Tutorial – How to make a wooden christmas tree

Five years ago I took 2 large pieces of cardboard, cut out a christmas tree, and wrote a tutorial about it. That cardboard christmas tree lasted a few years, but in the end it got recycled together with yesterday’s newspaper. The year after, we decided to go for the same theme, but bigger, and with a longer expiration date. A wooden christmas tree. In green MDF. Lights on, and Hello christmas!

Kerstboom uit MDF

Only downside: decorating options for a wooden christmas tree are limited… So this year, we went for an upgrade. What if we painted the tree with chalkboard paint, so that our boy could draw on it? And what if we painted it with magnetic paint, so we fi-nal-ly have the perfect place to hang those christmas cards? Wouldn’t that be great?

Wooden christmas tree

Yes, I want a wooden christmas tree!

No problem! If you are a tiny bit handy, you can easily make one yourself. Or, if you are like me and you need to stay away from saws for your fingers’ sake, you can also get your husband to do it, of course ­čśë

What do you need?
  • 2 MDF boards. Ours were 110 cm wide, and 180 cm high, but you can choose whichever size you want
  • A ruler
  • A set square
  • A pencil
  • An electric screwdriver
  • Some screws
  • A jigsaw
  • Sanding paper
  • Magnetic paint
  • Green chalkboard paint. Mind you, we had to have this made. Apparently chalkboard paint comes in all colours, except green.
  • Sturdy tape
The preparation – How to draw a wooden christmas tree?
  1. On the MDF board, determine where the centre of the christmas tree should come, and draw a perpendicular line across the lenght of the board.
  2. Divide the total lenght in parts. For our tree that is 180 cm tall, we have 3 parts of 50 cm high, and one that is 30 cm high. Mark these parts on the centre line that you drew in the previous step, and for each part, make sure to draw a perpendicular line across the whole width of the board
    Tip: If you are using different measurements, make sure that the top of the tree is roughly 1/3 shorter than the other parts.
  3. Mark the total width of each part on the horizntal line. For our tree, that’s 110 cm at the bottom, narrowed down to 84 cm, 60 cm and 34 cm.┬á This is the total width of each part. Make sure to divide it evenly on both sides of the vertical centre line.
    Tip: If you are using different measurements, keep the following formula in mind: (Bottom width of tree minus number of vertical parts) divided by the number of vertical parts. For our tree, that meant (110 cm – 4 cm) divided by 4 = 26,5. The reductions we actually used were 26 cm, 24 cm and 26 cm.
    Wooden christmas tree
  4. On each horizontal line, place a mark at 5 cm from the outside in. You will need these to draw the corners of the christmas tree.
  5. Connect the dots to draw a real christmas tree.
    Kerstboom uit MDF
How to saw 2 equal parts
  1. Put the MDF board on which you made the drawing on top of the second MDF board.
  2. Take your electric screwdriver, and screw a few screws through both boards, to stick them together. Make sure not to do so inside your drawing, it needs to be outside the drawing (you’ll be sawing the parts with the holes off so they won’t be part of your tree).
  3. Take your jigsaw, and cut out your christmas tree. Don’t spend too much time on the corners yet, we’ll finish those in the next step.
    Tip: Cut round the whole tree first, it will make it easier once you need to be more precise.
    Kerstboom uit MDF
  4. Now that you’ve cut out the christmas tree, you also have cut off the parts with the screws, and your boards are no longer connected. Put them on top of each other, and stick them together with tape.┬á Do this very carefully, so the corners are perfectly matched.
    Kerstboom uit MDF
  5. Take your jigsaw again, and finish the corners.
    Tip: Round the corners, it will be easier, and it looks a lot nicer than having sharp corners.
  6. Measure how thick your boards are, and make a notch in the centre of each part. Make sure the notch is 2 to 3 mm wider than the actual width of the tree. The notch in the bottom part should also be higher than the notch in the top part. For our tree, the bottom notch is 104 cm, the top one is 76 cm. Kerstboom uit MDF
  7. Use your piece of sanding paper to sand all edges. This is to avoid rough patches and hitches.

