When Handmade goes wrong

I quite like making things to give as gifts.  It is always a delicate art.  First you must be sure you want to invest the time and that the final product will turn out well.  Second you must think carefully about who you are giving it to.  There is nothing more awkward than getting the feeling that the recipient doesn’t actually like the gift because a solid drawback to handmade is that you can’t return it.

This is a story about a handmade gift that the recipient, my father-in-law, liked just fine.  The problem was, I had made a really big mistake when putting this gift together.  Let’s see if you can spot it:

log carrier

What is it you ask?  Why it is a log carrier of course!  An absolutely chic log carrier if I do say so myself.

the embroideryThis embroidery took FOREVER!  In the end I just couldn’t do it on my machine and off I went to my friend Rebecca’s for help.  Man did it turn out great or what?  I was ever so pleased.

cute tag

Then there are the little details like this cute tag.  I was in love with this present and I couldn’t wait to give it.  Have you spotted my error yet?  Keep looking.

recycledjeans

And just why did I love this thing so much?  Well I thought it looked pretty great and it was made out of recycled materials.  In the picture above you can see that it is lined with denim from an old pair of jeans.  The cream coloured fabric on the front was left over from a couch slipcover I had made.  The thread was leftover from my bridesmaids dresses (13 years ago!!).  And finally the twill tape for the handles was from a grab bag at Value Village.  I was in recycled gift heaven.

folded

Can you tell now what is wrong?  Yep.  As beautiful as it turned out, it was utterly useless for carrying wood.  I had made it long and skinny.  It would likely only fit one or two logs (super long ones at that).  Sigh.  It was supposed to be folded the other way so that it was deeper and shorter.  I was entirely horrified and with no time left before the family gift exchange to fix it, I did what I had to do…I gave it to him and then took it right back offering promises to “fix it soon”.

oh dear

This is the way it was supposed to go.  Which means the embroidery is going the wrong way and so are the straps.  Not such as easy fix after all.   And do you know what is worse?  I still haven’t fixed it.  I’m going to do it tonight and give it to him again before Christmas so at least I don’t have to say it took me a year to fix it.  Wish me luck!

book

Oh and by the way, I found this project in this book.  I’ve now made a number of the projects in here and all of them have turned out so wonderfully!  I’ll share a few in the coming days.

What are some of your DYI disasters?

Advertisements

Handmade Gifts: Alphabet magnets

If you are like me, you have drawers (and random bags and totes) full of your children’s art work.  We have more in common if you also find it hard to part with these masterpieces.  Here is one project that will help to use up that stash and it is guilt free (aka not using them to light the wood stove – not that I have EVER done that).

I was inspired to help Scarlett makes these alphabet magnets for Ivy’s solstice gift after reading a number of great blog posts. First Sarah Jane Studios gave inspiration for reusing children’s art (plans to make this for the family christmas gift exchange is already in the works),  then at Not Martha  I found a great how-to-make marble magnets tutorial and last but not least at Tiny Twist Creative the most perfect alphabet magnets!  This is exactly what I love about the blogosphere – tons of great ideas!

What you’ll need:

  • kids art (we used abstract watercolours just like at Tiny Twist Creative)
  • 1 inch magnets (we found ours at the local Home Hardware)
  • Clear garden rocks with a flat bottom (sourced at Michael’s but I have seen some at dollarstores…just not the big ones)
  • silicon glue (we had left over from making homemade snow globes last year)
  • a marker
  • 1 inch circle punch (again, Michael’s)
  • scissors
  • a cookie sheet for placing them on to dry…trust me if you just put them on the table the will all be drawn together and it will mess your not yet dry magnets up!)

Gather you art piece, circle punch and almost 6-year-old helper.  Set him or her to work punching out circles.

If you are less than 6 years old you may have to use your entire body weight to use the punch.  If you are older than six you may not have to do this but you still could if you felt like creating some drama as you work.

Once you have punched out one row use your scissors to cut the punched out circles off so you can start again.  Keep going until you have 26 circles.

Note: this photo does not contain 26 circles.

Next, take your marker and have your helper write the letters on the alphabet on the circles.  It helps if you make them a bit “fancy” for aesthetic appeal.

Now it is time to glue the circles onto the magnets and then the garden rocks onto the circles.  First lay down something to protect your work surface.

Put a small dab of the silicon glue on the magnet and place the circle on top.  Press down.  Next put a small dab onto of the paper circle and press the garden rock into place.  Put it on the cookie sheet to dry.  If you notice the glass rock slip a bit, just move it back into place.

Enjoy and remember to let me know if you make these!

Note: the 1-inch magnets can get kind of expensive so you can make these using smaller ones…the 1-inch magnets will hold up anything though so you might consider the splurge.

For the spy in your house.

There are secrets being kept in our house of late.  Requests for “secret and safe” places to stash belongs or freshly made gifts are frequent.  Scarlett is the most keen to hide things of all sorts.  She let me know recently that Ivy “messes with her stuff” and so she showed me her “secret spot”.  Behind her clothes, on top of the dresser in her closet was a large pile of party loot bags, stickers, school crafts etc.  Basically anything she did not want her sister getting into was there.

We have a tradition at solstice to exchange handmade gifts.  The secret keeping and stashing plus Scarlett’s love of “Harriet the Spy” inspired me to make this for her this year.  I think she is going to love it!

purchased for $2 at a local thrift store...

I found this gem of a hardcover book at the M.O.D shop in town for $2.  Then I went here and here to find out how to make a hollow book.

the hard part is done!

I won’t go into all of the details because the links have much better pictures than I do to illustrate the process.  Basically I used an exacto-knife and a ruler to cut into the pages a few at a time.  Bits of paper were all over my desk but the clean up was fairly easy.  I used glue thinned with water to glue the pages together and applied it with a paint brush.

spy paraphernalia

When it was dry, I filled it with Dollar store spy items.  A retractable flashlight, a book with a lock and a magnifying glass are all a junior spy should need.  And of course it doesn’t hurt that it cost me about $5 to make.

can you tell the difference?

Looking at the girl’s bookshelf, you’d never know!

I can’t wait to see Scarlett’s face when she opens this.  I love handmade holidays!!