Star Lord Part 2 – DIY Star Lord Costume: Holster Belt and Walkman

DIY Star Lord CostumeNeed an easy belt and Walkman for your DIY Star Lord costume? This tutorial shows you how to make them with a little cardboard and some distressed fabric. Continue reading

Super Easy DIY Easter Egg Garland

Super Easy DIY Easter Egg Garland This simple Easter Egg garland is super easy and quick to make, and very inexpensive. Continue reading

Winter Soldier Costume Part 3: DIY Winter Soldier Mask

DIY Winter Soldier maskOk, so finally got the DIY Winter Soldier mask tutorial finished. Continue reading

Barnabas Collins DIY Dark Shadows Inverness Cape Coat

DIY Barnabas Collins Dark Shadows Inverness Cape CoatHad a request for the inverness cape coat that Jonathan Frid wore as Barnabas Collins in the Dark Shadows TV series. Continue reading

Crafts for Kids – Thanksgiving Turkey Clothespins

Crafts for Kids - Thanksgiving Turkey Clothespins An autumn leaf and some colored paper can turn a plain clothespin into a Thanksgiving turkey, perfect for sealing up the Thanksgiving leftovers. Continue reading

Dr. McCoy Tunic – DIY “Bones” Medical Tunic

DIY Dr. McCoy Tunic This is the tutorial for the short-sleeved, satin medical tunic that McCoy usually wore on board the Enterprise in Star Trek TOS. Continue reading

How to Carve a Bruce Springsteen Pumpkin (or any intricate pumpkin)

How to Carve a Bruce Springsteen Pumpkin (or any intricate pumpkin) While Jack o’ lanterns are always nice, sometimes it’s fun to bring a little more character out of the pumpkin by doing an intricate pattern; in this example I’m using Bruce Springsteen. Continue reading

How to Make Halloween Spider Soaps

How to Make Halloween Spider Soaps Get your kitchen or bathroom ready for Halloween by making some Halloween spider soaps. Continue reading

How to Make a Witch’s Broom

How to Make a Witch's Broom It’s easy to learn how to make a witch’s broom with a little “broomcorn” and a twisty piece of wood. Continue reading

Winter Soldier Arm – How to Make a Winter Soldier Arm

How to Make a Winter Soldier ArmI had a couple requests for how to make a winter soldier arm, so here it is. Continue reading

Maleficent Costume Tutorial Part 1: DIY Horns, Staff, Ring

Maleficent Costume: DIY Horns, Staff, Ring This is a tutorial for making a fairly simple staff that lights up, horns, and ring for a Maleficent costume. Continue reading

Sauron Costume Tutorial part 3: Body Armor, gloves, chain mail

Sauron Costume Part 3An old knitted blanket, some craft foam, and duct tape will get you chain mail, armor, and movable gloves to finish your Sauron costume. Continue reading

Sauron Costume Part 1: How to Make Sauron’s Mace

Sauron's MaceYou can make a fairly convincing Sauron’s mace using old wrapping paper tubes, some clay, and a little bit of spotty painting. Continue reading

How to Make a Pop Up Tissue Paper Valentine Heart Card

valentine heart cardA few layers of tissue paper glued together in a honeycomb pattern makes a charming pop-up Valentine heart card. Continue reading

Iron Man Arc Reactor that Really Glows – DIY Cheap and Easy

Iron Man Arc Reactor - DIY Cheap and Easy This Iron Man arc reactor looks amazingly realistic, but is actually very easy to make and can be put together with just a few simple materials for around $5. Continue reading

Odin’s Spear, Gungnir Cosplay Tutorial

Odin's Spear, Gungnir I had a request for a Gungnir, Odin’s Spear tutorial. This is the version from the Thor: The Dark World movie, so it can be used for either an Odin cosplay, or for Loki after having taking the throne. Continue reading

How to Make a Record Album Binder Cover

Record Album Binder Cover If you made the record wreath I posted a couple weeks ago, then you probably have some leftover album covers. Upcycle them into fun record album binder covers. Continue reading

Communicator – DIY Star Trek Communicator and Tricorder

Star Trek communicator and tricorderIf you have a box of tacks and an old transistor radio, you can make an inexpensive Star Trek communicator and Tricorder. Continue reading

