Rachel from House of Pinhero hosted a nametag swap recently, and I decided to join. I was paired with Marilla, an amazing seamstress from the UK. The idea for the swap came from a fat quarter retreat she (Rachel) attended, where everyone had beautiful handmade name tags. There is a sewist meetup going on soon in the UK, but I will not be able to make it 😦 Fortunately, I did get to make and receive an awesome name tag!

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First off, the nametag I made for Marilla: All this geography and travel stuff got me thinking about maps! So that is the theme I went with for her nametag. I used felt, fabric, printable cotton, an embroidery hoop, and thread (and needle). I also printed out a map of the UK from Google Maps.

I cut a square from the fabric and the UK shape from the felt. I carefully aligned England/Scotland and Ireland up and pinned them to the fabric square.

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Then I sewed the UK shapes on to the nametag with a blanket stitch using regular thread (the kind you use on a sewing machine). It looks so cute in the embroidery hoop! Makes me want to just leave it framed like that… mayhaps an idea for another project?

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After that, I embroidered her name and a couple of stars over the felt map of the UK.

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I also printed out some “Hoopes Park Studios” labels on the printable cotton and sewed one on the back of her nametag. The printable cotton I bought from Dharma trading. I think the price was really reasonable, and the product was easy to use. The instructions for printing on the fabric were clear and the labels turned out well. I have about 5 more sheets left over and I’m excited to see how color printing turns out.

I used some white and black animal print velvet for the back. I made sure to sandwich a loop of ribbon between the front and back pieces of the nametag so I could hang it.

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Next, the “nametag” from Marilla (which is the best part of this post).  It is actually a handkerchief.



A bit non traditional but still wonderful! It is super detailed and carefully stitched. She even sent it with this adorable card she made. With a robot!



Here’s a little detail of the spool and scissors:


I love it! For more of Marilla and the stuff she sews, check her out here.

One more yoga mat bag! I’ve been cranking ’em out.


This bag was made for my friend and sometimes photographer, Emily. She dropped off a bunch of scraps from her fabric stash and told me to go to town.  So I put a cat on it… heh heh.  I think it turned out just her style, but I’m not sure if she’ll like the slinky cat. She hasn’t seen it yet but I had fun making it. (UPDATE- after I wrote this post I gave it to her and she loved it!)

Here is the bag design laying flat, before I constructed it.



I added some stripes made of fabric scraps, and a felt cat.

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You can download the slinky cat appliqué pattern here, created by yours truly. I cut the shape out of felt, stitched it on around the border, and then stitched with  a different color for the whiskers and detail around ear and leg (the white lines on template).



I used an old leather belt for the strap that matched the design on the patterned fabric. I also used brown leather for the bottom of the bag to match the belt.







I’ve refined the design I use for these bags, and they come out pretty solid. Let me know if you want one! I’ll make you a custom bag as a trade, or for $30 plus shipping. I’ve gotten a ton of use out of mine- it keeps my mat clean, rolled up, and looking sharp!





Scarves are one of my favorite things to wear, pretty much all the time. Except maybe on majorly hot summer days. Even then I have been known to wear scarves, because… protection from the sun! And when it’s not hot out, they keep me warm. Scarves are a winner in my book.

To make this scarf, I bought about a yard of red cotton fabric from the quilting section of the fabric store. After pre-washing it, I traced one of my favorite circle scarves (laid flat, of course). I ended up with two rectangles of 2.5 ft x 15 in. I serged them together with black thread, end to end. Then I serged a rolled hem around both edges of the scarf.

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I thought about stamping it, but decided I like it how it is. Maybe I’ll stamp another project. I think the contrast of the black thread with the red fabric of this scarf is enough.






This has been a week of quick projects.


I’ve been away from my sewing machine most of this past month, so I’ve been working on more drawings and other small DIYs (as you can probably tell!). This is a pair of earrings I made recently.


I saw these earrings on Shlomit Ofir, the website of a jewelry designer of the same name. These are named the “Bjork earrings”. I really like the multicolored metals and all the different pieces- Shlomit Ofir’s jewelry features such sweet, delicate designs.

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Here’s how I made my own version.

You need: leather in two colors, 2 earring hooks, 4 jump rings, chain

You also need an awl (or thick, sharp needle), scissors, and jewelry pliers or needle nose pliers

Cut out two small triangles from each color of leather. Make sure all the triangles are the same size (it may help to make a paper pattern). The triangles on the earrings I made were about 1/2 inch on each side.

Use the awl or needle to poke two holes in each triangle- one at the point, and the other directly below, like so:

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Open up a jump ring and use it to attach two triangles together to make a diamond shape. Attach each diamond shape to an earring hook using another jump ring.

Decide how long you want the chain to be, and cut two chains the same length. Attach each chain to the bottom of the diamond.



I do yoga. I have kept a yoga practice on and off since I was in middle school. I’ve been carrying my yoga mat around since then without a bag, and I finally decided it was high time to make one.




I have mixed feelings about my yoga practice. On one hand, it keeps me sane (not to mention flexible) when things get busy. On the other hand, I recognize that yoga is a religious practice, so Try to pay it the respect I feel it deserves. I use yoga to find inner quiet, and I pay attention to my breathing and try to be mindful. I usually listen to a podcast (20 minute Yoga Download and Yoga To The People are my favorites). For anyone in the State College, PA area, Lila Yoga is one of the best studios I have attended. I’d definitely recommend looking it up.

