Kitty Cottage

I have a dog and four cats.  The dog is the newest addition.  She joined our pack as a 4 month old puppy and considers herself another one of the cats.  The cats disagree.  The dog even sits in the windows like a cat.  I used to correct this behavior because I didn’t think the window shelf in our old residence would support her.  I gave up because she doesn’t understand why all the other cats get to sit in the window!As you can see, she also thinks cat beds are fair game.  This would be fine except the cats reject the beds after she takes them over.

This brings me to my mission: Create a dog-proof cat haven.  I saw this cat house in a Martha Stewart magazine a long time ago and kept it in the back of my mind.

This cardboard box found it’s way into our home a few days ago and Mango immediately took a liking to it.  I thought it was the perfect opportunity to make that haven!

Materials needed:

  • One intact cardboard box large enough to fit kitty comfortably
  • A bunch of other cardboard scraps
  • Hot glue gun
  • Paint, brushes, etc.
  • Pencil (or something else to write with)
  • Scissors and/or utility knife
  • Cat bed (I used an old polar fleece blanket)

Instructions

  1. Remove any tape or other ickiness from the box.  Carefully pull apart the side and bottom seams and glue the box back together inside out leaving the top open.  This will save you from having to paint several layers over all that writing.
  2. This part is probably going to come across as confusing, but I will do my best to explain it.  (Note:  Feel free to scrap my roof idea and create your own.  I will not be insulted.) This is where we work on the top flaps to make the base structure for the roof.  Fold the sides of the shorter flaps at an angle towards the inside of the box(I drew a line in pencil first).  Glue these folds to the inside of the longer flaps so the top edge of the shorter flap is the same height as the top edge of the longer flap.  Make sure you leave enough space in between all of the flaps to have access to the inside of the finished house.  Pictures will probably help.
  3. Time for the roof.  Cut a large piece of cardboard as long as the box.  When folded as a tent, this cardboard needs to reach from the bottom of one longer flap to the bottom of the other longer flap.  Basically, this cardboard tent needs to sit easily on top of the box so you won’t be able to see the longer flaps anymore (they are just for support).  Feel free to piece together multiple pieces of cardboard.  My cardboard came from a long skinny box, so I chose to keep the skinny side of the box for the top edge of my roof.
  4. Cut a rectangular piece of cardboard large enough to fill the gap in between the shorter flaps and the roof.  Fold the edges at an angle like the flaps in step 2.  Glue the pieces in place on the inside of the roof.  Do not glue the roof to the box.  This will be your access point to the inside of the finished house!
  5. Draw a door on the front of the house large enough for the cat.  Mango is pretty tubby, so her door is on the larger side (but, not big enough for the dog).  You can draw windows too!
  6. Use a utility knife to cut out the door and windows.  Be careful with this step…these knives are really sharp!
  7. Let kitty check on your progress.
  8. Paint the outside of the house as desired.  You may want to skip this step if your kitty happens to eat cardboard.  Mine doesn’t.  I chose light blue with dark blue streaks for the sides and a mixture of silver, gold, and bronze for the roof.  I’m not a big fan of one flat color…can you tell?  Give me a little texture any day!
  9. Decorate the house however you want.  I made a rooster weather vane for mine!  Look below for directions on how to make it!
  10. Add a cat bed or blanket to the inside and you’re all set!

The Weather Vane

I’m not going to go into great detail for this part, but I will give a brief description.

I used thinner corugated cardboard, 4 toothpicks, tiny ball of yarn, hot glue, and bronze paint.

Draw out a rooster standing on an arrow onto the cardboard.  Also draw an E, W, N, and S.  Use a utility knife to cut these out.  Stick two toothpicks through the ball so they are perpendicular and the ball sits in the middle of the four ends.  Stick the end of one toothpick in the bottom of this ball and the end of the last toothpick in the top of the ball.  Thoroughly coat the ball with hot glue and allow to dry before continuing.  Apply a small amount of glue to the ends of each toothpick except for the bottom one and put the cardboard pieces in the correct places (rooster on top and letters in compass order around the four shorter points).  Paint the entire weather vane with bronze paint.  Stick the bottom toothpick into the roof of the house.  Use glue to secure.  I needed to use a nail to start the hole in the roof and I added a few cardboard pieces to the inside of the roof for additional support for the toothpick.

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Simple Crocheted Headband

My mother and grandmother taught me how to knit when I was really young.  I can’t remember how young, but the first thing I made was a blanket for my doll, so that should give you some idea!  My mother and my other grandmother taught me how to sew.  My first project was a drawstring bag with pig fabric.  I still use that bag (20-ish years later!)  to hold toiletries on camping trips!  All three of them along with my dad taught me how to cook and bake.  All this domestic training and not a single one of them taught me how to crochet!  I did inherit several crochet hooks from my knitting grandmother, but I don’t remember ever seeing her crochet.  The point is, I felt the need to teach myself.

