how-to

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How-To: Stitch Markers

Published August 22, 2014 by kurolace

Hiya! Today I’ve got a quick tutorial for you on making stitch markers! This is great for yourself or as a gift for someone who knits. The stitch markers that we’re going to make are no-snag, so they wont damage the yarn you’re knitting with. They can also easily be made any size. ( These are closed – so they’re the kind of stitch markers you might use when knitting in the round.)

Okay…. let’s goooooo!

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First lets gather some supplies:

  • Beading wire, such as “Beadalon.” Please get a small diameter with high flexibility. You can get a wider selection online, if your local craft store doesn’t carry much.
  • Wire cutting pliers
  • Crimping pliers – or chain nose will work too
  • Crimp beads. The picture shows size 0, but I actually recommend size 1. (Your wire should be able to fit through the crimp bead twice.)
  • A knitting needle of the max. size you want the markers to fit.
  • Main beads (in this case, acrylic stars)
  • Seed beads to complement the main beads (in this case pearly white)

*When choosing your beads, please make sure they have a large enough hole to fit two strands of the wire through.*

First you want to cut small sections of wire. The exact length depends on the size stitch marker you want to make, as well as the bead (or beads) you are using. Hold your knitting needle, wrap the wire around it, and cut a section long enough. Give yourself a few centimeters extra length, for workability.

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My sections of wire were about 2.5″ or 3″

Keep the wire around the knitting needle, hold the two ends of wire together, and put them both through a crimp bead. Push the crimp bead up towards the knitting needle to tighten the loop. Don’t make it too tight though – you want to be able to easily slide the stitch marker along the needle. Crimp the crimp bead with the crimping pliers or with chain nose pliers. If using chain nose pliers, make sure it’s really tight and the crimp bead can’t move.

DSCN1855If you are making a set of markers, you might want to go ahead and get all of the wire sections prepared before moving on to the next step. I think it helps me keep them all a bit more uniform in regards to the tightness of the loop.

Next you’ll add your beads. I put one seed bead, one star bead, and one seed bead. Obviously this is up to you, and time to use your design sense! You can use any kind of bead that’ll fit on your wires!

 

*Remember that we’re always putting BOTH wire ends through – just think of them as a single strand.*

 

Next add another crimp bead, and crimp.

Make sure the crimp bead is secure and isn’t moving at all. Then you can trim the wires so that they end just after the crimp bead. If they seem sharp to you, use a file on the ends to round them off.

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Viola! Your stitch marker is now complete! Continue on to make a matching set of 5 or 6, or make a bunch of mix-and -match ones! As you can see below, I made a large set of rainbow stars!

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How-To: Make Satin Cord Necklaces for Pendants

Published April 27, 2013 by kurolace

Today I am going to show you why you don’t ever need to buy premade cord necklaces for you pendants! Seriously people, premade ones are a rip off, and if you are selling your item, they cut into your profit margin significantly! Making satin cord necklaces (or cotton cord or leather cord ones, for that matter), is really very easy and only takes a few ingredients!

From top to bottom: Rattail (nylon), Mousetail (Rayon), Bugtail (Rayon).

From top to bottom: Rattail (nylon), Mousetail (Rayon), Bugtail (Rayon).

Before getting into the tutorial, lets talk satin cord for a minute. This is my cord of choice. I typically prefer it over cotton and leather because it is much more flexible and therefore drapes better. Its even better than chain or ball chain in many cases, but of course this depends on the overall look you are going for.

There are two types of satin cord: Rayon and Nylon/Polyester. Rayon is a bit softer and the type that I prefer. You cannot heat seal rayon, because its mostly natural fiber, but you can use clear nail polish on the ends to keep it from fraying (Or glue, or that “no fray” stuff).  Nylon/Polyester cord has a slightly stiffer body, can be heat sealed, and is the type you’ll find at Hobby Lobby in the ribbon section.  Both Rayon and Nylon/Polyester Satin cord comes in a variety of colors, and in 3 sizes: Bugtail (1-1.4mm, also called “Petite #0”), Mousetail (1.5 -1.9mm, also called “Lightweight #1”), and Rattail (2mm also called “Heavyweight #2).

