crafts, sewing, tutorials

a wildcards tutorial: fly, fabric frisbee, fly!

Snow? Goodbye. Cold? So long. Wind? Please leave now. We wanna go OUTSIDE!

Spring is appearing in bits and pieces here in northern Utah. We can stare at our snowcapped mountains while the tips of tulip leaves pop up at our feet. During winter’s final flurries, I wanted to cozy up and make something fun for my two boys to play with outside. During spring’s start-ups, we’ll have something fresh and fun to enjoy.

Enter a fabric frisbee!

FrisbeeYou can use this frisbee outdoors or in, actually… we’ve tried it both ways. My advice when using it indoors? Set a rule for low-flying only. Then hope for the best.

This little frisbee is a cinch to stitch, and promises no black eyes or goose eggs when it hits you directly in the face (and you can bet with a six- and two-year old flinging it around, it will). The rope encased inside gives it a sturdiness that will guarantee high-flying feats. Outdoors only for the feats, of course.

Let’s get started!


fly, fabric frisbee, fly! tutorial

Frisbee1 What you’ll need:

  • two coordinating fat quarters–one lighter, one darker
  • large scrap of fabric for the background square and background letters
  • circular template (such as a pot lid or plate)
  • ruler, scissors, and glue stick
  • length of ¼"-wide rope (two feet, just to be safe)
  • safety pin
  • needle and thread for hand-sewing

NOTE: I used 100% quilting cottons because they're what caught my eye in my stash. But I think you could use just about anything you have on hand—flannels, denim, or even fleece could be fun. In fact, when I make a second frisbee, I think I’ll try denim for even more durability.

Frisbee2 From the lighter fat quarter, cut two 7 1/2" circles. (The circle size need only be approximate.) From the other fat quarter, cut one 5" square. Round the edges of the square, if desired.

Frisbee4 Find a font you like and print out the word “FLY” in an extra-large point size. Since sizes vary from font to font, you’ll have to experiment a bit to find the right size. Spaced out, the letters should fit at least 1/2" inside the 5" square edges when the square is turned on its side to make a diamond shape. Cut out the letters from the paper and trace them onto the first fat quarter fabric. Cut the letters out just inside your drawn lines.

NOTE: As you can see, there is a second black square in the photo above. I had planned to sew it onto the back of the frisbee, but I removed it to make the design simpler. Please ignore it for our purposes.

ANOTHER NOTE: Try to choose a font that doesn’t feature an “L” that looks more like a “C.” You know, if possible.

Frisbee5 Place your fabric letters onto the background fabric you’ve chosen. Using your glue stick, adhere them to the fabric, spacing the letters at least 1/2" apart.

Frisbee6Cut around the letters, leaving the background fabric about 1/8" wider than the original lettering.

Frisbee8Before you arrange your pieces on your circle, cut one 5 1/2" square from your background fabric, rounding the corners if desired. (I tweaked the design in process and didn’t photograph this step earlier; my apologies.) Now, arrange your pieces on one of the circles: first the 5 1/2" square, then the 5" square, then the letters. Using your glue stick, adhere all the pieces in place.

Frisbee9Sew the 5" square to the circle using a 1/4" seam (it will automatically sew the 5 1/2" square to the circle at the same time). Sew the smaller, darker letters to the circle using a 1/8" seam. Finally, pin and sew the two circles together, leaving a 1 1/2" opening at the bottom for turning. Because it’s hard to see the stitching on my black-and-white fabric, here’s a look from the back side.

Frisbee11 Turn the frisbee inside out. Insert a long, blunt tool (such as a knitting needle or a capped pen) into the frisbee and push out the seam around the outer edges of the circle so it lies flat.

Frisbee12Wash and dry the frisbee using normal cycles so the edges fray up. Press.

Frisbee14Sew a 1/2" seam around the frisbee. This creates your casing for the rope.

Frisbee13Grab your 1/4"-wide rope and cut it to about two feet in length.

Frisbee15Insert a safety pin into the tip of the rope, making sure to thread through all plies of the rope if needed.

Frisbee16Push the safety pin through the casing opening. Gather fabric onto the safety pin; then pull the fabric past the pin and onto the rope. Continue pushing and pulling the rope through the casing until the safety pin comes out the other side of the casing. Distribute the fabric around the rope until the frisbee lies flat.

