Look What I Made

I discovered korkers a while back, but couldn’t figure out how to make these cute little hair accessories. Finally, I found Korkers and More. This site is a little rough, but it contins great basic directions for making a korker. Using those directions, and adding my own little twists (for example: attaching the bow to a ponytail holder instead of a barrette, according to my girl’s preferences), I have come up with a method that allows me to make korkers fairly easily. They’re a lot cheaper than any korkers you can buy online, and I can make customize them to suit me and my little girl.

Would you like to learn how to make a korker? Well, today is your lucky day! :) Read below for step-by-step instructions.

You’ll Need:

  • Five yards of any fabric ribbon (For me 3/8″ size works best), any combination of colors, or all one color
  • Five wooden dowels, size 1/4″ or 5/16″, 18 inches long
  • Wooden clothes pins (do not use plastic!)
  • Large, flat cookie sheet, or aluminum foil
  • Oven
  • Sharp scissors
  • Fray Check, or as a last resort, a votive candle (unless you’re a pyromaniac or really desperate, spend two bucks for Fray Check, found in the sewing aisle)
  • String, any kind, doesn’t have to match  your ribbon, but it’s nice
  • Srong tape (duct tape or packing tape work nicely)
  • Ruler
  • Ponytail holder (hairband)
  • Optional, fine grain sand paper


  • Preheat oven to 275 degrees, Farenheit. (This may vary, according to your oven.)
  • Wind one yard of ribbon around each dowel, securing each end with a clothespin. Wind them as tightly as you can, without overlapping, like so:

  • Once you’ve wrapped all your ribbons around your dowels, stick them on your baking sheet. If you don’t have the right kind of baking sheet, cover your middle rack with aluminum foil. Make sure no ribbons touch the heating element! Here’s what my ribbons look like on the sheet:
  • Stick the ribbons, dowels, clothespins and all into the preheated oven. In my oven, about 30 minutes at 275 degrees is perfect. Check your ribbons at about 25 minutes. Twist and manipulate the ribbon until it slides off the dowel. If it’s springy and curly, not limp and trying to straighten out, you’re done! Here’s what my finished ribbons looked like:
  • Let the ribbons cool, and they’ll hold their curl even better.
  • After they’ve cooled enough, it’s time to cut! Get out your ruler, and cut the ribbons into 2.5″ pieces. Do not strecth the curls when measuring.
  • When your five yards are all cut up, you’ll end up with 25-30 ribbons, looking something like this:
  • Now it’s time to treat the cut ends of your ribbon. You MUST do this, or you will end up with a frayed, ugly mess rather quickly! The easiest, best way is to simply put a little Fray Check on the ends. After 10 minutes, the pieces should be dry and you’ll be ready to make your bow.
  • If you’re desperate (because, like me, your two-year-old discovered how to open the oven, and she stuck your brand-new bottle of Fray Check in there, right before you turned the dang thing on to make pizza!) or if you’re a pyromaniac, you could use a candle to treat the ends. I don’t recommend this method. It’s way more time-consuming, and there’s of course the risk of burning yourself, or your ribbons, or, God forbid, your house down! If you’re crazy like me, and decide to use a candle(BTW, you’ve been warned, so I don’t want to hear about any accidents due to you choosing this dumb method!), just hold the ribbon 1/2″ to 1/4″ from the flame, until the end of the ribbon melts just a tiny bit. Here’s me doing it, barely getting burned at all:
  • Once the ends are treated, it’s time to assemble the bow! It really helps to have something on both sides of your ribbons before you pile them up, to stabilize things. The last two Harry Potter books work quite nicely:
  • Cut your string to about 12″ in length, and place it between the two books, as in the photo above. It helps to use your tape to secure the string to the books. Place the ribbons in layers, centered on top of your string. It works best to do between 8 and 10 ribbons in each row. That means, if you have exactly 30 ribbons, you can do three rows of 10. For this project, I ended up with 27, so I did three rows of nine. Here’s what my first row looked like:
  • If you really want to, you can place your bows in a specific pattern, but if you’re new at making korkers, I don’t recommend it. Save yourself a lot of grief and just focus on getting them in there, centered evenly over the string. It’ll look nice no matter what order the ribbons are in. Here are my finished rows:
  • Now that your ribbons are all lined up, untape your string, and quickly tie it around the ribbons. If you do it too slow, the ribbons will fall out, and you’ll run the risk of dropping the F-bomb in front of the children (just kidding…I know you wouldn’t do that!). Tie the string tightly; a couple of square knots work nicely.  DO NOT cut off the extra string, because you’ll be using that to attach the bow to the ponytail holder! Here’s my tied bow:
  • Lastly, tie the bow securely to the ponytail holder of your choice. Again, a couple of square knots work for me.
  • You’re done! Stand back and admire your work. If you can get your munchkin to try model for you, send me a pic: chocolatefingerprints(at)gmail(dot)com
  • This activity is great to do in small, manageable chunks! They’re also quite addictive. Try it, and you’ll see what I mean!

