Memorable Moments

Last week I enjoyed having lunch with my close friend, Christy. We are both moms, so much of our conversation was about our families and children. We discussed an issue that I'm sure many parents face.

During the first week of pre-school or kindergarten, your child will proudly present you with their very first piece of classwork. They will draw a picture, or write their name, or create a multi-media noodle, glue, and glitter (lots of glitter) rendition of their favorite animal. The thought of how quickly your little one is growing up will wash over you, instantly reminding you to cherish every moment because time passes so quickly.

The next day, you will be presented with more fine pieces of schoolwork. One paper bears the letter S and a drawing of a hissing snake. Another has a shaky number 1 with one lime bean glued next to it. Yet another has 4 circles that have been neatly traced in red, green, blue, and purple, crayon. Now you don't just have one page of memories, you have four.

Days will pass. Weeks will pass. By the end of the first month, your refrigerator will have so many papers posted on it that you may not be able to locate the ice dispenser any more. You know that you need to get rid of some of those papers. Really, you do. But, just when the paper with the letter M carefully written 10 times falls from your hand and drops into the recycle bin, you see that on the back is the word "mom" and a stick drawing of you. Here comes the guilt.

What is a mom to do? Keep your kid home from school? Get a bigger refrigerator? Maybe a storage unit? How about a bigger house? Here's my solution for finding that balance between preserving classroom creations and maintaining control of the clutter.

When my daughter was younger I was emotionally attached to everything she brought home from school because they were all firsts. I couldn't bring myself to throw anything away. So, I got a large file box and collected every single piece of paper.

By the end of the school year it was a lot easier for me to weed out the mass produced worksheets and zero in on her original works. Once you have the true keepsakes, note the grade and year they were created and then do one of the following:

  • Place them in a folder
  • Three hole punch the pages and place in a binder
  • Get out your spiffy binding machine and combine the pages into a book

Once the papers are organized in one of the ways listed above, you can store them in a memory box. My daughter's is a large plastic bin with books and folders of schoolwork, trophies, pictures, and other mementos.

Before writing this I was looking through it and not only did I find some books of her best schoolwork, I also found two lovely drawings of our family.

Daddy, Mommy, Me, Maggie, Scooter and The Chilly Dog 



Perpetual Calendar Card Holder

This project is a great one for all you stampers. It's a perpetual calendar and card holder. Not only can you keep track of birthdays, anniversarys and special occasions, but you can also store cards so you are ready to celebrate when that special day comes. This would make a really thoughtful gift, especially if you filled it with some of your own handmade cards.

I used mostly Close to my Heart supplies this time. I chose bamboo and cranberry papers and ink and a fun set of stamps called Seasons of the Heart. Make this project your own and use your favorite colors, stamps and papers to bring out your style and personality.

Materials


  • 7 pieces of white 8 1/2 x 11 cardstock
  • 2 pieces of colored cardstock for the covers cut to 8 5/8 x 7 1/4 inches
  • 6 pieces of colored cardstock for the pocket pages cut to 8 5/8 x 7 1/4 inches
  • 6 pieces of coordinating paper for pockets cut to 8 1/2 x 7 1/4 inches
  • 6 small rivets
  • 1/4 inch binding comb
  • paper cutter
  • small hole punch
  • rivet setter
  • binding machine
  • stamps
  • ink
  • adhesive

Directions


Begin by printing the left calendar page template onto white cardstock.

Now, we're going to get the trickiest part of the project out of the way. Print the right calendar page template onto the back of the left pages. Take your time with this step. You will need to figure out how to load the paper into your printer correctly. Print one page at a time if you are worried you don't have the pages in the proper order. Each of the following months should be printed on one page, back to back.

  • Blank - January
  • February - March
  • April - May
  • June - July
  • August - September
  • October - November
  • December - acknowledgements

Hooray! You are done with the hardest part.

Place your calendar pages in order.

