Scrunchies - Using Fabric Scraps for 80’s Style

Have you ever noticed how cyclical fashion seems to be? Well, like it or not, it seems like some 80’s styles are back, including the scrunchie! I’ve been planning my outfits for an upcoming Disney trip, and I realized that scrunchies might just be the perfect finishing touch for some of my looks.

I have a TON of fabric that I’ve bought over the years that I don’t know what to do with. Some I have a couple yards of, but others I just have scraps of, but it’s too pretty (and just too much) to throw away (these scraps bring me joy, I promise!) - so I thought why not try making a scrunchie (or a million)? And if it doesn’t work out, at least I tried something and I’m only out a scrap of fabric.

I Googled around and found a YouTube tutorial that was simple and easy to follow. 

  1. Cut a rectangle of fabric that is 22” x 3.5”

  2. Fold in half right sides together.

  3. On one end fold over about a half inch - it kind of looks like a hem for one open end. Pin.

  4. Sew along the long edge.

  5. Turn the tube right side out. It’s pretty easy if you use a safety pin.

  6. Cut 9” of ¼ inch elastic. Use a safety pin to string it through the tube. 

  7. Tie the ends of the elastic in a knot. Move the knot into the tube an inch or so.

  8. Put the unfinished end of the scrunchie inside the finished end, pin and sew shut.

Voila! You’re now the proud owner of a super chic DIY accessory. The great thing about these is that you can work through some of your scraps and make scrunchies for any occasion/outfit! The possibilities are endless!

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DIY Travel Toiletry Bag

Hubby and I started dating Valentine’s Day our junior year of high school, and somehow, 14 years later, we still manage to give each other sweet gifts for this “anniversary”, even though we have a new anniversary (woohoo Pi Day!) and Valentine’s day is a bit of a materialistic holiday. I love getting his thoughtful gifts each year, but the pressure is always on for giving something worthwhile, and not just something that’ll do. It’s gotta be good - useful, something he actually needs. I love my stuff, and so does he, but stuff for stuff’s sake is no good. That has made gift giving HARD. How do you keep giving meaningful, useful gifts for FOURTEEN years??

Well, luckily, he’s been using the same travel bag for toiletries for forever, and it’s finally falling apart, so I decided to sew him a new one. I found some great, nerdy Star Trek fabric on Spoonflower, got it in the Linen Cotton Canvas, and followed a quick tutorial by Melly Sews, which even has a YouTube video to watch if you’re into videos.

I decided to make his bag slightly smaller (14” pieces instead of 16”, based on how big his old bag is), and I skipped the stabilizer since I was using pretty thick fabric for both the outer and the lining, but otherwise I followed her instructions to a T. This is a great, inexpensive project for a gift for anyone regardless of their gender. This could be a great way to de-stash your fabric remnants as the biggest pieces you need are only 10”x16”. You could mix and match the outer fabrics and handle, too, for all sorts of fun looks.

I’m not sure what I’ll come up with next year, but the great thing about being a sewist is that handmade gifts are always special and unique in one way or another. And I’m always up for suggestions if anyone has some brilliant ideas for gifts for your significant other 😉

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Giving New Life to a Too-Small Shirt

The picture doesn’t do justice to how uncomfortably tight it was 😂

It’s no secret that I love everything Disney, and in the past year or so I started following several style bloggers and small shop owners who create Disney-inspired looks and goods, making it so that even though I don’t get to go to the parks everyday, I get to live vicariously and experience Disney magic basically everyday. Sometimes these Disney fashionistas wear things that I just can’t help but covet, and a few months back, one of them wore this adorable Minnie Mouse macaron shirt that I REALLY wanted. Well, fortunately for me, she mentioned where she got it in one of her Instagram Stories! Unfortunately for me, she got it years ago from a company that no longer exists. So I took to the internet and Googled around until I stumbled across one on Poshmark! Score! Except it was a size small in a brand that ran small, and there is no way I’m a small. But I bought it anyway, because I’m crazy and crafty and up for a challenge - and I just couldn’t live without that fabric in my life 😉

It came, and it was just as small as I thought it would be. I put it on and felt a bit like a sausage. Brainstorming I came up with a couple options - I could either just put a stripe of some fabric from the wrist all the way up to the armpit and then down to the waistline, or I could add my own sleeves and add some fabric to the torso.

