Crafting with Remnants

Have leftover scraps from your bunting project?  Check out this thrifty way to make your fabrics do double duty as a festive background for signs you might need at your party.  Without the letters, these textured fabric “pictures” would make beautifully simple wall decorations in your own home. Craft on!

party decoration 99 cent store crafts fabric picture sign

Here’s what you need:

99 cent store craft ideas fabric frame party decoration sign

  • inexpensive frames
  • exacto knife
  • coordinating cardstock
  • omnigrid and rotary cutting mat (or a basic ruler and scissors)
  • glue stick
  • leftover fabric
  • tape or some type of adhesive
  • decorative, dimensional stickers

Here’s what you do:

1. Flip over your frame and use your exacto knife to remove the kraft paper backing from frame.

party decoration 99 cent store crafts fabric picture signparty decoration 99 cent store crafts fabric picture sign

2. Remove everything from frame and separate into individual parts – glass, matting, picture, frame and backing.

3. Remove original picture and use tape to secure fabric piece to mat, as shown.

party decoration 99 cent store crafts fabric picture signparty decoration 99 cent store crafts fabric picture sign

4. Measure and cut a piece of cardstock to cover original matting.  I used a Olfa rotary cutter and mat and an Omingrid because I have them on hand, but a ruler and scissors would also work well.

5. Glue cardstock mat to original mat.

party decoration 99 cent store crafts fabric picture signparty decoration 99 cent store crafts fabric picture sign

6. Put your frame back together, omitting the glass plate.

7. Use letter stickers to create your signs.

I have a square motif going with the baby shower and wanted to continue that with my signage. I found my inexpensive frames at the 99 cent store, colorful cardstock from my local Joann’s and my dimensional stickers (called “thickers” – how cute is that?) from Tuesday Morning (my inexpensive craft supply mecca!).

99 cent store crafts fabric frames party decoration sign

Total cost of the project: $4 for two, coordinating signs!

A Bunting We Will Make

how to make square fabric bunting craft party decoration

When I first set out to make decorations for an upcoming baby shower, I had no idea that what I wanted for decoration was called a bunting.  So first, a definition:

bunt·ing 1 (bntng)

n.

  1. A light cotton or woolen cloth used for making flags.
  2. Flags considered as a group.
  3. Strips of cloth or material usually in the colors of the national flag, used especially as drapery or streamers for festive decoration.

The couple is having a girl, and I chose my color scheme based on a home decorating textile found at Joann’s – a modern floral with bright and muted yellows and pinks, lemongrass green and a rich, chocolate brown.

how to make square fabric bunting craft party decoration

Many of the examples of buntings I’d seen were chevron-shaped, but I’ve always been in love with the simple, modern shape of a square.  I cut 6″ x 6″ squares, adding a 1/2″ seam allowance on one side for attaching to a strand of jute twine.  Strung along the wall of an indoor or outdoor area, this decoration gives a festive burst of color, perfect for celebrations.  It also would make a beautiful nursery decoration if shortened, and strung with ribbon instead of twine.

Here’s what you need:

how to make square fabric bunting craft party decoration

  • 1/3 yd each of six different fabrics (yardage needed will depend on space you are decorating – mine was large.  If you are wanting to make something small, do 1/6 of a yard for each)
  • rotary cutter, rotary mat and Omnigrip (wonderful if you are a quilter and have these already, otherwise use a ruler and scissors)
  • jute twine
  • Stitch Witchery by Dritz
  • iron & ironing board

Here’s what you do:

how to make square fabric bunting craft party decorationhow to make square fabric bunting craft party decoration

  1. Use your rotary cutter, mat and quilting ruler (or scissors and ruler) to cut 6.5′ x 6″ squares out of your fabrics.  This is done extremely fast and precise with a rotary cutter and mat, so I’d invest in these tools  if you work with fabrics a lot!
  2. Choose a sequence for hanging your squares.  I gave mine a bit of variety by shifting the position of  the inspiration print throughout the sequence.
  3. Attach squares to jute twine, tearing off approximately 6″ pieces of your stitch witchery as you go, and spacing the squares 3″ apart.  To get uniform spacing, cut a business card to a 3″ length and use as a guide to mark placement of your next square – fast and easy!
  4. Hang and admire your craftiness!

