From the category archives:

make something

DIY: I LOVE MOM paper garland | Design Mom

Images and text by Amy Christie for Design Mom.

You know I love a sewn paper garland, and with Mother’s Day coming up this Sunday, I just had to put one together for moms. Big or mini, I think ‘I ♥ MOM’ says it all. This tutorial is the same as the tutorial from a few months back — it’s carefully feeding paper through the sewing machine. But letters pose a little more of a challenge.

DIY: I LOVE MOM paper garland | Design Mom

Making use sure each letter is pierced at least once to hold it in place can be tricky. But don’t be frightened, I’ve got tips for you below. And I should note: to make the hearts, I used watercolors on paper and then punched them out. I love the texture the watercolor adds!

DIY: I LOVE MOM paper garland | Design Mom

Add the garland around a wrapped bunch of flowers or use it to tie up the gift for the best mom in the world. I think it would be perfect to put on a breakfast-in-bed tray.

DIY: I LOVE MOM paper garland | Design Mom

You ready to get started?

Click here for the full tutorial.

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a library of sketchbooks

By Amy Hackworth.

As an earnest high school art student, I labored over projects that had considerably more heart than skill. At the time, I couldn’t fathom that great artists regularly parted with their beloved projects anymore than I could imagine parting with my firstborn child. I was shocked and saddened to realize that artists made a living by selling their work. They created something beautiful, some piece of themselves, and then (hopefully) sold it. To strangers, even.

Thankfully, artists do sell and share their work regularly, and we are all the better when their concepts and ideas have a home in the world. But gallery space can be hard to come by, which is part of the reason the Sketchbook Project exists. It’s an interactive, crowd-sourced community art project where everyone is welcome. (Over 26,000 folks have participated so far!)

You sign up to receive a sketchbook, choose a theme to loosely follow, and then fill your book with your own personal brand of brilliance. I love the Sketchbook Project because its supports the notion that we all have something worth saying through art. You can fill a sketchbook with sketches (of course), or painting, drawing, collage, photographs, photocopies, phototransfers, stencils, or tracings. Wouldn’t a collaborative family sketchbook be a fantastic summer project with kids?

And unlike my carefully guarded high school art projects, this prized possession is meant to be shared with the world. Once your sketchbook is full, you send it to its permanent home at Brooklyn Art Library where it will be cataloged and shelved, but not before it travels the country in the Sketchbook Project’s Mobile Library (check out the tour here). You can even have it digitized so it can be viewed online.

Would creating (and parting with) a sketchbook be a breeze for you? Or a perfect summer challenge? I think I’d feel more motivated if I knew my project was off to a fancy mobile library. Would you?

P.S. I just picked up a couple of art books for our kids at a museum sale. I can’t wait to dive into this drawing book with our boys and try out some of the printing projects in this one. Do you have favorite art/activity books that have inspired you or your little ones?

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An Excitement Pack

May 3, 2013

Excitement Pack—to get your house guests excited before their trip

By Koseli.

I recently ran into the sweetest idea for upcoming house guests: an excitement pack by Giulia Duch. She lives in Barcelona and instead of just waiting for her friend from the U.S. to arrive, she collected photos, mementos, ticket stubs, and small treats that represented her favorite to-dos, and labeled the items with things like, “you’ll sleep here”, or “you’ll sunburn here”. Then she packed it all up in a simple packing envelope, and sent it away.

Can you imagine being the friend on the receiving end? Best surprise package ever! I can’t wait to borrow Giulia’s idea for the next time we have visitors to New York.

How do you capture the “looking forward” to a trip part? Any pre-trip traditions to help you savor the experience?

Excitement Pack—to get your house guests excited before their trip Excitement Pack—to get your house guests excited before their trip

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DIY: Printed Dish Towels

April 29, 2013

Make these Easy Stamped Kitchen Towels  |  Design Mom

Images and text by Amy Christie for Design Mom.

I recently started using flour sack towels and loved them for their lack of leftover lint on dishes. Plus they dry items amazingly! And I couldn’t help but notice what a large blank canvas they are. I just had to mess with them.

Make these Easy Stamped Kitchen Towels  |  Design Mom

Sticking with the simplest of materials — a sheet of foam and paint — the towels can easily be changed from plain to modern and chic. The design and color options are endless! They can be made to match anyone’s taste.

Make these Easy Stamped Kitchen Towels  |  Design Mom

Now they don’t just do the hard work, they look good too.

Make these Easy Stamped Kitchen Towels  |  Design Mom

Let’s get started.

Click here for the full tutorial.

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DESIGN MOM: Gold Leaf Plaster Votives. Easy DIY.

Text and images by Amy Christie for Design Mom.

