Posts tagged diy
DIY Dog Sleeping Bag
 
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With the influence of some of my incredible friends, I’ve found a real love for canoe camping over the past few years. Ever since I got my dog (a friendly, 90-pound monster named Abby) I’ve wanted to take her with me. Abby’s a big dog and she spends camping trips rolling in mud and diving repeatedly into the water. I love this dog but she doesn’t even sleep in my bed at home, so I’d really like to avoid wet dog in my tent. She’s also more comfortable with freedom to roam and her own safe place to come back to.

I searched online for dog sleeping bags and beds for camping but I couldn’t really find what I was looking for. There were lots of cots or large cushy beds that didn’t make sense to load into a pack and portage. There were lots of beautifully designed bags but most were sized only for small and medium dogs. I also couldn’t decide what made the most sense for us - zipping her in felt like it would make her claustrophobic, and she takes up very different amounts of space depending on how she decides to sleep. Ultimately I decided that if I couldn’t find what I needed I should take a shot at making my own. After this project though I did find a good option on the market, see the end of this post for details!

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not very experienced with a sewing machine so for this project I watched a lot of tutorials and even learned more about my own (ancient) machine. I planned out roughly what I wanted and then ordered my materials from Ripstop by the Roll (not sponsored I was just really impressed with their website for both information and products).

Materials

  • 1.9 oz Ripstop Nylon for the majority of the bag (I ordered 3 yards of Cadmium Yellow to match my tent)

  • 1.9 oz PU coated Ripstop Nylon for the more durable bottom of the bag (I ordered a yard of Charcoal Gray)

  • Climashield Apex 3.6 oz/sp yd for the filling (I ordered 2 yards and wound up doubling it up)

  • 4 piece snaps to fasten your bag together (I used 12 for 3 sides of my bag)

  • A snap fastening tool

  • Thread in the colours of your fabric

Directions

Sketching out my pattern onto the fabric.

Sketching out my pattern onto the fabric.

If you don’t have a cutting table but do have a Cricut or Silhouette, save your old cutting mats once they lose their stickiness! They’re great to lay on the floor and cut on when you need space to work with.

If you don’t have a cutting table but do have a Cricut or Silhouette, save your old cutting mats once they lose their stickiness! They’re great to lay on the floor and cut on when you need space to work with.

  1. Make a pattern
    I started by taking some measurements of my dog sleeping to see what size I’d need the finished product to be (yes, she thought I was nuts). I sketched out the rough size and shape I wanted on a piece of kraft paper and added a quarter inch seam allowance on all sides for when I stitched it together. When your pattern is complete, cut it out and try to convince your dog to lay down on it to double check.

  2. Mark and cut your fabric
    Using your pattern, trace onto each piece of your fabric and cut it out. I used a rotary cutter on a cutting mat because my fabric didn’t cut nicely with scissors. For my bed I cut 3 pieces of the pattern out of the yellow fabric and one out of the gray.

  3. Sew the top and bottom of your bag
    Next I pinned two pieces of fabric together (in my case two yellow, and later one yellow and one gray), right sides together and sewed all the way around leaving about a 12-inch opening. I did this with each pair of fabric pieces, using clips instead of pins on the waterpoof nylon so as not to damage the coating.

  4. Cut the filling
    Turn the top and bottom of your bag inside out and mark out the size your synthetic sleeping bag filling will need to be. You can generally err on the larger side as this will make your bag fluffier and the synthetic filling packs down quite well. Carefully cut out your filling and if doubling up layers like I did add a couple stitches to secure them together.

  5. Fill your bag
    Carefully stuff the filling into each bag through the small opening and smooth it out to the edges. Use a blind ladder stitch by hand to close off the bag once the filling is in.

  6. Attach the top and bottom
    Using another ladder stitch, attach the top and bottom of your bag alone one side. Then use your snap tool to install snaps at equal intervals around the remaining perimeter of the bag.

 
I can choose which snaps and how many to snap based on how she lays down and how cold it is. Here I left a tail hole open for her!

I can choose which snaps and how many to snap based on how she lays down and how cold it is. Here I left a tail hole open for her!

Most of the time I leave the top fully snapped onto the bottom all the way around and Abby uses the bag as a bed when we’re outside. I love the comfort of knowing that in colder temperatures she’d curl up on the bag and I could even open it and drape part of it over her if needed. Based on human ratings her bag should be good as low as -7°C, which for a dog should be good even colder! Even when she’s not closed up inside it, the bag still gives her a lot of insulation from the ground which is arguably the most important thing!

