If you have kids and you live near water you might just have jars and containers full of “sea treasures” lying around your house. Shells, driftwood, seaglass, sand and other randon findings are plentiful around my house – somewhat because of my son, and definitey somewhat because of me!
These findings can be pretty special to kids and parents alike. I am always looking at ways to incorporate our findings into permanent fixtures in our home.
This project is really versatile and can be done with your kids treasures, your own treasures, or for sure any little odds and ends around your house. Think about things like loose buttons, paperclips, scraps of paper. Let their imaginations run a little wild here.
The materials you need for this tutorial are as follows:
A shadowbox frame (I use 8X8 primarily but any size will do)
E6000 glue (recommend an adult uses this glue, NOT a child)
Shells, buttons, seaglass or whatever treasures you like (that will fit in the frame)
The shadowboxes I use are from Michaels, and I buy them in packs of 3. I love the gold frames, however you can get silver or woodgrain as well. You can also spraypaint the frames if you had a specific color in mind.
To start, find a piece of cardstock you love. I used to use plain white cardstock, and then I found cardstock that was a little textured and I fell in love. You will want to cut your cardstock to the proper size (to fit inside the shadowbox).
If you’re using seashells, I recommend cleaning them a day or two before attempting this project. To clean shells I use a bleach solution (water and bleach, about 10:1). I soak the shells in the solution overnight. Rinse them with clear water the next day, and lay them on a towel to dry. Ensure your shells are fully dried before attempting to glue them. You can clean seaglass the same way.
You can make whatever shape you like, however for this tutorial I stuck with a circle.
I start by making a rough outline of the shape using the objects I will later glue in place. Once you’ve made a rough outline, take a photo of it. If you’re happy with the shape in the photo, you’re off to a good start! Adjust as needed.
Once you have the desired outline in place, glue those pieces down using a little E6000. The glue doesn’t dry immediately so you can move it around a little once you’ve laid it in place. But you can also unintentionally move it if you aren’t careful 🙂
Fill in the circle with shells, glass, etc. Keep filling until the circle looks full. Ensure you are balancing colors as you go. You don’t want all white glass on one side, for example. Make sure you’re evenly distributing color.
Once the shape is filled in, it’s time to set it aside to dry. I like to take a book or a piece of cardboard and slide (don’t lift!) the cardstock onto a flat surface to dry. I normally let them dry overnight.
Once the glue is fully set, it’s time to pop your art in the frame. I clean the glass (front and back) so I don’t have to take it apart again later. Pro tip 🙂
Now your wall art is ready to hang!
PS. They make great housewarming, Christmas, Mother’s Day, etc gifts too!
Thanks for checking out my post today, and happy gluing!
Many years ago I came across a project that has stuck with me since I was about 12 years old. It’s a project I’ve made many times, for my own use as well as gifts, and I’m excited to share this one.
If your child has a special friend or famliy member that they want to do something kind for, this really is sure to be a hit! This project is entirely customizable and takes about an hour to do.
Here are the materials you will need for this project:
White pillowcase (100% cotton)
Black Sharpie (permanent)
Crayola crayons (not the washable variety)
To begin, the child can pick out a coloring page if they wish. You can quite easily print free coloring pages from the internet, or perhaps they already have a coloring book to select an image from. If they prefer to free-hand, that works too. For lettering I suggest using block letters as they can be colored in.
I start by ironing the pillowcase to get all the wrinkles out. Next you need a piece of cardboard that will fit inside the pillowcase, and the cardboard must be at least as large as the coloring page (or the drawing area). You need the cardboard to prevent the ink from running through to the opposite side of the pillowcase. And hey, if your kiddo enjoys this project they just might want to decorate both sides!
The next step is optional but I do find it very helpful. I tape the coloring sheet to the cardboard. This prevents the page from shifting as the image is traced.
The next step may require adult supervision, depending on the child and their age. You will tuck the cardboard (with coloring sheet attached) inside the pillowcase. You should be able to see the outline of the image through the pillowcase.
