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Archive for the ‘Tutorials’ Category

Kappa Key Shirt

Inspired by a lovely Sister’s idea that we should have more sorority t-shirts, and that we could make our own, I decided to try my hand at a t-shirt design of my own.  I planned to make a stencil and use spraypaint.   Here’s how I did it:

  1. Begin with a solid color t-shirt.  I found a cheap one at Walmart with a nice cut to it, but I know craft stores sell cheap t-shirts in a variety of colors, at about $4 each, for craft purposes.
  2. Then I got a piece of newspaper, folded in half, and sketched half of a heart* on it with sharpie.  I cut it out and unfolded the shape for a symmetrical heart.  I double-checked that this heart was small enough to fit on the back of my shirt, and trimmed accordingly.
    *I wanted a heart for my design, but a circle or any shape will do.  This step is simply to make sure what you design will fit in the space you want it.
  3. Then I laid this heart pattern onto a large piece of posterboard and traced around it with a pencil.  I set the newspaper heart aside after this, for I no longer needed it.
  4. Sketch your design within the confines of your shape.  Do this in pencil so you can erase mistakes.  I settled on several skeleton keys within the heart.
  5. When you’re satisfied with your design, outline it with pen.  This makes it more final, as well as easier to see. 
  6. Use a hobby exacto-blade set to cut along your lines.  I cut out all of the negative spaces, careful not to cut the keys from the frame.  The spaces I cut out will be spraypainted, while the design I don’t cut out will prevent spraypaint from hitting the shirt, and will appear the color of the shirt underneath.
    After this point you should move to a well-ventilated area, preferably outside.
  7. When the design is completely cut out, turn it over and make little tape tubes (for two-sided stickiness) and place them in narrow spots of the design.  In my case this was along the keys.  This is to make sure they stay down in the spraying process.  The more tape you use, the more finished your design looks.  The less tape you use, the more spraypaint gets under the stencil edges and blurs your design.  The force of the spraypaint air can lift up the stencil, and tape prevents this.
  8. Then turn the stencil back over and place it where you want it on the shirt.  Press down firmly, especially where tape is.
  9. Cover any exposed areas of the shirt that you don’t want paint on with newspaper or something to protect it.  Spraypaint vapors can unintentionally gather on the shirt where you don’t want it, even where you think you didn’t spray.
  10. When everything’s ready, shake your spraypaint and test it somewhere to the side.  This prevents unexpected “spitting” of the paint.  When you have an even spray, go ahead and spraypaint your design stencil.  Work in quick, short spritzes at a fair distance from the shirt for a light, even coverage.  I kept my can 1-2 feet away most of the time.
  11. Once you’ve deemed the paint thick enough with even coverage, step away and let the paint dry.  Overnight is best.
  12. After a substantial dry time, come back to your shirt and gently remove the stencil.
  13. Clean up the edges of the stencil with a small brush.  A fine paintbrush or a toothbrush works.  I worked along the edges of my design and around the keys to brush away traces of spraypaint that made it where I didn’t want it.  This fine layer brushed away very easily. 
  14. Viola!  The design is complete!

When I was finished with the design on the back I turned the shirt around and repeated the process with a smaller design of a single key.  But this time the design was inverted, so the key is white.

I’ve created a spraypaint t-shirt stencil design before and it’s held up very well.  The shirt has been through many washings and held up.  However that shirt was of a somewhat different cotton material, so I’m not sure how well this design will withstand the test of time.  I admit I fear the spraypaint wants to rub off.  I’m not sure whether to throw it in the wash and remove the loose paint or just start wearing the shirt for hopes of maximizing it’s life.  I’ll just have to find out.

The design sketched out and outlined in pen with a few sections cut out.

The exacto blade hobby set I used to cut out the design.

The stencil cut out and ready to go.

The final spraypainted design on the back of my shirt.

 The skeleton key design on the front of the shirt, over the heart.


How to Draw Eyes

A beautiful tutorial on how to draw eyes realistically:

Father’s Day Card

This year I finally got a head start on Father’s Day, and ended up with enough time to construct a home-made card.  I really liked how it turned out, and wanted to share the how-to with others who might wish to adapt it for their own card creating. 

I started out with the desire to use some of my security envelope tints in a craft, and use them for inspiration and materials.  I have a lot of black and white envelope patterns, so I started with a black and white color scheme. 

  1. Start with a collection of envelope security tints/patterns.  You know, the patterned interiors of envelopes like bank statements. (I wanted to create something from my saved patterns, for sustainability purposes, but any decorative paper will do.  If you have scrapbooking paper you could select fun papers to go with you theme.  For example, baby themed decorative papers for a baby shower card.)
  2. Then select a few photos related to your card.  For my purposes, I chose childhood pictures of my dad and I.
  3. Scan the photos and change them to grayscale.  Print small versions of the grayscale photos, about business card size.
    (If you decided to use different colored security tints, you could filter the photo colors to match.  For example, make the photos monochromatic blue value to match blue envelope patterns.)
  4. Take a piece of cardstock or other heavy paper and fold it in half, hamburger style, for the base of your card.
  5. Sketch out a geometric design on the card with pencil, making sure to a few rectangles the same size as your selected photos.  The photos should be placed in a pleasing composition with spaces for patterns in between, so you might find it helpful to lay out the photos first, and then sketch lines around them.  This geometric design should look something like a quilt or a stained-glass window.
  6. Paste your grayscale photos into their spots with a glue stick.
  7. Begin cutting your envelope patterns into rectangles corresponding to the spaces you sketched out before.  It’s ok if they don’t fit exactly, because the pencil lines will be covered as long as the pieces butt-up against each other.  I used a paper-cutter for convenient and precise straight edges.  For aesthetic purposes, try to choose places for your patterns in such a way that none of the same patterns touch.
  8. Glue the pattern squares into place, trimming where necessary.  Don’t worry if the edges aren’t perfect, so long as the gaps are less than a quarter of an inch.