Before we went on our most recent trip I left the bag out in my living room for a few weeks and encouraged her to sit or nap on it. She got comfortable being on it and when it started raining on our most recent trip she willingly came into the vestibule where I had placed her bag and let me zip the rain fly closed around her. She slept like a baby, snoring all night in the thunderstorm (which I know because she leaned on me through the mesh tent wall the whole time).

Warm enough that she didn’t need to get inside but stormy enough for her to seek out a soft place to sleep out of the rain.

Warm enough that she didn’t need to get inside but stormy enough for her to seek out a soft place to sleep out of the rain.

This helps Abby stay warm and comfortable on our trips, but more than that it gives me peace of mind. I love bringing my best friend into the backcountry with me and it makes the whole trip more enjoyable when I know she’s comfortable and safe when I’m tucked in my own sleeping bag!

Let me know if you have questions about this project or taking dogs camping, I’d love to chat more about her other gear and how I tweaked my first aid kit to make sure I was prepared for her (and our other dog friends) as well as my human camping buddies!

Looking for a dog sleeping bag but not willing or able to DIY it? Whyld River makes a very similar bag that looks absolutely gorgeous and requires no cutting or sewing on your part! Not only that, but for every 10 bags she sells, the owner Rachel makes a donation to Portland Animal Welfare Team so it’s a win-win!

Happy camping season!

Mel

She’s sad because she’s having to spend part of her 15 minutes total on a tie-out. She’s also much less impressed by how well her bag matches my tent.

She’s sad because she’s having to spend part of her 15 minutes total on a tie-out. She’s also much less impressed by how well her bag matches my tent.

Note: I know that large dogs with thick fur and double coats like this aren’t as susceptible to the cold as smaller dogs, or even as people, but at the end of the day Abby lives a really comfortable life, sleeping on a soft bed in my climate-controlled apartment. I don’t want to suddenly expose her to torrential rain or sub-zero temperatures if the weather takes a turn while we’re out in the backcountry. For our early spring trip this year I knew I’d need to be prepared with an option for her that didn’t involve my sleeping bag if the weather got unexpectedly bad. In the end she didn’t need to be inside the bag, even on the night the temperature dropped to -1°C, but the insulation from the ground helped her for the whole trip and I was relieved to know the option was there if it got any colder.

 
Favourite Feminist Conversation Heart Cookies
 

Happy Galentine’s Day!

It’s February 13th, and today is all about ladies celebrating ladies! When Julie and I hosted our Galentine’s Day party last weekend these sweet little “conversation heart” style cookies got gobbled up. These are quick to make and easy to decorate even if you aren’t much of an artist!

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I got my cookie stamps from Michaels eons ago but something like this would work just the same! You can use your favourite sugar cookie recipe for the base (I would not recommend the Martha Stewart one I used as the cookies shrunk rather than spread when baking) and fondant for the top. Rather than buy pre-made fondant I actually made homemade marshmallow fondant for this recipe which is super easy!

Ingredients

Your favourite rolled sugar cookie dough (or other rolled cookie dough of your choice)

Mini-marshmallows

4 cups powdered sugar plus more for dusting surface

2 tbsp vanilla extract (or flavouring of choice)

Recipe Steps

1. Make the cookies of your choice and cut them out using a heart shaped cookie cutter. Most recipes for rolled and cut sugar cookies will advise you to pop the cut cookies into the fridge or freezer before baking as this stops them from spreading. In this case you actually want the cookie to be slightly larger than the topper heart so you can skip this step, or if your dough feels very warm and not at all solid you can pop them in the fridge for just a few minutes.

2. Melt a bag of mini-marshmallows in a microwave-safe bowl with a couple tablespoons of water. Zap it in short intervals and stir as needed until you have one melted bowl of marshmallow soup.

3. With a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, or kneading by hand, add in 3-4 cups of powdered sugar until you reach a smooth, pliable, not-too-sticky consistency. At this stage you can also add the vanilla or other flavouring.

4. Liberally dust your clean work surface, rolling pin, and cookie cutter with powdered sugar. Transfer the fondant to your work surface and knead in the colouring of your choice by hand before rolling out to a quarter inch thickness.

5. Cut the fondant into heart shapes with the same cutter you used for the cookies. Once your cookies spread slightly they’ll be just larger than the fondant hearts.