Next you will take the black Sharpie and trace the outline onto the pillowcase. Try not to press too hard as it can lead to “bleeding” ink. If this happens, you can certainly color over it with the crayons.
With the image traced out, it’s time to color! I recommend leaving the cardboard inside the pillowcase for this step.
I finished coloring and added a couple of words (freehand, as you can probably tell!) to fill in the pillowcase a bit more. Once all coloring is completed, it’s time to iron!
You want to ensure you are placing the wax paper with wax side down (facing the image). As you iron, the wax from the wax paper will transfer onto the pillowcase and help seal in the crayon. If you aren’t certain which side of the wax paper is waxed, scratch your fingernail on each side. The side that shows up white after it’s been scratched is the wax side.
For extra protection, you can repeat that last step and use a second sheet of wax paper. I like to iron slowly and make sure the iron has had time to really seal in the crayon. Do not use the steam setting.
This pillowcase should be washable now, though the color will naturally fade over time. The Sharpie won’t, so if you do experience fading you can always break out the crayons and try again!
Thanks for checking out my post today! Happy coloring!
I’ve been hoarding patterns from Suzy Quilts for some time now, with the best intention of finally trying each one out. Life has been busy through the pandemic – working and parenting at the same time can be exhausting, and most evenings I’m too tired to sew. Hopefully we are in the home stretch now and life can get back to (something resembling) normal.
A couple of weeks back I decided to try out the Sugar Pop quilt by Suzy Quilts. I am absolutely in love with this pattern! I am drawn to more geometric quilts – lines, edges, points, etc. I’ve had this pattern for quite some time but it looked a little intimidating. I sometimes get lost in the process of trying to match colors and patterns.
This is a TRUE de-stash quilt pattern if I’ve ever seen one. The pattern comes in 3 versions – pillow, throw quilt, baby quilt.
The amount of each fabric required for any of these versions is minimal, and you get to choose 7 colors/patterns to build this incredible pattern. I went bright and colorful with this creation, but I do think this would look pretty awesome done in all different shades of a single color. Or black, white and multiple shades of grey.
I decided to quilt the top before turning into a pillow. I used two layers of thin 100% cotton batting, and I backed it with a piece of cotton. This didn’t require quilting, but it sure turned out well.
Here’s a quick look at the back, so you can see how much quilting I did.
I turned this into a pillow by using a little medium weight denim on the back (with polka dots!)
I have the throw blanket (top) completed but it’s not assembled with batting and backing yet. Looking forward to having both of these beautiful pieces displayed on my couch in the coming weeks!
Check out Suzy Quilts for more adorable patterns available for instant download.
Well, this is a post I’ve been wanting to make for quite some time. In July I was playing around on a random beach with my son, finding shells and enjoying the salty air, when I came across a very small piece of green seaglass sitting among the sand. I had never found seaglass before, but I immediately wanted more! We visited the same beach the next day and didn’t find a single piece. I asked around about seaglass beaches in the area, and I was advised to “look for rolling waves”.
Within a few days, a friend and I were out scouring beaches in Bay Bulls, finding little nuggets of glass among the beautiful shorelines.
We did this a few days a week, mostly finding small pieces in green, white, brown and sometimes indigo.
Since that time, our weather has been cooperative and I am still seaglass hunting well into February! We have expanded our search zone a bit, and the payoff has been huge! I attribute that to the winter months not being seen as the ideal seaglass hunting weather, and I think getting out of town to more sparsely populated areas helps as well.
My mom kept asking, “What are you doing with all the seaglass?”, and the best I could say was, “I will make wall art out of it some day.” I dreamed up projects but they never really came to life. Truth is, finding seaglass, cleaning it and just admiring it was almost enough for me. Almost.
There are different types of glass that can be found on the beach, ranging from perfect, cloudy, rounded pieces of traditional seaglass, to more jagged, clear pieces of beach glass. At one point I was collecting beach glass, before really realizing it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. I purchased a very simple rock tumbler and got some gritty sand from the beach. Dampened the sand, threw in some beach glass, and tumbled it for a couple of days. The glass came out nice and cloudy.
