Serger Thread Cone Storage Bin

So…I decided to organize my thread cones. This is what I came up with.

What I Like About This Design:

  1. Protects thread from dust & lint
  2. Stackable, storable, portable
  3. Cheap
  4. Keeps spools easily accessible/viewable
  5. Bobbins and skinny spools nest inside the serger cones — pick up the upside-down cone and everything comes with, no hunting for that cone’s mates

Manufacturing Process:

  1. Measure the height of the thread spools
  2. Buy a suitable plastic box from Family Dollar for $5 (see photo above for dimensions)
  3. Raid husband’s workshop for materials: 1 piece of scrap wood + 20 of the longest nails I could scrounge up…which were 3.5″ long
  4. Measure the interior bottom of the plastic box
  5. Cut the wood to fit using a saw. I used a circular saw, but a hand saw, table saw, miter saw, or even a reciprocating saw would also work. Really, just about any saw.
  6. Figure out the spacing and draw a grid on the wood — this step took me an absurd amount of math, time, and thought. My squares are 2-7/16″ on each side.
  7. Test-put wood in plastic box and enough spools on the grid to confirm spacing/fit is as desired
  8. Drill a hole of the same diameter as the nails at each “cross”. I used a handheld drill + a drill guide (to keep the holes perpendicular to the surface).
  9. Use sandpaper to knock off any rough edges, paint or otherwise finish as desired (optional)
  10. Insert a nail into each hole using fingers — no hammer or blunt force required
  11. Put the nailed wood into plastic bin


Luggage Tags


Do I get eco points for modifying and reusing luggage tags I already own and use, instead of throwing them away and buying new ones?

I’m going on vacation to Taiwan for two weeks (AMAZING vacation spot, btw). I got out my luggage, packed, and looked at my luggage tags. Eww.

I’d gotten (3) free luggage tags from some organization or other almost 10 years ago, and I’ve been using them ever since. I can’t bear the thought of spending the $3-10/ea on new tags (and I hate the free paper ones from the airlines), so I did what I do best: made do with what I had at home.


What I did:

  • Covered the organization logo/name printed on the luggage tag backs with polka dot fabric tape (I’d picked it up on clearance a while ago, $1.50/8ft roll)
  • Added a coordinating scrap of fabric out of my scraps collection (these were cut offs from when I made neck warmers)
  • Typed up the address inserts in Word, printed them, cut them out, and rubber stamped them

Total material cost not including the computer paper and ink for the inserts: about 7 cents of fabric tape per luggage tag!

Looking at my refurbed luggage tags just makes me happy. It barely cost me a thing, they’ve been prettified, and BONUS, there’s no mistaking my luggage in the baggage claim!


DIY micro SD card holder organizer

So…this is my make-at-home-with-things-I-have solution to portable, microSD card organization.

Tools: Scissors, Xacto knife

Materials: Foam packaging material, altoids tin (or ziplock baggie or other container), a sticker label (optional), nail polish (optional)

I prolly should’ve taken some photos along the way, though it’s really not complicated to make. I started with a small sheet of foam packaging material that came in a cheap cell phone case. The same pool noodle-esque stuff comes packaged with lots of other products like laptops, accessories for electronic gadgets, etc. I used the Xacto knife to make slits in one side, putting microSD cards in along the way to test fit, and eyeballing the knife movements in comparison to the in-place microSD cards. Tip: Cut each slit slightly smaller than you think will fit — you can always cut a slit bigger, but you can’t cut a slit smaller!

After cutting 5 slits on one side and inserting 5 microSD cards, I used scissors and cut the foam piece down (keeping in mind I wanted to store another 5 on the other side). My piece ended up being about 3 inches x 1.4 inches. Then I did the slits the same way on the other side, slapped a sticker on it and called it done.

The cards are friction fit in the foam slits and don’t come out when shaken with gravity acting against them. This isn’t quite durable/safe enough to carry around on it’s own…enter, the Altoids can. Which will come in handy anyway for card adapters and other small sundries. (The micro SD card organizer would also stash well in some wallets, a business card holder, or a small pocket in a laptop bag.)

Oh, and the nail polish was for the edge of each micro SD card.


Comfiest DIY Fitbit One Wristband Bracelet Ever

I just made wristbands for my Fitbit One while watching my first episodes of Burn Notice on Netflix.

Unlike the Flex or Charge, the One’s not really made to be worn on the wrist. It came with a wristband for use during sleep tracking, but I’ve always hated the velcro on it — it catches on clothing and blankets. I looked online, but I didn’t see any wristbands for the One that looked both secure and comfortable to wear. So, I made my own.

This wristband design can be modified to suit other small objects as well, like a house key or something.

Design priorities: 1) impossible for the Fitbit to accidentally fall out, 2) comfortable, and 3) cheap to make

I took old, clean, trouser socks (those hated pairs that migrate to the very bottom of the sock drawer after having been worn only once or twice…if I remember correctly, the socks I used committed the fatal crime of sliding down on my feet), cut them apart, and hand sewed them up. Each trouser sock made 2 Fitbit One wristbands.

The socks I used were spandex stretchy but felt cloth-like, and raw cut edges did not unravel. Socks, tights, or leggings of similar material would all work for this project.

Stuff needed:100_1454

  • pair of scissors
  • thread
  • needle
  • an unwanted, clean sock

Step 1: Cut the toes and the cuff off the sock.

Photo Jun 22, 8 55 46 AM
Step 2

Step 2: Cut a 4.5″ long tube section of the sock.

Photo Jun 22, 8 58 49 AM
Step 3

Step 3: Fold the tube in half so that it’s still a tube, but the walls of the tube are 2-layers thick.