6. Stamp the cookies with the message of your choice. Notes for your friends and loved ones, conversation heart messages, or your favourite inspirational ladies (real and fictional!).

7. Once the cookies are cooled spread a few drops of water on the back of a heart to make it sticky enough to adhere to the cookie. Store completed cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to one week (or as dictated by original recipe).

All of our friends got a huge kick out of these and it was a sweet way to honor some of our favourite ladies this Galentine’s Day! These would be even sweeter with the name of a birthday boy or girl, or to mark any other occasion like a graduation, retirement, wedding, or anniversary. The possibilities are endless!

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Homemade Rosé Gummy Bears
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Perfect for Galentine’s Day, bachelorette parties, or bridal showers, these sweet little gummy bears are just as fun to make as they are to eat! They’d also make a great little treat for a friend, and you can change up the ingredients to make different flavours. Julie (@Lavender Julep) and I had these out at our Galentine’s Day party last weekend!

I had to play around a little with ratios and how much to reduce the rosé to get the best possibly consistency on these but I’m really happy with how they turned out. They’re honestly really easy to make with store-bought gelatin and your favourite rosé and they don’t require a candy thermometer!

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I used these gummy bear molds from Amazon but you could also use any molds you like (silicone is easiest to remove) or even pour a sheet of the mixture into a rectangular casserole dish and cut into cubes or with little cookie cutters! This recipe will make enough of the gelatin mixture to fill two of the molds I used, so feel free to scale up or down accordingly.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups rosé (but I’m sure you’ll find a use for the rest of the bottle)

  • 3 envelopes of unflavoured, powdered gelatin (these are usually 0.25 ounce envelopes)

  • 1/3 cup granulated white sugar

Recipe Steps

1. Add one cup of the rosé to a small saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a bare simmer. Allow to reduce down to a 1/4 cup. The more you reduce this the better the flavour, colour, and texture of your finished gummy bears will be.

2. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of rosé with the three envelopes of gelatin and stir to combine before setting aside. The gelatin will swell and thicken the entire mixture into a jello-like consistency.

3. Once the saucepan of wine has reduced to a 1/4 cup, lower the heat and add your sugar and gelatin mixture. Keep the heat at medium-low, stirring until the sugar and gelatin have dissolved.

4. Increase heat to medium and bring to a bare simmer again, reducing slightly so that you have a slightly syrupy liquid.

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5. Turn off the stove but leave the saucepan on the element to keep it warm while you work, otherwise it will begin to solidify. Quickly transfer your mixture into the molds using a spoon and wiping clean or using an eye-dropper/pipette. With the silicone molds I found I did not need to grease them at all for the bears to release cleanly, but if you are using a rectangular dish you may want to spray lightly with cooking spray before filling.

6. Allow gummies to cool in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours - or if you’re living in Canada in February like me, just cover and put them outside on your porch for 30 minutes. They should release evenly from the molds!

These can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for several weeks, or for 12 hours uncovered at room temperature. Note that uncovered (refrigerated or not), they will begin to shrivel up making them chewier. You can change up the rosé for any flavouring of your choice, other wines, fruit juices, etc.!

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DIY Harry Potter Favors!
 

As promised, today I’ve got a follow up post walking you through some of the DIYs I did for my friend Amanda’s bachelorette in September!  We did a “She Found a Keeper/She’s a Catch” Harry Potter/Quidditch theme for her winery tour day of fun, but these would work great for any Harry Potter themed party!

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Today I’ll walk you through decorating the favor bags, and making the flying keys, golden snitches, and chocolate frogs!

Personalized Bags

First up, the bags! I think it would be fun to decorate not only favor bags for parties of any kind but also for personalized gift bags. This was really easy with my Cricut and some adhesive vinyl, and the same process is used for applying adhesive vinyl to pretty much any surface, besides fabrics. If you’re interested in seeing how to apply iron-on vinyl to fabric (for the shirts or anything else) you can check out my post on decorating felt totes!

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I went with plain, brown kraft paper bags for this project which I purchased at Michaels. Any time you’re shopping at Michaels make sure to capitalize on coupons! With a few exceptions, there’s essentially always a 40-50% off one item coupon available. I grabbed some regular adhesive vinyl in gold and maroon and designed two different styles of bag. I ended up using one style for Amanda’s bag and the other for everyone else. You can grab the “Amanda Found a Keeper” style here!

