Tag Archives: crafts

DIY Baby Pixie Hats from Old Sweaters

2 Dec

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It’s starting to get a bit nippy out here in the sunshine state, and baby Tessa is in need of hats, having outgrown her little infant beenies. But even when they fit it, I’ve discovered I don’t really like baby beenies. They are awkward, they slip off tiny heads, and I spend more time adjusting them and keeping them from slipping than they actually spend on her head keeping her baby ears warm.

I finally decided to make Tessa a couple of bonnet style hats that tie under the chin and completely cover her ears and cheeks to keep her warm on family outings. I was ruing the fact that I am still far too impatient to learn the art of crochet or knitting, and then the lightbulb went off. Just buy some old sweaters at the thrift store and turn them into pixie bonnets! Brilliant! I could even use the finished edges and hemlines of the sweaters for decorative trim! Woohoo!

So, as with every “original idea” I have, I ran online to find that… well, it’s already been done. Many times, in fact. *shakes fist at the internet heavens* So rather than reinvent the wheel, let me point you to a few good tutorials on turning an old sweater into a do it yourself baby pixie hat.

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Ella Bella blog has a great no sew tutorial on upcycling sweaters into pixie caps. The only warning I have with this method is that the fuzzier and looser knit the sweater is, the more likely it is that the “steam a seam” or “stitch witchery” won’t hold. Likewise, some knits don’t do as well and the no-sew method works better. (We’ve used BOTH sew and no-sew methods in making our pixie hats.) Also, this tutorial leaves raw edges on the bottom of the cap, which will cause your hat to unravel and not be machine washable. So do whatever works for you!

I Am Momma Hear Me Roar has a great tutorial that involves using bias tape to edge the hat so it is machine washable. I personally prefer not adding any accents to the hats, but this is definitely a good sturdy tutorial. If you’re looking for a long term keepsake hat, I’d recommend this method.

Sew Liberated also has a sewn pixie hat tutorial, this one from scratch in case you’re itching to use some fabric you had no idea what to do with up till now.

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For my pixie hats, I used the basic outline of Ella Bellas pattern, only I lengthened the points to various legnths to get more of an exaggerated tail and to change it up a bit (I also found that the 6 by 7 inch measurement was spot on for Tessa’s 3 month old head). Then I sewed the seams. For the neckline, I gave it an inward curve so it fit Tessa’s head more snugly. I also turned the raw corners in and hemmed them with very light interfacing so the hat won’t flap around on her when it’s tied, and so there’d be no loose edges for machine washing.

And voila! The husband and I cranked out 6 hats out of 3 different sweaters in about 1 hour on Thanksgiving. (Yes, we have odd date nights, I know.)

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Anyhoo, if you make one of these, post some pix and share! I think they’re crazy adorable!

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All Natural DIY Baby Wipes

10 Oct

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I said I was on an all-natural kick, and I wasn’t joking. After learning about the Johnson and Johnson scandals, where toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde were being used WITHOUT disclosure on the bottles in their baby bath products, I’ve taken to seriously reconsidering what goes in, on, or around my daughter.

A week or two after her birth, I got to thinking. You can’t put sunscreen on an infant because newborns have what is called a high body surface to volume ratio. What this means is that proportionately babies have more skin for the size of their bodies as compared to that of an adult. Sunscreens are made of chemicals. On an adult, the chemical exposure is relatively minimal because the body surface ratio is smaller than a baby. Therefore, babies get a higher “dose” of sunscreen than adults, and babies can literally overdose on the chemicals and have serious adverse reactions.

The thing is, the same is true of every product you put on your child’s skin. The FDA regulate chemicals based on their safety levels for ADULTS. So for instance, while parabens are considered “safe” up to a volume of 25%, putting that “safe” amount on an infant will literally poison a newborn.

So when you think about it, conventional baby wipes contain a variety of ingredients that are being absorbed into baby skin in far greater quantities than you’d expect – and in quantities that these huge companies legally are not required to disclose. And when you consider that the average baby wipe contains parabens, phthalates (artificial fragrance), PEG’s, propylene glycol, phenoxyethanol and a variety of other chemicals, it’s worth seriously reconsidering slathering this junk all over your babies bottom 14+ times a day.

According to the U.S. Health and Human Services and FDA Guidelines, here are some of the known risk factors of the various chemicals that are found in conventional baby wipes:

Parabens – Weakened estrogen production and breast tumors.

Phthalates – Early puberty in girls, reduced testosterone production in boys, genital defects and testicular cancer.

PEG’s – Uterine and breast cancers, leukemia and brain cancer.

