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 😉

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.  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.  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.

Dinosaur pen case

Drawing is a passtime that’s very much liked in this house. With pencils, crayons and felt tip pens. Felt tip pens of which you can wash out the ink, just to be on the safe side. Before, all these utensils were kept together in a plastic bag. There was definitely some room for improvement. With the backpack theme still in mind, I knew I couldn’t go wrong with a dinosaur pen case.

Dinosauruspennenzak

I got the idea from this whale zipper pouch. But instead of a whale, I drew a t-rex head.

How to make a dinosaur pen case

What you need

  • 2 sheets of green felt
  • 1 zipper of about 12 cm
  • Some scraps of black and white felt to make the eye and the nostril

How to make it

  1. Take 1 sheet of green felt and cut it in 2, making sure that the top part is 2/3 high, and the bottom part 1/3.
    Dinosauruspennenzak
  2. Open the zipper.
  3. place the right side of the smallest part of lt on the right side of the zipper.
    Dinosauruspennenzak
  4. Sew together with a zipper foot.
    Dinosauruspennenzak
    Tip: To get past the zipper handle while sewing, you need to close your zipper. To easily do so, remove the zipper foot, close your zipper, and put the zipper foot back in place.
  5. Put the right side of the larger part of filt on the right side of the zipper, and sew together.
  6. Sew the parts of the seam that are not attached to each other with the zipper closed, and press.
  7. Draw a dinosaur head on the wrong side of the felt, making sure that the zipper becomes the dinosaur’s mouth. Make sure to not draw right up to the edge of your felt, leave some space for seam allowance (1 cm is enough).
    Dinosauruspennenzak
  8. Open the zipper.
  9. Put the right side of the 2nd sheet of felt on the right side of the zipper, and pin in place..
  10. Sew both parts together on the line that you draw. Make sure that the zipper is open, otherwise you won’t be able to turn your pen case outside in.
  11. Clip the seams..
    Dinosauruspennenzak
  12. Turn your pen case through the zipper opening.
  13. Pin the nostril and the eye on the pen case, and attach by hand.
    Dinosauruspennenzak

Finished!

Dinosauruspennenzak

Book binding for lazy housewives – The washi tape method

In my previous post I already mentioned Kathleen’s blog calender, which you can find on her blog Verbeelding. Apart from that, Kathleen also shared a very handy  sewing planner. I’m starting to consider Kathleen as my personal organiser 🙂

To keep all those sewing plans nicely together, I wanted to make a booklet, as I’ve already done before. But since I’m pretty inpatient and since I wanted to make that booklet now (instead of getting all materials first), I started going with what I had lying around: washi tape. And half an hour later, I had a book.

What do you need?

  • Paper. In my case, 24 printed sheets of the sewing planner. Tip: print on both sides. I forgot, and I had to get the glue out to tape all my empty pages together
  • Washi tape, wide enough to keep all your quires together
  • A sharp needle
  • Thread
  • 1 sheet of more sturdy paper, coloured, if possible
  • A paper cutter or scissors to cut all your pages the same size

How to bind a book with washi tape

  1. Divide your sheets in equal piles, so you can fold your quires. In my case, I had 24 sheets and made 4 piles of 6 sheets.
  2. Fold your piles in half. In my case, because I didn’t print double-sided, I had to fold each sheet separately and then put them on a pile. I then kept this pile together with washi tape. There’s no need for you to do so as well, you can just fold all the sheets of 1 pile in 1 go.Boekbinden met washi tape
  3. If necessary, cut your quires so all pages are the same size. I didn’t do this for my book (as I’ve said, this is the lazy housewife method).
  4. Put all quires on a pile.Boekbinden met washi tape
  5. To keep the separate quires together, I sewed them together as described by SéverineBoekbinden met washi tape
  6. Get your coloured sheet of paper out, and cut it in half.
  7. Make sure that your quires are aligned, and put one of the coloured halves on top. Make sure you put it 1/4 cm from the folding edge. Put something on it to weigh it down, if necessary.Boekbinden met washi tape
  8. Get your widest washi tape out and tape it as such that you tape the coloured sheet to the quires.Boekbinden met washi tape
  9. Gently fold the washi tape over the edge, and press it down, so all quires are attached to your washi tape.
  10. Carefully turn the whole thing.
  11. Place the second piece of coloured paper on the back of the book, in the same way as you did for the front.
  12. Fold the washi tape over it, and tape the coloured paper down. Boekbinden met washi tape
  13. Rub all sides of the washi tape again, to ensure that all paterials are attached.
  14. Flip through your booklet, and check whether reinforces are necessary (I had to glue the back and front of each quire together if I wanted to lose the empty pages).Boekbinden met washi tape

Done!

