How to: Make a Design Wall

Did you know that fabric sticks to flannel? This never really occurred to me until I saw some awesome sewing and quilting studios that incorporated a design wall into their space. A design wall allows you to to lay out fabric and play with quilt blocks until you find the perfect arrangement! It’s a super helpful tool when laying out a design for your next project.

fabric design wall

Here’s a couple of shots of my sewing space before. I knew I needed something in the far corner, but I didn’t know what to put there. Once I started thinking about a design wall, I knew it was the perfect place!
Craft Takeover sewing studioCraft Takeover studio

Here’s how you can make your own. It’s easy and cheap! Two of the best things when making crafty projects 🙂

Materials needed:

  • foam core board – found at craft or office supply stores.
  • flannel
  • staple gun with 1/4 inch staples
  • packing tape or duct tape


1. First, measure your space to see what size design wall you can make. I had a long narrow corner of the wall that I wanted to utilize, so I used two foam core boards stacked on top of each other. I found mine at Hobby Lobby, and they were 32 x 40 inches each.
Craft Takeover studio wall

2. Next, determine how much flannel you need to cover your board. My design wall is about 7 feet tall, so I bought 2 and half yards of flannel. If you are making a wall that is wider than the flannel, simply sew a couple of pieces together to fit.

3. Tape the foam core boards together.
tape foam core to make a design wall

4. Attach the flannel to the board by pulling it taught, and stapling around the edge with a staple gun. 1/4 inch staples worked well for me – do not use long staples or you’ll go all the way through the board! If you have a wider board, some spray adhesive may be helpful during this step. Cut off the excess fabric on the back.

5. The foam core board and flannel are so lightweight, I simply nailed through all four corners and in the middle of both sides to hold it in place on the wall.
Design Wall detail

And you’re done!

Craft Takeover sewing studio with design wall

It is so, so helpful as a quilter and sewer to be able to simply stick some fabric or block on the wall, and then be able to rearrange and move them around. It really helps you perfect your design!

Easy Quilted Coaster

Happy Easter, everyone! I hope you are enjoying this lovely Sunday. Today we packed up most of our kitchen to move to the new house. This means I won’t be cooking any fancy Easter meals. Guess I’ll just enjoy an easy sandwich with coffee on my new quilted coaster. Look how cute!

quilted coaster 01

Recently I shared a tutorial for flying geese quilt blocks, so afterwards I had several of these blocks floating around just begging to be used for a project. I thought a teeny tiny quilt would make a great coaster for drinks, hot or cold.

I made a square with 2 of the flying geese blocks, then grabbed a scrap of batting and a piece of plain fabric for the backing. I used a couple of pins around the edge to hold the layers together, then took it over to my sewing machine for some simple straight line quilting (start with a line right down the middle to keep things in place!). This couldn’t be easier, the coaster is a great size to work with. Just take a second every now and then to check out the back of the coaster and make sure your quilting is looking ok. I quilted each line about a quarter of an inch apart, and didn’t mind if my lines were a little imperfect. It has some character that way!

quilted coaster 03

Instead of doing something more time consuming like a traditional binding, I used my serger to stitch and seal around the outside of the coaster to finish.

quilted coaster 02

Making a coaster is a great way to use up extra quilt blocks you might have. Bonus points if you have enough for a matching set! Of course you could also quickly sew up some blocks in order to make as many as needed. This is a project without strict guidelines – just use scraps you have on hand, make however many you like, and in whatever size you want!

quilted coaster 04

I’m looking forward to making a whole set of these for our coffee table at home, and I think this would also be a really great handmade gift to give!

How To: Make a Yarn Wrapped Pencil Holder

How to make a yarn wrapped pencil holder

If you’re a crafter like me, you probably have some unfinished projects lurking around. For example: I have several abandoned and half-knitted scarves, hidden away in boxes. I’m too ashamed to throw them away.

This scarf is just not my style any more. I think the yarn is sorta pretty, but I’d never wear it! So, I decided to put all that leftover yarn to good use.

sad unfinished scarf

sad unfinished scarf

Let’s make that yarn happy again with some easy yarn-wrapped desk accessories!

