DIY Home: Front Door Wreath for Under $10

DIY Front Door Wreath
A simple, versatile front door wreath for less than 10 bucks? Sounds pretty good, right? It’s possible–and it’s easy!

A few weekends ago, we decided that our front porch needed a sprucing up. So we got hanging baskets of flowers, replaced the cushions on the loveseat and chairs for something more colorful, and added complementary throw pillows. Those things are not inexpensive. The finishing touch was a homemade wreath hanging on the door. And it cost me less than $10 to make.

All I needed was a wreath form (I bought mine at Walmart for $7–it’s the flat foam kind and it’s 15″ in diameter, but there are many varieties to choose from) and some scraps of fabric from my stash. I chose four batik-y fabrics and cut them into 1.5″ strips, maybe about 12″ long. There’s a lot of leeway here. Choose whatever fabrics match the season, your house, your personal taste…whatever! Then, all I did was sew the strips, small end to small end, with a quick pass on my sewing machine. You’re essentially making one REALLY long, skinny chain of fabric strips. I made a pattern with my colors because I’m a Type A personality, but it can also be random. Remember to turn your fabric ends right sides together so that when you don’t see the stitching from the front. Doesn’t even need to be perfect stitching because no one will see it. I really guessed at overall length here–it’s based on how large your wreath form is and how tightly you’re going to overlap the fabrics. But don’t despair, if you come up short (and I did), you can sew another chain and then attach it to the last one on your wreath.

Next, I anchored one strip to the wreath form using a couple straight pins from my sewing basket. I anchored it on the back of the form so that it would be hidden. Then I wrapped the fabric around the form, overlapping my fabric about half the width of the strips (personal choice). When I got back to the beginning, I anchored the last piece using one last pin to secure it to the back of the form so no one would see it. Finally, I took a larger piece of one of my fabrics (approximately 2″ x 14″) and fold it in half lengthwise, right sides together. Then I sewed along the edge and pulled it right side out, making a flat tube of fabric. I used this as the hanger (see picture–I just put it on the wreath and folded the top edges into themselves and stitched). I found a suction cup in our junk drawer and attached that to the glass in our front door. This wreath is very light, so it doesn’t need much to hang. You could also use a regular wreath hanger or a Command hook.

That’s it!

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DIY Home: Coasters, Coasters, Coasters!

coasters
I came across several tutorials on Pinterest before the holidays and thought that DIY coaster sets would make excellent gifts for neighbors, teachers, and friends. (I also made a couple sets for myself.) I should point out that, in my opinion, this is a very easy craft, but it’s time-consuming, and larger quantities are your friend. I suggest you make a ton at one time because you won’t want to go back and do this over again.

What I love about this project is that you can make it as customized as you’d like. I used scrapbook paper for mine. But you could use maps, wrapping paper, etc. But be warned to not use anything you print out on your home printer because the colors will bleed. Here’s a list of supplies:

  • 4.25″ x 4.25″ white bathroom tiles from Home Depot (I think they’re like 16 cents each…get extra in case you mess up)
  • scrapbook paper (or wrapping paper, whatever…)
  • paper cutter
  • Mod Podge (I got mine from Michael’s and used “matte”)
  • sponge brush
  • clear acrylic sealant (again, purchased mine from Michael’s)
  • roll of cork (purchased at Home Depot by the contact paper/shelf liners)
  • adhesive (I used original Tacky glue in the gold tube)

Note: The cork backing is optional. You could just get some felt and cut it up into small squares to glue to the corners of the underside of the coaster. I prefer to cover the entire bottom of the tile with cork because I think it’s safer for furniture.

I strayed a bit from the tutorials I read, but here’s what I did. I know it seems like a lot of instructions, but I promise it’s really easy!

