Tina Made an Insulated Casserole Carrier

I made this project a few times in the last few years but never posted pictures! I used this tutorial (with a few changes as suggested here) and it’s definitely a more complicated sewing project (takes ~5 hours from start to finish). It carries a Pyrex 9″x13″ baking/casserole dish and I’ve given them as bridal shower gifts– include the Pyrex in the carrier, and put some kitchen goodies inside (or lingerie, I suppose).

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I really need to get back on the sewing machine……. so many projects bookmarked, so little time!

Tina Made a Shark Costume

I’m pretty apathetic when it comes to Halloween, so “Happy Halloween!” would be a fake greeting on my part. More like, “MEH. Halloween.”

I know I’ve mentioned somewhere on this blog that I’m working part-time (I just couldn’t bear the responsibility of being fully unemployed. SO MUCH PRESSURE. Of people asking, “What are you doing with all your time…?” and me having to come up with an answer other than, “Sleep……………..?”). So about a month ago I started working part-time in pediatric OT– same population of special needs kids, different setting (in a clinic).

Anyway, so work sprung on us pretty last minute that this week would be SPIRIT WEEK. I ain’t spirited about Halloween, damn it. Thankfully, I’m only there 3 days a week. Monday was “Sports Day,” and I fudged it by wearing a UCLA sweatshirt and saying that the Bruins were my favorite sports team. My boss, who happens to be a close friend, gave me this face: -___- and said it didn’t count. Wednesday was “Crazy Hair/Crazy Hat Day.” I brought a Minnie Mouse hat, just so I wouldn’t get the -___- face again, but boss-friend didn’t have crazy hair OR a crazy hat, so I was off the hook.

Unfortunately, I also work Thursdays. Thursday the 31st. Sigh. I decided a few days ago that I would have to at least try, so I threw together a costume that: 1) I’d be able to wear and actually treat kids in (my job is super physical), 2) wouldn’t require me to leave the house to purchase anything (I’m lazy).

Clearly, the best option was to be a shark. By wearing a shark hoodie. The idea was inspired by a friend’s costume from a few years ago, though if you do a simple Pinterest search you’ll find various takes. Here’s mine:

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Yup. Tutorial below, for anyone who still needs a costume and has a hoodie, felt, and 1.5 hours on hand.

Materials needed:

  • sheets of 9″x12″ felt in red, black, and white
  • needle + white thread
  • scissors
  • grey hoodie
  • tacky glue
  • hot glue gun (optional)

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I love it when I have already have all the materials on hand for a given craft project. Felt can be bought at Joann’s or Michael’s for about a quarter a sheet. My plain grey hoodie is from American Apparel.

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Cut 2 strips of white felt 12″x3″ (lengthwise down the sheet of felt). Cut 2 strips of red felt 12″x1.5″ (lengthwise as well). Glue the red strips onto the white strips, lining up the edges.

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Cut out an eye shape from a piece of paper– mine was about 4.5″x2.5″, but obviously you can customize size and shape. If you want your shark to look more menacing (as menacing as a hoodie shark can look), cut the eye into a flattened-“U” shape.. like a smile. Trace your stencil x2 onto your remaining piece of white felt. Cut out two black circles for the irises, and two U shapes from the white felt to add some dimension to the eyes. Tacky glue it all together.

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Measure and mark every 2 inches down the red piece of felt (so it’s divided into 6 equal segments). This measures the base of each tooth. Measure the midpoint of each of the six 2″ segments and mark at the top edge of the white felt. These marks will guide where you cut the triangles for the rows of teeth– start at each of the points on the outer edge of the white felt, and cut diagonally into the felt, stopping at the marks you drew by the red felt (see picture on the right). Repeat for both strips of felt.

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Left picture shows what your finished strips should look like. You want the two strips to be one long continuous strip, so flip the strips over and line them up. Use a scrap triangle from the teeth you just cut out and use it as a “sticker” to glue the two strips together. I ended up using hot glue because I didn’t want to wait for the tacky glue to dry. Impatient.

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Left: The pieces you should have so far! Right: Figure out where you want the eyes to be placed by wearing your hoodie, slapping the felt eyes on your head, and gingerly taking it off while keeping the eyes in place. Sew eyes onto hoodie with a simple running stitch.

