Handmade Holiday Tutorials

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! …Sorta. I don’t know about all of you, but shopping for holiday gifts is intensely stressful for me. Between going to stores and fighting the crowds, worrying about whether or not an item is in stock (or will ship on time), or just not finding the perfect thing for the geek in your life, holiday shopping can be a real hassle.

So in an effort to be thrifty/clear my ridiculous fabric stash and hand out some more personalized gifts this year, I DIY-ed most of my gifts! Here’s a round-up of my favorite quick-ish and easy tutorials if you’re still looking for the perfect gift this year:

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Stanley Tree: This is a free pattern from Sewaholic! I made this tree out of some super adorable Avengers fabric I got at Jo-Ann’s several months ago. The first one went to my work white elephant gift exchange, and my co-workers loved it! I left mine plain out of time concerns, but you can easily add bells, ornaments, and ribbons for a bit of extra flair.

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Infinity Scarves: These are way easier than I expected! I cobbled this one together from scraps of exploding Tardis fabric and some fleece, so it’s totally reversible. I also made one out of wool for another gift. This does require a touch of hand-sewing, but it’s still a super fast project. My first one took about an hour (again, cobbling together several pieces of fabric), and my second one took around 30 minutes.

Throw Blanket: I have a ridiculous amount of wool in my fabric stash, but I had no clue what to do with it. After some digging, I figured out how to turn it into an easy throw blanket! All you have to do with this project is cut the fabric to your desired length and trim it in double-fold blanket edging. You could get real fancy and add a lining and batting for a super cozy blanket.

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Reversible bag: I’ve made a few versions of this bag, and it’s a great introduction to making your own purse! Try geeky fabrics on both sides for a fantastic convention bag, or put a more subdued fabric on the outside for a more subtle purse.

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Pillow cases: These are super quick to make and easy to customize! For a basic pillow, all you need is about a quarter yard of fabric depending on how large you want your pillow to be. From there, you can do just about anything! For a very simple approach, try an envelope pillow. If you’re ready to go further, add an invisible zipper, some piping, a liner for a reversible pillow, contrasting fabric on the backside, or make a character themed pillow like the one Space Cadet Cosplay and I made. I’ll post a tutorial (and possibly a pattern) on this after the holidays.

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Bow clutch: I love, love, love making these clutches if you can’t tell. While I’d hesitate to recommend this to a straight-up beginner, they are fairly straightforward if you’ve got a bit of experience under your belt. Don’t want to make one? Grab one from my Etsy shop! There’s still time for you U.S. folks to snag one for Christmas 🙂

Here are a few other tutorials that I haven’t tried yet, but are on my radar for next year/belated gifts for this year:

Are you DIY-ing any gifts this year? 

Etsy Shop is Live!

If you’ve been following for a while, you know that I’ve been talking about getting an Etsy shop up and running for several months now. So over the holiday weekend, I sat down and made an initial run of geeky themed bow clutches.

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Avengers clutch

When I initially set out to open a shop, I had a hard time narrowing down what I wanted to focus on. Pillows and handbags are great, but there are lots of those already available on Etsy. What I hadn’t seen before were nerd-friendly clutches quite like the ones I’ve made (based on the Elm Street Life tutorial). With a little color blocking, these clutches go from basic zipper bag to a super cute clutch ready for the con floor.

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Wonder Woman – Supergirl – Batgirl clutch

I made my first set of bow clutches back in 2013 out of some scrap fabric. I gave one to my mom as a gift and kept one for myself. My mom and I both still use our initial clutches on a regular basis. Mine is most often used as a make-up bag, but I also use it as my con bag while in costume. It’s just big enough to hold my contact cards, phone, money, and touch-up make-up. Plus, it’s small enough to be discreet and easy to hide when I pose for photos. I’ve made several similar clutches out of scrap costume fabric when I want an exact match!

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My Belle clutch was made of leftover satin and brocade so I wouldn’t have to constantly worry about passing it off to a friend or setting it down when posing. Photo by Gone Catawampus

My favorite clutches from this initial run are the Star Wars ones, both the black and grey bows. The black fabric is a mystery poly blend, and the grey is a cotton sateen.