For today’s tackle, I made this sweet pink dress for my daughter. She is a pink fanatic, and as I mentioned previously, would even like me to dye her hair pink! This feels like a big tackle for me, because most of the sewing projects I make don’t use patterns. I haven’t used a real, honest-to-goodness, store-bought patterns since high-school. But, I wanted to make her a super-cute dress, and my mom had given me this pattern, so I tried it. I am so surprised by how good it looks! I didn’t even mess up in a way that made it unfixable (had a brain fart and sewed wrong sides together. Thank goodness for seam rippers!)!

My daughter is sleeping right now, or else I’d have action shots of her in the dress. I promise to post those tomorrow! It looks even cuter when she’s wearing it!

Last week, I spent way too much time on Craftster, but I found a really cool hoodie tutorial that I just had to try. It took me about three hours, total, which I spread out over a few days. I think it turned out very nicely, if I do say so myself! I found this oh-so-cute fabric at Wal-Mart for $2 a yard. Here’s a full-body shot:

My only complaint is that the fabric turned out to be quite thin, and since I was making a jacket, I wanted it to be fairly warm, so I had to double up the fabric. This caused me to run out of fabric at the very end, and I couldn’t make the hood quite a slarge as I wanted. Next time, I think I’ll try fleece or sweatshirt fleece. I promised my son I’d make him a hoodie some time soon!

Total cost: $6

For the hoodie tutorial I used, click here.

I’m not getting much sewing done lately because the air conditioner in my sewing room went kaput, and if you’ve ever been on the upper floor of an old house, in the summer, without a/c, you’ll understand why I’ve been staying away!!

I did venture up there last weekend, and sweated profusely while putting together this vintage-style apron, according to the directions in Bend the Rules Sewing by Amy Karol, aka Angry Chicken.  I think it tuned out decently, considering it was my first try, and that I was getting pretty hot by the time I finished:

I apologize for the wacky photo; my two-year-old daughter took the picture! I got the fabric at Wal-Mart for $1 a yard, so the total cost for this apron was about $3, including thread and trim. Not bad, I say!


Other than that, I haven’t been creating much. I’ve been spending way too much time on Ebay, looking for vintage fabrics. It’s really disappointing. I can’t get enough fabric to make a skirt for a reasonable price!! If anyone knows of any resources for ultra-cheap fabric (I mean less than $3 a yard), please let me know!

Happy Friday!!

Yesterday, since it was a very rainy day, I decided to finish a handbag I’d previously started. Since I already had about 1/3 of the project completed, I whipped this baby up in about an hour. I LOVE it!! (It looks a bit funky here, because it’s hanging from a doorknob, but it’s so blasted difficult to take a picture of my own shoulder!)

It’s made out of an old skirt that my husband’s grandma wore as a young woman. Isn’t the fabric fantastic? I learned the basics of making a handbag when I made the Pleated Beauty Bag from Bend-the-Rules Sewing. So, for this bag I didn’t use a pattern. I just cut out a shape I thought would be nice and mae sure all the pieces were the same size. It was remarkably easy!

I lined and faced the bag with white cotton felt and put a cell phone-sized pocket on the inside. It’s just the right size for me!! Here’s the best part: Total Cost: $0!!


Some day soon, I might post a tutorial about making handbags, but I need to score some more fabulous fabric first. (Try saying that five times fast!) I think this may be the beginning of a new handbag fetish for me. And why not, when I can make them myself?!?