Lt. Uhura – How to Make a Lt. Uhura Costume Easy

Lt. Uhura CostumeSince I’d already done the male Star Trek costumes, figured I’d do the female version as well for the Lt. Uhura Costume. Continue reading

DIY Cheap and Easy Star Trek Costumes (TOS)

DIY Cheap and Easy Star Trek CostumesIf an Anovos replica is a little out of your price range, you can make your own TOS Star Trek costumes out of a turtleneck with almost no sewing for under $10. Continue reading

How to Replace a Zipper Using a Regular Presser Foot

replace a zipperYou can easily replace a zipper on a coat or other garment using an ordinary presser foot on a sewing machine. Continue reading

St. Patrick’s Day Crafts: Shamrock Glasses

St. Patrick's Day CraftsTo make these St. Patrick’s Day crafts, all you need is a little paint and glitter for some appropriately shamrock-ed dinnerware. Continue reading

Loki Costume Tutorial: The Coat

Loki CostumeThis is the explaination for how to make Loki’s coat, cape, and tunic. Continue reading

Loki Costume Part 1 – How to Make Loki Costume Bracers

Loki costume bracers

Here is the second part of the Loki Costume tutorial. These are the gold bracers. Continue reading

Loki Staff – How to Make a Loki Costume Staff that Actually Glows

Loki staffHere is the first part of the Loki Costume tutorial. It’s a fairly simple and inexpensive way to make a Loki staff that actually lights up. Continue reading

Easy Paper Heart Valentine Decorations

valentine decorationsThese little Valentine decorations go together pretty quick and they’re easy enough Valentine crafts that kids can make them. Continue reading

How to Make a Shag Rag Rug from Old Shirts Easily

Shag Rag RugA shag rag rug is the perfect way to use up old shirts or other rag material you might have laying around the house. Continue reading

How to Make a Perfect Size Cover for Any Kindle, Ipad, or Tablet

Kindle CoverNeed a cover to protect your Kindle, Ipad, or tablet? Why settle for a store bought version when you can make one yourself to fit your own style.

Continue reading

DIY Flare Jeans

DIY Flare Jeans You can buy flare jeans in the store, but when you make them yourself, you can add more of your personal style to your flares. Continue reading

How to Make a Christmas Wreath out of Pine Cones

How to Make a Christmas Wreath out of Pine Cones This tutorial shows how to make a Christmas wreath using pine cones. The pine cones are spray painted white to create a contrasting background for the red birds and ribbon. Continue reading

How to Make a Rustic Christmas Star

Rustic Christmas star The natural materials for this rustic Christmas star can easily be found by taking a quick walk through the woods. Continue reading

DIY Wedding Invitations with Lace

DIY wedding invitations with laceThese DIY wedding invitations are easy, inexpensive, and fairly quick to make, but the lace and ribbon give them an elegant touch. Continue reading

Duct Tape Mannequin Tutorial

duct tape mannequinA duct tape mannequin is an easy and inexpensive way to make a sewing mannequin. All it will cost you is a pair of pants, a shirt, and a couple rolls of duct tape. Continue reading

Harry Potter Costume Tutorial Part 2: Easy No-Sew Robe, Crest, & Glasses

Here is part 2 of the Harry Potter costume tutorial. This covers making the robe, the house crest, and a pair of glasses. Continue reading

Harry Potter Costume Part 1: Easy No-Sew Sweater, Shirt, & Tie

Easy No-Sew Harry Potter Costume Part 1: Sweater, Shirt, & TieThis is a quick and easy Harry Potter costume that requires almost no sewing, save for a small bit to attach the robe closure. It’s easy enough that kids can make it themselves.  Continue reading

Thor Costume Tutorial Part 3 – Hammer, Cape, Boots, & Belt

thor costumeHere is the third and final part of the Thor costume tutorial. I was starting to run out of time before the comic con, so I wasn’t able to film the actual production of these parts, but here’s the explain on how to complete the remaining Thor costume pieces. Continue reading

Thor Costume Tutorial Part 2: The Vest

thor costumeThis is part two of the Thor costume tutorial. This how-to is for making Thor’s vest. I’ve simplified it a bit just to make it a little easier to do.

Continue reading

Wheat Weaving: Heart-shaped Wedding Favor

Wheat WeavingThis one was a request I got from someone wanting to make heart-shaped wheat weavings as favors for their wedding. The hearts are woven around a wire core which allows you to bend the finished weaving into any shape; in this case a heart.

