How to Make a Fabric Book
Here's a whole new spin on book and zine-making: make 'em from fabric instead of paper! Here's a simple method:
First, choose some fabric. This project works best for woven fabrics. You can use solids or prints, and you can use several different fabrics in the same book.
Next, decide what size you want your finished book to be. Cut yourself a template from lightweight cardstock. It should be the same size as your book would be if it were opened flat.
Then, trace this template onto several pieces of fabric, and cut them out. (You can use between three and eight pieces of fabric for this method.)
Easier-way instructions: If you own a rotary cutter, then just cut yourself a series of fabric rectangles, all the same size. And watch your fingers.
Now, let's talk a bit about your fabric choice. If you're using a fabric that has the same appearance on both sides, then your pages will all look the same. If your fabric has a distinct "right side" and "wrong side," then some of your book pages will be showing that "wrong side." If you like, you could fuse your rectangles together back-to-back, so only the "right side" shows. This tutorial shows you how to fuse.
Once you have your fabrics as you like them, stack those rectangles up as shown here.
Fold this stack of rectangles in half, and press them with a steam iron.
. . . .This creates a helpful crease where the spine of your book will be.
You'll want to sew along this crease line in order to bind your book together. The easiest way is to stitch it up with a sewing machine, but you can also do it by hand. If you're stitching by hand, a simple running stitch or backstitch work well.
And voila! This puppy is a blank canvas, practically begging for embellishment. Consider these ideas:
- You could embroider on the pages before binding, and then fuse them together back-to-back, to hide the backsides of your embroidery.
- You could draw on the pages with puff paints. (Just be sure to allow lots of drying-time!)
- You could write on the pages with paint pens.
- You could stitch or glue paper ephemera to the pages.
- You could sew beads or sequins to the pages.
- You could fuse cuts-outs from other fabrics to the pages.
I think the fabric book has great potential as a children's picture book, or an art journal. Have fun!
Holiday Project: Celebration Candle
This week's project will be familiar to some of you, but it sure is perfect for this week between Christmas and New Year's. It's based on an idea which exists in many spiritual traditions: that lighting a candle for someone or something you love gives it special reverence. So this candle is covered with reminders of your favorite people, places, and things. Make one to ring in 2008!
So first, get yourself a pillar candle. I like to use white or off-white ones, but if you prefer colors, knock yourself out. And then, go through all your old magazines and precious bits of paper and cut out a lot of images and words that have significance to you.
You can use photographs on your candle, but Id recommend that you make color photocopies of them for this project. We're going to decoupage here, and photos tend to be too thick to decoupage well.
Now, we'll be gluing all these images and words to the sides of your candle. Mod Podge is excellent for this - and I like to use the glossy-finish version. But, if you have no Mod-Podge, no worries. Use good old-fashioned Elmer's Glue instead.
Just spread some glue onto the candle, and press your cut-out into the glue. After that, I like to spread a little more glue on top of the cut-out, to make sure all the edges lie flat.
You'll want to cover just a section of the candle at a time, and then leave it alone to dry for 20 minutes or so before moving on. Here's a good trick: take two ordinary pencils, Tape them down to your work surface, parallel to each other, and about 2" apart. Set your candle on its side, between the two pencils, and it won't roll around.
Once you've glued nice things all the way around your candle, and it's had about 20 minutes to dry, then take that same Mod Podge (or glue) and spread a fairly thick coat all over your work, to seal all those cut-outs in place.
(By the way, this sponge brush I'm using here is great for decoupage, but if you don't have one, a regular paint brush works fine. Heck, if worse comes to worse, so will your fingers!
Okay, now leave your candle alone for a couple hours to dry again.
. . . And then, if you like, you can glue on some glitter, or add sparkly things here and there. Just dab on some more glue, and stick 'em down. Then let 'em dry.
A little safety note:
Youll want to burn your candle so that you dont end up damaging the collage youve so carefully built on the outside. So, the first time you light it, watch it carefully. When its burned down to the point where theres a good-sized well in the center, blow out the candle. After it cools, trim the wick all the way down to the wax. Then, insert a tealight candle into this well, and burn that instead. Now your celebration candle will last forever! And, as they say . . . never leave a burning candle unattended.
Holiday Project: Salt Dough Cookie Ornaments
If you have some bored kids hanging around the house this week, or some hard-to-entertain family in from out of town, this project provides hours of fun . . . not to mention, cute ornaments you can hang on your tree or give as gifts.