Propylene Glycol – Cancer and reproductive dysfunction. Propylene glycol is also a known allergen and eye irritant and can also be toxic to your immune system.

Phenoxyethanol – Shut down of the central nervous system, vomiting and contact dermatitis. It has also been shown to cause reproductive problems, and the FDA has even issued warnings that use of products with this chemical could cause “respiratory distress or vomiting and diarrhea in infants”.

And so on and so on and so on.

Now, I’ve been using conventional wipes on Tessa for the past 4 weeks, waiting on my shipment of all natural and organic ingredients from Mountain Rose Herbs. (Most of the ingredients are hard to find in their pure form, with no additives, at the local markets.) So I’m not saying that baby wipes are the devil. But I don’t intend to continue using them now that I have a better, safer and healthier alternative in my home. While she may not be absorbing enough of these chemicals to cause a noticeable reaction or long term harm, why put these chemicals on my baby AT ALL, when there is a better alternative? I firmly believe that my baby deserves the best.

Now, I trolled the interwebs for natural baby wipes recipes, and I finally decided to use a slightly tweaked version of these wipes from Wellness Mama. Here’s the skinny:

1 roll of heavy duty paper towels

Dispenser container

1 3/4 cups warm water

1 tablespoon of pure aloe vera gel

1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons of liquid castile soap

2 vitamin E capsules

1 tablespoon of sweet almond oil

6 drops of lavender essential oil

6 drops of lemongrass essential oil

Cut a roll of heavy duty paper towels (like Bounty or some such) in half. You’ll be using one half of the roll for one batch of wipes. Pull out the center tube, and put your wipes in their container. Next, mix the ingredients together and gently swirl until slightly bubbly. (Note: If you don’t plan to use your wipes right away, use distilled water since tap water can potentially grow bacteria in your container after a couple months. But seriously. NOT using wipes right away? Hahahahahahaha….) Pour the mixture over your wipes and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. For REALLY absorbent towels you may need to mix up another half batch of the liquids. Anyhoo, after ten minutes, close your container to lock in moisture, and voila! Homemade, DIY, all natural baby wipes!

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Why these ingredients:

Pure Aloe Vera Gel – This acts as a moisturizer for babies bottom. It is gentle and suited to sensitive skin. It is also a natural anti-bacterial agent.

Apple Cider Vinegar – The acidic properties of apple cider vinegar effectively soften and soothes dry skin, fighting diaper rash. It also works as an astringent and an antibacterial, killing harmful bacteria and fighting yeast infections.

Liquid Castile Soap – An all-natural, oil-based soap that’s extremely gentle on the skin, cleanses thoroughly, and does not require rinsing.

Sweet Almond Oil – While the aloe vera gel works as a moisturizer, the sweet almond oil works as an emollient – it softens skin rather than hydrates it. It also acts as a humectant to help prevent the loss of moisture, effectively fighting diaper rash.

Vitamin E Capsules – Acts as a preservative. Vitamin E contains natural antioxidants which extend the life of oil based products. Just a few drops do the trick.

Lavender Essential Oil – Not only does the lavender oil add a nice scent to the wipes,but lavender oil is known for its skin healing properties and its use as an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antispasmodic and deodorant!

Lemongrass Essential Oil – Known for its analgesic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiseptic, antiviral, astringent, bactericidal, deodorant and fungicidal properties.

In my opinion, these wipes work FAR BETTER than conventional wipes. After using them my hands feel SO SOFT. I seriously want to use these as hand and face wipes, they are that gentle and cleansing. I last changed Tessa’s diaper 2 hours ago, and my skin STILL feels clean, fresh and gently moisturized.

While making the baby wipes, I also made a small batch of “butt spray” to keep on my changing table for the really, uh, generous diapers of Tessa’s. (How is baby poo so.. sticky?!) It’s essentially:

1 cup warm water

1 tablespoon castile soap

1 vitamin E capsule

2 drops sweet orange oil

Again, the castile soap is cleansing and does not require rinsing, the vitamin E serves as a preservative, and the sweet orange essential oil drops are mainly to add fragrance, though the oil is a natural antiseptic and bactericidal. Just mix well, put in a spray bottle, and then spray directly onto babies bum for really sticky messes.

Not even ten minutes after whipping up a batch Tessa was kind enough to supply me with a test diaper to try out the effectiveness of my concoction. And let me tell you, it works like a charm. It cuts through poo quickly, cutting down the number of wipes used, so there’s no pushing around and spreading the mess. It also made cleaning her little lady parts free of wayward butt goop much easier.

