How to Crochet Roly-Poly Characters for the Holiday Season

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Fall is already here. The holidays will soon be upon us. As unprepared as you may feel, the holidays rapidly approaching, which means you’ll soon be digging out trees, ornaments, and other decorations in preparation for the most wonderful time of the year.

There’s nothing like holly jolly characters to fill your house with joy during the holidays, and these roly-poly cuties take the cake. They’re cheerful, playful, and fun. These sweeties will look quite festive amongst all of your other holiday decorations in any room.

These characters, comprised of Santa Claus, a snowman, and an angel will lift your spirits this season while giving you something fun to make for yourself, decorate for a holiday party, or give to your friends as gifts. They’re easy to make and are sure to add endless cheer to your holidays.

Getting Started

Using #4 worsted-weight yarn, work each design in a round from the bottom of the character’s body, using the color of your choice, although the obvious colors make the most sense. The angel can be any color you like, but blue or purple would provide a nice contrast with the red of Santa Claus and the white of the snowman.

Simple chain stitches will take care of attaching arms, scarves, wings, and other accessories to each character. You can make each one unique by switching up the color or position of each accessory to match the holiday decor in each room of your house.

Fill your finished characters with polyester fiberfill and embellish them with the ribbons and buttons of your choice to personalize them for you or the intended recipient. The finished size is eight inches tall and a heart full of adorable.

Where They Belong

These guys look cute on the kitchen counter, on the mantle, on an end table, or hanging on the tree. They’re small and lightweight enough to stand or hang anywhere. They also make perfect gifts. Personalize each with custom embroidery letters, a best friend’s favorite colors, or to match your mother-in-law’s holiday theme.

Better yet, throw them in a Christmas gift basket for a thoughtful collection of holiday goodies. It’s the perfect way to spread holiday cheer to those you love.

No matter how you choose to celebrate the holidays, celebrate with the holiday characters everyone knows and loves. These roly-poly characters’ bellies will make you jolly this season every time you look at them. If you’re looking for a unique, meaningful, affordable gift, put some effort into personalizing them for someone you love.

Even if you plan to make them for yourself, you’ll find they’re so fun and easy that you won’t want to stop. You’ll need one for every room and every friend. Get your holidays started early this year by downloading the free pattern now and making a few new crochet friends.

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How to Make a Table Topper Quilt for a Friend

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Table topper quilts are a cozy and welcoming decor item for your dining room, but they mean even more when they’re a homemade gift from a friend. Not only will it bring a soft and delicate look to your dining room decor, but it will bring a smile to your face every day.

There’s nothing better you can do for your dearest friends than to make them something that will fill their heart with joy, and there are so many free table topper quilt patterns to choose from that you won’t have any trouble finding something that represents your friendship.

Monkey Blues

This monkey blues pattern is a fun and clever twist on the traditional friendship star design, and perhaps it resembles your lifelong best friend and the fun you’ve had together. Blue is calming, bringing peace to a restful dining table.

The Double Monkey Wrench blocks are made with reproduction prints and are easy to make with any level of quilting experience. Each block is a six-inch square set on point, creating a thirty-inch square finished piece. It makes a charming table topper quilt. You can complete this stress-free pattern in your spare time.

The name of this table topper quilt pattern says it all. Bring a little monkeying around into your friend’s home and make them smile and remember you when they display it proudly on their table. It’s a great way to remind them that you’re never too old to have fun.

Pinwheel Path Table Topper

The pinwheel path table topper quilt pattern is a sweet, childlike design, symbolizing your friendship’s foundation blossoming into something strong and unbreakable. The florals are dainty and elegant. Your friend can use this table topper quilt on a reading table among all of their other adornments to remind them of you.

The autumn colors give any reading nook a cozy feel, so curling up with a good book feels better than ever. It also looks great on a night table in their guest room so when you come to stay, you can see how proud they are of your gift.

The childish design of the pinwheel will bring back memories of your childhood together playing outside and remind your friend of how much you care. With a joyful and playful air, the pinwheel path table topper pattern is the perfect gift.

Table Runner Quilt Patterns

These free table runner quilt patterns give you an endless array of design options for all of your friends. From seasonal designs to themes, you’ll find something for everyone. Bright and cheerful summer blooms make a fun table topper quilt, illuminated by the summer sun streaming in the windows.

Fish designs make a perfect table topper quilt for your friend’s kid table. A placemat table topper quilt makes an excellent backdrop for your friend’s pet dishes. Gifting a blue basket topper is the best way to invite your best friend for a long-overdue picnic.

At varying skill levels, there is a table runner quilt pattern for everyone. Don’t be afraid to gift a table topper quilt. Find something that you can do easily in your spare time or challenge yourself with something more complicated to show your friend how much you care.

Bring joy to your friend with the perfect table topper quilt. Search Free Patterns for all kinds of shapes, sizes, and designs. You’re bound to find something you can make that your friend will love, and you can even make yourself a matching one for a domestic take on the friendship bracelets you wore in grade school.

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Crochet a Welcome Home Rug For Your Home

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A welcome rug at your front steps or garage door is a great place to welcome guests or take off your shoes at the end of the day. These types of rugs get a lot of traffic, so they should be durable and easy to wash. There are a few things to consider before getting started, but a welcome home rug is easy enough for any skill level, and they make great gifts, too.