Boekbinden met washi tape

Keep in mind that washi tape booklets are booklets that should stay put on your sewing table. Don’t carry them around too much. They are kept together by washi tape, not duct tape. Although… Duct tape now has a whole design line. Maybe worth a try as well?

How to make a cardboard Christmas tree

christmas
Renovating a house while living in it kind of means that you are camping in your own home. And that means that most of your stuff is hidden away in the attic (and that the things you need will always be at the back and at the bottom of that attic, but that’s a different story).
It also means that Christmas decorations are hidden away in that far corner. I mean, did you ever take your Christmas gear on a camping trip? So when it’s the season to be jolly, it means I try to improvise on how to decorate the house a tiny bit without taking up too much room. Last year, this was the result:
Merry x-mas
And don’t worry, I did not waste any of those post-its. Each and every single one of them was reused as a grocery shopping list or to get my planning going.
This year, I wanted to do something with the pile of cardboard boxes we had lying around. We had just unpacked and assembled the cargo bike in Ikea style, so I had a big blank cardboard box to get going. Resulting in this Christboard tree:
Christboard tree / kerstonboom

And yes, it’s true. Only a quarter of the thing has been painted, and it’s covered in knee dents. But let’s just call that authenticity. And see it as a tip: Don’t sit on your cardboard while drawing the tree.

What do you need?

  • 2 large sheets of cardboard (105 cm / 42 in high, and 80 cm / 32 in wide)
  • 1 geometry triangle
  • 1 long ruler
  • 1 pair of scissors and/or 1 cutter knife
  • 1 cutting board
  • a couple of gold spray paint cans

How to make that tree

  1. Starting at the bottom corners, use your geometry triangle to measure a 30° angle, then draw a line measuring 20 cm (8 in).
How to make a cardboard Christmas tree / Hoe maak je een kerstboom van karton
  1. From your new point, measure a downward angle of 25° and draw a line measuring 10 cm (4 in).
  1. From your new point, draw a line that’s parallel with the 30° angle from step 1. The line measures 20 cm (8 in).
  1. Teken vanuit het nieuwe punt een lijn naar boven die evenwijdig loopt met de lijn op 30°. Maak deze lijn 20 cm lang.
How to make a cardboard Christmas tree / Hoe maak je een kerstboom van karton
How to make a cardboard Christmas tree / Hoe maak je een kerstboom van karton
  1. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you reach the top of the tree.

    Note: The lines of the top will be slightly longer than 20 cm (8 in) to create a nice top.

How to make a cardboard Christmas tree / Hoe maak je een kerstboom van karton
  1. Put the cardboard on your cutting board and use your long ruler and cutter knife to cut the tree out. Be careful when cutting the corners.

    Note: If your cardboard isn’t too thick, you can use a pair of scissors instead.

How to make a cardboard Christmas tree / Hoe maak je een kerstboom van karton
How to make a cardboard Christmas tree / Hoe maak je een kerstboom van karton
  1. Use the cut cardboard as a template to draw the second part of the tree. Cut this part out as well.
How to make a cardboard Christmas tree / Hoe maak je een kerstboom van karton
  1. On both parts, measure where the centre point is, both in lenght and width.
How to make a cardboard Christmas tree / Hoe maak je een kerstboom van karton
  1. On part 1, draw a line from the top of the tree to the centre of the tree. On part 2, draw a line from the centre of the tree to the bottom of the tree.
  1. Measure how thick your cardboard is.
How to make a cardboard Christmas tree / Hoe maak je een kerstboom van karton
  1. Use your geometry triangle to copy the thickness of your cardboard onto the centre line. In doing so, make sure that the centre line remains in the centre of the tree.
How to make a cardboard Christmas tree / Hoe maak je een kerstboom van karton
  1. Cut the slit you just drew on both parts.
How to make a cardboard Christmas tree / Hoe maak je een kerstboom van karton
  1. Slide both parts into each other.
How to make a cardboard Christmas tree / Hoe maak je een kerstboom van karton
  1. Use spray paint to paint the tree. Or better yet, decorate it however you like.

