decided to use the same pattern to make a row of fabric banners.

“Why make when you can buy them?” I agree with you. Thing is, paper banners – which come in many colors and bright ones, too – tear easily. Not to mention, unless we take care of them, they don’t last long. When that happens, out goes the paper banners and the bit of money one invested in buying them.

Fabric banners, on the other hand, are more durable. But they take time to make; I’ll be the first to admit that. They’re also customizable, especially if there’s a particular event that one wants/ needs it for. Weddings and birthdays come to mind.

This row of banners, which is a work in progress, will eventually hang by the wall next to my workstation at home. The wall is pretty bare; I figured banners could “cheer” it up a bit. (I’ve tried sticky notes in the past; they didn’t last long either.)

Materials: cotton fabric (used on both sides); cotton floss, two strands for the blanket stitch; length of ribbon, twine, or cord to attach the fabrics to, and charms (optional)

Stay inspired everyone!

“Create something new today!”

Image - Create something new today

For the love of handmade: Making personalized bag tags

Handmade bag tags (2015)

Recently, I started making personalized bag tags or key chains, depending on how you use them, using cord, beads, and metal charms. While there are now a good number of kiosks in malls that make such items, I designed my own for a good reason. I wanted to make something for a friend, and I wanted to give her something she cannot readily buy: a pretty, handmade gift made especially for her. Thankfully, handmade items are popular again, so the bag tag didn’t sound ‘kitsch’ when I gave it to her.

It feels great to receive personalized items like these, and it’s tempting to order and have one – or a few – made for your friend or friends.

Admittedly, a tag using these materials ‘can’ be costly. The clasp . . . cord . . . beads . . . the number of letters . . . they can all add up. Take also into consideration the fact that it’s handmade. It’s tightly woven; no high-speed sewing machine can do that.

On the bright side, bag tags like these last longer than those made of cloth, which also has its own appeal. These look better when the recipient is a young professional or is looking for a ‘more’ polished-looking bag tag or key adornment. (The first prototype I made for my own use now hangs in my workout bag.)

Lastly, and I think this is the best part, almost all the components can be re-used, especially the letter charms. Want a different color for the cord or want to use a different set of beads? Go right ahead. It’s yours anyway.

Personally, if someone gave me an item with a backstory like “this is handmade just for you,” I’d use it till the very end. Aside from being sentimental, it’s to show appreciation for the person who put a lot of thought and care into making it.

2014 Crafter-noon – Make Your Own Summer Earrings (26 April)

If you’ve been beading for a while, this is a really easy project. Regarding the beads, the choice is up to you. It’s highly recommended, though, that you choose those that are lightweight so the earrings won’t pull down your lobes (too much) when worn.

2014 Crafternoon (26 April)(1)

Yummy-colored selection of beads

Get a handful of yummy-colored beads and turn them into summer earrings!

The final product: summer-colored earrings

2014 Crafter-noon – Owl are you? (29 March)

This is a very late post.

Last month, I joined a workshop where we were taught how to make a plush toy. I must admit my embroidering skills are a bit rusty. All went well, though. Now, I can’t wait to start on another sewing project!

The sewing workshop was an "owling" (howling) success.

The sewing workshop was an “owling” (howling) success.

DIY Notebook: Installing Cabinet Doors

I had to install the doors of a small cabinet on my own. I don’t normally back away from projects that require assembling furniture, except that this one’s a little unstable to begin with. For support, I angled one side of the cabinet away from the wall and pushed the other end against it.

One of the disadvantages of out-of-the-box products (like these) is that alignment of pieces may not always be up to par. These doors, for example, will ‘tilt’ downward and drag over the lower jamb if you simply screw them to the hinges. To hold them up during the installation, I inserted a folded piece of thick paper under both doors.

The cabinet doors that took nearly an hour each to install.

The cabinet doors that took nearly an hour each to install.

The original door handles are made of metal. They actually remind me of those chrome bumpers from yesteryears. While they reflect light, too, I opted for these ‘glass knobs’ because they look more feminine, and the delicate lines complement those on the beadboard paneling.

The delicate lines of the 'glass knobs' complement those on the beadboard paneling.

The delicate lines of the ‘glass knobs’ complement those on the beadboard paneling.