Cut the month pages so they are 8 5/8 inches high and 7 1/4 inches wide. To do this, you will only make two cuts per page. Your first cut on each page will be 8 5/8 inches from the top edge. Your second cut will be 7 1/4 inches from the left edge.

Now, let's make the six pocket pages.

Fold each piece of coordinating paper in half so the pocket will measure 4 1/4 inches x 7 1/7 inches.








Slide a piece of colored cardstock into each pocket so the sides are neatly aligned.









Punch a hole about 1/4 inch in from the right edge of the page and 1/4 inch down from the top edge of the pocket on each page.








Insert a rivet into each hole and set them.










It's time to use your binding machine.


Punch holes along the left edge of your calendar pages.









Punch holes along the left edge of the covers and pocket pages.










Open up your binding comb.

Place your pages face down onto the comb starting with the front cover,









then the blank - January page,









then a pocket page,









then the February - March page, then a pocket page...

You get the idea, a pocket page goes between each calendar page.







When all the covers, calendar pages and pocket pages are on the comb, close it so they are secured.

Finally, it's time to decorate. Grab your stamps and scraps of paper and decorate the front cover. You could also stamp or write a special message on the first page.

Fill your card holder with some greeting cards and you have a sweet gift for someone special.


Small Perpetual Calendar

I love celebrating my friends on their special day, but sometimes I forget when that special day occurs. The solution, a small perpetual calendar that stands neatly on my desk. I simply write the occasion on the correct date in my calendar and every year when I flip to that month, I can see all the people I want to celebrate.

This is an easy project to make for yourself or to give as a gift. You could even personalize it. For example, if you make one for grandma, you could write in the birthdays of all of her fabulous grandchildren before you give it to her.

Materials


  • 7 pieces of white 8 1/2 x 11 cardstock
  • 1 piece of colored 8 1/2 x 11 cardstock
  • 1 scrap of a contrasting color cardstock
  • paper cutter/scorer
  • adhesive
  • binding machine
  • 1/4 inch binding comb
  • scissors

Directions


Begin by printing the handy Small Perpetual Calendar template on your white cardstock.








Let's cut the calendar pages. Each finished page will be 4 3/16 inches wide x 4 inches high.

Cut the sides of each page even with the ends of the colored month title.






Cut along the top of the colored month title.









Cut 4 inches down from the top of the colored month title.









Now cut the four season graphics so they are each one inch square.









Next, we'll punch the holes on each page with the binding machine. It's not a bad idea to try this on a scrap piece of paper that is the same width as one of your calendar pages (4 3/16 inch) to make sure the holes are positioned correctly.








Now that your pages are ready, let's move on to the front and back covers.

Cut the colored cardstock into two pieces. The front cover will be 4 3/16 inches wide x 4 inches high. The back cover is 4 3/16 inches wide x 10 inches high.








Use the binding machine to punch holes along the top edge of the front cover and both of the short edges of the back cover.








Score the back cover in the middle, parallel to the short side. Score one inch on either side of the central score.








Fold the back cover along the score lines as shown.










It's time to decorate the front cover.

Cut a 2 1/2 inch square from your scrap of contrasting cardstock.









Adhere your season graphics to the contrasting square and the square to the front cover. If you are a stamper, be creative and decorate the cover any way you like. You could use someones initials or whatever pretty stamps and paper you have available.








Finally, we'll bind the pages together.

Cut your binding comb to the appropriate length, place it in the machine and open up the comb.

Place the front cover, face down, onto the comb.






Make sure your month pages are in the correct order. Place the month pages face down onto the comb.








Place one edge of the back cover onto the comb.









Fold the back cover and place the second edge onto the comb.









Close the comb and remove your calendar.










Just write in the dates of special events and you are destined never to forget another birthday or anniversary. That is definitely a reason to celebrate!




In a Bind

Some tools in my studio are pretty basic things that I seem to use almost daily like my Fiskars rotary cutter, scissors, and cutting mat. Others aren't used as often, but still come in pretty handy, like my binding machine.

