Category Archives: How-To


I’ve been hiding a pair of old, stained white shoes in my closet for months while I waited for inspiration to strike. In the meantime I tried scrubbing them and got the worst of the stains out, but the toes were permanently yellowed. The shoes themselves are in great condition though (white shoes always look way worse earlier than other shoes). Last weekend I finally pulled out my acrylic paints and gel glue leftover from my previous forays into fabric painting and got busy…

First, I wanted to do a design on the toe so I drew a pattern that I wanted to keep white (well… as white as the toes are to start with) with the gel glue and let that dry.

Then I mixed the acrylic paints together to make a nice teal blue and blue/gray color. I watered both of these down until they were about 6 parts water to one part paint. This guaranteed that the paint wouldn’t make the shoes too stiff or saturated with pigment.

You can see the glue acting as a resist to the blue paint on the toes. After the shoes dried for two days I soaked them in hot water and took a good, stiff scrub brush to them to get the glue off. I stuffed the shoes with newspaper to help them dry faster and in a nice, foot shape. Three days later, they are ready to wear!

I’m pretty happy with the whole process but there are definitely things I would do differently next time. First, I would stuff the shoes with newspaper before applying the glue. When I tried to wash the stains off the first time I let the shoes dry in a funny, wrinkled shape. This made getting a nice, even design on the toe super difficult. I also would have used white acrylic paint to hide some of the stains as well before gluing. Fortunately, it looks like the glue actually took the worst of the stains with it when I scrubbed it off! Now I’m ready for spring with a pair of fun new shoesies…


This is an absolutely GENIUS way of making patches for your clothes! Karen Barbe has some really beautiful examples of her weaving (which is why I was following her blog in the first place) and her tutorial for making these simple woven patches has me all excited and anxious to find some holes in my clothes so I can patch patch patch! Plus, I love this photo. I always appreciate it when a tutorial conveys all the bits and pieces of the process in photos so that I don’t even need the wordy part! Lovely…

Hew & Sew

A brand spakin’ new blog! I wanted a space I could use to exercise my mad tutorial-writing skills. Let’s just keep this space for all that other fun stuff I mess around with day to day… shall we? Head on over to Hew & Sew and learn all about dying fabric with snow and Kool-Aid…


I’ve been hitting up the Kool-Aid again…

I recently inherited a crock pot (thank you!) and I’ve taken it on a maiden voyage. Not with the usual beans, soups and hunks of best essay writing service reviews meaty bits, mind you. I’ll be cooking beans and soups in it this winter but I have more pressing needs in the mean time involving bland white wool and wee packages of instant happy. Kool-Aid! There is a wonderful tutorial about dying with Kool-Aid here, so I won’t go into the whole process, just bits here and there.

Read on if you want the color key to the skeins above:

The mouth-puckeringly red red at the back of the photo was covered with Black Cherry and a little tiny bit of the Orange. Just a smidge.

The peachy color was from and exhaust bath (someone had already used the water to dye something mouth-puckeringly orange + a little red and had some colored water left over) with a little bit of Lemonade and Pink Lemonade sprinkled over it.

The red stripped skein was dyed with Black Cherry with 1/2 submerged in a very dye-intense water bath, then 1/4 in a mildly dye-infused bath and then the last bit submerged in a very watery dye bath. Nice, no?

The green and yellow were from straight-up Lemonade and Lemon Lime.

The purpley-blue is from the Grape “flavored” Kool-Aid. 1/2 the skein was submerged with Grape sprinkled heavily over it and the other 1/2 was dipped in the exhaust bath afterward. Turns out the pinks and blues in the purple coloring like to separate, leaving a neat speckled coloration.

Happy Winter Everyone!

Welcome One, Welcome All!

The new students arrived on the 8th! It was so nice to see everyone after spending the past six months working with their files and the whole first week of September in Residence Life training… it was almost a relief to finally have people out and about campus. I decided that I wanted to have a welcome sign to hang in front of Merlin on move-in day. I threw a batiking party in the spring and thought I might be able to make some quick bunting using the same technique.

