Neck Pillow and Space Saver

I made this for my trip to Costa Rica this spring with Yobel International. We needed to travel light so we could bring supplies to and from, not to mention it was an 8 hr red eye on the way down. So, how about a pillow that, instead of taking up extra space, relieves space from my suitcase? Even better, you can make it for ALMOST NOTHING.

Travel Pillow

What you need:

  • old teeshirt (or comfortable fabric
  • sewing machine
  • travel plans

It’s pretty straight forward, just an empty neck pillow that you then fill with (comfy) items that you want to bring with you.

I’m sorry, I don’t have a pattern for yet, but I wanted to get you this idea with the holidays approaching. You can see the proportions on the teeshirt below. Also, sorry for the terrible photos… it was a crazy time and this was a late night craft.

Step 1: Fold your comfy shirt in half.

Step 2: Cut out half a neck pillow shape (but across the folded shirt it will make a full pillow)

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Step 3: Sew all the edges together.

Step 4: Cut a small slit on the top (for stuffing) and flip inside out

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Step 5: Stuff with clothes that you are packing!

I was able to fit all of the below in mine, it was amazing! I ended up taking a little out of the back of the neck so it was more for the sides of my head to lean on on the plane. It could be a good idea as well to put a couple undergarments in here in case of lost luggage.

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The extra nice thing is that very seldom do you get told you need to fit this in your carry-on. I flew all around with it just “attached” to my carry on, which can also be great for those of you who, like me, try your hardest to never pay baggage fees! It’s really amazing how much you can fit in your “carry on and a personal item”. I’m becoming a pro.

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Again, this was like a 20 minute craft, but kind of looks like it. You can easily class it up with some nice fabric and finish up the seem around the stuffing hole (terrible name…). You could also get even fancier and make the side with the slit 2 separate pieces, creating a nice overlap where you stuff so that nothing is peaking out! I’ll have to try that idea soon and give a 1 hour version to join with the 20 minute version.

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Clothing Swap

Did you know? It’s spring! 

You know what is great to do in spring? Exchange clothes you don’t wear for ones you do!

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Have you been to a Clothing Swap before? AKA, Clothing Exchange, Naked Lady Party, and many other things, these things are AMAZING. Here’s the summary: Get some  girlfriends together, clean out your closets of great but rarely warn clothes, get together, and exchange it. I’ve hosted a few of these parties now, and have never been let down.

Here is everything you could need to host your own, and then some:

WHO

All of your lady friends!

It works with a small group of close friends, or a large group of friends of friends of friends. My following advice has been worked well for groups of 20-30, and I think could work well for anywhere from 5-50. Also be sure to invite ladies of ALL sizes. It sucks to be the one stout or petite lady bringing some nice clothes but unable to fit into anything other ladies brought. This is easier with larger groups.

WHAT

Clothing and accessories.

Tops, bottoms, coats, purses, scarves, jewelry, leggings, belts, hair things, shoes, anything you wear on your body! But, make sure they are in good condition. A good rule of thumb I was told is “items in a condition that you’d lend to your friend.”  DO NOT bring: undergarments, and only swimsuits if you dare. They are “personal items” for a reason!
Other ideas: Moms could do a kids clothing swap, toy swap, or maternity clothing swap. Men likely wouldn’t do this on their own, but their significant others might be willing to make it part of their swap. I was recently given the idea to try a book swap with the clothing swap, I’ll let you know how it goes!

WHERE

A Large Space.

I have primarily hosted in a large house. Open concept is helpful, but having separate rooms for each type of clothing isn’t a bad option. Obviously adjust the size of the space for the number of people coming. Other ideas: church common room, community center, coffee shop during closed hours, or make it a yard or garage swap during warm months!

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WHEN

Once or twice a year.

My group of ladies has easily had enough to supply a bi-annual swap. Natural times are Spring and Fall when the season change makes people start digging in new parts of their closet or start wishing for new fresh items. Unless it’s a very large swap, more than twice a year seems like it would fizzle out, but once a year could be a great tradition.

WHY

It saves you green and makes you green!

You get a fresh closet without spending any/much money
You prevent more waste buy getting “new to you” clothes instead of buying more
You get to hang out with your friends and do mini fashion shows
Your get to see your friends look great in clothes you thought were done
You make new friends
It’s just plain fun girl time
Your clothes get more use before going to the trash
All leftover items still go to charity 

HOW

Here we go with the nitty gritty:

There are MANY different ways to make it happen, I will give you what I’ve found best:

Make a minimum item number. If you don’t, people will bring little or nothing and take a lot. I do a 5 item minimum, but 10 items is also common and reasonable. I’ve found even if some people barely bring 5, many people bring far beyond 5 and there is always more than enough items for everyone. 