So, on New Years Eve, rather than party, I sewed. I opted for the second option, and decided to reuse the wrist cuffs, and use the sleeves as extra torso fabric. I decided to go with plain black fabric for the sleeves, in a soft jersey material that I had some scraps of. I used an overlock stitch for everything except for the hem, which is just a straight stitch (which is okay since it’s such a loose shirt).

Step One: Rip that tiny shirt apart!

This was probably the most difficult part, mostly because my hands got SO TIRED. I ripped every seam apart except for the shoulders and neckband.

Step Two: Create new sleeve pieces.

This step involved a bunch of guesstimating. After deciding that an extra 6 inches of fabric was going to be good for the added side panels, I used the shape of the existing sleeves as a guide for my new sleeves. I ended up cutting four pieces, two for each side, because that’s what worked with the shape of the scraps of black I had, and I was not about to leave my cozy house in the 5 degree weather. I then created two sleeves (basically black tubes), by sewing right sides together. If you have big enough pieces to work with, you only have to do one seam per arm on this step, but I had to do two.

Step Three: Add side panels to torso piece.

I cut each original sleeve into a rectangle, and attached them, right sides together, to each side of the torso. At this point, I could have just bound the armholes and made a flowy tank top!

Step Four: Attach new arms!

With the body inside-out and the arms right-side-out, pin the arms to the armholes, right sides together, making sure that your bottom seams match the middle of the armpit, and the tops of the sleeves match with the shoulder seams. Sew and try on your (almost finished!) shirt. I noticed that, because all I’m doing is guesstimating with stretchy fabric, I had a bit of extra fabric in the armpits, so I sewed another seam to make less fabric in the under-arm. I did this by turning the shirt inside out, and folding at the existing armpit seam. Next I pinned the fabric together, because they are stretchy and different shapes, and sewed, tapering out and back in, creating a sort of crescent moon shape. After trying it on again and being satisfied with the result, I chopped off that extra fabric with my rotary cutter.

Step Five: Attach wrist bands.

Decide how long you want your sleeves and trim accordingly (take into account your wristbands if you have them, and seam allowance). Pin right sides together, by having sleeves right-side-out and wristbands inside-out, and sew. 

Step Six: Finish hem.

Depending on how the original hem was finished, your step six may look different than mine, but because of the way my original shirt was finished, I just had to even out the extra panels I added, and stitch along the bottom (because this knit fabric doesn’t fray - woohoo!). I could have tried to match the thread color to the light grey that already was on the shirt, but I decided to just do a line of black all the way around instead - a cute little accent that matches my sleeves!

And voila! I’ve got a fun, versatile and unique Disney shirt. I can lounge in it, I can wear it to the parks, or I can pair it with some jeans and still be presentable. In the past, before I started sewing, I’ve passed on buying shirts that were too small or too big despite being in love with the fabric. Now, I can choose to create something instead.

Note: This shirt isn’t necessarily perfect - I could still be working on this, especially step four, tweaking it constantly if I let my perfectionist tendencies take over, but because it’s drapey and stretchy, I’m totally okay with the imperfections.

Happy crafty new year!

Holiday Cards on a Budget

I love getting mail any day, but I especially love getting holiday cards in the mail this time of year. My family never did it while I was growing up, so when Nathaniel and I moved in together, I decided to make it a tradition. The first few years we didn’t have that many people on our list, so I ordered them online. I could justify the price because we were only getting a few dozen cards.

2017 - Photo of us by Maddie Camilli. Photo of my fur babies just by me. I’m so glad I got this picture of them, as little Munch is no longer with us.

But as the years went by, our list got big. Especially after we got married. Last year we sent out 136. No joke! On average, the beautiful cards I see online tend to be a couple dollars a piece (with options for foil and borders which can drive it up, but they do usually include an envelope, which is great). But with a mortgage, a recent kitchen remodel, and trying to save money to do fun things, I just can’t justify spending $260+ dollars on cards. And that’s not even including postage.