Some people make cloudy glass from scratch by breaking up bottles (using goggles, gloves, etc) and tossing it into a tumbler for a few days. I prefer the traditional way of finding glass, but if you find glass that’s not quite cloudy enough, no harm in tumbling it for a day or two until it’s usable, IMHO.
To start, cut your cardstock to fit the shadowbox. If you have a 5X7 frame, cut your cardstock 5X7. I use a paper cutter to get nice, straight edges.
I laid placemats on the table prior to gluing, mostly just in case glue soaked through the cardstock. I would recommend this for sure.
Lay out your seaglass on the cardstock in the pattern you choose. If you’re doing flowers (like I did, to start), lay out your glass, figure out where you want the flower stems, and just slightly move the glass out of the way to draw the stem before you begin gluing.
Once your pieces are laid in place, lift one at a time and place a dab of glue on the underside. Gently lay in place. Most adhesives will take a little time to fully set, but try not to move it around once it’s laid.
Continue gluing pieces until finished. Lay entirely flat to dry.
Shadowboxes really help these pieces look complete. They also protect from dust and dirt, as you can imagine these cardstock pieces will not be entirely easy to clean.
The best advice I have when you’re looking to make seaglass art is to work with the pieces and shapes that you have. And definitely come up with a little stockpile before attempting to create. It’s addictive so you might as well buy 10 shadowbox frames now and save yourself the trips to Michaels. Most of the frames I’ve used are 5X7 but I do have a bunch of 8X10s as well.
You can incorporate things like twigs, pearls, beads and rope into these pieces quite easily. They are fun to make, and you can let your imagination run totally wild. Finding treasures along the shorelines with your children and letting them transform their finds into art is a fantastic way to foster creativity.
In July I moved into a new-to-me home, which has brought on a lot of opportunities to get creative. I’ve been spending my time painting and making new decor like throw pillows and, now, a wall hanging!
I kept seeing these boho style wall hangings and, though they don’t fit my usual styling, they do certainly have a place in my home – my craft room!
This project is fun, easy, and can be done with older children for sure. It’s inexpensive and you can let your imagination really run wild. I’ve seen other additions of flowers, feathers and lace.
My version was quite simple, though I will say I have another in the works that may end up being a bit more elaborate.
Materials needed for this tutorial:
– A hoop (or two) – Various colors of yarn – Scissors – Wooden beads
I picked up gold and silver hoops at Michaels for less than $5 each. They had several sizes to choose from, and I wanted to use two hoops for this hanging so I grabbed two different sizes in gold.
I have a stockpile of yarn at home, but I did grab some ivory and blush pink for this piece. I knew I wanted faded pink, purple and ivory, etc. Value yarn works as well as expensive yarn for a project like this. My sewing room is a lavender color so I felt it would match the decor.
I started by cutting pieces of yarn approximately 62″ in length. I knew this would be long and that the strands would need to be cut after assembly, so the exact measurement of each piece is not critical. Just a rough cut at that length.
Once the yarn was cut I hung the hoop on the back of a chair and started adding pieces. I put two strands of yarn together for each loop, but you could easy do 4-5 and it would take even less time.
To form the loops, just fold over your two pieces of yarn, holding the folded section at the top. Place over the hoop, pull the yarn through the loop and pull downward. Make sure that you loop the same way every time.
Throughout this project I did add some braided sections. I put about 10-12 pieces of yarn together, looped them as normal, and then proceeded to braid the sections. NOTE: Braiding will make the section shorter, so you may want to cut slightly longer pieces for the braids.
I hung the hoop up, smoothed down all of the pieces, and then decided where to add the beads. I used wooden beads from Wal-Mart , along with a darning needed (not necessary but surely helpful) for threading the yarn through the bead openings. I knotted below where each bead would sit. You could also do entire strings of beads or large pearls. If you don’t like it, take the individual section off and try again. You really can’t go wrong.