how to make square fabric bunting craft party decoration

Tips: Buy fabric on sale, or better yet, shop only the clearance fabrics!  Joann’s was having an extra 50% off clearance fabrics sale that I took advantage of – the inspiration fabric was the only one not on clearance, but it was still 40% off! And don’t forget to check the remnants section – there’s usually some pretty great stuff in there that is less than a yard and 50% off the current sticker price. Stitch Witchery can be found at your local craft or hobby store, as well as places like Walmart.  Jute twine was purchased at the Dollar Tree.  Always remember, shop sales, discount stores and use coupons!

Cost: $10 for a VERY long bunting!
When I first set out to make decorations for an upcoming baby shower, I had no idea that what I wanted for decoration was called a bunting.  First, a definition:

(not chicken) Soup for the Soul

We’ve been trying out more soup recipes this winter due to the extended cold weather and I thought I’d post a few that we found to be fairly easy and quite delicious.  The first is a winter spin on an old, italian classic – minestrone.   Cooking Light magazine adds swiss chard, fennel and butternut squash, giving this traditional soup a hearty flair.  For the second soup, I’d been looking for good lentil dishes and when my coworker gave me some amazing home-grown lemons, I thought this Food & Wine Magazine recipe would be a perfect way to incorporate the two.

Take your meal to the next level with a serving of hot, crusty bread – our favorite is the Roasted Garlic from La Brea Bakery (they sell a dual-pack at Costco, if you can’t find it at your local grocer).  So stay in, turn on the stove, and warm up with these satisfying bowls of goodness!

Winter Minestrone (serves 4-6)

winter minestrone soup recipe cooking light magazine

Ingredients:

  • 2  teaspoons  olive oil
  • 1/2  cup  chopped onion
  • 1/2  teaspoon  dried basil
  • 1/2  teaspoon  dried oregano
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/4  cups  cubed peeled acorn or butternut squash (about 1 medium)
  • 3/4  cup  diced zucchini
  • 1/2  cup  chopped carrot
  • 1/2  cup  diced fennel
  • 1  cup  water
  • 1  (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 5  tablespoons  no-salt-added tomato paste
  • 1/4  cup  uncooked ditalini (any small pasta would work well, I used orzo)
  • 2 1/2  cups  chopped Swiss chard
  • 1/2  cup  rinsed and drained canned Great Northern Beans (I used white beans)
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 2  tablespoons  grated Asiago cheese (optional)

winter minestrone soup recipe cooking light magazine

Directions:
  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, basil, oregano, and garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender.
  2. Add squash and next 3 ingredients (through fennel); sauté 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in 1 cup water, broth, and tomato paste; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender.
  4. Stir in pasta; cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add chard; cook 3 minutes.
  6. Add beans; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in pepper. Serve with cheese.

Lentil and Swiss Chard Soup (serves 4-6)

lentil and swiss chard soup recipe food and wine magazine

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • drizzle of  olive oil for pan, plus more for serving (optional)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1 bunch green Swiss chard (1 1/4 pounds), ribs removed and reserved for another use, leaves coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils with the water, stock and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. Cover partially and cook over moderately low heat until the lentils are barely tender, about 25 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, crushed pepper and a pinch of salt and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cilantro and cook for 1 minute. Gradually add the chard leaves and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the chard to the lentils, cover partially, and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls, season with pepper and olive oil and serve.

lentil and swiss chard soup recipe food and wine magazine

Bake Your Heart Out

Necco Conversation Heart candies cookie valentine's day craft recipeNecco’s tiny pastel hearts with sayings of love on them serve as the perfect inspiration for a  holiday baking craft.  Last year, Martha’s team created these cute, techy cookie versions and more recently, I saw these in the winter Williams-Sonoma catalog, in a chocolate form.   What a festive, thoughtful and creative way to express your thanks and love to those around you this Valentine’s Day!  For the cookies below, I prefer to use a super easy lemon shortbread cookie with a basic, yet modified, royal icing recipe.  Letters are then piped on with store-bought red fondant icing to keep things simple.  These are definitely a labor of love, especially if you are mixing different colors of icing, but well worth the effort!

