Category Archives: Sewing & Crafts

16 DIY Christmas Gift Ideas You Still Have Time to Make!

With Christmas less than two weeks away (eek!) and this being the last week of school for most kids (double eek!), you might be starting to feel the holiday shopping and crafting crunch! Even though I am on top of classroom and teacher gifts for the first time ever, I still have a few people on my list who I need to make/find gifts for before Christmas (and this baby!) arrive. I thought you might be in the same predicament, so today I’m popping in with a quick round-up of my favorite DIY Christmas Gift Ideas that I have made/given over the years. All of these are great for teachers, classmates, co-workers, teammates, neighbors and more…and depending on how well stocked your craft room is AND how fast you work, these really are quick and easy enough to make in time for your next gift exchange…even if it’s tomorrow!

Christmas is quickly approaching! Finish off your gift list with these last-minute DIY Christmas Gift Ideas!

Sweets and Treats

Edible gifts are always a hit with just about everyone and are a great way to share your traditional family delicious with new friends. Inexpensive boxes from the craft store and printable tags are an easy yet effective way to take the cuteness factor up a notch! You can see more packaging ideas and get these printable tags HERE!

Christmas is quickly approaching! Finish off your gift list with these last-minute DIY Christmas Gift Ideas!

Baking Gift Set

Absolutely no DIY skills are required to put together this cute and thoughtful gift, but it sure looks fun! A quick stroll through Hobby Lobby yielded all the festive and coordinated baking tools, glass jars, and bucket. A few stickers and off-the-shelf baking items complete the set in mere minutes! You can see more on this idea HERE.

Christmas is quickly approaching! Finish off your gift list with these last-minute DIY Christmas Gift Ideas!

Coffee Lover’s Set

Would you believe me if I told you I pulled together this gift in about 15 minutes using all things I had on hand? Admittedly, my craft room and kitchen may be stocked more than most, but all these items are budget-friendly and easy to find! I simply put some red tree stickers on some oversized white mugs. I filled the mugs with K-cups, a Starbucks gift card, and some wooden spoons adorned with snowflake decorations I made with punches. Loaded into a basket from the Target Dollar Spot, it makes for a thoughtful and festive gift for any coffee lover in your life!

Christmas is quickly approaching! Finish off your gift list with these last-minute DIY Christmas Gift Ideas!

Personalized Water Bottles

I made these a few years ago for all of Henry’s little friends, and they were a huge hit. A quick run to Marshalls yielded all the water bottles I needed. I then personalized each one with the child’s name and favorite image from vinyl using my Cricut Explore. Cups and vinyl can both add up, so perhaps reserve these for special friends or teachers (use the school logo!)! See more on this project HERE!

Christmas is quickly approaching! Finish off your gift list with these last-minute DIY Christmas Gift Ideas!

Snowflake Drink Charms

Craft stores are filled with so many fun and festive craft supplies right now; and with a little bit of time, so many can be turned into really charming gifts. These started out as a package of plain wooden die-cut snowflakes. Paint, glitter and pre-made hooks turned them into adorable drink charms that can be used all winter long! You can see the full tutorial for these HERE!

Christmas is quickly approaching! Finish off your gift list with these last-minute DIY Christmas Gift Ideas!

Christmas Light Drink Charms

This drink charm project is even easier since I started with a pack of pre-glittered mini light ornaments. Adding the hooks can be done in minutes, making these the perfect gift to bring to all your girls at book club, girls’ night out, etc! You can see the tutorial for these HERE!

Christmas is quickly approaching! Finish off your gift list with these last-minute DIY Christmas Gift Ideas!

Wine Lover Set

If you want to take the drink charms up a notch, add a bottle of wine and a tree ornament and you end up with the perfect hostess gift! A cute container (Hobby Lobby) and bow help keep things corralled for easy gifting! You can see more about this gift idea HERE.

Christmas is quickly approaching! Finish off your gift list with these last-minute DIY Christmas Gift Ideas!

Photo Christmas Ornaments

Do you have a family member (or maybe even a teacher?) that is hard to buy for? A pack of cardstock, a lot of hot glue and some favorite family photos are all you need to make these thoughtful Christmas tree ornaments. Not only is this a super budget-friendly and thoughtful gift, but it is a great way to capture and reflect on the memories of the year. You can read more about the special reason I made these ornaments and how they come together HERE.