There, you have finished your wooden christmas tree!

Kerstboom uit MDF

How to finish the wooden christmas tree
  1. Paint the tree with the magnetic paint. Make sure to add at least 3 layers.
    Tip: After each layer, test with a magnet how strong your tree is already. Based on that, you can decide whether more layers are needed or not.
  2. Paint the tree with a layer of chalkboard paint. One layer is enough, otherwise the magnetic paint will no longer work.
    Wooden christmas tree
  3. Start drawing! And get the magnets out!
    Wooden christmas treeWooden christmas treeTip: DON’T use chalk marker to draw on your christmas tree. It’s almost impossible to wipe, and I’ve learned that the hard way. If you do make that mistake, use a magic eraser, that does work wonders.

Double oven mitt – Free downloadable pattern

My step mom, she knows how to bake. And she does it a lot (and when I say a lot, I mean a lot). All that baking had worn down her oven mitts, and the need for new ones got bigger every week.

dubbele ovenwant

I started my search for fabric, and landed on an old skirt of mine. One I had once made myself several years ago, and that I hardly ever wore. I used it to cut the bigger parts (pattern parts A). Because the fabric wasn’t wide enough to cut part A as 1 big part, I used a seam in the middle.


For the smaller parts (pattern part B), I used leftover cotton. I cut little squares of 7 by 7 cm, and quilted 4 rows of 5 squares each (by hand, since I was able to combine that part of the work with a baby sleeping on my chest). When finished, I used pattern part B to round down the corners.

dubbele ovenwant

I finished the edges using binding. I also added a little loop, so the mitts can easily hang from a hook.

dubbele ovenwant

Would you like to make a similar pair for yourself? Then follow the instructions below.

What do you need?

  • Fabric that can take a beating (and some heat), such as cotton
  • Lining
  • Insulated lining
  • Binding (2 metres should do the trick)
  • Contrasting thread
  • Facing
  • The pattern

How do you make it?

  1. Print the pattern without scaling. Measure the test square to check if the pattern has the correct size.
  2. Fold your fabric and draw the pattern pieces as follows:
    • Pattern part A: 2┬átimes at the fold
    • Pattern part B: 2 times on double-folded fabric. In total, you need 4 parts of part B, 2 left sides and 2 right sides.
  3. Add 1 cm seam allowance for each part, and cut your fabric. You now have 2 larger parts, and 4 smaller parts.
  4. Fold your binding, and cut pattern part A once on the fold. Do the same for the insulated lining. You don’t need to add any seam allowance.
  5. Stack all parts that were cut from pattern A as follows:
    1. The outside of the oven mitt in fabric, with the right side of the fabric facing down
    2. The insulated lining
    3. The lining
    4. The inside of the oven mitt in fabric, with the right side of the fabric facing up
  6. Clearly mark the side where the insulated lining has been added. It’s important that you keep this side on the outside, the side that takes most of the heat.
  7. Quilt everything together using a pattern that you like. I chose squares and drew lines on 4cm distance and 1cm distance.
  8. Take 2 smaller parts – a left part and a right part – and iron the facing on the wrong side of the fabric.
  9. Place the 2 smaller parts with facing with the right side facing down, and place their counterpart without facing on top, with the right side facing up. Sew together with a large stitch.
  10. Add binding on the inner side of both parts (i.e. the right side).
  11. Put the smaller parts on top of the larger parts, with the right side facing up. Make sure that the rounded corners are on top of each other, and that the part with the insulated lining is at the bottom. Sew together using a big stitch.
  12. Create the loop by cutting a piece of 10 – 12 cm off the binding, folding it lenghtwise, and sewing it together, also lenghtwise.
  13. Define where the middle of the oven mitt is, fold the piece of binding over, and pin down as a loop.
    dubbele ovenwant
  14. Add binding around the oven mitt. Start from the middle, from the opposite side of the loop, to avoid having too many layers on top of each other.
    dubbele ovenwant

Done! Time to start baking!

