Planting Sequoias

In which I blog about a life (hopefully) well lived.


Lace Infinity Scarf Tutorial (in which I give you a perfectly valid reason to purchase frilly thrift store curtains)

Prior to this day, you may not have had too many occasions upon which you desired to purchase thrift store drapery, but that may be about to change.

In fact, this very post may cause a run on thrifted curtains, so you may want to duck out now and grab some and come back to read this post later. Just saying.

I purchased said curtain in preparation for the annual Christmas Craft Party where some friends and I draw names and then make our gifts for each other. This year I had Hannah, for whom it is incredibly difficult to make something for, since she is very crafty herself.

Despite being under a lot of pressure to create something awesome, I kept my cool and headed to the thrift store for these $2 curtains and then the craft store for a 2-yard length of jersey knit. 2 yards (off the wider 60″ type of bolt) ended up being exactly enough for 2 scarves, so if you attempt this project, plan accordingly.

Thrift Store Curtain and Jersey Knit

I made the pattern up as I went along, so these pictures might not be the best ever, like the rest of my photos normally are. 🙂

I first laid out the yardage on the floor to get a look at what I was working with. I knew I wanted the infinity scarf to wrap around twice, so I figured I had enough for two and cut it in half the long way and the short way to get 4 pieces total, 2 for each scarf.

Scientific Measuring

Then I sewed each piece into a tube, but on one piece, I sandwiched the lace inside.

Sandwich Lace between Knit Layeres

Next I sewed the two tubes together on one end, catching the raw edge of the lace in this seam. I actually used pins for this–usually I grab the devil by the horns and just go for it without using pins. Surprisingly, pins help a lot.

Here’s a pic of the tubular shape and the lace curtain to be sewed in.

Creating the tube

Next I had to connect the two ends of the tube together. This step sorely tested my logic skills, and I’m not sure I can explain how I did it, but I shall attempt to nonetheless.

You won’t be able to sew the ends of the tube together entirely, since you need to do it from the inside of the scarf (unless you’ve somehow invented a way to do sew while inside an object), but you can get a good three-quarters of the way around .

And the you’ll shake things out and just be left with a smallish hole, which I then stitched shut by hand from the outside of the scarf.

Hole left to sew by hand


finished lace infinity scarf

Finally, I modeled the finished product and deemed it super-cute.

Lace infinity scarf with jersey knit

I really really wanted to keep one of the two that I made, but after stroking each scarf both lovingly and bidding a fond farewell, I gave one to Hannah and the other to my sister Sara for Christmas.

lace infinity scarf with jersey knit tutorial

And no, I didn’t do my hair that day. It was a Saturday. Just pretend it looked awesome, okay? Thanks.

Oh, and does anyone else have the problem of wanting to keep gifts you make or get for other people for yourself? I can’t be the only selfish one out there, right?


1 Comment

Mason Jar Pincushion (in which I spend an inordinate amount of time making a purely functional object look “cute”)

A few months ago, necessity and inspiration smacked me in the face. It’s nice when those things occur simultaneously, or nearly so.

Necessity: I needed a pincushion. Pins don’t like “just hanging out” in ziplock baggies.

Inspiration: I had a teeny-tiny mason jar and cute houndstooth fabric. A match made in heaven? Probably not, but cute nonetheless.

So I created this cute little guy and stabbed my pins into it. We lived happily like this for a good long while.

But then I got sick of the slightly rusted canning ring and went and spray painted it red. Here’s how I created it the second time.

I should note that, for about one blissful hour after I made this the first time, I thought I’d come up with an original idea. HA! Nope. This has definitely been done before. I don’t know what I was thinking for those first 60 minutes…

The supplies needed are pretty self explanatory but are pictured here in the hopes that I might trick you into thinking that this a “real” tutorial and that I’m a “real” blogger. Is it working?

I do realize that if I have to ask, the answer is “no.” I’ll learn someday.

As for the “tutorial” part of this post: you kind of just jam the small bit of fluff up in the round piece of fabric and shove it all into the canning ring, wedging it in there very tightly with the canning lid.

I then went the extra mile and hand stitched the round bit of fabric so that it wouldn’t hang down into the jar. My needles were very conveniently located for this project since they had been stuck into version 1.0, so I didn’t have to work very hard to complete this step. If I’d needed to reach for them, or, God forbid, stand up and go find the needles, this step very well may not have happened.

