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The making of little green shoes

January 11, 2019

Sometimes being ambitious and creative results in wasted supplies and a mess, balled up in the corner to be re-discovered at a later date. Sometimes though, it pays off.

Little Miss, aged 4.5 years, is to be the flower girl in her aunt’s wedding this spring. She has a sweet little white dress with a full tulle skirt and wide deep green ribbon sash, and a selection of three floral headpieces for us to choose from.

The bride will be wearing green shoes herself, and thought it would be cute if the flower girl matched. A quick Google search showed not inexpensive, but not pricey glittery green shoes. So I agreed.

Further research showed those glittery green shoes to be costume quality, and with very poor reviews. A fairly in depth search turned up exactly zero realistic options for little green dress shoes.

Dyable shoes? Nothing I liked in the size. Ballet slippers? Not enough grip.

They’re! So! Green!

And then it came to my attention that people buy expensive leather flats and have them custom painted. So with a little research, I was able to come up with a clever, ambitious plot.

And as a result…I have little green dress shoes. Yes, it worked!

So if you’re curious how to get leather/faux leather shoes in any old color you want, read on.

For this project I used $10 Cat and Jack flats from Target (thank you Cat and Jack, for affordable kids clothing, feminist t-shirts, inclusive styles, and gender neutral basics) and some leather painting supplies from Dharma Trading Co.

The supplies:

I used Angelus brand leather paint, which is simply a flexible acrylic like, as well as the leather preparer/deglazer and matte finisher. To be perfectly honest I’m not 100% certain that the preparer isn’t just acetone and the top coat isn’t just acrylic sealer, but this all cost under $15 so I went with it.

Note: this will not work on suede, it has to be a flat surface.

Step 1, prepped and ready to go.

The process:

First I grabbed a cotton makeup pad and used it to swipe the leather preparer across the surface. Then I applied blue painters tape around the edges to minimize areas where paint would get onto the rubber sole and inner area.

Next up, I took a deep breath, gave the bright green paint a shake and got started. I used a smallish flat paint brush because it’s what I was comfortable with. It was very streaky and I began to worry that black was a poor choice for the base (it was the only choice available, so oh well). I allowed dry time between each coat (10-15 minutes), and on about the 4th coat it began covering nicely. I believe I did about 6 coats and wound up with a nice even finish. There are certain areas where brush strokes are visible, but 1) not nearly as badly as I feared, and 2) who will be looking that close?!

The trick here is lots of thin layers. Don’t rush and glob it on.

Finally, when it was all dry, I applied a thin layer of the matte finisher with my brush and used a paper towel to smooth any areas where it pooled.

Challenge #1: the painters tape did keep the paint off most of the sole, however when I removed the tape it also removed some small areas of paint by the edge. I touched it up so it isn’t an issue. One could also not tape and just be very careful around the edges. Any excess on the sole came off easily with a little of the preparer on a cotton swab.

In progress. You can see that the shoe still looks very dark, and there’s a lot of streaking. The elastic still looks pretty much black.

Challenge #2: this paint isn’t made for elastic. A women’s pump wouldn’t have this issue, nor a fancy flat, but these shoes have elastic edging and elastic across the top of the foot. The first 1-3 layers soaked right in and I was fairly certain wouldn’t work, however after that the color began showing and I was able to get decent coverage. It did affect the feel of the elastic across the foot, but it still has a little give and still serves it’s purpose with no cracking.

And so, Little Miss will have adorable green shoes for the wedding!

My thoughts on painting leather:

  1. Would I buy $200 leather flats and customize them? No. No, I can’t say I would.
  2. Would I buy inexpensive faux leather shoes in a store and consider painting them? If I had reason to, heck yeah!
  3. Do I think this was worth the investment of effort and money? Yes. I got reasonably priced shoes and supplies and the grand total of maybe 2 hours it took me is well worth having the perfect little shoes.
  4. Do I think these will be durable enough for their purpose? Short answer:  yes, I do.

Long answer: I am perfectly confident having her wear these for the wedding. There is no transfer and the color doesn’t seem to be wearing away. The finish looks nice and even and for pictures, they will look great. Assuming they survive the wedding, she can wear them again if she’d like.

And…done! If you look closely you’ll see that the elastic binding the edge is still black on the inside. I chose not to paint all the way down for just in case in changed the texture and made it scratchy. That part of the shoe will never show when worn.

In terms of durability, there is a little something in the back of my head saying that even though this is made for the purpose, it is just acrylic paint and if scraped there may be the possibility of peeling. I am not about to try it though. Referring back to the fact that people paint their pricey flats (which having briefly owned a pair of plain ones, I know the sides of the shoe touches the ground when you walk), I assume that this method must be reasonably durable or there wouldn’t be a thriving market on these custom shoes.

So, all this brings me to my final question.

Does anyone have any leather goods they’d like to be green? Because I know someone with about 4/5 of a container of leather paint, preparer, and finisher left.

Crafting Decor Tutorial

DIY Decor: Easy Wood Plaques

June 15, 2016

Every now and then I just decide I need something. Last time it was a dream catcher for each bedroom; this time it’s a little wooden plaque to hang in my daughter’s room. Here’s the thing, I’m big on precision and I don’t like my handwriting! I can easily whip something up on my computer, but once I print it, how do I get it onto the wood? Want to know?

