Archive for the ‘Projects with Instructions’ Category

* sad ice cube tray advent calendar

Posted on December 2nd, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Holiday, Projects with Instructions.

I’ve got advent calendar envy with all the cool ones posted around blogland lately.  I was trying to come up with something I could make entirely from supplies I already have and ended up with this.  I have to say, it’s pretty pathetic, but I get a silly kick out of it.  It’s a funny ice cube tray I got at the Goodwill for eventual use as a resin mold.  The little bubbles made me think of a pill pack.  The shiny foil is origami paper.

I cut the foil paper to size, and rubbed it to make an impression of each bubble.  Then I numbered 25 random spaces and put something in the matching bubbles. Brush a little watered down water-soluble nontoxic glue on the top of the ice cube tray, and press the foil on.  Each day you punch through the foil to retrieve your prize.

And the exciting prize inside?  Vitamins.  Just to make it even lamer. But now I will remember to take my vitamin every day.


* iPad raincoat

Posted on June 1st, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Projects with Instructions, Sewing/Fabric Crafts.

Mark got me an iPad for no good reason.  It’s pretty nice, I have to admit.  Obviously I had to make it a case.


I hate big bulky cases (my phone goes naked), but it needed some protection from the elements and my clumsiness.  I decided to use non-fray fabrics so I could just keep the edges raw.  Luckily, I had just gotten half a yard of some awesome vinyl coated cotton on my last outing to Nancy’s Sewing Basket when my friend Amy was visiting.  It’s Dew Drops in Indigo from the Prince Charming line by Tula Pink for Free Spirit.  The inside is a piece of dark teal felt I already had that was conveniently the exact perfect size (9 x 18 inches, which leaves some room for trimming).

It’s extremely simple: just a single piece folded and stitched up the sides.  I got the best results by first sewing the (unfolded) felt to the coated cotton along the edges.  It seemed too shifty to sew all the layers all folded up at once.  That also let me topstitch the edges for the opening.  Once stay-stitched, I folded it, smoothed it as much as I could, and sewed up the sides, testing the iPad as I went to make sure it fit just right.  Then it was just a matter of trimming everything up.  The 18 inches folded is just barely enough to cover the whole thing, and not enough to include a flap, just fyi in case you’re tempted to make one.  If I’d had a bigger piece of felt, I probably would have put a small flap to tuck in, but I was too impatient.


for sewing the coated cotton: The vinyl was too sticky for my machine if facing up, but worked great facing the feed dogs with the felt side up.  After the folding step, both faces are vinyl, so I used a piece of freezer paper between the foot and the top side to keep it moving through my machine.  I put the plastic side of the freezer paper facing the fabric, which helps it grip the vinyl and not shift.

for removing the paper later: fold it along the perforation a few times, and it will tear off like a stamp without pulling much on the seam.

for removing creases from coated cotton: Put it on your lap under your laptop while you’re composing the blog post about it :P  It works!


* dishcloths

Posted on October 26th, 2009 by maitreya. Filed under Projects with Instructions, Sewing/Fabric Crafts.

Today in crafts with very poor effort:payoff ratios, I made a dishcloth.  Not sure why I felt the need to do this, but it has something to do with the scrap patchwork binding mairuru posted the other day.  I needed an excuse to make it.  And in unpacking my fabric I discovered a big piece of thrifted waffle weave I forgot I had.  2+2=dishcloth with scrappy trim.  Yeah, so, first I dumped out all my actual scraps and rummaged through them before deciding ironing and cutting them would be too much work.  Instead, I used a pile of charm squares:  cut them all diagonally down the middle, sewed together the triangles in a big strip on the bias, ironed, cut to 2 inch even strip (this is so much easier for me than trying to keep everything straight while I’m sewing).  I used a double thickness of the waffle-weave, cut to 13×13 inches since that perimeter was about the length of bias trim I got from 10 charm squares.  Then I decided to try a brilliant 2-part improvised strategy for sewing on the binding, which sort of worked, but not nearly as well as in my mind, which is why I’m not going to bother describing it.

Anyway, that was way too much effort for a dishcloth.  Oh well.  At least I’m sewing again!


[Oh, and sorry about the brief craftlog outage earlier this week.  Server upgrade broke some stuff.]

ETA: oh, what the heck, I already had the triangles cut for a second one.  Now I have a set in 2 different colorways of the same fabric patterns.



* lunchbag

Posted on August 31st, 2009 by maitreya. Filed under Projects with Instructions, Sewing/Fabric Crafts.

I keep resolving to bring my lunch to lab more often, so I made a little commitment device, a new lunchbag.  My old one was a promotional “Labby the Labster” bag I’ve been using for like 6 years, but which I appear to have finally lost (the only evidence I could Google of Labby’s existance is this page in Spanish, RIP Labby).

