DIY handmade gifts

If you’re new here, welcome! I’m AmberLee, and Giverslog is my place to share recipes, gift ideas, pretty wrapping ideas, and whatever else is on my mind. I also own an online chocolate shop, The Ticket Kitchen. Stop by if you get a moment!
Are you ready for a peek at how my new stands turned out? I’m more than a little thrilled with them. It’s great fun transforming a set of thrifted candlesticks into bright summery treat stands for the next shindig. (See the first set I made right here).

Being able to take these apart to switch out plates is a big deal for me. Even though my kitchen now is roomier, much much roomier, than the apartment and condo kitchens I’ve somehow squeezed into through the years, space is still at a premium. Plus I like picking a melamine plate whenever I find one I like and being able to put it to use with the stands I already have.

Best of all, I figured out a new trick that will let you use any candlestick you fall in love with at the thrift store. Not just candlesticks that have a hole through the center.

The shopping is really the best part. (You can get glimpse here of the first set of these I put together.) But for this time around, here’s the list of what I picked up.

Supplies & equipment:
1. Set of thrifted candlesticks. I often find candlesticks at the thrift store that can be disassembled and have a hole all the way through the middle. To find out if a candlestick can do this, just pick one up at the thrift store and try to unscrew. But hole or no hole, any candlestick will work. On my last thrifting trip I fell in love with some sticks that did not have a hole through the middle, I discovered I could still make my stand interchangeable. Here’s my big trick. Are you ready for it? All you need to do is find a…
2. Cork that fits snugly into your candlestick. (You need this only if your candlestick does not have a hole all the way through the middle).
3. Drawer pull that lets you take out the screw. I picked up mine at Lowe’s this time around. Don’t you love the crystal knobs?
4. Allthread that fits your drawer pull. This just looks like a really long screw with no head or point. To make sure it fits my drawer pull, I try screwing it in right in the isles of Lowe’s.
5. Nuts and washers.
6. A few fun melamine plates. I picked up mine at Target.
7. Primer and paint, if you choose. I love Krylon.
6. A hack saw and drill. A wood bit works perfectly for drilling into melamine.


Here is a candlestick I took apart and found I could dissasemble and have two pieces with a hole all the way through the middle of each.

Yea for Krylon. So many possibilities with this stuff.

Now comes the easy part… Here is the how-to for putting it all together, whether your candlestick has a hole through the core or not.
1. Paint. If you’re planning to paint the candlestick, disassemble it, prime, and paint.
2. Drill. Tape the plate in the center and drill through your taped spot. Take it slow and easy, I’ve cracked a couple plates by being in too big of a rush.

3. Cut your allthread. If your candlestick has a hole through the center, use a hack saw to cut your all thread to the length you’ll need to go from the bottom of the candlestick to the top to screw into your drawer pull. Cut carefully so you don’t ruin the thread and are still able to screw a bolt or your drawer pull onto the end. If you are using a cork, cut a tiny piece of the allthread so it is just long enough to screw through the cork and into the allthread.
4. If your candlestick does not have a hole through the center, add a cork. Wedge in a cork where the candle would go. Make sure it is a super snug fit. Cut off any overhang. You want to make sure the plate will rest evenly against the top of the candlestick. Drill a small hole in the center of the cork where the drawer pull will screw in. Make the hole just smaller than the allthread, so it screws in snugly.

Here is a set I assembled by screwing an all thread through the center.

Here is a set I made by using a cork.
3. Assemble.
 Now you get to thread your whole creation together. If your candlestick has a hole down the middle, put the washer and screw at the bottom, then thread the allthread through your candlestick piece, then add the plate, and finally, screw on the drawer pull at the top. If you are using a cork, simply screw one end of the allthread into the drawer pull, then put the other end through the hole in the plate and screw it into the cork in the candlestick. That’s it. Now your stands are ready to party, or to fit neatly in your cupboard.Good luck! If you make a set, I’d love to hear how it goes.

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When I told my kids I had a couple sheets of tattoo paper on hand you would have thought I’d just told them they were each getting a new puppy. (We are not going there, by the way.)

We’ve been playing around with the endless possibilities of drawing some custom tats or picking out premade designs. While we were playing we discovered you can layer homemade tattoos. And that sealed the deal.

I drew out some cones, some ice cream flavors, some toppings. (You can see other custom Silhouette projects I did here and here.) When my daughter had her cute friend over, I let them go to town. And here is what they picked.

They’re both soft serve fans. I can respect a good soft serve, but I’d go for the scoop and hot fudge myself.

