Energy Comes and Goes, and a Tutorial

During the winter months I have to really work to stay productive.  The shorter days and cold temperatures make me want to curl up with a blanket and a good book.  Friday, I found a real burst of energy and began to get some work done.  I should have known something would go wrong.


That is the ceiling over my bed.  It sprung a leak. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out where the water was coming from as I have an apartment upstairs of me.  After checking the obvious, my neighbor, to make sure the water wasn’t coming from his apartment maintenance had to cut open the ceiling.  We found the pipes from the boiler which bring us heat and hot water, one had sprung a leak.  How would this happen? It seems when the dry wall was hung on the ceiling a screw was too close to a pipe and over the years had slowly worked to puncture a hole.  Boiler problems have resurfaced. :-(

My plans were now shot along with the motivation, one sewing project is still here waiting for a day alone to complete.   This is only the beginning as only a temporary fix could be done at this point due to the super low temperatures we are experiencing.  Once the weather warms a bit repairs will be made, new drywall hung and final clean up.  I’m just glad I don’t have to pay for this.   :-)

That’s not to say I didn’t get anything accomplished.

I have been collecting kraft paper from the cardboard boxes that are left for me to build new garden beds with.  I knew this paper would make great books for the little ones but needed to find some thin cardboard. I sent out the word I was looking for cereal boxes and received a couple of boxes so it was time to make the books and move that pile of paper out of here.

I carefully separated the paper along the dittoed lines then cut them in half to fit the cardboard I received.  Once that was done I folded each individual sheet down the middle to keep them together and sewed a tight stitch along that middle crease.


Once the pages were sewn it was time to work on the cover.  I pulled out two pieces of fabric, one for each child, and glued the cardboard to the fabric leaving a gap between the two pieces to allow the pages to fit nicely between them.  This gap would be determined by the thickness of the paper you want to add.  I first learned how to do this using contact paper to cover the cereal box pieces.  Not having contact paper, (it’s plastic with toxic glue) I decided to use fabric.  To adhere the fabric I used my hot glue gun.

You can see above that once I had glued the cardboard in place I mitered the corners.


I glued both the top and bottom pieces of fabric in place before inserting the paper pages.  You can use rubber cement to glue the paper to the cardboard, one sheet from both back and front,  but not having that on hand I again used the hot glue gun.  Once the paper was in place I reinforced it by gluing the side pieces of fabric down overlapping the kraft paper.  That’s all there is too it.


For my granddaughter

For my granddaughter

I forgot to take a picture of the finished one for my grandson, but his has green fabric with parrots on it.  The children were excited by their new books and took to having us spell words for them they wanted to learn to spell on their own.


While my granddaughter was here I had her try on a tank shirt passed down to me from a friend in a women’s large.  I loved the picture of Tinkerbell on it and knew the little one would love it if I could cut it down enough to preserve the design while fitting her tiny body.  I can say this one was a success from the look on her face.


Last summer I had bought a bag of fabric from the thrift shop.  It was huge and cost me $3.  I have used some of that fabric but it didn’t seem to make a dent in it.   But one piece of fabric I found in the stash I bought was a piece of red cotton with tiny trees on it.  My oldest son wanted a tree skirt and this was already cut ready to make.  I found a thick piece of padded fabric I thought would work. Unfortunately, I didn’t complete this when his daughter informed me they already had a tree skirt.


I learned, after Christmas, that the tree skirt is cheap and something they hate and would love to have one handmade.  I started with the Christmas piece and added a thick quilted blue plaid fabric I bought from the local florist shop.  I find remnants there for $1 to $3 on a regular basis.  This one cost me $3 and was larger than the red fabric which made this job really simple.  Pin the two fabrics together, sew a simple seam, then turn the fabric around and add another simple seam to keep the bottom fabric from showing and close the opening left to turn the fabric around.  Very easy.


Close up of the fabric.

Very large tree skirt which covered a good majority of the open floor space in my apartment

Very large tree skirt which covered a good majority of the open floor space in my apartment

I handed the tree skirt to my son when he stopped by. He loved it and it is one project I can check off and has been moved out of the stash pile, and my home.

Contrasting fabric for the underside. The bulk in this fabric will help it to hold it's shape under a tree.

Contrasting fabric for the underside. The bulk in this fabric will help it to hold it’s shape under a tree.

The plan was to make cloth napkins for my sons’ families as they want to move away from paper products.  I had just finished cutting all the fabric that I thought would fit in with the decor of  each of their homes when the leak was discovered.  In total I have cut 109 cloth pieces which now need to be hemmed.   Some are specifically for the children with cute designs, many of them are vintage fabrics which the children will enjoy. But it was at this point with the fabric ready to press and hem the ceiling leak drained me of my motivation or ability to work with the mess.