And then, once again, I stabbed all of the pins into the fluff after screwing the whole contraption back onto it’s mason jar bottom.

If you were wondering where all of the white pins are (which I’m sure you were), I can answer that–they made their way into my brooch bouquet for our wedding, masquerading as pearl pins. I’ll let them stay there indefinitely, I think. I have no plans of yet to disassemble that beast.

And here’s a fancy overhead picture for your pleasure. I’m not normally one to make such a big deal over purely functional objects, but this blog and my recent spray paint addiction have gotten the best of me. It’s the fumes, I think. The spray paint fumes, not the blog fumes. It would certainly be strange if my blog started emanating a scent.

And since I’m over-explaining things altogether too much, I’m just going to end this here.


Ruffled Christmas Tree Skirt (in which I repurpose a thrift store sheet into holiday decor)

Last Christmas, Laura and I found that our Christmas tree was lacking some vital undergarments.

Being a modest individual myself and seeking to promote that virtue in others, I decided to do something about it and made this ruffled Christmas tree skirt that has been dominating Pinterest.

However, I couldn’t just do things the normal way, which would have been to purchase some cheap white cotton yardage from a fabric store.

I instead took “thrifty” to a whole new level and repurposed a queen-sized sheet into this:

Looking good, right? I made this last year on several cozy evenings with my roommate Laura. If we’d had a fireplace, it would have been roaring…since we didn’t have a fireplace, we alternated between Christmas Pandora stations and Gilmore Girls. Another cheap substitute.

Looking into someone else’s tutorial would have been too easy/normal, so I instead just looked at the photo and made it my own way. I get that from my father.

Before I get any further, though, I’d like to offer a disclaimer–if you actually want to make this, go find a real tutorial. Or be in possession of some amazing abilities that allow you to interpret my forthcoming garbled directions. Good luck!

First, I chopped up that sheet, like this:

I would like to say I cut straighter than those lines, but I really can’t promise that I did. Sewing large hems provides a lot of grace and covers up my mistakes well. And yes, I really did use up that much of the sheet. Waste not, want not…or something like that.

The yellow circle was the base of the tree skirt. I cut a slit in it to the middle and cut another smaller hole (8″ish in diameter) for the tree to poke through.

To make the circles, I used a very scientific method of tying a string to a pencil, holding the end of the string into the perceived middle of my yet-to-be-drawn circle, and dragging the pencil around on the bedsheet. I got some funny looks from Laura through this process, but it worked out in the end.

Next I hemmed around the circle and up both sides of the slit. Ignore the raw edge of the inner circle.

Good heavens, is this making any sense? I’m confusing myself at this point. My apologies.

I then hemmed ALL OF THE STRIPS (there were a lot of them) on one side and sewed a line of stitching up the other side of the strips.

This was not a stimulating process. I may have nodded off at my sewing machine a few times.

Inserting picture to keep your attention:

Ohh, and look! You can even catch a glimpse here of last year’s holiday decor and 2 Christmas cards! Bonus.

Next I gathered ALL OF THE STRIPS (again, there were a lot of them) into ruffles. Also not a fun process, especially for the comfort of your fingers. Keep that Pinterest picture open in front of you, though, and press on toward that gorgeous end result.

Once you have all of the ruffles ruffled, it’s time to attach them to the skirt’s foundation (that round circle thing with the slit).

For this I revisited my pencil-and-string method for making more circles and marked out where to sew each ruffle on so that it overlapped the one below it.

Obviously I was quite precise.

And then I sewed some more.

Once I attached all of the ruffles (which was quite a feat!), I still had the raw edge around the top ruffle, the part that hugs the Christmas tree.

I managed to find a scrap of leftover bedsheet and attached it the way you bind the edge of a quilt.

If you’re not familiar with that method, I’ll explain. First, use the machine to sew one side of the strip to the edge you want to bind. Then fold the strip over, tucking the edge under, and then whipstitch it all together.

Goodness gracious. If that wasn’t a horrible explanation of quilt binding, I don’t know what it is. And I call myself a copywriter. Please see me if you actually do try to make this and I’ll just explain it in person. It’ll be easier on all of us that way.

Here’s a picture of what you’re aiming for, at any rate:

Since I wasn’t blogging regularly last year at this time, I only took 2 cell phone pictures to send to my mom. I need lots of encouragement and support while doing major projects like this.

