Category Archives: Craft Challenge

Christmas Ornament Advent Countdown



Lynne : This is my second ornament for our 2013 countdown. I am in love with trees right now and have been drawing them over and over so it seemed natural to find an ornament that looked like a tree. I was browsing through google images and I found this article from Just Something I Made by Cathe Holden about how to make bottle brush trees. Since I do not have much need for bottle brushes any more I was delighted to find that she uses rope and wire for her trees and shapes them with scissors. And as a bonus I could use my Copic airbrush system to color the trees.

Cathe Holden website:
Just Something I Made by Cathe Holden

Here is the tutorial:
Handmade Colorful Bottle Brush Trees

You will need these things:
Wire cutters
Rope (sisal, jute, or any twisted fiber)
Hook (shaped from a wire coat hanger or from a small S-hook)
Vise (or something that will hold the wires securely when twisting them with the drill)
Copic airbrush (optional)


I already had some jute, but when I untwisted the fibers I thought they were too fuzzy and too fragile. I made a trip to the hardware store and found some thick rope that is used on farms. (I remember swinging on the hay ropes as a child. When my grandparents weren’t looking of course.) I cut my rope into lengths of 3 to 4 inches and then began to untwist the fibers. When I had an amount that looked like it would make a full Christmas tree I laid the fiber between the wires as described in the tutorial. It is so nice that you can make two at once by cutting on the diagonal.

I didn’t have a wire coat hanger to make into a hook for the drill because I don’t like the sound they make rattling in the closet. So I took an S-hook and straightened one end so that it would fit into the drill. You can see it in the drill in the photo. I put the wire ends in my vise and inserted the hook in the top of the wire and the wire began to spiral just like it was supposed to. I noticed that the fiber also tangles and you do need to spend some time straightening and combing the fibers to approximate the shape of your tree. Then I used small scissors to cut the final shape. It’s best to do this over something you can throw away because the fibers are very small and sticklish.

When I had the shape I wanted I looked for something to hold them while I spray painted them and found an empty Kleenex box. The wires poked in easily and the setup worked, but I think I’d rather have had a piece of styrofoam. I’m sure we’ll have some after unwrapping presents and I intend to save a piece for a painting stand.

To color the trees I used mostly blues and yellows and finished with a dark green. I start with the lightest yellow and spray the whole tree. Then I concentrate yellow on the ends of the branches using what yellows look good on the fibers. I then use blues from the lightest to the darkest making sure that the lightest yellows remain as free as possible of the blues. The yellows and blues make a lovely variety of shades of green as they are sprayed one on top of the other. I use a dark green to deepen the shadows between the branches to create more depth in the tree. I touch up the yellow and the tree is almost done.

I bent the stem wire with pliers into an X-shape for the bases, but you could use cork or wood or just about anything for a base.

These trees look so good and once you have everything laid out, they work up very quickly. I hope you have as much fun making them as I did.

Purse Project

bag 021713 003Purse project

Cheri-Okay, I do have to admit, it was hard. It was really hard to try to top the purse I made last year. It may not be as nice, but it does fill my needs.


Sewing machine

2 belts-khaki

pillow sham


Pillow shams make great purses. The shams are often quilted and they are normally the right size.

Wash and dry the sham, and lay out flat. Cut off the back fabric and lay a coordinating fabric on top. Cut the fabric to fit. Put the fabric and sham right side to right side and sew around the entire sham leaving a small opening so you can turn it right side out.

After you have turned it right side out, put the fabric together again with the right sides together. Sew up each side to make a sack. You could make a tote by just adding handles at this point, but I like to make my bag a bit more interesting.

When I am at sales I have a tendency to pick up webbed belts. Not only is the hardware handy but I like to use the fabric on purses. I took a belt that was wide and sewed it all around the purse. I used the clasp part for the purse closure. I also used what I had cut off to make loops to hold the handle.

In the end I am really pleased with the finished product. I would like to make an organizer to put inside of it. This would make it even more functional.

bag 021713 004

Crocheted earmuffs in cream and black wool yarn.

Crafty Challenge 12: Headwarmer – Earmuffs

Crocheted earmuffs in cream and black wool yarn.

Our most recent crafty challenge was to make a headwarmer. This could be in any color, material, style or shape. Cheri was ahead of us all and posted her adorable recycled sweater hat here. We gave ourselves 3 weeks to make this particular challenge as we were all still recovering from the holidays. I had mine done in less than a week and then had to try very had not to talk about it or brag about it. Of course, this early birdness of me is now completely offset by my late posting.