Decide on a Shape

Round rugs are popular choices, but they’re not as straightforward as square rugs. If you know how to crochet circles, then you’re all set. Round rugs tend to buckle and bowl, so you need to know how to fix those problems if you want to make a circle.

Otherwise, beginners should keep their rugs square or rectangular to avoid these issues. Square rugs are more forgiving because you work them in rows instead of circles. Stick to this shape if you need more practice, especially if you’re giving it as a gift.

Decide on a Pattern

You can use any pattern or repeat stitch to make a rug with a large hook and thick yarn. Just make sure the pattern doesn’t call for any large holes that might cause you to trip. This wouldn’t be the best option for a rug.

Also, pay attention to how dense the stitches are. The denser the stitches, the more yarn you’ll use. Your rug could end up costing a lot more money than you thought it would, but it will be durable and gorgeous. There are plenty of free crochet patterns for welcome home rugs with a wide variety of stitch styles and densities to choose from.

Choosing Materials

Every type of yarn is different, so what you use will depend on what you want for the end product.

Jersey Cotton

This t-shirt type material is elastic so changes in tension can significantly alter your rug’s shape. Every type of jersey cotton tubes differently, too. While some are shiny and beautiful, others fray at the ends, making them look less attractive when they’re worked up. Make sure each color you use has the same elasticity for consistency in your finished piece.

Acrylic

Acrylic yarn is perfect for a decorative welcome home rug. It’s much easier to make neat stitches because it doesn’t have the same elasticity that jersey cotton does. However, acrylic pills, so it’s not a great choice for places with heavy foot traffic. It’s better as a decorative piece.

Fabric Yarn

Fabric yarn is non-elastic, so it has the same benefits as acrylic yarn, and it’s more durable. It’s hard to work up because it’s tough on your hands and can shed tiny fibers, but the finished product will last in areas of high traffic.

Choosing a Hook

You can make rugs with small hooks like 5.5mm, but your rug will be very thin, which may not be ideal for high foot traffic areas. A 10mm crochet hook makes a nice rug thickness with the appropriate yarn thickness. A hook as big as 25mm makes a great finished product, but it’s hard on your wrists and needs a much thicker yarn.

Making the Rug

There’s no specific gauge you should use, but pay attention to what you are using because you want to be able to work it up as tight as you can and still be comfortable. If your hands or wrists hurt and you are using dense stitches, you may need a bigger hook or thinner yarn.

Take breaks to give your hands and wrists some rest. This also gives you a chance to check your rug (if you’re working in circles) to make sure it’s not buckling or bowling. You may have too few or too many stitches, and this gives you an opportunity to assess and adjust.

Finishing the Rug

A round of crab stitch or reverse single crochet gives you a dense stitch to finish up and help your edges lay flat. You can also add a non-slip backing to the rug so it won’t slide on a hardwood or tile floor. You can sew non-slip drawer liners onto the back or glue on a piece of non-stick backing cut to size. You can also find a rubber coating spray and use that on the back. It’s a lot less work but will have to be reapplied more often.

Above all else, have fun. After all, this piece will welcome you home after a long day or be a housewarming gift for your friends, and it should resemble love and relaxation. You can find free crochet patterns for beginners at Free Patterns, or you can make your own.

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4 Free Crochet Baby Blanket Patterns

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When you were a child, did you have a special baby blanket that you always kept by your side? And if you did, was it a blanket that was handmade for you? We find that baby blankets that are carefully crafted with love for a new bundle of joy have so much more sentimental value than those that are bought in stores. A homemade blanket is the physical manifestation of the love of a parent, grandparent, other loved one or friend, and it can be personalized with specific colors and patterns that have special meaning.

Whether you have a little one on the way and want to create something special just for them or have a family member or friend who is expecting, nothing says “I love you” like a homemade crochet baby blanket. It makes a great gift and is an excellent project for someone who is new to crocheting because there are many easy crochet patterns available. Not only will your heart be full when you first see the little one wrapped in the blanket you crocheted with your own hands, but you’ll also gain confidence to do more crochet projects as your skills grow.

We love to see people who still enjoy making things by hand and share their talents and efforts with those they love most. Something as simple as a blanket can turn into a cherished memento that a child saves well into adulthood and provides them with happy memories of a childhood filled with love. Because of this, we’re dedicated to providing crafters and DIYers with a wide selection of free baby blanket crochet patterns to inspire them. To really get your creative juices flowing, here are four of our favorite patterns that we think you’ll love too!

We’re kicking our list off with an easy and fun design that any baby or child will love! The Teddy Bear Blanket Buddy is the perfect unique project that combines a stuffed animal with a classic blanket. Adding an adorable teddy bear head and paws to this simple blanket pattern creates a dream-worthy blanket. Why buy a stuffed animal or a blanket when this easy pattern will show you how to create the perfect combination of both?

The next pattern on the list is also a classic look, but labeled at the intermediate level, it may be more challenging! This Baby Pocket Blanket pattern is the perfect gift to give to expectant parents or to make for your own little one. It features a beautiful and colorful border that can be customized for any nursery design. This charming baby afghan would be a special gift with its adorable and timeless design. The use of light-weight yarn makes this a heavier baby blanket that any parent will love.