At some point when I was a kid, I taught myself how to crochet a chain.  I was pretty proud of myself at the time, but chains aren’t particularly difficult or interesting by themselves.  Lion Brand Yarn has some excellent videos for the crochet beginner.  I just started crocheting a few rows and thought it was so easy I couldn’t stop!  I decided to turn my practice project into a headband.

Note: Ignore the wet hair in the picture above.  I was headed out the door and wanted to catch Husband to take the photo while he was actually home.  Yes, I do leave the house with wet hair…blow dryers are too much of a bother!  Also, I realize my headband isn’t perfect, but keep in mind that it is my very first attempt!

Materials needed:

  • Worsted weight yarn (scrap yarn works because this really doesn’t use much yarn)
  • H crochet hook
  • 2 buttons (mine are about 1/2″ diameter)
  • Sewing needle and thread
  • Yarn needle
  • Scissors

Instructions:

  1. Start with a chain of about 8 stitches.  I’m not sure if they are technically called stitches, but I’m a beginner, so that is what I will call them.
  2. Single crochet rows until the headband is as long as you want it to be.  I made mine a little loose because I hate when headbands pop off the back of my head.  Am I the only one that has this problem?  Also, no hair wedgies with a loose headband!
  3. Add 2 button holes with one row between them.  I didn’t bother researching the proper way to create a button hole, so you may want to do this or you can follow my directions.  It’s pretty easy!  Since I started with 8 stitches, I single crocheted the first three stitches, chained the next two, and single crocheted the last three.  Single crochet the next row as usual.  This should leave a hole in your headband just large enough for a button.  You may need to adjust the size of the hole based on the size of your buttons.  Repeat this process for the second button hole.
  4. End your headband with one last single crochet row.
  5. Use the yarn needle to weave the loose ends into the headband.
  6. Line your buttons up on the opposite end of the headband from the button holes.  Sew in place.
  7. Enjoy life without hair in your face!  This is a major priority for me!

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Spring Wreath

I LOVE the color yellow!  It is just so bright an cheery!  While rummaging through the scrap bin at Hobby Lobby, I found a whole bunch of this yellow fabric for about $3!  Its a pretty basic print, so I wasn’t sure what to do with it, but I couldn’t pass up the happy color!  Then I found this gorgeous wreath at Beautiful Nest and it occurred to me that I never make wreaths.  Like, seriously, I think I’ve only ever made one wreath before in my life.  I thought the yellow would be perfect for bringing a little spring into my life with this wreath!  Since I live in an apartment right now and don’t really trust my neighbors to leave it alone, this wreath is going to decorate the inside of my door!  Then I get to enjoy it all the time!

Notes about the project:  I left the edges of the fabric raggedy to add a little bit more of a homemade touch.  Also, my goal was to use on-hand supplies, so my fabric and wire were a little too flimsy to support themselves.  I found a cardboard frame was necessary, but it might not be necessary for your wreath.

Materials needed:

  • 5-1/2″ strip of bottom fabric (I used 3 strips of each fabric about 45″ long – from selvage to selvage)
  • 2-1/2″ strip of middle fabric
  • 1″ strip of top fabric
  • Extra fabric or ribbon for the hanger and embellishments
  • Wire (about 30″)
  • 12″ cardboard circle with 5″ circle cut out of middle (optional)
  • Small cardboard rectangle (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Some sort of hole punching device (I used a seam ripper)
  • Glue (I used hot glue – I’m so impatient!)

Instructions:

  1. Cut all of your strips of fabric.  Perfect measurements aren’t necessary.  I like things to look slightly amiss sometimes.  It gives them character!  I probably should have ironed my fabric, but its just character!  My Marine Corps husband would have a huge problem with this.
  2. Lay the strips out flat.  Place the smaller strips on top of each other and make sure the right sides of all fabric are facing out.
  3. Pierce a hole through all three layers of fabric about every 1-2″ along the length of the fabric.  Make sure these holes are in the center of fabric.
  4. Thread the wire in and out of the holes until all the fabric is on the wire.  When you reach the end of one strip, just start on with the next one!  The holes in the above photo with the wire are about 3 inches apart, but I decided I wanted them closer – just in case you are worried that your wire doesn’t look like mine.
  5. Once all the fabric is on the wire, spread the fabric out and twist the ends of the wire together to create a loop.
  6. If your wreath is flimsy and you need a cardboard base, continue with this step.  If not, skip to the next step.  Carefully flip the wreath over so the backside is showing.  Arrange the folds in a pleasing manner.  Apply glue to the cardboard base and slap it onto the back of your wreath.
  7. Loop the hanger ribbon (or fabric…or whatever else you might want to use) and glue it to the back of the wreath.  You may choose to glue a small cardboard piece down on top of the ribbon ends to secure them.
  8. When the wreath is dry, flip it back over to the front side and get to decorating!  I used a fabric bow (again leaving the edges raw), but you could use flowers, Easter eggs, bird stuff…whatever blows your hair back! (Notice my lack of creativity in the embellishing department…this would be my novice wreath making skills coming out)
  9. Enjoy!