2013 - Taken with a self timer. Can you find the hidden bunny?

I’ve also never splurged for a professional photographer. My sister, Maddie Camilli, is an amazing photographer, so I haven’t felt the need. I typically pay her back with a meal or baked goods. We’ve also just set up a tripod, and we’ve even just used fun photos from throughout the year before. Honestly my favorite was from 2016. We went on our belated honeymoon and I chose selfies from each country we visited in Europe and then put “Merry Christmas” in the native languages by each photo. No professional photos at all, and most of the pictures we chose were taken with our GoPro! I LOVE that thing.

If you don’t care much about text, you could always just do a photo, but I usually embellish at least a little. I use Photoshop, but if you don’t have access to that, you could probably use a word processor, or a free online photo editor. I like to find cute fonts (dafont.com has a ton of free ones), and sometimes I do Google image searches for free clipart, like holly leaves, stars, lights, menorahs, whatever! A tip, though, leave a little wiggle room at the edges - I’ve had text and snowflakes cut off because I put them too close to the edge and the printing process isn’t 100% perfect.

2014 - Combo of self-timer and adorable pet pics from the year

We (well, I) have found a good “hack” if you will these past few years. Rather than getting professional cards done, I design my own and get them printed as 4x6 photos. I’ve been going through Walgreens the past couple years because they have the lowest price I’ve found, and I can usually pick them up the same day I order them. So not only do I save on the cards themselves, but I don’t have to pay shipping! And last year I happened to order while they were having a sale for 10¢ prints, which meant I paid $14 + tax for the photos! I always order a couple extra just in case. Plus I want to keep one for myself!

I’ve toyed with the idea of getting our cards printed on card stock and sending them as post cards, but so far I have always decided to send them in envelopes instead. I figure they’re a bit more protected that way. I like to just get envelopes (size A6 for photos) at Staples, because we have one locally. This year I just walked in and bought three boxes of 50 white envelopes for $9 a box (plus tax). The downside is that you can’t get the exact number you need, but I’ve just used extras for other mail throughout the year, or used them the next year, sometimes mixing and matching colors of envelopes.

2015 - Photo: Maddie Camilli. Also, fun fact, it’s hard to get this doofy dog to pose normally. We had a lot of funny outtakes 😂 And do you spy the hidden bunny?

Honestly, the biggest expenditure is the stamp. I bought 140 forever stamps and one international stamp, which cost $69.75, but usually this time of year, you can choose a cute design, and if you have to buy a few extras, well, that’s not a bad thing to have lying around the house.

I usually hand-write addresses. I’ve printed out labels before, but because I do it so infrequently, I always forget the process and it seems to take just as much time researching the best way and formatting everything as it does to just write them out. I knocked all ours out in a couple hours. Just queue up a Christmas movie on Netflix and you’ll be fine. When we moved into our house I had a stamp made with our address, so that’s saved me some time these past couple years, but writing that out isn’t so bad either.

So last year all in all I spent:

  • Walgreens: $15.24 (11¢ a picture)

  • Staples: $27.72 (19¢ an envelope)

  • USPS: $69.75 (49¢ a stamp)

That’s a grand total of $112.71, INCLUDING tax and postage. If you break it down by card, that’s just 79¢ each, with a few extra envelopes, cards and stamps just in case. I’d say that’s a win. Another big benefit for me is that I didn’t have to wait to get anything shipped, which is super convenient! And if you don’t have a crazy long list like we do, you’ll save even more ;)

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year… Whatever you celebrate (or don’t), I hope you are well and get to enjoy some special time with the people you love!

2016 - Featuring selfies of our belated honeymoon, mostly taken with our GoPro, plus candids of the fur babies. This is by far my favorite card I’ve designed!!

PS: I actually applied this method to our wedding party invitations and thank you cards, too! Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE cards and if money were no object, I might go with some of those beautiful professionally designed cards for invitations and holiday cards. Especially those ones with foil accents… but at this point in our lives, it just doesn’t make sense to splurge on that.