I love earmuffs, but have never been able to find a satisfactory pair. The never stay on my head or they don’t cover my ears very well. I also hate hats as I have very static prone hair. I knew as soon as we started talking about a headwarmer challenge that earmuffs were my challenge.

I bought a cheap set of fleece wrap-around earmuffs for less than $2. I then cut the fleece off the wire and used the wire for the base of my earmuffs. I have some lovely wool yarn, one skein in cream and another in black. I also received this gigantic spool of very fine black alpaca yarn on year for Christmas. I took all three yarns and crocheted my earmuffs with this lovely and warm combination.

Crocheted earmuffs made on wire frame.

I crocheted 4 circles in double crochet, all the same size and just big enough to cover my ears. I then held two of these circles on either side of the ear part of the wire frame and using half-double crochet, I stitched the circles together. I really wanted the double thickness which provides amazing protection from cold and wind. You could also put some stuffing or quilting in between the two circles if you wanted poofy earmuffs (this would be very cute for a child).

After stitching both circles on the frame, I then single crocheted around the length of wire between the ear pieces. To keep from having to weave-in ends, I folded the ends from the ear pieces under the single crochet. This made the back wire a little thicker and made it so I only had the ends from this last stretch to weave-in.

Crocheted earmuffs in black and cream wool yarn.

This completed my earmuffs. This project took me all of about 2 hours and most of that was just figuring out what stitch I wanted to use to make the circles. I have been wearing these for weeks now and just love them. They are comfortable, very warm, and I haven’t had cold ears at all this year!

Happy Crafting!


Headwarmer challenge

Hat from a sweater.


Sweater- I found a beautiful wool sweater at Goodwill for under $2.00. Stripes make measuring easier



Sewing machine

Embroidery needle and floss

Lay out the sweater and cut all the seams. This will give you a good idea of how much fabric you have to work with. Fold the fabric over in to an inside out rectangle. Sew along the top and the back. This will give you a tube that is closed at one end.

Turn right side out and grab the two corners at the top of the hat. Sew through the triangles created and then tie your thread very tight. This will give you some very cute kitty ears.

Turn up the hem and tack in several places with needle and embroidery floss. I made several knots all the way around.


Place a cup on the wrong side of the fabric and mark with a marker. Cut out the circles. Embroider a running stitch around the outside of the circle. Gather it up, this makes a yo-yo. Run a stitch around the outside of the yo-yo and pull tight to make the flower petals. Do this 8 times or the number of petals you would like. Sew a button in the center to make a center.

Attach the flowers evenly around the outside of the hat.

And there you go, a beautiful, unique and very warm hat that any little kitty/flower girl would love.

hat 009

Completed hat

hat 006

Close up of flowers




Day two “Ornament Advent Countdown”.

Cheri-December 12, 2012. Day two of “The Crafty Sisters Advent Ornaments“.
Snowflake ornament made with Tinker Toys

This is a super simple ornament to make and it really is pretty neat. It may not make the best ornament as it is a little large but it would be a great tree topper or a wall hanging.

All you need to do is get some Tinker Toys and pegs. I found some orphaned ones at a garage sale last summer and decided to give them a new life.

The design fell in to place pretty easily and then, I just hot glued the pieces together.

The hard part for me was the painting. Spray paint seemed to be the best way to go, but the paint soaked right in to the Tinker Toys. After several coats (and a patchy finish), eventually I finished painting it with acrylic paint and glittered it.

This was a fun project and the possibilities are endless.

Merry Christmas-Cheri

snowflake12212 009



Wreath of copper leaves

Crafty Challenge 11: Copper Fall Wreath

Hello Again! I feel like I have been incommunicado for a very long time. All the Crafty Sisters got together last weekend for our latest Crafty Challenge. This challenge was to make a fall wreath.

Wreath of copper leaves
The wreath is 15″ tall and 13″ wide.

Due to everything in our house breaking down all at the same time, I was under a bit of a money crunch so I knew whatever I made, I had to have all the supplies already on hand. It helped that as soon as we started talking about a fall wreath, I was picturing a leaf wreath made of copper. And as some of you might remember, we did that wonderful Copper Crafty Challenge a while back and I still had a lot of the copper discs leftover from the copper necklace I made. The discs are remarkably easy to cut with heavy-duty scissors and I knew that they would make beautiful leaves.

Here you can really see the oily effect that burnishing the leaves created.