Or, if you don’t feel like baking, you can always use this mitt to hold your remote controls. Pretty handy ­čśë

Cuddly baby swaddle blanket

If you follow me on instagram, you may already know, but here on the – slightly neglected – blog, I hadn’t mentioned it yet: the Abfabulies home has welcomed a new occupant. A little person. A little son. A little brother for our big brother.

Little people, sons and brothers deserve cuddly projects. That’s a fact. So I got out my┬áStof voor durf-het-zelvers book to get started on the baby swaddle blanket.

Stof voor durf-het-zelvers - Vlinderdeken

Unfortunately the book didn’t mention how much fabric I needed to make the blanket. So I asked Google. And while my question on how much fabric I needed remained unanswered, I did find some feedback. Some very different feedback. Some people thought the swaddle was a quick and easy project, others though the explanations in the book were very high level, resulting in questions and problems while sewing. I got a bit scared at that point. My seam ripper and I, we are the best of friends, but it doesn’t mean we have to see each other all that often. Just knowing that it’s there when I need it, is more than enough for me.

Stof voor durf-het-zelvers - Vlinderdeken

In the end, and maybe because I was extra careful after having read all that feedback, I didn’t find this baby swaddle that difficult to make. Of course, I did have to use my seam ripper twice. Once because the fabric started shifting while attaching the velcro, and I had accidentally sewn some creases that weren’t supposed to be there. The second time was intentional: I added the whole at the bottom to allow me to use the blanket in the car seat.

Stof voor durf-het-zelvers - Vlinderdeken

By the way, in case you were wondering what that onesie is doing in every picture, it has the word B├Ąrenstark written on it. And I thought it was quite funny, with the polar bears and all. But then it became clear you cannot read it in the pictures. Oh well.

But how much fabric do you need then?

The baby swaddle blanket comes in 2 sizes: a smaller version and a larger version. For the smaller version, 1 meter should be enough. I made the larger version, and then you need at least 1,05 and preferably 1,10 meter. If you are like me and you want to make the larger version while you only have 1 meter of fabric, you can puzzle a bit with the fabric you have. I decided to compose the front of the foot bag from 3 parts, instead of cutting it as 1 large piece. That way, 1 meter of fabric was enough to make the larger version.

Stof voor durf-het-zelvers - Vlinderdeken


  • I used my serger to assemble the blanket. If I were to make a second version, I would not do that again, it makes it harder to sew into the corners, and getting the corners exactly right is important to get the baby blanket right.
  • I used clothes pegs instead of pins to keep the layers of fabric together while sewing. Not ideal, but better than pins. From what I hear, wonder clips are the answer to this problem, but I haven’t used those yet. Do you happen to have any experience with these? If so, would you recommend them?
  • If you want to use the swaddle in the car seat, check whether you need to adapt the velcro accordingly. Since you swaddle the blanket slightly differently in the car seat, it may be you need to either add some more velcro, or that you need to rearrange the placing of your velcro.Stof voor durf-het-zelvers - Vlinderdeken
  • If you’re planning to use the swaddle blanket inside only, I’d consider to make it without the little hood. Then you can use it as a replacement for a sleeping bag at night as well.

Used materials

  • Inner fabric: long-haired fleece from ┬áthe cousin bag
  • Outer fabric: polar bear cotton from my stash, once bought from┬áJuffertje Uil

Halloween and sewing a bat costume in less than an hour

That the kids could come to school wearing a costume, said the note on the class door. That this meant I had about 2 days left to make a costume, sounded the alarm bells in my head.

A quick search on the internet using the terms ‘easy’, ‘diy’ and ‘halloween costume’ showed me this bat costume. And our little boy was up for it too. Phew!

But would it really be a quick ten-minute project, as the post promised? Since I usually need more time than that to lay out my fabric, I figured it would take a bit longer. Would an hour be enough? The test:

  • Measuring up my son: 5 minutes (tip: tv)
  • Finding the right fabric in the stash: 10 minutes
  • Carrying out the instructions and sewing it all together: 25 minuten

Total: less than an hour! Score!