Frisbee17Overlap the ends of the rope, making sure the point of overlap snuggles up closely inside the casing. Sew through both layers of the overlapped rope; then backstitch to the beginning of your stitching. (Pin the frisbee fabric away from the rope if needed for sewing.) Cut the long ends of the rope close to the stitching. Push the rope back into the casing.  Turn the raw edges of the opening under 1/4" and whipstitch closed.

Now you’re done.




I’m not sure why, but a poem seems fitting at this juncture.


It’s easy to wash,

it's easy to dry.

Head out with your littles

and make that frisbee FLY!


Okay, maybe it’s not a POEM… not in the fancy sense of the word. We’ll call it a rhyme.

Not worth a dime.

No rhythm or time.

So bad it’s a crime.

I do it all the time.


Cheers, crafties!

(P.S. If you're looking for cool new stuff to make out of secondhand stuff, check out my book ReSew. If you click through, thank you!)

crafts, ReSew, sewing, tutorials

Celebrate the BOY with a giveaway (and a special project for your little guy!)

Hi! If you are visiting the wildcards for the first time, you are probably “Celebrating the BOY” this month! I’m so happy to be a part of Rae and Dana’s ingenious creation. Apart, these two women are creative, spunky, inspiring, honest, and funny. Together? Invincible. Thank you both for letting me participate in this year’s festivities!

Since we’re all here because of boys, I thought I would introduce you to mine. Jack is six, and Charlie is two.

Jack1 Jack2

Jack3 Jack4


Charlie-1 Charlie-2

Charlie-3 Charlie-4

 They sure do love each other. And I love the stuffing out of both of them.

I like big butts and I cannot lie.

I’ve always loved sewing—for my boys and for myself—and I’ve always been a thrift-store junkie. I merged my two passions together and came up with a book about it called ReSew: Turn Thrift-Store Finds into Fabulous Designs. And this weekend, in honor of “Celebrate the BOY” month, I’ve got two ReSew giveaways here at the wildcards. And one’s a sure thing!
FIRST—because we’re all looking to find fun ways to sew for our special guys, I’ve put together a project for you to download directly from ReSew. It’s called the “Happy Hat, Mitten, and Scarf Set.” Got an old sweater in colors your little boy loves? Transform it into a hat, and a scarf, and mittens just his size.

Here’s the before…Happy-hat-set-before
and here’s the after.
Yep. That’s my sweet boy. So worth celebrating.

(Hmm. Been awhile since I took this picture. Some of those teeth are gone now.)

Simply click here for the project instructions, wait for the file to open up (takes a minute or so), and save it to your desktop.

There’s your sure thing.

THEN—take a crack at winning your own copy of ReSew, and stitch up something special for yourself! Tops, bottoms, dresses, purses, scarves, and more—20 step-by-step projects include simply-sewn clothing, accessories, and home accents, all refashioned from thrift-store salvaged items.

With ReSew, you can do things like:

* turn a common sweatshirt into a sexy, sleeveless V-neck tank
* transform men’s dress pants into an elegant “cuffed” skirt
* create a cozy, colorful scarf out of a shrunken wool sweater
* turn a brightly colored cotton sweater into a child’s elephant cuddle cushion
Just leave a comment about this post for your chance to win. Please make sure to leave your email address along with your comment. My boys and I will find a weird way to choose a random winner. Just one entry per person, please. The giveaway will close at 8 p.m. (MST) on Sunday, February 20th. Thanks in advance for entering, and good luck!

COMMENTS ARE NOW CLOSED. Jack and Charlie chose TWO winners at random in a weird way, as promised. I will post about the winners and the weird way on Monday afternoon!

And, If you want to learn more about ReSewhere's a little two-minute video about it. Or you can see it here on YouTube.

Thanks so much for stopping by. As a mom to two rowdy, noisy, creative, hilarious, opinionated, and downright untidy boys, there’s one thing I try to remember to do every day, without fail. And that is to slow down, take a moment, and celebrate my boys.

They are so very worth the mess.

crafts, sewing, tutorials

A WildCards tutorial: Flowers at Your Feet!