Materials needed:
yarn wrapping supplies

  • Empy container – like one for grits or oatmeal
  • Yarn
  • Hot glue gun


1. Make sure your container is free of crumbs! Then, plug in your hot glue gun. When it’s heated and ready, dot some glue on the bottom edge of the container. Place the end of the yarn on the glue, and press into place. Careful not to burn yourself! You can let the glue cool just a bit before pressing the yarn into it. Continue to dot glue a couple inches apart and attach the yarn until you’ve made it around the entire bottom of the container.
dot the glue along the edge
press yarn into glue

3. Continue to wrap the yarn around the container. No need to keep gluing, it will stay put once it’s secure around the bottom! Keep the yarn taught when wrapping. If it’s loose, you’d be able to see all the images on the container.
wrap the yarn
keep on wrapping

4. Once you’ve reached the top, dot glue around the edges to secure the yarn and finish. Cut off the end, and you’re done! Fill it with pencils, or anything you need handy on your desk. I love using mine to store scissors, too.
yarn wrapped pencil holder

I ended up making two – but I’m barely making a dent in my leftover yarn!

How To: Repurpose Birchboxes

birchbox 4529

Back in October I signed up for Birchbox, which is a $10 monthly subscription service that sends you makeup and beauty samples. It’s a fun surprise every time I get one in the mail. I love it!

Here's the contents of January's box

January’s Birchbox.

But this post isn’t about makeup samples…it’s about the cute boxes they send the products in!

birchbox 4900
These boxes were starting to pile up, so I wanted to do something crafty with them.

birchbox 4902
I picked out some decorative paper to cover the lids, and stacked them up for cute storage! Booklets of scrapbook paper are perfect for projects like these, because there are similar themes and colors that already match perfectly.

Here’s how to make a custom cover for your own empty Birchboxes! Of course, you could also do this project with any simple box with a lid. They sell similar ones at craft stores like Hobby Lobby or Michael’s.

Supplies Needed:

  • box with lid
  • scissors
  • ruler
  • pen or pencil
  • decorative paper
  • glue stick
  • glue gun


1. Place the lid upside down on a piece of decorative paper, with the blank side up. (The inside of the box already has a fun print!)birchbox 4903

2. Trace the box with a pen or pencil, then use a ruler to measure the width of the sides, and mark lines on the paper as shown.birchbox 4913

3. Cut the rectangle out, then cut out the corner squares.birchbox 4917

4. Fold the sides along the marked lines.birchbox 4918

5. Use a glue stick to cover the center rectangle, and press onto the lid. Then, use a glue gun to attach the edges. The edges will stay put much better with hot glue.
birchbox glue

7. Once all the sides are glued, you’re done!birchbox 4926

birchbox 4936

Have fun using the boxes for whatever you like! I have a couple being used for storage in my bathroom cabinet, and a couple on my desk to hold small sewing supplies. I love how they turned out!

Cherrywood Chevron Pillows: Quilted Top and Envelope Back

Happy holidays! It’s been a wonderful week. We visited family last weekend, and then John and I had a quiet Christmas day at home.

Now I’ve just been catching up on cleaning and doing things around the house. I know that sounds boring, but it’s been nice! I love not having to rush around, so these last couple days off of work have been fantastic to get things done. I also got to take some photos of my finished Cherrywood chevron pillows!

cherrywood chevron pillows

I talked about the beginning of this project here.

After prepping the fabric, I used my rotary cutter to cut triangle and parallelogram shapes based on my pattern, and sewed them together to make the top. Then, I made a mini quilt sandwich with flannel and a plain white scrap of fabric. Quilting with the flannel instead of batting turned out nicely, but I would definitely recommend using your sewing machine! I started out by hand-quilting, and while it looks nice, it was very difficult to do  because the needle doesn’t slide through the flannel easily.

Here’s what the two methods look like next to each other. I do love the hand stitched look, so this finished pillow will be extra special.

hand vs machine quilted

Once the tops were quilted, I needed to make the backs. I sewed little triangles of the Cherrywood fabric onto paper so I could bring it into the Quilt Store and browse for the perfect complementary fabric.

