Tuesday, April 25

Luggage tag using scrap fabric DIY

Every household has hidden scraps of fabric that go unused for umpteen reasons. Sometimes the reasons are obligatory, at other times sentimental. But it's not uncommon to find that piece of fabric or T-Shirt you thought would be useful and never really used.

I found such a piece I had picked up from the temple at a throwaway price because it was an offering to the deities there. I had once thought it would make for good altar decor. Now I have second thoughts, and want the fabric to be useful somehow. The memory of seeing those huge suitcases at the airport luggage belt - with handkerchiefs, satin ribbons, and sometimes torn rags hanging from the handles, prompted me to try a luggage tag. It's a failed piece to be honest, but I managed to salvage it, and I bet it will be useful to me or to a friend soon someday.

What you need for this project (hold it, it's not a quickie. You need loads of patience):

-- less than half a square foot of scrap fabric

-- embellishments to either stitch on to the fabric, or stick such as cloth flowers, buttons, beads...

-- a pair of cloth cutting scissors

-- marker pen, fine tip

-- an object to use as stencil - a rectangle, or circle or oval...I used a needle-case cardboard that came with it from the store

-- a piece of satin ribbon

-- cotton for fill or batting

-- Needle and threads of different colours to match the fabric or embellishments

-- optional is a velcro-tape self adhesive piece

-- quilting pins or ball headpins to hold cloth for sewing

I started by marking out using a needle case cardboard packaging as stencil, on the fabric.

I then pinned the ball pins about an inch and half from the marked lines, so it would make it easier to cut the fabric. The next step was to mark another dotted line along the marked line, about one third of an inch wide.

Cut along the dot-marked lines, and leave some space on what you want as the top of the fabric piece for luggage tag, so you may fix a hook, velcro tape or press-button.

I stitched up a button hole using the button hole stitch, but it did not really work out. It was because there was not enough fabric above the button hole, for accomodating both, stitches and a button after it got inserted.  You may use a velcro tape, or a press button set.

On what I wanted as the front side of the tag, I stitched up cloth flowers. I chose flower colours to match one of the different colours on the fabric print.

The next step. Use a running stitch and stitch along the original marked line. Leave a one inch or two inch gap, ideally on the top or bottom of the to-be tag.

It was time to fill the cotton batting in.

I stitched the end of a six inch piece of satin ribbon (about half an inch or less wide) on to the rear inside of the would-be tag. It was a bit of a push and pull here. because of the faulty button hole. The stitched button was not so great to look at and its stitches showed on the rear of the ribbon, so I fixed a cloth flower to cover it up.

Now, this is not exactly a button-able piece or stickable one because of the velcro tape complication. But it will come in handy in the most unexpected of ways, as my life as a homemaker in our own home has been teaching me.

Use this tag for your own personal travels, or gift it to a teen.

For permissions write to: radiscribe@gmail.com

Tuesday, April 11

Nursery mobile with cardboard roll, DIY

One of the trends that has made me gape in awe is the sheer magnitude of products for babies these days. As a new mom wanting to give my baby the best, I am obviously tempted to buy more for the bundle of joy. 

But let's not forget that for every plastic toy we collect in the name of a child's learning and play, we add that much more to the earth's toxin burden. Sometimes these toys are a mere phase, leaving you wondering what to do with them. Nursery mobiles are a fad with parents. From colourful to sophisticated, they are a must for any nursery with a baby and crib.

For a change, I decided to make my own nursery mobile. I am not so satisfied with the resulting piece, but it's given me loads of confidence to make more of the kind and gift to babies.

It may sound a surprise, but the project really did not cost me a fortune. I had to make use of household craft stash.