Christmas is quickly approaching! Finish off your gift list with these last-minute DIY Christmas Gift Ideas!

Mini Monogram Wreaths

These 8″ yarn wreaths were born simply out of a desire to play with all the pretty and sparkly bobbles at the craft store. #seriously Even though my motivation was somewhat selfish, they turned out to be adorable gifts for Henry’s preschool teachers at the time. I recommend wrapping all the wreaths (which takes the most time) while you’re watching TV or sitting at sport practices and then embellish with a variety of deeply-discounted finds available at craft stores right now! You can see the step-by-step tutorial HERE!

Christmas is quickly approaching! Finish off your gift list with these last-minute DIY Christmas Gift Ideas!

Holiday Pencil Wreath

This project can be done with either pencils or paper straws (check the Target Dollar Spot for very festive versions of both!). I personally love the pencils for a teacher’s gift, which is how we gave it a few years back. Admittedly, this one is hard to box up for giving but the effect (and $10 price point!) sure made it worth it. See the full tutorial HERE!

Christmas is quickly approaching! Finish off your gift list with these last-minute DIY Christmas Gift Ideas!

Patchwork Scarves

I made these YEARS ago for my sister and niece (and her American girl doll). Not only were they really easy to make and used up a bunch of my cute holiday fabric in a fun way, but my recipients LOVED them! If you have the time and skills, these are a great alternative to food, candles and gift cards! See more HERE!

Christmas is quickly approaching! Finish off your gift list with these last-minute DIY Christmas Gift Ideas!

Fabric-Embellished Dish Towels

This is another “oldie but goodie” and a great hostess gift when you don’t want to give the standard bottle of wine or chocolates. I simply added some ruffles in holiday fabric to pre-made dish towels. If you have an embroidery machine, you could even add a monogram or holiday image. My in-laws STILL put these out every year (and I gave them 5 years ago!). See the tutorial HERE!

Christmas is quickly approaching! Finish off your gift list with these last-minute DIY Christmas Gift Ideas!

Holiday Craft Bags with Paper Toppers

These are STILL one of my favorite things we did for Henry’s class and neighborhood friends a few years back. When I saw them on sale, I stocked up on a ton of mini holiday craft kits at Michaels. I then cut these bag toppers using my Cricut Explore and stapled them to the top of each bag. Giving crafts is a great way to deal with classroom allergies and provide something that can be used over break! You can read more about these HERE!

Christmas is quickly approaching! Finish off your gift list with these last-minute DIY Christmas Gift Ideas!

Candy Bags

Whether you fill them with candy, cookies, stickers or other fun holiday treats, clear bags topped with a paper topper is a quick and easy solution for classroom, team, and neighborhood friends! These come together in minutes using just paper punches and a stapler (so this is a great alternative to the above project if you don’t have an e-cutter!). You can see the full tutorial HERE!

Christmas is quickly approaching! Finish off your gift list with these last-minute DIY Christmas Gift Ideas!

Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers

Okay – these are neither quick nor super easy but I had to throw them in this roundup because they are too cute not to! If you have a Cricut Explore and some helping hands to glue all the pieces together, these really are the cutest way to back up treats for anyone on your list! They can also double as gift-card holders or cards, so be sure to check out the full tutorial HERE!

Christmas is quickly approaching! Finish off your gift list with these last-minute DIY Christmas Gift Ideas!

If you’re stuck or in need of some last-minute ideas, I hope the projects shared here get your wheels turning a bit! I’d love to hear if you have a tried-and-true gift that you turn to over and over during this busy time of year! I’m always looking for good things to add to my gift idea lists!

Hope your week is off to a great start and I’ll see you back here on Thursday!

Megan Signature

Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers

I am practically giddy over today’s holiday craft project! This is one of those projects that I didn’t really need to do, nor did I really have the time for, but I couldn’t get the idea out of my head and HAD to see it come to life. I am SO glad I decided to see this project through, because not only are these Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers about the cutest things ever, but now I am well on my way to having Henry’s school class gifts all done and ready for the holiday party next week (which is about an entire week earlier than I normally have things ready!). If you need a super fun and cute way to top off your bags of homemade fudge for the neighbors OR are looking for another reason to buy a Cricut Explore, I have just the project for you!

Top of a bag of treats for everyone on your list with these adorable Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers - made with paper and the Cricut Explore!