I printed W-E-L-C-O-M-E out on heavy cardstock and cut letters out to make stencils. Then I cut 7 pieces of white cotton fabric into roughly 8×11 inch rectangles. I held the make-shift stencils somewhere towards the middle-bottom of the fabric squares and, using a thick paintbrush, brushed over the stencils with Elmer’s Water Soluble Gel glue so that I had an even, thick layer. For the “O” and two “E”s I just held the centers of the letters in place with one hand and painted the glue on with the other.

I think painting the glue on worked much better than drawing onto the fabric straight from the nozzle of the glue bottle. It’s less wet and meant that the letter’s didn’t smudge or drip as much.

I set them on a wire rack to dry for a few hours then I got out my acrylic paints and a foam brush. I mixed some colors that I liked and watered them down to about 50-60% their original paintiness. I spread some newspaper on the sidewalk and, making sure the glue-side is up (I forgot on the second “E” and had to paint BOTH sides. It’s a little duller, but still legible) I just painted right onto the fabric. I hung each square on the clothesline and let them dry.

After three hours I filled a sink with hot, soapy water and hand washed each piece of fabric. It was so much fun watching the letters re-appear bright white from under the paint when the glue washed out! Instead of waiting for the to dry I took a hot iron to them and quickly dried them that way.

To make them an even size with actually measuring anything I cut a rough piece of cardstock in a 4×7 inch rectangle. Then I flipped the first letter over so that it was right-side down. I put the paper rectangle on top of the fabric so that the white letter was where I wanted it on the end rectangle and folded each side over the paper, as if I were wrapping a present. I pressed each side with iron and then slipped the paper out so that I could use it on the next letter. When all of the panels were pressed, I quickly sewed up along the edges with the sewing machine. Easy peasy!

I just tied them to a piece of string along their tops so that I could reposition them along the length if I needed to. And voila! It only took me an hour of actual crafting. It doesn’t get much easier!

Crafty How-To’s {Paperback to Hardback}

I found a tutorial featured over on Craftzine this morning that shows how to take a ratty paperback book and turn it into a really nice hardcover book. I think I’ll try it on a particularly sad copy of Watership Down that I’ve been reading to pieces since I was seven. All it takes is some stiff cardboard, fabric and a glue stick… too easy!

Crafty How-To’s -The Beginning-

The more time I spend behind some sort of desk, the more time I have to dream up and research new crafty ventures. So, in appreciation of all the crafters who put up free tutorials and how-to’s on the internet, I’m going to start posting neat projects that I find so that you can marvel at all of the wonderful things we can make along with with me!

The First Tutorial -Knit Apple Cozy-

Once in a while, I’ll pop an apple into my bag and tote it around with me for a few days before I remember that it’s in there. By then the apple has been bruised, punctured and generally mauled. I still eat them, or feed them to Linus however I think it would be just dandy to slip them into a little knit apple jacket (say the words “apple jacket” and try to keep the smile on your face… bet you can’t!). I did a little poking around the grand thing we call the internets and found an etsy shop, Handamade that sells them and a free tutorial on how to make them over at the Vegan Lunchbox. I haven’t had a chance to make one yet but the tutorial looks pretty accurate and I’d love to see how the wee jacket turns out if anyone decides to knit one up!