If you’re looking for crochet patterns for baby blankets with a bit more of a unique style, you’ll love this Baby Spring Bouquet Afghan. It features 3-D flowers that pop off the background color and dainty scalloped edges that are perfect for a baby girl. And the best part is you can choose whichever colors you like best to make the flowers pop and ensure they match the nursery. This pattern is designed to be made with super fine yarn, so it’s comfortable for wrapping up the baby but pretty enough to be used as decoration over the side of a crib or on the back of a rocking chair.

You can’t beat baby afghan crochet patterns that create a big enough blanket to keep little ones warm even as they start growing up. And this extra-large Youth Afghan definitely fits that bill! At 3 feet wide and 5 feet tall, this blanket will be perfect for snuggling with well into childhood. And the simple pattern is a blank canvas, making it perfect for little boys or girls. Plus, it would make a great decoration in a nursery when not being used for baby snuggles.

Whether you’re a newbie at crocheting or a seasoned crochet expert, we know that you’ll love to make (and give) handmade baby blankets. A baby blanket is a special gift for a special time in someone’s life. And because we have so many free baby blanket crochet patterns to choose from, you’ll be sure to find the one that’s perfect for you.

If you like projects like these be sure to sign-up for FreePatterns.com to get unlimited access to 900+ patterns! Whether you like Crochet, Quilting, Knitting, Sewing, Cross Stitch, or more you will find the answer to all of your crafting needs!

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6 Free Crochet Afghan Patterns

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Whether you’re a seasoned crocheter who has a number of crochet projects under their belt or are someone looking for a new hobby and think crocheting would fit the bill, we bet that you’d fall in love with one (or a few) of our free crochet afghan patterns. These patterns encompass all skill levels, but even the simple patterns produce stunning blankets that even the most experienced crochet DIYers will be proud to show off.

We’ve got a number of different afghan styles to choose from and you are sure to find the design that fits your needs perfectly. Each one of these patterns will provide your home with classic style and comfort, whether you plan on using it as a decoration to be hung on a wall, or draped over a sofa, or will use it to snuggle up with a good book and a mug of piping hot tea.

We invite you to browse through our whole collection of free afghan crochet patterns. But if you’re looking for some inspiration here are our six favorites that we think you’ll love, too.

Up first is this charming Bright Waves afghan pattern that would make a great addition to any room in your home. Designed to show off bright hues, it’s the perfect blanket for tossing on a neutral colored couch or chair to add a pop of color. Its colorful, alternating waves beg to be noticed and the large size (54″ x 61 1/2″) makes it perfect for wrapping up in on a chilly fall day. Plus, this pattern is simple enough for any crocheting skill level.

If you’d like something a little subtler, this Chenille Afghan pattern will be your ideal match. The single color and simple pattern create a subtle yet stunning look that will add soft and warm style to any home. It’s the perfect crochet blanket for tossing on the couch for cold days or for leaving out in a guest bedroom for extra warmth on a bed. Although it is a larger afghan (42″ x 66″) this pattern would also make a good crib cover.

Do you know someone who defend our country in any branch of the armed services? Then you’ll love this Military Afghan. This is designed to support our men and women in all branches of the military, without whose loyalty we wouldn’t be the America we know and love. The white background creates a perfect canvas for showcasing each military symbol. This may not be a simple pattern, but is sure to amaze everyone who sees it while supporting our military.

For some major pop, look no further than this gorgeous Tie-Dyed Throw. The bright color splashes in this cozy throw bring to mind the funky, kaleidoscopic patterns of the tie-dye craze. Mix your favorite colors to create your own exceptional afghan. It makes for a fun and unique blanket sure to be treasured for years to come. Give it away as a housewarming or wedding gift or crochet one for yourself to snuggle with on a lazy weekend at home.

Crochet blanket patterns are also perfect for the holidays. This Snow Flurry Afghan features a blue winter design with snowflakes that can decorate your home all winter throughout the holiday seasons. It makes a beautiful addition to holiday decorations and also makes a fantastic gift for friends or family. This is a perfect crochet project to get you in the winter spirit.

We’ve also got a free crochet pattern that’s a perfectly subtle floral design. This Rosebud Afghan features abundant blossoms adorning a stunning background that is sure to become a decorating favorite.  There is also a beautiful fringe border that creates an even more stunning design. This design is sure to become your favorite comfy afghan.

If you’re looking for crochet patterns free to use look no further than our wide selection. We’ve got many free afghan crochet patterns to choose from that would make an advanced or simple, yet charming DIY project to add some comfort and warmth to your home or to gift to a loved one. Check out the patterns and find your favorite one today!

If you like projects like these be sure to sign-up for FreePatterns.com to get unlimited access to 900+ patterns! Whether you like Crochet, Quilting, Knitting, Sewing, Cross Stitch, or more you will find the answer to all of your crafting needs!

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Thrift Store Fabric Shopping: Sew Something for Nothing — Almost, By Lucy B. Gray

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Try thrift store fabric shopping and learn how to transform wonderful fabrics harvested from thrift-store clothing and other treasures into head-turning pieces! With found fabrics and your creative juices flowing outside of the proverbial “box,” you can create truly one-of-a-kind accessories and clothing.

The stylish pieced bags shown below are a great example of how easy it is to “make something for nothing” — well, almost — if you are willing to do some thrift store fabric shopping.

bags made after thrift store shopping

Au Printemps Bags

What’s in the Thrift Stores?