Finally I hung the wall hanging and decided how to cut the bottoms. Lots and lots of options but I went diagonal for one, and v-shaped for the other.
This piece sits on a wall with a lot of locally made artwork I’ve collected over the years, and some artwork I did myself. Simple but pretty, it adds a pop of texture to the wall. Next time I’ll add in lace, more beads and perhaps feathers. For now, I’m enjoying the way the lengths of yarn sway every time I walk past it.
As all cool toddlers do these days, my son has a learning tower. This tower allows him to reach the countertops and sink in the kitchen so he can help with baking, meal prep or dishes. Picture a 3-year old doing dishes while holding the water sprayer…. “helper” indeed.
I bought the tower second hand, and it was stained a dark brown color, which matched our kitchen so I thought it was pretty neat. But kids usually love bright colours, and I was really in the mood to paint something. I set out to find a Rustoleum spray paint in a fun color, but the store didn’t have any. The associate talked me into chalk paint.
At the Paint Shop, the associate explained I would need chalk paint, sealer and a special brush. Chalk paint is very dry, not at all durable, and it’s nearly impossible to clean. Learning towers get covered in flour, sugar, butter, etc all the time so they NEED to be washable. The sealer would help there. And the lady at the store swore by the special paint brush to help reduce paint strokes.
I found a really lovely, bright teal paint and an eggshell-finish sealer.
I started by washing the tower with a good cleanser, and then I let it fully dry. I ran over the tower with a dry towel to make sure I got all the dust off.
Chalk paint dries quickly and is pretty thick, so no priming needed. I gave the tower 2 coats of chalk paint before doing two coats of the sealer. I did a coat of chalk paint at dinnertime one day, a second coat at lunchtime the next, and then waited a day between coats of the sealer.
Once the sealer dried, it was ready to use!
Now. Here’s what I have to say about this project:
I don’t love working with chalk paint. I mean, it was okay. But a couple of times, between coats, I would simply touch it with my nail and it would scratch off. It’s beyond delicate.
The top coat was nice to work with, but it remains tacky. When my son steps on it, his feet kinda “stick” to it.
It gave his learning tower a gorgeous pop of color, but next time I do something like this I’m going to test out the Rustoleum line.
2020 has felt like an entire decade so far, and it’s only mid-April. I live in a beautiful province here in Canada called Newfoundland & Labrador, and our weather is no joke. In January we had a snowstorm that was affectionately known as Snowmageddon, where our city shut down for a week under State of Emergency. It was several weeks before our residential streets were wide enough for traffic to flow in both directions. I had never seen anything like it, and it caused a major life disruption. All businesses were ordered closed, you weren’t allowed to drive on the City streets, and life seemed to come to a screeching halt. Slowly things got back to normal, but now we’re faced with a Health State of Emergency as the province braces under the COVID-19 pandemic. All non-essential businesses are shut down indefinitely once again.
I haven’t been able to blog much lately because I am working from home full time, plus I have my nearly-3 year old son home all day long. It leaves me with a couple of hours every evening to finish work I didn’t get done during the day, maybe do a bit of sewing, clean the house or go to bed early. Either way, my blogging has been taking a hit. It will get better, but right now we are all in survival mode.
Last week our Chief Medical Officer of Health communicated to the province that we should all be wearing homemade face masks when we go out in public. There’s a global shortage of medical-grade personal protective equipment (PPE) so people had to start getting creative. Hence the double-layer cotton face mask was born.
A friend asked me to whip up a couple for her spouse, which I absolutely jumped at. Then came many, many other requests. These are really fun to make and do require a little bit of skill, particularly sewing the curved seam.
I sold upwards of 50 within a week, and now I’ve listed them in my Etsy shop. I’ve also created a coupon for those following my blog – MAKELIFECRAFTY10. Enter it when purchasing any of my face masks and you’ll get 10% off!
If you’re crafty and have some spare cotton and elastic around, there are a ton of free patterns online. There are different types – fans and cones are the two most common – and they each require different skill.
If you aren’t crafty or can’t seem to make these work for you, feel free to check out my shop. I ship within Canada for $3, or you can pickup for free in the local St. John’s area.