  1. Cut your paper into squares. I used 4″ x 4″ squares so that my coasters would have a white border, but you could cover the entire top if you’d like.
  2. Spread out all your tiles somewhere you can leave them for a few hours. Spread a thin, even layer of Mod Podge over the surface of your first tile using a sponge brush.
  3. Immediately place your paper square on top, centering as best you can. You literally have like 1.5 seconds to slide your paper around before it sticks, so place it carefully.
  4. Repeat for remaining tiles, one at a time.
  5. Allow Mod Podge to dry (at least 20 minutes).
  6. Spread a thin, even layer of Mod Podge over the entire surface of your first tile (right over the paper that’s affixed there now). Go either left-right or top-bottom and remember which you do.
  7. Repeat with all remaining tiles, applying Mod Podge in the same direction.
  8. Allow Mod Podge to dry (at least 20 minutes).
  9. Spread a thin, even layer of Mod Podge over the entire surface of your first tile again, going in the other direction as the first round (if you did left-right before, apply the Mod Podge top-bottom).
  10. Repeat with all remaining tiles, applying Mod Podge in the same (new) direction.
  11. Allow Mod Podge to dry (at least 20 minutes).
  12. Spread a thin, even layer of Mod Podge over the entire surface of your first tile again, going in the same direction as the first round.
  13. Repeat with all remaining tiles, applying Mod Podge in the (original) direction.
  14. Allow Mod Podge to dry overnight. The coasters’ surface will be tacky now, but the sealant will take care of that.
  15. Take your tiles outside and lay them all out close together. I did this by placing them on a plastic trash bag in the backyard.
  16. Spray and even layer of sealant across all the tiles at once. Follow the instructions on the can for drying time.
  17. Apply two more layers of sealant, allowing time to dry in between.
  18. Once totally dry, cut cork or felt and glue to back of coasters.

I tie them up with pretty ribbon into sets of four. Good luck! Leave me a comment to let me know how they turn out. 🙂

ADVICE: If you stack your coasters to store them, slip some wax of parchment paper in between to prevent the felt or cork from sticking to other coasters. That may not apply to everyone, but I live in south Florida, and it’s hot and humid here. Better safe than sorry.

DIY Holiday: Kid-Friendly Christmas Ornaments (Part 2)

plastic globe ornaments
Have you read my “DIY Holiday: Kid-Friendly Christmas Ornaments (Part 1)” post yet? (Click HERE to view.) I gave you instructions on some super-easy but surprisingly beautiful tissue paper ornaments.

Now, I have some other ideas to share with you. They’re so easy, and you may already have many of the supplies you need:

  • PLASTIC globe ornaments from the craft store (I get mine at Michael’s and they come in three sizes)
  • Assorted red, green, white, and clear beads (I just used whatever was in my stash)
  • Brightly colored feathers (from the craft store)
  • Glitter balls (I got these at Michael’s after Halloween on clearance–apparently, silver, green, and purple are now Halloween colors)
  • Yarn/twine (I used red and green yarn plus regular old twine)
  • Thin ribbon (to create a hanger)
  • Small-ish jingle bells (optional)

All you have to do is set out all the supplies for the kids. Then, remove the ornament caps and let the kids put everything inside the ornaments. (Obviously, some of these supplies post a choking hazard, so if your kids are really little, you’ll need to be extra careful.)

Then, you can put the cap back on. Again, I like to string a jingle bell onto a ribbon and use the ribbon to make a hanger as an extra touch. And since we’re using plastic globes, even if your kids drop them on the floor while making them (which happened in our house!), they should survive the fall.

There’s still time to make these before Christmas! Good luck!

DIY Holiday: Christmas Ornaments (Part 2)

christmas carol ornament
Here’s an idea for a simple and unique (albeit a bit time-consuming) Christmas ornament that you can make yourself with only a few supplies.

I’d seen this idea on Pinterest as a “kissing ball”, but with plain white paper and yellow pins. I thought it would make a beautiful Christmas ornament instead with a few tweaks. Here’s what you need:

  • Styrofoam ball from the craft store (about the size of a baseball)
  • Sheet music of your favorite Christmas carol (I just printed this out from my computer)
  • Flower-shaped paper punch (I had to purchase that at Michael’s specifically for this project)
  • Straight pins with colored heads (bought on Amazon, but I’m sure you could find them at your local fabric store)
  • Flower-shaped sequins (optional–found mine at Michael’s)
  • Ribbon (to make the hanger)
  • Glue

First, punch out a bunch of flowers from the sheets. Then, thread onto a needle one sequin and then one paper flower. Dip the tip of the pin in glue and insert into the styrofoam ball. Continue until you the entire ornament is covered, being careful to space out all the colors. When you’re done, you’ll need to add a hanger. I used some Christmas ribbon from my stash and connected the ends by overlapping (see photo). Then, I dipped a pin in glue and anchored it that way.