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Bead Necklace

Fabric covered beaded necklaces have been around for a long time.  I remember making one in Girl Scouts when I was a kid.  For this reason, I wasn’t really big on the idea of actually wearing one as an adult.  Then I saw this adorable bracelet from Hannah Handmade!  I considered making a bracelet, but I really like statement necklaces.  I also found this tutorial for a fabric covered beaded bracelet by Goody-Goody Handmade in my awesome sewing calendar.  I decided to combine my favorite parts of both bracelets to come up with my own design!  The best part about this project was that I had everything I needed on hand and it was easy enough that I could wear the necklace the next day!

Materials needed:

  • Beaded costume jewelry (the beads are easier to work with if they are already attached in a string – mine are about 3/4″ in diameter)
  • Fabric
  • Embroidery Floss
  • 30″ of ribbon
  • Two 3″ segments of ribbon to cover the fabric/ribbon connection
  • Sewing Machine
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun (or another type of fabric glue, if you prefer)
  • Fray check (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Measure your fabric against your beads.  The fabric should be wide enough to surround your beads plus 1/2″-3/4″ for wiggle room and the seam.  The fabric should be long enough to cover your length of beads plus several inches.  My bead string is about 12″ long and my fabric was about 20″ long.  I had some fabric leftover, but I wanted to make sure I had enough.
  2. Once you have cut out your fabric strip, fold it in half lengthwise with right sides facing in.  Sew a 1/4″ seam down the long side of the fabric.  Turn this tube inside out.
  3. Feed the bead string through one end of the fabric tube.
  4. Use the embroidery floss to tie a knot in between one set of beads.  Wrap the floss around the knot several times and then tie a second knot to secure it.  I started in the middle of the bead string and the middle of the fabric to make sure I had equal amounts of fabric at either end.
  5. Once you have finished tie all the beads in place, trim the excess fabric at each end down to about 1″.
  6. Cut the ribbon so that you have one piece that is about 20″ long and another that is about 10″ long.  Use glue to attach one end of each piece of ribbon to one end of the fabric.
  7. Glue the ends of the 3″ pieces of ribbon down to prevent fraying.  If you are using hot glue, use as little as possible for this step as the glue does not allow for much flexibility.  I was in a hurry to finish this project for the next day, so I did not want to wait for another type of glue to dry.
  8. Wrap the ribbon segments around the messy ends of fabric and ribbon and use glue to secure.
  9. Tie a bow with the two lengths of ribbon close to one end of the necklace.  Trim any excess ribbon.  Be sure to cut the ends of the ribbon at an angle to prevent fraying.  Fray check can be applied at this point, but I didn’t have any on hand.
  10. The finished necklace should be big enough to slip over your head.  Therefore, if you want to secure the bow with glue or thread, feel free!
  11. Wear the necklace and admire your handiwork!

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Message Board

A lot of people make message boards and I have ALWAYS wanted to make/buy/own one!  Unfortunately, I just don’t have the extra funds for something like this.  I also haven’t had an extra canvas lying around.  What I do have is cardboard!  For some reason I always seem to have plenty of it!  The nice thing about using cardboard for the backbone of this project is that it is highly customizable.  You can make it any size or shape you want!  I chose a decent sized, long, vertical board.  The original plan was going to have a contrasting frame in that fun polka dot fabric, but I just couldn’t figure out how to make it work.  I still wanted to use the fabric though, so I opted for pockets!

Materials needed:

  • Two or three pieces of cardboard cut to the same size (I used two)
  • Two or three layers of batting depending on how plush you want your board (I used two layers of thin batting)
  • Two contrasting pieces of fabric (one must be large enough to cover the cardboard)
  • Ribbon (mine is about 1/4″ wide)
  • Buttons
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun
  • Sewing needle
  • Thread

Instructions:

  1. Use hot glue to attach your pieces of cardboard to each other.  Doubling or tripling the boards will give them more strength.
  2. Cut the batting to the same size as the board.  I used glue to attach the corners of the batting to the board, but this is up to you.
  3. Cut the main fabric to be about 2″ wider than the board on all sides.
  4. Cut any pockets as wide as the main fabric, but as tall as you want the pocket.  Make sure you leave enough fabric to have 2″ extra at the bottom of the board and about 1″ extra to fold over the top edge of the pocket (like a hem).
  5. Lay the board face down on the back side of the main fabric (the batting should be sandwiched in the middle).  Pull the edges up and glue them to the back of the board.  Make sure the fabric is taut.  Fold the corners under at an angle to make sure no loose edges will show from the front of the frame.
  6. For the pockets, fold the top edge in to prevent any loose edges from showing.  Glue them to the board just like the main fabric.  I have two pockets (one in the same pattern as the main fabric), but you can have as many as you want!
  7. Time for the ribbons!  Cross the ribbons over the front of the fabric and glue the ends to the back of the board.  These ribbons need to be tight or they won’t be able to hold anything.  The number of crosses you can fit depends on the size of your board.
  8. Sew a button onto each cross.  Make sure you go through all layers of the board with the needle to fasten it securely.  Don’t worry, it is surprisingly easy to sew through cardboard!
  9. Attach a ribbon to hang it and that board is finished!The two close up pictures above are of my husband and my older sister (Carter’s mom)…the pictures are goofy, but they’re some of my absolute favorites!

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Birthday Hat

 

As promised here is the birthday hat I made for my nephew!  It is a simple cone design that can can be customized with shapes, numbers, and a super fun pom-pom!  I chose polka dots to match his birthday banner!

Materials needed:

  • Stiff felt
  • Scraps of soft felt
  • Pom-pom
  • Ribbon
  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Fabric marker

Instructions:

  1. Cut a length of stiff felt about 6-1/2″ x 12″.  This size can be larger for an older kid or adult if preferred.
  2. Pinch the middle of one of the twelve inch sides of felt and roll the felt into a cone.  Be careful not to crease the felt too much.  Apply hot glue where the two edges overlap.
  3. Use a ruler to measure the length from the tip of the cone to the shortest point on the side.  This should be about 6″.  Use the marker and the ruler to place marks around the bottom of the cone to satisfy your measurement.  Cut around the cone following the marks until the bottom of the cone is even all the way around.
  4. Cut a length of ribbon so that it will be long enough to tie in a bow under the child’s chin.  With the seam in the back of the hat, glue one end of the ribbon on the outside of one side of the cone.  Repeat this process with the other end of the ribbon.  Make sure these two ends are directly across from each other.  Cut the middle of the ribbon at an angle to prevent fraying.
  5. Cut a strip of felt in a complimentary color about 1″ wide (to cover up the ribbon ends from step 4).  Make sure this strip is long enough to surround the entire bottom edge of the cone.  Glue the strip to the bottom edge of the cone.
  6. Cut out a birthday number or other shapes in different colors and use the glue to decorate the hat.
  7. Apply a large spot of hot glue to the tip of the hat and hold the pom-pom in place until the glue sets.
  8. You’re all finished!  Let the celebrations begin!

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Birthday Banner

My nephew is turning 1!  Since my family is coming from all over the place and has all sorts of different time commitments, we celebrated his birthday a few weeks early.  I saw this super fun confetti garland from Increasingly Domestic and had to make one for the party!  I decided to add letters to mine to personalize it for the kid (not that he can read, but he did like the fun colors!).  I also made the birthday hat, so be sure to look for that in an upcoming post!

Materials needed:

  • Felt sheets in several different colors (one sheet of each color should be sufficient for a banner of this size)
  • Ribbon scraps
  • Letter templates (I printed my from a word processor)
  • Circle template (I used the bottom of a candle jar – about 3-1/2″ diameter)
  • Fabric marker
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Hot glue gun

Instructions:

  1. Trace several circles onto your felt using your circle template and felt marker.  I traced 4 circles onto each color of felt.  Since I found 8 different colors of felt, I had a total of 32 circles to create 2 separate chains.  Cut the circles out.
  2. Sew a line through the center of each circle so the circles are just touching at the edges.  Do not cut the threads in between the circles.  Increasingly Domestic provides an excellent photo tutorial for this process.
  3. If you need to create your letter templates, follow these directions.  If not, skip to the next step.  I used Microsoft Word to print out huge letters, but you can use any word processor.  Open the program and type out one of each letter that you will need on your banner.  Highlight the letters and try out different fonts until you find one you like.  Make sure it is thick enough to easily cut out.  I stopped at a font called Marker Felt.  Increase the font size until it is large enough for your banner.  My font size is 250.  Print out the letters and cut them out.
  4. Choose which circle will hold which letter and trace that letter onto a contrasting color of felt.  You might want to trace the letter upside down so any marker lines do not show on the finished product.  Cut the letters out.
  5. Time for the hot glue gun!  Use the glue gun to adhere the letters to the circles.  Make sure the letters are where you want them before attaching them to the circles.  Hot glue is not a very forgiving material when used with felt.
  6. Glue a loop of ribbon to the backside of the end circles.
  7. Hang up your banner and celebrate!  These circles have a tendency to twist on the chain (which is part of the charm), so you may want to hang the chain against a flat wall to keep the letters facing forward.

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