Continue reading

How to Make a Skirt from an Old Pair of Jeans

Jean SkirtYou can upcycle an old pair of jeans into a fun denim skirt by adding a little bit of material. It’s a good way to use up old jeans that have holes in the knees, but where the top is still good. Continue reading

Photo Effect Tutorial – Make Photos Look Vintage

Photo Effect Tutorial - Make Photos Look Vintage I’ve always loved tintype photographs (I’ve been told I lived a past life during the Civil War, so I suppose that might have something to do with it), but I’ve never taken the time to actually get into the tintype process. So in lieu of pulling out a real tintype camera, my latest photographic obsession has been creating “fake” tintypes digitally. Continue reading

Leaf Printed Easter Egg

easter eggThis is a quick way to put a “reverse” image design on an Easter egg.

Just dab a little paint over the leaf with the sponge and the leaf’s basic shape remains free of paint on the egg. Continue reading

How to Make Leprechaun Costume Shoes

Leprechaun Costume ShoesWith St. Patrick’s Day being next week and all, a leprechaun costume or two usually shows up this time of year. You can turn pretty much any pair of plain, black shoes into leprechaun shoes to go with a leprechaun costume just by using a little cardboard, gold paint and some masking tape. Continue reading

Multi-Layer Spinning Shamrock

This decoration was inspired by those garden spinners that seem to be so popular now. They’re usually metal, in several layers, and the layers separate and spin at the slightest breeze. This shamrock for St. Patrick’s day won’t be outdoors, so cardstock works fine instead of metal for this decoration. Continue reading

Rainbow Tissue Paper Card

This little card is made by placing colored paper or cardstock under a printed tissue paper overlay for a muted rainbow effect. Easy for kids. Using recycled paper keeps your cards eco-friendly.

Make a Moth-Repelling Lavender Sock Sachet

Scuffing my feet in and out of farm boots all the time means that I go through pairs of socks pretty fast. That leaves me with quite the pile of socks with holes in the heels. I’ve tried darning them, but it doesn’t really last that long, so what to do with all those un-wearable socks? Make sock sachets!

More specifically, sock sachets filled with lavender. It’s a “two birds with one stone,” solution. Moths don’t like the smell of lavender, so a sachet filled with lavender heads keeps moths away from clothes just as well as cedar or mothballs would (and the lavender smells a lot better too!). And making the sachets out of old socks is a great way to upcycle socks that are past their prime.

How to Make a Lacy Heart Valentine Magnet

Most Valentines go through the mail, are enjoyed for a few weeks, and are then thrown out, never to be seen again. So this year I decided to try something a little more practical, by giving out Valentine magnets instead of Valentine cards. They’re something practical (as far as I know, everybody uses magnets at some point or another) as well as being cute enough to keep year round.

These little magnets are also a good way to recycled excess seambinding pieces, small bits of cardstock and business card magnets. (In the office where I work, they often update the magnetic business cards. Rather than throw out the old ones, I take them home for crafts, so I’ve usually got plenty that need recycling.) The lace makes these look fancy, but really they only take a few minutes to make, and since they use hot glue, you don’t even have to wait long for the glue to dry!

2 Minute Valentine Card

Here’s a simple, kid-friendly Valentine card that’s good to do with younger kids. It’s quick and easy and turns a bunch of hearts into a flower for Valentine’s Day. Regular tacky glue and kid-friendly scissors will help keep the project nice and safe for tiny hands.

How to Make a Valentine Hearts Wreath from Scrapbooking Paper

This wreath uses 6 strips of scrapbooking cardstock to make hearts. I used tacky glue to fasten my hearts together which makes the sides pinch up and gives the hearts a pointed, abstract look. If you don’t like that look and want the heart edges to remain rounded, use some scrapbooking sticky dots instead to connect the hearts together.

How to Make a Hair Scrunchy

I have long hair so I often wear it in a scrunchy, and as I don’t really like going shopping, I usually make my own. Due to sewing all the time, I generally have plenty of leftover material lying around, and scrunchies are a great way to use up some of those extra pieces. They require very minimal sewing, using only a basting stitch. For each scrunchy you’ll need a piece of fabric 18 inches long and 3 inches wide, as well as a piece of thin elastic (no thicker than 1/4 inch).