Spring is the season for bridal showers and baby showers (raise your hand if you’re hosting one in the next few weeks). So I thought it would be fun to come up with a really pretty party favor that feels special and a bit glamorous, and these gold-leaf plaster votives are just the thing! (Bonus: they’re easy to make.)

Clean white and sparkly gold leaf makes a fresh combo. Plus, plaster offers a nice, soft white and it is so much fun to work with — it can be molded into whatever we choose! And then to make it more candlelight friendly (read: candlelight can shine out), a power drill works wonders, while gold leaf makes it shine.

DESIGN MOM: Gold Leaf Plaster Votives. Easy DIY.

You can use any type of disposable container for a mold — paper cups, cleaned out food containers — the shape is up to you. And keep in mind, you’ll need two — for these votives, an outer and inner mold is needed to create the shape.

DESIGN MOM: Gold Leaf Plaster Votives. Easy DIY.

A steady hand and an ability to handle a little mess (it’s a bit dusty) is all it takes to tranform plain plaster into peaceful little lights.

DESIGN MOM: Gold Leaf Plaster Votives. Easy DIY.

Come see how it’s done!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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DIY: Quote Napkins

April 8, 2013

DIY: Downton Abbey Napkins. Easy and awesome!!

Text and images by Amy Christie for Design Mom

I adore the Downton Abbey series, you too? For those who are unfamiliar, Downton Abbey is a British period drama set in the post-Edwardian era and tells the story of an aristocratic family and their servants. The styling is out of this world!! The ensemble of characters makes the show award-winning. However, Violet Crawley — the Dowager Countess of Grantham, portrayed by the indelible Maggie Smith, is my very favorite. She has the best lines!

With her unforgettable one liners in mind, I remembered this inspirational pin and these napkins came to be.

DIY: Downton Abbey Napkins

With the help of a letter stencil, the words of Violet Crawley will make for fun dinner conversation. And wouldn’t these make a great gift for the Downton Enthusiasts in your life?

DIY: Downton Abbey Napkins DIY: Downton Abbey Napkins

So find your favorite quotes, Downton or otherwise, and let’s get started.

Click here for the full tutorial.

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Figgy’s Patterns

April 2, 2013

Figgy's Patterns Children's clothes Figgy's Patterns Children's clothes Figgy's Patterns Children's clothes

By Koseli. Images by Figgy Patterns.

I like to keep a sharp lookout for children’s clothing that’s both modern, simple and comfortable. When I was talking with a friend about favorite clothing sources, she suggested I sew my own, and pointed me to Figgy’s Patterns. I’m not a seamstress (at all!), but I’m really digging the simple shapes and contemporary cuts that the patterns offer. Makes me want to take a sewing class.

Have you ever sewn clothing for your children? Any favorite sources for excellent patterns? And the question I’m most curious about: Is there anyone out there that missed out on 4H classes, but picked up sewing later in life?

Figgy's Patterns Children's clothes

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DIY: Mini Bunny Pillow

Text and images by Gina Vide for Design Mom. Edited by Amy Christie.

Pull out your needle and thread! You’re going to want to make a dozen. These little pocketed bunny pillows are incredibly versatile. Tuck a small gift or treat in the pocket and use them as a mini Easter basket. Or add some spring cheer to the house and hang them on a door handle. They make a welcome guest for teddy bear play, or why not make a Bunny Pillow Tree?

With the free bunny image download, our little pocketed bunny pillows multiplied quickly! And we’re so glad that they won’t hop away — they’ll continue to be adorable long past Easter weekend.

Are you ready to hop to it?

Click here for the full tutorial — and the free printable, too.

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DIY: Easy Painted Egg Cartons

Text and images by Amy Christie for Design Mom.

There is a good chance your egg usage during this month is a bit higher than other times of the year. So I’m guessing you may have a few empty egg cartons laying around. I’ve always had trouble throwing them out because, gosh, I can probably make something with them, right?! Yes! The answer is yes! The cartons make seasonally-perfect gift boxes.

Each tiny cup is a perfect spot to nestle little gifts, treats, ornaments or cascarones. And with a simple paint job, they’re super cute to boot!

DIY: Easy Painted Egg Cartons DIY: Easy Painted Egg Cartons DIY: Easy Painted Egg Cartons DIY: Easy Painted Egg Cartons

The carton is a blank canvas of possibilities, calling out for cheerful stripes or dots. Let’s paint!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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Images and text by Gina Vide for Design Mom.

Don’t you just love the look of dipped or striped wooden utensils? Today’s Big & Small project is an activity that is pretty, functional and something grownups and kids can make side-by-side. You’ll stripe, while your little one dips! How fun is that?

Afterwards, when you are entertaining dinner guests, or simply tossing a salad on an any-old-Tuesday, these colorful utensils will brighten your day.