I found a tutorial that I am totally smitten with! It shows how to make a sweet toddler dress out of an adult’s button-up shirt. Click here for the original tutorial. By the way, if you haven’t discovered craftster, check it out! Tons of tutorials and networking among crafty people like us! :)

I made this dress as a practice run. I had an old button shirt I wore during high school. I never liked it much, but couldn’t part with it either. I knew I’d be able to make something out of it someday! I never knew that the something I made would be so darn cute, though! I was saving an cool blue button shirt to make an even sweeter dress to match my daughter’s eyes, but while my back was turned, making this dress, my son got creative with his scissors and cut that shirt up!! Oh well, such is the life of a sewin’ mama!

 All together, I spent about an hour on this dress. Total cost: ZERO DOLLARS!

After I made my Silhouette T-Shirt, my daughter was desperately sad (as only two-year-olds and teenagers can be), crying that I hadn’t made her anything. Luckily, I had just seen a post on The Artful Parent Blog about how to make a toddler smock out of an old T-shirt. So, I whipped up this fun smock in about 15 minutes. It was kind of fun to make, and she loved it so much! The funny part: she insisted on wearing it with nothing underneath, so she looked like she was running around in hospital gown! :) Thanks, Jean!!

I have posted before about my love of freezer paper stencilling. Well, I’ve been at it again, and this time I decided to make a T-shirt that was very personalized and precious to me. I was browsing through Flickr the other day, and was inspired by this photo. I decided to make myself a T-shirt, using my kids’ silhouettes as a freezer paper stencil. Here’s how I did it:

Things You’ll Need:

  • Children, or other semi-cooperative photo subjects
  • Digital Camera
  • Printer
  • Freezer Paper (found in grocery store, near aluminum foil and plastic wrap)
  • Pen or pencil that draws crisp lines
  • Tape
  • X-Acto Knife with sharp blade
  • Old magazine or large, thick piece of cardboard
  • Iron
  • T-Shirt of your choice
  • Fabric paint of your choice


  • First, I had to get my children to sit still long enough for me to snap a photo of them. My daughter just barely cooperated! When taking photos for silhouettes, there are a couple of things to remember. Don’t cut off any body parts. The silhouette will look strange if your child is missing a hand or foot! Make sure your children aren’t holding their hands in front of their bodies, or the silhouette will look weird, too. The biggest rule is to try to look at the photo as if it were a silhouette. Does it look good that way??? Then use it! Here’s the photo I used (don’t they look so thrilled to pose for me?): 










  • After you’ve snapped a photo that you’re pleased with, load it onto your computer and print it off on regular computer paper. Photo paper is too thick for the next step. For my shirt, I cropped the photo down as much as possible, and then selected a 5×7″ print size.
  • Find a fairly sunny window and tape the printed photo onto the glass. Tear off a comparable-sized sheet of freezer paper and tape it on top of the photo in the window, shiny side down (you’ll be drawing on the dull side). Make sure to tape it down flat, or your freezer paper will move around, and you’ll end up with a very funky silhouette! Use a pen (or pencil, if you’re more comfortable) to trace your child’s silhouette. Take your time to make sure you get it right. Trust me, you want to be slow and steady for this job! Here’s what my children’s silhouette’s looked like, after tracing:

  • Now, you’ll need to use your X-Acto knife to cut out the silhouettes. Place the freezer paper on your old magazine or cardboard now, because you X-Acto knives are very sharp and will cut through the table underneath! When cutting, pay extra attention to detail and, once again go slowly! If you have any spots (between arms or fingers, especially) that will need to remain the same color as the T-Shirt, don’t forget to save them! For example, look at the left side of my children’s silhouettes. See that little space between my daughter’s side and her arm? I saved the small piece of freezer paper I cut out there, because the silhouette wouldn’t look as good without it.
  • Once you’ve cut out the silhouette, it’s time to adhere your stencil to your shirt. Place the shirt on a flat, heatproof surface. Plug in your iron and smooth out any wrinkles. Now, place the stencil in wherever you want it. Make sure to place the stencil shiny side down, or it will stick to the iron instead of your shirt! Once your stencil is situated, it’s time to iron it, which will cause it to stick to the shirt. Make sure you get all the edges. I’ve found that about 20-30 seconds is usually enough ironing. If you have any small pieces of freezer paper saved (such as the space between my daughter’s arm and her side), place them on now (shiny side down) and iron until they stick.
  • Next, tear off another sheet of freezer paper that’s slightly larger than the stencil. Place this new sheet inside the shirt, shiny side up. This will keep the paint from running through onto the back of your shirt. Now, iron the shirt once again, so the two freezer paper layers will stick in place.
  • Paint a thin layer of your chosen paint over the stencil. Use just enough to get an even layer. Too much paint will result in a sloppy-looking stencil. Here’s what my stencil looked like, after painting:

