January 2012

Toilet Paper Crafts For Holidays and Special Occasions

When you think of craft materials, any number of mediums and embellishments can spring to mind. There are the standard bases, like cloth, felt, and cardboard. And of course, when thinking of embellishments, sequins, pipe cleaners and ribbon jump into your head. But, how often do you start feeling crafty and think--gee, I feel like making art with my toilet paper today? I'll bet you dollars to dimes that this doesn't happen on a regular basis.


Well, unless you're Linda Wright. She's the author of Toilet Paper Crafts for Holidays and Special Occasions. When I saw the book on sale I thought the concept was special indeed. How could you possibly decorate with toilet paper outside of tossing rolls into your teammate's tree during homecoming week?

One-Yard Wonders: 101 Sewing Fabric Projects

Whenever we're out shopping, my wife always wanders off to the craft department. One of the bins she always checks out are the fabric scraps where she finds a yard of corduroy here and a polka dot cotton print there. She likes to get a variety of fabrics because she uses them for pictures on her blog, but as you know, those odd yards of fabric start to add up. There are a few simple fabrics and patterns that she likes to reuse, but generally the others sit until she winds up selling them at a yard sale or donating them.

It seemed like a waste to me, not just in money but in craft potential. I figured there had to be something she could do with that fabric, rather than letting it sit or giving it away. So, I was looking around and I found the book, One-Yard Wonders: 101 Sewing Fabric Projects by Rebecca Yaker and Patricia Hoskins, on Amazon.com. It's full of different sewing and craft projects that are designed specifically to use one yard of fabric or less.

What impressed me about the book is the versatility of the projects and the time they spend explaining basic techniques for those new to sewing—like my wife. Along with patterns and pictures, there are also explanations of various, useful stitches and techniques that make it easy for newbies to get their bearings and really enjoy the book.

Craft Challenge: Dozens of Ways to Repurpose a Pillowcase

One of my wife's resolutions for the year is to redecorate the house as inexpensively as possible. Since having children, many of our household decorations have been put into storage for safe keeping, didn't survive the toddler phase or just aren't our taste anymore. Still, our budget is incredibly tight, so we won't be hiring a decorator or going on shopping sprees in department and home improvement stores. Luckily for me, I married a woman who appreciates the challenge of thrifty shopping and repurposing the old into something spectacularly new, fresh and modern.

In her quest to find ways to freshen up our home without going into debt, she's been collecting ideas from her friends, the Internet and a variety of books on making old things new and exciting again. One of the books she recently picked up was Suzanne J.E. Tourtillott's Craft Challenge: Dozens of Ways to Repurpose a Pillowcase.

Crafts To Make In Winter

With the cold winter months comes long days inside the house and the potential for boredom and cabin fever. Having fun and interesting crafts to share with your family can be a lifesaver on days when it's too icy or blustery to play outdoors. I especially enjoy cute crafts that my wife, boys and I can make and enjoy together.

One of my favorite winter craft books for kids is Kathy Ross's Crafts to Make in the Winter. The book is written to be handy in a classroom or group setting, so the instructions are clear, simple and come with good illustrations. Some craft books aren't as detailed or require steps that are complicated for younger crafters. When sitting down with my young sons, these types of crafts wind up being made mostly by me, because they can't carry out the complex instructions on their own. I like this book because I can guide them without having to perform every single step myself.

They have the chance to be more creative and feel greater senses of accomplishment when they do most the work themselves. Plus, I think they just like working alongside their mom and me rather than having us hover over them like craft wardens.

Learn to Use Your Serger

For several years, I have wanted to own a serger.  Never mind the fact that I didn’t even own a sewing machine and hadn’t touched one since before I was a teenager.  I love the finished edge a serger can give, and the fact that with a serger, I can create my own household cloth items and have them look professional too.  Last year, I finally bought one and have more than paid for it in the savings of using cloth instead of disposable rags, wipes and other items.  I couldn’t have done any of it without a good serger book, though, and I thought I would share some of the better books on sergers with you.