I made this bag entirely from fabric scraps, including leftover fabric from the curtains my parents have in their room.

You need:
Fabric- heavy duty, like upholstery fabric
Fabric decorations
An old belt


What I did:

Cut out a 20×30 inch piece of heavy upholstery fabric.


Decorate it! Pin and then sew on decorations.





I used bias tape, ribbon, striped fabric and leather. I sewed the leather around the bottom if the bag to make it more durable. Also it looks cool!
Fold the fabric in half, hotdog style, and sew/serge the long edge. Cut the belt in half and sew it on with a big square that has an X in the middle. Make sure you do this before you put the bottom on.
Cut out a circle from the leather about 7 inches in diameter. Pin right sides together and sew it to the bottom of the bag. Mine looked like this once I flipped it right side out.


To finish the top of the bag, I turned the fabric over twice to make a thick hem and sewed it down. I attached the top of the strap at this time.


That’s it! I serged the inside edges as I went along. Total time to completion was about two hours (or the run time of the movie of The Color Purple). I thought about adding a drawstring to the top, but found that the bag didn’t need a drawstring to hold the mat inside.





I bike almost everywhere around the city- school, grocery shopping, to see friends…

As the temperature drops, my ears get cold, and eventually putting my hair over them isn’t enough to keep them warm. This is a hat I made that is thin enough to fit under a helmet, and keeps out the wind chill. Because the fabric is thin I don’t get overheated in it either.

What you need:
Knit fabric
Sewing stuff

What you do:
Cut out a circle about 6.5 inches in diameter. Wrap the fabric around your head, stretching it a little, to get an idea of how long to make the part that goes around your head. Mark it and then measure the length. Cut out a piece of fabric that length (I made mine 20 inches long) and 6 inches wide in the shape of a long rectangle:

This is the easiest way I know how to make a circle. 1. Start with a square, and then; 2. fold it diagonally into a triangle. 3. Fold that triangle two more times in half, until you have an ice cream cone shape. 4. Then cut a round top on the ice cream shape and; 5. unfold into a circle.


Here are the pieces of the hat cut out:


Serge the two short ends of the rectangle together, to make the sides of the hat.


Before you serge the top (the circle) to the sides (the closed rectangle you just made), it helps to make some chalk marks. Fold the closed rectangle in halves and then quarters to find 4 points that are each exactly 1/4 of the way around the circle. Mark these with chalk. Now, fold the circle into quarters and mark those 4 points around the edge with chalk. Match chalk lines on the circle with the chalk lines on the closed rectangle and pin. Doing this makes sure you are sewing the closed rectangle evenly on to the circle.


Serge the top of the hat to the sides, and be sure to take out the pins as you go- sergers and pins do not agree. You will probably need to stretch the top of the hat as you attach it to the sides.

Finally, serge the bottom hem. Sew a zig-zag stitch on the sewing machine to hold down the end of the hanging serger seam.



That’s it! Here is the outside of the hat with another just like it that I made in blue:


I fold up a little brim on my hat in the front to keep it out of my eyes and leave it mostly unfolded in the back to cover more of my head.



Don’t forget a helmet! Enjoy your warm head and keep on biking.


I said my mind was a churnin’, and this is what I came up with. This bracelet is made out of these two items from my last post, and some of the leather that I picked up last time I went to the fabric district (more on that later).


I experimented with different bracelet shapes and different combinations of the objects. I decided on the long, silver metal piece to give the bracelet more structure, and liked the circular piece as the focal point. Once I had a plan, I made a paper pattern.  When I was making the pattern, it helped me to draw half of what I wanted it to look like, then fold it in half and trace it to make it symmetrical.


The bracelet is the length around my wrist, + 1 inch (about 7 inches). I made it fit snugly because the leather will eventually stretch out. I used the pattern to cut out a piece of leather. I also used a mallet to hammer the long piece of metal flat, and then bent it into a curve with my hands. I held the pieces together with tape while I stitched the objects to the leather, using a thick, sharp needle and some waxed upholstery thread. Finally, I added a snap and covered the stitching with another piece of leather.

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The key in using found objects in jewelry is in the planning. The time I spent experimenting with different ideas and coming up with the pattern was longer than the actual time I spent making the bracelet. Let your ideas flow, don’t focus too much on the perfect finished piece until you have a starting idea you like. Then come up with the series of steps you are going to work through to get from raw materials to the finished product. The process of construction will be faster, smoother, and less frustrating if you have a solid plan to work from. I find I am less likely to stop a project mid-way if I am working from a solid plan. This goes for sewing projects and most DIYs too.


Good luck!


I think the leaves of the croton plant are absolutely gorgeous:

So when I saw the leaves used to make a cuff in a runway show (blogged about here), I decided to make my own.

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I started out with some sketches

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I traced my sketches, pinned them onto felt, and cut them out. I sewed two leaves of each shape together to make each leaf thicker and sturdier. Then I painted.

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I free-handed the designs while using my sketches as a reference, but could have also transferred the designs using tracing paper or a fabric pencil. I used magenta, dark green, light green, and yellow fabric paint. The easiest technique was to use the bottle they came in to apply the paint. I used a paintbrush for the magenta, but it was hard to control.

Finally, I laid out the leaves I liked best, and sewed them together. I used elastic and a snap to close the cuff.

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After I did all this work, I realized I could have just bought a fake plant and hot glued the false leaves to some elastic. Or done a photo transfer onto fabric to make the leaves, then sewn them together. At least it is one-of-a-kind! And I had a lot of fun making it.