That’s it! These do take a bit of time, but I think the end result is beautiful!

DIY Holiday: Christmas Ornaments (Part 1)

spiral tree ornament
As you know, I really enjoy making my own Christmas ornaments. Here’s a cute Christmas tree ornament I came up with last week.

All you need is some wire (any gauge sturdy enough to hold its shape but pliable enough to be easily manipulated–I just used some I found in my craft bin in my closet), some beads, and needle nose pliers. I used “starflake” green beads as the main component of this ornament. I find these at A.C. Moore and I have them in green, clear, and red. They’re great for all kinds of Christmas crafts and I’ve NEVER been able to find these beads at any other craft store or online. Then, for the “ornaments” on the tree, I used a mix of random red, green, white, and clear beads I found in my stash. The gold bead at the top is a pony bead. If you don’t have gold, you could use silver, clear, or yellow.

For my ornament, I used a total of 30 green starflake beads, 1 gold pony bead, and 16 random smaller beads to represent mini-ornaments on the tree. I cut about an 11-inch piece of wire for that amount of beads (I like to err on the side of caution) and strung the beads on in a random order. You can absolutely use different amounts of beads than I used if you want a larger ornament. My ornament turned out to be about 3.5″ tall.

To start your ornament, I recommend stringing on the first bead (in my case, a gold pony bead), and then folding the wire back over and twisting it to secure that top bead (see picture). Then, just string on the rest of your beads until the ornament is a large as you want it. Then, snip the wire about 1″ from the last bead and twist that wire into concentric circles as far as you can. Then, I use the tip of the needle nose pliers to push the concentric circles against the bottom of the last bead to lock it in place. The final step is to twist the ornament into a corkscrew and add a ribbon hanger through the top bead. Viola!

DIY Holiday: Kid-Friendly Christmas Ornaments (Part 1)

tissue paper ornaments
I do so love making Christmas ornaments. And this year, I realized I have an ornament buddy–my four-year-old son! I had no idea he’d love it so much, but he thoroughly enjoys creating his masterpieces.

So I thought about what kinds of ornaments we could do together. What would be easy, kid-friendly, and beautiful? I came up with several ideas, all of which I’ll post on this blog. (Normally, I only post twice a week, but leading up to Christmas, posts will be more frequent.)

Here’s the first kind of ornament we tried: Tissue Paper Ornaments! They look beautiful on our tree and they make terrific gifts for grandparents as well. These ornaments are so easy that your kids can absolutely do these by themselves. Here’s your list of supplies:

  • PLASTIC globe ornaments from the craft store (I get mine at Michael’s and they come in three sizes)
  • Assorted tissue paper, all colors
  • Thin ribbon (to create a hanger)
  • Small-ish jingle bells (optional)

So what I did was set my son up at the table and lay out all the supplies he needed. I made one with him so he knew what to do, and then he took over. I probably have two dozen of these now. More than I need, of course, but the supplies are so inexpensive and he has so much fun being creative. Plus, he’s so proud to show off his work to anyone who will look.

Remove the ornament caps. Then, all the kids have to do is tear up the tissue paper into small pieces, maybe 1.5″ square (there’s a lot of room for error here). Then they can either squish the tissue paper tightly to form balls, or they can just crinkle the paper enough to give it dimension. Then, just stick the paper in the ornament, piece by piece. Since the ornaments are plastic, you don’t have to worry about glass breaking and any little fingers getting cut. Then, you can put the cap back on. I like to string a jingle bell onto a ribbon and use the ribbon to make a hanger as an extra touch. If you have more than one child, you could get fancy and use a glitter pen to write an initial on the ornament so the kids can tell which ornaments are theirs.

That’s it! Simple, right?

DIY Home: Pillowcases

pillowcases
This week, I sewed my first pillowcases. I was a bit intimidated at first, but thought, “How difficult can it be? It’s just a rectangle.” And if I can figure it out, ANYONE can figure it out. Here’s how to make your own pillowcases.