By the way, today is the last day to enter a certain giveaway I have going on. I’ll announce a winnetright here tonight.

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I wanted to show you what we ended up doing with our Meant to Be Calligraphy stamp that we’re giving my son’s totally amazing kindergarten teacher.

I always think it’s fun to let the kids in on making a gift for their teacher. They always feel so proud. Even if it’s just a note to go with the gift, which is usually the simplest solution. But this time we thought we’d use our stamp to create some handmade stationary. We really tried to keep it simple and my son loved the project. We packaged it all up with some fun supplies from my favorite Japanese packaging shop, and I’m really satisfied with how it turned out.

I used the giant drawing paper you find at the art store because I love the colors and texture.
We folded it in half and ran it through my paper cutter, then my son got to work with his watercolors and a toothbrush.
I love how it turned out.
We also made some fabric name tape using this method.
Then wrapped it all up with some tape and envelopes from UGUiSU (i want to buy everything there).

And now it is all set to give to one amazing kindergarten teacher.
(p.s. If you’re still searching around for a last-minute teacher gift idea, you might find something to spark your creativity here, here, or here.)

 

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If you’re new here, welcome! I’m AmberLee, and Giverslog is my place to share recipes, gift ideas, pretty wrapping ideas, and whatever else is on my mind. I also own an online chocolate shop, The Ticket Kitchen. Stop by if you get a moment!

A few months after discovering how to make this tiered cupcake stand, I walked into Pottery Barn and saw their awesome, summery, tiered stand and—being the incurable DIYer that I am—thought, I wonder if I could make that.

It is a serious condition sometimes. My husband claims he can’t take me anywhere without me wanting to try to build some part of something I saw when I get home.
I picked up the supplies a few months ago, when I was in Micheal’s with my half-off coupon, and have been waiting for an open Saturday to give it a shot. I ran across Lizard & Ladybug who had been thinking the same thing as me, and am glad I did. She made her stand with a length of conduit, and made it look so good that I returned the curtain rod I’d been planning to use.

This weekend I got to work and love the result. Though I have to admit, about half way through the process was wondering if I should have just shelled out for the Pottery Barn original. But hopefully I have a few tips that will make it simpler if you’re like me and love a good DIY.
supplies
tiered cake pans ($18 with my coupon)
drawer pull that lets you take out the screw (I found mine at Lowe’s, $3)
all thread that is compatible with your drawer pull (I try screwing it in right in the isles of Lowe’s, $2)
conduit ($3)
bolts and washers
melamine plate

hack saw, clamp, file (UPDATE: see below, you may not need these at all)
hammer and nail
drill
Don’t forget to use your coupon when you go to pick up your tiered pans. I used my JoAnne’s coupon at Michaels (you knew you could do that, right?)
I opted for a thicker length of conduit to keep things sturdier. I cut three lengths that were just over six inches long. If I did it again I think I’d cut them right at six inches.

The most challenging part was cutting the conduit. Cuts need to be perfectly straight in order to avoid a leaning stand.

UPDATE: Thanks to Layne and Nicole, I now know you can skip this part, entirely. You can pick up a pipe cutter for just a few bucks (thanks, Layne!), or you can have your conduit cut right in the plumbing section (thanks for letting me in on that little secret, Nicole! )

I started by using my hack saw to score a dotted line all the way around the conduit, to make sure it was even and matched up all the way around. Clamp the conduit, saw a couple times just to score the surface, open the clamp and rotate the conduit just a little. Repeat.

Then I used the same technique to slowly saw around the conduit, sawing little by little, opening the clamp and rotating as I went, until I had a nice even cut.

I then used my file to finish evening off the end. Hold the conduit close to the file to make the work quicker. Just don’t file away your fingers.
Now all the hard work is over. If you can get through this part you’re practically finished.

I marked the center of the top pan and used a hammer and nail to pierce a hole. I then lined it up with the other pans to find the spot to pierce the last two holes.
For the base, I used a melamine plate I had left over from my DIY cupcake stand. Lizard and Ladybug uses the smallest pan from the nesting set for the base, which turned out great. I just wanted to save that pan for actual baking. I think it will turn out the perfect sized personal birthday cake.

Drilling a hole in the center is not too tough. Just use a wood bit in your drill and take your time so you don’t crack the plate.

Finally, the only thing left to do is assemble everything.
That’s it. Now all it needs is some cupcakes or cups full of strawberries.
I think one of my favorite parts is the storage. Mine is now stored away inconspicuously in the cupboard above my fridge, waiting for our first summer shindig.