Super Easy Embroidery Thread Twist Bracelets

These bracelets are a great kids’ craft. Just a little twisting of embroidery thread and a bracelet is made. It can be as plain or as colorful as desired simply by changing the colors of the thread being twisted.

Quick and Easy Gift Tags

Just a little bit of stamping and some glue and you’re good to go. These little gift tags are cute name holders when you’re in a pinch for time.

Open Door Santa Sleigh Card from Used Christmas Cards

This card is a good way to recycle used Christmas cards from a previous year. You’ll be needing one with a Santa and sleigh, and one with a door. The slight pop up part of this card is on the front, which leaves the interior blank for writing.

How to Make a Christmas Tree Garland out of Scrapbooking Paper

I have a tendency to use scrapbooking paper for pretty much anything but scrapbooking. In particular, I love making Christmas decorations out of it. The Christmas Tree I have in my bedroom is an old artificial one that someone was getting rid of, so I took it. It’s kind of scrappy (It makes Charlie’s Brown’s tree look good!) so it needs plenty of color to jazz it up. This scrapbooking paper garland fits the bill. It’s made using the same technique as a gum wrapper chain, so if you’ve ever made one of those, this garland should be a cinch. But if not it’s pretty easy to get the hang of.

How to Make a Christmas Riddle Card

For years I’ve been making up clue games for my siblings and relatives (that usually result in headaches for them as they try for hours to solve the riddles and get to the next clue), so I thought it’d be fun to extend a bit of that cipher-making into some Christmas cards. It’s just kind of a fun way to make your family and friends think for a moment when they open their Christmas cards. However, the riddle on this card is pretty straight forward and easy enough that there shouldn’t be any headaches involved for the recipients. Though if you do want to make it a bit more difficult for them, you can leave out the underscore completely so it takes just a bit longer to figure out what letter is missing.

Transforming a Room with Color

A little color can go a long way. It can turn a hum-ho room into a bright and happy place. Here I redo the window, bed, and dresser in this room, giving them a splash of color to make them pop. The Buddhist style motif was inspired Inara’s lavish shuttle decorations in Firefly. A little bold color goes a long way to making the room seem energized with life.

How to Tie a Perfect 6-loop Bow

A bow is a pretty basic need in crafting, but sometimes a perfect bow can be an elusive item, especially when it involves multiple loops. The trick is to use wire-edged ribbon, as it allows you to bend the loops into any shape. That and a little twisting, and you’ve got an easy, perfect bow. I use these on wreaths and centerpeices and sometimes even on wrapped gifts if I want to make them look extra fancy.

Wheat Weaving: Easy Harvest Braid

Autumn time is usually when I start getting heavily back into the wheat weaving, but thought I’d start with something simple. A harvest braid is very traditional wheat weaving. It’s also very easy, as the “hair braid” is the only plait you’ll be needing. The trick to making this braid look good is to ensure the straws all stay in the same order and remain flat as you’re weaving, otherwise it tends to look messy.

How to Make Flowered Gourds

flowered gourdsThese are something I make every year. They’re just cute little table decorations and look great in a bunch. They can work for any of the autumn holidays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, etc. Usually they’ll last all the way through Thanksgiving before they start to rot (so long as they’re not kept in a very warm spot). Although one year I gave one to my grandmother and it dried, so she kept it right through Christmas!

The nice thing about these is that everything on them is real, except the silk leaves. (I tried real leaves one year and they ended up a crumpled, powdery mess by the end). You can usually find them by the bag at Michael’s or Joann Fabrics. If not, you can cut the leaves off one of those holiday leaf garlands.

3 Flower Preservation Methods: Air drying, Silica Crystal, and Pressing

I use a lot of dried flowers in my crafts and basically the 3 easiest ways to preserve them are by air drying, silica crystals, or pressing. Air drying is by far the easiest. Just tie a string ’round the flowers and hang ’em to dry. Silica crystals are cool because they preserve the original shape and color for the most part. Plus the silica crystals can be reused again and again. (An alternative, but similar method to silica is to put the flowers in a pan of sand and bake them on low for about 20 minutes. It sucks the moisture right out of them). And of course pressing is an irreplaceable method to obtain preserved flowers suitable for note cards or other projects requiring flat blossoms.