Lunchbag qualities desired: washable, low fuss, foldable into small size for stuffing in purse to bring home, cute.  I remembered I still have lots of an Ikea tablecloth leftover from this bag I made Amy last year, so that ticks “washable” and “cute.”  For pattern inspiration, I paged through Japanese craft book ISBN4529042642, which is all about lunch bags.  Here’s a simple bag with a tie closure that I found appealing:


I decided not to bother with the handles or the lining (tick “low fuss” and also helps with foldable-ness) and to just wing the bag shape with the scraps I already happened to have.  Essentially, I just sewed 2 12×12 inch squares together along 3 sides, sewed the corners out flat to make the bottom, and topstiched all the folds to give it some structure.  It was really easy.  The great thing about the tablecloth is the edges don’t ravel, so I didn’t have to finish any of the seams.  The tie is just a little piece of woven tape sewed on one side.


And here’s my lunch all packed for tomorrow. :)



* covered cork board

Posted on January 26th, 2009 by maitreya. Filed under Craft Room, Projects with Instructions, Sewing/Fabric Crafts.

Becket has been posting about her wonderful fabric-covered cork boards this week.  Seeing how great it was looking in her in-progress post really got me motivated to finally revamp my craft room cork board.  I got this great vintage honeycomb patterned linen from Make Me when they were having a sale a while back.  I’d set it aside for eventual cork board use, but it seemed like using it for the whole thing would be too much.  Then yesterday I found the perfect coordinating orange fabric at the thrift store.  I originally thought it was linen too, but upon washing and closer inspection, it’s something else.  Still fine though.

My cork board was lodged in a groove of the frame pieces, held together by brads at the corners.  It’s kinda cheap, so it wasn’t too hard to pull apart at one joint.  I stole the aspect ratio and the idea to adhere it with spray glue from Becket.  Glued down the orange layer first, then layered the linen over it, with the lapped edge folded over to make a clean seam.  Another unexpected advantage of the cheap fabrication: it was made of the thinnest possible cork veneer over some sort of particle board, so I could just staple the excess fabric around the back.  Wedging it back into the frame grooves wasn’t too hard, but it did cause a little bit of fabric bubbling near the edges.  Not too bad, though.  After wedging it all back together, I stapled the frame back together.  I really like how it turned out.


* sewing machine sampler ornaments

Posted on November 27th, 2008 by maitreya. Filed under Cross Stitch/Embroidery, Holiday, Projects with Instructions.

I entered the annual ornament swap run by freshlyblended and cake & pie. It’s going through swap bot this year, which I am not a huge fan of, having done a couple of swaps through there. In one, someone accused me of purchasing the pinecone ornament I made, and in the other I was called “rude” for not replying to an email right away. The “rude” comment was even made using my last name, which is seriously not cool. Hopefully nicer people signed up for the ornament swap.

Anyway, my idea this year is machine embroidery on thick felt. My machine doesn’t have any of the fancy decorative stitches, but the weird useful stitches look pretty cool anyway. Here are the prototypes.

I think I like the band on the ball one better than the all over pattern of the long one, so I’ll probably do them all that way. Less is more. What’s awesome is that these are crazy easy to mass produce. In case anyone else wants to try them, here are instructions (though you can probably figure it out yourself).

  1. cut a strip of thick felt as tall as your ornament and as long as you want.  The beauty of this is you embroider them all at once and cut them apart at the end.  As for the felt, I just got a swatchpack from fitzfelt and they are awesome. They also sell precut rounds if you’re a perfectionist like that.  I also made a post on whipup a while back with thick felt suppliers.
  2. using contrasting thread, sew a straight stitch down the middle of the strip, longways. I did a tension test on a scrap first since the felt is so thick. For bonus reversibility, put a different color in the bobbin thread.
  3. sew decorative stitches on either side of the central stitch, keeping everything parallel as best you can. I made mine symmetrical above and below the equator, but you don’t have to. What with variations in stitch length, width, style, and spacing, there’s pretty much infinite combinations here.
  4. for the circles, I pressed a cookie cutter hard onto the felt to make a guide impression to cut around. For the long ones, I used a rotary cutter and eyeballed it. Once you’ve done one side, you can use the scrap as a template for the other side.
  5. Make an embroidery thread hanger.

The one thing I’m worried about is that the stitches aren’t secured and they might pull out. Since the ornaments won’t really be handled, I decided it probably won’t matter.

If instead of making your own, you’d like to swap me for one, send me an email ( I love all my collected handmade ornaments from swaps. :D


* necklace hooks

Posted on September 15th, 2008 by maitreya. Filed under Jewelry, Projects with Instructions.

Further progress on the Dresser Beautification Project. Now instead of having a clump of tangled necklaces, they’ll all be neatly stored on hooks, with the added bonus of something decorative on some blank wallspace. These are 2 mysteriously left over Ikea bits of wood I found in the basement. I wrapped them in fabric, hotglued in the back. Then screwed cuphooks along the bottom. Nail a little hanger on the back and done.



* nesting felt boxes

Posted on September 14th, 2008 by maitreya. Filed under Projects with Instructions, Sewing/Fabric Crafts.