Organize. I found it most helpful to arrange by type of item: shirts, pants, shorts, bags, jewelry, etc. Your guests will typically have something in mind that they want or need and can go straight there. I also make a room or area for people to put their extra belongings like coats and purses so they don’t accidentally get snatched. Don’t forget to makes space for trying items on if your ladies are a little more shy. Labeling rooms with signs is incredibly helpful for guests and keeps people from asking you questions so you can continue to do your own digging! Create a natural flow in your space and with what display items you have. I use available couches, shelves kitchen tables, in addition to racks, card tables, and  full-length mirrors that friends let me borrow. If you don’t have any racks to borrow, try one your hand at one of these DIY racks, because hanging dresses, coats, and other nice things is really helpful. Small things like containers to keep jewelry from ending up on the floor, extra hangers, and extra shopping bags are great small thoughtful things.

Set the atmosphere. Get some fresh flowers, some fresh (non-greasy) snacks, and refreshments appropriate for the time of day. Make your signs fun and festive, maybe even make some poms or other decorations to keep the mood happy and light, it makes the overall experience that much better! Don’t forget some catchy but fairly calm music. Stressed out women surround by free clothing can get feisty, and the last thing you want is a cat fight. If you take extra steps to keep your guests happy, excited, calm, and most importantly, easygoing and forgiving, you don’t have to make strict rules about when guests pick clothes. 

Make a price. This is optional, I typically make mine free. It’s fun, people enjoy it, and it’s really not that much work for as large of an event as it becomes. If you do want to make a price to make it a fundraiser, $5 or $10 per person is reasonable.  You can go higher if you plan on making it swap limited to high end clothing swap, I prefer to keep mine more accessible.

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Make an arrival time. For the first 1/2 hour or so have ladies lay out their items in the assigned areas. Once they are done they can mingle and start peaking at what they may want to try on. This gives late-arrivers time to unpack their goods without being stressed and overwhelmed, and most of the clothes are out when you start the actual swap.

Restrain chaos. I made a few “rules” sheets and hung them around, included the essential rules in the invitation, and briefly explained them before the actual swap started. Here are my rules:

RulesSome things to note about the rules. They are informative, but lighthearted so people know what to do but keeps the atmosphere upbeat. Use your own humor, and obviously insert your own name as the host. Before it gets started I make sure everyone has a shopping bag of some sort, and explain rule 3 and 4 a little more to the crowd. For the 15 minutes or so people can only have 5 items at a time. This forces them to try things on and prioritize instead of hoarding every cute item they find and not trying it on until half of the crowd is gone. This also helps make sure everyone gets a fair shot at something decent, and keeps the panic down. After 15 minutes, or sooner if you can tell everyone has found their 5 items, announce “open shopping” where ladies can stuff their shopping bags to the brim! As for rule 6, I’ve yet to see anything remotely close to a fight, but it’s good to have a fun contingency plan. I’ve also heard of having both girls try the item on and have the rest of the guests vote on who it looks better on!

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Know where the extra clothes are going. I have found a great local charity that I love give my clothes to. I once scheduled the swap the night before a clothing drive which creates even more appeal to go and give, and sometimes you get donations from people who can’t make it to the actual swap. Don’t forget to bring a couple large trash bags for these clothes and have a few friends help you pack up and clean up.

Success!

I look forward to this event year, and have people asking me about when the next one is all the time. Do your friends a favor and organize a swap asap!

Working with Wine Bottles (pt 1)

I’m sure you’ve seen the tutorials floating around Pinterest. Easy DIY Wine Bottle tumblers/chandelier/candle holder/vase/planter! Just drink some wine, make some cool stuff. Simply___(fill in the blank)___ and it just splits right in half, right?

Well, if you’ve tried it, it probably didn’t go as well as they all said.

I tried the ole “acetone soaked thread” method and couldn’t get a single break, and most reviews said it was pretty dangerous. No glass flying through the air please! However, this video tutorial is the best I’ve found. I still rarely get cuts as clean as his, but because of this tutorial, they are usable.

Suggested Materials:

  • Glass Bottles
  • Glass Bottle Cutter (see below for notes on these)
  • Glass Cutter with notches at the end (similar to this one)
  • Course Sandpaper
  • Goo Gone to remove labels, if wanted.
  • A computer to turn on your favorite shows… I like background TV, makes tedious jobs less tedious. Obviously optional.