I had some 100% cotton fabric leftover from when I made valances for my son’s bedroom and playroom. He loves Richard Scarry characters (Huckle Cat, Lowly Worm, Hilda Hippo, etc.), and I was actually able to find fabrics featuring those characters. I had enough fabric to make two pillowcases: one with dark blue as the main fabric with an accent of light blue, and the other vice versa.

I began by searching online to find standard sizes for pillowcases. Here’s what I came up with. Standard: 20″ × 26″, Queen: 20″ × 30″, King: 20″ × 36″. Then, I realized that I just could have gone into my son’s room and taken his current pillowcases off and measured them. (Duh!) That’s probably a better way to do it, because if your current pillowcases are a bit too small or too large for your particular pillow, you can tweak the measurements.

Basically, for each pillowcase, we’re going to sew a big rectangle and a small rectangle together to make one huge rectangle, twice. Then, we’re going to set those two huge rectangles together, flip it right side out, and we’re done! Easy peasey. This is even easier if you have fabric that’s uniform (without a pattern running in one direction)–mine was not uniform, so it was a little more difficult, but it’s doable. These instructions assume a queen pillowcase and 1/2″ seam allowance, but you can adjust for whichever size you have.

Instructions:

  1. Cut two rectangles for your main fabric, 21″ x 26″. If your fabric has a pattern, make sure it’s running wide across the cut. Cut two more rectangles for your accent fabric, 21″ x 8″. Make sure your fabric is running properly, up or down before you cut.
  2. Iron all individual pieces. Pin one large and one small rectangle together along one of the 21″ sides, right sides together. Sew together, making sure to reverse stitch at the ends to secure everything.
  3. Repeat Step 2 with your other rectangles.
  4. Now we’ll put a hem on the accent fabric. I used a 2.5″ hem. Fold the accent fabric back 2.5″ and iron a crease. Sew your hem into place. I like to sew with the wrong side of the fabric facing up so that I can see the hemline I’m trying to follow.
  5. You should now have a rectangle that’s 21″ x 30.5″.
  6. I recommend re-ironing everything at this point. I also like to open the seam between the main and accent fabric and iron flat while I’m ironing the rest of the fabric. I don’t think this step is necessary, but it makes the fabric lay flatter. If you’re feeling really industrious, you can actually sew again along each side of the seam you just ironed flat, which would make your seam very strong.
  7. Now pin your huge rectangles, right sides together, accent fabric along the same side, and sew around three sides, making sure to back stitch at the beginning and the end. Leave the short side with the hem open for inserting the pillow.
  8. Trim loose thread, flip pillowcase inside out, and iron. You’re done with one pillowcase!
  9. If you’re making another and your fabric has a uniform pattern, you can just repeat the above instructions. If you’re fabric runs a particular way, here’s my warning (and I messed this up during my trial run). Remember that you’ll probably put the pillows on the bed with both open ends facing either out or in. That means you can’t repeat exactly what you did before. You’ll need to attach your accent fabric to your main fabric on the main fabric’s opposite 21″ side as your first pillowcase so that everything is facing the right way. Fortunately, I caught my error in the pinning stage rather than after I’d sewed something together.

Good luck! I’d love to see some pictures if you try this idea. Please email to carolyn@carolyncrowndesigns.com.

DIY Holiday: Shoe Organizer Advent Calendar


This advent calendar is one of my all-time favorite Christmas decorations I’ve ever made. And it’s SO simple!! All you need is a 24-pocket shoe organizer and some creativity to make this adorable advent calendar. (I purchased this organizer at Target for under $20.) In each pocket, I place a small gift (a Hot Wheels car, stickers, Christmas socks, etc.). My four-year-old son loves running for this in the morning to see what surprise awaits him.

I created the red and green numbers on my computer and printed them onto iron-on transfer sheets to add them to the pockets, but you have lots of options: for example, puffy paint, fabric pens, stamps, sewed-on or ironed-on felt numbers. The kids can help to decorate it, too!

