Friday, 16 December 2016

Quick and Easy Quilted Potholder

I recently took a trip to Pennsylvania for a friend's wedding. She lives smack-dab in Amish country, so every gift shop and market I visited was chock full of quilted crafts. Pot holders, pillows, reusable shopping bags, wall hangings and of course, some beautiful and amazing quilted blankets.

I decided I wanted to try a little bit of quilt-crafting myself, and since winter is upon us, I grabbed some holiday fabric from the Reuse Centre and got to work.

I started out trying to make a fancy star like I'd seen in so many Pennsylvania gift shops, but quickly realized I was in over my head! I started over with a simpler design of diagonal strips of patterned fabric, surrounded by a border of plain red.

This quick, easy project took so little fabric that I probably could have made at least five pot holders from the small rolls I picked up! I used my machine for most of the sewing, but this could easily be done by hand with a little patience.

Instead of purchasing quilt batting for the inside, I used two layers of leftover fleecy fabric that I already had in my fabric stash. The hanging loop is a scrap of ribbon cut out of the shoulder of a shirt, making this project 100% reused.

It doesn't quite rival the meticulously stitched works of art I saw stateside, but I'm pretty pleased with how my little potholder turned out. Maybe I'll even work my way up to fancy stars one of these days, too!

-Sarah (Volunteer)

All photographs provided by Sarah

Monday, 12 December 2016

DIY Reusable Magnetic Advent Calendar

In the fall I encountered an advent calendar that had been put out by a local retail store and it inspired me to make my own version. The tins on the original magnet calendar were pretty small, too small for the kinds of tasty treats I’d want in my own version.

Original Advent Calendar from local retail store

To create my calendar, I needed 24 small containers. I put out a call to my family, friends, and colleagues to give me all their small containers of lotions and potions for my project. I decided I wanted round containers, with a lid, approximately 6-8 cm (2-3”) across, I wasn’t fussy about what the container was made from. Once I had collected 24 containers I was ready to go!

My stock of small round containers

I peeled all the labels off of the containers, most of which came off very nicely with no residue left behind. I also needed to take out all of the liners from lids. I gave the containers and lids a good soak and wash in warm water and dish washing soap. The dish soap cut any oils and gunk left behind by the lotions, hair products, and whatever else had been in the containers.

Removing the foam liner from lids

I chose to use fabric to cover the containers, I had some small pieces in my stash that fit the winter/Christmas theme. To cover the lids, I traced a circle of each container lid on the fabric and cut it out. For the sake of ease and time I only covered the lids with fabric, it seemed like an extra hassle to also cover the sides of the containers. Of course you could also use paper, ribbon, or paint to decorate your containers and lids.

Tracing each lid on festive fabric

I borrowed some fancy paper cutting tools from a friend to cut out numbers and snowflakes from extra scrapbook paper I had kicking around. I contemplated painting on the numbers, but I’m not that great at painting fine details and I was worried I’d mess things up.

Numbers and embellishments I cut out for each lid

With my trusty Mod Podge and foam brush in hand, I coated the top of each lid generously and layered on each specific piece of fabric that I had traced and cut out. Once the fabric was on the top of the lid, I added a layer of  Mod Podge to the top of the fabric. I then added my numbers and embellishments to the wet Mod Podge, and added on more layer of Mod Podge and left everything to dry overnight.

Mod Podged lids with fabric, numbers and embellishments

To make a magnetic base for each container, I used magnetic tape. My goal was to put the calendar up on the fridge, or on the metal closet door in our hallway. You could also use a fancy cut piece of metal, a cookie sheet, or a magnetic whiteboard to display your calendar.

Magnetic strip on the the bottom of each container

Once I added the magnetic strip to each container, I filled each container with tasty treats! I went to the Lindt store and purchased small chocolates. I also bought a gift card to go in the final container for December 24th. When all the containers were filled, I had to play around with matching lids to containers, since I didn’t mark them before I started!

Filled containers and matching lids

I learned a few things along the way* that I may go back and change for the next time but overall I’m happy with how my DIY magnetic advent calendar turned out.

The final product!

Next year, I may alternate candy with interesting kinds of tea, love notes, or vouchers for homemade treats that can be redeemed throughout the upcoming year.

*Here are a few helpful tips that I learned that would make the process a little bit easier:

  • Rough up the glossier plastic lid surfaces with sandpaper
    • I had considered sanding the shiny plastic lids a little to rough up the surface and allow the glue to adhere better but decided against it. Unfortunately, the fabric didn't stick as well to some of the containers with glossier plastic.
  • Full magnet coverage on the bottom of each container
    • I initially cut medium pieces of magnetic tape for the bottom of each container, so that the magnet would fit across the middle of the container but not go out to the edges. This worked for some of the smaller containers, but not for the taller or bigger containers. The larger containers didn't stay up very well and needed more magnetic backing. If I could go back, I’d use a magnetic sheet and cut a circle to fit the whole bottom of each container. I might still do that before we use the calendar again next year.

Kat (Staff)

All images provided by Kat