I hope each and every one of you are taking care of your physical and mental health during this wild ride. Praying we won’t need to wear these for long, but for now I’m whipping up masks with cute crabs, puffins, pussycats, polkadots, stripes or any other sweet print I have on hand.
This weekend I’ve been busy making aprons for toddlers. You might recall a previous post An Apron Pattern to Love and this apron follows a lot of the same instructions, however there are some differences for sure.
My son is nearly 3 years old and absolutely loves to bake and help prepare meals. He’s got a little learning tower in the kitchen so he can reach the countertop, and I often find him reaching for my aprons to wear. I made this one in a 3T-4T size.
My family is Halloween-obsessed. No joke. We spend weeks preparing costumes every year, and we go a bit nuts with decorating the outside of our house. The little one has caught the Halloween bug and just loves anything spooky!
One way I make sewing a bit more economical is by buying seasonal fabric (Christmas, Halloween, Easter, etc) on clearance at the end of each season, to use the following year. I have a stash of Halloween fabric from years gone by, so there couldn’t have been a more perfect time to use my spookiest prints than for my sons first apron.
Materials needed for this tutorial:
3/4 meter of fabric (I used cotton, and I used 3 coordinating fabrics in smaller quantities)
In keeping with quilting rules, I did not pre-wash the cotton for this tutorial. If you’ve ever pre-washed cotton you will know that it frays and gets terribly tangly around the edges after going through the dryer.
I started by ironing my fabric to get the creases out. I was using 3 coordinating Halloween fabrics so I selected one for the body, one for the trim (around bottom and top of apron), one for the pocket and tie.
Using my cutting mat I laid out the fabric for the body of the apron. Being aware of the direction of the print on the fabric, I cut a rectangle that was 19 inches wide and 28 inches long. In hindsight I probably could have gone with 25 inches long because the apron did end up being a bit long on my son, but as he grows it will still work for him.
Once I had the 19WX28L rectangle cut I folded it in half lengthwise (the folded piece would now be 9.5WX28L). Working from the cut edge I measured down from the top 5 inches, placing a pin. Working now from the folded edge at the top of the apron body, I measured across 4 inches and placed a pin. The area between those two pins is the armhole.
Next you need to cut between those two pins. I’ve included a photo here so you can see the shape I use. If you make it too rounded it won’t fit nicely under the arms.
Once you’ve cut the armhole, you will start the trim piece for the chest and bottom of the apron. For the bottom (again, mind the direction of the print on your fabric!) I cut a piece that was 8 inches long and 19 inches wide. For the top I did 9 inches wide and 6 inches long.
To attach the bottom piece I ensure both pieces of fabric are pressed and wrinkle-free. Then I flattened out the body of the apron and placed the rectangle for the bottom trim over top, with right sides together. I lined them up and pinned along the edge.
When I sew along this edge I use a 1 inch seam allowance, which is a lot but you’ll be making a bit of a pocket with this shortly so you will be thankful you’ve given yourself lots of fabric to work with.
Stitch along the edge. Once you’ve stitched, your 1 inch seam allowance is now 2 pieces of fabric, but we want to trim the lower piece.
Next you want to press the main body piece of fabric (the seam allowance) downward, to cover the piece we just trimmed. Give it a good press, using steam.
The seam allowance will now be tucked up under itself, encasing the cut edge of the lower fabric.
So you can see I tucked the main fabric under, pinning as I go, ensuring the other fabric is entirely covered. I then stitched along the folded edge. Note: For this stitching you will want to ensure you are using the matching thread and bobbin. The stitches will be visible from the front. Sometimes, for simplicity, I use whatever thread is already in my machine for non-obvious stitching, but from this point forward you will want to ensure you have spools and bobbins to coordinate.
Next I fold up the bottom edge of the apron to form the hem. I turn the hem up twice, 1 inch each time. I like the look of a thicker hem. So you are losing 2 full inches from the length of the apron by doing this, but it does give a nicer look.