Cookie Cutter Reversed Image Card

Was just kind of in a cardmaking mood, so here’s another card. This one uses a cookie cutter cut out, and a little piece of cardstock on the inside to make what’s cut out on the top, pop up on the inside.

Feeling Groovy Card

I was just having some fun with this card. I had some really small pieces of incense leftover that were way too small to be of any use to burn, so I figured, why not use ’em on a hippie-themed card. It also let me use up some leftover flowered cardstock that was too small to use for much of anything, but still too cool to throw out.

How to Dye Queen Anne’s Lace with Food Coloring

Well it’s Queen’s Anne’s Lace season (a.k.a wild carrot), so I’ve been dying some as usual. There really is something that’s almost magical about watching those pristine white flowers slowly take on the vibrant colors of the food coloring they’re immersed in. It’s a great country pastime, and it’s so easy anyone can do it. The shorter the stem, the quicker it takes up the dye. And once the flowers are dyed, they can be dried for brightly colored craft projects!

Wheat Weaving: Hunger Games Mockingjay Pin

Well, I’m betting I’m the first one to try this! A mockingjay pin made out of wheat. I just finished reading the first and second Hunger Games books, so I decided to weave the famous mockingjay pin out of wheat. (Hey, we all need to geek out once in a while, right). So I used a simple plait for the circle and used a straw marquetry technique for the bird, and then just joined the two with glue to make the pin. Straw marquetry refers to the practice of ironing wet straw flat and then gluing them onto a surface (in this case cardstock shaped like a mockingjay). It actually came out great on the first attempt, so I thought I’d post it for any fellow Hunger Games fans who wanted to try it. Hope you all have as much fun with it as I did!

How to Make a Cornhusk Doll

One of my favorite parts about summer is of course sweet corn (who doesn’t love that?) and the leftover husks (ok, a little less commonly sought after than the sweet corn, but still loads of fun). Most of our leftover husks go to the cows, as husks are like a cow’s version of desert, but I always save a out a few to make cornhusk dolls. They’re cute little folkart things that are fun to make, and the best part is, if anything gets messed up during the creation, there are plenty more husks where those came from.

Cornhusk dolls have their origins in Native American culture. The dolls were made as toys for children as well for more serious ceremonies. In later years, the pioneers also borrowed the tradition from the Native Americans and made dolls for their children out of cornhusks.

Traditionally cornhusk dolls have no faces. This is due to Continue reading

How to Make No-sew Curtains

Normally I’m a patient person, but when it comes to redecorating my room, I turn into a rather lazy seamstress. When it’s my own room, I pretty much want it “done yesterday” so I end up taking a lot of shortcuts. Some of those shortcuts crash and burn, but others end up fine. This set of curtains is one of the latter. I needed some curtains for my window, and lately I’ve really felt the need to add some orange to my room. So I got myself a piece of material that wouldn’t fray, a little glue and a pair of scissors and set about making a set of curtains that only took a few minutes. Since there’s no sewing, these curtains are easy enough that anyone can make them. (Sorry, the sound isn’t great in this. I was shooting this video at midnight so I couldn’t talk very loudly, as everyone was sleeping.)

How to Make a Lavender Bottle

The lavender is in full bloom, so it’s time to make some lavender bottles! I always make a few to hang off my bed’s headboard because the relaxing aroma of lavender is good for insomnia. It also helps with headaches. Lavender bottles are a pretty way to keep that lovely fragrence in the house all year long. And if they’re kept in a clothing drawer, they give all the clothes a nice, lavendery scent.

How to Make a Catnip Toy

There aren’t too many cats that don’t love the smell of catnip. It’s basically like a feline drug that makes even older cats seem like they’re crazy high. I usually have a lot of excess material lying around from old sewing projects, and usually extra peices of small quilt batting which are much too tiny to be used for anything else. Catnip sachets get two birds with one stone; they’re a quick and easy way to recycle my extra material and batting, and they make my cat love me even more (or maybe that’s just the catnip talking). I’ve also heard that catnip is good for insomnia. So if you don’t have a cat, make one for yourself to put under your pillow. (If you start meowing, you’ll know you’ve gone too far!)