You'll need to make up a batch of Salt Dough for this project. It couldn't be simpler to make. Start by mixing these three ingredients in a large bowl:
2 cups Flour
2 cups Salt
1 cup Water
Begin by stirring this mixture, and when it becomes to firm to stir, then knead it a bit with your hands. The resulting dough should feel moist and smooth, but not stick to your hands. (Knead in a tiny bit more flour if it's sticking to your hands.)
. . . And if you like, take some smaller balls of this dough and color them with food coloring. If the food coloring makes the dough a little too sticky, just knead in a tiny bit more flour.
(Note: if you don't like the food coloring approach, then you can always paint your ornaments after you bake them.)
I recommend that you store the dough in an airtight container, so it won't dry out.
Now, get a cookie sheet, and your favorite holiday cookie cutters. And also, you'll need something to roll out your dough with. You can use your rolling pin, but since we'll be working on our cookie sheet, you might want to use something smaller, like a straight-sided bottle, like I'm using here.
Roll some dough out to a 1/4" thickness. We're going to make our ornament on the cookie sheet, so roll this dough out on the sheet, right where you want the finished cookie to be.
Press a cookie cutter into the dough.
. . . And then, pull away all the dough from around the cutter. You can re-roll this to make new ornaments, over and over. Then, remove the cutter.
Now you can decorate your ornament however you like. The salt dough sticks to itself beautifully, so you can press different colors of dough onto your cut-out.
You can also embellish by embossing details into the dough. Toothpicks are great tools for this . . .
. . . Or, you can use a table knife to incise lines in the dough.
Feel free to use any color of dough for the base of your ornament, and embellish it with any color.
If you roll your dough thinner, like 1/8", then you can stack cut-outs of different colors onto each other. (Your finished ornaments should be no more than 1/4" thick.)
As a last step, make a hole in the top of your ornament, for hanging. You can use a drinking straw for this, as shown here . . . .
. . . Or, a toothpick, as shown here. (Just make sure to twirl that toothpick around a little, so your hole is large enough for a bit of ribbon to pass through.)
Make as many ornaments as you like on the cookie sheet. And preheat your oven to 250 degrees.
Bake your ornaments until they are hard. The baking time will vary, but start with 20 minutes, and then keep checking them every 10 minutes after that. They're done when they feel hard all over, but don't let them get brown.
(Note: I have teflon fingers, so I test my ornaments by poking them. Don't you do this - you could burn yourself. Poke yours with a toothpick instead.)
After your ornaments have cooled, seal them all over with some varnish. I like the spray-on kind best for this salt dough. Water-based, brush-on varnish has a tendency to re-soften the surface of your ornament.
And as I mentioned before, at this stage, you can also paint your ornament, or add some glitter, if you like.
When the varnish is dry, poke a 6" piece of narrow ribbon through the hole in the top of each ornament, and tie the ends in a knot. Now they're tree-ready!
Holiday Project: Recycling Wrap
I'm one of those people who carefully save the wrapping paper from every gift I receive. I always have good intentions of re-using it to wrap future gifts . . . but the reality is, this saved paper is often kind of dinged-up, torn, and wrinkled. Not really usable except for very small gifts.
And so, I finally devised this little project. It's a nice way to use up all those pieces of leftover wrap. By cutting them into strips and weaving them, you can hide all the little rips and wrinkles, and you end up creating something very pretty. So here you go!
Start by finding a flat, clean work-surface. You can make as large a piece of woven wrap as you like - it just depends on having a work-surface large enough.
Then, collect some pieces of wrapping paper, and cut them into strips. I think the finished product is nicest if each of the wraps you use has a strong color-presence. I'm using 1 1/2"-wide strips here, but feel free to use any width you like. (Boy, is a paper cutter your friend here.)
The length of your strips, of course, determines how large your finished sheet of wrap will be. If you need to, you can tape your strips together end-to-end with some clear tape to make them longer.
Think of it this way: how wide do you need your finished sheet of wrap to be? Make the strips that will weave horizontally that same measurement. How long do you need your sheet to be? Make the strips that will weave vertically that same measurement.
Okay, next, take the vertical strips and lay them out side by side on your work-surface. I'm using two different papers here and alternating them, but maybe you want them to be all the same. Up to you.
When you have these strips the way you like them, you'll want to gently tape them down so they won't move around. For this, I use small pieces of masking tape, but I put my fingers all over the adhesive first, so they're less sticky. (Or, if you have some drafting tape, use that.) See how lightly I'm sticking the tape down? You don't want to be too firm here, because you don't want to rip the paper later when you pull these pieces up.