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Star Wars in grey

I hope you guys like these! I have some ideas for Moonie themed ones in the near future, and a few people have already requested Dr. Who. If you have suggestions or requests for future clutches, let me know!

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Star Wars in black

I’m running a sale on everything in my store right now (which also includes some of my older costumes). Use the offer code GEEKYSEWS10 by 7/12/15 for 10% off of your purchase.

How do you store your con essentials while in costume? 

A Tour of my Sewing Space

After almost eight months, my sewing room is (almost) finished! I was really particular about how I wanted my sewing room to look in my new house. I spend a lot of time in there, and I wanted it to be a space that I would really enjoy using and a space that would be highly functional.

Here’s a quick look at some of my favorite features:

cutting tableCutting Table: This is still my favorite part of my craft room. It’s got ample space for fabric, patterns, sewing tools, and even my comic books! Over the holidays, I spent some time weeding and organizing my fabric and pattern stashes. I gave the fabric boxes labels so I wouldn’t have to rifle through several bins (I’m a fabric hoarder. Shhh…). I’d still like to digitize and further organize my pattern collection, but that will have to wait until summer or the next time I decide to take a personal day.

pegboard finalPegboard Organization: This has been SO USEFUL. Seriously, this clears up so much room on my table for big sewing projects. I love that everything is in arm’s reach. Also, the iPad rack has been a fantastic addition to my craft room. I don’t watch much Netflix while sewing these days, but it’s still useful for podcasts and Spotify.

Sewing Table: This was a gift from my stepmother when I first started sewing. I really love this thing. It folds in to be more compact, but I don’t really need to do that since I’m not in an apartment anymore. The door on the table has racks to sort notions and it’s where I keep my pins, Wundertape, marking tools, etc. I sort the rest of my notions with spare shoe boxes on the shelves to the right of the desk. There’s plenty of space for another machine, but I prefer to keep my serger on a spare folding table for lots of room.tumblr_nloalsSJED1sxq29yo1_500

Curtain Rod Paper Dispenser: I mentioned in my last Instagram post that I added this recently. I use large rolls of butcher paper to trace and draft my patterns, and it was annoying to keep the roll in place while I was working. A cheap $10 rod over my sewing table was the perfect solution!

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Giant Closet: This has been a lifesaver for storing old costumes. In my old apartment, I had to cram costumes into underbed storage boxes and hope and pray that things wouldn’t get ruined. I’ve got a huge closet now to give everything space (and keep my bedroom closet clear of cosplay).

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Display shelf: This was one of the final hold-ups for my craft room. I had 2 tubs of collectibles sitting on the floor for months. Over the holidays, I finally caved and bought a cheap 5 level bookshelf from Target. The top 3 shelves are for my collectibles and the bottom levels are for overflow fabrics.

Of course, there are still a few small tweaks I’d like to make eventually. My next big to-do is installing a kind of drape on the ceiling so I have a good spot to photograph costumes on my dress form. I now have 3 sewing machines, so I’d like to pick up a long table for my serger and embroidery machine next time I go to IKEA. I’d also like to hang some of my favorite comic covers in sleeves around the top of my wall.

Do you have a dedicated craft space? What’s your favorite part about it?

I Mustache You to Hold Something

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Happy Monday! Now that we’re past Christmas, I can talk about a DIY gift I made for my boyfriend.  My guy’s been slightly obsessed with his facial hair recently, so all of his gifts this year were themed around mustaches and beards. He broke his iPad case earlier this year and never got around to replacing it, so I thought this would be a good mix of fun and practical.

There are a ton of iPad sewing patterns available on the Internet, but surprisingly few that actually double as viewing stands. Most are sleeves, more or less. The BF also has an older generation iPad, so I had to take that into consideration as well. I probably could have made alterations to an existing one or drafted one myself, but laziness. After some searching, I ultimately went with this one from Katie’s Modern Nest.

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Overall, it was a pretty easy pattern to follow. There are ample instructions and diagrams. The pieces are mostly rectangles and squares, so as long as you can sew a straight line, you can make this pattern. All in all, it took me about 3 hours from cutting to finish. Or 4ish episodes of Once Upon a Time.