This simple transfer method can be used on any soft wood (pretty much any craft wood you can buy in a craft or hobby shop). You don’t need any real art skills per se, but it will be helpful for you to have a relatively steady hand.

diy decor old fashioned modern livingLet’s go back to the beginning. I love wood slices, and I’ve been seeing them again and again in Joann Fabric and wondering what I can do with them. I finally bought one, just a little ornament size, about 3″ in either direction, with a hole drilled so it can hang. After a few weeks, it struck me – I could use it to make an ornament for Little Miss’ bedroom!

I’ve always had a fondness for the line from William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “and though she be but little, she is fierce.” In the play, it’s a warning…one character tells another that the third will not hurt her, to which she responds, basically, she’s tough when she’s angry, and don’t underestimate her due to her size.

Being rather short of stature myself, I’ve always liked this quote. Being underestimated for your size is no fun. Plus, one of my favorite fiction series (The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, FYI) utilizes the quote in regard to a particularly tough female character. Now enter Little Miss – nearly two, a little big for her age but still quite small in the scheme of things, and sweet and smart and tough! Yes, she’s little, but she’s fierce!

So now, I have a wood slice and I have a quote. But as I mentioned, if I just freehand this, I’m 150% guaranteed to hate it. I don’t feel like doing a messy and labor intensive gel medium transfer…I just need to get what I print out of my computer onto the wood. Ready to see how I did it?

You’ll need:

  • A sharp pointed ballpoint pen (I’m a big fan of the Pentel RSVP fine point pen)
  • A fine point marker that will not bleed (I’ll argue that a Micron size 01 is best all day, every day)
  • Your wood slice
  • A ruler
  • Computer/printer/printer paper
  • Scotch tape

Get started!

  1. Measure the usable area on your wood slice, meaning account for edges, dark areas around the outside and any drilled holes. If there’s a string, remove it so it sits flat.
  2. Design your own, or print out an image you want to use in the appropriate size. I realize this is easy for me since I’m a graphic artist, but even MS Paint has text and re-sizing capabilities. You can also use a picture from a magazine, or simply draw your image on another sheet of practice paper and then transfer. Trim down your image to the right size and tape it where you want it.
  3. Take your fine point ballpoint pen and carefully trace your text or image, putting a little more pressure than usual. If your letters are thin, just do it once, however if there are thicker parts, like in my script words, outline the thick areas.
  4. Remove the tape and paper, and you should be able to see a fine inprint in the wood. Take your fine point marker and carefully trace, coloring in any thicker areas you want solid.
  5. Decorate in any way you wish, add color with colored pencils or fine point markers (test markers on the back to make sure they don’t bleed!) or leave it as is, then replace the string.

This same trick can be used on any size, from little ornaments like this to larger wall plaque size wood slices which you add a hanger to once you’re done. You can also buy craft wood shapes loose, or packs of thin rectangles to make into signs or other decor.

I think mine came pretty decent, with the exception of the s in “is” getting a little wonky, but I’ll just need to ignore that. It’s not super easy to write carefully with a toddler trying to climb on you. I haven’t decided yet if I want to draw some sort of decorative border or just leave it plain.

There are so many possibilities here! Think about the gifts you can make – imagine a set of wood coasters (sealed with a top coat, of course) with a cute hand drawn motif or a customized decorative plaque. I’m thinking there may be more of these around here in the future.

Crafting Life

A rough weekend, and a tent

February 8, 2016
diy play tent old fashioned modern living

It’s been quite a handful of days. You know the kind of days that just run into each other, where you find yourself so emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted you can barely tell which way is up? That’s pretty much the kind I’m talking about.

My grandmother passed away the middle of last week, and the days since have more or less been a whirlwind. Between the snow on Friday, hours in the car, long days running after a toddler in unfamiliar places, countless hellos and goodbyes, and everything else this weekend has held, I’m just burnt out. I woke up this morning to more snow falling outside, a living room strewn with toys, and a sink full of haphazardly piles dishes I don’t even remember using. Honestly, I’m glad it’s a quiet day. I have nothing planned, nothing of note on the agenda. I can just tidy up, play with Little Miss and try to keep myself occupied.

On a side note, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: babies are the best. I worried and worried about how to handle Little Miss in the funeral home, how she’d behave during the mass, if I’d be able to get her to nap, how to wake her up early without it completely ruining the day. She was a darling in the funeral home, all 18 months of her stomping around in her brand new light up sneakers, making everyone smile. She woke up early of her own accord the day of the funeral, and read her little board book and hugged me through the mass. I’m telling you, it was like she knew.

diy play tent old fashioned modern livingBut anyway. It’s Monday. It’s snowing. I kind of want to go into a pillow fort and stay there.

I’m not sure I have enough pillows for a fort, but I may have the next best thing.

Awhile back I saw a pin on Pinterest for a little DIY play tent for kids, which I sent along to my brother (Kristen’s husband) to ask how difficult it would be to make. The answer was, not very. We kept forgetting about it, so even though it was made weeks and weeks ago, it just came to us this weekend. So Saturday, at the end of the day we came home and I set up the tent quickly for Little Miss as a thank you for being such a sweet girl through everything.

If you want a tutorial on how to make this, just do a Google search for “DIY play tent” and you’ll find plenty. I’m just going to give an outline so you know how simple this was!