You're all taped down and set to weave now. See how I used one bit of tape between every two strips? That works well.
Time to weave! Take one of your horizontal strips. Start at the bottom, and weave it over and under, and over and under, the vertical strips. Just think back to Scout Camp. Or grade school.
Now, slide that strip all the way up to the top, where your masking tape is. Make sure the strip is centered side-to-side, and snug against the top.
Weave a second strip, starting at the bottom and sliding it to nestle right under the first strip. Weave this one opposite to the first, under and over, under and over.
Keep going, and each time you add a new strip, just make sure it's nice and snug under the previous one. You don't want any gaps between strips.
When you don't have space to weave in any more strips, you're done!
TIme to secure the edges. The first thing I do is secure the two vertical sides of the sheet. I put a tab of clear tape at the end of each horizontal strip . . . .
. . . And wrap that tape around to the back. Do this for every horizontal strip, along both sides of your sheet.
Then, very carefully, pull up that masking tape so you can liberate your sheet from the work-surface. Carefully turn it over. We'll do the rest of our securing on the back.
If you have any tabs of paper sticking up along the edges here on the back, go ahead and tape them down. And if you've woven a fairly large sheet, you might also want to apply some little pieces of tape here and there around the back of the sheet, placing them over the junctions between four strips.
With your paper thus secured, you're ready to wrap something with it. And be sure to use some ribbon you saved from last year's gifts!
Holiday Project: Ric Rac Ornament
I dearly love ric rac, and this project turns it into cute little stars which bedeck a decoration for your tree. I started with a styrofoam ball, painted with a couple coats of acrylic craft paint.
To make five-pointed ric rac stars, you'll need a piece of ric rac like this one. Take a look at the little peaks in the ric rac. There are six of them in this piece. Cut yours just like this.
Fold this piece in half, matching up the peaks and valleys in the ric rac.
Now, thread up a sewing needle. Sew a seam of tiny stitches across the ric rac. See how I began at the bottom of the peak and sewed toward the top? That's exactly how to do it -- the direction you've sewn will become important in a minute. Oh, and at the end of your little seam, do not tie off or cut your thread.
Also, a little note here. I'm using contrasting thread for better visibility. You'll want to use matching thread.
Now, open your ric rac out into a circle, like this.
With the thread still attached to the end of your first little seam, now take your needle and make a tiny stitch in the next peak of the ric rac. The thread will string itself between the two peaks, which is exactly what you want.
Keep going, taking a tiny stitch at each peak in the ric rac. Work your way all the way back around to your original seam.
. . . And when you get there, pass your needle back through, as shown here.
Now, pull your thread tight. This will gather the ric rac up.
Take one last stitch through your original seam, as shown. Go ahead and tie off your thread here, and cut it.
You may also want to trim the seam-allowance of your original seam a bit. It should be about 1/4" or so.
Flip your ric rac star over to the front. It won't look much like a star at first . . . .
. . . Until you start poking your index finger into each of the points from behind. This will flip the point so it faces upward. Work your way around and do the same to all five points.
When you're done, you'll have a perfect little star!
You can attach the stars to your styrofoam ball simply by sticking a glass-head pin through the center. Stick them on in any pattern you like.
You can make a little hanger the same way. Just cut a length of ric rac, form it into a circle, and stick a pin through the spot where the two ends overlap. And you're done!
Keep in mind, you can also sew these ric rac stars to any fabric project, and even stitch a little bead or sequin in the center. And you can experiment with longer pieces of ric rac, so you end up with six, seven, or more points. Too much fun!
Holiday Project: Pinecone Bird Feeder
This one is an oldie but a goodie. It's a wonderful afternoon project to do with kids, and a nice gift for your neighborhood birds.
First, cover your work surface with newspaper. If you're worried about getting peanut butter in your carpet, then don't work over a carpeted floor.
Gather a bunch of pinecones. You can use any size you like. Some craft stores sell them, but I'd be careful of these - often, they've been soaked in fragrance oils, and this isn't so healthy for birds.
If your pinecones aren't very open, then you can put them in a warm oven (250 degrees) for a while to open them up. If you do this, be sure you have good ventilation as the scent of baking pine cone may not be your cup of tea.
I like to use pipecleaners to make a little hanger for my pine cone. Just wrap the pipecleaner snugly around the top of the pine cone, and twist the ends together a little. If you're fresh out of pipecleaners, you can just tie a length of yarn tightly around the top of the pine cone.
