Too Cute Tuesday: No-Sew Handbags

This may be the best Too Cute Tuesday project ever. It may even surpass the duct tape wallet in awesomeness.

Tct-nosewbag-ironing I involved my friend Dorrie again, asking her if she had any ideas for this week. She sent me a link to a Martha Stewart craft that involved making hand bags with fabric, duct tape, and staples. Now does that sound up my alley or what? WARNING: That last link launches right into a video so beware of sound that will be playing when you click.

Holy cow, I'm just realizing as I'm writing this out that I got so excited while crafting and I forgot to make myself a cocktail! Perhaps I was anticipating New Years Eve tomorrow. Maybe you should save your festive midweek drinking for tomorrow night also. Just a thought.

Tct-nosewbag-straps 1 yard fabric (though you can use less, you'll just have a smaller bag)
1 yard Pellon (basically, it's sold by the yard and has a smooth side and a side with little dots that adhere to whatever fabric you're ironing them too)"
Ribbon (go thick), for strap material

Stapler and staples
Duct tape (to be an overachiever, use a color that matches the "bad" side of your fabric like white)

Cocktail of the Day: Water (stay hydrated, tomorrow is the party!)

Tct-nosewbag-corners 1. Go to the fabric department of your favorite crafting store. Whatever you do, don't ask them for "iron on vinyl" like Martha Stewart talks about; the person will have no idea what you are talking about. Instead explain that you are looking for something that you can iron on a fabric to make it thicker. You will have some choices: I went with the one for lightweight to medium fabrics. (Remember you are going to be stapling through this stuff). You can buy it by the yard for less then $2.

2. Watch the Martha Stewart video on the subject to get you pumped. Realize that this is a rushed version of what you're going to do so eat dinner first.

Tct-nosewbag-dorryafter 3. Cut your fabric into a nice rectangle to work with (you bag will be about 2/5 of the length,you'll understand in a minute).

4. Cut the Pellon to fit. Iron on with the little dots facing the "bad" side of the fabric. You can put the iron directly on this and it won't burn. You will have to spend extra time ironing the corners to make sure the Pellon is adhering.

5. Fold a flap down towards what will be the inside of your bag. Staple the straps to the flap and reinforce the seam with duct tape. (This whole project will be "sewing" with the staples and duct taping the seams to reinforce.) Measure where you put your handles and do the same on the other side so that the handles match up.

Tip: If you are having a hard time with your stapler, use the thumbs of both your hands to push down on either side of the stapler. It's what I call the Dorrie Double Thumb Method and it works a lot better then just pushing with one hand.

Tct-nosewbag-nicoleafter 6. Move your project so the inside is facing out. Fold your project in half so the sides of the bag line up. Staple and tape.

7. To make that boxy bottom (so the bag can sit on a surface without tipping over), make a triangle on the bottom corner where your duct taped edges meet (well there will be a triangle on each side). Staple and duct tape. Duct tape the triangle corners flat against the inside of the bag for further support.

8. Turn the bag inside out and realize how super-professional it looks. You're so crafty!

Too Cute Tuesday: Clothes Pin Keychains

Believe it or not, there are people I know in real life who don't read my blog. Maybe it's not their thing, maybe they forget the address, I'm not sure. But even from these people, I am always getting suggestions for Too Cute Tuesday crafts.

Clothespinkeychain-d While out on Saturday night, my friend Dorrie saw a keychain another friend had and hit my arm, "That's so Too Cute Tuesday!" she said, pointing frantically. Yesterday, she called and was quite excited: she got all the supplies to make said keychain; all I have to do is show up with dinner and drinks tonight. That was easy!

Clothespinkeychain-print I will go into this saying that Dorrie is a perfectionist. As a business owner who sets up displays all the time, she is used to perfection. As you've probably gathered about me, from my writing or otherwise, I am not. It was going to be an interesting night.

Old fashioned "Doll" clothespins (with the round top and no hinges—preferably Nicole brand)
Paint (acryllic apparently works best on this project; D asked the craft store lady)
Screw in hook (to attach the key ring to the clothes pin)
Key ring
Acrylic spray (to clearcoat, but you can Modge Podge too)
Tack (you'll see in the steps why)

Cocktail of the Day: Appletini
I have these individual drink mixes that come in test tubes: I'm assuming they could be shooters. Instead of making shots though, I've mixed water and alcohol with to make an appletini  (My mom bought these for me, and I've had them for two years without using them… I don't know what fact is more weird)

Clothespinkeychain-after 1. Wait for your friend to get out of pilates class by going home and having a popcorn snack. Don't even wonder why you didn't go work out, too.

2. Show up with food. Paint first coat on the clothespins. (Takes about 15 minutes to dry). Do a second coat if you want a smoother finish.