 

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This spring I have been a little in denial. I know the time is coming soon when I have to decide if I’m going to start a garden. But I just don’t know if I’m ready to commit! I dropped by a farmer’s market yesterday and was told, here in Cali, I have two weeks left to decide. I’ve been totally inspired by this hydroponic herb garden, and this DIY green house trick, but I just need something to push me over the edge, or pull me back.

(btw, if you’re thinking of starting an herb garden, don’t miss my 13 tips for starting an herb garden I picked up last year)

While I’m putting off the garden commitment, we did manage to pick out a few strands of seeds to plant a small caterpillar and butterfly garden. We stopped by our nursery and asked what plants might be good to attract local critters. We decided to make seed tape (see my seed tape tutorial here), because it is my kids’ favorite.
Seed tape is great for my kids, they love putting globs of paste on the strips of newspaper. And seed tape is also a great way to store seeds so they’re ready to plant in seconds.

Of course we had to make an extra to give away and add a few embellishments. Butterfly garden seeds on top, caterpillar seeds on bottom. All that’s left to do is lay the strips on soil, sprinkle with a little extra soil, water, and watch!

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Eggs in the Mail

04.07.11

It worked.
If you missed it, you can get postage details right here.

I am now sending more little eggs on their way.

and incase you’d like to see a little more, here is my favorite fun mail inspiration from the archives (or follow my 13 oz or less Pinterest board, or see it all right here):

A Disposable Camera | A Sponge | A Tube of Bert’s Bees | A Wreath and Twinkly Lights | A Disguise | School Supplies | A Pair of Flip Flops | A Big Ball | Plastic Eggs 1 and 2 | Silly Putty |Shovel & a Bucket | Ribbon Sticks | Bubblewrap Hopscotch | Fan Mail | Waterbottle Care Package | Bouncy Balls | Sticky Notes | Jr Mints | Frisbee | Mini Banner and Mini m&ms

find postage rates for happy mail right here along with other mailing details

 

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There is something I love about bright plastic Easter eggs. I picked up a row of jumbos at the grocery store last weekend.

I got thinking about the fun of discovering eggs during an egg hunt, and thought it might be fun to discover one or two in a mail box.
So I packed a few up with goodies,
stuck on a label and a few stamps,
and am dropping them in a big blue mailbox today. For all the happy mail I’ve sent up to now, I’ve had postage added at the counter. Mostly because I like to walk up and nonchalantly drop a shovel or something else on the counter, like mailing plastic shovels is just something I do. Also because I love the workers at my post office and because I always meet the nicest people in line. But today I’m trying stamps. We’ll see if they go.

If they do, I will be filling a few eggs for grown ups too. Because when else do you get to be surprised by a plastic egg after the age of 12? I’m just needing a few good things to tuck inside? Sudoku? Hmmm. Any ideas?

<<UPDATE >>
It worked!! I ended up having to change postage, here’s what I used:
I mailed 1-ounce eggs using a 98-cent teton stamp + a postcard stamp
I mailed 2-ounce eggs using a 98-cent teton stamp + a forever stamp
You can see US postage rates for first-class mail right here (scroll down to “packages”).

and incase you’d like to see a little more, here is my favorite fun mail inspiration from the archives (or follow my 13 oz or less Pinterest board, or see it all right here):

A Disposable Camera | A Sponge | A Tube of Bert’s Bees | A Wreath and Twinkly Lights | A Disguise | School Supplies | A Pair of Flip Flops | A Big Ball | Plastic Eggs 1 and 2 | Silly Putty |Shovel & a Bucket | Ribbon Sticks | Bubblewrap Hopscotch | Fan Mail | Waterbottle Care Package | Bouncy Balls | Sticky Notes | Jr Mints | Frisbee | Mini Banner and Mini m&ms

find postage rates for happy mail right here along with other mailing details

 

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It has been a while since I’ve done a post about happy mail. I am brimming with all kinds of new ideas, so I think you’ll be seeing more happy mail around here. (If you’re new here, you can see more happy mail ideas at the end of this post.)

Did you ever do this with silly putty as a kid? It was my favorite. I also liked to make bubbles in the putty and pop em.
This week I put together a package to mail that was nice and simple. I used an empty plastic spice canister, tucked in a roll of newspaper and couple eggs of silly putty, and mailed it off.

One little canister, hours of fun.

I’m including the label, incase you’d like to use it. I originally made this to send out with my Christmas cards this year, but now I use it for everything. Do you like it?
(I like to print on this full-sheet label paper,which is a complete steal, 100 sheets for ten bucks.)