The frame of the tent consists of three 1/2″ dowels that you can buy at a hardware or craft store, and four 4′ boards of 1×2″ wood (these usually come in 8′ lengths at the hardware store, and you may be able to ask an employee to just cut them in half for you). My brother rounded the edges of the 1×2″ boards, but you can just sand them to make sure they’re not splintery. From there, the only power tool you really need is a drill, to drill the hole in each end of the boards. To assemble, just pop them together.

The fabric portion is an old bed sheet I had been holding onto. I cut it roughly 44×94″, hemmed the cut long edge and then folded and stitched the bottom to make a little channel to slip the dowels through. It’s sloppy – the edges aren’t perfectly straight and it’s a little big causing some sagging, but I did it quickly after a long day, and after I had removed my contacts too. Little Miss didn’t seem to mind.

Saturday evening I set up the tent in the living room, pulled in a blanket and pillow, and Little Miss and I spent the evening cuddling and having pretend tea parties in the tent while her daddy watched television. Not a pillow fort, but pretty darn nice.

Here’s my breakdown on the tent project:

The cost: by my estimation, the wood cost about $10 and the fabric price will depend on what you use. If you have fabric on hand or repurpose something like I did (don’t forget thrift shops for sheets and blankets for cheap fabric) it will be fairly inexpensive.

The time: According to my brother, he didn’t even cut the dowels. The active work time included measuring the two 1×2″ boards and cutting them from 8′ to 4′ long, rounding the edges and drilling 8 holes. The fabric part is very simple, but will depend on how fast you work.

Moving forward: I plan to either stain or paint the wood portion both for looks and durability, but I will wait until it’s warmer and I can work outside. I’d also like to go to a thrift store to buy a blanket to make a nicer, better fitting fabric cover. The style I did here is the simplest, but you can also make a back and front flaps, attach it with ribbons, or add a channel for the top dowel as well.

The benefits: It’s a fun little play space for the little ones, and I kind of like it as well. It can be assembled and disassembled very quickly and easily, and is totally portable. It will be a great sunshade for outdoor events, and I’m looking forward to setting it up in the yard for Little Miss this summer.

Troubleshooting: I’m finding that the legs of the tent are spreading a little, so I need to find a way to brace them to stay in place. This is fairly simple, I just haven’t had a chance to deal with it yet.

Alright…back to the tent we go.

Accessories Crafting

Keeping busy on a snow day

January 23, 2016
old fashioned modern living

It’s official, we are in the midst of Snowmageddon 2016. Suffolk County is in a state of emergency due to blizzard conditions and we’re waiting to see if we actually get that 18-24″ of snow that has been predicted.

I’m not a big fan of snow. It’s pretty while it’s falling and I like to see all the trees with that frosty coating, but the rest of it I can do without. I’m grateful that we had nothing to do today. My husband is home, and we can all just relax without having to worry about trying to get anywhere in this mess. Now of course, when I say “relax”, I don’t mean sit around and do nothing. I’m 99% sure that I am constitutionally incapable of doing that. So I’m coming up with things to do to keep busy.

First off, I had a mommy fail – I realized, with the snow already coming down, that Little Miss doesn’t have a scarf or gloves. Since I had to pull out the sewing machine anyway to hem some jeans, I decided to embark on a few little projects to remedy this. Project number one is…

The Easiest DIY Toddler Circle Scarf Ever

easy diy toddler circle scarf old fashioned modern livingOkay, maybe it’s not the easiest, because I suppose you could cut a strip of fabric and tie a knot in it to make it easier, but still, it’s pretty simple. You need some fabric, scissors, pins, a sewing machine, a little velcro and the most basic knowledge of sewing – this is all cutting rectangles and sewing lines.

For an 18 month old, I cut my scarf piece 26×8″. I used fleece scraps left over from the adult sized cape I made a few months ago. You can adjust the size based on your child’s size and your desired finished size. I had fleece so I used fleece, but any fabric will do. A flannel or even jersey will work just as well, depending on the look you want. Velcro makes it easy to get on and off, and will open easily if it gets caught on anything while being worn.

The steps:

  1. Cut your fabric to your desired size (again, I did 26×8″)
  2. Fold your fabric in half lengthwise, pin and sew the long edge, leaving the two short sides open. Unpin and turn.
  3. Fold each edge in on itself so the raw edges go inside the tube. Sew and unpin.
  4. Pin a piece of velcro to each side, then sew on with a simple rectangle, sewing along each edge. Remember the two pieces go on opposite sides of the fabric tube.


That’s it. You could topstitch around all the edges, but I chose not to because I want this full and fluffy rather than flat. Absolutely as simple as can be, this took maybe 10 minutes.

Quick and Dirty Mittens

quick and dirty toddler mittens old fashioned modern livingWhat about those little hands? I don’t expect that Little Miss will want to spend much time out in the snow (or that we’ll want her to), but I’d like to keep her relatively covered while she’s out. Enter the quick and dirty mittens. I used more of the same scrap fleece, traced around her hand to make a pattern and then cut out 4 of the same piece a little larger than my tracing to allow for seam allowances. I also added a little extra length so they will cover to her wrists and stay on. Next up, pin 2 pieces and 2 pieces, sew carefully with a small seam allowance and turn. That’s it. I didn’t bother finishing the bottom because fleece doesn’t fray, and since it has a little stretch, I didn’t even need to put elastic. I won’t use these forever, but for a quickie spare pair, they serve the purpose!