Why shop at a thrift store for fabric? The racks hold hundreds of high-quality silks, cottons and rayons as well as interesting textured polyesters and woolens just waiting for the creative sewer who wants more options than the standard fabric-and-craft store fare. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t shop for new fabrics, but sometimes you’ll be able to find exactly what you need at the thrift shop when it’s nowhere else to be found. This is particularly true when you are searching for fabrics and colors that might not be the current rage.

When I go thrift store fabric shopping, I never know what I’m going to find. I purchase anything that appeals to me, often without any preconceived notion of what I’m going to make from it. I am always looking for secondhand garments in my favorite colors or with interesting textures and prints, as well as quirky and inexpensive costume jewelry, men’s ties or anything else that looks like it has design potential.

thrift store fabrics

Look for colorful skirts, blouses, tops and dresses in easy-care fabrics. Polyester, rayon, cotton, silk and blends of these are all suitable fabrics for bags.

I collected several color-related garments from my favorite store and envisioned making some pieced handbags from the fabrics. The collage of sprightly greens reminded me of how fresh everything looks after a spring rain, and the black-and-whites provided visual contrast in the medley of potential candidates. Hence the Au Printemps (French for spring) name for these two bags.

I also found some treasures in the thrift-shop jewelry case and in my vintage-button stash to audition as design focal points.

thrift store fabrics

After you have “harvested” your fabrics, audition them with potential embellishments, such as costume jewelry and vintage buttons.

From Finds to Treasures: After You Go Thrift Store Fabric Shopping

In this article, I’ll show you how to convert your shopping finds into bags similar to mine, to showcase both your favorite fabrics and your originality! One thing is sure; you’ll never see anyone else carrying the same bag, as every purchase in a thrift store is one of a kind. For the bags shown, you’ll need five or six color coordinated garments to provide good variety. Shirts, blouses, skirts and dresses in fabrics such as cotton, silk, rayon and polyester (read the garment labels) are good prospects. If you want to use real leather for bag straps, look for leather skirts, which come in a rainbow of colors. Look for a “fabric” with interesting texture for added interest. None of these items should cost more than a few dollars apiece — that’s one of the joys of thrift store fabric shopping!

When you’re done thrift store fabric shopping, launder the clothing (except the leather skirt, of course) according to the manufacturer’s label. You can also machine-launder silk blouses and skirts in cold water, using the gentle cycle and a little mild shampoo. Dry everything on the delicate cycle and remove promptly. Harvest the fabrics by cutting the main panels of each garment free of their seams so that you have large, flat pieces to use for the piecing.

Top Tips Savvy Thrift Store Fabric Shopping

Here are my top tips for shopping for fabric in thrift stores.

  • Brilliant colors with finely detailed patterns are characteristic of the fine silk broadcloths used in men’s shirts and women’s blouses. These fabrics work well as jazzy bag linings when reinforced with fusible, low-melt interfacing. Prices range from 96 cents to $5, depending on how long they have been hanging on the racks.
  • Look for small, regular prints in your favorite colors in the women’s blouses and T-shirt racks. When cut into slightly bias strips, they make marvelous bindings.

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  • Women’s T-shirts and sweaters offer a wonderful array of textures. These fabrics work well in pieced designs, as well as for use in other bag styles, including evening bags and for drawstring-style inserts and closures.

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  • Check out women’s skirts for vivid, contrasting prints in sturdy, heavier weight rayon and polyester to use for all bag components.

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  • Leather skirts in dyed pigskin and calfskin are perfect for bag straps and for piecing. You can even use them for an entire bag if you wish. They are typically priced a few dollars higher than fabric skirts, but where else can you find inexpensive, real leather?

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  • Always stop by the jewelry case. It offers great accents for bags. Quirky little animal figures, outrageous rhinestone floral sprays and even the occasional genuine gold or silver item (unrecognized by everyone but you) can be purchased for less than the price of your favorite coffee drink.

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  • Caution: Thrift store fabric shopping can become an addictive occupation requiring perseverance and lots of storage space!

Special Tools and Supplies for Sewing after Thrift Store Fabric Shopping

Besides a sewing machine and the usual sewing notions, you’ll need some additional tools and supplies from your fabric store and sewing room. The list includes some things you may not have used before, such as glover’s needles, magnetic purse snaps, beeswax, upholstery thread, craft spray adhesive, plastic canvas, and even milk jug plastic. Some of these are easy to locate in your local shop or at anniescatalog.com.

So, get ready to rev up your creative engine and your sewing machine to expand your sewing repertoire and your wardrobe with these two fun and easy bags.

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Wire Wrapping in Beading: Wrap It Up, by Lisa Galvin

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Just when you think you’ve done all you can do with beads, along comes wire wrapping — another idea that will send you diving into your stash of baubles to explore the possibilities! Set your inhibitions aside, get your imagination ready and go WILD with wire wrapping beads!

Available in a rainbow of colors, beading wire is sold in a wide variety of diameters (referred to as “gauge”). Strange as it may seem to many of us, the larger the gauge number, the smaller the wire actually is. For example, an 18-gauge wire is much thicker than a 26-gauge wire. The most common wire sizes used in jewelry making range between 16- and 28-gauge.