Check out The Satin Cord Store to buy either rayon or nylon satin cord by the yard, in 10 yard coils, or 70-yard rolls. You can also get it from Firemountain Gems – I believe theirs is nylon – in all three sized & many colors. Hobby Lobby only carries the heavyweight nylon satin cord, but its only $1.99 (or less if you go when its on sale), for 24ft (8 yards), and they have a decent variety of colors.

The rest of the supplies for this tutorial can be bought from your favorite jewelry supply store – In my case, Beadaholique, but Hobby Lobby or Michaels may also have what you need.

Okay… lets gather our materials, to make a satin cord necklace you will need:

I apologize... the lighting only gets worse from here.

I apologize… the lighting only gets worse from here.

 

  • Petite #0 / Bugtail Satin Cord (you can choose any length, of course – 18″ is usually the shortest length for this type of necklace)
  • Glue, nail polish or other sealing method
  • 2 Coil cord ends to fit cord (for Bugtail, you need 1.5mm)
  • 2 jump rings
  • 2″ Extender chain
  • Lobster clasp
  • Chain Nose Pliers
  • E6000 or similar permanent glue with some working time (not superglue)

To start, cut the Bugtail cord to the length you desire. Remember 18″ is usually the shortest length for these pendant necklaces. I actually prefer 21″… Obviously you can choose the length you prefer. We will be adding a 2″ extended chain, so remember to add that in when calculating the total possible length of the finished necklace.

When putting the glue on the cord, and inserting into coil, try to avoid the end of the coil on the left side of this picture.

When putting the glue on the cord, and inserting into coil, try to avoid the end of the coil on the left side of this picture.

Seal the ends of the cord. Use glue or nail polish or “no fray” if you are using Rayon cord. Use a lighter, candle, or heat tool if you are using nylon cord. A light touch is best for this step, especially with the glue or nail polish – too much and it’ll wick into the cord and discolor it.

Apply a small amount of E6000 to one of the ends of the cord. The slip the cord into the coil end. Push it all the way in. Clean up any excess glue on the cord.

Do the same with the other end of the cord. Allow the ends to complete dry… I usually leave them for about an hour or so just for good measure.

See where the coil wire end has been clamped down?

See where the coil wire end has been clamped down?

Take your pliers and clamp down the end of the coil onto the cord. I try to avoid splitting

the cord, and I try to keep the cord centered in the coil…. but it doesn’t always come out perfectly. Don’t worry too much about that. Its only crazy nit picky people like me who notice!

Add jump rings, then extender chain and lobster clasp

Add jump rings, then extender chain and lobster clasp

Put a jump ring on each end. The add a lobster clasp to one end, and the extender chain to the other end.

Voila! You have a nice satin cord necklace for your pendant!  Make a whole bunch at one time, in a few colors, so that you have them on hand to add finished pendants to later!

In case your wondering, this cord is actually "lavender" you just can see it due to the glare.

In case your wondering, this cord is actually “lavender” you just can’t see it due to the glare.

 

How-to: Make Faux Chocolate Decoden Cabochons with Hot Glue

Published April 27, 2013 by kurolace

That’s right! Hot Glue isn’t just for fake sauces…. you can use it to make faux chocolate / candy cabochons for your decoden project! Its super easy and fast! And you only need a few supplies for it.

Glue sticks, molds, and glue gun

Glue sticks, molds, and glue gun

Here’s the list:

  • Opaque colored hot glue sticks (available at Hobby Lobby or on Etsy)
  • Glue gun (cool can be used, but medium/hot will give a better result – just make sure it doesn’t get hotter than the mold’s max temperature)
  • Silicon Rubber Mold (Made by you, or purchased – check out Etsy for a ton of sellers – remember simple shapes are best for this)
  • Sparkle / Glitter Nail Polish (optional)

You do need to make sure you are using a mold which can tolerate high temperatures. I think most silicon molds are good up to 400F. If it can be baked in the over, its probably okay.

There are two methods for doing this. The fastest way is to use the glue gun w/ glue stick to fill the mold. This works well with simple (smoother) shapes, especially if you are using a low temperature glue gun (the glue may start to cool before it can fill all the tiny details of a complicated mold).

I have yet to master the skill of holding the camera in one hand, and working with the other hand.

I have yet to master the skill of holding the camera in one hand, and working with the other hand.