    Note: I was only able to paint 1 quarter of the tree with 1 can of spray paint. So if you want to paint the whole tree, buy at least 4 cans. Or buy just the 1, and put the tree up in a very strategic corner.

christmas

How to knit intarsia in the round

When you try to find information about knitting intarsia in the round on the internet, most of the time you’ll be told that it’s not possible. The big problem when you try to do it: your yarn ends up at the end of your row, while you need it to be at the beginning.

If you don’t like bending the knitting rules, you’ll have to learn how to live with it: knitting intarsia in the round cannot be done. If, on the other hand, you don’t mind a little experimenting, there are actually two methods to solve this problem:

  • the yarn over method
  • the ‘stranded intarsia’ method
Both methods are explained below.

Yarn over method

  1. Knit in the round until you’ve done the last row before the intarsia starts.
  2. Use your main and contrast colours as you would when knitting intarsia flat, until you get to the end of the row.
  3. Turn your work, so the wrong side is facing you.
  4. At the beginning of the row, do a yarn over.
  5. Since you’re working on the wrong side of your work, purl the rest of the row as you would when knitting flat, but do not work the last stitch of the row yet.
  6. Purl the last stitch of the row together with the yarn over you made in the beginning of the row, seaming both sides together while doing so. Pull tight enough.
  7. Turn your work, so the right side is facing you again.
  8. At the beginning of the work, do a yarn over.
  9. Since you’re working on the right side of your work again, knit the rest of the row as you would when knitting intarsia flat, but do not work the last stitch of the row yet.
  10. Knit the last stitch of the row together with the yarn over you made in the beginning of the row, by knitting through the back loop of these two stitches.
  11. Repeat steps 3 to 10 until the whole intarsia part is done.
  12. Continue knitting in the round as you would normally do.

 

Pros and cons

+
You can knit intarsia as you are supposed to do it: using separate strands per change of colour
  • You create a seam.
  • You have to knit back and forth as long as you’re knitting the intarsia part.

Examples of the seam

yarn over seam yarn over seam 2

 

What it looks like

On the outside On the inside
Outside yarn over method Inside yarn over method

‘Stranded intarsia’ method

  1. Knit in the round until you’ve done the last row before the intarsia starts.
  2. Start working the contrast colour, but: instead of using a separate strand of yarn every time you change from contrast colour to main colour, use only one strand per colour. When you’re not using the second colour, carry it around in the back every two or three stitches, as you would for stranded knitting.Note: Don’t pull your yarn too tight, it’ll take the stretch out of your work. Don’t leave it too loose either, or you’ll create holes in your work. To maintain a nice stretch, make sure that you can still spread your stitches on your needles as you would when working with one colour only. It may take some practice, but you’ll get there.
  3. When you’ve reached the end of your row, cut the contrast colour yarn if you haven’t done so already. Make sure to leave a long enough tail to weave it in once you’re finished.
  4. Continue knitting in the round, adding the contrast colour to each row when you need it, carrying it along the back of your work until you’ve reached the last stitch on that row.
  5. Repeat steps 3 to 4 until the whole intarsia part is done.
  6. Continue knitting in the round as you would normally do.

Pros and cons

+
  • No seam
  • You can keep on knitting in the round while doing your colour work
  • You’re dragging the colour your not using along behind your work, which goes against the intarsia rule
  • For each row done in intarsia, you’ll have 2 ends to weave in, which may add up to a pretty high number of ends!

What it looks like

On the outside On the inside
Outside stranded intarsia method Inside stranded intarsia method

Now it’s up to you

So, I’ve explained both methods I’ve tried before. Personally, I prefer the stranded method. Have you used one of these methods before? Do you happen to know any other methods? What’s your favourite? Let me know!