    When your photos and pattern squares are all glued down, it should look something like this.

  9. Then take a piece of black construction paper and cut thin strips of the same width.  I found 1/4 inch to be a good size for my purposes.  These will become the borders between your squares.
  10. Cut your black paper strips to size so that they fit along all the borders of the card and where pattern squares meet.  Trim as needed and glue them down to finish your design, making sure to cover any gaps between the rectangles.
  11. If you haven’t yet, you can repeat the process on the back of the card, though this is optional.

    My finished card laid open and flat to show the front and back and how they mesh.

  12. Finish with a personalized message on the inside.  For mine I wrote a Fathers Day message.

Belated happy Father’s Day to everyone! 

The finished Father's Day card, viewed from the front.

Upcycled Purse

A while back I bought some new bed sheets, and they came wrapped in a matching fabric bag with snaps.  This was a perfectly good bag that might otherwise be discarded as “packaging.”  But it called to me to make something useful out of it.  So why not add to what was already there and make a purse?  It took me a while to get around to it, but I finally finished this upcycled purse.

  1. Here is the fabric bag the sheets came in, complete with a snap cover.
  2. With the help of my mother, who has a gromet tool, we added metal gromets, one on each side, near the seams.  These provide a sturdy, no-fray opening for the strap.
  3. Then choose a material for the strap.  I thought about braiding yarn or ribbon, or stringing beads together.  I settled on an old necklace from a yard sale, one that had been sitting in my craft stash waiting for a purpose.  It was sort of like a mardi-gras necklace, so you could use one of those instead.  I then pulled the necklace apart where the two ends had been stuck together with a small wire.  Alternatively you could cut it with scissors.
  4. String one end through a gromet hole, then pull it around to form a loop.  Then use jewelry wires to wrap around the necklace string, between beads, and twist the wire to secure your loop.  Repeat with the other side.
  5. Voila!  A completed upcycled purse.  This project could be enhanced with a fancier, or sturdier, purse strap as well as a liner for the purse bag itself.  Pins, stencil prints or other adornments could be used to make the bag more interesting.

Decorated Easter Eggs

Some of my favorite craft bloggers have been sharing their Easter egg decorating ideas lately (Alisa Burke post 1, post 2, and post 3, and Aunt Peaches  post 1 and post 2 ), so I felt like sharing my own collection of hand-decorated Easter eggs.  Decorating Easter eggs is a tradition my mother and I started, and we try to work together on a few eggs every year.  It’s a wonderful way to exercise our creative energies and spend quality time together.  There are so many fun options for paint, ribbon, glitter, sequins, fabric, decoupage and more!  Because we blow the contents out of the shells first, the eggs will not go bad and can be cherished for years.

We’ve been decorating eggs for a number of years now.  I can’t remember exactly when we first started.  We keep our eggs together in a basket that we bring out for decoration around Easter time.  I photographed the eggs of previous years as well as some of those we created this year.  I hope you enjoy the slideshow:

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If you’d like to create your own Easter eggs like this, first you have to blow out the yolk and white.  You may find this video helpful, or these instructions, or you can follow my directions, which vary slightly.

You’ll need:
  • 1 egg (or more)
  • a marker
  • a large needle or similar pointed tool
  • a bowl, preferably one with a sealable lid
  • paper towels
  • sanitizing spray or wipes 


  1. First, mark the poles of the egg with a marker, top and bottom.
  2. Shake the egg vigorously in your hand (but be careful not to let it slip and fly!)  This helps break up the inner membrane structure of the egg, allowing the yolk to escape later more easily. 
  3. Then using a sharp object like a large needle, poke a hole through the shell, using the mark to guide you.  I used a sculpting tool with a pointed end to do this.  Be careful not to grip the egg too hard, lest you shatter it.  (Drills can be used for larger eggs.)
  4. Once you’ve pierced the shell, gently work the tool in a circular motion to wear away the shell, chipping and widening the opening. 
  5. Repeat on the opposite end, making sure the end of the egg has a slightly larger opening.
  6. Then hold the egg over the bowl.  I’ve found it’s easier to empty the contents of the egg when the larger pole of the egg is facing down, closer to the bowl.  (If you use Tupperware, you can save the egg yolk and white in the fridge for an omelette later.  The video tutorial says otherwise, but I think this is debatable.)
  7. At this point you may choose to clean the end of the egg, press your lips to the shell, and blow out the contents, or you may opt for a safer option(salmonella risk) and use a medicine syringe or straw to blow the egg out.  Whatever method you use, be sure to blow all of the egg out.  If you’re struggling to empty the egg, make sure you completed step 2, or consider widening the holes on the poles of your egg.
  8. Once you’ve blown all the innards of the egg out, I recommend sitting it on a paper towel in a vertical position for a few hours, so that any remaining residue may run out the bottom end.  This prevents issues later on.

I’m sorry I didn’t take pictures and make a nice tutorial.  I hope the included video and instructional website will suffice.  If you have questions, feel free to write them in the comment box below.

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