These other pictures I took yesterday after I dug the tree skirt out of the box it’s been crammed into for the last 10 months. Thus the wrinkles.

Yes, these wrinkles.

I was a little panicky at the thought of ironing all of these ruffles (despite my new ironing board cover) until Kenny calmed me down and explained how the dryer’s steam setting could do the work for me. It’s handy to have a husband who is very knowledgeable about doing laundry. I was skeptical that it would work however, but…

No more wrinkles! It’s like magic. My iron and I breathed a big sigh of relief. I’ll definitely be hanging this on a hanger for after-Christmas storage next year, but I may still take advantage of my mother-in-law’s dryer’s steam setting, since it was that awesome.

This particular project will not make an appearance in our apartment until after Thanksgiving, of course, but I’m posting it now so you can get a jump on things and make one yourself.

And that’s the story of how I turned a $.99 bedsheet into a lovely ruffled Christmas tree skirt.


I’m linking up here:



I’m also linking up to Censational Girl!


Sweater-Sleeve Mitten “Tutorial” (in which I detail the correct way to make really ugly, non-functional mittens)

I like to think of myself as crafty and resourceful, good at repurposing items for whatever I need or want.

But lately I’ve been having to rethink my whole crafting identity.

It all began with thrifted sweaters. (Yes, there were two.) I used the first for this sweater pillow and these leg warmers with moderate success.

All that success went to my head, though, and I became a little too confident and decided to make myself a pair of mittens.

Part of the irony of this post is that I (along with my Grandma D) have cut and sewed and sold HUNDREDS of pairs of mittens out of sweaters (the kind with the 3-part pattern and a cuff) over the past few years. But I decided to deviate from our normal pattern and go with something a little different.

“It will be easier,” I thought.

“They will be cute,” I thought.

“It could revolutionize the way I live my life,” I thought.


WRONG. I was so, so wrong.

Here’s the story, in pictures (and some words, because hey, I’m a writer).


I took the sleeves of the sweater and cut them off.

I then repurposed a political flyer and created a pattern for my hand. I censored the guy because this blog is not about politics and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings in case he saw what I did with his nice mailing. I also thought this could make a nice blog post title. “Mitten Tutorial: In which I propose an alternate use for mailed political flyers.” I have begun to put way to much thought into these titles.

I then began to sew, oblivious to what was to come.

Things were looking good at this point. In my mind, it closely resembles a mitten.

But then, once I trimmed up the seams and insided it out, I was horrified to find this:

I’m not sure what it looks like, but it is definitely not something I would wear in public (which is, of course, the mark of a successful craft).

So, yeah. Back to the drawing board on this one. I might blame it on a number of things, like the chunkyness of the sweater or my ancient sewing machine, but it really is because I do not have the proper skills nor motivation to tweak this into something wearable at this point.

Lesson learned. I need to stop the sweater madness. Or at least spend more time on making a successful end result.

At this point, all this mitten is good for would be losing it in the woods:

Please tell me someone else has heard of this book?

At least this book is really cute, even if my mitten is… slightly less cute.


In which I make a pillow out of a placemat and a napkin while watching Harry Potter 6

This weekend, as part of “birthday weekend festivities,” Ken indulged me and we went to World Market, where I stumbled upon these:

a placemat (striped) and a napkin (green), priced at $2.48 and $.99.

There was only one of each //sadface// but I got them anyway. The colors in the placemat won me over–and aren’t really reflected that well in the photo. It’s not so girly as it looks–there’s a red stripe in it and some orange that keeps it looking classy. And the texture is so, so awesome. The napkin has this diamond texture that is quite subtle and lovely.

Anyway, I made them into a pillow.

I first pinned the placemat to the (slightly larger) napkin, right sides together:

The Hope College-colored pins are completely unintentional. And yes, my sewing machine is OLD.

I then sewed around 3 of the four sides of the placemat, leaving one short side open for stuffing.

My sewing machine has been struggling lately with sewing through layers, so this was NOT as easy as I expected.

Meanwhile, Kenny was doing this:

I then turned it inside-out and stuffed it with the innards of an old throw pillow, and then I pinned it closed.

Next, I began watching Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince with Kenny. This step is optional.

While I did that, I slip-stitched the edges closed:

Which left me with a seam that looked like this:

I actually liked this side so well that I undid the opposite end and slip-stitched that side too. Then I was left with a pillow. 🙂