Photo Jun 22, 8 59 56 AM
Step 4

Step 4: Fold the tube in half again, the same way as in step 3.

Photo Jun 22, 9 00 42 AM
Step 5

Step 5: Whipstitch around the wristband on the raw edge side, including all layers. Leave a 1-inch opening for the Fitbit to be inserted, but whipstitch the 3 layers in front of the 1-inch opening.

Photo Jun 22, 9 02 02 AM
Step 6

Step 6: Insert Fitbit.

Tip: Fitbit is most secure if it’s tucked behind the 2 inner layers of the wristband. Plus, with a thin sock like mine, the display is *just barely* viewable through the single outer layer of fabric.

Photo Jun 22, 9 03 04 AM

Voila! A comfortable, cheap wristband that securely holds the Fitbit One. It’s breathable, stretchy, doesn’t catch on anything, lightweight, washes well, keeps the Fitbit safely confined, and I made it out of stuff I already had, I didn’t buy anything for it.

I kept my wristbands simple because I didn’t really care what they look like, I plan to wear them while sleeping. Whipstitching with colored thread was the quickest and simplest way to both construct the wristbands and decorate at the same time.

I could have done invisible stitching, stitched some sort of decorative design on the band, used a sock with a fun pattern on it, sewn on beads or sequins or ribbons, etc etc etc. The possibilities are endless for the look of the wristband!

Shorties: How To Spend Less On Jeans

It doesn’t matter what brand, what cut, what size, there’s money to be saved when you’re as short as I am (5’2″). The secret? The sewing machine.

Photo Mar 23, 3 27 01 PM
Just finished hemming my $7.99 pair from Sears!

Due to my vertical stuntedness, I can rest assured that whenever I go to buy jeans, every pair I encounter will be either the right length or too long. When I go jeans shopping, all I really shop for is a fit in the waist and hip — I go knowing that I can hem the jeans to whatever length I want. (Heck, I can even turn bootcut or flare jeans into skinny jeans! Google it. Super Easy.)

This makes it A LOT easier to shop clearance rack jeans (not to be confused with “sale” jeans) and find ones that’ll work for me. After all, there’s fewer variables to deal with.

Hemming and changing the calf cut of jeans are some of the simplest sewing tasks known to (wo)man. I personally started learning to sew with curtain-making, but basic jeans alterations are on par with that. If I can do it, anyone can.

Jeans have a simple, rolled hem. All I do is cut the legs down to an inch longer than I want them to end up, turn the bottom of the pant leg inside out, fold the cut edge up 1/2″, then fold it up 1/2″ again. Half the time I don’t even bother pinning or ironing, I hand roll the hem a few inches at a time as I’m running it through the sewing machine. It’s a regular, straight stitch run all the way around the cuff until overlapped with the starting point.

Tip: If I’m feeling insecure in my sewing abilities or I’m using a sewing machine I haven’t used before, I do test stitching on the cut off pieces first.

The other side of the hem job. I used dark blue thread on the inside with regular, gold colored jeans thread on the outside.
The other side of the hem job. I used dark blue thread on the inside with regular, gold-colored jeans thread on the outside.

To turn wider leg jeans into skinny jeans, it’s a matter of turning the jeans inside out, laying a pair of skinny jeans on top, marking the wide leg jeans using the skinny jeans as a guide, cutting off the excess (leaving adequate seam allowance, usually 5/8″), then sewing the raw edges together.

Go forth, shop, save money, and sew happy!

Carpet Remnant Love

Rug is cut, in place, and ready for daily abuse!
Rug is cut, in place, and ready for daily abuse!

So…my score of the week: a 12’x15′ roll of remnant carpet from a local carpet store in Summerville, SC. For a mere $50, I got a commercial grade piece of carpet large enough for:

  • a dining room rug,
  • kitchen entryway mat,
  • shelf liners on a 6′ x 3′ x 1.25′ shelving unit with 5 shelves,
  • and a hallway runner,

with a big, 12’x7′ piece left over for hubby’s garage!

Seriously, remnants are a great way to cover the floor on the cheap, especially since the patterned remnants seem to go unwanted and unloved (and unbought), compared to their solid brethren. The carpet store cut me a price break since they’d been stuck holding onto that roll for a while.

Any carpet store will have remnants — just have to ask. Remember, the remnants are excesses, discards, from the carpet store’s perspective. So haggle. (The more remnants that the store’s holding on to, the longer they’ve held onto the roll in question, the better the deal they’ll cut.)

Nice, eh? Can't even tell the rug's a remnant!
Nice, eh? Can’t even tell the rug’s a remnant!

Cutting the roll into the desired pieces was the work of a few hours. I used a sharpie marker, a long level (any straight edge tool will work), a tape measure, a utility knife, and a pair of regular, 89 cent scissors.

My remnant has a foam middle layer and a felt-type back.
My remnant has a foam middle layer and a felt-type back.

Measure (with tape measure), mark (with level and sharpie), cut (with utility knife), and then trim off edge bits (with scissors). Rinse & repeat. The straighter and cleaner the cut edges are, the more rug-like (and less remnant-like) it’ll look.The carpet didn’t seem particularly prone to unraveling, so I didn’t bother binding the edges.


The kitchen door entryway seemed to stay perpetually filthy (even hours after vacuuming/mopping). Hopefully my new remnant rug will help keep the filth from spreading!
The kitchen door entryway floor seemed to stay perpetually filthy (even within hours after vacuuming/mopping). Hopefully my new remnant rug will help keep the filth from spreading!