Shopping list:

  • flour
  • butter
  • sugar
  • salt
  • 2-3 lemons
  • powdered sugar
  • parchment paper
  • meringue powder
  • red fondant icing pen
  • food coloring (gel paste is best, but the liquid version works, too, and is cheaper)
  • heart-shaped cookie cutter

* The last 4 items on your list can be purchased from Michael’s, or other craft stores, with a baking section.

conversation heart cookie valentines day baking craft recipe

For the shortbread cookie (adapted from Sunset Magazine):

Makes ~ 2 dozen 3″ cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2  cups  flour
  • 1  cup  cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/2  cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • zest from one lemon

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Put flour, butter, granulated sugar, salt and lemon zest in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed until blended, then increase to medium and mix until dough is no longer crumbly and just comes together.

2. Form dough into a disk; chill 30 minutes.

3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough 1/4 in. thick. Cut dough into hearts with a heart-shaped cookie cutter. Arrange cookies on baking sheets and chill 15 minutes.

4. Bake until light golden brown, 15 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before icing.

conversation heart cookie valentines day baking craft recipe

For the icing (adapted from Martha Stewart):

Makes 2 1/3 cups

  • 1 box confectioners’ sugar (1 pound)
  • 5 tablespoons meringue powder
  • scant 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar and meringue powder.

2. Mixing on low speed, mix in lemon juice until desired thickness is achieved. For a thinner consistency, usually used for flooding, add some water. A thicker consistency is generally used for outlining and adding details. Mix until icing holds a ribbonlike trail on the surface of the mixture for 5 seconds when you raise the paddle.

3. First outline, then flood your cookies.  Allow to dry completely prior to using your fondant pen for writing.

conversation heart cookie valentines day baking craft recipe

Bring them to your office on a tray for all to enjoy or wrap them in pairs in cellophane bags and tie off with red ribbon for a more personal touch.

Feel Like Makin’ Love Wreaths?

Williams-Sonoma Lavender Heart Wreath

I’ve never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day, nor anything heart-shaped for that matter, but when I saw this gorgeous Lavender Heart Wreath in the winter Williams-Sonoma catalog, my opinion softened a little.  While the scent of a lavender wreath would be fabulous, the $60 price tag makes my purse strings want to snap.  Using this beautiful wreath for inspiration, I scoured my favorite discount and craft stores to create a more affordable, homemade version.

Tuesday Morning had lilac-colored dried phalaris for $1.49 a bunch – I purchased six bunches to cover the 12-inch grapevine heart wreath I picked up at Michael’s.

Here’s what you need:

heart shaped wreath valentine's craft

  • heart-shaped grapevine wreath
  • decorative foliage (I used dried phalaris  – a type of grass)
  • hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • twill ribbon tape
  • scissors

Here’s what you do:

heart shaped wreath valentine's craftheart shaped wreath valentine's craft

  1. Use scissors to snip your decorative foliage as needed – my phalaris came on long stems, so I clipped the buds from the stems.
  2. Apply hot glue to the underside of your decoration and attach to wreath in a tightly woven, slightly overlapping fashion.  I started from the center and worked my way around the wreath (see picture) to ensure uniformity.
  3. Once wreath is covered, flip over and thread your twill ribbon through the grapevine branches, as shown.
  4. Use the ribbon to make a bow approximately 6 inches above the top of wreath.  Clip ends of ribbon tape on the diagonal so that the tips just brush the top of the wreath.  Hang and enjoy!

heart shaped wreath valentine's craft

Tips: Use your 40% off Michael’s coupon for the wreath if it isn’t already on sale.  The twill ribbon tape I used was free from J Crew when I purchased a gift for someone and requested a box.  Always keep things that could be of use to you later, even if you’re not sure what you’d use them for immediately!  Save-on-Crafts has dried lavender for $8.50 for a bunch of 60 stems if you want to try to replicate the WS wreath, though you’re on your own for how much you’d need to order!

Cost: $12!