First you’ll want to measure your bags and then size your decals using the built-in rulers in Design Space. Next cut your shapes out of the appropriate colours of vinyl. Once they’re properly cut you can use a weeding tool (or any tweezers and sharp skewers) to remove the negative parts of the image.

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Next you’ll use clear transfer tape to move all the finnicky little parts of the image to your project surface in one go! So easy to customize for any occasion.

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Flying Keys

Obviously a lot of the favors given at bachelorette parties are on theme for the day, or consumable items to be used that day or the next. I think that’s fun and totally fine! That said I like the idea of giving something that can be kept as a souvenir and used in the future - that means it needs to be something practical, and ideally not too overtly themed. I did include cute lightning bolt necklaces in these bags as well, but I didn’t think that was necessarily something everyone would use in the future (though I do wear mine a lot!).

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I thought a great item anyone could use would be a bottle opener. Most people already have one lying around somewhere but it’s always nice to have a spare, or one to keep if you have a bar somewhere else in your home, outside by the barbecue, in a cooler, etc.! Since these old fashion key style openers are so cute you could actually even keep them on your keys.

So the base item was great but had nothing to do with the Harry Potter theme at all. And you guys, I love when things are on theme. When I think keys & Harry Potter I think of the flying keys that acted as a barrier to the Philosopher’s Stone. I had the idea to attach a small set of wings to the keys using a dot of hot glue so that people could pluck the wings right off and not have to be on theme forever. I ended up making the wings out of vellum.

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I found the wing design online and had my Cricut draw on the design with a marker and cut out the vellum. This made it easy to do the number I needed! If you don’t have a Cricut though you could freehand the wings or even print one sample and trace them onto the vellum before cutting out the simple shape yourself. Then simply attach to the key with hot glue.

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Golden Snitches

I wanted to include a sweet treat in the bags and I’m definitely not the first person to notice that Ferrero Rocher chocolates make perfect little golden snitches. For these I found a shimmery white paper and used my Cricut to cut out a wing pattern which I again attached with hot glue.

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There’s really not much else to say for this one - it was just a fun opportunity to incorporate the theme for less than 15 minutes of work and $2 of materials so I took it!

Chocolate Frogs

Okay guys these were definitely the most work but they are also by FAR my favourite. I have to give enormous props to Girls on Food who were my inspiration for this project after they designed custom chocolate frog cards for the cutest bridal shower. Also huge thank you to Michelle over at Filch’s Office for the cleaned up template for not only the chocolate frog card, but the box as well!

My first step here was importing the box template into DesignSpace as a “Print and Cut” image. Since I had to assemble quite a few of these I also opted to add a few “Score” lines in Design space. These are great if you have a scoring blade, or the more cheaply available scoring tool which you can put in the “A” spot on your Cricut Maker. I added scoring lines wherever I would be making folds to expedite the assembly process.

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Next I opened the chocolate frog card template in Photoshop and added a photo of the couple and a little blurb about them. This was also then uploaded to Design Space as a Print and Cut. Honestly these would have been really easy to cut by hand as they’re simple pentagons, but the Cricut was already out so why not?

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I printed both the cards and the box templates onto white cardstock and then cut them! My amazing sister helped me to assemble these all in an afternoon with some glue to secure. We stuck the front and backs of the cards together, also with glue. Then, because I’m kind of a perfectionist, I also trimmed the cards down a little more to make them look more cohesive.

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For the frogs themselves I used this mold from Amazon which was fantastic! The correct way to make these would be to temper chocolate and then pour in the molds to set but I’ll be honest - I used Wilton candy melts in milk and dark chocolate instead. They don’t quite have the snap of properly tempered chocolate but you can do the whole thing in the microwave in 10 minutes so it’s kind of worth it. I made these a few days in advance and kept them in an airtight container until the day before when I packaged each one into its own box, with a small piece of waxed paper separating it from the card it sat on. I did use a small piece of tape just to ensure the boxes would stay shut!

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I hope this helps inspire you for your next party, no matter what the theme is! It’s so fun to run with an idea and I had so much fun putting together favors that I knew the bride and guests would love and appreciate! 

 
Quick “Hand-lettered” Shirts
 
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With Galentine’s Day quickly approaching, I’ve been seeing lots of Leslie Knope gifs floating around. Leslie Knope is a fictional feminist icon and inspiration to us all, as well as my own personal icon. I thought it might be fun to use one of her quotes to dress up one of the plain shirts I wear to the gym. 