3. Once basecoat is dry, decide on a design. Nicole and Dorrie both did polka dots but Nicole explored her creative side with smiley faces while Dorrie made small whales.

4. Once fine motor skills are no longer required, make up that appletini. Realize that mom was onto something wtih these drink mixes!

5. Once design is dry, use the tack to screw a hole in the top of the clothespin. Once the hole is started, screw in the hook. Attach key ring.

Clothespinkeychain-onpants 6. Cover the project with a clear coat to protect, two if you're feeling very overprotective

7. Realize your perfect friend inspires you to be better and you probably inspire her to relax. Realize you make a good team. Eat gelato to celebrate.

* The cool part of these keychains is they can hook to the waist of your pants. No more hoping your keys stay in your pocket while you're walking around. Fun and functional!

Want to read every Too Cute Tuesday post ever? Click here!

Too Cute Tuesday: The T-Shirt Tote

My friend D mentioned a T-shirt Tote would be a good blog topic and a quick Google search helped me stumble upon this fantastic one:

There are variations of course (like keeping the sleeve for interrior pockets) but who doesn't have an old t-shirt or tank top that could use a little repurposing?

Tshirttote-1 T-shirt or tank top (I think ribbing makes the project more classy/finished looking but it's your call)
Sewing machine or needle and thread (old school, but it'll take you way longer)

Cocktail of the Day: Hot brandy toddy (thanks Jen!)

1. If you were silly enough to recently clean out your entire closet, go buy a cheap but nice t-shirt at your favorite used clothing store. (Used/preloved/consignment clothes are not only cheaper but better for the environment, folks!) By the way, if you ever wonder what people do with those souvenir t-shirts you buy them on vacation, I think I now know where they go.

*Super Bonus: Be the first to comment on the man on my found t-shirt and win my awe and admiration and a mention on the next Too Cute Tuesday*

Tshirttote-2 2. Have your sophisticated friend make you a nice cocktail in exchange for dinner. Talk about fair trade!

3. Cut the t-shirt slightly below the design or where the design would be (the further you cut below it, the deeper your bag will be). Turn it inside out and sew the bottom closed. Note from Nicole: If you can't draw a straight line, put in pins to keep you sewing straight. Think of them as a tool, like that guideline paper but for grown-ups!

4. Cut the sleeves (or sew them closed and tuck them for use as pockets). If you do cut the sleeves, turn the shirt inside out again to sew closed).

5. A tank top clearly has built-in straps but you can also cut the crew neck off your t-shirt and use that for straps like I did. Remember anytime you cut, you should finish the edge with some sewing to keep the whole thing from fraying. 

6. Celebrate your wonderfulness!

Top Image from

Too Cute Tuesday: Embroidered Hats and Mittens

When Kelly at Almost Frugal asked if I wanted to participate in a homemade holiday gifts carnival, I said Darn right I do! I am all for homemade holiday gifts besides the typical ones most people think of.

Jenwithmitten Kelly's category is yarn, string, and ribbon which got me to thinking about a Martha Stewart project from a few years ago that is easy, fun, and cheap. Plus it doesn't require much supplies, which is perfect for my current somewhat transient lifestyle.

Now I consider myself a knitter but only of square or rectangle objects. I'd love to be able to make a pair of mittens but I'm lacking in skills. So can I buy a pair of mittens then embroider them with contrasting yarn to make them look homemade? I sure can. (Well, not for anyone who reads this blog but you can try to pull it off.) If it were me, I'd tie the mittens together with a piece of yarn because I think it'll make them seem more authentic. Ok, enough lying. :^)

Since I'm crafting with my friend Jen tonight, a fellow appreciator of wine, we'll drink some lovely red wine she brought home last night: Le Petit Mas. It's kind of nice having a "wife" for awhile! ;^)

Store bought wool or acrylic mittens in a solid color (think they should look homemade)
Yarn in a contrasting color to the mittens
Big needle
White pencil (optional)

Cocktail: Red, red wine….

1. Go to the store and buy your supplies. The mittens don't have to be the prettiest things ever because you are going to make them pretty! Mine happen to be pretty because I bought them at my favorite second hand store (and they came tied together…interesting.) If mittens aren't your thing, try a hat.

2. Pour a nice glass of wine. The wine and mittens will keep you warm as things get cold! In our case, red wine and red mittens match.

3. Pick a design you want to embroider on your mittens. Think something wintery and/or cute like a pine tree or a snowflake. You can also do the initials of the person who you are giving the mittens to. (Google Image search the words "embroidery pattern" and whatever you want and you'll have lots of choices.) You can also free sketch the design with a light pencil to help guide your stitching but that's optional.

4. I did an x like stitch to make my design look a little more knitted but a staight stitch a la Jen looks nice too. Follow a pattern (Jen needs to) or freestyle (Nicole did this and got a little frustrated).