The top of my dresser is a disaster area, so this weekend’s goal was to reinstate order. I’d been putting it off until I bought some little bins to toss stuff, but I finally gave up and made some. Same pattern as this one and this other one out of this Japanese craft book, but you hardly need a pattern they’re so easy. Cut out a cross shape (the square in the middle is the final box size, and the lengths of the “legs” will be the height), bind the edges, zigzag up the corners, turn inside out, and press into shape. Oh, and I also sewed a straight line at the base of each leg to help encourage it to fold. I made them assembly-line style. The bigger ones are 2 layers of felt welded together for a little extra wall integrity.




They are fun to take pictures of.


* Pencil bag

Posted on June 20th, 2008 by maitreya. Filed under Projects with Instructions, Sewing/Fabric Crafts.

This linen+colorful bits idea has apparently been percolating in my head for 3 years, with a sidetrack using gray wool a while back. The pattern’s made up as I went along, but it’s a pretty basic design that’s all over the Japanese craft books. I was very pleased with myself for getting the zipper+lining topology right on the first try. :P

I rather like it plain, but I’m tempted to add some embroidery, or maybe Gocco or stamps like Scrapabee’s awesome stuff (warning: her site has music on autoplay).

Sketchy instructions: you need a 9 inch zipper, 10×12 inch rectangles of the lining and outer fabrics, and 13 inches of binding.

1. Stack your materials like this: lining right side up, zipper right side up with the tape edge along the 10 inch side of the lining fabric, outer fabric right side down and with the 10 inch edge aligned with the others.

2. Use a zipper foot and stitch pretty close to the zipper (takes a little feeling around since the zipper is inside.)

3. Fold back the fabrics to expose the zipper. Iron flat.

4. Topstitch along the zipper.

5. Trim the other 10 inch sides to be even if needed.

6. Fold everything around to make the same zipper sandwich on the other 10 inch sides like you did for step 1. Sew like step 2.

7. Now when you go to fold back the fabric and expose the zipper again, you’ll end up with a tube. To topstitch, you have to upzip the whole length, and scrunch to get the very end where you can’t unzip any more. It works, I swear.

8. Zip it up and iron flat, making sure the zipper is centered. Trim the ends straight, and so you only have about half an inch of zipper tape at each end.

9. Fold binding around the corner and over the raw edges. Sew on with a zigzag stitch, folding the end around the other corner. Repeat for the other side.

Hmm, this is hard to explain without pictures. Well, good luck if you try my instructions.

ETA: Yucaree took pictures for all the steps!  Thanks!


* loop pieced baby quilt

Posted on February 28th, 2008 by maitreya. Filed under Projects with Instructions, Sewing/Fabric Crafts.

Since Amy posted her baby present, here’s the quilt I made for Becket, I mean the baby ;)

I know that yellow and gray is a kind of weird color scheme for a baby, but I think it works, particularly knowing the family. The cool yellow/white/gray geometric print is actually a huuuuuge curtain I found on sale at Anthropologie. That’s the fabric for the back of the quilt too. I think I might make a dress out of the rest of it.


So I thought I’d share my instructions in case anyone else is interested, and to show off the clever trick I came up with to get this done in time for the shower (though, for all I know, I might well have just rederived some well known quilting method, but I *felt* clever anyway). As you’re reading through it, you might think it sounds crazy because, get this, you sew seams and then rip them out later. Weird, I know, but it saves major time and makes all the seams come out much squarer. I call it loop piecing.

All seam allowances are ¼ inch.

  1. You’ll need 9 coordinating fabrics that can alternate. Cut 5 inch wide strips from each, the width of the bolt (use 45 inch wide fabric, not 36).
  2. Decide what order you want the fabrics, and sew strips together along long sides, right sides together. Iron seams.
  3. Sew last strip to first strip, right sides together, to create a tube.
  4. Square it up so the seams all match and slice into 8 loops, each 5 in wide. You should have enough extra fabric that you can cut off the selvages for a clean edge on both ends.
  5. Using a seam ripper, open a different seam of each loop. Iron again.
  6. Arrange the strips so you get diagonals of each fabric.
  7. Pin adjacent strips, right sides together, to help make the corners match up. Sew. Iron again.
  8. Cut backing fabric and batting 1 in larger all around than quilt top. Layer.
  9. I tied this one with little embroidery thread x’s at the junctions, but you can quilt it or tie it, whatever you want.
  10. Bind by your favorite method (mine is to just fold the binding over and zigzag to catch everything at once). I made my own binding for this since I couldn’t find the exact color of gray to match. (FYI, I highly recommend the clover binding tools. I have a couple of generic ones in other sizes, but now that I know how much better the clover ones are, I am actually going to replace my nonclover ones. Really, it’s like night and day.)



  • maitreya[@]craftlog[.]org

books I’m in


  • Easiest broccoli soup recipe. Bonus: it's vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, one pot, and endlessly riffable.

  • Dinner: A Love Story Hot Soup for a Working Lunch

  • Follow Me on Pinterest




creative commons

craftlog is under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial license. That means that you are all welcome to take and repost my photos, replicate my projects, remix my ideas, whatever you want as long as you give attribution (a link is fine) and it's noncommercial. Thanks!