The correct beading wire size to use for any given project is typically a matter of preference; however, bead-hole size and end use of the bead(s) or beaded project are the best deciding factors. Projects that will take a lot of abuse or carry much weight during normal wear and tear should use heavier diameters ranging from 16- to 20-gauge. In addition to beading wire, beading eye or head pins can also be wrapped around beads to accent.

Much of wire wrapping can be done with bare hands; however, some basic tools for wire-working include: roundnose, chain-nose, wire-looping and flatnose pliers, as well as wire nippers. While not a necessity, nylon jaw pliers are handy any time you’re working with beading wire to help straighten bends without scratching colorized wire surfaces.

While the possible variations are virtually unlimited, shown here are some basic wire wrapping techniques to get you started.

Wrap & Swirl Bead

1. Cut a 6-inch length of 22-gauge wire (shown below in red). Create a stronger loop using the thin wire by wrapping twice around round-nose pliers at center of wire length (Fig. 1a).

wire wrapping figure 1A

Figure 1A

Note: Wrap only once if using 18- to 20-gauge wire. 

2. Slide bead onto one wire end and push to just below loops. Wrap remaining wire end twice around the first (center) wire, going just above bead. Continue with same wire, bending down around bead to bottom. Wrap twice around wire extending through bottom of bead, bend up around opposite side of bead and wrap 2-3 times at top. Cut excess wire at top of bead only (Fig. 1b).

wire wrapping Figure 1B

Figure 1B

3. Use round-nose pliers to make a loop on remaining wire end (end extending below bead). Use flat-nose pliers to bend, creating spiral shape shown below (Figs. 1c and 1d).

wire wrapping Figure 1C

Figure 1C

wire wrapping Figure 1D

Figure 1D

Wire-wrapped “Bulb” Style Bead

1. Cut an 8- to 10-inch length of 26-gauge wire (shown below in magenta). Create a loop same as shown in Fig. 1a and twist wire ends together twice, going just below loops.

2. Insert one wire end through bead, wrapping the other around outside of bead and twist both wires together once at bottom of bead.

3. Bring wire end that was first wrapped around outside of bead up through hole at bottom side of bead and pull through at top of bead. Insert through loop at top of bead then back around outside of bead to bottom of bead again (Fig. 2a).

wire wrapping Figure 2A

Figure 2A

4. Repeat with the second wire, bringing the wire end upward around bead and inserting through hole at top; pull wire through at bottom of bead once again.

5. Continue the wrapping process to surround bead (or as much as bead-hole size will allow). When all but 2 inches of each wire end remain, bring ends to top of bead and wrap around base of loop, creating a small bead cap (Figs. 2b and 2c). Trim excess wire, tucking or wrapping ends inward to conceal. A drop of glue may be added if needed to secure ends.

wire wrapping Figure 2B

Figure 2B

wire wrapping Figure 2C

Figure 2C

Wire Wrapping Other Types & Styles of Beads

Wire Wrapping to Make a Chain

Create a chain of wirewrapped beads (Fig. 3) by creating loops on both bead ends. Curl one or both wire ends and form to fit on side of bead as an accent. When adding a second and any subsequent beads to the chain, link with previous bead before closing and wrapping the final loop. Continue to create length needed, attaching clasps at end.

wire wrapping Figure 3

Figure 3

Wire Wrapping to Make a Pendant or Drop Earring Pieces

Connecting an assortment of beads together to create a larger piece can be fun (Fig. 4). For best results select a few “key” beads that will act as the focal point and build from there, adding more wire if needed to create your own arrangement.

wire wrapping Figure 4

Figure 4

 

Beads of all shapes, sizes and colors can be wrapped to add an interesting “flair”. A fun challenge you might try is to select the “ugliest” bead in your stash (as if there are ugly beads), wrap it with wire, adding additional seed or E beads as you wrap. You may be amazed at the outcome. Check out the photos below for inspiration!

Wrapped Amber Bead

Wrapped Amber Bead

white bead wrapped with purple wire

White Bead Wrapped with Purple Wire

Green-tinted Bead Wrapped with Green Wire

Green-tinted Bead Wrapped with Green Wire

Like the look of wire-wrapped beads,  but don’t have time or interest in wire wrapping them yourself? Not a problem. Bead manufacturers have taken care of this with individual or packaged wire-wrapped beads readily available at bead and craft stores.

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Holey Moley! Creative Uses for Hole Punches in Card Making, By Kimber McGray

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Card Making Tips & Techniques: Find uses for hole punches, some of the most basic crafting tools, to create one-of-a-kind card designs that really pack a punch!

uses for hole punches

Hole Punch for Card Making

As enthusiastic paper crafters, we are always on the lookout for the newest, latest-and-greatest tools and supplies. Despite the constant influx of new products into the market, there are tools and supplies that remain my go-to items, even though they aren’t the latest-and-greatest. For me, hole punches fall into this category. My hole punches are like old friends. They are always there for me and serve many functions — and they hold up for years. A standard hole punch may seem like a simple, single-function tool, but let’s stop for a moment to consider the many uses for hole punches.

With a basic hole punch, you can create a fluttering trail of a butterfly, linear borders and decorative backgrounds. The punch can lend itself in more functional ways as well. Try running ribbon through a row of punched holes, or use your punch to create notches on the side of your paper to help keep a length of ribbon in its place.