As I was cleaning up and putting things back after the leak was patched I received a call from a neighbor who had made a beautiful baby blanket on her loom for a newborn nephew but needed help attaching the satin binding.  I didn’t mind, hoping it would spur another burst of energy to get back to my own sewing.  I had to tell her I didn’t have much variety of thread left so she would need to bring some down. I have never bought my own thread I have simply been using the threads left to me when my grandmother passed away. I was planning a trip to the fabric store to pick up some in a few days.  As a thank you she left me with 9 new spools of thread she didn’t need or want.  :-) I can put off that shopping trip now.

I hope to get back to my napkins tomorrow.  For now I’m still finding flakes of the popcorn texturing from my ceiling and  I continue to clean up.   For now I can at least be happy knowing the few things I did get accomplished are being enjoyed. I hear the books are rarely set aside for long.  The children carry them everywhere including to visit me. :-)


That was how I spent my weekend, did you have a good weekend?

53 thoughts on “Energy Comes and Goes, and a Tutorial

  1. Love the books Lois, I think they would fun to use! Hope your ceiling is fixed now, not a good time of year to have a hole in your ceiling but I suppose there never is……

    • Jen, until the outside temperatures rise above freezing the hold will remain as it is. Taking a look at the local forecast there is not one day in the next 10 that will even reach freezing. I guess I have a hole in my ceiling for at least another couple of weeks. At least they were able to patch the pipe so no more bucket catching the water. :-)

    • Blog or book, either way I can while away the hours in the winter. The children are still enjoying the books, I will have to keep my eyes out for more of that paper to make more as I am sure these will be full in no time.

      The heating is struggling to keep up with our record low temperatures, but with extra blankets and a pot of hot tea I am managing but can’t wait for spring. :-) Hope you are staying dry and warm where you are.

  2. What a beautiful end to a horrible start.. So sorry you had to have the mess of the leak Lois.. it looks to be a horrid hole in your ceiling, thank goodness at least it will not cost you.. But I can only imagine how it took your energy…
    loved the book, this took me back too when at school we had to cover all our books in school, All mine were in left over wallpaper… :-)
    You Granddaughter looks to be really enjoying here book.. I also though as the pages could also be made into little pouches.. and it gave me an idea for when collecting seeds. or when I take my little one out in nature.. And collect leaves etc… and tie the book together with string through some eyelets or something..
    Given me an idea to teach her the various trees… She already has memorised Holly and Hawthorne .. I thought she would have forgotten, but I tested here while out walking and she remembered .. I think I was the one amazed..
    I agree with the above comment that you could sell them on a craft stall… :-) Love them

    How was my weekend?
    Saturday my little one came for a couple of hours after her second lesson in her Dance Class.. She loved showing me… Sunday I was back at work.. But I get this full weekend off… :-) so big smiles..

    • Sue, I had to cover my books as well but mine were covered with brown paper bags from groceries.

      I love your idea for a book with pockets in it for leaves and such found in nature. If you make one I hope you will post it so I can use it as a template for my grandchildren as well. They would love it. They are always picking up rocks, feathers and other little things they find of interest on our walks or playing in the field.

      How nice your little one is taking dance lessons. My oldest granddaughter is as well and loves it. It’s done so much to help her open up and not be so shy and has given her mother a chance to let go and trust she is okay when not with her or family.

      So glad you have a full weekend off. Hope you have some nice weather for a walk and can enjoy the weekend as it doesn’t seem all that often that you get an entire weekend without work.

  3. The photo of your grandchildren helping make the books is lovely. Such a nice activity to do with them and a good way to share recycling to make something they can enjoy using.

    • They have a blast helping to make new things, especially when they are for them. :-) I’m told often I spoil them but I don’t think I am spoiling them when I am using free supplies.

      • I would agree with you there as it makes so much sense to me to enjoy time with your family. As some of the posts have touched on, we need to pass on what skills we have, and gain them for older members of the family while we can. It is not all one way traffic either as we often learn things from our sons too, especially now they are adults in this digital age. I am glad that they still remember building a play kitchen out of cardboard boxes rather than buying a plastic one which was too expensive for us at the time.

        • You are so right, we learn from each generation. The youngest ones remind me to be in awe of the world around me and to have fun. They keep me young. My son’s, being adults, share what they know which has been a natural progression from their youth.

          My boys and I always talked. They would share new information as they learned it. My oldest is a history buff who taught me a lot over the years. I cherish these experiences.