I think treat bag toppers are such a clever idea. You can take an inexpensive little bag or envelope, fill it with editable treats, stickers, cards, anything (!!!) and transform it into a notable and themed gift simply by adding a paper topper to close it off. Folding and stapling paper over the top of a bag is a great solution for party favors, holiday treats and more…this project just takes it up a notch. Or two 😉

Top of a bag of treats for everyone on your list with these adorable Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers - made with paper and the Cricut Explore!

I’ll show you exactly how these cute little guys come together, but if you look closely, they are just variations on the same face: topper, cheeks, eyes, nose and smile. They become Santa, Mrs. Claus, an Elf and a Reindeer by swapping out a few accessories. I really can’t decide which one is my favorite!

Top of a bag of treats for everyone on your list with these adorable Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers - made with paper and the Cricut Explore!

What You Need to Make Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers

I will admit, these do take a bit of time to pull together. But the tradeoff is that they are super inexpensive to make! A handful of colored cardstock, treat bags, craft adhesive and a stapler are all you need to transform your treat bags into adorable Christmas characters!

Top of a bag of treats for everyone on your list with these adorable Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers - made with paper and the Cricut Explore!

Oh…and you’ll need a Cricut Explore. You can certainly make these by cutting shapes out by hand (or searching for clipart/graphics on Google and printing them onto cardstock), but the Cricut Explore sure makes this a more manageable endeavor (especially if you’re making 24 of them for a Kindergarten class!) If you have a Cricut Design Space account, I have the cut files all ready for you HERE (the project should open right in Design Space).

Top of a bag of treats for everyone on your list with these adorable Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers - made with paper and the Cricut Explore!

Note that these Christmas friends are not a Cricut “set.” I simply hunted and pecked through the Design Space library to find the images and shapes that worked the best to get the looks I wanted. If you’d like to make these on your own or in a different e-cutter software, here are the shapes and elements I used to pull together each character.

Top of a bag of treats for everyone on your list with these adorable Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers - made with paper and the Cricut Explore!

Top of a bag of treats for everyone on your list with these adorable Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers - made with paper and the Cricut Explore!

Assembling the Treat Bag Toppers

If you are making these for a class, team, troop, or even the whole street, I highly recommend cutting EVERYTHING at once. It makes assembling so much faster!

Top of a bag of treats for everyone on your list with these adorable Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers - made with paper and the Cricut Explore!

Here’s another tip! Cut all the big pieces, as well as anything that will hang off the edges, from sturdy paper…

Top of a bag of treats for everyone on your list with these adorable Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers - made with paper and the Cricut Explore!

…but cut the itty bitty pieces from vinyl! Instead of fussing with glue for the little eyes and smiles, they went on just like stickers!

Top of a bag of treats for everyone on your list with these adorable Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers - made with paper and the Cricut Explore!

Once you have everything cut and ready to go, it’s just a matter of glueing everything together with some craft glue. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Fold the base in half before assembling the character so you can be sure everything will be on the front of the bag once folded over.
  • Start by placing the cheeks and then build out from there.
  • The personalities really come to life through the eyes and smile. Don’t hesitate to play around with the placement of these elements to give each one a slightly different look.

Top of a bag of treats for everyone on your list with these adorable Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers - made with paper and the Cricut Explore!

Here is a visual breakdown of how each character comes to life:

Santa

Top of a bag of treats for everyone on your list with these adorable Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers - made with paper and the Cricut Explore!

Mrs. Claus

Top of a bag of treats for everyone on your list with these adorable Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers - made with paper and the Cricut Explore!

Reindeer

Top of a bag of treats for everyone on your list with these adorable Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers - made with paper and the Cricut Explore!

Elf

Top of a bag of treats for everyone on your list with these adorable Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers - made with paper and the Cricut Explore!

While these are designed to be Treat Bag Toppers, they would also make super cute gift tags, gift card holders, or place cards for your holiday table!

Top of a bag of treats for everyone on your list with these adorable Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers - made with paper and the Cricut Explore!

Attaching the Treat Bag Toppers

So you might be wondering what’s inside my treat bags for Henry’s class this year? I found a few years ago that you can really go wrong with inexpensive little craft sets from the craft store. They are always on sale this time of year and are perfect for all the no food/allergy precautions abundant in school treats/gifts these days. I got these at Michaels for $0.50 each!