How to Make a Hemp Fabric Shopping Bag Part 1

Hemp is one of the strongest most eco-friendly fabrics on the planet. The hemp used in this project came from (Sorry, the sound in this one is rather poor after the intro)

How to Make Simple Curtains Part 1: Cutting

Here’s my first sewing tutorial. It’s a set of fairly easy curtains that are a good project for a beginner. The curtains are thin to avoid blocking too much light from the window. I did this tutorial in 2 parts so it wouldn’t be such a long video: cutting the material and then sewing the material. I’ve never taught anyone other than myself how to sew, so I don’t know if I’m being clear or confusing for others. If anyone has any suggestions for improvement, they’d be greatly appreciated.

Making a Between a Shamrock and a Hard Place Card

If a bad situation is called being between a rock and a hard place, is a good situation being between a sham-rock and a hard place?

Shamrock Templates

How to Make a Two Layer Melt-and-Pour Soap Bar

Melt-and-Pour Soap is a fun and safe alternative to traditional lye for making handmade soaps. This video demonstrates how to use two colors to make a two layer bar of soap, with a clear glycerin layer on top.

How to Make a Pressed Leaf Bookmark

A piece of plastic and a little spray adhesive keep the pressed leaves in place on this bookmark. If you’ve never pressed leaves and want information on how to do so, follow this link: Pressing Leaves and Flowers

How to Make a Woven Hearts Valentine Card

This card is made out of two scrapbooking paper hearts that have been woven together. For a cutting template for this project, click the image below.


Halloween Spider Soaps

My aunt had a cute idea of putting bugs into soap bars for Halloween, so today I went ahead and tried it. It’s a very simple project, and can be done using transparent melt and pour glycerin. You’ll also need some plastic spiders which can be found pretty much anywhere this time of the year. Black is traditional, but other colors look great too.

Start by pouring a layer of glycerin into a brownie pan. Quickly set the spiders in the glycerin layer, making sure their legs poke down into the glycerin. When the first layer of glycerin has hardened, pour a second layer over it, covering the spiders. You can also allow a bit of the spider to stick out the top for texture.

Cut the soap into bars allowing one spider for each bar. Put the bars in a soap dish and warn arachnophobics to be ware!

No spiders were harmed in the making of these soaps.

Making a Fairy Part 2: The Dress

For the fairy dress, I had a fair bit of white satin leftover from a wedding gown I’d done last year, so I made the fairy dress out of that. I double-layered it on the body part of the dress so it wouldn’t be see through, and fortunately satin is still light enough to wear to a summer Ren Fest.

For the gold trim on the pointed sleeves and the collar I found a polyester fabric that worked great. The dress has a zippered back. The costume was finished off with a pair of pointed ears, like the elf’s. Glittery makeup, a flute, and a greenery wreath for the head also make excellent fairy embellishments.

Making a Fairy Part 1: The Wings

It has to be said that wings are the most important part of a fairy costume. The wings are what really prompt the fairy response. Working off the sketch I was given, I fashioned the wings in four sections out of electric cow fence wire (yeah, I know, me using anything other than bailing wire, what are the odds? But hey, fence wire is pretty close). Since it was to be a water fairy, I set out to find an apporpriate blue material to cover the wing frame with. I found this sheer blue material with a wavy pattern on it, which seemed to hit the mark because when I brought it home, my sister commented that the fabric looked like water. Perfect!

I cut the fabric to fit the wingshapes and sewed them to the frames by hand all the way around the edges. (That’s the way I’ve always done it, but I’ve got to find an easier way, because this way just takes much too long). Then I wrapped a few paint stirring sticks with the elftover blue material and sewed them to all 4 sections to attached them to one another and provide stability.

Since the fairy dress will be white, the ties are white satin ribbon to go aroud the shoulders and tie in the back. There’s also an optional set of ribbons at the waist.

Making an Elvin Archer Part 6: The Shirt

For shirt I used light green broadcloth, double-layered on the torso part, and single-layered on the sleeves. It’s one of the Renaissance style, large shirts. I kept it fairly short so there wouldn’t be a lot to stuff into the corset. The collar was a two inch wide piece of fabric that I did a running stitch on, and pulled it up tight, then I sewed it between the two layers of the shirt. To make the sleeves poofy, I cut them in a shape sort of like a half moon, and sewed the curved edge to the body of the shirt. The flat edges I made sure to cut on the bias so I wouldn’t have to hem them. Then to enhance the “poof” I sewed some half-inch brown ribbon onto the sleeve-bottoms, sewing only at the very edges which left a tunnel in between. Through the tunnel, I ran a thinner piece of brown ribbon so the sleeves can be pulled up tight for added “poofyness” and a good fit on the arms. The olive green piece of cloth at the bottom is a sash/belt that goes around the waist.