My pattern piece measures just about 6″ (including the extra I left by the wrist), almost 4″ from the thumb across the large hand part and about 2.5″ across the wrist, resulting in a finished mitten roughly 5.75″ long and 3.75″ across and just a tad over 2″ across the wrist opening. They fit and they stay on, and that’s about all I can ask for.

From Scratch Hot Cocoa

Also on the agenda today was some from-scratch hot cocoa. I like hot cocoa, but I tend to be less than happy with the ones I buy. I don’t drink much milk, so nearly a cup of milk, even with  premium cocoa mix in it is a lot. A lot of the packaged ones are too sweet for my liking, and anyway I’m not overly fond of all the “extras” – powdered milk doesn’t go far with my dairy-free husband, and preservatives and carrageenan can go away. The only extra mama wants in her cocoa is a shot of coconut rum – though maybe not during the day (no really, try it, it’s awesome). So I made up my own hot coca recipe from scratch, with all things I keep in the house anyway and I have to say, it came pretty nice.

It has the slight bitterness of real cocoa, a pleasant sweetness from the honey, and a slight thickness from the chocolate and milk. Best of all, it’s super basic and easy to customize. Add more cocoa, add more honey, leave out the spices – whatever floats your boat works.


  • Hot water (1 cup per serving)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • dash cinnamon
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • splash of milk or nondairy alternative
  1. While water is boiling, place cocoa powder, cinnamon and chocolate chips in a mug
  2. Pour boiling water into mug and then stir in honey, giving it a good mixing to get everything to melt and combine
  3. Add a splash of milk or your favorite nondairy alternative to thicken a little, and adjust to taste


That’s it. Experiment and make it your own. I like the real flavors, and knowing exactly what went into it. I don’t have to feel bad about drinking this cocoa!

That’s all here for now. We’re waiting for the snow to finish (though it may be awhile), and seeing what the rest of the day brings. How are you keeping busy today?


Washi it!

January 19, 2016
washi tape old fashioned modern living

washi tape old fashioned modern livingFor as long as I can remember, I’ve been a decorator. I used to color in the white spaces on my marble notebooks, and the carpet in my childhood bedroom was a mess of glitter and colored glue (I’m sorry, mom). I like pops of color and I like embellishments, but I also like precision. I want things straight, even, symmetrical and neat. Abstract designs are not something that sit right with me.

So when I discovered washi tape, I thought it was the best thing ever. Washi tape is Japanese in origin, a decorative paper tape with a million applications. It can be used to decorate even if you have absolutely no artistic talent and it’s very precise – plus it’s fairly inexpensive, at just a few dollars a roll. It can be ordered online or found in craft stores and even at Target.

So why washi? Well, it comes in a ton of colors and designs, and is easy to remove if need be.

My office is an interesting space. The walls are pale blue, and the dark hardwood floor is partially covered with a white area rug with a colorful button print. The furniture is minimalist IKEA tabletops and bookshelves, and my decor is…unique. My husband’s desk and bookcase are covered with anime figurines and comic book characters. Every section of my space is stuffed and stacked with craft supplies with a few notable pieces of decor, like my grumpy cat pictures and a framed portrait of a cat dressed as Anne Boleyn. I wanted to pull things together a little, so I used a blue, grey and white chevron washi tape on the edges of my desks, on the light switch plate and accenting my wall shelf. It coordinates nicely, matches the walls and is semi-permanent.

Important note: if your washi decor tears (or your teething toddler decides to gnaw on the edge of your desk), you can just peel it off and either redo it, or not.

Other ideas – washi blank notecards or gift boxes to give them some personality. Just lay it where you want it, trim and press. Use it in scrapbooking, or decorate 6″ ceramic tiles to make coasters. Decorate vases or your cell phone case, or cover cardboard letters or small canvases for sweet decor. Use it to cover tin cans to make pretty pencil holders, or stripe it onto glass votive candle holders or plain picture frames to make inexpensive gifts. Wrap your pencils, decorate your keyboard – the possibilities for using washi tape are truly endless.

washi tape old fashioned modern livingOh, and you can write on it with Sharpie markers, so it’s great for labeling things also. There’s no real mess, it’s removable, it’s inexpensive, and you can use it on almost anything. You can find books of ideas for washi tape projects, or just search on Pinterest if you’re looking for ideas.

Washi tape doesn’t handle water well, naturally, and it can be scratched off, so it isn’t great for areas that get rubbed or scraped. Otherwise, use it nearly anywhere. As I’m typing this, I’m looking at the frame on my whiteboard and thinking, “hmmm…I could washi that.” And I just might.

My only warning is that if you’re like me, it’s easy to get carried away. I need every color! A design for every holiday! Extra roles of my favorites! So unless you’re a craft hoarder (I am!) be conservative with your initial purchase. Washi tape is only a few dollars a roll, but it can still add up!

So next time you’re looking for a quick craft or an inexpensive gift, take it easy…just washi it!

Crafting Life

Recent projects, and whats next on the list

January 11, 2016

I’m going to start by admitting that winter is my slow season. In the spring and fall I’m energized and excited, ready to go out and do things and stay in and do things. In the summer I hide from the sun, and in the winter I hibernate.

lily-computerSo today, with nothing scheduled, I’m sitting here in yoga pants and my Avengers t-shirt, watching Little Miss play on her toy laptop and bop around to David Bowie (who we actually listen to on a regular basis, but seems to be the obvious choice today. Sigh. I’m so bummed about his passing). But anyway.