Either Download from DropBox by clicking here: Mailing Label
or download here: Printable Fold-over Labels (4639)

and incase you’d like to see a little more, here is my favorite fun mail inspiration from the archives (or see it all right here):

A Great Big Sponge | A Tube of Bert’s Bees | A Wreath and Twinkly Lights | A Disguise | School Supplies | A Pair of Flip Flops | A Big Ball | Plastic Eggs 1 and 2 | Silly Putty |Shovel & a Bucket | Ribbon Sticks | Bubblewrap Hopscotch | Fan Mail | Waterbottle Care Package | Bouncy Balls | Sticky Notes | Jr Mints | Frisbee | Mini Banner and Mini m&ms

find postage rates for happy mail right here along with other mailing details

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We made a new discovery over here that I am excited to share. We discovered how to doodle our own shadow puppets. How fun is that?

I always like to keep a few wet erase overhead markers on hand at our house. They are perfect for writing love notes on mirrors or drawing targets on windows for nerf gun shooting practice (yes, I have little boys). We discovered that with our markers and a few overhead projector sheets, we could create a new cast for any shadow performance we could dream up. You can also print right on the transparency paper if you’d like to use an image you already have, or create silhouettes of your own kiddos.

If you’ve been around for a while, you’ve probably seen my shadow puppet theater tutorials (I made a big elaborate version here, and a simple pretty version here). Several of you have written in with beautiful versions you’ve made yourselves.

All you need is a few simple supplies.
transparency sheets (I bought three individual sheets from the photocopy desk at an office supply store)
wooden craft sticks
super glue
wet erase markers

I cut the sheets in half, then folded them in half and creased them well. I inserted the craft stick between the layers, squeezed some superglue on both sides, then set a book on top to keep it in place until it dried, and that was it. A few moments of prep followed by hours of three-act plays in our family room about princesses, Mario, and a host of other characters, real and made up. It was great.

p.s. I have a friend who teaches and talked about making a life sized theatre for her classroom. How cool would that be?

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I’m not sure if you’ve been around long enough to remember the last shadow puppet theater I made for my kids? We love that thing. Just last week we turned down the lights, lit up our Christmas tree, and used our theatre to dramatize our version of the Grinch (the Grinch was played by a green T-Rex toy. Very apropos).

The only problem is, the last time I made a theater, it was an involved project. But I wanted to make another. So I came up with a slightly simpler version. I’m so pleased with how it turned out. Do you like it? I’m including the DIY here because you could totally still whip out one of these in time for Christmas.

supplies & equipment:
-panel of fabric, solid-color and thin enough so light can shine through
-contact paper
-acrylic or fabric paint
-small sponge roller (available for a dollar or two at any craft store)
-extra fabric scraps and fabric glue for embellishments
-paper or plastic to protect your work surface

method:
1. Lay your fabric flat and cut to the size you’d like your theater to be. No need to hem the edges, they won’t fray once we’re done with them (see! so easy.)

2. Lay the contact paper down and sketch the shape of your theatre. The places where you stick the contact paper will be the places where the light is able to shine through the fabric. Cut out the shape, remove the backing, and stick the contact paper onto your fabric.

3. Get out your roller and start painting. Roll paint everywhere fabric is showing. Don’t be stingy. Roll right to the edges.

4. Allow the paint to dry. Peel off and discard the contact paper.  Now notice the fabric edges do not fray because they are painted? Nice.

5. Cut out fabric scraps for any special touches you’d like to add, and glue them on with fabric glue.

Stand back and admire your new theater! When you’re ready to use it, you have a few options, but the simplest is just to tie a piece of string between two chairs and clothespin your theatre to the string. All you need is a flashlight and a puppeteer or two and you’re ready for a performance.


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Today for our handmade gift retreat I’m excited to introduce you to Anna of Noodlehead. Anna is my sewing hero and is one of those women who dreams up beautiful things and then
just
makes them.

You are about to see what I mean.

She also has two adorable daughters who get cool things from their mama, like adorable neck warmers and unicorn dresses. (My kids don’t even know what they’re missing. Maybe by the time the grandkids come along…) So, without further ado, here is Anna.

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Hey gift givers!  Just want to say a huge thanks to Amber for inviting me over today. Well, if you’ve ever read my blog, you’ll know I love making zippered pouches.  I think they’re the perfect gift for any occasion, but especially Christmas.  By just changing up the dimensions a bit or using different fabrics, you can make a completely unique gift for that person on your list.