I played around with fonts a little but couldn’t put together anything I liked so I decided to try hand-lettering. I am absolutely not a calligrapher, but this was pretty fun! I broke out a brush pen and played around until I had something I liked. 

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This can definitely take some practice and time! Don’t be afraid to try different things or Google hand lettering for some inspiration. After doodling for a while I had a result I was happy with:

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At this point if you’ve been practicing on scrap paper or in a notebook you want to rewrite your quote onto a very light colored paper using a very dark marker. The more contrast, the easier it will be to turn the image into a cut file in design space.

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I took the clearest photo I could of the finished project on my phone. Make sure the lighting is good and that only the paper is in frame (or crop afterwards). Then upload into Design Space and cut onto Heat Transfer Vinyl as normal!

This quick project took less than 30 minutes and turned out awesome! I can think of so many great applications for this, what would you make?

 
DIY Coffee Table: West Elm Knock-off

Fun fact. When you start a blog after years and years of projects you have lots of backlog to get through. I don't have much in the way of progress photos for this project, heck I barely have good finished photos. But I thought this little table was worth talking about.

I made that!

I made that!

A couple years ago I was living in the cutest little apartment. It was heated by a gas stove that mimicked the look of a wood-burning one, mounted on an exposed brick wall, in an old building with tons of character. It was also TINY. And it only had one, equally tiny, usable closet. 

I have a lot of hobbies that involve tools and equipment (crafts, baking, brewing beer, building things, rock climbing) so I have a LOT of stuff. I needed creative places to store things and I needed them EVERYWHERE. I also didn't have room for a desk and desperately needed one. Then I saw this:

Industrial Coffee Table by West Elm

Industrial Coffee Table by West Elm

It's beautiful. It's functional. It could store all my linens and blankets and I could use it for everything from working on my laptop to guiltily eating dinner in front of the TV. Unfortunately it was also crazy out of my price range at over $800 USD. Plus shipping to Canada. 

Listen, everything West Elm makes is gorgeous. This coffee table is gorgeous. If you can afford it, get it. But I looked at that coffee table that I needed and could never afford and I had only one thought, "it doesn't look THAT complicated. I could probably make that."

I am not a woodworker. I had not built furniture before in my life. The most experience I had besides assembling IKEA furniture was the Home Depot for kids classes I used to do when I was 8 where we'd build a birdhouse. But I'm a pretty capable person and you know what? You're allowed to just do whatever you want! What's the worst that can happen?!

So I drafted plans for a basic box made of cheap pine that I could stain and I scoured the internet for the type of hardware I would need to lift the top without hinging it so that anything sitting on it would stay sitting on it. I found a few local options for over $100 but I eventually settled on hardware I found on Ali Express for less than $30 including shipping. (They're no longer available but this is what the listing looked like.)

When the hinges came in I built a box out of pine and installed the hinges. I wound up having to have the whole top lift because of the exact size of my hinges relative to the small size of the table I wanted to build, but you could be more true to the inspiration table if you found smaller hinges (just make sure they'll support the weight of the table-top + what's on it) or made your table larger (same rules apply). 

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I wound up using blocking inside to hold the box together without any screws being visible with the outside. You could avoid this and maximize your interior space more if you didn't mind screws showing, if you filled them with stainable filler, or if you used a kreg jig when assembling (I don't have one yet!). Honestly though, this was really simple and worked super well for me.

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Once that was done I sanded everything perfectly smooth before staining and sealing the table! I also determined the height I wanted the finished table and ordered some hairpin legs accordingly. Had I been less picky or had more time I might have built some legs myself or scoured flea markets for a good deal but I ended up spending about $150 on a beautiful set of legs from Hairpin Legs Canada and I couldn't be happier with them.

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When the legs came in the install was super quick and easy, even in my tiny apartment! Note the dirt devil acting as a shop vac.

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And the table turned out fantastic, if I do say so myself!

Like my apartment? Check out the rest of my old place on  Apartment Therapy's Small Cool 2016 .

Like my apartment? Check out the rest of my old place on Apartment Therapy's Small Cool 2016.

It's now been two years since this project, I've moved, and I still couldn't be more thrilled with it. The table stores cozy blankets which always have an awesome woody smell when I pull them out to use. I can eat or work off of the top, and I just get so many compliments on it! Also, since I built it myself, it's the perfect size and proportions for the couch. 

Best part? My landlord was so impressed I'd made it that he trusted me enough to re-do my floors! But that's a future post!

Mel