I also got the supplies kit from Katie’s store, since I wasn’t sure where to purchase masonite, which is used to give the case structure. Turns out, you can get it from a hardware store, which is good to know next time I need a case.

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The Basics: 

Pattern: The Nesting Case for iPad 2

Fabric: Fat quarter mustache fabric, fat quarter black cotton (stash)

Alterations: None. I intended to remove the outside pocket, but the flap piece for the pocket is necessary to keep the tablet in viewing position.

Notions: Thread, velcro, button, elastic loop, masonite, stabilizer, interfacing.

Make it again?: Definitely if I need another iPad case. To be honest, I really want another one for myself.

Favorite parts: I love this fabric and how sturdy the case is. We’ve used it quite a bit since Christmas and it looks like the case will hold up quite well.

Other thoughts: This is the first iPad pattern that actually has all of the elements I look for in an iPad case. If I were to remake this, I’d probably take off the interior pockets, since I don’t think the BF will use them. Still, they still make for a very attractive case.

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Did you make or receive any DIY gifts this year? 

DIY Cutting Table

I finally cleaned off my cutting table for you guys! Behold, one of my new favorite things:

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And the clouds opened up and the angels sang.

You all know how much I love my pegboard organization system. It’s the best. But this cutting table may take the cake.

I knew when I moved that I wanted a HUGE cutting table. I spent many nights shifting around my poor cutting mat on the floor of my old apartment, squeezing into corners so that I wouldn’t miss anything (Seriously, cutting my Ms. Marvel dress was a pain in the butt). This mat takes so much pressure off my back when I’m cutting!

To create a cutting table like mine, you’ll need the following:

While I was researching, I noticed that a lot of people hacked together storage cubes to create desks (If you go that route, I highly recommend taking a look here, here, here, and here)! I already had a set of Target storage cubes that I was using as a dresser in my old apartment, so I built off of that. I decided that I didn’t want an actual table to sit at since I already have my sewing desk, so I bought additional storage cubes and pushed them flush against each other.

Several of the  tutorials I read (this one specifically) suggested making your table the same height as  your navel. I’m 5’11”, so mine sits at a comfortable 36″ without risers. You may have to adjust how you arrange your cubes (mine are stacked 3 vertically) and add risers if you’re shorter.

Once your cubes are flush, you have the option of making them more stable with flat brackets. I ultimately decided against this, since 1) I’m a renter and would like to move everything out eventually), and 2) my tabletop holds everything in place pretty well.

Now that your cubes are situated, grab some sticky Velcro! Place your velcro around the edges of your table and place the corresponding pieces on the bottom of your table top. Between the weight of the table and this Velcro my table is pretty solid (unless you push directly against the side). If you want something sturdier, you can use L-shaped brackets to attach your cubes to the bottom of your tabletop.

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Mmmm… Velcro.

One more tiny step: grab your kitchen drawer roll and place it on top of your table, then set out your cutting mat(s). I already had a small cutting mat, so I waited until Jo-Ann’s had a sale and bought my large one for $20. This means that I now have a cutting area 6′ long! Perfect for making ball gowns.

The kitchen mat I used to hold my cutting mat in place.
The kitchen mat I used to hold my cutting mat in place.

You’re done! Now go fill up those cubes and get to cutting. Here’s a look at how I filled mine:

My main sewing side. The top two rows are fabric and the bottom row is patterns.
My main sewing side. The top two rows are fabric and the bottom row is patterns.
The geeky/fun side. This holds most of my comics, trades, Japanese study materials, and manga!
The geeky/fun side at the end of the table. This holds most of my comics, trades, Japanese study materials, and manga!
Additional craft supplies. I have slots for my sewing books, wig supplies, paints, irons, PDF patterns, and some miscellaneous books.
Additional craft supplies. I have slots for my sewing books, wig supplies, paints, irons, PDF patterns, and some miscellaneous books.

I hope this helps some potential cube hackers out! Do you have a cutting/craft table? If so, please share!

DIY Pegboard Organization

I’ve you follow my Instagram or Facebook page, you’ve probably seen my new pegboard! I installed it about a week ago and I honestly can’t imagine my new craft space without it. Even though I have a whole room to myself now, having my pegboard clears up so much space on my sewing table and helps me keep everything in its place.