Next step is to attach the top piece of trim. So we’ve cut a piece that’s 9 inches wide by 6 inches long. Fold it down lengthwise (so the rectangle is now 3 inches by 9 inches) and give a good press. You’ll then take each of the cut edges and fold them inward.
Give it another good press, then fit it neatly over the top of the apron bib. Stitch.
Once that’s in place, give a good press with the iron. Your apron is now really starting to take shape!
Next step is to sew the sides of the apron. You will want to use a narrower tuck here than we did for the hem. I use 1 inch for the sides, pressing, then tucking it in half to ensure no raw edges are visible.
When you are stitching the sides it’s important to remember that you have a different color for the trim than the body. This means you will want to switch out your spool and bobbin part-way up the sides. I usually start with the trim first (as the thread is still in there from doing the hem and the bib). So you’re just stitching to where the fabric changes to the main body on each side.
Now the body of the apron is sewn except for the armholes. This is the part I despise every time, but it’s a must. Some people use lining for their fabric for the armholes, but I rarely do that extra step. This apron is for a toddler who grows like a weed – it won’t be around long enough to worry about lining it.
Here is the general shape you need for the armhole casings:
To make my own armhole casings (lining is optional here) I just take a rectangle of fabric and lay it flat against the front of the fabric (right sides together). One edge will follow the shape of the armhole you created, and then you basically measure out 2 – 2.5 inches and cut. You need to leave the ends about an inch longer so you can sew them under.
So for this next part, I’ll do my best to put it into words: You have to take that extra length and turn the ends in, and sew them shut. This facing will eventually have the apron strap fed through it, so you want to ensure the edge is not going to fray.
This next photo is where I am closing up the end of the facing (with the body folded away from the machine so I don’t accidentally stitch them together:
Then once the ends are all stitched, I attach to the armhole. I use about a 1/4 inch seam allowance here.
Once it’s attached to the body of the apron, you will turn it right side out, and press the seam firmly with an iron. Next you turn in the edge of the facing about 1/4 inch and pin along as you go. You will be leaving the ends open, again to thread the apron strap through.
Not unlike when we did the bottom trim, the top trim has two different patterned fabrics so you need to switch out thread and bobbin part-way through. If you look at the front of your apron you will notice your upper trim is about 1.5 inches. As you’re sewing the facing to the body of the apron, you are stitching over that trim. So I recommend switching out threads to give the best look.
The hard part is officially done now! You’re ready to add a pocket and sew the apron strap.
For the apron strap I cut two straps, about 36 inches each in length and 3 inches wide. Join them, right sides together. Press the seam open.
Press the ends of the strap over so no raw edge is visible.
Next you need to fold the strap in half (so now your dimension will be 1.5 inches X 72 inches). Press. Then tuck each of the cut edges under a second time.
Set aside the strap and we’ll move onto the pocket. You can be really creative with pockets. You can do a big pocket, a small one, many small ones, a pocket on the bib, whatever you like. Add lace or ribbon to the top of the pocket to really dress it up.
I cut a square 8 inches by 7 inches wide. For the top of the pocket I fold down about 1/2 an inch, press, and fold down again. Stitch across the fold. If you want to add lace or ribbon, pin it on before stitching – two birds, one stone. Just be sure to use the right color thread, whichever option you choose. I like the look of the wide seam there. Then I press about 1/4 inch around the rest of the pocket.
Lay the pocket on the apron wherever you like. Measure across or from the bottom of the apron to ensure it’s straight.
Once it’s pinned in place, stitch around the three remaining sides, ensuring you backstitch properly at the top of the pocket where there’s likely to be more strain on the seam as the pocket gets used.
Give the apron a good press, using steam, and you’re ready to put the apron strap through the facings.
Back in my early years when I began sewing my mom taught me how to do this – attach a safety pin, close it up, and feed it on through. This is a great trick if you pull a string out of a hoodie or a drawstring out of pants.
As you do this, ensure your strap stays flat and doesn’t twist.