  • Wait several hours (over night is best!) before peeling the stencil off. This may be the hardest part, but it’s worth it! Removing the stencil before the paint is totally dry might ruin the whole thing!
  • After several hours (or over night), peel the freezer paper off. Tweezers are helpful to remove small pieces. If your paint has any special instructions (iron to set, etc.), now would be time to follow those instructions. Here’s what my finished stencil looked like:

  • Enjoy your unique keepsake T-shirt. I really feel that mine is priceless. I’m going to wear it all the time, even when my kids are teenagers and are mortified!! Here’s another look at my finished T-shirt:

 If you’d like to share your how-to knowledge and have a chance to win a $30 Amazon gift card, check out the Group Writing Project, hosted by An Island Life.


For a while now, my son has been asking me to build him what he calls a “nature fort.” What does that mean? Exactly what it sounds like! He wanted me to build him a fort out of natural materials that we could hang out in.

Stumped, I kept telling him that none of our natural materials were large enough to make a fort for humans. Sure, I could plant a sunflower house, ala Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots (which I plan to do next year, by the way), but it would take months to grow, and getting such a late start, by the time it was grown, we’d have precious little time to enjoy it before it got too cold in the late fall.

So, the other day I decided to trim the Pussy Willow tree that is located right next to my back porch. It’s becoming kind of intrusive, and when it rains, its water-laden branches nearly block the door! I grabbed the saws-all and trimmed away, intending to only cut a few branches, then getting caught up in the chore. When I was finished, I had trimmed pretty much every branch that needed trimming, and had a HUGE pile of branches strewn around the ground. All of a sudden, I felt like a cartoon character who has had a lightbulb go off above his head!

Realizing that I now had all the “nature” I would need to build my son a nature fort, I set to work. Luckily, we have an apricot tree in our yard with a low-hanging branch, about three feet off the ground. I leaned the Pussy Willow branches on this branch, as if it were the top pole of a tent. Alternating branches so that one had leaves up and the next had leaves down, I made our nature fort in about five minutes!

Then, we sat back and enjoyed it. We hung out in our nature fort until the mosquitoes drove us inside. The next day, we ate a picnic lunch inside the nature fort. Sadly, our nature fort won’t be around much longer. The leaves are now beginning to wilt, and the nature fort isn’t as sturdy as it once was. Besides, my husband needs to mow the lawn tomorrow, so we’ll have to say au revoir to the nature fort. But I don’t think this is the end of nature forts for us! It was so much fun that I plan to build a nature fort every time we have enough available materials.

You can build a nature fort, too! Feel free to use my idea and tweak it however you like. If you don’t have any low-hanging branches, how about using a picnic table as the frame for your fort, or a sturdy fence? Just don’t use any sharp or heavy materials, as they might poke or fall on the kids! And I feel that I must mention that kids in a nature fort should always be supervised.

If you are inspired by my nature fort and decide to make your own, PLEASE take a picture and post it here or email me at: andreamcmann(at)yahoo(dot)com. (Replace the (at) with @ and the (dot) with . ) I’d love to see your nature forts!

The Essential Guide to a Whole New Way to SewRecently, I bought Bend the Rules Sewing  (Potter Craft, 2007) by Amy Karol, and I’m in love! I plan to make quite a few of the projects in this great book! If you’re a beginning or intermediate sewer, I strongly recommend this book! Even if you’re an old pro, it might be worth taking a look at because there are some really cool and cute projects in here!


This week, I embarked on my first really big sewing project since high school! I made the Pleated Beauty Handbag from Bend the Rules Sewing. I’m really happy with the way it turned out, but now that it’s done I realize how big it is! Since I haven’t carried a purse in ages, and I no longer need a diaper bag, I don’t have enough stuff to fill it up! I guess I’ll have to make another bag.  Darn! (he he he)  ;)

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