What, you may ask, is a binding machine? Well, it's a nifty little gadget that you can use to make books, calendars, journals, and other thoughtful gifts.

One part of the machine punches a neat line of rectangular holes along the edge of your paper. Another part wraps a binding comb into that neat line of holes to hold your pages together. It's simply brilliant.

You can find a decent binding machine at most office supply stores. Electric ones can be quite expensive. But, if you don't mind using a little muscle to punch your holes, there are plenty of compact, manual options in the $50-75 range.

Over the years I have used my binding machine for a number of projects. When my daughter was younger, I would use drawings she had made throughout the year to create calendars for the family as Christmas gifts. My neighbor used my binder to put together a cookbook of her family's favorite recipes which she also gave as Christmas gifts. You can also use a binder to save your children's literary and artistic works in book form. So many great gift ideas, so little time.

I have two gift-worthy projects using a binding machine that I'll be sharing in my next couple posts. I'm sure you will enjoy them.


Hexagonal Rag Rug

This is a versatile project that can be made to fit just about any room in your home. It's a crocheted hexagonal rag rug made from a used fleece blanket. It would be a great accent for a bathroom, bedroom, or living area.




Materials


  • Used, queen-sized fleece blanket or 2 1/2 - 3 yards fleece material
  • Cutting tools
  • Jiffy crochet hook (these are size Q-S hooks)




Directions


Before you get started, make sure to wash your blanket or material.

Carefully cut the hemmed edges off of the blanket. Using scissors or a rotary cutter, cut the remaining fabric into 1 inch wide strips.

Connect the strips together as described in my previous post, Rag Rug - Fabric Preparation.




Ch 5 and join in a ring with a sl st.

Rnd 1: Ch 1, 6 sc in ring.

Do not turn your work, but continue working in a spiral from this point on.

Rnd 2: (2 sc in next sc) 5 times, sc in next 2 sc.
Rnd 3: (2 sc in next sc, sc in next sc) 6 times.
Rnd 4: (2 sc in next sc, sc in next 2 sc) 6 times.
Rnd 5: (2 sc in next sc, sc in next 3 sc) 6 times.
Rnd 6: (2 sc in next sc, sc in next 4 sc) 6 times.
Rnd 7: (2 sc in next sc, sc in next 5 sc) 6 times.
Rnd 8: (2 sc in next sc, sc in next 6 sc) 6 times.
Rnd 9: (2 sc in next sc, sc in next 7 sc) 6 times.
Rnd 10: (2 sc in next sc, sc in next 8 sc) 6 times.
Rnd 11: (2 sc in next sc, sc in next 9 sc) 6 times.
Rnd 12: (2 sc in next sc, sc in next 10 sc) 6 times.
Rnd 13: (2 sc in next sc, sc in next 11 sc) 6 times.
Rnd 14: (2 sc in next sc, sc in next 12 sc) 6 times.
Rnd 15: (2 sc in next sc, sc in next 13 sc) 5 times.

2 sc in next sc, sc in next 6 sc, sl st in next 6 sc, finish off.





This finished rug is 26-27 inches in diameter. If you have more that one used blanket, you could make this rug larger by continuing to increase the number of stitches in each round in the same fashion as above. Since fleece is such a cozy material, a larger version would be great in a nursery or play room.


Rag Rugs - Preparing Your Fabric

If you know me or have been reading my blog for long, you probably noticed that I really like the idea of re-purposing used materials. From glass bottles to plastic bags, there are so many ways to use old things in new ways.

This week, I tried a project that I have wanted to make for many years, but never got around to, making a rag rug. I'm sure you have seen one of these before. They really can be quite beautiful. The idea is to use scraps of old fabric to create a rug. Usually they are multi-colored, but I have seen solid colored ones as well.

The process is not difficult, but takes a little time, so I am going to break it into two posts, preparing your fabric, and constructing the rug.

Let's start with fabric preparation.