Top of a bag of treats for everyone on your list with these adorable Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers - made with paper and the Cricut Explore!

I simply slid the bead kit into the bag…

Top of a bag of treats for everyone on your list with these adorable Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers - made with paper and the Cricut Explore!

…folded the topper over the top of the bag and stapled it shut on each side.

Top of a bag of treats for everyone on your list with these adorable Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers - made with paper and the Cricut Explore!

Once the faces are assembled, putting the bag toppers onto the bags couldn’t be any quicker!

Top of a bag of treats for everyone on your list with these adorable Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers - made with paper and the Cricut Explore!

I have everything cut for Henry’s whole class and have about half of them assembled. They do take a bit of patience to get them all cut; but once they are, they come together pretty fast. School-aged kids are the perfect assembly helpers – they can assemble while you prepare whatever is going to go inside each bag! For us, getting Henry to write his name on each one will be the longest/hardest part, lol!

Top of a bag of treats for everyone on your list with these adorable Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers - made with paper and the Cricut Explore!

Over the years, I have found that I really enjoy these little craft projects around the holidays. Even though life is busy and there are a million things to do, I really enjoy making extra-special handmade things for the people/kids on our list. I think because I grew up with a Mom who made homemade stockings and ornaments, it just feels like the perfect time to bust out the felt and paper and markers and make something festive! I think Santa and Mrs. Claus agree!

Top of a bag of treats for everyone on your list with these adorable Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers - made with paper and the Cricut Explore!

I hope you guys love this project as much as I do! Now that I’ve made them, I can get them out of my head and (finally!) move on to finishing our decorating.

Top of a bag of treats for everyone on your list with these adorable Christmas Character Treat Bag Toppers - made with paper and the Cricut Explore!

Hope you all have a great weekend! See you back here next week!

Megan Signature

Home Decor Sewing School | How to Sew Half-Square Triangles

Even though everyone (likely) has Christmas on the brain right now, I wanted to pop in with my next Home Decor Sewing School tutorial! I’ve actually been blown away how popular these tutorials have been in recent months, and I am so excited to hear that I’ve motivated and encouraged some of you to actually tackle some simple sewing projects. I’ve said it each time, so I’ll just repeat it again: I’m not an expert sewer (by any stretch!); but over the years, I have learned and “mastered” some basic sewing techniques that allow me to not only make things for our own homes, but others’ as well! These are projects that people may look at and think “I could never do that.” But once you see how truly easy they are, hopefully you’ll be more inclined to give them a try. So far, we’ve covered how to sew piping, pillow shams, and boxed corners. Today, we are dipping our toe into quilting, and I am going to show you how to sew half-square triangles.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

What Is a Half-Square Triangle?

The “half-square triangle” or HST is a term you may or may not have heard before; but I guarantee you’ve seen them (even if you are just a casual quilt admirer). When put together into larger patterns, they can create some pretty spectacular effects; but in isolation, they are exactly as the title suggests: two triangles that come together to form a square.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

I love the HST for so many reasons. First and foremost, as you will soon see, they are so stinkin’ fast and easy to make! If you need to whip together an amazing quilt in short order, the HST is your very best friend. And second, they are the foundation to some of the most spectacular quilt patterns. The squares can be rotated and combined to create a variety of effects. In fact, I’ve used HSTs to make two very different quilts already shown here on the blog:

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

HERRINGBONE QUILTWILD GREEN QUILT

Do you see the HSTs in the above quilts? Sometimes they can be tricky to pick out depending on how the colors are used and the optical illusion the fabrics create. The picture below might help:

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

And these two are just the tip of the iceberg! The HST can be used in countless ways. Here are just some quick examples, but check out HERE for loads of ideas!

Half-Square Triangle Quilt Ideas

If you look at some quilts you love and focus in on the basic element, you might find they are indeed just HSTs put together in a really cool way!