The costume was finished off with a pair of latex elf ears.

Making an Elvin Archer Part 5: The Shorts

To make the shorts, I took a pair of brown pants, kinda like sweatpants, but not quite so thick, and cut them off below the knee. Then I rolled the bottoms up a couple inches and sewed the roll in place. The pants had pockets in them, so instead of sewing them out, I left them in, figuring they might be convienent. And since the skirt will go over them, they won’t show anyway. I cut the slits in the sides about an inch wide and sewed the seams wit keep them from unravelling. I didn’t use metal lacing holes for these, I just did the whipstitch holes as I was afraid the metal might be uncomfortable on bare skin. The ribbon lacing is the same 1/4 inch thick satin brown I used for the the cloak closure. The waist is drawstring again, like the skirt, to ensure good fit.

Making an Elvin Archer Part 4: The Skirt

For the skirt, I had enough faux suede left over from the cloak to make the skirt from that. This is probably the simplest part of the costume. I just cut the front section, and the back section (the longer part), sitched the two together at the sides, then cut the slits in both front and back. Because the faux suede frays easily, I zig-zag stiched all around the entire edge of each slit with my sewing machine to make sure it doesn’t come unravelled. The waistband I made drawstring to be sure for a perfect fit.

Making an Elvin Archer Part 3: The Corset

Since this elvin archer is female, we needed a corset. I made this out of the same faux leather stuff as the bracers, but instead of putting fabric stiffener inside, I used two layers of denim. I had to give it a light “boning” without it being uncomfortable (battle elves needing to be able to move around quckly after all), so instead of metal or plastic boning, I lined the front of the corset with some vertical nylon strings. Actually, to be specific, the nylon strings are bailing twine (not just for use on haybails), to allow for plenty of flexibility, while still providing support. It’s a front-lacing corset, so I used metal lacing holes on this, which I’ve done never before. Usually I just whipstitch around a cut to make a lacing hole, same as a button, but in this case, since it’d be seen from the front, I wanted it to look a bit fancier. I think I’ll be using them for any corset I make from now on. They’re not too difficult to work with and they look great!

Churning Butter

Churning ButterIt was a butter day today (yes, at my house we still actually churn our own butter). My cousin has a dairy farm where he sells raw milk, so every few weeks someone in the family makes a milk run to his farm. We end up with four one-gallon jars of milk, each with a 1-2 inch layer of cream on top, which of course becomes the butter.

There are several different ways to churn butter. There is the old churn and dasher method, but few people have enough cream to fill one of these. There is the butter bowl method which involves stirring the cream in a large wooden bowl until it becomes butter. And then there are the shaker jar and the paddle jar methods. These two are probably the most convenient.

If you only have a relatively little bit of cream, the shaker jar method works well. Simply fill a canning jar with the cream, screw on the top and shake the jar until the cream turns to butter. The drawback of this method is that your arms generally feel like they’re going to fall off from exhaustion long before the butter begins to form.

The paddle jar is a much easier method. The paddle jar is basically a glass jar with a set of paddles that churn the butter as you turn the handle. The one we use belonged to my great-grandmother, so it’s probably over a hundred years old, but it still works great. However, since the majority of people probably don’t have their great-grandmother’s churn hanging around the house, there are several companies that still make jar churns. A quick Internet search can locate them.

To churn butter, leave jars of milk in the refrigerator over night. This will allow the milk to settle, so all the cream is easily accessed at the top of the jar. Use a measuring cup to dip the layer of cream off the top of the milk and put it in the churn.

Begin to churn the cream, moving the paddles at a relaxed rate. You’ll be there a while so don’t wear yourself out by trying to go too fast. (If using the shaker jar method, just shake as hard you can for as long you can, then pass the jar to a friend and have them do the same).

The cream will go through several stages. First it will slosh up and down on the sides of the jar like milk. Second the top of the cream will start to bubble and suds-up. Then the bubbles will subside and the cream will become smooth again, but as it sloshes against the side, it won’t slide away cleanly; it will begin sticking to the jar. When this happens the cream is beginning to “butterize.”