My point is, I haven’t been terribly active lately. I’d like to say I’ve been cooking and crafting up a storm, but after the holiday rush I’m still winding down. I make dinner and bake when we’re entertaining or going visiting, and I’ve been doing my silver work, but I’m not quite in a creative whirlwind. I’ve been taking it easy, playing it safe. Curious what I have been up to?


  1. I’ve been crocheting for a long time. I learned a few stitches from my parents in elementary school (mom used to crochet and dad picked up the basics from watching his grandmother) and I’ve just continued doing it from there. Don’t expect a large blanket from me, or 2 booties to actually match, but I can make hats. My favorite hat pattern is from Family Bugs. I came across the free earflap hat pattern a few years ago and it has become the base for most of the crochet hats I’ve made. This year I made Little Miss a red/yellow/orange hat like Jayne’s from Firefly, and a spectacular brown one with polyfill stuffed Princess Leia buns. Letting my geek flag fly here, people.
  2. I was never a huge lemon fan until I found this recipe from TexanErin. I’ve made it twice in the past 2 weeks. The base is a coconut and almond macaroon and the top is a thick lemony custard. It’s amazing; gluten free, dairy free, and uses no refined sugars. It’s not difficult to make, and FYI if you need to avoid nuts I substituted gluten free flour for the almond meal in both places and it came slightly more dense, but just as nice. Also, the crust calls for 1 egg white and the custard for 3 eggs and 2 yolks, meaning you’re throwing out one egg white – I use 4 full eggs and the leftover yolk for the custard and it works just fine.
  3. This lady has learned how to solder! I don’t have a tutorial to share for this and it’s not really a skill I think your average person is looking to pick up, but it has allowed me to make some really cool detailed silver charms I’ve listed in my shop. Woohoo!

What’s next?

I’ve discovered that my doors are a little drafty, so I’m thinking I’d like to make some draft stoppers to put under the doors. The kind that stays on the door, not just a weighted pillow, because you just know Little Miss would love to carry that around the house…which kind of defeats the purpose. I’ve been looking at this list of 20 different DIY styles and trying to decide which I want to do (and build up the drive to pull the sewing machine out).

Until next time, stay cozy!


Crafting Tutorial Uncategorized

Make a Fall Garland!

September 30, 2015

Grab yourself a warm fall beverage, gather a few craft supplies and make an easy fall decoration for your home! The best part about this project is that is that it’s a simple activity to do while watching the Halloween episodes of your favorite shows on Netflix. Sadly, My So Called Life is no longer on Netflix, but there’s always “The Slutty Pumpkin” HIMYM episode, as well as the Dawson’s Creek episode with the escaped serial killer in season 1. There are so many good choices. You could also just pop Hocus Pocus into your DVD player.


I originally got the idea for a fall garland from one of my favorite blogs, A Beautiful Mess. I began reading Elsie and Emma’s blog when we moved upstate and into our first apartment. I loved the garland DIY because it was perfect for decorating boring white apartment walls without painting or damaging anything .  These garlands are also extremely easy to make, and easy to change up and make your own. Although I no longer live in an apartment, I still find myself making garlands for each holiday. Here’s how I made two of mine:

Leaf Garland

You’ll Need:

Felt in the colors of your choice (decide on your pattern ahead of time)



Pen and paper

Rotary Leather Punch or craft screw punch


Draw a leaf on a piece of paper, and cut it out to make yourself a stencil. Trace as many leaves onto your felt as you can fit. Cut out the leaves and use the leather punch to punch two holes into each leaf. Once you are finished, you are ready to string the  leaves into the pattern of your choice. You can wrap tape around the end of the string if you are having a tough time – I find that that helps me! I make loops on either end of the string to hang the garland.

Here’s the finished product!



Ghost Garland

What you’ll need:

White tulle

White stuffing

Orange or black ribbon

White thread

Sewing needles


Cut the tulle into a large circle- a little larger than a dinner plate. Put a ball of stuffing in the center of the tulle. Gather all of the tulle up, and tie a ribbon around the ghost’s head.  Secure the ribbon with a double knotted bow. Repeat until you have made the desired number of ghosts. Next, thread the needle, and string the thread through the ghost’s heads. Once you are finished, make loops on either side of the thread to hang the garland.

Here’s the finished product!


I hope you make some time to relax and craft in front of the tv!




Crafting Tutorial

Car seat cape tutorial

September 27, 2015
Car seat cape tutorial. Old Fashioned Modern Living.

Last winter was difficult. It was my first with a baby, my first in a new house…my first living on my own as a grown up. It was all good stuff, but it was hard to know what to do sometimes.

One of the questions I had, that I think a lot of new parents have, is what to put on my sweet little baby when it’s cold. We wear short, sporty jackets or long coats to stave off the cold. Naturally, we may want to bundle up these fragile, tiny humans in much the same way we bundle ourselves up. According to car seat safety regulations though, no puffy coats or articles of clothing that will add bulk to the child – basically, if you’d need to loosen the car seat harness to fit the extra clothing in, it’s too much. That extra slack in the harness can lead to it being less effective in case of an accident, and of course that’s the last thing we want.