There are a few simple tips that might help you become more successful in finding creative uses for hole punches in your card projects. Before taking the punch to your paper, grab a pencil and draw your pattern or line to help you stay on track when punching. If you are going for the linear look, also mark the increments so the punched holes are not only straight but also equally spaced. Play with different sizes of hole punches to add interest and variety to your projects. The  standard 3/16-inch punch is going to  be your go-to size for most projects,  but don’t forget other punches you have in your collection.

The next thing to consider when discovering uses for hole punches is working with a separate, smaller piece of paper and then adding it to your card front. Most hole punches only have about a 1-inch reach, so if you want a hole in the middle of your card you are going to need to figure out the logistics of it before proceeding. Yes, there are great tools on the market that will allow you to easily punch all the way to the middle of your project, but if you plan ahead a bit you can achieve a similar look without any fancy tools.

Finally, once you’ve created your holey masterpiece, you’ll want the holes to stand out as much as possible. If you layer your punched paper over a contrasting paper, the design will stand out beautifully. Light papers layered over dark, and vice versa, will lend to beautiful, finished projects.

With your trusty old hole punch as your crafting companion, there’s simply no end to the creative fun you can have as you find uses for hole punches in your card making projects!

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Beautiful Border Design in Card Making by Connie Vogt

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Border design in card making can make the finished card project look fantastic, and it can also be the focus of the project itself. Just as fine artwork is enhanced by displaying it in a beautiful frame, borders can be used to put the finishing touches on a handmade card. Border punches are a quick and easy way to add interest to a card, but don’t stop there. Read on for more card making techniques to jazz up your cards with beautiful borders.

BeautifulBorders

The Cutting Edge

Crafting tools for card making have come a long way from the early days. Before the advent of border punches and die-cutting machines, you simply used the handiest tool in your arsenal — your fingers — to tear the edge of a card. Some ingenious crafters then learned to create a scalloped edge with a corner- rounder punch, or how to use decorative scissors to finish off the corners on a card-stock mat. Today, we have a wide range of card making tools readily available to make creating borders a snap.

  • Torn edges are still a favorite among stampers. For a smooth finish, tear the strip to be discarded away from you. For a more textured look, tear the strip to be discarded toward you, and add a touch of ink to the torn edge to highlight the exposed fibers.
  • Another simple technique that doesn’t require any special tools is snipping the edge of your card stock and roughing it up. Use this approach to create a grassy edge, like the bottom of a hula skirt or fringe on a snowman’s scarf. Use decorative scissors to trim off the edge of your card or cut a strip of card stock in half and create two different borders at one time. Flip the scissors over to create yet another look. Whichever method you choose, align the blade design with a portion of the previously cut section to ensure a continuous border design.
  • Border punches are available in many lovely designs, and most have grids, printed designs or registration marks to assist you with alignment. Look for the multifunction punches that cut and emboss a border design in one easy step.
  • Die-cut border strips work much like border punches except that they require a die-cutting machine. The added benefit of these strips is that they can be used like a stencil to color a border design or add color to enhance the cut strip.

Crossing the Border in Card Making

Now that we’ve covered the basics of creating borders, let’s take it a step further:

  • Cut two identical borders and position them back-to-back with a complementary color of card stock underneath to highlight the newly created border design.
  • Run a ribbon through the holes in a border design, adding a bow or knot for more interest.
  • Create a mat or decorative strip by punching or cutting both edges.
  • Create a frame using border punches that have matching corner punches, or create a template to help you miter the corner using just the border punch.

Out of Bounds

Borders are most commonly found as straight lines or strips along the opening edge, but they can also be used along the fold, as an element of the overall design, or even as the focal point of a card.

  • Layered border strips in three complementary colors with the same design or three different designs cut from the same color card stock can add visual interest.
  • Simple scored lines on either side of a design will draw attention to it.
  • Punched or die-cut shapes adhered around an image or along the edge of a card-stock strip create a unique border design.
  • Row after row of borders in a monochromatic or tonal color scheme makes an elegant card front.
  • Punching around all the edges of a square piece of card stock with a border punch will result in a matching medallion. Measure the length of the design and repeat to determine the size of square that will work best with your punch.
  • Simple stamping or paper piercing around the edge of your border design is an easy way to make the design pop. You can also stamp a border, and then trim around the outer edge to enhance it.
  • A stamped border on the inside of your card can become a hidden closure. Fold your card so that the back panel extends beyond the front panel by about an inch or so. Stamp your design on the inside of the back panel so that it is visible when the card is closed. Use a craft knife and cutting mat to cut along one portion of your stamped design and, violà, you have a hidden closure for your card!

Gather up some card stock, a few rubber stamps and punches, and give yourself permission to live life on the decorative edge of card making! Just try one or several of the border design techniques detailed above in your card making projects and explore the creative designs you can come up with.

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Tip-Top Curtain Sewing Patterns for Toppers by Carol Zentgraf

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Looking for a curtain sewing pattern to perk up the top of any curtain panel or valance with details that go beyond the basic rod pocket or hanging tabs? You’ll find some options below. Whether you want to showcase a coordinating lining fabric with reverse tabs that wrap over the drapery rod or create unique tabs, get a curtain sewing pattern that’s guaranteed to add a designer look to your window.