How to join in the round

When knitting in the round, the hardest part is to join both ends when knitting the first row. Once you get that done, you can just keep going.

There are different ways to join in the round, and all these ways can be applied to both dpns and circular needles. This is the way I do it:

  1. Cast on the necessary amount of stitches.
  2. If you are working on dpns, divide your stitches evenly over 3 or 4 dpns, depending on your pattern. If you are working on circular needles, just ignore this step.
  3. Make sure that all your stitches are facing the right way, so that none are twisted upside down. Pay extra attention to this step and do not move on until your absolutely sure your row is not twisted, or you’ll have to start over later on. The best way to do this is to put your work down on a table or something. This gives you a better overview.

    WRONG RIGHT
    how not to join in the round
    how to join in the round
  4. Pick up your work. Keep your knitting in front of you. With this I mean that you are knitting right in front of you, and the rest of your work is hanging behind your hands, in the back. If you do not do this, you’ll be knitting inside out. Not that this is a disaster, but it will influence your pattern.
  5. Pull your yarn back, so it does not get stuck in the middle of your work.
    how to join in the round
  6. Move the right needle from right to left under the first stitch on the left needle and slide it on to the right needle.
    how to join in the round
    how to join in the round
  7. Now move your left needle from left to right under the first stitch on the left needle (the one behind the slipped stitch) and lift that stitch over the one you slipped onto the left needle earlier.
    how to join in the round
    how to join in the round
  8. Pull tight.
    how to join in the round
  9. Place a marker. This marker will be situated in between the switched stitches.
    how to join in the round
  10. Start knitting your rows.

How to darn socks

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had this thing with socks. Bright and beautiful with fun cartoon characters on them, you name them and chances are I’ve had them. I particularly remember a pair of yellow Bert and Ernie socks I had as a teenager. They were a present from my best friends’, and I regarded them as my lucky socks. I must have been the only teenager around who was happy getting socks for no matter what occassion. Come to think of it, I must have been the only teenager who was so fervently darning socks!
Unfortunately, the Bert and Ernie socks have long since worn out beyond repair. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t still be spotted wearing pink Powerpuff girls socks.
Last May, during our honeymoon, my husband and I were casually strolling along Pier 39 when we stumbled upon the coolest shop ever: the Shop Market. I know, a pretty lame name, but it had the coolest socks I ever have seen. I just had to stash up! One of the pairs I got there had the muppet Animal on them.

muppet socks

Unfortunately, I managed to get a hole in one of them. Not too big though, so I could easily repair it. And while I was at it, I could just as well darn another pair of warm winter socks (although they’re not cool at all, but in winter time, everything’s allowed to keep those feet warm). But what better reason than this to write a post on darning socks?

What you need:

  • A wool needle. Those are the ones that have a rather large eye and a blunt point.
    wool needle
  • An egg-shaped something. I have a stone egg that does the job just fine. The important thing is that you have something slightly rounded to pull the sock over, to imitate the form of your foot. Mine looks like this:
    egg stone
  • Darning thread. This looks as follows:
    Laine Saint-Pierre

    Most of the time I use this, but a string of wool is just as good.

Darn it!
It’s not that hard to be honest. All you need to do is weave tight.

  1. Turn the sock inside out.
  2. Place the egg-shaped stone – or anything else that’s rounded – in the sock, underneath the hole.
  3. Get your thread through your needle. There’s no need to tie a knot, just leave a tiny bit of string dangling when you start weaving.
  4. Start at the top of the hole. If there are still some threads in the hole, weave through these, like this:
    how to darn socks

    In fact it’s even better to start a bit higher still, in a part that is still good.

  5. Weave down, left to right, right to left, like this:
    how to darn socks

    Now if the cat OK’d it, you’re sure you’re safe 😉

  6. When you have reached the bottom of the hole, or even a bit lower, make a quarter turn.
  7. Sstart weaving in between the treads you’ve just added.
    how to darn socks

    Make sure that you weave tight.

  8. When you’ve reached the end, cut the remaining thread off.
  9. Turn the sock right-side out.
how to darn socks

Tada! Good as new!