          At one point when my oldest was in his late teens he asked me if we had been poor when he was little. I had to tell him that when it came to money, yes it was very tight on just my income. He shook his head and told me I must have done a good job because he never realized it, he only had memories of the fun we had. That conversation is one of my favorite.

  4. Glad you enjoyed these projects. :-) Yes I definitely need to keep from looking up for now. I had pretty much trained myself not to pay much attention to the ceiling as I hate the popcorn texture.

    • Thanks, Daniela.I had planned to surprise her with the books but when she wanted to visit I thought I’d let her help. She had a blast.

      My mess is tiny compared to what you have been living with. Glad your construction is almost completed.

  5. Wow. You are so crafty (I’m just a wanna-be!) I have books and books on how-to and have not yet attempted a single one.

    I am so regretting never having learnt to sew. I could have created many an opportunity with my grandmother but never did. Hmmm… maybe I’ll ask one of my aunts as they both know how (and my mother, though sort of able, never pursued it)

    And those books! Oh! How I envy your grandchildren! They are simply amazing.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Dale, just jump in and follow your heart. I wish I too had sat with my grandmother who wanted to teach me all the skills she had mastered. She could sew an entire wardrobe, made jewelry and several crafts, and could bake the most delicious delicacies. I wanted no part of anything I saw a women’s work and refused to learn. I would shake my head at her wanting to show me how to darn socks.

      Wanting to have more financial security while raising my boys I began to learn on my own. I taught myself to cook from scratch, even making all my own breads and enjoyed doing so. .

      I still have a lot to learn but am enjoying the process of learning each new skill.

      The books are so easy!! Seriously if you can sew a straight line that’s the hardest part of making them.

  6. I sewed some window coverings this weekend to keep the cold out and the heat for the summer. Just used an old blanket, still in good shape just not long enough to tuck in. Really pleased with the way it turned out. Have to get motivated to finish the other 5 still left to go. Our fabricland was having a 50% of everything sale so I had to stock up on thread., etc. Some of there prices are still high, but we have no other store so no competitive prices.I met a lady who lived quite far from where I live and she has to come all the way because there store closed. So sad that people are losing the ability to sew , or care to learn.

    • Carolin, I love the idea of using blankets to make curtains. You are going to feel a huge difference from them. I once crocheted a set of curtains using a single stitch for a bedroom window that was drafty and it changed the temperature so much more than I had expected.

      Congrats on waiting until a 50% off day to stock up on sewing supplies. Isn’t it a shame how so many businesses have closed? We lost two businesses, one a yarn store and the other a fabric store when Walmart moved in. Then Walmart quit stocking yarns and sewing supplies. People were really upset. I hear they again stock a limited supply of yarn. The closest fabric store to me is 18 miles away.

  7. I love those books Lois and the Tinkerbell T-shirt is just gorgeous.
    I get very low in energy over Winter too, never want to do much of anything! Is the hole in your ceiling making your room colder, what a nuisance!? $3 for a bag of fabric is a great buy.

    • Wendy, I think most people have lower energy in the winter months. I see winter through the eyes of nature where most animals here hibernate. So it would be natural for us to want to hibernate some too. :-)

      No the hole in the ceiling hasn’t affected my heating at all. I have an apartment directly above me so there is plenty of insulation and the exterior wall is quite thick keeping any drafts from coming in there.

      I learned to make these books years ago when I volunteered at the elementary school’s writing program and thought it was time to start making them for the grandchildren.

        • I am so glad I am not losing heat too. We thought the heating issue had been repaired. Now to permanently fix this they need to turn the boiler off, drain it, then do the repair. it will take at least one full day, possibly a bit longer to complete which is why they can’t fix it until it warms up outside.

  8. I’m so sorry your ceiling had problems! What a mess for you :(
    Though I’m happy they were able to make some repairs and clean up the ceiling.
    The books you designed for your Grandchildren are darling! You are a wonderful crafter! :D
    File that under Eco-Project! Saved paper, fabric, nontoxic glue. That makes for happy children!

    • Thank you, yes it was all saved or purchased second hand. The only thing not second hand was the glue sticks but they were a gift last year for Christmas. :-)

      I love giving the grandchildren items made from saved stuff and let them help me in the creative process. I’m hoping they will continue this practice as they get older….creating the next generation of environmentalists. :-)

        • Yes, I want my grandchildren to learn not to rely on the big box as I see a day they will be gone, with a lot of other things we take for granted today. Already Walmart is having trouble and closing stores!!!