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Today, I’ll give you a brief overview of how I put it together and some tips on making your own!

To get started, you’ll need the following:

  • Pegboard, cut to your desired measurements (found in the plywood section of your local home improvement store). For reference, mine is 2’x4′.
  • Wood boards for a base
  • Drywall screws (if you’re going directly into drywall)
  • Stud finder (optional, but recommended)
  • Screw driver
  • Wood screws
  • Drill
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Pegboard organization tools

Once you’ve gathered all of your required materials, it’s time to figure out where to put your pegboard. Identify the area on your wall and use your stud finder to locate studs. If you don’t have studs available, you’ll need drywall screws and mounts. Otherwise your pretty pegboard will fall on your head!

Confession: I did use a stud finder, but either I calibrated it wrong (likely) or my entire wall is made up of wires, in which case it’s very good that I’m still alive to write this (only kind of kidding. Do exercise caution). 

Mark up where you’re going to place your pegboard. Now it’s time to setup a frame to support your pegboard. Drill the boards into the studs or drywall.

I’m a derp and forgot to take pictures of this step, so here’s a mini-guide (but Positively Splendid has a much better one). For reference, I had a 2’x4′ piece of pegboard and used 3 2′ boards horizontally as the base. The top and bottom boards are about 6″ from the edges and the middle board is right in the center. 

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Protip: Measure your pegboard and aim to fit the boards so that the holes of your pegboard are over the frame. This will make screwing the pegboard to the frame much easier.

Once your frame is in place, find a willing (or unwilling, but bribe-able) set of hands to help you. Hold up your pegboard and drill the pegboard into the base. I used three screws on the top and bottom shelf. I was a derp (again) and didn’t get the middle shelf lined up properly, so there’s no screws in it. If you plan to put a lot of weight on your board, you’ll need those screws, but my tools are on the lighter side of things, so I’m not super worried.

middle frame

Time to organize and decorate! I picked up a large pegboard organization kit ($10) from Home Depot as well as a set of pegboard baskets ($10) to organize my tools. I definitely should have gone with the small organization kit, but I don’t mind having the extra tools in case I decide to setup another pegboard.

I decided to put up all of my high-use tools on my pegboard. My serger and sewing threads were an absolute must on the board, mostly because they take up an absurd amount of space on my desk. I also decided to put up my small rotary board, measuring tools, scissors and rotary cutters, and pliers. I’ve also got a small basket for fabric glue and a quasi-bookshelf that I can use for my iPad. I also put up my color ring from Arda, because it’s too darn pretty to leave in my wig box.

I still have a few things I’d like to sort out and shift, but I’m very pleased with this new arrangement. If you’re interested in making your own, but you aren’t in love with the flat white or brown that pegboard comes in, there are a lot of creative things you can do to spruce it up:

I hope this helps anyone looking to make their own pegboard! Do you use a pegboard to organize your craft space? If so, please share in the comments! Next week, I’ll show you another new favorite in my craft room: my storage-friendly cutting table! 

Holiday Gift Sewing

I decided to sew a few things for various people over the holidays. Pretty much people that I have no idea what else to get them, so something handmade seems more appropriate than a giftcard or a hug. One of these people is my boyfriend’s mother, who I will be meeting for the first time over the holidays. Please excuse me while I go have a mini-panic attack.

Okay, so, what to make? Well, I’ve mentioned my love of Craftsy before. They’ve got a lot of great free mini-lessons, so I finally sat down and made a reversible tote. The BF has mentioned his mom’s love of wine, so I found some cute wine-themed quilting cotton and matching brown and red fabrics. All in all, the fabric cost about $15.

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Photo Dec 14, 7 48 42 AM

It’s a pretty straightforward project, only taking about an hour or so. I particularly like the boxed edges on the bottom. The only thing that didn’t make sense was the pocket. I mucked mine up and didn’t have enough fabric to re-do, so I just skipped it. Next time!

The tutorial also includes a zipper-bag if you want to make a matching one. I’m definitely planning to revisit this tutorial for some character-themed con bags. Wonder Woman and Rogue are first up on the list.