What You Need

Hopefully, I now have you convinced that the HST is a quilt technique worth learning and mastering. Now I’m going to show you how easy they are to sew together! Here is what you need to sew HSTs:

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

*affiliate links used

  1. Self-healing cutting mat
  2. Cutting ruler
  3. Square ruler (optional, but SO handy)
  4. Rotary cutter
  5. 1/4″ quilting foot for your sewing machine (optional, but SO handy)
  6. Fabric pen
  7. Thread
  8. Fabric

Just a quick note on #5, the 1/4″ quilting foot for your sewing machine. In quilting, a majority of seams are 1/4″. You can certainly sew these seams with a careful eye and a regular presser foot. However, once my Mom gave me the 1/4″ foot, I was amazed at how much easier it was to get consistent seams on my quilt blocks. Your’s may not look like this (each machine’s feet have a different look), but most (I think) will have a guide that is perfectly measured at 1/4″.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Here’s the foot on my machine. The red lines on either side of the guide are exactly 1/4″ out, meaning I can use this foot to sew on either side/direction! Check the manual to your specific sewing machine to learn more about your 1/4″ foot. They are usually just a couple dollars and are worth investing in!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Before you can sew up the HSTs, you need to cut your fabric down into squares. What size squares you need to cut are outlined in the two different tutorials below. At this time, I am not going to go into the various patterns/effects you can create with different fabrics. You can use the images above to decide a pattern you like (or Google “Half-Square Triangle Quilt Patterns”) and figure out how to lay out your squares from there. Just note that each HST is made out of two different fabrics. So if you want a red and white finished HST, start with one red square and one white square.

TIP! I find it easiest to do all these steps (cut, then sew, then cut, then iron, etc) in batches, so take the time to cut down all your fabric(s) into squares before moving on.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

The Half-Square Triangle – Method 1 (Yields 2 HSTs)

There are lots of different ways to make HSTs, but all of them are based on sewing squares together and cutting them apart in different ways. This first method sews two squares together to yield 2 identical HSTs. To help you determine what size to cut your starting squares, use this handy chart:

Half-Square Triangle Measurements - Method 1

To get really precise measurements, I recommend using a rotary cutter, mat and ruler.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

For one set of HSTs: start with two squares cut to the exact same size (mine were cut to 8″ for ease) and place them on your work surface with RIGHT sides facing each other.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

On the top square (which should have the WRONG side facing up), draw a line from one corner to the opposite corner using a fabric pen.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Next, sew a line 1/4″ away on BOTH sides of the line you just drew through both squares of fabric.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

To do this, line up the guidelines on your 1/4″ foot with the pen line and stitch down the full diagonal of the squares.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

If you look carefully at the images below, you will see a line of white stitching on BOTH sides of the drawn pen line.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Next, use a ruler and rotary cutter to cut along that same pen line.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Once cut, you should be able to flip open the squares along the seams you sewed to reveal two HSTs…each made with half triangles of your two fabrics! Neat, huh?

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

The Half-Square Triangle – Method 2 (Yields 4 HSTs)

This next method also makes HSTs. But instead of creating 2 identical HSTs, it creates 4 identical HSTs…although the four are a bit smaller. Use the following chart as a general guide to determine your final square measurement using this method. (NOTE: This method doesn’t create “simple” sized HSTs; but once they are squared off, you can create the more “workable” sizes as shown.)

Half-Square Triangle Measurements - Method 2

Like above, start by trimming down the fabric to  your desired starting-sized squares. The squares used in this example are the same as above: 8″.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Also like before, place your squares right-sides-together…

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

This time however, instead of sewing on diagonal, sew the two squares together along all 4 edges (again, using a 1/4″ seam allowance).

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

This time, I used the outside guide of my 1/4″ foot along the edge of the fabric to get the correct measurement.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

With all four edges sewn shut, you will cut along BOTH diagonals this time to create the HSTs.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Just like before, once you flip each one open along the sewn seams, you will end up with four identical HSTs! How easy is that!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Pressing the Seams

With your squares sewn and cut, there are still a few more steps you need to take before they can be assembled into a quilt. The first step is to press the seams to one side and press the whole HST flat.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Start with your triangle pointing to the left. For each HST of the same patterns, make sure the same fabric is on top (so all the seams are pressed the same way). For these grey/blue squares, I started with the blue chevron on top every time.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

First, iron the seam with the triangle shut (below left). This “sets” the seam, which essentially allows you to easily pull the top open (below right) while keeping the seam in place.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Once pulled open, iron the center seam flat.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Repeat for all the HSTs, ensuring your seams are all pointing the same direction.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Trimming Off Tails & Squaring Off

There is one final and very important step you need to take before the squares can be sewn into a quilt. If you look closely at each and every HST, they have little “tails” at the corners where they were sewn/cut. If these aren’t trimmed off, it makes for very tricky matching of seams AND bumps in your final quilt because of bulk. We need to trim those off!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

You can certainly take a scissors and just trim them all off, but this is also a good opportunity to “square off” your HSTs. If your seams or cutting went wonky along the way, this is where you can compensate for it and make everything nice and square and identical from square to square.