And you’re done! This is such a fun little project and once you’ve done it a couple of times, you can get these out in about an hour. They are a great stash-buster and they make great gifts.
You can personalize aprons by appliqueing a name or initial on it. I’ve also seen people applique things like mixing spoons or cupcakes on them. One day I’ll find time to try that out.
Other ways to personalize would be including decorative stitching, embroidery, decorative ribbons or lace, buttons, etc. The possibilities really are endless.
Thanks for stopping by and checking out my post today!
Oh, and when you go to wash this apron it’s best to knot the strap together because it’s adjustable, so it can come out in the vigorous washing machine. If it comes out you can always use the safety pin trick above to thread it back through.
Happy New Year! I hope you had an amazing holiday season, with plenty of R&R. I was fortunate to have a nice, long break from work over the holidays and I spent an awful lot of my free time sewing and crafting. It recharged my soul, I swear.
About 7 years back I saw a baby block ornament on Pinterest and decided to give it a go. There were several varieties of these ornaments online but I knew immediately I wanted them to be photo ornaments. My brother had a very young child and several of my friends did as well, so I set out to make these as Christmas gifts. A few years back I inadvertently advertised these on Facebook and sold over 50 in the month of December alone! These are SO fun to make, and you can get really creative with them.
Materials needed for this tutorial:
2″ wooden block
Mod Podge (Satin finish)
Paper cutter or a ruler and scissors
I used to buy 2″ wooden blocks at Michael’s but they were frequently out of stock, so my family started making them with wood and a saw. I keep a sanding block handy to ensure the surfaces are smooth on the block.
I print photos for these ornaments at Walmart online because they offer wallet sized prints that are available by next day. Wallet size is 2X3 so they just need a little trimming and they’re ready to go!
I start by painting the block. Most frequently I do metallic gold, Christmasy red or teal, however any color works! I’ve even done plain woodgrain, and I’ve done a watered-down chestnut and almost stained the block so it looked like dark wood. They were all lovely! I’ve done pink, purple, green, blue, you name it. Can’t go wrong. Sometimes I look at the photos I’m going to use and try to find color inspiration from there.
You only need to paint the perimeter of each side because most of the block will be covered with photos and paper.
Generally I say two sides of the block will be covered with photos, two sides with cardstock, and the remaining two sides will be cardstock with print.
I cut the photos and cardstock to 1.75″ as this allows the paper to sit just inside the edge of the painted block, so you get a bit of a border.
Using a paintbrush, apply a layer of Mod Podge to one side of the block, and place one of the photos in the center, ensuring the border is even. I tend to do the photos on opposite sides of the block. Adhere the second photo to the block, and the apply the decorative cardstock to the top and bottom sides of the block. You will now have two blank sides. Let the block dry for at least a couple of hours.
For the other sides of the block, I tend to have a quote or verse printed on paper, which I layer over cardstock. I don’t love printing on cardstock, and the layered look is pretty.
If you are using thin cardstock or paper, be aware that Mod Podge can cause rippling in the paper. When thin paper gets wet from the glue, it can go wavy and it doesn’t necessarily sit flat on the block anymore. You can fool around with it and try to get it to flatten out, but it can be a chore. Using heavier paper offers a much more consistent result.
Once you have all 6 sides glued, you will now start the process of layering Mod Podge over each side to create a sealed, satiny finish. You want to ensure you don’t get any dust or dirt (pet hair, etc) in the Mod Podge because once it’s there, it’s there for life.
I apply Mod Podge in a generous layer, starting around the perimeter of the photo or paper. Sealing up all of those edges is important so you don’t get lifting.
Once the edges are covered, I coat the entire side with Mod Podge. Not too thick, but if it’s a little thin don’t worry about it because you’ll do 2-3 coats on each side anyhow.
Ensure as you drag along the paintbrush that you are getting rid of air bubbles as you go. Try to move the paintbrush lightly over the surface so you don’t get too many brush strokes. Flat, foam paintbrushes can also help here if you have them.
