Category Archives: Craftiness

Tambourine Surgery

Catherine got a great little music set for her birthday. She loves making music and the instruments have been well loved and used over the last few months. Most of them have held up very well, the exception being the skin on the tambourine. I think she punched through it in the first week.


I made a couple attempts to repair the poor thing, mostly using clear packing tape. But, sadly, they were only stopgap measures and didn’t hold up. I brainstormed for a while and finally came up with a new solution.


First, I needed to remove the old skin. The glue holding it on was extremely good. I was really only able to remove the ‘loose’ portion. The bit around the edges would have to stay.

Next, I opened up a Tyvek mailing envelope from the USPS and cut a circle just larger than the diameter of the tambourine. A bead of Elmer’s glue on the top rim was used to affix the Tyvek. I put a couple books on top and left it to dry.

Once the top was dry I tacked down the edges. Got a little gluey and messy, but most good projects do!

Hopefully this new skin will be a bit more durable than the first, but probably won’t be worse. And if it gets broken again I know I can always repair it!

First Winter Preparation…

Have you heard that the Old Farmers Almanac is predicting a particularly cold winter this year? OFA forecasts are prepared two years in advance, which leaves a lot of room for error. In our neck of the woods, however, winter can usually be counted on to be cold.

With the cost of heating the way it is, we’re already planning for the chilly weather. I finished up a little project this weekend to help keep Catherine toasty at night: flannel sheets! Flannel sheets are always a little nicer to climb into on frosty winter nights.

I’ve mentioned before that I like to find a second hand source for the things I need/want whenever possible. This project was no different, so I paid a visit to a new store in my grocery plaza- Savers. I’ve heard tell of Savers from friends in other parts of the country, but this is the first one around here. It is sort of a nicer, more organized Thrift Shop.

I quickly came across what I needed, a queen sized flannel sheet for the low, low price of $3.99. I snatched it up and ran it through the wash. Then, using this tutorial, and some too-wide (but all I had) elastic, I set to work. I was able to get on crib sized fitted sheet and an average sized pillowcase out of the one sheet. Had I planned better and wasn’t so set on reusing the manufacturer’s hems I might have been able to get a second sheet. Next time around I think I could make due with just a full sized sheet to start out with.


All told, the cutting and sewing probably took me 2 hours. The sheets fit her little bed perfectly and I can’t wait for her to snuggle in this winter.

Summer Dress: the Sequel

The cute stripey dress I made last week (Yes, I think it is fabric from Ikea! Thanks, Kinda!) was really just a practice project for another dress that I’ve had in mind for some time now.

The story. (There’s always a story, isn’t there?) Way back in college…7 years ago… I bought a cute little skirt. I loved it and I wore it a lot and then all of a sudden I didn’t like it. I mean, I didn’t like it as a skirt anymore. I still loved the fabric and couldn’t bear to part with it.

From college, to my parents, to Beverly and finally to Danvers it traveled with no specific purpose in mind other than “someday I will use this fabric for something.” It survived massive rounds of purging and organizing and evaded many bags bound for the Salvation Army. “I will use this someday!” I continued to tell myself. The skirt’s saving grace was that it was small and light and easy to tuck into a box or drawer. By being so cute and being stealthy the skirt outlived all of its comrades.

dress front

With this dress as inspiration, I knew that my skirt was destined to become a summer dress for Catherine. Having already tested out my “trace the dress on the fabric, cut and sew” theory I went forward with confidence onto dress number two.

dress back

I was particularly careful with this dress, as I wanted to try and preserve the skirt’s original hem. I was successful and was also able to position the dress so that I could also make use of the original zipper right up the back! With this dress I only had to sew the side seams, finish the neck and arm holes and connect the shoulders. It really did work out quite nicely.

Reusable Tulle Produce Bags

Lately, I’ve been noticing that more and more people at our local Market Basket have been using reusable grocery bags. I think it is great! We’ve been using our cloth bags exclusively for some time now and have been very happy. Recently, I’ve decided that it is time to go whole hog and I’m no longer going to use those little plastic produce bags.

I’ve been putting larger or single items right in the top basket in my carriage, but it is hard to buy several lemons or green beans without putting them in a bag. Why not use a reusable bag for these items as well as the rest of my groceries? It’s a great idea and there are several mesh, gauze and tulle bags for sale out there specifically for this purpose.

But,before I buy anything I look to see if I have something that can serve the same purpose, or can be crafted to my needs. (then I try to find it secondhand from Freecycle or a Thrift Shop and lastly, I buy it new) In this case, I knew that I had some tulle in my fabric box that would fit the bill. It is a dark, hunter green tulle that I was especially happy to reuse. In fact, it has lived a couple lives already! It started out as a little shawl for my friend Joanna’s wedding. I wound up with three bridesmaid’s shawls and once we got back home they shawls quickly became window valances in our ‘office/sewing room/ nursery. They hung in the windows for the next five years! One of the three had a brief career as the arms of my Princess Fiona costume, Halloween 2006. They’ve been in a box since we moved just waiting for the perfect opportunity to be used again.


