Monthly Archives: November 2012



Head Wrap.Bandana.Scarf



This head wrap/scarf is modeled after the tubular designs that are popular right now.

Store bought ones come in varying fabric blends from merino wool, to cotton, to synthetic fibers. This one is cotton. Though cotton doesn’t dry as quickly or keep you as warm as the other blends, it is still my all-time favourite for a balance of comfort, variety of designs and affordability.

I don’t use my synthetic/wool blend one until the really cold weather starts and I can be sure I’ll be spending my days working outdoors.

I used a piece of scrap fabric from a fabric store (cotton jersey-knit) but you could use and old t-shirt, or really any fabric you want next to your skin.

If you want to make one that has higher performance properties such as: moisture wicking, heat retention, insulation, just hit up your local thrift store and look for an athletic-style shirt that is made of the fabric blend you want.

How to:

  1. Cut fabric into a square roughly 20” x 20”
  2. Fold in half to form a rectangle (make sure the design is on the inside).
  3. Sew a straight stitch seam up the edge to join the fabric.
  4. This should form a tube of fabric, turn it inside out. That’s it, that’s what these “Buff” style tubular scarves/bandanas are-Tubes!

If your scarf is not as close fitting as you like (too much space between your neck and fabric) then just add another straight seam beside the first one to make it smaller.

Option for colder weather:

1. If you like the design of the fabric, but it will be too thin for winter use, simply add a layer. Cut your 20”x20” piece of fabric and lay it flat, this time face up.

2. Cut another 20” x 20” piece of fabric for insulation (an old wool scarf, a piece of polar fleece). It’s easy to find fleece scarves at thrift stores for a dollar or two.

3. Sew these two squares together, leaving one seam open (similar to a pillow case). Once they are joined, turn it inside out so all of the good faces are showing.

4. Now fold it in half (step 2 above) and follow through to create the fabric tube. Your finished result should show the design on the outside and have your warm insulating layer on the inside.

These make great gifts for outdoor friends. I’ve had people ask me where I bought my Buff as they admire my homemade version (“Buff” is one of the leading brands making these). I recently bought a Buff to compare. Both are comfortable, and I love the designs on both.

Store bought ones might be between $10-40, whereas a homemade one can be made for under $5.

I would like to learn more about Buff technology, especially their UV rated fabrics.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a typical t-shirt has an SPF rating lower than 15.

Since first writing this post, I contacted the folks at Buff to find out about UV protection.

Here is what they wrote:

“Buffs vary in sun protection depending on the colour. Typical Buff blocks about 40% of sun’s rays. A High UV Protection Buff has a slightly different weave and is made from Coolmax Extreme fabric and gives 95% UV Protection.”

So, there you have it, from the horse’s mouth!



Last summer I made some hammocks as gifts for friends. I made them based on a simple design I came up with a couple of summers ago. My first hammocks were made out of a painting drop cloth that was laying around, those hammocks have survived two summers of wear and tear . Painting drop cloths are made of a durable, raw-canvas type of material.

Frugal option: depending on how much weight it has to support, use a doubled over bed sheet (especially if it’s for small children). When using fabrics like cottons and synthetic blends (like bed sheets, or other used items that have sustained wear and tear) I would suggest making a hammock that can be easily removed from its anchors so as to avoid the daily weathering that would damage the fibers and decrease the strength.

Another option is using panel drapes found in thrift stores. They have neat patterns, they already have strong, finished seams all around. All you have to do is fold over the ends to make spots to run rope through.

The fabric shown here, was purchased at Fabricland. It is outdoor upholstery fabric: rot resistant, and UV resistant. This fabric is usually $24 a meter, but I found this stuff for half price in the sale section. The thread is also UV and rot resistant (my personal standards are lower, I’m happy with my drop-cloth hammocks, but for friends and family, I decided to take every precaution that would decrease the likelihood of seams ripping pre-maturely).  The thread cost me an extra $5.

How to:

The design for this hammock is surprisingly simple. It is a banana-style sling. If I remember correctly, I only needed one meter of fabric per hammock.

1. Cut the fabric into a rectangle. Make it as wide as you like  (I think mine are a meter wide). Leave a foot or more on each end above the head and below the foot of whoever intends to lay in it. Since I made mine for adults, I had my dad come and lay down on the fabric on the floor because he is 6′ tall, and folded the ends under so that he had another 1’6” extending beyond his head and feet.

Yes, I realize I am using metric and imperial measurements here, I’m sure you’ll figure it out!

2. Fold the sides up 1″, and sew two seams (straight stitch) up the length of the 1” fold. Do this to each side of your hammock (along the lengths that will run along the body). This will generate strength along the edges and reinforce the fabric, stopping it from fraying.