5. Jen advises not to stitch when angry. Of course, being stressed out by an election can make your project come out a little messy.

I think I may have a Too Cute Tuesday convert on my hands. I'll post pictures of my hat when it's done. (Got to have something to do with my nervous hands while the election results roll in!)

Too Cute Tuesday: Easy Homemade Mozzarella Cheese

I'm taking a break from my series on fashion basics because, well, it is Too Cute Tuesday and it does involve a craft and cocktail so why not?

Curdsandwhey Sure I'm preparing to fly across the country on Friday and sure, I had to work until 8 pm tonight but the article in Mother Earth News promised me 30 minute mozzarella. Sweet!

1 gallon of milk
1 1/2 tsp citric acid dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water
1/4 tsp liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 cup cold water
1 to 2 tsp cheese salt (which is to say coarse grain, not iodized salt)
Rubber gloves (fresh ones! you are handling food)
thermometer that goes as low as 55 and as high as 175
Stainless steel pot
Slotted spoon

Ballingcheese Here is the recipie at Mother Earth News for the Mozzarella. Print off the instructions there (and poke around their site for other DIY stuff if you are so inclined).

Cocktail: Kaluha and milk (embrace the ridiculous amount of milk you have!)

1. Citric acid and rennet (I got a vegeterian substitute) can be found at your local natural health food store. Rennet is in the cold section and citric acid is with the beer brewing supplies. (Clearly you can get milk and rubber gloves at your grocery store.)

2. Gather your supplies. Tell yourself you will be successful, despite the fact that you are working within narrow temperature ranges and are exhausted from your day. 

3. Take a sip of your drink. Remember to drink slowly because you need all your focus on the task at hand for the next thirty minutes.

4. Follow instructions, drink slow. Enjoy this quality time with milk products.

5. Your cheese is "best fresh" but "can be stored in the refrigerator for a week or so".

So was I successful? Sure was! The first go around, this ended up being 1 hour mozzarella but it was worth it! Yum!

Too Cute Tuesday: Matching Desk Sets

Too Cute Tuesday is a weekly series where we drink a lovely cocktail and make a cute craft, usually in an effort to save money and be stylish. I didn't realize what a popular feature this would end up being so I initally didn't link all the TCT posts together. I'm working on that now. In the meantime, you can get most of the list on the "Home Improvement" section. If you craft and cocktail, do email me your ideas and maybe we can work together on a post!

DesksetDesk sets are so pretty and practical but at $30+ apiece, why invest? No doubt you've already repurposed a mug for your pencils or bought some discount supplies at different times when you've needed them (my binders from student teaching, my magazine organizer post Domino subscription, etc.). Your desk accessories are functional but not matching, which is fine. But a couple hours and a can of spray paint later, you can have the look of matching office supplies for the cost of $5. Bonus is you get to feel cool and alternative like a graffiti artist.

Spray paint is such a fast and instant change, it's perfect on those nights where you're kind of tired but still want to do something productive. The cocktail tonight equally reflects my laziness.

Officesuppliesbefore Spray paint (two colors if you want a two toned look (see left) though one can of white, black, or metallic paint will work)- $5 a can
Newspapers (to protect your floor- alternatively you could do it outside on your lawn)
Painters tape (if you want to protect some areas from getting spray painted in achieving your two-toned look)
Office supplies that need a makeover (take off any stickers and make sure the surfaces are otherwise clean and ready for spray paint)

Cocktail: Cheap white wine, with a screw top (even less work!)

1. Stop by your favorite hardware store, say "Hi" to your buddies there, and buy some spray paint. Try one can, it should be enough to do what you want to do intially. If you like the color, you can always get more.

Officesuppliesafter 2. Go home and change into something comfortable that you can get a little paint-y. White wine you can open with a twist is perfect to accompany your painting.

3. Spread newspaper (if applicable) and spread your office supplies on it. Spread them far apart for each other; you want to keep your spray smooth for each item.

4. Shake the spray can and spray each object gently. Keep the spray can moving to keep the finish smooth. Don't worry about getting the paint job finished the first coat. The key with spray paint is multiple thin layers.

5. Let your items dry while sipping wine.

6. Every twenty minutes, feel free to add a coat of paint. Sip. Paint. Sip. Rotate your objects and spray some more until you have a nice even finish.

*7. If you are two-toning your deskware, put painter's tape where you'd like Paint Number 1 to stay. Continue with Paint 2 as you did Paint 1. Is the two toned effect worth it? If you attempt, let me know!

You and spray paint. Now isn't that crafty!

Before photo: Nicole's sad jumble of functional but blah office materials
After photo: Nicole's stuff moves into the future as a cohesive unit, ready to accomplish more and look good doing it!

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