How to Hang a Picture Frame

There are so many resources on the Internet on how to hang a picture frame that this post shouldn’t even be here. I want to take note of it, though, so that someday, I can look back and say, “I did that?”

Credit: I got the idea to use “Velcro Removable Picture Hangers” from a friend who also loves DIY projects. Thank you!

Tools and materials needed:
• Velcro Removable Picture Hangers – Make sure you choose the product that matches the weight of the item you’ll be hanging.
• Level or what I call a level bar
• Ruler, pencil

Stanley 'Torpedo' Level

Stanley ‘Torpedo’ Level

How I did it:
• Position the frame where you want it to hang. Mark key points on the wall using your ruler and pencil.
• Position the Velcro strips on your frame as you would when you’re using regular hooks.
• Note: the Velcro strips and their matching soft sides are not the same size. What I did was, after cutting the strip to the desired size, I stuck it onto the soft side (which is slightly bigger all around) and cut that to match the length and width of the hook and loop.
• After putting the Velcro strips and matching sticky backs in place, go back to the spot on the wall that you had marked. Place the frame on that spot.
• Sometimes, you can eyeball if the item is at the right height and won’t be hanging at an awkward angle. If you don’t trust estimates (or “guess-timates,” as some would say), use the level. The bubble moving to the left and right of the vial will help ensure your picture frame – or whatever it is that you’re planning to hang – will end up exactly how you had envisioned it to be!
• Once you’re satisfied, remove the protective coverings on the sticky backs and firmly press the frame against the wall. Remove the frame again by moving it up and away. (That’s what the instructions on the package say.)
• Initially placing the frame on the wall is meant to help you ‘mark’ the soft-side backs. Now that they’re ‘exposed,’ cover them with a small piece of paper and run your fingers over them to make them adhere better.
• Wait for at least an hour before re-attaching the picture frame with the Velcro strips to the soft-side backs. Use the level again if needed.
• Enjoy your handiwork!

End result (1): Frame with clips

End result (1): Frame with clips

End result (2): Frame with unvarnished wood

End result (2): Frame with unvarnished wood

Admission: it took me two hours to put up two ‘frames’ on the wall because I’m a slow simmer kind of DIY person. I don’t mind lingering over steps because for me, they’re just as enjoyable as the end result. I’d much rather take things slowly than regret that I rushed through a project.

Random Thoughts: Recycle, Repurpose, Upcycle

When I’m not writing letters or not putting together tokens for mailing, I usually turn my room upside down to look for items that can be discarded, given away or recycled.

I think I’m pretty good at giving away things, especially if I haven’t used them in over a year or if I’ve no use for them at all. Similarly, I’d give myself a “B” for reusing items (e.g. PET soda bottles, plastic bags, corrugated boxes in good condition) as long as possible.

Magazine glossies reborn as Valentine’s Day envelopes (sent in 2011)

Magazine glossies reborn as Valentine’s Day envelopes (sent in 2011)

I’d love to see the day, though, when I have more time in my hands so I can indulge in repurposing and upcycling projects. The mirror I salvaged from a second-hand store, for example, is still waiting for the rest of its old paint to come off. (Sigh)

To recycle, repurpose, and upcycle: it’s not because I don’t want to spend on things that I know I’ll eventually grow tired of. It’s just that I think it’s a cool idea to be able to max out the usage and benefits I get from something I bought, say, a blouse. I also like thrift store shopping, and many of those I’ve been to (and you’ve been to, as well) are teeming with finds waiting for a second chance at life. My latest ‘fantasy’ (if you will) is to turn pretty cups and saucers into fancy pots and planter bases. If only I have the time (there it is again!) to learn how to drill so I can make drainage holes at the bottom of those cups.

The mirror project and any DIY activity that involves paint have been suspended for now. (Sad) I recently dug up a decorative pie pan, however, and repurposed that as a catch-all for letters and stray pens on my work space at home. Admittedly, there’s a pretty tin tray that I saw at the home section of a department store I recently visited. I decided against buying it because, well, I have two of those decorative pie pans I mentioned earlier! And they’re just the right size for my work space. No point in buying something new when I can reuse what I have on hand.

It takes discipline to embrace this lifestyle. But personally, it’s liberating to know that not everything new and shiny has the power to influence me (to buy).

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