The other way is to cut the glue stick into tiny pieces, fill the mold, and then place it in the oven. The Oven method can be used with more complicated shapes since the glue has more time to spread out. Set your oven to about 350F. Bake the mold with glue in it until the glue has completely melted and spread out in the mold.

Let the glue and mold cool completely, then pop the finished item out! If the glue overflowed anywhere, you can use a craft knife to trim it off.

I used a low temp glue gun, which is why there are so many imperfections. That's okay, because I can always cut them up and melt them via oven.

I used a low temp glue gun, which is why there are so many imperfections. That’s okay, because I can always cut them up and melt them via oven.

 

I had to change glue sticks half way through this, but otherwise it looks very much like a chocolate!

I had to change glue sticks half way through this, but otherwise it looks very much like a chocolate!

 

An optional step is to paint some glitter nail polish on the finished piece to add some sparkle.

How-To: Easiest Bracelet Ever

Published February 21, 2012 by kurolace

Whether you are new to making jewelry, or an old-timer who just wants to whip up something fast, these stretchy bracelets are the easiest beading project I know of.

A nice & short supply list

One thing that makes them easy is the fact that you don’t need any pliers or wire cutters or crimps, etc. You just need:

  • Some beads (I’m using black 6mm matte glass beads & flat diamond-shaped red glass beads)
  • Stretchy Beading Cord – This comes in different colors and diameters, so make sure you get the right diameter for the beads you are using.
  • Hypo-Cement
  • Scissors and a measuring tape or ruler

You should be able to find every thing you need at your local hobby / craft store, but if not, you can certainly find it online.

One of the most important things about making a stretchy bracelet is to make sure you make it the right length. It needs to be long enough to fit around your wrist comfortably, but short enough that it doesn’t fall off your hand. If you are making the bracelet for yourself, you can measure your own wrist to get an idea of how long to cut the cord. If you are making the bracelet as a gift, or to sell, then you can usually go by the guideline of about 7-7.5″ for most adults. (7.5″ is usually a bit too long for these stretchy bracelets though) Cut the cord to at least 8.5 inches just to be safe – this way you’ll have enough for when you make the finishing knot.

If you are using really big beads, you’ll need to make the bracelet longer. If you use really small beads, you’ll make the bracelet shorter. So as

I actually only cut the cord to 7.5", which was almost too short. I barely could tie the knot!

you string the beads,  keep checking the length of the bracelet by wrapping it around your wrist.

Once you’ve got it to the proper length, you’ll need to tie a knot. I use a basic square knot (right over left, left over right).

Now the awkward part… Before you pull the square knot tight, you need to put a dab of hypo-cement in the middle of the knot. Then pull the knot tight, and hold it for a few minutes as the glue sets. Try not to get any glue on the beads next to the knot.

Let the knot dry completely – say, about 10 minutes to be sure. Then try the bracelet on. Take it off, put it on, pull on the cord a little bit to make sure the glue & knot hold.

Finished!

If you used a small enough (diameter) cord, with beads that have larger holes, you might be able to stick the cord ends back through the beads. Otherwise, trim the cord down so that there is only about 2 mm on each side of the knot.

Voila! You’ve got yourself a bracelet. You can wear just one, or make a few to mix & match.

A few extra notes:

  • If you are planning to sell the bracelet or to give it as a gift, please take if for a “test drive” : Wear it for at least a few hours or a full day, to make sure the knot holds.
  • You can use a crimp bead & cover on the larger diameters of cord if you want. This way you cover the knot up.
  • Clean the tip of the hypo-cement off before trying to put glue on the knot. Having old, semi-dried globs at the end can make the knot look messy.
  • You can string a lot of bracelets and then knot and glue them all at once (This way you only have to uncap & use the hypo cement once). I use those clamp-paper clips (the ones with the black clamp) at each end of the bracelet in order to hold the beads on the cord.

Some of the many stretchy bracelets I've made.

How To: Straighten Ribbons

Published February 14, 2012 by kurolace

I use a lot of ribbons to make hair accessories and jewelry… and sometimes I buy those “grab bag” deals at my local craft store. Inevitably, some of the ribbons are crumpled up… to the point of being unusable. But ribbons are expensive… so I don’t want to throw those crinkled ribbons away. Fortunately, there is a very easy, and fast, way to straighten ribbons.