So, I started cutting and cutting and cutting. I had some very interesting dimples in my fingers from the force of cutting the copper discs, but I had some amazing maple leaf shapes. I also knew that I wanted to burnish the leaves to create different colors. I pulled out my trusty propane torch and proceeded to burn the crap out of one of the leaves. I learned very quickly that you only wanted to brush the copper leaves with heat very quickly. If you wanted a deeper color, you just kept running the torch over the copper quickly and letting it cool a second and repeat to the color desired. Thankfully, the blackened portions just wipe off and you can burnish again to your hearts content. I then bent the leaves very gently with a pair of pliers to give them some depth.

I did not coat the copper leaves with anything as I really will like the aging effect on the copper.

I made the ring the leaves are attached to as well, the wreath frame that is. I had a length of copper pipe (again left over from the Copper Challenge that I never used) and I ran a wire through the pipe and bent it all in a circle. I used the wire to make a hanger at the top of the frame. It turned out that the length of pipe was not long enough, but as I originally planned to let the pipe show through in some places, I would just make sure the leaves covered the wire parts of the wreath frame. I then used one of my hammers and my anvil to flatten the pipe to make the leaves attach better.

Here you can see the depth of the copper leaves.

I knew that my personal soldering abilities were not good enough to be able to place the leaves exactly where I wanted them so I switched my connecting component to hot glue. This worked out very well and I was able to place the leaves precisely where I wanted each one to go. I then flipped the wreath over and poured hot glue all over the frame where it connected to the leaves. This gave the wreath lots of stability and now absolutely nothing moves.

Photo showing wreath hanging from my loft
This is where I hang my wreathes in the house.

I am so happy with my wreath and it is now hanging in my house and just looks gorgeous. I did have a good laugh at the unveiling though. You will find out when more wreaths are posted! Amazingly, working with all that cut copper, I never did cut myself. This may be the first project in a while that didn’t end with a few bandaged fingers.

Happy Crafting,


Side view of felt flower magnets.

Crafty Challenge 10: Felt Flower Magnets

So, we didn’t announce our latest challenge publicly, but we decided to make magnets! I have still been having too much fun with felt lately and figured that what better material to use for my magnets.

Overhead view of all 18 felt flower magnets.
Here are all 18 magnets that I made.

I decided to make felt flower magnets and as usual, I giggled my way through the project. Something about felt is so much fun and is so enjoyable that I just laugh and chuckle the whole time. I think it is also one of the few materials that I can almost always get exactly what I imagined in my head created with my hands.

Side view of felt flower magnets.
Here you can see the depth of each flower magnet.

I bought myself a bunch of magnets from our local hardware store, Kleindorfer’s. They have everything! The magnets are wonderful and are just right for holding miscellaneous objects to my fridge. I used that wonderful crafter staple, Aleene’s Tacky Glue to hold everything together and the felt is just standard crafter’s felt that I have bought from Joann’s and Michael’s.

Side view of felt flower magnets.

I used Google Images with the search on “flowers” and made most of my magnets based on photos of flowers I saw there. I didn’t use any patterns for these flowers, just cut out shapes that fit the petals I was trying to create. Some of the flowers are just images from my head and an imaginative use of various petal shapes.

Top view of felt flower magnets.

I did go through the flowers afterwards and do some tugging and pulling to be sure that all the petals and stamens would hold well. I had to touch up a few places with some more glue, but I think they will stand up to regular use very well.

Top view of felt flower magnets.

I had a lot of fun with this project and cannot wait for the next one!

Top view of felt flower magnets.
I just love the chrysanthemum shape!

Happy crafting,


Finished chair

Crafty Challenge 9: Kitchen Chair Re-upholstery

Here we are! I managed to get my chair finished and before our display among ourselves even, although it then took me a week and a half to get the post up and ready.

The chair I chose to makeover is one of my kitchen chairs. Years ago, I received this wonderful 50’s table and chairs set from Memom (Mom to two Craftysisters and Grandmother to the other two). I loved the set, but the upholstery on the chairs was getting old and there were a few tears here and there. I decided that I would reupholster them, attempting to keep the same general style of vinyl, but more modern and more to my color scheme.

Original chair before re-upholstery

Original chair back with cruddy and old furniture tacks.
Here you can see the old and cruddy furniture tacks that I replaced.

I have actually already re-upholstered four of the six chairs and had started on a fifth when I made a common (well, common for me) error in judgement. I tried to used a piece of vinyl that was just a little too small. I was running out of material and didn’t want to buy some more (this even though I would need to buy more to finish the last chair). I have a tendency to make this sort of decision when I am too tired and should really just put the project away for a while. Well, maybe I learned my lesson this time. Anyway, I had already taken the chair back off and it was mostly finished, when the problems with the too small piece of vinyl really became apparent. There was no way to hide the staples holding the vinyl in place as the staples could not be placed in their proper positions due to the smaller size of the vinyl. At this point, my frustration in having to take all those darn staples out yet again caused me to set the whole project aside for about a year and a half. Of course, all this time the chair has sat upstairs in my loft as an impalement accident waiting to happen as the chair back was never put back on.