REVERSE  SCALLOP-TOP CURTAIN SEWING PATTERN

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Materials for the Reverse Scallop-Top Curtain Sewing Pattern

Note: Each panel is 53 x 56 inches as shown; adjust length and width as desired for your window. To plan yardage for a different curtain length, measure from the top of the mounted drapery rod to the desired length and add 10 inches for hems and top treatment.

  • 2 yards each of two 54-inch-wide decorating fabrics (coordinating prints) for each finished panel
  • Scraps of coordinating solid-color fabric for button covers
  • 12 (7/8-inch-diameter) button forms for covered buttons
  • 12 (3-inch-long) tassels with hanging loops
  • 11/4-inch-diameter or smaller drapery rod
  • Pattern tracing cloth or paper
  • Permanent fabric adhesive
  • 1/4-inch-wide double-stick fusible web tape
  • All-purpose thread to match fabric
  • Contrasting 12-weight cotton thread for topstitching tabs
  • Size 14 or 16 universal or topstitching sewing machine needle
  • Button thread or buttonhole twist and beeswax
  • Large-eye hand-sewing needle
  • Basic sewing tools and equipment

Cutting Instructions for Reverse Scallop-Top Curtain Sewing Pattern

  • Cut each decorator fabric panel to 66 inches (or the desired finished length plus 10 inches).
  • Cut a 12 x 54-inch strip of pattern tracing cloth or tracing paper.
  • Enlarge the scallop pattern (Figure 1) and trace onto the cloth or paper, tracing six scallops across the length of the paper. Cut out the pattern. For other curtain widths, you will need to add or subtract scallops or adjust the width of the pattern given to fit full scallops across the panel.

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  • Layer the decorator fabric panels for each curtain on a flat surface with right sides together. Center the scallop pattern along the upper edge of the panels with the curves toward the edge (Figure 2). Trace around the scallops. Cut out both layers along the traced lines.

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  • From the solid fabric, cut (12) 2-inch-diameter circles to cover  the buttons.
  • Assembly for Reverse

Scallop-Top Curtain Sewing Pattern Instructions

Use ½-inch-wide seam allowances.

  1. Sew the two panels together along all edges, leaving a 10-inch-long opening for turning in the lower edge. Trim and clip the curves and corners; turn right side out and press, turning in the opening edges. Slipstitch the opening edges together.
  2. Fold the scalloped edge to the curtain right side so the scalloped section measures 9 inches from the top to the lower edge of the scallops. Pin in place across the upper edge.
  3. Apply short lengths of fusible web tape to the underside around the scalloped edges and fuse the scallops in place following the manufacturer’s directions.
  4. Thread the sewing machine needle (size 14 or 16) with contrasting 12-weight thread and topstitch the scallops in place, stitching ¼ inch from the finished edge.
  5. Cover the buttons with the contrasting fabric circles following the package directions.
  6. Wax the button thread or buttonhole twist (see Snip-It on page 78) and use to sew a button in the center of each scallop 1 inch above the lower finished edge. For the easiest sewing, insert both thread ends though a large-eye hand-sewing needle and stitch through the fabric from front to back. Knot the thread ends several times and trim the excess thread.
  7. Hang a tassel loop over each button. Twist the loop cords slightly and glue together using a very small amount of fabric adhesive.
  8. To hang the panels, insert the drapery rod through the pocket above the stitched-down scallops.

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ROUND ‘EM UP TOPPER SEWING PATTERN

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Round ‘Em Up Curtain Sewing Pattern Materials

  • Novelty cowboy print curtain panel(s) in length to fit window with upper edge unfinished
  • 3½-inch-wide strip of suede or nonwoven faux-suede in a length equal to the finished width of the curtain panel
  • 1¾ x 2¾-inch metal conchos (determine required number in step 1)
  • 2 (16-inch-long) pieces of leather lacing for each concho
  • Leather branding tool with star attachment
  • Permanent fabric adhesive
  • Self-adhesive, double-sided basting tape
  • Basic sewing tools and equipment

Assembly for Round ‘Em Up Curtain Sewing Pattern

  1. To determine the number of conchos needed, measure the curtain panel width. You will need one concho for each outer edge. Mark the outer edge positions 1 inch in from the finished edges, and then determine the number that will fit between them with approximately 5 inches of space between conchos. Adjust this spacing as needed and mark the concho positions on the curtain panel wrong side.
  2. Align the ends of two pieces of lacing at each mark at the upper raw edge on the wrong side of the curtain panel. Stitch in place a scant ½ inch from the raw edge.
  3. With raw edges even and the right side of the suede strip against the wrong side of the curtain panel, stitch ½ inch from the raw edges, catching the leather lacings. Use basting tape within the seam allowance to hold the layers together for stitching. Do not use pins on the suede because they will leave permanent holes.
  4. Turn the suede strip to the right side of the curtain panel and press with a warm iron from the fabric side at the upper edge, not on the suede. Use basting tape on the underside to secure the lower edge of the suede strip to the curtain for stitching. Stitch close to the lower edge of the strip (Figure 3).
  5. Center the conchos on the suede strip with each concho center directly below the leather laces. Use fabric adhesive to glue the concho edges in place and allow to dry completely.
  6. To emboss the suede strip, work on an ironing board or other heatresistant surface. Attach the star stamp to the branding tool and plug the tool into an electric outlet. Press the heated tool firmly onto the suede and lift straight up. Repeat to emboss stars as desired around the conchos.
  7. To make the hanging loops, form each one and tie an overhand knot, adjusting so all loops are the same length across the curtain panel. Thread the ends through the concho center.
  8. Slip the leather loops over the curtain rod and adjust the curtain fullness as desired.