This might sound weird, but I began a love/hate relationship with my feet when I was a little girl. Sure, I loved my feet because they were essential to getting me around. (Still are. They’re good for that.) But I hated my feet because, back then, they seemed HUGE. They were clumsy. They appeared to be growing at an alarming rate in comparison to the rest of my body. I was very self-conscious about them. For a long time, I couldn’t let that feeling go.

Then I discovered Dr. Martens.

On my 21st birthday I didn’t celebrate at the local bar. Christened the liquor store, at least? No. Not me. Instead I headed to Trolley Square with my sister, and we bought me my first pair of Docs. Black leather work boots. Eight eyelets. Almost identical to these. (I see they’re calling this style “vintage” now. Cool. Thanks, doc, for reminding me that I’m old.) Somehow, when I put on those big, clunky, tread-heavy boots, I fell in love with my feet. I wanted to show them off. Those boots sent me on a lifelong love affair I never thought I would have. A love affair with shoes. Big, clunky, tread-heavy shoes.

Fast forward. Now my closet (and the coat closet, to my husband’s discontent) is brimming with clunky-shoe bliss. Like these, my current favorite:

Shoes Not-vintage Docs thrifted from the kitchen aisle at Savers, Layton, Utah; $6.49.

Now I understand why Mr. Marten is referred to as “Dr.” Because you see, he cured me. He cured me of the hate part of the relationship I had with my feet. Now it’s just love.

Apparently however, having gloriously loud, H U L K – S I Z E shoes is no longer enough for me. Oh, no. I need to lavish even MORE attention on my feet. So I decided to stitch up this:

Flowersatyourfeet Secondhand denim on secondhand denim. Sweet!

The design was so easy to put together, I thought someone else might like to try. And if you’re like me when it comes to your feet, you just might like this little tutorial.

Flowers at Your Feet Tutorial

Here’s what you need:

Flowers Denim jeans you don’t mind cutting into (I used four different pairs, in values from light to dark). A circular template, such as thread spool. Basic sewing supplies: a rotary cutter, mat, and ruler (or scissors), seam ripper, glue stick, thread to coordinate with your denim, sewing machine. A pair of pants you want to flower at your feet. And thread to match the stitches on those pants.

Start by cutting 1/2"-wide strips from each piece of denim you have. You can do this by removing the hem of one pant leg, and then cutting strips from the width. These strips will become the flower stems and grass. Start with 2-3 strips per pair, and then cut as needed from there. Then, cut a square of denim from each pair of jeans to use for flower petals, centers, and leaves. A 6" square from each pair was plenty for me.

Next, choose which pant leg you want to sew the design onto. I initially placed my design on the opposite pant leg, thinking I could keep the design loose on one pant leg while I sewed the pieces onto the other. That didn’t work out. So go ahead and place your design on the actual pant leg your want your design sewn onto.

Now for the fun part—creating your own flower patch. You can design it however you like; here are some techniques I used.

•    I cut different lengths from my 1/2"-wide strips to make stems and grass.
•    I traced circle shapes directly onto my denim with a pen, using a thread spool as a template. I cut two circles to make the flower centers; I cut eight more to make the petals for the short flower. Cut shapes just inside the drawn lines.
•    I hand drew a petal shape onto paper to make a template for the petals and leaves on the tall flower. To draw a petal, make two dots about 2 1/2" apart on a piece of paper. Draw a curved line to attach the dots on one side, then the other.

Leaf template
It doesn’t have to be perfect, just kind of like this.

•    I overlapped the grass pieces so that, when sewn with a 1/8" seam, the pant leg underneath would still be covered.
•    Remember, you can use BOTH sides of each piece of denim for even more variation in value and hue.

Here’s the design I ended up with. Not sewn yet.

Arrange your design however you like on your pant leg. When you are happy with your design, note where the top of the design falls on the pant leg; make a mark about 2 inches above that spot. Carefully remove your design piece by piece and place it in order on a flat surface that won’t be disturbed, like a table or a rotary mat.

Using a seam ripper, carefully unpick the inside seam of the pant leg you’ve chosen to sew your design onto. Unpick from the bottom hem to the spot you marked that notes 2" above the top of your design. Unpick the bottom hem horizontally, but only to a point where you can easily unfold the hem and separate the front pant panel from the back. Remove any loose threads.