So what do you do? Layer them up? Put on a jacket to walk from the house to the car, take it off when you get to the car, the put it on again when you get where you’re going? Use a blanket that keeps slipping off? It’s confusing. This summer, with my little girl already one year old, I was introduced to the concept of a car seat cape. You dress the child in something light, like a long sleeved sweatshirt, then layer this warm fleece cape over the top. Put her in the car with the back of the cape flipped up, and buckle the harness underneath. Baby gets a wearable blanket to keep her cozy in the car with no extra bulk under the straps, and the poor thing doesn’t need to be half undressed to get in the car.

If you’re into baby wearing and your little one spend time in a carrier, these can easily be put on over the carrier for an extra layer of warmth without too much bundling inside the carrier. And hang on, baby wearing mamas, you can size this up you too, and wear it over you and baby for extra cuddle front carries! Read through the tutorial, then see notes at the end.

Sewing skills: You only need basic sewing skills for this project. Fleece is a somewhat forgiving fabric, and there’s really nothing that difficult here.

Time: I’m not sure how long this took because I was interrupted by Little Miss 30,000 times. I wouldn’t guess more than maybe 2 hours total though.

Cost: It depends on how big you’re making your cape and what price you can find on fleece. Watch for Joann Fabrics coupons, and compare priced between online fabric retailers. I got my fleece on sale for $4.99 from the Hancock Fabrics website. For a 12-24 month size, this cost me $10 in fabric, and I had the thread and snaps.

Car seat cape tutorial

Car seat cape tutorial. Old Fashioned Modern Living.Materials:

  • Fleece in two colors/patterns (1 yard of each for 12-24 or infant size, 1.5 of each for childrens size, 2 of each for adult size)
  • Thread in coordinating color
  • Scissors, pins, measuring tape
  • Sharpies or fabric marking pencil or markers
  • Closure (buttons, snaps, hooks)

Before you begin: Figure out how much fabric you need. Measure from the middle of your child’s chest to the wrist, then add at least 1″ for seams, and a couple of extra inches if you’d like it a little longer. I’ve found that infant through maybe 2T size can be gotten out of a yard of each fabric. Kids sizes need 1.5 yards of each, and adult sizes 2 yards of each. For this tutorial, I did 17″, which leaves the completed cape falling a bit past my daughter’s hands, which is nice because it’ll last until next winter too. I’d consider this my 12-24 month pattern.

Get the concept: The base of this cape is a circle. A full circle. Keep this in mind as you lay things out and measure, it may help you.

For this tutorial, I’m working with a 17″ circle for a 12-24 month size, so we have 1 yard of each fabric.

Step 1: Choose one fleece color to start with. It is already folded in half; fold it in half the other way. Choose a side and measure 17″ – mark with your Sharpie or fabric pencil, and pin loosely at about 15″ just to hold your fabric in place. Do the same at the other folded side, and then go around with your measuring tape end staying in the same place, marking and sewing so you get a perfect circle.

Step 2: Cut around the perfect circle you marked, through all 4 layers. You now have a circle cut out, folded into quarters. At this size, you’ll have plenty of space for the hood. Go into that extra fabric and unfold it so it’s 2 layers rather than 4. Cut out your hood based on an existing hood (make sure to add at least 1″ all around for seam allowances) or based on my measurements in the photo (8″ across the base, 8.5″ across the widest point, 11″ tall). Go ahead and cut that out. Remember, only 2 pieces, not 4!

Step 3: Measure the bottom of your hood. For this tutorial, we’ll go with 8″ across, for a total of 16″ (because that 8″ is each half). 16″ will be the circumference of our neck hole, and we need to calculate the radius. I can’t do math. I Google “formula for radius of a circle” and use the tool that pops up. Magic Google tells me the radius will be 2.55″. Measure just like in step 1, but at about 2.5″. If in doubt, go ever so slightly less rather than more, because the fleece cut in a circle will stretch a tad. Now cut – look at the photo above to see what it should look like cut out.

Step 4: Your cape body is still pinned, right? It’s a perfect circle, right? We need to open up the front. Very carefully take your scissors and snip straight down one of the folded pieces. You’re only cutting one layer.


Step 5: Repeat steps 1-5 on your other color fleece.

Step 6: Take your 4 hood pieces and match up your two lining and two outer pieces, then pin and stitch down the curved side that will be the top and down the back (you’re doing the lining, then the outer so you’ll finish with two hood pieces). Then unpin, and around the curved part, snip right up to the stitching (but don’t cut your stitching itself) every inch or two as seen in the picture above, just to release some tension in the fabric.

Step 7: Choose a color to start. Unpin and unfold the cape body once, so it’s still cut in half. Pin your hood to your neckline right sides together (so the seam, what will be the inside of the hood, is facing up). Start with the hood seam and the center back point of the cape body. Pin outwards, making sure your front pieces line up. Play with it a little if you need to, the curved neckline will stretch slightly more than the hood, so may appear to be longer even if it isn’t really. Do the same with your second color and stitch both.


Step 8: Now you have two pieces, your outer and your lining, hoods attached on each. Place them right sides together, and again starting at the center of your hood, start pinning. Use the seams on the hoods and guides to line them up, then continue down the front and around the sides. It may be helpful to lay it out in all it’s circular glory (see below) so you can smooth it out and pin everything in place nice and flat. If your fabric retained it’s center fold crease, line those up. Fleece has a little give, so feel free to tug it into place a little. If you cut both pieces pretty close, it will fit together nicely, you may just need to tease the fabric into place.