Fabric samples

This pretty Robert Kaufman fabric matched perfectly.

I used this tutorial as a guideline to make an envelope closure back. It was so easy!

chevron pillow envelope back

All that was left was purchasing a few 16×16 pillow forms to insert in the covers. I enjoyed making these pillow covers because I can switch them out for different ones whenever I want! And making the pillows was similar to making a quilt, but on a much smaller scale. It was fun to be able to have a finished product in such a short amount of time.

stacked chevron pillows

I’m calling my first quilted pillows a success!

Cherrywood Chevron Pillows: Fabric and Using Synthrapol

Since I finished my Broken Dishes Quilt, I was finally able to move on to another project! This time I tried my hand at some pillow covers. I guess I just love pillows – remember when I made polka dot pillows last year? Instead of stuffing them with poly-fil, this time I made quilted covers for a 16×16 pillow insert, with a simple envelope closure on the back.

This is the sketch I came up with. I love chevron, but wanted to do something a bit different. I’m taking this idea and making square pillows. It may end up as a full-sized quilt someday, too!

chevron design

I fell in love with Cherrywood fabric when I came across it at QuiltCon last year, and I’m so excited to use the 8-step fat quarter bundle I purchased!

dutch tulip cherrywood fabric

This bundle is called “Dutch Tulip”

Aren’t they beautiful? I love these as well:

Cherrywood bundles

Images from Cherrywood Fabric website

1. Melon Patch
2. Madagascar
3. Onyx to Light
4. Potters Wheel

When I purchased the bundle, they included a pamphlet on caring for and washing the hand-dyed fabric. I’m glad I kept it and followed their directions!

It is recommended to use Synthrapol when washing, which you can buy from craft stores, Cherrywood’s website, or on Amazon.

Check out the water when I washed the reds. Followed by a second wash.
washing hand dyed fabrics

See how much dye was released? The Synthrapol prevents it from reattaching onto the other fabrics.

Once washed, the fabric was dried and ironed, measured and cut, and sewn up! I have a few final steps to complete, and next week I’ll share photos of the finished pillows!

>>special thanks to Ken for loaning me his camera (Canon Rebel T2i). I’m VERY excited to practice using a nice camera, and even more excited about having some non-iphone photos appear on the blog for once.

How to: Make a tear-off notepad

how to make a tear-off notepad
I have a slight obsession with note-taking. To-do lists, grocery lists (first a copy of what I need, THEN copied again so it’s in order of the aisles at the store.) Plus “what’s for dinner lists”, “How much weight my cat is losing lists” and “books I should really get around to reading lists” and so on. Now I’m just making lists of my lists. So why not get crafty and make my own notepads?

notepad and list

Materials Needed:

  • Chipboard (found mine on Amazon here)
  • scrap paper
  • PVA glue (found at most craft stores)
  • foam brush or paint brush
  • wax paper
  • binder clips or paper clips
  • decorative paper or wrapping paper


1. First, decide what size notepad you like. I tend to use smaller notepads more often, so I cut a piece of 8.5×11 chipboard into 4 rectangles.

2. Gather scrap paper and cut it to the same size as the chipboard rectangles. The notepads shown are 20 sheets of paper. Stack the paper together with the chipboard on the back. Tap the stack on a hard surface to get everything lined up well. Use binder clips (or paper clips) to hold them together.
binder clips on paper

3. Coat the foam brush or paint brush with the PVA glue and dab it onto the edge of the stack, covering the edge of paper and chipboard completely. Repeat 1-2 times if necessary to cover it well.
brush and glue

4. To make sure everything dries nice and flat, remove the clips, layer the notepads between sheets of wax paper, and leave something heavy on top until dry.
notpads drying flat

5. After the glue dries, you can leave it as it is and be done. OR to get a little fancy, attach a piece of decorative scrapbook paper or wrapping paper to the back of the chipboard and fold it over the front.
finished notepads

The pages tear off just like a store-bought notepad and it is SO SATISFYING.