3. Treatment for the ends (where head and feet will go). Fold the fabric (similar to the edges) except make these areas wide enough to pass a rope through later. Mine were a little wider than the width of my hand once they were sewn. Here, I sewed 3, parallel, straight stitch seams about 1/4″ apart to secure the fold. 3 seams might be overkill but I like my stuff to hold up.

4. Take some rope and run it through each end. Tie your rope in a knot and there you have it. That’s pretty much it! The hammock is a rectangle of fabric, with rope loops running through each end.

5. If you are feeling generous, you can roll it up and wrap enough extra rope around it so whoever you are giving it to can make two anchors from which to secure it. I say generous, because rope can be expensive and you do want to use a rot and abrasion resistant rope (it will say so on the package). Cotton ropes and cheaper ropes will tear with very little hammock swinging. Bark is abrasive, so if there is one thing to expect to spend a little money on, it should be your rope.

To make the hammock removable:

Tie rope around a tree. Tie a secure knot in that rope.Tie another length of rope around the second tree and secure it with a knot. These ropes will not move, they are your “anchors”. Use a metal ‘S’ shaped hook (found at hardware stores, some department stores) or a carabiner (found in outdoor and sporting goods stores) to secure and remove the ends of your hammock. This way, you can take it down in bad weather and reduce the weathering it undergoes, and extend its life. You can keep the S-hook or carabiner attached to the hammock’s end loops until the next time you want to put it up.

Happy swinging!

Duvet Cover



I made a duvet cover for my brother and my sister-in-law for their wedding gift (birds on branches).

The pictures labeled “process” illustrates the process I went through to get the image onto the fabric.

The picture labeled “product” shows a few details of the finished product: a duvet cover, fitted sheet, and pillow cases, inside tag with wedding date painted onto it.

For wedding duvet cover, the top fabric is a 4 yr old , used, 100% cotton bed sheet. I purchased a queen sized bed sheet set for my brother and his wife and simply used the top-flat sheet to create the other half of the envelope that is a duvet cover. So now they don’t get a top sheet but that’s ok, they’re overrated anyway and your feet get tangled in them!

How to:


1. Draw, print, create the image you would like to have on your duvet cover.

2. Draw a square grid over the design.

3. Find an old (or new if you can afford it) bed sheet (100% cotton) to transfer your design onto (pre-washed & pre-shrunk). Lay the bed sheet out flat on the floor (protect the floor underneath using some newsprint or plastic because you will be using fabric paint, which is water based, and can bleed through fabrics).

4.  Draw a square grid over your bed sheet. I used a piece of light coloured chalk so it will wash off easily later (not visible in the photo). The grid I used for the drawing was 4 squares x 4 squares. So, to make my bed sheet grid, I divided the bed sheet into four equal (much larger) squares. In doing this, you can plan to recreate your design, one square at a time, which is not as intimidating as trying to tackle the entire design at once.

5. Using your small design as a reference, sketch your design in large format, one square at a time.

An alternative, to step 4 and 5, is using a projector (these can be bought at craft stores and department stores, or sometimes borrowed from schools). Place your design under the projector and it uses light and magnification to project the image larger onto a wall (which you could pin your bed sheet to) in order to trace the image.  Another alternative would be a digital projector connected to a computer to project your image.

6. Once you are happy with your sketch, using a paint brush, paint over/fill in your design using fabric paint (available at most craft stores, art supply stores, some department stores). Silk screening ink will also work. Some of these paints are water based, which is nice because you can add a little water to them to thin them out (though most fabric paint labels will recommend you use another of their products to extend the paint, or thin it out).

*Warning: adding too much water will create a thin, runny consistency and will bleed through fabric more readily. Picture the streaking that happens when you have a stain on clothing, the fluid often will streak in the direction of the weave of the fabric. If you want crisp lines on your design, you don’t want it to bleed and streak in different directions. Test your paint on a scrap of fabric to see how it will adhere to the fabric.

Frugal tip: If you don’t want to pay craft-store/department store prices, acrylic craft paint can be used like fabric paint, but I’m told it doesn’t last as long. I was at the dollar store the other day and saw (beside the acrylic craft paint) tubes of stuff you add to the paint to make it suitable for fabric.

7. Allow paint to dry. Heat iron on high heat.

8. Most of the fabric paints or silk screening inks I have used recommend heating the design for 3-5 minutes on the underside and face. To do this, place a piece of paper over and under the image and iron over the paper in a circular motion on a flat surface, making sure not to stay in one place for too long (and create burn marks). I ironed mine on an ironing board, with a piece of craft paper above and under the sheet. I usually get bored and never do both sides. I have no complaints yet, it will probably shorten the life of my duvet cover image. Whatever, life is short! When in doubt, read the instructions on your product labels.