I thought that going the DIY route would be a form of sacrifice, using sub-par product with superior ingredients. But in all honesty, the wipes and spray work BETTER than the store bought variety, and they are roughly the same cost, if not cheaper. Happy me, realizing that giving your baby the best is so EASY! ^_^

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Hunny Pots and Pooh Sticks – Winnie the Pooh Baby Shower Decorations

28 Jul

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So yesterday was my Winnie the Pooh themed Baby Shower for my daughter Tessa! Before the shower, I posted a DIY tutorial blog for the Fabric Pennant Banners my mum and I made for the event. I haven’t gotten a chance to even look at the photos taken of the shower itself, but I did get some pictures prior to the party of a couple of the other do it yourself projects / decorations we dreamed up for the event!

I am proud to say that these are both fairly original ideas. While trolling Pinterest and the web in general for Classic Pooh Baby Shower decorations, I was slightly disappointed at the repetitive and generic décor. I knew our theme was Winnie the Pooh, and the emphasis would be on honey bees and honey, with yellow and tan as the primary colors for decoration. I thought, hmmm, Hunny Pots as a centerpiece. With flowers? And honey bees? Yeah. Why not? After I ran with the idea I saw a couple of terra cotta pots with “HUNNY” scrawled on them being used for favors or centerpieces on the web, but not quite like my dripping honey / fresh flower / swarming bees creation. Yay originality! (I’m mostly thrilled because everything I “dream up” I find has been done to exhaustion on Pinterest already, haha!)

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The “Pooh Sticks” chocolate pretzels were entirely my mother’s idea. She thought, why not coat pretzels in white chocolate with yellow food coloring, and stick them in a honey pot? And it will look like they are honey coated sticks out of the honey pot? My bestie Shauna and my mum made these the night before the party (I was being pregnant and lazy and compiling a “Baby Shower Playlist” and letting them do all the work) and it was really fun to listen to. Apparently yellow food coloring can make chocolate seize up?? Or something? I don’t know. But the pretzels tasted REALLY GOOD! And they look super cute too.

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Anyway, we had a bunch of other small details and projects we tackled to make the Baby Shower unique and fantastic. My inner Disneyland imagineer comes out when I get to party planning. I’ll share the photos and details of the actual Baby Shower as soon as I get the photos onto my computer. I had an absolute blast and I can’t wait to share!

DIY Fabric Pennant Banner Tutorial

27 Jul

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I’ve been working on various crafts for my daughter Tessa’s Winnie the Pooh themed Baby Shower, and I decided that while I’m at it I may as well post a DIY tutorial or two. First up? DIY Fabric Pennant Banners!

(Special thanks to my mom for allowing me to kidnap her and make her demonstrate these steps point by point while I took photos. When we were done I was like, “Look what I… uh… I mean.. you made!” Hahaha!)

Anyhow, banners are the quintessential kiddie party / baby shower / old timey go-to decoration. And they are so easy to make! I was amazed to see that these bad boys sell for upwards of $30 per 9 feet of banner of generic print on Etsy. Are you serious?! These are so laughably easy to make. Do not spend money on fabric pennant banners!!! Just don’t. Do this instead:

To Make You Will Need:

1/4 yard of each different fabric

Piece of cardboard or stiff card stock

Pencil

Pinking shears

Sewing machine

Twine

Bodkin (or safety pin)

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1. Pick out the fabrics, length and size of your banner. (For my banner, I used pastel Winnie the Pooh prints from Hobby Lobby, and decided to alternate between the yellow honey bees and the tan Pooh story page print.) You can make your banner as long or as short as you want. Likewise, the individual flags can be as large or as small as you’d like, using as many different fabrics as you fancy. It’s all up to you and depends on the overall look you’re trying to go for. Decide how long and how wide you want your flag to be, and then trace out the triangle pennant shape onto your piece of cardboard or card stock. This will be the pattern for your flags! Mine were 8 inches wide by 10 inches long.

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2. Using the pattern, trace multiple pennant flags on your fabrics. I should probably advise you to use a fabric pen or tailors chalk or something, but I’m lazy and I’ve found that a regular pencil works just fine. Trace each triangle next to one another, alternating up and down, so you don’t waste any fabric.

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3. After tracing the flags onto your fabric, cut each pennant out with pinking shears. Pinking shears are scissors that have sawtoothed blades instead of straight – they leave a zigzag pattern instead of a straight edge cut. They prevent woven fabrics from fraying easily. They remind me of little old ladies quilting blocks. A lot of people like to sew a straight running stitch along the cut edge to insure that the banners don’t unravel even with the pinked edges, but I seriously doubt my occasional hanging of these decorations will result in any real wear and tear. So I’m keeping it simple and leaving the edges raw.