I made myself several little drawstring bags from the shawl/curtain/sleeves. Then I tucked them into my shopping bag where they sat until their maiden voyage today. I am happy to report that my new produce bags worked out quite nicely. The cashier didn’t even bat an eye as she rang up my tomatoes and other veggies. The tulle is strong enough to carry produce in and translucent enough to read the PLU numbers on the veggies’ stickers. Nice.


It will probably take a few more shopping trips before using these bags becomes second nature. I’m sure, though, that like recycling, shutting off the water while I brush and using canvas shopping bags, soon I’ll have forgotten how ‘new’ it was to bring my own produce bags.

Homecoming Day

Today marks two years since we were able to bring Catherine home from the hospital.

Here we are on June 10, 2006

and now, June 10, 2008

In celebration, I spent her naptime sewing her a new dress. She has this dress that I love and have been wanting to copy and make her more of. I came across a great piece of fabric at the Beverly Bootstraps Thrift Shop and knew it would be perfect. I traced the original dress onto the new fabric and an hour later Catherine had a new dress. And it only cost a mere 25¢ !

Here she is modeling her new frock!
new frock

Art Time

Catherine has been very interested in using her art easel lately. She loves her markers, crayons, pencils and watercolors. The last time we painted she kept putting her fingers in the watercolors (the hard, disk kind) instead of the paintbrush.

So, I thought she might like to try finger painting. Thanks to this recipe (second one down) I didn’t need to waste gas or money on getting new paints. I cooked up a batch, separated it into red, blue and yellow, and set the gal up at her easel.


Of course today she wouldn’t paint with anything but her paintbrush. I think she had a good time. There are more pictures here. Enjoy.

Christmas Joys: Stockings

A family of Christmas Stockings

A Family of Stockings

Last Christmas there was a little smudge on my festive holiday mood. Due to lack of inspiration, time and supplies I didn’t get around to making Catherine a Christmas stocking. Fortunately she had no idea, but I felt awful about it. I love my stocking and our family’s stockings were my favorite decorations to hang when I was small.

This year I was struck with inspiration, had the supplies and eked out some time to sew. Having a homemade Christmas stocking is very important to me. My Mom made mine (and Corey’s and my Dad’s) and every year I look at it and think of the time she spent making it and love knowing that it was made especially for me. I wanted to pass that same feeling along to my own little family. I sewed up Peter’s stocking for the first Christmas we spent together (2001) and now Catherine’s joins the group.

As a kid my stocking always had a box of Cracker Jax in it on Christmas morning. We don’t have a tradition like that yet- what do YOU get in your stockings?

Rebecca’s Book

You know how scientists, thinkers, and inventors of old (and probably of new) had those notebooks where they would write all of their ideas, plans, formulas, etc? Well, my wife has a book just like that. I think it’s pretty cool, so I wanted to share some photos of it:

The Book

Instead of drawings of water screws or flying machines, Rebecca’s book contains drawings of craft and interior decorating ideas, lists and plans for parties, and other random musings. Lovingly hand-inscribed with pencil, Rebecca’s notebook is an inspiration to me. To be more thoughtful, plan better, and get all of my ideas down somewhere.

You can see [more pictures of the book](

A New Window Cornice

Our living room has a nice big picture window. Having moved from a basement level apartment I enjoy all the sunlight that streams in every day. I’m not so keen on people looking in.

When we moved in we hung some roman shades that we found at Ikea. They are light, so they only block the view from outside, not all of the light. I like that. But the windows still looked unfinished. I didn’t want to hang heavy drapes or curtains; the room is small enough without drapery making it feel even smaller. The window is so wide that I would need to buy special rods to hang even a valance.


The solution was to build a cornice. It took some wood, ‘L’ brackets, screws, fabric and batting and some good old elbow grease to get the job done. The cornice is upholstered with a dark blue fabric that has flowers and vines embroidered on it in a similar blue. The effect is a nice linear window treatment with a little more design to it if you look closely. I like it.


Window Treatments

I’ve been doing a bit more sewing. Peter and I have been decluttering our ‘master bedroom’ to make it more livable and cozy. We decided that it was finally time to put some curtains up.

We went to Joann’s Fabrics with no idea what kind of pattern or colors we’d want in the room. I figured it would take us a while to find something we liked or to agree…but it didn’t. We both knew right off the bat and it was only the second bolt I had pulled off the shelf! I guess it was meant to be.

The actual sewing was pretty easy, and thanks to Peter spending some quality Dad time with Catherine I was able to work from start to finish. The curtains were done quickly; completed in less time than it takes to listen to The Best of James Taylor. (How’s that for a measurement of time?)