If you’re anything like me, you’re going to want to make extras. They’re so much fun to make that both children and adults will want to try variation after variation. Plus, you can use all the extras for gifts!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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Text and image by Gabrielle.

Exciting news: Olive Us is hosting a video contest! Make a video of your family, inspired by an Olive Us episode, and you could win fame and fortune! Well. Maybe not fame and fortune. But the top videos will be featured on the Olive Us newsletter and website. And the grand prize is a Kindle Fire HD!

The contest was announced last week and there have already been some excellent entries. The panel of judges is definitely going to have their work cut out for them. Entries are due April 30th, and you can find all the contest details here.

If you’re intimidated by making your own video, don’t be. The judges aren’t expecting a professional production. But they hope you’ll capture some footage that will be a great treasure for your family for decades to come. To get you inspired, here’s a video that 15-year-old Ralph shot and edited about a family outing — it’s called Blackberries.

Isn’t that great? I hope it inspires you to make a video and enter the contest. For movie-making tips, be sure to subscribe to the Olive Us newsletter — for the next several weeks, it will be filled with helpful steps that will get you in the movie-making mood.

P.S. — Craving more blackberries?

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DIY: Salt Dough Eggs

March 11, 2013

Text and images by Amy Christie for Design Mom.

Easter is very early this year (three weeks from yesterday!). With the excessively deep snow covering the ground where I live, it doesn’t seem possible. But I am looking forward to it just the same. I’m ready for the bright colors, the pastels, anything with spring green. Since nature isn’t really bringing it yet, I am helping it along with the bright tones of these salt dough ornaments.

Salt dough lends itself to all sorts of shape making. Once baked to thoroughly dry, the dough is hard and can last for years. The dough is also paintable which makes it all the more fun.

Since I was little, we have had an Easter ‘tree’ of sorts – a branch in which to hang egg, bunny and colorful bits from. Part of this batch will hang on our tree but I hope to hang some outside. You see, if a spray paint or clear spray paint sealer is used, these ornaments can hung outside and inside alike.

I think seeing bright bits of color amidst the snow piles would be lovely, don’t you? Let’s get started.

Click here for the full tutorial.

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Vintage Posters

March 1, 2013

By Gabrielle.

Oh man. Sites like this get my imagination going. Free, downloadable, vintage posters! My instinct is to have the posters printed at Kinkos or Staples for party favors and as wrapping paper. Or to cover the walls of my teenagers’ bedrooms. But alas, from what I can tell, the downloadable files are too small to print as posters — they’re better suited for online work, or maybe a small project like a birthday invitation.

If you’re interested in real live big-enough-to-print artwork, you might like a post I wrote in 2009 about Vintage Printable. It’s a similar concept but offers different sorts of artwork — and the files are truly high resolution. Yay for options!

Do you know of any other sources like this? Please share!

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Starting An Edible Garden

February 28, 2013

Get your garden ready for summer! Tips on how to start your seeds while it's still winter.

By Raleigh-Elizabeth. Images by Steve Albert via Home DIY.  

It’s hard not to feel like you’re behind when you look at Martha Stewart’s monthly calendar in the first few pages of Living. No, Martha, I haven’t cleaned my gutters, defrosted my fridge (have I ever?), or chilled with my ponies this month. I don’t even have ponies. But I also haven’t started getting seedlings ready for my garden, either. Every time I think about it, my brain shuts down. Garden? What garden! It’s freezing out! But freezing or not, Martha’s right: it is time to start planning.

As a cook, there’s nothing more empowering than having control over your ingredients. And there’s no better way to ensure their greatness than having grown them yourself. From broccoli to squash blossoms, growing an edible garden is not only a great way to connect with your food, it’s also a fun way to reduce your monthly produce bill.

Creating an edible garden is something you can do anywhere. For years, I grew herbs, fruits, and vegetables in the two windowsills of my postage-stamp sized New York City apartment. Now, we go whole hog on a half acre of loamy land and a shady front porch. From April until November, we have fresh veggies on hand. There’s something about a plant you grew yourself that just tastes better on a plate.

To get started, take a little time to know before you grow. What grows well in your region? How do you get started? Marta Teecan is a trained chef turned kitchen gardener, and her book, Homegrown, can help you get your garden plans off the ground. (It’s also just a really nice read!) I like to have a regional planting guide on hand, too, just so that I avoid any rookie farmer pitfalls. Ask your local nursery if they can recommend a good one — they usually know the best guide for the area.

Now what? No worries…it’s easier than you think!

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DIY: Marbling with Nail Polish

February 25, 2013

Images and text by Amy Christie for Design Mom

Upon reading my DIY magazine last month, I was really excited at the tutorial for using nail polish to marble slick-surface furniture. The polish really sticks! Well, I don’t have any furniture pieces needing a new look but I wondered if the same materials could be used on non-furniture, non-slick surfaced items. My findings? They can!