You don’t HAVE to use one, but having a square ruler makes this part so much easier. Simply line up the diagonal line on the ruler with the diagonal seam on your quilt block…

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

…and then use a rotary cutter to not only trim off the tails, but trim the entire square down to your “finished square” size.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

See? No tails and a perfectly symmetrical 7.5″ square all ready to be assembled into a quilt!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Here is a quick example of how the two methods differ a bit. Both the red/white and blue/grey started as 8″ squares. Method 1 yields 2 larger HSTs, while Method 2 yields 4 smaller squares.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Once you’ve tried and mastered this basic sewing concept, you’ll be whipping up HSTs (and ultimately quilt blocks!) in no time! These really do come together so fast. In fact, it took me less time than the John Denver and the Muppets Christmas album to sew together and cut down all these squares into HSTs!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

With your squares all sewn, cut, and ironed, you are ready to start assembling your quilt. But this tutorial is long enough, so I’m going cut it off here for now. I’ll be busy working away on Baby’s quilt over the next few weeks and will have the second half of this installment (“How to Assemble a Basic Quilt”) for you next month! For now, here is where I am headed!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

What has become very easy and “second nature” to me is sometimes a bit tricky to explain in step-by-step instructions like this. If something is unclear, please let me know and I’ll help you as best I can. If you’ve always wanted to try sewing a quilt…this is a great place to start. Grab some fabric (don’t worry about colors or patterns) and cut it into some squares (don’t fret over the size) and just start whipping up some HSTs. By the time you’ve got it down, I’ll be back to show you how to put it together!

Also, in the meantime, be sure to check out the other tutorials in this series by clicking on the picture!

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

I have a long running list of other sewing tutorials that have been requested and I want to do. If there is something you’re dying to learn, be sure to let me know in the comments!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Hope your week is off to a great start. Later this week, I’ll be sharing a look at our simple yet festive indoor holiday decor! See you soon!

Megan Signature

DIY Hidden Holiday Message Advent Calendar

There is something about the arrival of the holiday season that makes me want to get crafty. Even though there are about one hundred other things I should probably be doing with my time these days, all I wanted to do this past weekend was play with some pretty papers and make a fun holiday craft! Henry is already (constantly!) asking how many days there are until Christmas; and since he is now at an age where he understands the concept of an Advent Calendar, I thought it was the perfect craft to satisfy my crafting urge while getting our holiday season off and running. After waaaaay too much Pinterest surfing and brainstorming, I’m thrilled with what I pulled together for this year. There is a bit of time before December 1st, so I’m breaking it all down today should you want to make your own version too!

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

As I was researching various options for a countdown calendar, I came across so many great ideas. From Lego-building projects to bible versus, holiday activities to scavenger hunts, there are so many fun ways to count down the days until Christmas. However, since we are officially entering “Baby Watch” time, I didn’t want to load more things onto our plate and stress our family out with more fuss and stuff. I wanted something that would be fun and engaging for Henry but easy enough to maintain no matter what the next few weeks hold. Here is what I came up with:

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

Using my Cricut Explore, I made 24 paper presents, each tucked inside a cute little paper envelope. Each envelope has a number that corresponds to the first 24 days of December.

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

The paper presents are tacked up onto a bulletin board in a very specific arrangement.

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

Why such a special arrangement? Because inside each paper envelop is a letter. Each day of December, all we have to do is slide off each paper envelope to reveal the letter underneath…

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

By Christmas Eve, the letters come together to create a “secret” holiday message!

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

Can you figure out the message yet? If not, here you go!

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

Henry is very much into words, letters, sounds, and spelling…so I am pretty certain this will be a big hit with him. However, he is ALSO very much into the jokes on popsicle sticks (even when he doesn’t understand them!) so I thought I would add a fun little addition to the back of each paper present as well! Besides revealing a letter, each paper present also has a kid-friendly Christmas-themed joke printed on the back. Not only is a letter and a joke per day totally manageable for our household right now, but it’s just SO Henry!