Keep churning, stopping periodically to check the cream inside. When you see thick clumps form, you can celebrate. Spoon out of the clumps of butter into a bowl, and savethe leftover liquid for any recipe calling for buttermilk. The butter is best best kept in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it as it will go bad faster than store-bought butter, due to not having the preservatives.

Once in a while, for some reason still unknown to mankind, the cream will refuse to turn to clumps of butter. It will instead form a light and fluffy layer of whipped butter. Don’t despair. Although it may not be traditional butter, that fluffy stuff is the sweetest tasting butter you will ever have.
Copyright © Amber Reifsteck ~ The Woodland Elf

Hoopskirt Making

A hoopskirt is essential for civil war reenactment costumes and some Renaissance costumes. It can also be used to give fullness to a wedding dress. While premade hoopskirts are available, it is much more cost efficient to make your own.

You will need:
2 flat strips of metal, no more than 2 inches wide. Should long enough to make hoops 120″ and 100″
Long pieces of scrap fabric
Strong yarn or string
Needle and thread

This is a 2-tiered set of hoops, and is fairly easy to make. To begin, you will need some long, flat strips of metal. For my skirt I found some discarded strips that had previously been used to bind stacks of lumber. I have also seen such strips in hardware stores such as Lowe’s.

Bend one strip into a circle, measuring it to be 120 inches around. Duct tape the two ends of the strip together. Wind duct tape around the entire strip to prevent it from rusting and staining the gown. (If your strips are made of no-rust metal, you can skip this step). Make a second hoop 100 inches around. Duct tape the ends together, and wind the entire strip with duct tape.

Cut 5 strips of fabric about 4 feet long and 2 inches wide. Tightly sew the the ends of these five strips to the 120″ hoop, evenly spacing them around the hoop.

Cut another strip about three feet long, and tie around your waist, making a sort of belt. Tie the free ends of the five strips to this belt, evenly spacing them. Adjust the height of the five strips until the hoop is several inches above the ground. Untie the belt from your waist, making sure the five strips stay tied to it.

Cut off any excess from the five strips. If you have a mannequin, put the hoops on it. If not, have a friend volunteer to wear the hoops for a moment. Take the 100″ hoop and hold it about a foot and a half above the bottom hoop. Run a piece of yarn through each of the fabric strips and tie them tightly to the 100″ hoop.

If your gown has a thick skirt, the hoop forms won’t show through the dress. If they do, add a petticoat beneath the hoops. This is what the finished product looks like (I sewed my skirt to my hoops for convenience, so I don’t have a picture of just the hoops).
Copyright © Amber Reifsteck ~ The Woodland Elf

Book Bags

These little bags are named for their construction material, not what they carry. They’re a great way to recycle old hardcover books.

You will need:

  • Hardcover book
  • 1 yard of material
  • Hot glue gun
  • Bag handles
  • Ribbon
  • A large button
  • Cardboard

Start by cutting the pages out of an old hardcover book. Cut a piece of cardboard, the width of the book’s spine, and hot glue it to the inside of the spine. Lay the book out flat, with the inside facing up. Measure and cut a piece of cloth that will cover the entire book. Set aside.

Cut four pieces of ribbon that are twice as long as the book’s front cover width. Loop these pieces of ribbon through the bag handles (for extra stability, you can sew the two sides of the halved ribbon together.) Hot glue the four ribbons to the front and back cover of the bag, allow enough ribbon so the handles do not quite touch the bag.


Cut a piece of ribbon a little larger than the circumference of your button. Form a loop and hot glue this the center of the edge of the back cover. Run a piece of ribbon through the holes in the button and hot glue the ribbon ends to the center of the edge of the front cover. This will form a button and loop closure for the bag.

Cut two pieces of triangular-shaped material. The tip of the triangle, should be as wide as the spine of the book, the bottom of the triangle should be several inches wider than the spine. Make the triangle half an inch taller than the book. Glue a triangular piece to each side of the bag, attaching the cloth to the spine, front and back covers of the book.



Take the piece of material that was cut to the size of the book. Glue the material to the Books Bagsbook, covering all the ribbons. Make sure this is securely glued.

When the glue is dry, the bag is ready to be used. If you want to get really fancy, you can cut a few rectangles of the same material, and glue them to the inside of the bag to make pockets. Once you get the hang of these, they are really fun to make.
Copyright © Amber Reifsteck ~ The Woodland Elf