I did a bunch of experimenting and found that nail polish and water offer up an extremely easy way to marble just about anything you desire — from glass to wood to metal to cardboard. The options are endless! I used it on glass jars, metal bowls, wooden gift tags, and papier-maché boxes.

It would be a fun technique for bridal shower favors, or making simple jewelry boxes at a birthday party for your daughter. Or you could marble a carafe and two glasses as a drinking water set for the guest room. (I could go on and on…)

And with the seemingly limitless color selection in polish now a days, there is sure to be a color scheme to your liking. Come learn this technique!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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Note from Design Mom: I met the talented Gina Wide on my trip to Sweden. She’s an American mother raising her kids in Scandinavia — while they attend French schools! About a year ago we hatched a plan to create a parent & child project series. And today’s the day we get to share it. Hooray!

——-

Images and text by Gina Wide for Design Mom. Edited by Amy Christie.

I’m Gina Wide and it is such a thrill to meet you here at Design Mom with a new series: Big & Small — Side-by-Side Projects for You & Your Little Ones. The big variation is something that will appeal to you, and the small variation is a simplified version of the same project, just right for young children.

First up: Ice hangings! They’re a delightful way to add rainbows to winter skies, welcome cold-weather visitors, or decorate for a party. Don’t you think they could chase away the most gray of days?

The “freezing” step of this project makes it feel almost magical for children — once these have been un-molded and displayed, you won’t believe how quickly your little ones will say: “again!” The best part: You probably have all the supplies you need for this project right at home!

So let’s get making!

Click through for the full tutorial.

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DIY: Paper Ribbon Garland

February 18, 2013

Images and text by Amy Christie for Design Mom

Sewn paper garlands have become one of my favorite items to make as of late. And a mini version? Well, the cuteness factor is off the charts! These little ditties aren’t just for hanging either. From wrapping gifts to wrapping around desserts, paper ribbon garlands are the extra wonderful bit you need. Don’t you just love them?

If you are able to cut paper (or punch or direct a paper cutting machine) and sew a straight line, you are well on your way to making an endless amount of adorable paper ribbons. Even after my old well-seasoned sewing machine stopped working, I soldiered on with the help of a friend’s machine because I just couldn’t help myself.

Best of all, I have an easy tip to share which will make even the tiniest garlands easily doable.



So find yourself a fun, punchy color scheme and let’s get making.

Click here for the full tutorial.

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Happy Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2013

Text and image by Gabrielle.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Dear Readers! Are you doing anything fun to celebrate?

St. Valentine’s Day isn’t really a thing here in France. I mean, you can see it on the calendar. And there are a few stores with hearts in the windows. But there are no Valentine exchanges at school. No restaurants offering a sweetheart’s menu. No crazily-priced bouquets of roses.

Our family tradition is a Valentine Breakfast with pancakes, raspberry milk and a little gift on each child’s plate. Something small — a token really. But today’s morning schedule happened to be unusual, so we decided to turn our Valentine Breakfast into a Valentine-After-School-Snack instead. We’ll skip the pancakes, enjoy a tarte from the patisserie (plus the traditional raspberry milk, of course!), and open our little valentine gifts.

Wherever you are, I hope you’re offering an extra dose of love to the people in your life today. Happy Valentine’s Day!

P.S. — One of the girls received the glass heart necklace above. I picked it up on our Venice trip when we visited the island of Murano — famous for it’s colored glass — and have been saving it for Valentine’s Day. Pretty!

Raspberry Milk directions ahead.

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Peter Pan Collar

February 13, 2013

Peter Pan Collar

By Koseli. Image by Lulu Loves.

I ran across this beautiful tutorial for a crochet peter pan collar from Lulu Loves and had to share. Isn’t it darling? You could make one and transfer it from dress to dress or blouse to blouse at a whim. I would love one for myself. More photos here.

Would you wear a peter pan collar, or do they look little-girly to you? And I’d also love to know: do you crochet?

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Consider the Oyster

February 12, 2013

By Raleigh-Elizabeth. Image by Todd Coleman.

We have a little fishmonger whose ramshackle shop, just down the street from our house, is situated in one of the Intracoastal Waterway inlets that creep through our village. It’s called Grant’s Oyster House, and although I hear Grant hasn’t been around for a few generations, it’s as authentic a coastal establishment as you’ll ever find.

The distinctly fishy smell greets you the minute you turn into the drive, which is always full of fishermen and their trucks. Grant’s is the place to find local celebrities, crabs, clams, profound amounts of shrimp, a small population of cats on the prowl, and a sign that warns you not to feed the alligators. But mostly, Grant’s has oysters.

Romantic recipe ahead. Keep reading!

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