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Line your strip alongside the inner edge of your hood, with the red side obviously facing out. Left: The teeth should be lined up in such a way that when the hood is on, white triangles are showing from the sides. Sew your strip, again with a running stitch, into the inner part of your hood. Because I was using white thread, when I get to the red portions, I sewed into the bottom layer of the white felt only (like a blind stitch) so the thread wouldn’t show.

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ALL DONE! Left: side view. Right: Top view.

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What it looks like on!

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Clearly the scariest shark in all the land. Duh-Nuh…Duh-Nuh…DUH-NUH-DUH-NUH. (Jaws music, get with it).

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Or not.

Anyway, nothing fancy but definitely work-appropriate and easy to work in. If you’re into dressing up in costumes that end with “ho” (e.g. nurse…ho, angel…ho, cowgirl…ho), then I guess you can wear it with a short grey skirt and zip it up only halfway. Shark……ho. Just sayin.’

Will end this post with the cutest costume ever. My niece… dressed up as a stalk of corn.

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‘Til next Halloween…

Tina Made an Owl Hand Warmer

In this 90+ degree heat, I’ve decided to make a craft that will be totally useless for another few months. Or totally useless for… life. Haters gon’ hate.

This “heart warmer” has been on my “to-make” list since I saw it 2 winters ago. It’s a reusable hand warmer in the shape of a heart (filled with rice– stick it in the microwave to heat). However, I like owls and thought it would be (almost) equally easy to make it in an owl shape rather than a heart. But then I Googled “owl hand warmer” and of course, multiple hits came up, like this and this. Damn, it’s hard to be creative slash unique in the crafting world. Ah well. Here’s my take anyway.

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SOOOO this project ended up taking 29032x longer than I originally anticipated. It’s actually quite easy, and all the sewing went by quickly (both by hand and machine)— until I had to deal with the cotton floral fabric (the rest is obvi felt). Something about the small pieces of thin cotton was just unmanageable to me and I was so.frustrated. Also my sewing machine jammed about 23x which was so.frustrating. And I wasted time trying out embroidery thread for the border and ended up removing it all (because it was ugly) which was also.. wait for it.. so.frustrating. Ack.

I think now that I’ve made it once though, I can do it again 10x faster (assuming I won’t have the same set of issues), but if you ask me… I’m kinda over hand warmers and owls at this point. But if youuuu want to try, here are the basic steps:

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1) Draw a basic pattern for what you want your owls to look like. I chose a square-ish shape and an oval-ish shape, and ended up going with the former– about 2.5″x3.5″.

2) Draw and cut out a template onto card stock for the body and eyes. (Note that in the picture above-right, I have a stencil for the wings as well– I ended up not using that). I free-handed the pupils and the beak and thus did not need stencils for those.

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3) Trace all stencils onto your felt (I used a black pen) and cut out– you’ll need two pieces for the body (front/back), and two eyes. Also, cut out two pupils and a beak. Using pinking shears, cut two wings in quarter-circle-ish pieces from fabric. You can use felt for this part too, but I think the fabric looks a lot better.

4) Either hand-sew or use a sewing machine to sew on eyes and beak. I used a machine for the white eyeballs and hand-sewed the pupils and beak.

(…..seriously all of this was super fast and easy up to this point)

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5) Pin the two wings onto the front of the body. Sew just the innermost part of the wings (the CURVED parts) to the body. Then, tuck the outer edges of the fabric behind/underneath the felt, sandwiching the edges of the fabric between the two pieces of the body.

6) Sew (I used a machine) along the border of the entire owl, leaving a 1/2″ space for you to fill with rice. I left my hole at the very bottom.

7) Fill owl with uncooked rice (did I really have to specify “uncooked”?… yes, just in case), then hand-sew the hole closed.

To use, microwave for 20 seconds then… Hold in your hands. Put in your pocket. Caress against your face. Yay!

I really felt like steps 5 and 6 were the hardest parts– keeping the fabric where it was supposed to be while sewing along the border of the owl with the felt pieces nicely lined up. I may have had more issues because the edges of my felt were holey and stretched out from hand-sewing embroidery thread for my first time around the owl.