My recommendation is to do 5 sides, then stand it on the 6th side to let it dry. My rule of thumb is to let each coat dry for at least a few hours before putting on another coat.
Once the block has 2-3 coats of Mod Podge on every side and it’s fully dried, you’re ready to drill a hole in the top center of the ornament. I use the smallest drill bit that we have.
Once the hole is drilled, put in a hook.
I take a piece of ribbon and loop it around the base of the hook, and tie a small bow. Trim the edges of the ribbon to make sure they are even.
For the purpose of this tutorial I used my sons photos on a block but didn’t add any text, which is always a cute option too.
What started as baby blocks turned into SO much more…I’ve done 1st Anniversary blocks, blocks for kids, memory blocks, pet blocks, you name it! They have become a very versatile gift that people seem to love receiving.
The holidays are in full-swing, which means I am suffering minor burns from my glue gun pretty much daily. Few things make me more excited than wreath-making though, so it’s all worth it.
I’ve made this wreath a number of times in a few color combinations, mostly reds with silver and/or gold. The first bulb wreath I made is currently hanging on my front door. Sure, I’ve glued a few bulbs back in place over the years, but I’m proud to say it’s about 5 years old and going (mostly) strong.
I purchase foam wreaths from Michael’s when I have a 50% off coupon because these things are expensive for what they are. I also usually wait for the bulbs to go on clearance because otherwise the cost of this wreath gets really out of hand.
Materials needed for this tutorial:
Glue gun with many, many glue sticks
Regular plastic bulbs
Small plastic bulbs, bells, etc for filler
The stem on plastic bulbs typically comes off pretty easily, which is convenient because for the base layer on this wreath you’re going to need to take the stems off in order to puncture the foam and glue the bulbs in place.
I take stems off as I go, that way I don’t remove too many. Often times the plastic stems break as they are coming off so I can’t count on them going back on nicely (if at all).
Next I heat up my glue gun. I use a mini glue gun because I find the size really comfortable for prolonged use. That said, I go through mini glue sticks like it’s nobody’s business. A tremendous amount of glue is used in the making of this wreath.
With the wreath laying flat on the floor I take a bulb that has the silver stem removed and puncture the foam. I do this to essentially make a pocket for the glue.
Next you can either fill the hole up with hot glue or you can put glue directly on the bulb before you push it in. I’ve not noticed a difference in either technique.
I leave a small gap between each bulb as I continue to add bulbs to the face of the wreath.
I do the entire face of the wreath, then I start the inside and outside rings. It’s important to be careful when you are doing this next step because you want the wreath to lay flat on your door, so if your bulbs are placed too low around the sides of the wreath it simply won’t lay flat. I very slightly angle the inner and outer bulbs upward.
I do my best to stagger the bulbs along the sides, however it’s not perfect.
Once the inside ring is done I move to the outside of the wreath. Same process – take off the silver stem, puncture the foam wreath, add glue, push ornament stem back into wreath. Also, the amount of glitter on my floor in this next picture is what nightmares are made of. (Pro tip: dry Swiffer cloths are amazing at cleaning up glitter)
Once you’ve covered the wreath with bulbs you will notice lots of gaps – there’s plenty of foam visible. Not to worry! First I use more regular sized bulbs to fill in space. Once you’ve filled with regular bulbs, you can fill smaller spaces with small bulbs, small ornaments, bells, etc.
I keep adding small filler ornaments until no more foam is visible. Then I take more glue (!!!) and add wherever it seems necessary. I would rather over-glue than have ornaments falling off every time the door shuts.
When gluing ornaments to other ornaments, I try to glue each item in 3 places. If it’s a star, for example, I want at least 3 pieces of the star to make contact with other bulbs.
This wreath takes me about 2-3 hours to make, but it’s SO worth it. It’s eye-catching and unique, and it can be made with whatever color combo you can dream up! I like to stay away from big contrasts (black and silver, for example) because bulb placement gets really tricky, as you don’t want to be too dark or light in areas. Balance is key. If you add a dark blue ornament to one side, try to add one to the other to balance it out.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial. Happy holidays!