This is important. Somewhere (I like to do along one of the straight front parts) you need to leave 5-6 inches open when you sew. Either mark it by not pinning it, or just remember not to stitch all the way. Now stitch aaaaall the way around (except for that gap). After you’re done, unpin and snip the corners off by the front like in the photo below – don’t cut your stitching!


Step 9: All your pins are out, so reach into that hole you left open, grab and pull to turn your cape inside out. Turn it all the way, then reach in and stick your finger in the front corners so they get nice and pointy. You’re nearly there. Flatten out your cape now, and pin around the edges, all the way around. When you get to the opening, just make sure the cut edges are folded in and pin over it. Top stitch around the entire thing (which will seal the gap), remove your pins, add a closure and you’re good to go. You can use a button and buttonhole/loop, a cute clasp, snaps. I used KAM snaps which are plastic, and make the whole thing fully reversible because there is no right/wrong side.


That’s it! You did it!

Car seat cape tutorial. Old Fashioned Modern Living.Sizing up: To size it up, take the measurement as described above and calculate from there. For larger hoods, pattern off an existing hood on something like a sweatshirt.

Fleece is usually 58-60″ wide, so the largest beginning measurement you can usually do is maybe 27-28″ which is for a taller/larger person. At that measurement, you should still be able to get the cape and the hood out of 2 yards.

Look at the image with the houndstooth pattern. I drew colored lines to help you see where everything is, and yes they’re messy (I edited this one handed while holding Little Miss with the other. Oh well.) This is 2 yards of fabric, so 72″. I made my circle (blue line) based on the measurement 28″. 28 x 2 = 56, so I have 16″ of extra. From the fold at the right to the green line is doubled, so 4 layers. After I cut my cape body, I flipped up the top piece and I had a nice solid area underneath where I was able to cut my hood (red outline) with plenty of extra space. This isn’t hard, it just takes some measuring!

Thanks for reading! This is my first tutorial that is this complex. Does everything make sense? Is there anything unclear that you think should be revised?

Did you try to make your own car seat cape? How did it come?


Updated 12/16/18 – edited the tutorial for clarity, and I’ve finally remembered to add an action shot! Baby Z is 14 months, wearing a long sleeve onesies and single-layer fleece vest under there (yes, he’s wearing two hoods). He’s buckled in under the cape and I’ve spread it behind him over his car seat. His little hands can come out in the front so he can play.

Crafting Tutorial

Baby, You’ve Got Mail!

September 4, 2015
Make a felt play envelope for the kids with minimal sewing skills needed. Old Fashioned Modern Living.

I’m lucky enough to be able to stay home with my daughter and work from home, allowing me both the best and worst of both worlds. I love getting to spend time with her, taking her to see her friends or out for a walk, or just staying inside stacking toys and playing games (and I’m not going to lie, in the summer I hide from the sun like a vampire, so there’s been a lot of stacking and playing these past few months).

I wouldn’t trade the moments I’ve had with her for anything, but the fact remains that aside from the snuggles and games, mama has work to do. Yes, there’s the housework – the laundry, the dish washing and cooking. But then there’s also the work work. There are emails to be answered, websites to be updated and logos to be designed.

So what’s a mama to do? Mostly, whatever I can to keep her busy. Sometimes it means listening to the same song over and over and over until I can’t take it anymore. Sometimes it means letting Little Miss do something weird, like arrange my unused canvases like a little hammock and sit on them. Sometimes it means typing an email with one hand while holding a nursing munchkin with the other (clients: yes, you’ve almost certainly received an email written whilst nursing).

Fairly often, I wind up sitting at my desk trying to work with Little Miss on my lap. And my desk…my desk is an absolute wonderland of things to grab, crumble and throw on the floor. What kind of toddler would she be if she didn’t take advantage of these opportunities?

Felt play envelope tutorial. Old Fashioned Modern LivingAnd that’s where this project comes in. Little Miss got into the habit of grabbing the envelopes stacked on my desk. She would specifically target the bills, and while I’d love for them to disappear, somehow I don’t think the companies they’re from would appreciate “my daughter ate the payment slips” as an excuse for nonpayment.

So one day, looking at the pile of fabric I had stolen scavenged brought home from my parents’ house I had a thought. That white felt can become an envelope. I can make Little Miss mail of her own! And so this project was born. It’s quick and easy, requiring only the most basic of sewing skills – if you can sew a straight line and turn a corner, you’re good. You could hand sew this also, but it will take a little bit more time. Now, without further ado, the tutorial.

Felt Play Envelope Tutorial

You will need:

  • A sewing machine and thread
  • Scissors and/or a cutting mat and rotary cutter
  • White felt (dimensions below)
  • A tiny snippet of colored felt
  • Half to an inch of white sew-on velcro
  • Sewing pins

Step 1: Cut your felt into a rectangle the basic size you want. You can do it short and wide like a bill, or smaller like a note card. This one started out just about 5×11″. You can easily get this out of a sheet of craft felt, or felt you purchase by the yard. Felt is the ideal fabric here because it’s sturdy and doesn’t fray on the edges.