          • I can’t ever see Walmart leaving the planet. It is a modern day colossal five and dime store that really can’t be beat. It swallows up mom-and-pop local businesses and spits them out. My father had a carpet store for 65 years. He pretty much carpeted everyone in the Tri-County where I live in lower New York State. He had a wonderful business until home depot moved in. They sold carpeting and their prices couldn’t be beaten. Lowes also moved in. My father’s business suffered for a long time. Then it closed :(
            This sort of thing is happening everywhere.

          • I am so sorry your father was a victim of the cheap big box stores. I remember going to the five and dime with my grandmother often to sit at the counter for lunch and to browse for ideas for her crafting. We never thought it would close either. A couple of weeks ago I shared the news that Walmart is in fact losing money in many areas and plans to close several hundred stores. It is recommended that they switch to selling just groceries to survive. Personally, I won’t step inside one.

            You might live close to me. I live in northwestern PA

          • Wow, What a mind blower. Walmart thought it could concur the world. Hopefully the small businesses can set their roots back in the soil.
            Good ‘ol Five and Dimes. :D
            We are on opposite ends of the State :( I live 60 north of New York City. Are you near Erie?

          • I see you liked that news as much as I did. :-) I sure hope to see the return of the sole proprietor and other forms of small local businesses return soon.

            Yes, I am near Erie, too bad I thought I’d finally met someone who lived nearby.

          • Thank you :D it is 10 AM here in freezing New York, hehe, and I am about to get myself a nice hot cup of coffee on my birthday and launch the new heater experiment in my little bathroom! :D

  9. oh my gosh, your blog postings to day made me smile so often, and think of things too..(good things)

    a)truly love the books you made. seriously. I love the look of the brown craft paper for pages. is that brown paper bag, or what is meant by brown craft paper?

    Lois, I SWEAR you could sell those at a market/craft fair for ten to twelve dollars each. pretty sure I have seen something similar, priced around that.

    b)the tinkerbell top looks great, and is obviously much appreciated.
    c) a Christmas tree skirt story of my own…for years have tried various different ones, and things, nothing thrilled me. some time back, at the second hand clothing shop, I bought a beautiful, Indian outfit, made in India. Full length very full skirt, top with long sleeves, huge long scarf, think for covering the head. I wore it once, and though I only paid a few dollars for it, and it no longer fit (sigh), haven’t chucked it/give it away, as did love the texture/color of the fabric.. a lovey sort of dark green, sort of with a texture.
    well, this year, I draped it around the tree bottom, and it is perfect for my taste. eventually, I will try to pick it apart, and stitch it into a proper sort of skirt, or get help, but, it really draped very nice. amazing how thngs can be converted.
    d)re that hole in the ceiling.
    well, (patched or not), it just screams out (to me) for a ceiling picture/mural/painted/grandchild creation. even a giant happy face, grin.

    • Lynn, the paper I used for the books came from a roll of paper that is used for stuffing in packaging boxes to ship. I live next door to a blood lab and their needles and other little things are packed with this around them. The children are loving the book and I may make more as I acquire more paper.

      I love the tree skirt you created with your Indian dress. I’ve used fabrics draped around trees in the past which are more to my liking as well, nicer and more personal than a store bought skirt. If you liked how it looked I wouldn’t bother to take it apart, I’d use it as is. The scarf you could even drape over the table as a runner to tie in your decorations.

      That hole in the ceiling is going to drive me crazy before it gets fixed I may just let the children make something to cover it, good idea. :-)

      Even counting the over 100 cloth napkins, the tank, tree skirt and the books (which came from the bag of fabric) the total I have invested is only $6. :-) and I still have a huge amount of fabric left. Enough to fill at least 2 bags from a grocery store.

      • oh yes..forgot to comment on those napkins…WOW…that is a huge number. and I am so impressed you’ve barely made a dent in the fabric supply. it is pretty darn amazing, sometimes, how little stuff can cost…

        • It is when you know where to shop. :-) There was enough fabric for each grandchild to have one per day for a week and then sets for the family. I have a lovely set with autumn leaves, some summer patterns and so on. They take up so little space in the laundry I thought it would be a good investment.

      • was thinking about your suggestion of leaving the skirt as is, and do think that is likely the best idea.. Looks good as is, can use the scarf as suggested, and , should I lose weight, might wear it again…could now, in a pinch.

          • all true. however, it has all got me thinking. I truly did pay only a few dollars for it (maybe five or six), and it is even lined. (it was on a half off day..)..anyway, I shall keep my eye open for another deal like that. that is, maybe another of those outfits, but maybe one I buy for the beautiful fabric, to use for something else.

          • Always a good idea to keep your eye open for a good deal on something you can cut up to use for another purpose. Just think how green you are becoming now. :-)

Comments are closed.