Note: As you unpick your seam, pay attention to how the original seam was sewn. The raw edges of my pant leg were sewn with a serged (or zigzag) stitch first, and then there was a row of straight stitching beyond that. You’ll want to take note of these specifics so you can sew your pant leg neatly back together later.

Your unpicked seam will probably be pretty messy, threadwise.

Flowers4 I cleaned mine up quick with a bit of tape.

Now to start sewing.

Note: When you are choosing which pieces to sew on, be sure to sew pieces that make up the bottom layer of your design first. Backstitch at the beginning and end of each line of stitching.

Lay the pant leg on a flat surface. Dot the back of your first piece with glue stick; press it in place on the pant leg. Open up the pant leg. Using a 1/8" seam, sew around the piece. Choose your next piece and repeat.

Flowers5 In my design, I sewed the stem first, then the first layer of petals.

Flowers6 (Gratuitous close up.)

Then I sewed the second layer of petals.

Flowers8 Then I sewed the flower center. (Little circles are a little tricky; sew slow.)

Flowers9 The same step-by-step method goes for the short flower. To eliminate sewing a tiny circle around that tricky flower center, I used straight stitches instead.

Flowers10 (Superfluous close up.)

Now to sew the grass. Instead of sewing around all four sides of each tiny rectangle, start at the top of a blade and sew down to the pant hem. Then, lift your presser foot and pull the pant leg forward; sew the other side of the blade in place from top to bottom. Again, pull the pant leg forward; glue and press your next blade in place.

Flowers11 For each blade, use this mantra: sew, pull, sew, pull, glue.

Flowers13 A thready mess to clean up when you’re done, yes, but the sewing goes fast.

When you’ve finished sewing the vertical sides of each blade, it’s time to sew the horizontal sides. For the blade tops, start at one edge of the design and sew across the outermost blade, 1/8" from the top edge; backstitch. Pick up your presser foot and place it at the beginning of the next blade top; sew and backstitch. Repeat until all the blade tops are sewn down.

For the blade bottoms, sew a straight line across the bottom of the blades using a 1/8" seam.

Flowers14 It should look something like this when all the pieces are sewn.

Now it’s time to sew the inner seam of the pant leg back together. Did you make a mental note of how your pant leg was originally sewn? Retrieve that mental note now. After pinning the seam together, I sewed a zigzag stitch along the raw edges of the denim; then I sewed a straight stitch about 1/2" beyond the zigzag stitch. Finally, I sewed the bottom hem back in place, backstitching well to catch the original stitching where it began. For all rows of sewing I used thread that matched the stitches on my pants.

Flowers15 Inner seam, all stitched up.

Flowers16 My stitches here.

Flowers17 Where my stitches and the original stitches meet.

Wash and dry your pants by machine so the raw edges of the denim get all roughed up. Clip loose threads as needed.

Flowers18 All roughed up.

Flowers19 Excessive close up.

Flowers20 And another one.

Flowers21 Yikes, another one! But you see what I mean by "roughed up."

And now you’re done.

Whether you choose clunky shoes, funky shoes, or some skinny style in between, I hope you have fun with your flowers at your feet.

I chose my roughed-up secondhand super-chunk Mary Jane Caterpillars to roam in my garden.

Cheers, crafties!

crafts, holidays, sewing, tutorials

A WildCards tutorial: Loopy-Loo Holiday Garland

When I left home for college, my mom gave me a box of old holiday decorations. A few ornaments, some Santa knick-knacks, and a charming strand of Christmas-tree garland made from bright red yarn. The garland was handmade by my mom. She was in college herself when she made it. As I rummaged through the box, she explained how she had made the garland all those years ago.

Although a competent sewist, my mom never had a passion for it. (Her passion is abstract painting. Rebel.) So I was happy to inherit something sewn by her hand, as it was quite rare. And every year since I received the garland, it’s been on my Christmas tree. This year it has accented some of our favorite ornaments that we’ve collected over the years…

Loopy-Loo-1Our honeymoon ornament.

Loopy-Loo-2Our “we used to live in Washington, and it was cool” ornament.

Loopy-Loo-3And our first “Baby’s first Christmas” ornament.