So, along comes this excellent opportunity to get back in the swing of chair re-upholstery and finally get at least another chair finished.

I found the color of vinyl that I wanted for the seats at Great Lakes Fabrics and bought quite a bit of it as I wanted extra for possible repairs later. The material is marine vinyl and I will eventually replace the backs with material from there as it is extremely durable. I wanted a marbleized effect that was reminiscent of the original fabric and this was similar and yet was much more my color style. I also purchased a large quantity of chrome half-dome furniture tacks from the same place. The white vinyl for the chair backs I purchased at Joann’s. I used high loft quilt batting from Joann’s for padding in my chair backs and a double layer of this for the chair seats.

Taking the chairs apart proved to be a great exercise is damaging fingers. I learned very quickly the importance of a good tack puller, pliers and wire cutters. There are over a hundred chrome half-dome furniture tacks on the back of each chair and that plus more than a hundred staples, makes taking the chairs apart a real chore. This is the step I really learned to dread more and more with each chair. I absolutely love the finished product though, so it is well worth it in the long run.

Finished chair

As this is my fifth chair to finish in the set, I can say that I have really learned a lot about re-upholstering kitchen chairs.

1. Always have excess material. You can cut off excess, you cannot add on more material after it has already been cut.

2. Wire cutters work very well to remove tacks and staples. The sharp edge grabs onto the tack or staple and pulls them out very handily.

3. Sub-staples, Sub-staples, Sub-staples. I got this from Craftysister Loryn who got it from Design Sponge. These are temporary staples put in at an angle and are meant to         be removed. Design Sponge has a series of wonderful upholstery posts that describe everything you would really ever need to know about re-upholstery. I really wish I had seen these tutorials before I got started on my kitchen chairs. This pretty much guarantees that I will be re-doing the first four chairs again.

Finished chair.

I am very, very happy with how my chair turned out and may actually get to the last chair in the set this week sometime. I am off all this week so, other than the heat, I have no excuse for not getting the last chair finished (other than the realization that I need to re-do the first four chair backs again anyway.).

Chair back with new chrome furniture tacks.

I just love how sub-staples make the finishing on the chair backs so easy! When I look at this chair compared to the first four, I just cringe.

Happy Crafting,


Chair Challenge

Cheri- It doesn’t seem to matter how much time we have for a challenge, I seem to always wait until the last minute to complete it.

Over the years, I’ve collected several chairs that need to be painted/redone.  I started with 3 chairs that I’ve had for a while and decided to try a different technique on each one. If I didn’t like how my chair was coming along, I’d move on to a different one.

The camp chair was my third try. It was a garage sale find and was a lot more unique than my other attempts. The bad part of the project, was that the canvas needed to be replaced. For a folding chair, this is a pretty major fix as the chairs stability depends on the canvas seat and the back.

After pulling off the canvas, I was amazed by the wonderful wooden skeleton the chair had. of course now I was faced with the daunting task of showing off the chair without covering it up too much.

After mulling it over in my head for a bit, I decided that something transparent would be best for the back. It just happened that I  picked up some unused medical tubing at another garage sale that would be perfect for the back of the chair. I dremelled about 12 holes on each side of the back. Then I took the tubing and wrapped it around the chair, tacking it in each place that had previously been drilled.

The back of the chair looked great, next came the seat. I first tried to use the tubing again, but the tubing needs to be held tight and this chair folds. I had some leather in my material stash and dug it out. It was a perfect fit to replace the canvas seat of the chair.

It needs a few more tweaks, but the finished product came out pretty cool.



Photo of a garage stuffed to the rafters.

Crafty Challenge 9: Chair Repair

Photo of a garage stuffed to the rafters.

Every single one of the Crafty Sisters has at least one chair in their house or in storage that is in desperate need of a repair/makeover. This challenge is all about getting one chair checked off our projects to complete list.

This time, part of the challenge is to document the whole process for you, our readers. You will get to see the befores and afters, as well as the steps we took (and possible failures we had to overcome) to complete the challenge.

Because this is a bit more time consuming than some of our other challenges, we are giving ourselves three weeks to finish this Crafty Challenge. We have until June 23rd to complete our Chair Repair Challenge!

All the Crafty Sisters have a storage space that looks like the photo above. Finding only one chair that needs to be repaired and made over is the hard part, so wish us luck!


Happy Crafting,