Batman masker Batman masker

Since it all worked out nicely in so little time, I decided to add a mask as well, based on this pin. I used 2 layers of black felt, which I sewed together using contrasting yellow. Not my best idea, since it was getting late, and it was getting harder to see what I was doing. So yeah, the stitching is rather crooked. Not that my son cared. He just wanted to get to school dressed like a bat.

Batman masker

So, wings – check, mask – check. Only one little problem left… The wings are worn like a cardigan. To make the look complete, you need to have a simple black t-shirt. Something I didn’t have lying around, since all plain t-shirts are decorated with heat transfer as soon as they come into the house. Hence the cars on the t-shirt in the picture. So last Friday, before he left for school, I put my son’s t-shirt on backwards. Perfect b(r)at.


Mission Halloween: accomplished!


How about you? Do you finish your costumes weeks beforehand? Or do you thrive on last-minute stress? Or do you skip the whole Halloween thing completely (and if so, what’s your secret)?

My bullet journal – Or how and why I got convinced after all

Getting organised has never been my strong side. I try, though. I start using a certain app, for example, and start creating notes and lists. But then I forget my phone at home. Or I can’t remember my login.

Up till now, the most efficient way for me was to write lists on small pieces of paper. But after a while I had so many papers with lists lying around, that I had to start making lists of what lists to complete first.


A couple of months ago I read about bullet journals on Miss Pixie’s blog. To be honest, I was not that impressed at first. Not because I didn’t like what she was doing, but because it looked like a lot of work, which would take up a lot of my time. And wasn’t that the problem? My time management? That, and the fact that I know myself. Say I would start a bullet journal, I’d focus on it being perfect, and not so much on its content. And all the hand lettering and decorating, not really something I was good at. And then I’m not even mentioning the chocolate stains that would definitely appear. I knew that if I started a journal, and I wasn’t happy with the way it turned out, I’d just give up again. Nope. Not for me.

Fast forward to about a month ago, when a colleague told me her bullet journal helped her so much with her planning, both in her private life as in her personal life. I heard what she said, but I wasn’t really listening. I still had the image of lovely decorated booklets with perfect handwriting, and I still didn’t feel like putting any time or effort in it. So my desk remained cluttered with lists and notes.

Next fast forward, to about 2 weeks ago. Another colleague, the straight-forward-tell-it-like-it-is type mentioned how she did listen to the other colleague, and how she had started her bullet journal. A very simple version, with a future log, a monthly log, and a daily log in which she kept the top 3 tasks she needed to complete that day. That suddenly sounded very simple and straight-forward. Maybe I should check it all out?

I watched the bullet journal movie, and I discovered that you do whatever you want with your bullet journal. It doesn’t have to look perfect at all, since you can just flip a page and start over if you’re not happy. And with a baby on the way, maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea to try and create order in my chaotic mind (again).


So I got cracking. I started writing lists, again. I got so obsessed to put every single idea I had in my bullet journal, that I dreamt about lists for 3 nights straight. And about organising those lists.

Two weeks in now, and there’s all kinds of things in my bullet journal. My daily planning, a week menu, baby preparations, you name it. I have the feeling I’m completely┬ápretty much on top of my game. Partly because you can add about any type of list to your journal.


So yes, I created a list with all of the series I’d like to watch in the coming weeks (with months of breastfeeding and sleepless nights ahead, I’ll have some couch potato time at my hands). Yes, I know, Netflix remembers what episode you’ve seen and which you haven’t for you, but still, a list. So I can check them off, which makes me feel as if I’ve completed a task, not so much lost precious time watching tv.


Up till now, I’m a fan. I still don’t trust myself that I will maintain my journal, but we’ll see how far I get. The biggest downside so far is that I want to keep adding lists. Over-organizing, actually. I’m creating breastfeeding trackers, nappy trackers and nap trackers as we speak. In a few months, I’ll see whether it all really helped or not, and what I can still improve. And whether or not I’ll use the same method in my professional life.