Now, load up a spatula with peanut butter.
Push as much peanut butter as you can into your pine cone, filling all those little spaces between scales.
Work your way around the pine cone until you've covered it in peanut butter.
Next, pour some birdseed into a shallow dish. Roll your pine cone through the birdseed, pressing firmly so you embed lots of seed into that peanut butter.
Make as many of these as you like. (Pie plates are handy for resting your finished feeders in, so they won't get oil on anything.) If possible, I like to let them sit out overnight, so the peanut butter can harden a little bit.
Now, take your feeders outside, and find a nice tree with strong branches. To hang your feeder, just twist the ends of the pipecleaner around the tree branch.
. . . Then stand back and wait for the feeding frenzy!
Holiday Project: Fused Fabric Greeting Cards
Fusible Webbing is a wonder-product found in the quilting section of your local craft store. It's the perfect stuff for bonding fabric to paper to make these cute greeting cards. You can make them to send, or make up some sets to give as gifts.
Here's what the package looks like for one popular brand of fusible webbing. I get this at Fabric Depot, but have also seen it at Jo-Ann stores. You'll also need some blank cards, and an assortment of lightweight cotton fabric in colors and patterns you like.
Next, you'll want to decide what shapes to cut from your fabric. Cookie cutters are an excellent tool for this - you just trace around them!
Pull a sheet of fusible webbing from the package. It has a paper backing on both sides. Trace your shape onto one of them, using a pencil or a fine-point marker.
. . . And then cut a block out of the webbing sheet, around that shape you just traced.
Let's take a closer look at that webbing now. Sandwiched in between those paper layers is a layer of the webbing itself -- it's basically a glue-mesh. It's lightly sticky.
Carefully peel away the paper backing that you did not trace on, so you're left with that webbing stuck to the paper backing with your tracing on it.
Now, take your fabric and lay it onto your work surface, with the wrong side facing you. Place your piece of webbing onto the fabric. That glue-mesh is now touching the wrong side of your fabric. Press it down gently with your fingers so it will stick.
Then, cut the shape out of the fabric and the webbing together.
Peel away the remaining paper backing. Now you have a fabric cut-out with the glue-mesh stuck to the back. You've essentially created a fabric sticker!
Place this onto the front of your card. You can peel it up and re-position it as you need to.
If you like, you can use the same steps to add some smaller fabric accents to your card. These red pieces have glue-mesh on the back, too.
When you have the whole thing positioned as you like it, cover it with a pressing cloth. (A pressing cloth can be an old dish towel, or a big piece of scrap fabric.)
Heat your iron according to the package directions for the brand of webbing you're using. Press the hot iron over the card. This will melt the glue mesh and fuse the fabrics to the paper.
Be sure to press down with your iron rather than moving it around on the pressing cloth. Moving the iron around can cause the webbing to ooze out from under the fabric, and this gets messy.
Voila! Your card is fused and ready for embellishment. See how the iron has warped the card a little? This will sometimes happen -- although the heavier your cardstock, the less warping. Put your card under some heavy books for a few hours, and it'll be fine.
Here's a little something to consider when designing your cards: if you have a design that you want to have face a particular direction . . .
. . . then you'll need to trace it "backwards" onto the fusible webbing sheet.
Now, you can have a ball embellishing your card. Puff paint is fun, because it creates shiny raised surfaces on your card. (Make sure you give it lots and lots of drying-time, though!)
It's also fun to run these cards through your sewing machine. A little decorative stitching looks really cute!
And keep in mind, you can also use fusible webbing to cover your entire card with fabric, and then stitch and glue on all kinds of details. I did some topstitching in two colors on this one, and then glued on some sequins.
And of course, there are always things like buttons, flat-backed gems, ric rac, and glitter. If you have some wide ribbon, you can even fuse that to your cards - just cut that fusible webbing into strips and attach it to the ribbon.
. . . So many possibilities!
Holiday Project: Yarn Stars
I saw these in a funky 1970's craft book, and thought they had great potential. This project is a great way to use up bits of leftover yarn, and these little stars look cute on a tree, wreath, or package.
First, you'll need a piece of cardboard to wind your yarn around. I'm using one here that measures 4 1/4" high -- it's an old postcard. But, feel free to use any size cardboard you like. Different sizes of cardboard lead to different sized stars.
Now, wind your yarn around this cardboard until you have good coverage, like you see here. I wound my yarn 60 times, but don't worry about being too precise here.