Ah well. Frustrations aside, I think it turned out pretty cute.

But next time, I’m sticking with the original heart shape………. too bad there won’t be a next time. 😉

Tina Made a Coffee Cozy

Note: This post is equivalent to a #waylatergram on IG.

Something in me screams “IT’S ALMOST CHRISTMAS!!!” when August hits. Mostly in a panicked way, because Christmas shopping ranks in my Top 3 first-world-problem-stressors, and there’s only ONE QUARTER of the year left to figure this all out. One quarter!! Extra stress points go to thinking of co-worker gifts. I guess I don’t have co-workers anymore -_-, but since I used to work at a school, there were always tons of people I wanted to give a little something to, and seemingly not enough money/time/creativity to go around to make it happen. So last year, I got a head start on co-worker gifts… and when I say head start, I mean… ONE YEAR IN ADVANCE.

Yup.

My friend and I got together at the end of 2011 (!) to try a reusable coffee cozy tutorial (which I can no longer find online…………..boo) to make these:

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Okay, well, not exactly that one. At first we made a ton with printed cotton fabrics and oversized buttons, but we quickly discovered that cotton burlap + wooden buttons (leaves and hearts) was the way to go…. i.e. the cutest.

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After our experimental session, I went home and made 20 more. It was like a one-woman sweatshop with tons of under the breath cursing, burning eyeballs, and picking thread off my carpet. I collected Starbucks tall coffee cups all year (i.e. 2012), minus the holiday season, when the cups are red and Christmas-y, which I assumed would make the final presentation look a little less clean. Let me just say that some Starbucks stores are extremely paranoid and stingy about their cups. One barista wrote “FREE CUP” in huge letters with a Sharpie before she gave it to me…. LEST I BREW MY OWN COFFEE AND SELL IT IN THEIR ONE CUP? Ridiculous, and a waste of a cup.

Moving on.

The cup served as instant packaging, and inside, I stuffed some red tissue paper, a Starbucks gift card, and a bag of chocolate covered almonds. Then I safety pinned a homemade tag to the cozy, wrapped the entire cup in clear cellophane, and tied it off with some red polka dotted grosgrain ribbon. Done and done.

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I’m sad I can’t find the original tutorial I used, but here are few that are pretty similar:

Practically Functional
Wait til Your Father Gets Home

These tutorials (as well as many others found online) seem to use felt, but I feel like using fabric + fusible interfacing (like I did) would be a bit more durable and washing-machine friendly.

What is fusible interfacing? Basically a non-woven fabric that adds stiffness/thickness to fabrics. One side is coated with a dry glue. When heat is applied (through an iron), it melts and adheres to the fabric that needs stiffening. Good for a coffee cozy because it provides some extra insulation as well. 🙂

Whew.

Only 4 months left ’til Christmas. I’m already behind. 😉

Encounters with a Sewing Machine

I got my first sewing machine as a college graduation gift from my roommate at the time. I say this as if I have more than one. False. I just have one.

It took me 3 years to take it out of the box because I was intimidated. My only other experience using a sewing machine was in my 7th grade Home Economics class, where I did somehow make some sweet totes and bags I never used. But what I mostly remember about that whole experience was the teacher describing how one of her former students got his finger caught under the needle as the machine was running. Talk about traumatizing.

Four years ago, I opened the box, took my machine to a friend’s place, and re-“learned” how to sew from my expert friend. I say this in quotes because although you can learn how to thread the machine (I just looked at the manual) and make the machine run, actually making something (that’s functional/recognizable) is a whole ‘nother story. For my first project, I made bedroom curtains for my sister, because it was the easiest possible thing I could think of.

A friend happened to take pictures of this day; I found them as I was looking through old tags on Facebook (oh, trusty slash scary FB…). Sorry for the terrible quality!

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Sat on the wrong side of the machine for awhile ’til I worked up the nerve to try myself. 🙂

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End result!

Something as simple as curtains still seemed to take forever. All that measuring, folding, ironing, pinning.. urgh. Since then I’ve moved onto some more complicated projects but I still consider myself a beginner-ish. Most of what I do is trial and error but I guess that’s the best way to learn. Can’t wait until I can call myself an expert! 🙂