How about you? How do you get organised?

Cisse shorts

It was about time to sew some pants again, here at the Abfabulies home.┬áI’d had the Cisse pattern from Zonen 09 lying around for quite some time now, and now was as good as ever a time┬áto start using it.

I went on a fabric hunt in my own stash, and I found some petrol blue ribbed velvet.

Originally, I planned to sew long pants, but when it turned out that I would have to be pretty precise if I wanted to use this fabric, I chose the safe way out: a short version.

While searching for fabric, I also came by my stash of binding. The fluorescent green that I used before when I made our boy’s school backpack┬ádrew my attention, and I added some in the pockets.

Cisse - Zonen 09

And in the side seams.

Cisse - Zonen 09

And while I was at it, in the back seams as well.

Cisse - Zonen 09

In between, I also bought a Silhouette cameo. Since then, I’ve been pushing quite some heat transfer through it, but I’ll show the results of that in another post. In my heat transfer stash (really, I need to work myself through all these different stashes) I also found fluorescent green. I was starting to recognise a pattern here! I used the Cameo to cut some stars, and pressed them on.

Cisse - Zonen 09

Since 3-year olds aren’t usually that handy yet with buttons, I used elastic and jersey instead, as I had done before when I made some Jacob pants and underwear. Never change a winning team!

Cisse - Zonen 09

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any fluorescent jersey, so I took a slighly less bright green version. I attached the elastic inside the jersey to the fabric as well, to avoid that it would start curling inside afterwards. Time will tell whether that was a smart move or not.

Cisse - Zonen 09

It took me quite some time to finish these pants. I copied the pattern in February already, and I made slow progress since. Not because it’s a difficult pattern, but simply because, well, me. But I don’t regret this slow progress. In fact,┬átaking my time resulted in more precise finishing, less mistakes being made and a better eye for details. Maybe I should work this slow every time I make something.

How about you? What does your finishing usually look like? Better not to look at the inside of the garments you make? Every stitch done perfectly? And no lying ­čśë

Upcycling towels – Here’s how you do that

Towels live forever, in this household. Well, almost forever, that is. The old towels that I took with me from home when I went to live on my own moved along with me through each stage in my life. Now and then, one doesn’t make it. Depending on how it ends of this one, it sometimes gets upcycled.

That’s what happened to my old Minnie Mouse towel. Once, in a past life, that towel survived many swimming classes. Once, it was white, with a very nice Minnie Mouse printed on it. Over time, it became more grey, and Minnie started to look a bit dishevelled. The edges started fraying, and it was clear Minnie wasn’t going to be able to go on much longer. Unfortunately, I have no pictures to prove this, you’ll just have to believe me (although it wouldn’t surprise me if my mum would be able to dig one up after reading this post)

Feeling only slightly melancholic, I took out scissors and ruler, and started cutting. Squares and rectangles. I overlocked the edges of each single one, and tada:


  • 7 makeup removal pads
  • 3 cleaning rags
  • 21 cheeky wipes

And one added example of cutting up a towel with print? You can always claim it’s a puzzle afterwards.


How about you? What happens to your towels when they start fraying? Do you recycle them, or do they go somewhere else?


Operation Save Our Sofa – Mission completed

I finally did it. I finished repairing the sofa. And it ‘only’ took me about 2 years.

Previously, on Operation Save Our Sofa

When we had only just started renovating our house, I accidentally got two sofas, free of charge. We used them for a couple of years, but then the fabric started to wear out. At that point, I decided to make a new cover for both of them, instead of buying a new one.

I started with the pillows, and I added piping, using Oontje’s tutorial. After that, it was time for the cushions. First the ones from the smaller sofa, then those of the larger sofa. And then it got quiet.

Where did it end?

I finished the cover for the smaller sofa first. When hubby, who had had his doubts about the whole project, saw the results, he realised upcycling has quite some benefits, and that we could use these sofas for a whole lot longer before we would have to buy a new one. He got so convinced, that he decided to cut one of the arm rests off, so that we could turn two sofas into one corner sofa.