Materials


  • Fabric - the bigger the rug, the more fabric you will need
  • Cutting tools

Directions


Just about any kind of fabric will work for this project. You can use clean remnants from sewing projects, outgrown clothes, worn out sheets, or even old fleece blankets. The trick is to make sure all your fabrics are a similar weight and colors you like.

There are a couple different ways to make the fabric strips. I'm going to keep this part simple and share the no sewing method.

Begin by cutting your fabric into equal width strips. The quickest way to do this is with a rotary cutter, but you could use scissors. Strip widths between 3/4 inch - 1 1/2 inches work best. Rule of thumb, if you are using heavier weight fabrics cut narrower strips. If you are using very light weight fabrics use wider strips.






Next you are going to cut slits on the end of each strip. You do this by folding in the end of a strip about an inch.








Then, cut a half inch slit at the center of the fold. Do this on both ends of every strip of fabric.








Now you can join two strips of fabric together.









Pull one strip (red) a little ways through the slot of the other (blue).









Pull the other end of the red strip through the slot on the red strip.









Gently pull the end red strip until it is all the way through the slot and the short end of the blue strip slips through the slot, too.









Finally, pull both strips of fabric so the join tightens.










Repeat until all of your strips are joined together or join them a few at a time as you are making your rug.You can roll your connected strips into a ball so it is easier to work with later.

Next time, we'll learn how to crochet your fabric strips into a lovely hexagon rag rug. Stay tuned...


Roll-up Pencil Case

Un-rolling a beautiful case filled with drawing utensils is almost as much fun as opening up presents on your birthday. Untying the ribbon to reveal each pen and pencil neatly slid into its own little slot is absolutely delightful.

This project provides the perfect way for any artist-on-the-go to carry their basic sketching utensils.

Materials


  • 1/3 yard fabric for the cover of the case
  • 1/3 yard contrasting fabric for the lining and pocket
  • 24 inches of 1/8 inch wide ribbon
  • water-soluble fabric pen
  • ruler
  • sewing and cutting tools

Directions



Cut 1 rectangle from the main fabric and 2 rectangles from the contrasting fabric that are each 8 1/2 inches by 17 inches.








You are going to start by making the pocket. Fold one of the contrasting rectangles in half lengthwise, right side out. Press along the fold. Machine stitch 1/4 inch from the fold across the top of the pocket.







I used a plain straight stitch, but if you are feeling fancy, this would be a great place for some decorative stitching.








Next, you are going to mark where the slots for the pens and pencils will be with your fabric pen and ruler.








I made 12 slots that were 3/4 inch wide on the left side of the case for pencils and 7 slots that were 1 inch wide on the right side of the case for pens. Make sure to leave room for a 1/2 inch wide seam allowance on each side.







Pin the pocket to the right side of the lining.









Now you are going to stitch down the lines for the pencil/pen slots. Sew the lines across from one side of the pocket to the other. For each line start at the slot opening on the top of the pocket and stitch down to the bottom edge of the case.

Trim the loose threads across the top of the pocket.






Now that the pocket is attached to the lining, you are almost done.

Fold the length of ribbon in half. Place it so the fold is just above the top left side of the pocket and the ribbon is laying across the top of the pocket. Pin the ribbon to the lining with the pin pointing in towards the center of the case. This is important because you need to be able to pull the pin out after the lining is secured to the cover.





Place the cover fabric over the lining and pocket, right sides together. Using a 1/2 inch seam allowance, stitch around the cover leaving about a 4 inch opening at the top.







Trim the corners, remove the pins, and turn the case right side out through the opening.

Press the edges of the case.

Carefully whip-stitch across the opening.




Fill each slot with some colored pencils and pens.









Roll up your case and secure it shut with the ribbon. Grab a sketch pad and you are ready to head off to the countryside to sketch a lovely landscape or two.









If, after your relaxing day of drawing, you are still feeling creative, and a little mathematical, you can modify the size of this roll-up case pattern and the number and width of the slots slots to accommodate anything from pens and pencils to paint brushes, crochet hooks, knitting needles, or even make-up brushes.