1. Once the design is heat treated, and has had time to cool, I like to put it in the wash again. It’s like test-driving it, making sure everything stays put. I would hate to give someone a pretty duvet cover and then have it disappear in the wash!

2. After the sheet is dry, find another flat bed sheet and lay the design sheet on top, face down. Pin the edges around the two sides and top to secure the fabric for sewing. Basically, it should now look like an oversized pillow case, with a design hiding inside.

3. Sew around the edges (leaving the bottom edge open). Once sewn, turn it right-side-out and voila, you have a duvet cover!

4.  The bottom remains open for a blanket to slide in and out, but you can create closures. For this one I used ties. To make ties, cut strips of fabric as wide as your pinky finger from the bottom or top bed sheet before you sew them together (cut from an edge that will disappear from sight once the cover is finished). Sew the ties along their edges to make them look nicer, or do what I do-I cut the “finished” seam from one edge of the sheet before sandwiching them together and then just cut lengths of it for ties. No special sewing required. Attach ties to top and bottom sheets so they can be tied together, or come apart for removal of the inner blanket.

You can also sew button holes and use buttons, or sew in a zipper as a closure. I like the look of the ties, and they don’t cost extra. I am a lazy and frugal seamstress.

This project can be made using fabric bought from fabric stores or really any big square of fabric you can find, but I have found (after making a few of these) that bed sheets are easy to come by. They have finished edges already, they are available for purchase individually, you can up-cycle old ones or ask friends for theirs, which makes your project more cost effective and takes some of the work off your hands. After all, what better fabric to use for a blanket cover, than fabric that is already the shape of a bed?


But duvets are expensive, though I love the look of duvet covers, I can’t afford a duvet blanket.

I want to make a duvet for my friend, but he/she only has a regular comforter blanket.

Not a problem, any blanket can be slid into a duvet cover. You don’t need to be surrounded in costly down filled pockets to stay cozy (though it’s a treat). You can insert your current (typically poly-filled) comforter into a duvet cover. Don’t be afraid to make someone a “duvet cover”, who doesn’t own a “duvet blanket”. You can pile as many blankets as you want into a cover, and your bed will look just like the ones in the IKEA magazine advertisements!

*The Birch Tree Duvet Cover is made the same way, except first I laid down three vertical pieces of white fabric to be the trees (held on using black thread, zig-zag stitching), and then used fabric paint on the white fabric*

Prayer Flags


Prayer Flags decorate my last “home” a little cabin in the woods.



I recently decided to make some custom prayer flags. I thought they would be an answer to carrying a photo album that weighed next to nothing. For mine I layered images over each other using photoshop so that I could compress many memories into only a few images.

How to:

  1. Create, collect, compile, draw, scan…whatever you need to do to make your images. Compile your images into a document that you can print using your printer.
  2. Buy some iron-on (t-shirt transfer) paper. This is what you will print onto. Follow the instructions on the package, and don’t forget to reverse your image (in printing options) so that when you iron it onto your fabric, it doesn’t display backwards. This is especially important if you included text in your images.
  3. Pre-wash and pre-shrink your 100% cotton fabric. Use 100% cotton because synthetic materials (often blended in with cotton in common fabrics) burn when they are treated with heat. You might get lucky and come across an old bed sheet that is 100% cotton, or cut up an old blouse or dress shirt. You will need to iron on your transfers using an iron at its hottest setting for a length of time that might burn synthetic blends.
  4. Iron on your images and let cool before removing transfer paper film.
  5. Lay some string (anything will do, yarn, hemp, ribbon, etc…) along the tops of your flags and run it through a sewing machine. I used a zig-zag stitch to trap the string and fasten it to the flags. You may also sew it by hand.
  6. You’re done! You have created an unconventional photo album that will most likely be a conversation piece wherever it gets strung up.


I made a second string for my boyfriend, trading a few of my images for ones tailored to his experiences. He is, after all, in many of the photos and has been with me for my recent adventures. He is going to university across the country, 5000 km away from home, so I figured he might also appreciate the sentiment. His are now hanging above his bed, and make his small room look rather festive.

Some more ideas

  • Weddings/Anniversaries
  • Babies
  • Adventures/vacations with friends
  • Celebrate a life/commemorate a death
  • Collections of poems/inspirational phrases

The possibilities are endless. Basically, you can put anything on these flags, hang them up and it will look like a celebration!