Notes on Bottle Cutters: I use this one and mostly like it, I found it at Hobby Lobby and used my 40% of coupon (woo!). They were hit or miss on carrying it, though, had to search a couple stores. It’s compact and lightweight, and does the job I need it to. It’s made of aluminum and does feel flimsy, and sometimes the wing-nuts get loose. I went to my local hardware store and got some steel ones that I can tighten more. It is, however, much harder to use this one to cut other glass jars or jars without that same spout. If you are looking to do more with it, I have tried this one, but honestly didn’t love it. It’s design felt cheap, and I had a really hard time getting a straight cut, which defeated the purpose. I’ve been brainstorming how to make my own with a simple glass cutting tool.

Let’s Go!

Firstly, decide where you want to make the cut. If it is above the labels, then you don’t need to worry about cleaning the labels off before cutting. If you plan on keeping the label on, you are saving yourself even more time!

If you need to take the labels off, hope that you get a nice easy one like this:

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Clean, beautiful, easy, time saving. However, most of mine looked something like this:

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Pity.

Try and scrape a good bit of the labels off, soak with some warm water to help if needed, and finish with some Goo Gone. For now, take off only the goop around where you want to score. Since there is a decent chance you bottle won’t cut as clean as you’d like, don’t waste too much time cleaning it until you are sure it’s good to use.

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Further instructions are using the tool I mentioned earlier. If you are using something else, follow directions for scoring.

Adjust the cutter so the vertical bar is perfectly vertical, and the top horizontal piece forms 90 degree angles. Adjust the cutting wheel to a 90 degree angle from the glass. This takes some extra effort when you are experiementing with cutting curved parts of bottles.

Once set, apply even, and lightly firm pressure and rotate the bottle until the line overlaps with the start. You will notice a change in the sound, almost like it suddenly became sandy. It doesn’t take much for a nice score. Press too hard and the score won’t work as well, press not enough, and the score won’t exist. I am still working getting this down. The score should look like a thin hair around the bottle, try and avoid the sandy/gravely look.

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Once you have a good score, I HIGHLY recommend you use the hot/cold water method. I have tried both pouring and dunking (have a pot of boiling and a pot of ice water), and find the pouring method easier and more reliable, especially when you have a shortage of deep pots.

This method (frankly the entirety of this process) is helpful with 2 people, but doable with one. Like the video tutorial I referred you to early in this post, run some cold water in a sink, and have a kettle of boiling water. Wear thick rubber gloves or even oven mitts to protect your hands, and some form of eye protection. There shouldn’t be much flying glass, but better safe than sorry! I often put a few dish rags at the bottom of the sink to protect falling pieces. Run cool water over the score, letting cool water touch all of it, then slowly and gently pour the hot water. Be careful not to burn yourself, and there is no need to use a lot. You will likely start to hear it cracking, and in the right light you can see it cracking (hopefully) along the score, until POP!

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It separates! I jump almost every time. It doesn’t make a loud noise, but you can never quite anticipate with it will come apart.

This particular cut was a real winner! What did I do right? Honestly, I have no idea. A far larger majority of mine look more like this:

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(also note the score, it’s not a great one, I pressed too hard) I call these extra pieces “teeth” as they are often smaller and sharper. This is a pretty large one that I was still able to clean up a good bit. This is where the other glass cutter comes into play. Not to cut more, but to use those prongs to break off the teeth.

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Try to use leverage against the score, and bend the glass toward the inside of the bottle. (USE SAFETY GEAR! Especially eyewear!) It should break right along the score. The break won’t be as clean as the hot/cold water break, but can sanded down with a good bit of elbow grease.

I found it best to cut some course sandpaper into strips, then dampen them with a little water and sand down the rim. BE CARFUL and make sure you get the whole thing sanded down. No accidentally cutting yourself!

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Now give them a warm water bath and a Goo Gone scrub and get all the label gunk off, and you are ready so use as you choose!

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I turned many of mine into candles, full tutorial on that later on another date

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Other notes:

  • My overall “success” (usable) rate for wine bottles cut around their middle was 50% – 75%. Smaller bottles (beer etc.), and odd cuts (on curved parts of the neck) had a lower success rate.
  • Certain smaller bottles scored better than others. I was sad to find that the bottles from our favorite brewery score terribly. I also found that thinner wine bottles were more likely to have stray cracks. Some good ole 2-buck-chuck was an abundant bottle, but also ended up abundantly in the recycle bin as a failure.
  • I read a note that the darker the glass, the harder it is to get a good cut. I found some truth to this, but it wasn’t significant.

Have you tried cutting bottles? What was your experience?

T-shirt Rug

I am always looking for things to do with t-shirts. So much fabric, I hate to get ride of it! We are nostalgic folks, so in order to keep room in the dresser but not lose the memories I have made some t-shirt blankets for my husband and I. Since I only used a square of the shirt that included logos etc, I had plenty of jersy fabric left over from them. At least half of the t-shirt, more if you only used the front! How could one ever even think to toss it (and maintain cleanliness, organization, and space…)?