Next, carefully pull that wound yarn off the cardboard, being careful to maintain its new looped shape. And then, cut yourself a piece of yarn in the same color, about 6" - 8" in length.
. . . And not surprisingly, the next step is to fan all those loops out in a circle around the center.
Next, carefully divide the loops up into five fairly equal parts. These will be the points of your star, so it pays to take a little time and make them as even as possible.
Now cut yourself five pieces of yarn in a contrasting color: four of them should measure about 6" in length. The fifth one should measure about 12".
Start with the 6" pieces of contrasting yarn. Tie one around the bottom of each of the sections of yarn loops you made earlier. Try to position your tie so it's about 1/2" from the ends of the loops. Tie a nice, tight double knot.
Now, for that last bunch of loops, you'll use the 12" piece of yarn to tie it, and you can build in a hanging loop at the same time. First, make a loop in the center of this piece of yarn, and tie a secure knot.
Position that loop behind your star, and then use the rest of the strand to tie off the fifth end of your star, just like you did the other four.
And you're done! You might choose to leave the little loops at the tops of your star uncut . . .
. . . Or you might choose to clip and groom them. Up to you.
- You might embellish your star with a bit of felt, or some sequins or beads, as pictured above.
- Stars come in 5-point, 6-point, and 8-point varieties. This same technique will work for all kinds of different stars.
- You might want to put more than one strand of yarn together when you do your wrapping. Maybe a little metallic, maybe a little something fuzzy . . . Experiment!
Holiday Project: Shiny Metal Light Collars
Whether you use them at Holiday time or all year long, these mini-light collars are simple to make, and they make a beautiful, sparkling display. Never throw out the metal cups from your tealight candles again!
What Youll Need:
- One string of mini-lights. White light is nice, because it allows you to see all the colors in your finished collars.
- Metal cups from used-up tealights. Youll need one for every light there is on your light string.
- Sharpie marker.
- Scissors. These should not be your expensive scissors, by the way.
- Paper hole punch. You need one that makes a hole at least 3/8 diameter. An old-fashioned paper punch will work better than a craft-punch for this project. And your punch should be pretty heavy-duty.
- Glue. Use a glue for non-porous surfaces, like E6000 or Aleenes Jewel-It.
- Shiny things, such as glitter, flat-backed gems, beads, sequins, etc.
A word of caution!!! Were working with metal here, and metal can be sharp when cut. So, be very careful when handling the tealight cups, and you might consider wearing protective gloves. Children should do this project with a parent.
How to make it:
1. Make sure your tealight cups are clean. If theres some residual wax clinging to them, pop them in the freezer for 15 minutes. The wax will shrink and pop right off. (Thanks, Martha.)
2. Hold a tealight cup so the bottom is facing away from you, and youre looking at the top edge. Use a Sharpie to divide the edge up into equal (or sort of equal) sections. Make a little mark on the rim of the tealight cut for each section. Depending on your design, you might make five, six, seven, eight, or more divisions.
3. Take your scissors and cut into the side of the tealight cup at each of your dividing marks. Cut all the way down to the bottom of the cup.
4. Now, you have a tealight cup with spokes cut into it. Carefully bend each spoke outward, so your tealight cup begins to resemble a starburst. (Again, be very careful of the edges!)
5. Using your hole punch, make a hole in the center of your flower. Youll probably have to bend a couple petals out of shape in order to manuver the punch into the center, but dont worry. You can fix them afterward. The hole youre punching is where the mini-light bulb will stick through later.
6. Using your scissors, carefully shape your spokes into whatever petal design you like. They can be round, or pointed, or notched you name it.
7. Now, have fun gluing all kinds of shiny objects to the center of your flower, around the hole you just punched. Go wild with colors and patterns. The shinier your center, the more light will reflect from the mini-light bulb and the brighter your collar will be.
8. Repeat this process until you have a collar for every mini-light on your string.
9. Pop a collar onto each mini-light, and use the string to brighten up anything you like.
You can use a string of these lights on a large houseplant or tree. You can use them to line a picture frame, or use them to line a dressing-table mirror for maximum glamour. Use them at the edge of a shelf. String them around a lamp base.
Or, leave off the minilights and find other uses. Wouldnt they look great on top of a birthday cake, with a little candle in the center of each one?
You can always skip the hole-punching part, and use this process to make metal flowers with solid centers. Then you can glue them to all kinds of things, such as candles, gift boxes, frames, vases, baskets you name it!
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