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BUTTONED-RIBBON TAB TOPS CURTAIN SEWING PATTERN

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Materials for the Buttoned-Ribbon Tab Tops Curtain Sewing Pattern

  • Curtain panel with unfinished upper edge (see Note below for sizing)
  • Ribbon (determine yardage in step 2) 11/4-inch-wide grosgrain: 9 inches for each tab 7/8-inch-wide grosgrain: 9 inches for each tab 1/4-inch-wide decorative ribbon: 9 inches for each alternate tab
  • Porcelain or other decorative buttons (1–11/4-inch-diameter), one for each tab
  • 1/4- and ½-inch-wide double-stick fusible web tape
  • Liquid seam sealant
  • All-purpose thread to match fabric and ribbons
  • Basic sewing tools and equipment

Note: In addition to the bottom hem allowance, add 3 inches for the selffacing at the upper edge. Determine the desired finished panel width and then add 1½ inches for side hems and an additional 2½ inches per pleat.

Assembly for Buttoned-Ribbon Tab Tops Curtain Sewing Pattern

  1. Turn under and press 3 inches at the upper unfinished edge of the curtain panel. Turn under and press ½ inch at the raw edge. Pin in place and stitch ¼ inch from the hem edge. Turn under and press ½ inch at each side, and then turn and press an additional 1-inchwide hem. Edgestitch in place
  2. Determine the number of tabbed pleats that will fit across the panel. The box pleats should finish to 1¼ inches wide. Plot the pleat locations with the outermost pleats located 1½ inches from the finished side edges and approximately 4½– 5 inches between the pleat edges. Note the number of pleats required to determine how many buttons and how much yardage of each ribbon you will need for the loops. Note: Every other loop in the sample has three ribbons and the alternate loops only two ribbons. You may use one, two or three ribbons for the loops as you wish for the desired finished effect.
  3. Cut the ribbons into 9-inch lengths. To assemble each tab, fuse ½-inchwide fusible web tape to the center of the 7/8-inch-wide ribbon. Remove the paper backing from the strip and center and fuse the ribbon to the 1¼-inchwide ribbon. On half of the ribbons, repeat to apply the ¼-inch-wide ribbons on top of the second ribbon. Trim the end of each ribbon as shown in Figure 5.
  4. Pin each tab to a pleat with the points of the shaped end 3½ inches below the curtain upper edge. Turn the remaining ribbon under to form a loop that is 2¼ inches deep; pin the short end in place on the underside of the curtain. Stitch across each ribbon ¼ inch from the upper edge of the curtain panel (Figure 5). Treat the cut ends of the ribbon on the underside of the curtain with seam sealant to prevent fraying.
  5. Sew a button to the lower edge of each tab.

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BUCKLE ME UP TAB TOPPER CURTAIN SEWING PATTERN

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Materials for the Buckle Me Up Tab Topper Curtain Sewing Pattern

  • Curtain panel with unfinished upper edge (side and bottom hems completed)
  • Matching fabric facing strip, 4 inches wide and the length across the panel width plus 1 inch for turn-under allowance
  • 3 x 14-inch fabric strip for each tab (determine required number in step 1)
  • Overall buckle with button for each tab
  • All-purpose thread to match fabric
  • Basic sewing tools and equipment

Assembly for Buckle Me Up  Tab Topper Curtain Sewing Pattern

  1. To determine the number of tabs you will need, measure the width of your curtain panel. Plan for one tab 1½ inches from each finished side edge, and then evenly space tabs 5–6 inches apart across the upper edge. Mark tab placements on the curtain panel right side at the upper edge.
  2. To make each tab, fold the fabric strip in half lengthwise with right sides facing. Stitch ¼ inch from the long raw edges. Adjust the strip so the seam is centered in the strip and stitch across one short end (Figure 6).
  3. Turn right side out and press. With the raw edges even and the seam against the curtain right side, center each tab over a placement line. Machine-baste a scant ½ inch from the raw edges.
  4. With right sides together, sew the facing strip to the upper edge of the panel. Turn to the wrong side and press, turning under ½ inch at each short end. Stitch close to the folded edges.
  5. Follow the buckle manufacturer’s instructions to attach a button below each tab 1½ inches from the curtain panel upper edge.
  6. Thread the raw end of each tab through a buckle and adjust so all loops are the same desired length. Machinestitch the end in place or use fusible web tape to secure the end.
  7. Snap the buckle over the button and slide the loops onto the curtain rod.

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Top It Off: Ideas to Spice Up Your Curtain Sewing Pattern
Looking for more upper-edge embellishment ideas for your curtain sewing pattern? Consider adding grommets or buttonholes to the header of a panel in your curtain sewing pattern, then tying them in place with lace, ribbon, cord or fabric ties. You can even make extra-long buttonholes and thread a narrow rod through them. How about hanging options for your curtain sewing pattern other than drapery rods? Attach knobs, hooks or drawer pulls to a window frame or the wall above a window and hang the tabs over them.

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Or, cover buttons and sew them to the top of a lined panel with a flipped over edge. Sew a thread loop to the wrong side of the fabric behind each button and hang the loops on nails.

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