Go ahead and try my Scrappy Make-up Pouch Tutorial!
The best part about these pouches is what you can fill them with!  It’s a great opportunity to stuff in some special treats.  How about some chap stick, a mini journal and a pen for that teenager?  Or for a preschooler I love to make it a crayon pouch.  Fill it with crayons and markers, maybe some stickers, and wrap it all up with a spiral art journal.  For a special woman in your life you can dream up just about anything to suit their hobbies and tastes, I’d love one with a box of chocolates and a gift card to my favorite bookstore.  And maybe even for that man on your list, you know – that guy.  Yes, just grab some manly fabric and make it a dopp kit, some cologne, fancy men’s products, a gift card for ice cream perhaps?!
I think no matter what you add inside, making it personal to your recipient will make it extra special and show that you really care, and may run a close second to that fancy sports car they’ve been dreaming of.

Happy gift giving!

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Hello Readers!  Crystal here with a super easy DIY growth chart.

I have been on the look-out for a really great growth chart for months.  I came across Miss Natalie’s Heirloom Growth Chart and loved it immediately, but knew the paper tags would not last long in my house with two rambunctious boys, and I really wanted foot markings on the chart so it would be easy to track my children’s height.  I kept searching but didn’t find anything that really fit the bill.  A few weeks later, it dawned on me that I could make my own version of Miss Natalie’s!  Here is my method:

Gather your supplies:

  • 6-feet of jute webbing (can be purchased online or at craft stores.  I bought mine at Hobby Lobby.)
  • Dowel
  • Fusible interfacing
  • Fabric (not shown)
  • A small amount of Tyvek (or other suitable material.  I think these would be cute, as would canvas.  I choose Tyvek because it is lightweight and super durable)
  • Safety pins

Iron the fusible interfacing onto the fabric and cut out numbers.

I started my 1-foot mark 6-inches from the bottom of the webbing, and then measured every 6-inches for the subsequent marks.

After all six feet are labeled, start adding tags.  I used a green marker for Lincoln (his favorite color!) and a blue marker for Henry (who is still too young to voice a favorite color.)

I hung the growth chart with a dowel and a strip of the same fabric I used for the numbers.  But how great would it look hanging from a grommet??  I wish I would have thought about that before I finished the dowel/fabric set up!  I also added a dowel at the bottom to keep the chart hanging straight.

And viola!  A growth chart!

Have you ever DIY’d something when you haven’t been able to find certain features on a product?  What did you create?  What alterations did you make?

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Darling Clementine

Crystal stops by GiversLog a couple times a month to share her fresh ideas. When she’s not writing for GiversLog, Crystal can be found mothering, knitting, and cooking, and is currently navigating the unknown waters of woodturning.

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I have been loving our gift retreat so far. I hope you have too. And I have been feeling spoiled by all the lovely guests and your comments about what you would make if we were all spending the weekend crafting together (feel free to chime in). We have five more talented guests still to spoil us, starting with today’s.

Anna of Hey Bubbles has been one of my heros for a long time. She lives in Brisbane with her two adorable little girls, and makes a million
beautiful
things
for them (how cute is this girls’ apron set she gave as a gift?) She also bakes. Yum. I’m excited to leave you in Anna’s hands, which I will do right now.

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One of my favourite ‘go-to’ handmade gifts for children is a handmade pencil roll.

There are a few reasons why I like this present
-  Generally I try to avoid buying more plastic toys when I’m giving a gift to a child.  Mainly because everyone seems to have so many, I know my children do, and as a mum I appreciate not having to find the space for even more toys amongst our clutter.
- If I’m giving a handmade gift I like to try and pair it up with something small that I have bought.  So a handmade pencil roll together with a cute colouring in book and maybe some stickers works really well.
- They work for boys and girls and most little kids I know like colouring in and drawing
- They’re really handy to take with you if you’re going to a restaurant or somewhere else you need to entertain a little one quietly for awhile.

I don’t use a pattern to make mine. I just measure my pencils and go for it.  But there are lots of great tutorials around in blog-land for how to make these, you just need to do a quick search for ‘pencil roll tutorial’ and you’ll find many to choose from.

Here are a couple of other ones I have made in the past.

On a different note, have a look at the absolutely beautiful knitted matryoshka dolls my youngest daughter, Polly, recently received.  If I could knit, these would definitely be on my list – they can be played with now, and it’s something beautiful enough to display as she gets older!

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Halloween Tees

10.29.10

My kids had the greatest time with these SEI iron on kits. I think they were the Halloween hit of the year. We even had left over body parts for ironing on other things. You can’t beat that.

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