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4. Fold the very top of each flag over and iron it to make the banner casing. Leave just enough room to feed your twine through.

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5. Sew the folded edge down. Do this with each flag. Snip the overhang on the edges so the sides are even and you have a perfect flag shape.

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6. Take your twine and feed it through the back casing of the flags using either your bodkin or a safety pin attached to the end of the twine.

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And that’s it!! You’re done! There’s nothing left to do but hang your banner! You can leave as much or as little space between the flags, depending on the look you want and how you’d like your banner to drape. I’ll follow up with some pictures of these cuties at my Baby Shower which is in.. ummm.. a couple hours. Haha! Happy crafting!

Nerdy Bibs, Blankets, Burp Cloths and Diaper Covers

15 Jul

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Alright folks. This is my first batch of nerdy sewing projects for my daughter Tessa. I have spent the last five years with Jonathan working on all kinds of crafts and projects for cosplays and holidays and geekiness of all varieties, so I knew I would eventually be cranking out random baby paraphernalia for my future children. I thought making this first round of goodies would make this whole parenthood thing more real, but with my daughter only two months away, I am still having trouble wrapping my brain around the concept of being a mother. Me? A mom?! I still watch anime and relate to the shy 13 year old characters! How is this whole raising a human being thing gonna pan out?!

At any rate, I had fun making these goodies over the last few weeks. All of the fabrics were purchased from either Joann’s Fabrics, Wal-Mart or the LA Fabric District. The prints are all a variation of Star Wars and Marvel / Avengers. (Gotta introduce baby girl to the classics!) So here’s what I made:

Burp Cloths:

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I made these burp cloths using a variation on this tutorial from Chickpea Sewing Studio. While some of the cloths have the decorative strip of fabric down the entire length of the terry cloth as the tutorial shows, I made a couple of the cloths with the nerdy fabric strips on the very ends of the cloth, so when baby burps up it will most likely land on the terry cloth, which is far more absorbent.  That way you get functionality while simultaneously getting to nerd represent! hehe!

Receiving Blankets:

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I made the 32″ x 32″ Marvel Comics self-binding receiving blanket using this tutorial from the blog Sew Much Ado.

I didn’t use a tutorial for the 36″ x 36″ Star Wars receiving blanket, I just kind of… made it. But for those of you interested in a simple, no pattern required sewing project, the closest I could find to what I did can be found on this tutorial from KDBuggie Boutique.

Diaper Covers:

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I made these diaper covers using McCalls pattern 6223. I will say, I was a little nervous about making these. I always had it in my head that diaper covers would be difficult. Maybe it was a loose association with the mess that usually comes with diapers? Who knows. But these were effortless and easy. I will be using this pattern again and again, I’m sure. These were my favorite to make thus far.

Newborn Bibs:

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These were also made using McCalls pattern 6223. I’m not overly crazy about bibs (or making them.. CURVES, ugh!) but I wanted to make a few for some “OMG, look at that adorble baby geek!” newborn pictures.

So that’s my first batch of geeky baby projects. I’m planning on making many more in the future (changing pads, nighties, infant car seat covers, oh my!) but I thought I’d share these for now. ^_^

Baby Shower DIY Gift Idea – Onesie Cupcakes

23 Jun

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Yesterday my childhood friend Crystal had a baby shower for her little girl Lily, who is expected just three weeks before Tessa! I’ve known Crystal since we were in Kindergarten. She was my first best friend, my first sleepover buddy, and she has simultaneously been one of the best and worst influences in my adolescent life. (Remember that time in 3rd grade when we got detention because you threw your boot at that boys head because he was picking on me? And then that time in 5th grade when you kneed Eugene in the gonads because he wouldn’t let us play tackle football with the guys? Good times, good times.)

Anyhow, I’m not really overly baby shower savvy. I just don’t have very many friends that are popping babies out. They’ve all already had their children while Jonathan and I were off sowing wild oats sans children (in the form of traveling, cosplaying, comic con hopping and generally enjoying a bachelor / bachelorette lifestyle with one another). Or on the other extreme, my friends are all younger people that aren’t in the business of making babies just yet. Regardless, I have been to a grand total of two baby showers in my lifetime. One I was the photographer for and not a guest. And the other one was last night at Crystal’s. Haha.

So yesterday, I was tickled pink to finally get a chance to try my hand at a baby shower gift idea I had seen on Pinterest – Onesie Cupcakes! The tutorial I followed for this project is off of the Club Chica Circle Blog.