Plus, you can mix up the numbers randomly or start at 24 and go down to 1. The sky’s the limit! If you try this craft, please email me a photo at carolyn@carolyncrowndesigns.com. I’d love to see what you come up with!

DIY Holiday: Grilled Christmas Ornaments


I love to make my own Christmas ornaments. In fact, almost every ornament on our tree is homemade. And I’ve tried a bunch of new techniques this year, including these awesome melted Christmas ornaments I made on our grill out back. I’ll be sharing many of the others on this blog over the next month.

Here is the ORIGINAL POST that inspired my idea.

Now, I’m calling this a Holiday Craft and a Kid Craft, but obviously, the children should only be involved in the prep work. I’ll explain what to do below, and honestly, it’s so easy (and they’re so beautiful), you’ll want to make a hundred of them. All you need is a large package of pony beads, a muffin pan, and a grill.

Note #1: I didn’t want to use my good bakeware for this, so I bought a cheap muffin pan at Target for $5.
Note #2: I’m sure you could use your oven instead of a grill, but I was worried about stinky melted plastic fumes in the house, so I decided to try the grill.

Instructions:

  1. Fill your muffin pan with pony beads. These are just standard pony beads that I purchased in a “value pack” at Michaels. It’s important to fill them only one layer thick, and don’t pack them in there. Leave a little breathing room so that there’s space to melt flat. Otherwise, you’ll get a big lip around your ornament, and (trust me) it’s not pretty. You can use whatever colors you’d like, I made some red/white/green, some pink/purple, and most of them were just random.
  2. Fire up your grill! I have a gas grill and the temperature was around 400 degrees, and that seemed to work great.
  3. Once the grill reaches your desired temperature, pop your muffin tin on there. I closed the lid for the first few minutes and then left the cover open so I could tell when they were ready.
  4. Watch carefully. Once all the beads have completely melted, you’re done! Mine probably took about 5-6 minutes total.
  5. Remove the tin from the grill (it will be VERY hot) and allow to cool. Once everything is completely cool, you can just reach in with your finger and they’ll slide out. Seriously, it’s that easy. It’s quite amazing, actually. I was fully expecting to have to pry them out, but they just popped out cleanly.
  6. Now comes the only tricky part. I had my husband do this final step for me. You need to drill a small hole to insert a ribbon through to use as a hanger. My husband used the smallest drill bit we had. I know, it totally seems like they’ll break under the pressure, but they’re surprisingly sturdy. My four-year-old son accidentally dropped one on the floor, and it didn’t even crack.

Now, just string a ribbon through and hang on your tree! I’d try to arrange them so that they hang in front of a light so that all the colors can shine. Have fun and let me know if you try! I’d love to see some pictures.

DIY Home: Kitchen Towels


For those who don’t know, I began sewing a couple years ago (for the first time in my life). I taught myself on my mom’s Kenmore sewing machine that was older than I am, literally. It basically had two stitches: forward and reverse. So when I got my fancy brand new machine for Christmas last year, boy was I excited! Since then, I’ve been trying to broaden my portfolio of sewing projects. I made all the valances for my house and I recently made my first tote bag.

And now, these adorable kitchen towels! I used THIS TUTORIAL. If you read closely, depending on your fabric, you may be able to make 4 towels from the fabric supply list. That’s what I did. I purchased 4 sets of fabric (main + accent) and was able to make 16 towels from that. I did need to order extra twill tape, per the instructions. (Note: Don’t do what I did and forget to purchase matching thread. Fortunately, I found what I needed buried in my sewing bin, but that was a total oversight on my part.)

Once you get the pattern down once, you can move quickly. I never have enough time, so I’m not above taking a shortcut or two. My shortcut for this project was that I chose fabrics that could all be sewn with the same color thread. That way, I didn’t need to spend time rethreading my machine and making bobbins. That worked for all but the black breakfast sandwich fabric. I made that the last one I worked on for the same reason.

So, two towels from each fabric set are Christmas gifts for my mom, my mother-in-law, my brother (the breakfast sandwiches, of course), and my son’s babysitter. The other pairs from each fabric set are going up for sale in the carolyncrowndesigns ONLINE STORE.

They really are cute and useful and would make a great holiday gift for anyone! Happy sewing!