Well, it was high time to clear a little space and use this stuff I’d been hanging on to for a while. I thought about making a latch hook rug like these but wanted something a little flatter. Maybe a bit of crocheting or braiding like my mom used to do? Nah, I reverted back to my elementary school years of weaving random bits of string to make small mats that decorated my bookcase of trinkets. For years after I would end up with various yarns from who knows where and with whatever cardboard was available continue to make them. So, time to make a bigger one:

What you need:

  • T-shirt (or other fabric scraps) – I used the leftovers of 10-12 shirts for my rug that ended up at 1.5 x 2.5, and I didn’t end up using all of them.
  • Decent scissors
  • Yarn/thread/twine/other long fabric scraps/whatever you want to make the initial lines with. I used sturdy yarn that more or less matched the fabrics I ended up with.
  • A loom. Don’t panic, I just used 4 folding chairs and strung my yarn between. Looked great and took up the little bit of spare space we had left in our apartment! (I had the idea later to use a large piece of wood, like particle board with a bit of reinforcement, with nails. This way you could make your string tighter, and possibly put some guide nails along the middle in order to help prevent the hourglass shape. If we had room and more t-shirts I’d try it…)
  • A ruler/yardstick/measurer
  • A good back if your “loom” is on the floor like mine
  • A bit of patience.
Let’s go!
If you have anything screen printed on your tee’s, I’d cut them off. I had a small bit of print on one and it looked super noticeable. (feel free to give it a shot, could look interesting if all your colors have bits of screen print?) If you are using on-hand tees, choose colors that look good together.

Trim off all seems. They are a bit too chunky and don’t roll as well.

Start cutting your shirts into strips about 1 in wide. If you have a fancy cutting device to keep your strips amazingly straight and even, go for it. After weaving, you really can’t tell how straight they are. You might be able to see some thickness difference, but I like to think imperfections give more character.

– I later found a tutorial on how to make 1 long “thread” from a shirt. Could definitely save you time. I had many awkwardly cut shirts, and I wanted to use as much of the shirt as possible, so I still cut them into straight strips. Also, depends on the final look you want. Thick stripes? This method will work. Multi-color heathered? smaller pieces would be better.

Cut slits in both ends of every thread.

Originally I started off cutting the slits as I went along (below). Save yourself som energy, and just do the snipping all in one sitting. I forgot to take a picture once I figured this out. Learn from my mistake, it makes way more sense.

Peek ahead for some larger pictures of the “loom”. Just set the chairs apart from each other, more distance apart than the length you’d like your rug, and tie whatever thread you choose across. Mine started off being about 1.5 inch apart, but could have easily been closer to make the rug a little tighter.

Loosely tie your first tee-thread to one end, and start weaving! (For noobs, that means over, under, over, under and repeat endlessly.)

to attach the 2 pieces check out this tutorial

Put the end attached to the loom through the slit of the new piece of  tee-thread.

Then put the other end of the new piece of tee-thread through the slit on piece attached to the loom.
Confusing enough? Makes more sense when you do it yourself.

Most of mine looked like above. Every one in a while they look like below. Helpful tip, make sure they strands are curling in the same direction when you connect them.

(A slightly better view of the “loom” below.)

Continue weaving. I started doing random colors. Not long after this point, I decided to try thicker stripes, and liked it much better. I think with different colors, this could look cool, but not stripes were better this time.

Be sure to not pull to tightly on the tee thread when weaving. If you don’t leave a bit of breathing room on the outside edges, the rug will get more and more narrow as you go, making it triangular, until you get to the other end/start adjusting, when it starts to look like an hourglass.

When you’ve made it as long as you can/want, cut the yarn with enough room to tie the ends.

Take the yarn in pairs and tie it off. Trim excess. (If using other tee-shirt thread for this part, could make nice tassels?)

And you should have a rug!

Ways to do this better than me:

  • Wash the cut up tees before weaving them. Spare yourself the ridiculous amounts of t-shirt dust everywhere.
  • Use my modified idea for a loom (see “what you need” list to get my vague description. Or ask for clarification) OR find an antique loom and modify that! Check out this lady’s rugs on etsy
  • Choose a better color scheme. I was at the mercy of the colors I had, I refused to spend money on this one. Someday I’d like to either buy a bunch of shirts in similar color to get a “heathered” look to the rug, or be more intentional about the color combo with stripes, or buy a bunch of white shirts and dye them whatever color you’d like.

Let me know how yours turn out!