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This is a cute and thoughtful way to give a sweet and useful gift when money is tight because your husband is in Navy Boot Camp and still hasn’t received his first paycheck (or been allowed to call… or write.. *bitter grumbles*) In fact, I had to bum money off my mom just to be able to get the materials for this gift. Seeing as she graciously obliged me with the funds for the project, it seemed only fair that she help me make them as well. And by “help me make them”, I mean I made crappy cupcakes that she had to take apart and reroll for me, while I critiqued her work and complained about how hard life is.

While rolling the “cupcakes” we kept snickering at ourselves, commenting on how this was going to end up another “Nailed It” Pinterest fail meme. But the finished projects final effect is actually quite charming! The only thing I would do differently (aside from finding a prettier cupcake box other than the plain white one we ended up using) is to use jumbo cupcake holders so the onesies aren’t just balancing precariously and popping out of the paper. Other than that, I was quite pleased with this project! What do you guys think??

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How To Make No Sew Crappy Chic Fabric Flowers

7 Jun

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The fabric flower baby headbands craze is at its peak, and there’s no time like the present to jump on this Pinterest fad-fueled flame. I certainly intend to strap a wad of crumpled fabric to my childs forehead, so together with my friends Bree and Amber (aka The Crafty Book Goddess, check out her blog!), we set out to make this no sew crappy chic fabric flower tutorial for the average girl who trolls Pinterest and sets out to “Nail It”!

First off, it’s important to note that in the DIY crafting world, “chic” is generally code for “crappy looking” and “requires no real talent”. Remember: Accidents are art!

These particular crafts are a loose interpretation of the clean cut sewn fabric flowers that require things like patterns, patience and skill. Ultimately these crappy chic fabric flowers are going to look a lot less like a flower, and a lot more like a fabric buffalo ate a fabric flower, then had a tightly coiled fabricy bowel movement. Topped with a button.

Okay then! So let’s get started!

You Will Need:

A lot of scrap fabric that you don’t mind ruining using

Hot glue gun

Glue sticks

Scissors

Buttons

Bandaids (for hot glue burns)

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1. Start heating up your glue gun.

Hot glue must be hot to use. So turn your gun on. And make sure it has a glue stick in it. This step is important and is always forgotten till you’ve got something positioned just so, and then you have no glue to glue with.

Next, make sure no one you are crafting with has the mouth herpes. Glue guns come in two varieties: Dollar Store and Martha Stewart. If you are using the busted up clearance rack glue guns like we were, once you get to the end of an old stick, you will need to feed the new stick through with your teeth, a chopstick, or a friends finger.

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2. Get your fabric ready.

Tear or rip out a piece of fabric that is about one to two inches wide and about a foot and a half long. (If you rip the fabric, it is imperative that you make an obligatory “rawr” sound.) The length, texture and weight of your fabric will determine how your flower ultimately ends up. Heavier fabrics like linens are easier to work with and give a nice bulky twist, but sheer fabrics make your crappy chic flower look more artfully and intentionally retarded.

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3. Make the center of the flower.

Fold the strip in half and then roll it up into a little wad. Put a dot of glue on it to get it started and then roll the glued end to make the base. This is the center you’re going to start winding your fabric around.

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4. Start rolling your flower.

Once you have your center, start twisting and rolling, twisting and rolling, gluing the fabric together as you go. Don’t glue your finger to the flower, or to the table. Interesting fact: skin melts! In the event that  When you do glue your finger, or face, or friend, feel free to curse: Your grandma, your dog, your friends most sacred beliefs – but take special care to curse the people who make these crafts look easy and pain-free. I don’t care how seasoned you are with a glue gun, those things are like dinosaurs on Jurassic Park – THEY WILL FIND A FIND A WAY. Amber ended up with some hot glue in her hair. (Of course, she did try to strap a freshly made fabric flower onto her forehead, but that is besides the point.)

Tip: When you are winding the cloth around, you want to make sure it stays flat and rolls out and not up. Keep rolling until you have the flower the size and shape that you want (or until you run out of fabric, or it starts falling apart, or you get impatient and just want to stop).

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5. Finish your flower.

Make sure you leave a 1 to 2 inch tail of unrolled fabric at the very end. Spread glue on the bottom of the flower and fold the tail over the bottom. To prevent obscene amounts of blisters, have a friend help you with this last step.

At this point, you should have a tightly wadded up dooky roll looking flower-thing. Feel free to add a button to the center. It will make it look pretty and less like poop. And that’s pretty much it! I’d say it’s so simple that you can’t mess it up, but then again, hot glue is hot and you’d be amazed at the things a fresh blister can cock up.

And when all else fails, feel free to wad the fabric up in frustration and glue at random. Have fun!

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