Step 2: Fold your felt up so that you have the pocket portion of the envelope and a smaller bit up top that will become the flap. Place a pin where each of the two folds will go as placeholders.

Step 3: (optional) Fold the flap piece and taper it like a real envelope. You can also skip this step and leave it straight. If you cut it, open up your fabric and leave those marker pins in. Now grab your other color of felt and cut out a little square, 1×1″ or so (not too much smaller or it’ll be tough to stitch on).

Step 4: Add your little one’s “address”. If you have a fancy embroidery machine, have fun. Otherwise, do a zig zag, straight stitch, or whatever strikes your fancy. Use pins to mark a central area on the middle panel and with a darker thread, just sew three lines, using the presser foot as a guide for spacing.

Step 5: Up in the corner where the stamp would go, pin your little contrasting square. Using a straight stitch, just stitch a box over it to attach it to your white felt. Be mindful of where your guide pin marking the fold is; keep the stamp a little below so it doesn’t interfere with the fold, and at least .25″ from the edge.

Step 6: The first piece of velcro! You really only need 1/2″ or under. Pin it in the center of the peak on what will be the inside (the backside from where you just added your stamp), and stitch it on with a simple square just like you just did the stamp. The photos below should help with placement.

Step 7: Now take the other side of your velcro and fold the peak down to see where it should sit. Pin it on and stitch away. This is on the front/right side. When you fold it you’ll see where it goes.

Step 8: Using those pins you’ve had in place to mark your folds, fold your felt, remove those pins and put them in place to hold the sides. Now stitch close to the edge on both sides. Clip any hanging threads, and you’re done!


I cut felt shapes to put in Little Miss’ envelopes. Her favorite is the note card sized envelope with the heart inside.

And that’s that! Easy, inexpensive, and now your little one can have mail to open alongside you. You can get creative too, using different colors or decorating the envelopes. Have fun!

Accessories Crafting Tutorial

Make a double flower headband in 5 minutes

August 28, 2015
flower headband tutorial

I got on a kick before my daughter was born, making cute little headbands for her in all different colors. She’s almost 14 months now, with quite a collection of headbands. Personally, I’ve never been a headband person. Sure they’re cute on kids and maybe librarians, but it didn’t work for me.

Then recently I cut my hair. It’s not short, but it’s shorter than I’ve ever had as an adult. On a whim I pulled on an elastic headband that was sitting in my dresser drawer and thought, “hey…that’s actually kind of cute.” So I dug around in my craft supplies and found everything I need to make the easiest, quickest headband around.

I kid you not, you can make a super trendy shabby flower headband in minutes with under $5 worth of supplies. If you’re crafty and already own a glue gun, this is even easier.

flower headband tutorialSupplies for your double flower headband:

  • Hot glue gun (mini or full size) and glue sticks
  • Sharp scissors
  • A measuring tape or ruler
  • About 18″ of fold over elastic
  • 2 shabby fabric flowers
  • About 2×5″ felt

Getting your supplies: A hot glue gun and glue sticks can be found at any craft or hobby store. You can get a multi-temperature or low temperature one, and the mini glue guns only cost a few dollars. Regular sheet felt from the craft store can be used. 3″ shabby flowers will cost you approximately $.40 each, and 5/8″ fold over elastic in solid colors will likely run around the same per yard. That’s $1.20 total for your main materials here. Sunshine Supply Shoppe is a great source for your flowers and elastic, as are any number of shops on Etsy.

Step 1: If you haven’t already, measure and cut your elastic to the right size. 18″ seems to be a good standard adult size. Make sure your glue gun is plugged in so it’s ready to go when you are!

Step 2: Cut 2 felt circles 1/2-1″ smaller than your flowers. These will be invisible when worn but provide support for the flowers. Your felt can match your flowers, your hair or your elastic. Again, they won’t show. While you’re at it, carefully trim the mesh around your flower from the underside (the flowers come on a roll of mesh and are just cut apart, you’ll need to remove the extra).

Step 3: You’re going to squeeze a little glue across the center of one felt circle and glue down the two ends of your elastic like in the picture below. Make sure not to twist your elastic!

Step 4: Run some hot glue onto the felt circle over the elastic. Do a circle around the outside (not too close to the edge) and dab a little on the inside in whatever design makes you happy. Then before it starts to dry, plop your first flower on top, centering it as best you can.

Step 5: Decide if you want your second flower next to the first, or even slightly overlapping. Put some glue down the center of your second felt piece and affix it to the back of the elastic. Then same as the first, glue on your second flower. If you overlapped them a little, you may need to dab some glue between to get them to stay in place properly.


And that’s it. Unplug your glue gun and pull off any stray hot glue strings, and you’re ready to go!

kids headband sizesYou’re a headband making master now! Make them for yourself! Make them for your kids, friends and family! Try different size flowers, singles, multiples, different colors and patterns of elastic! Go wild! They’re cute, they’re super simple to make and they’re cheap.

This tutorial was for an adult headband, but the same principles apply to any size. Use the lengths to the right as a basic guide for sizes from newborn up.  Even though 18″ is the standard size for 18-24 months, that size easily fits on my head and is the same size as some store-bought elastic headbands I have. That picture, by the way, is some of the headbands I made for my daughter recently to give some idea of how many styles are available.

I hope you enjoyed our first tutorial! Stay crafty!