What I used:

-- a pair of scissors

-- a duct tape ring leftover after using the tape up

-- embroidery skein of the same colour as the wrapping paper or ribbon or plarn to cover the duct tape ring
 (I used parrot green colour thread)

-- a needle and white thread

-- cloth flowers of accented shades

-- punches - circle and flower type

-- patterned paper, sequins, some household cardboard if need be

-- craft glue

-- soda can pull-tab...always keep these handy, you never know what they can be useful for

I began by wrapping the cardboard roll with plarn (plastic yarn that I made before with plastic shopping bags). You can try wrapping it with satin ribbon or some patterned paper. If you plan to glue up decorative paper though, make sure you have sufficient glue for it.

I let its end stay for a while, lest I would need it later. Now came the need for my embroidery skein. A white or jute twine could be your alternates here.

I started off by leaving some thread, about half a feet, and fixing sequins on it. To fix sequins, I picked up a pair, squeezed glue on to one of them, placed the thread over it to run through its center, and stuck on it another sequin of the same shape and size.

I used the craft punches to cut out circles and flowers from the patterned paper. Some flower shapes I had in stash earlier from mail trash. I left space of a few inches on the thread, and glued together another pair of circles from the patterned paper, and some flower shaped punched pieces from magazine recycle.

After this it was about tying the thread on to the cardboard ring. Try leaving irregular spaces, and do not stick to the same length each time you cut a piece of the embroidery skein. You can fix about five such pieces on to the roll. Add some pieces of ribbon and maybe knot it up on the ring to hang down alongside the threads.

I used long pieces of ribbon to tie through the roll for a handle on top of the mobile, and inserted the bunch of four lines of the ribbon into the soda can pull tab for buckling up.

Your nursery mobile is ready. This is a rather simple one. I hope to improvise though future projects. I am sure my baby will love this. The piece took some time to make, and was taxing, considering how busy the little angel keeps me these days. But it was worth the effort. I am waiting to see the reaction on her face when I hang it near her bed.

For re-use, write to: radiscribe@gmail.com

Tuesday, April 4

Marker pens art piece fridge magnet DIY

If you have a fridge that can hold a ton of magnets, it is the best thing to rev up your dull day. Imagine thinking of that stew you want to prepare in the kitchen and drag yourself to the fridge, and a bright piece of art or travel souvenir magnet pops up on your face at the fridge door!

I discovered on the internet that you can actually make artistic fridge magnets rather easily. All you need is a bunch of marker pens that write or colour thick.

Here is a quick look at my experiment. I would give it a 6 on 10 rating for my first attempt. But I learnt a few things that would help you on the adventure:)

You will need:

- art canvas 5 inches by 5 inches

-- self adhesive magnet strips not more than five inches

-- a protective sheet to place underneath your working canvas

-- some cotton balls, or ear buds, paint brushes, rag cloth

-- a bunch of marker pens, of your choice. I used the Sharpie brand mostly

-- Rubbing alcohol..you get it in pharmacies

Optional is a glue gun or multi-surface glue

Start by scribbling the canvas away to your heart's content. Remember to fill all corners, and the edges where the canvas bends. Use more strokes if your marker is not too thick. I was more satisfied with my opaque colour marker.

Now is when your work with rubbing alcohol begins. Use an ink-filler or the cap of the alcohol bottle to drop a few drops on the canvas. Remember that you may take longer than you anticipate at this. Allow the drops to spread on the colours. Since it is canvas, it will dry or get absorbed more than it runs. Use a paint brush to blend the colours in.

You could tilt it at times to let the drops run. Or use a paint brush to blend the colours in, with circular strokes. Whatever you do, make sure that neither the paint brush nor the cotton take away colour from the canvas. You can gently squeeze the colour back on to blend areas on the canvas. Let the first round dry. And work on it again after it dries. Use your markers to dab, not with strokes, on white areas. Your choice if you want to leave the white gaps to show.

This is a process that took me about an hour. So if you left something on the stove thinking this is a quickie project, run and turn that thing off.

Once your art piece has reached a certain level of blending and you want to stop, leave the piece to dry for about 15 minutes. And fix the self adhesive magnetic strips to its rear. If the adhesive does not hold well, you can stick it with multi-surface glue or a glue gun.

Next step: Very important. Fix it on your fridge door! Or gift it to one special friend...