To be honest, when I saw him arrive with hammer and saw and started ripping the fabric of the arm rest, I may have thought we might end up having to run to Ikea after all.

But hey, it worked, and we now have a corner sofa, with a new cover. Who would have thought we’d ever see the end of this?


In theory, I should make one extra cushion, to cover the part where the armrest has disappeared. But it’s a perfect match for one of the Ikea pillows we had lying around. And our boy loves to nest himself in that tiny spot. So for now, I’ll just leave it as it is.

And what have we learned?

This is one of those projects you do once, and never again. Please remind me of this should I ever have an idea like this again.


How about you? Do you ever start a project and afterwards wonder what you were thinking? Or do you know yourself a lot better than I know myself?


Spiderman glittens

The dragon era at the Abfabulies house has passed. I no longer have a full-time knight in the house, he started working part-time. And the time that was freed up, is now filled with Spiderman.

I honestly don’t know where this new love comes from. Here at home, we’ve never watched Spiderman. Still, our little boy does know him. And admires him.

When it turned out that the dragon paws I made last winter had become too small, I didn’t have to look far to find some new inspiration. Spiderman glittens. Based on my own favourite: the hop-on-hop-off mittens.

spiderman glittens

I used red yarn for both glittens. This time, I went for fingerless all the way. The dragon paws had separate fingers, but that only made it harder to get them on, so this time, no fingers. I sewed the black lines on afterwards.

spiderman glittens

And each cap got a Spiderman eye.

spiderman glittens

That way, our little boy can change into his alter ego whenever he feels like it.

spiderman glittens

Since preschoolers have quite a talent of losing anything that keeps them warm during winter and I’ve spent plenty of time walking about school in search of a scarf and/or hat, I also made a cord, so they can hang in his jacket.

spiderman glittens

I really should make one of those for myself too, it would make it so much easier.

How do you keep your hands warm? Classic gloves, cozy mittens, or groovy glittens?

2016: New Year resolutions and a sweater or 3

2015 has closed its door behind us for more than a week now, and, to be honest, I don’t miss it one bit. Not that 2015 didn’t bring any fun, on the contrary, but still. Just when I thought I would boost my own – and hoping I’d boost some of yours as well – positivity, both hubby and myself saw slightly more of the hospital than we would have wanted to. So, less blog posts here during that time, I wasn’t really in a writing mood. I did knit a lot during that time, as some of you may have noticed on Instagram.


So 2015 did end on a positive note, and I managed to finish not 1, not 2, but 3 sweaters in all!

gebreide truien

The first one was the dino sweater, and I mentioned that one already in my previous post.


I finished my own Christmas sweater 2 days before the deadline.

christmas sweater

And I finished hubby’s sweater (that had been cast aside for a few weeks so I could focus on my own sweater – selfish knitting!)┬ájust before 2015 ended. Yay!

gebreide mannentrui

As of now, we tend to have a self-knitted-sweater day now and again with the whole family. Who’s with us?


Anyway, the 2015 door has been sealed forever, and everyone in this house is once again healthy. 2016’s door is wide open. And does it have any resolutions on its door step? Well yes. Small ones. Things I would like to do, and not so much things I want to force myself to do, if you get what I mean.

So, what do I want to do then?

  • Eat less sugar. Really. And if I fail to do so one day, I’ll just start again the next day.
  • Take up running again. I’ve been trying to do so for 2 years now, and I just don’t seem to get past the lesson 21 – lesson 24 infinite loop of start to run. This year, I really should. I’ll feel better for it.
  • Take more time for myself. I’ll start working 80% as of February. We’ll see what that does for me.
  • Live now, and stop focussing on everything I still have to do.

I’m not sure yet what effect this will have on the blog. Last year I started with the resolution to write every week, but in the end, it brought some stress with it. So I’ll just see what 2016 brings. I hope you won’t mind.

How about you? Big resolutions? Small resolutions? No resolutions?

gebreide truien