Hair straightener & wrinkled up ribbon

All you need is the crinkled ribbon and a hair straightener. I think a large curling iron would also work, because large, loose curls in a ribbon aren’t obvious in most projects.

The process is simple and probably obvious to most people, but here’s a quick step-by-step:

Plug in the straightener and turn dial to lowest setting. Remember most ribbons are made from synthetic materials, which can melt if you use too high of a setting.

Slowly and firmly start to straight iron the ribbon. Start ironing just above the wrinkled part, moving slowly along the length of the ribbon to the end. Repeat this over and over until you notice the ribbon looking much better.

Depending on the type of ribbon you are working with, some creases might still be visible. The red ribbon pictured has a more paper-y feel to it, and still has creases… but it’s now much more workable than when it was all wrinkled up.  Straightening works very well on satin ribbons, although I sadly don’t have any pictures to show you that.

Yes, still creased, but much better than before!

So, there you have it… No reason to buy a fancy “ribbon straightener”… (yes, they do make these).

How To: Put Together a Crafting Kit

Published February 4, 2012 by kurolace

When it comes to craft supplies, there are a few basic, general items which you’ll use over and over – even as your crafting interests evolve and change. In today’s entry, I’ll list a few things that you might consider gathering together if you’re new to the world of crafts, or if you want to make a present for someone just getting started in crafts.

Image

Just some of the items you might like to include...

 

Here’s a list of some of the things you might want to include in your kit:

  • Scissors: One of the quintessential of crafting. You should (and probably already do) have more than one pair. Smaller, school-supply type scissors are usually good enough for paper cutting, getting into packages, trimming stay ends, etc… but having a nice pair of big utility scissors is handy too.
  • Measuring Tools: “Measure twice, cut once” holds true for crafts other than just sewing. Make sure you have at least 1 ruler on hand, but it can be nice to have a few extra so that you have multiple options. If you really can only afford one ruler, make it a metal / aluminum one – or one with a metal edge. That way you can use it as a straight edge when cutting with an Xacto blade. Also consider including a measuring tape, which is useful when you need to measure something that isn’t flat.
  • Glues: You should have at least one, good, multipurpose glue. A multipurpose glue is one that can adhere to a variety of materials / surfaces. Other specialty glues can be useful too, of course. Also, a basic glue stick is perfect for paper projects because wont wrinkle lightweight paper as badly as a liquid-glue will. Hot glue guns can be really useful, both for gluing and decorative purposes (using colored hot glue). One other alternative to glue is clear nail polish, which you can use for a varnish if you can’t justify buying an entire bottle of mod podge or spray varnish.
  • Sewing Kit: Having a few rolls of thread and some needles can come in handy whenever you want to use a few stitches to help secure something, or repair something. Sewing needles can also be useful as a tool to clear out a glue tip or to texture clay. You can buy sewing needles and thread separately, or you can just buy yourself a travel sewing kit.
  • Toothpicks: There are so many uses for these… like needles you can use them to help clear out the tip of a glue, but there are tons of other things you can do with them. I like to keep a box on hand because you never know when having that disposable, tiny tip can be really helpful.
  • Container / Box: Of course you’ll want to have something to store your supplies in. Depending on how much you have, you might need a big box or a little one. Or you might want to separate some of the items in to two groups for storage. You can get as fancy or as basic as you want: go the cheap way by using a large shoebox, or go ahead and get yourself a fancy-shmancy plastic art supply tote. Make-up train cases and Tupperware work well too.
  • Additional / Other Items: Razor blades, acrylic paints (the mini type), a compass, different types of tape, permanent markers and pens, colored pencils, cotton balls, Q-tips, or anything else you find useful on a regular basis.

(Keep in mind that if you’re putting together a crafting kit for a child, there are obviously some things that you might want to leave out.. such as Xacto blades and superglue.)

As you collect crafting supplies, you’ll find products that you like and don’t like, products that you use more than others, etc., so you’ll want to go through your crafting kit from time to time to update it. You’re also likely to develop more than one crafting supply box. For instance, I have a small one for clay & clay tools, one for jewelry tools, one for sketching, etc…

Thanks for reading and I hope this article may have given you some ideas for your own crafting life. 🙂