But the past four years? The garland has been getting harder and harder to drape. I’ve been draping the garland around the tree to form the illusion of one continuous strand. But in reality, it looks more like this:

Loopy-Loo-4 The garland has broken into so many pieces I can’t even count them anymore. So this year, I decided to try my hand at sewing a new garland. I wasn’t sure what I would end up with, but I remembered the simple technique that mom shared with me.

Hmm. Things went better than I expected. I like how this new, vintage-vibe garland turned out! I felt confident enough about it, even, that I thought I could teach someone else how to do it. So holy happy holidays, here we go!

LoopyLoo Holiday Garland Tutorial

Here’s what you need:
Loopy-Loo-6Poster board. A pen or pencil. An acrylic ruler. A rotary cutter with a blade for paper only and a rotary mat (or scissors). Tape. Thread to match your yarn. And yarn.

Note: You do not need ONE POUND of yarn. One skein is plenty for a garland that will wrap and drape and then wrap some more around your tree. Or your mantle. Or your door. Or wherever you plan to drape and wrap.

One more note: When it comes to yarn and knitting, I love using natural fibers. But in this case, I suggest using acrylic yarn. Natural fibers tend to break more easily, and we want garland that will last at least as long as my mom's garland did. That would be close to 40 years.

Wow. Yeah, just did the math. That is freakin' old garland!

Here’s what you do:
Using your ruler, draw lines parallel to the short edge of the poster board, spacing them 1 3/4" apart.

Loopy-Loo-8Cut the poster board into strips, following the drawn lines.

Note: For me, each strip yielded about three feet of garland. So do the math—don’t do like I did and cut up the entire posterboard. It’s unlikely you’ll need it. I can’t imagine anyone would want that much garland for anything, ever.

Loopy-Loo-9Tape the yarn to one short end of a poster board strip.

Loopy-Loo-10Begin wrapping the yarn around the strip.

You can wrap the yarn one of two ways: 1) Let your right hand wrap the yarn while your left hand holds the paper steady; or 2) Let your right hand hold the yarn steady while your left hand turns the strip around and around. (Switch those lefts and rights around for lefties.) I did a little bit of both.

Loopy-Loo-11The strip should look something like this when you’re done. Leave 1" to 1 1/2" at the end of your strip unwrapped. Do not cut the yarn.

Loopy-Loo-12Sew along the center of the poster board strip using a very short straight stitch—as short as you can get without sewing in place. Here we are at the beginning of the strip…

…and here we are at the end. Backstitch well at the beginning and end.

Loopy-Loo-14Tape a second strip to the first strip.

Loopy-Loo-15Begin wrapping the yarn again.

Wrap the yarn to cover the second strip within 1" to 1 1/2" from the edge. When you are done wrapping, tape the yarn to the strip to prevent unraveling. Sew along the center of the second strip, making sure to backstitch over your previous stitching when you begin.

Now you have this long, gangly, double strip of posterboard. Time to take out the paper! You can do this one of two ways:

1) Cut the yarn along the long edges of the strip; then gently pull the paper away from the center seam. I’m guessing this is easier than what I did (and it’s what my mom did too).

2) Keep the loops in the yarn by ripping and wiggling the paper strips out of the loops a little bit at a time. More time consuming for sure, but I like the effect. Here’s how I did the ripping and wiggling:

Fold the strip in half lengthwise along the seam to further perforate the paper.

Fold it in the other direction, too.

Loopy-Loo-18Tear the paper to the sewn seam at 1" to 2" intervals. Pull a few loops off the edges of the paper so you can get a good grasp on it.

Loopy-Loo-19Gently wriggle the paper out.

Loopy-Loo-20After lots of wriggling, it will start to look like this.

Note: You can remove the paper from the yarn almost up to the point where the second strip ends. But leave a couple inches of the sewn yarn and paper intact; you’ll need it to tape, wrap, and sew the next length of garland.

Continue taping, wrapping, and sewing until you have the length of garland you want. I used four strips and it made about 12 feet of garland.

I had planned to set up some fun shots of the garland in holiday action, but GOSH DANG IT if my boys couldn’t keep their mitts out of the bowl ‘o beads:

Loopy-Loo-21Big mitts.

Loopy-Loo-22Little mitts.

Love those mitts.

And also, beads are messy.

I would love to make my mom’s bits of garland into something new. Any ideas? I’ll be thinking…

Loopy-Loo-23 Happy holidays, crafties!