stacked notepads

How To: Paint a Wooden Coffee Table

Once upon a time, my husband bought a boring wooden coffee table on Craigslist for $30.  Said coffee table lived a boring life, holding our boring remotes, and being a fat cat’s boring hangout place while we watch TV. BUT THEN THINGS GOT WAY LESS BORING. I was recently inspired by a photo I saw on Door Sixteen, about Barb Blair’s Furniture Makeovers book. (This book is on my reading wishlist! Gotta get it.) I literally ran to the other room and yelled “HUSBAND, is it ok with you if I paint our coffee table 8 different colors?! And luckily, he said yes. Buh-bye boring coffee table. Hellooooo new and exciting favorite piece of furniture!

Here’s what we were working with before:

table before with cat

See what I mean about the cat?

And now with it’s brand new paint job:

how to paint a wooden coffee table

Our living room is so much cheerier now.

Here’s how I did it:

1) Go to your favorite hardware store and pick out 8 colors that you like.  Grab an 8oz sample pot of each, which are about $3 apiece.

coffee table colors

These are all Behr Premium Plus – paint and primer in one. I still have a bunch left over, too! I also used a random white paint that I already had on hand.

2) Sand the surface of your table. The goal is to smooth any rough areas and get it ready for the paint. Paint adheres better to a freshly sanded surface. Use a damp rag to clean the surface of any sanding dust.

sanding the table

I took this picture and realized the mistake I was making – sand WITH THE GRAIN of the wood! I finished the rest of the table correctly and it turned out fine.

3) Use a tape measure to find the middle points of all 4 sides. Mark with a pencil, then use painter’s tape to tape off the first triangle you will paint. I painted each section with 2 coats, let it dry (it didn’t take too long, maybe 20 minutes?), then taped off the next section. The part you have to be most careful with is your tape placement. You want it to be exactly lined up when you do each section, so they all meet in a clean point in the middle.

taping the table

4) Once all the triangles were painted, it was time for a clear coat to seal it all in. First, I tried the spray sealant I used on this table I painted. Uhhh, that was a mistake. You can see in the picture below the lines the spray makes.

See those spray lines? Not good!

See those spray lines? Not good!

5) I took to the internet and found this post by All Things Thrifty. Thanks, Brooke! So I went back to the hardware store, and grabbed some Minwax Water-Based Polycrilic. I got it in Satin, but I think Semi-Gloss would look great too. 3 coats later, the lines are gone, and the coffee table is all finished!

table with clear coat

Happy new table. Happy old dog.

painted coffee table

This was seriously so fun and easy (and cheap!). I can’t stop thinking about all the other stuff I want to paint – I’m looking at you, kitchen table.

Making a Quilt Sandwich

I think you guys deserve an update on the quilt, don’t you think?

If you need to catch up, you can read more about my beginner quilting process here:

Part One – Deciding on a design and buying fabric
Part Two – Cutting the triangles
Part Three – Piecing the Top

So we left off last time with a finished quilt top. Next step: Make a quilt sandwich!

No, not a grilled cheese.  A quilt sandwich = the back of the quilt + the front of the quilt + the batting sandwiched in between. Delicious.

I kept the back pretty simple, using one of my favorite color fabrics from the front, along with some scraps of the other colors, sewn together to make 2 stripes across.  Since I didn’t have one continuous piece of fabric for the back, I cut 3 panels and threw some stripes in there to make it look neat.  The back and the batting are a both a few inches bigger than the quilt top.  After the back was ready, I cleaned the living room floor, and got started. I don’t know about you, but 2 cats and a dog make for pet hairs EVERYWHERE.

The back goes face down on the floor. Tape it down so it’s nice and smooth:
Then batting goes on top:
Then the front:
Then the beagle goes in the batting:
batting and a beagle
Wait…you can skip that step if you don’t have a beagle.

Then pin! Use curved basting pins, and make sure you’re grabbing all the layers.  Pin every 1/2 foot or so. Once you’ve got all the layers secured together, you can untape from the floor, and your sandwich is ready to eat! I mean, ready to quilt!


Next post will be about the quilting process itself.