Photo from Handamade

Apple Cozy

from Vegan Lunchbox

100% cotton 4-ply worsted weight yarn, such as Sugar’n Cream or Lion
Brand Kitchen Cotton: one ball main color and a small amount of
contrasting color for the leaf.
One set of 4 double-pointed needles in size 7 (4.5 mm) or size to
obtain gauge.
Size H crochet hook.
One ½-inch (15 mm) button.
20 sts = 4 inches (10 cm) in stockinette
Designed to fit around a small (medium, large) apple.
K1: knit.
P1: purl.
M1: insert the working needle from front to back under the
horizontal strand between the stitch just worked and the next stitch;
place this strand on the holding needle and knit the resulting loop
through the back to make a new stitch.
K1f&b: knit one stitch through the front and back, making 2
P2tog: purl two stitches together, making 1 stitch.
K2tog: knit two stitches together, making 1 stitch.
Sl1: slip one stitch knitwise onto the working needle without knitting.
PSSO: pass the slipped stitch over the next stitch.
Cast on 9 (12, 12) stitches in main color. Divide evenly onto three needles
(3 (4, 4) stitches on each needle). Join in the round.
Round 1: Knit all stitches.
Round 2: On each needle, K1, M1, knit to last stitch, M1, K1.
Round 3: Knit all stitches.
Repeat these two rounds, increasing every other round and maintaining
stockinette stitch (knit all stitches) until you have 42 (48, 54) stitches total
(14 (16, 18) stitches on each needle).
Knit 2 (3, 4) rounds even.
Now it’s time to stop knitting in the round. Instead, turn the work and begin
knitting back and forth and decreasing:
Row 1 (wrong side): On each needle, P2tog, purl to end.
Row 2 (right side): On each needle, K2tog, knit to end.
Repeat these two rows until you have 15 stitches left (5 on each needle).
Cast off.
Make the Leaf:
Cast on 3 stitches in contrasting color.
Row 1 (right side): K all stitches.
Row 2 (wrong side): P all stitches.
Row 3: K1f&b, K1, K1f&b (5 stitches).
Row 4 – 6: P all stitches on wrong side, K on right side.
Row 7: K2tog, K1, K2tog.
Row 8: P all stitches.
Row 9: Sl1, K2tog, PSSO. Break yarn and BO final stitch.
Thread the tail yarn and use it to cinch up the bottom 12 stitches. Attach
the button near the top of the apple at one side of the opening. Use the
crochet hook to crochet a 10 (12, 12) st. single-chain loop and attach it
opposite the button. Attach the leaf along the top border. Weave in all
Pear Variation:
To make a Pear Cozy, follow the instructions above to the point where you
have 15 stitches left (5 on each needle). Add 4 (5, 6) extra rows of
stockinette (knit on the right side, purl on the wrong side). Cast off. Finish
as for apple.

*As with any and all free tutorials/patterns/how-to’s you should always read the designer’s notes about how they would like to see their design reproduced. Many designs are not for profit or commercial sale/use. If that happens to be the case, go ahead and make one or 100 for yourself or as gifties for other people, just respect the designer’s wishes. Thanks, and happy crafting!

Batik Madness

I’ve been wracking my brains, trying to come up with an easy, fun and social dorm activity that everyone can do AND that results in a product that will leave the common spaces much, much prettier than they are right now. They’re rather barren and no fun to hang out in. Then I read about how to do batik with kids.

Traditionally, batik is a method of dying fabric that utilizes hot wax on fabric to create a design that remains white once the fabric is dyed and the wax is removed. It’s a beautiful technique but hard to do because of the hot wax, hot dye and large amount of time and skill that is required…

Until you replace hot wax with washable Elmer’s glue and dye with watered down acrylic paint. Then it’s a fast, easy and immensely teachable technique! I got the idea from Craftzine who got the idea from the blog This Artist Woman. I got enough materials for everyone in the dorm (21 people) to make two murals, one per floor. At less than $20 this wound up being a really easy and inexpensive way to get everyone together. Now, we haven’t done it yet but I did do my own test swatch so that I have something to show everybody when we do start to roll up our sleeves and get cracking. This is the example of batik on Craftzine that caught my eye in the first place:

This is a really pretty example. All of the white lines were created by drawing that pattern out with glue on the fabric, letting it dry, painting acrylic paint on, letting that dry, washing the glue off and then voila! It’s done! So I gave it a try…

This is a small swatch of fabric, about five inches wide and two feet long. I’ve applied the glue and the paint here and I’m waiting for it to dry before I wash the glue out.

And here is the finished piece! The white areas really glow when the fabric is held up to the light and I think this would be a great way to make some curtains later on down the road.

I would really recommend this project and the tutorial over at The Artist Woman. It’s concise, easy to follow and the process is easy enough for school children to do. Plus the finished product looks so good, it’s hard not to get excited about the whole idea.

I can’t wait to see what the dorm winds up painting on their fabric murals. I’ll be posting pictures as soon as they get going!