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

Admittedly, these little paper presents (with cute little paper bows) were a bit time intensive (lots of little pieces). But they were exactly what this Mama needed to keep her hands busy while she relaxed on the couch after a long holiday weekend!

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

This same “hidden message” concept could be adapted to any size/shape, but I really love that the presents are attached to the board and we just slide off each white envelop. Now that it’s made, its execution couldn’t be any easier!

Use the Cricut Explore to create a fun and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, pull down an envelop to reveal a letter in a hidden holiday message!

What You Need

To make a Hidden Message Advent Calendar as shown, you will need:

  • Red cardstock (3 12×12″ sheets)
  • Blue cardstock (3 12×12″ sheets)
  • Green cardstock (3 12×12″ sheets)
  • White cardsticj (6 12×12″ sheets)
  • Photo paper or sticker paper (4 sheets)
  • Cork board
  • 24 mini clothespins
  • 24 thumbtacks
  • Tools: Scissors/paper trimmer, 2″ circle punch, Cricut Explore, craft glue, hot glue gun/glue sticks

I’ll show you specifically how this whole project comes together; but if you are going to do something similar, I can’t recommend enough getting everything cut at once and planning out your colors, numbers, jokes (or whatever you’re including) and phrase before starting to assemble anything. With lots of a little parts to keep track of (including spelling out a phrase!), assembly will go much quicker if you don’t have to stop and think through it all!

Use the Cricut Explore to create a fun and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, pull down an envelop to reveal a letter in a hidden holiday message!

Okay! Are you ready to see how cute Advent Calendar comes together? For a single paper present, here is what you’ll need: Use the Cricut Explore to create a fun and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, pull down an envelop to reveal a letter in a hidden holiday message!

  1. Paper present*
  2. 2″ scalloped circle*
  3. Number tag
  4. Ribbon tie*
  5. Ribbon loops*
  6. Paper letter*
  7. Printed paper joke
  8. Paper envelop that fits #1*

*These images can be found in the Cricut Design Space library. If you’re interested in creating this project exactly as you see it, you can access my file here!

Making the Printed Numbers and Jokes

There are a variety of ways to number your little envelopes (including number stickers, numbers cut from paper or vinyl, etc). I found the easiest way was to create some circles in a computer software program and fill them with fun patterns, numbers, and jokes (you can find the kid-friendly Christmas jokes I used HERE.) Once you have your files as you like them, print out all the circles onto photo paper for a glossy and professional finish OR sticker paper to make application quick and easy!

Use the Cricut Explore to create a fun and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, pull down an envelop to reveal a letter in a hidden holiday message!

To trim the circles down to size, use a paper trimmer to slice the paper into strips, then cut each circle out with a 2″ punch. This print-then-punch method is a much quicker solution for numbering the envelopes than cutting a bunch of circles and numbers with the Cricut and gluing everything together individually.

Use the Cricut Explore to create a fun and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, pull down an envelop to reveal a letter in a hidden holiday message!

Making the Envelopes

With the numbers printed and punched, you can start assembling each daily present! Let’s start with the envelopes.

Use the Cricut Explore to create a fun and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, pull down an envelop to reveal a letter in a hidden holiday message!

The envelope is really just a rectangle with some tabs and a fold line. Fold everything along the score lines and then secure it shut with some craft glue…

Use the Cricut Explore to create a fun and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, pull down an envelop to reveal a letter in a hidden holiday message!

Use more glue to layer the printed number and scalloped circle onto the front of the envelope.

Use the Cricut Explore to create a fun and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, pull down an envelop to reveal a letter in a hidden holiday message!

Continue with all the envelopes and numbers until you have 24!

Use the Cricut Explore to create a fun and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, pull down an envelop to reveal a letter in a hidden holiday message!

Making the Lettered Paper Presents

On the front of each present, secure a letter with craft glue, and then attach a joke (or bible verse, activity, etc) to the back. Make sure you pay attention to your spelling (if you’re doing a phrase) and color pattern as you go!

Use the Cricut Explore to create a fun and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, pull down an envelop to reveal a letter in a hidden holiday message!

To create the 3D paper bows, fold the longer bow loops as shown below left. While keeping the two ends together, fold the ribbon tie around the middle of the bow and attach with craft glue.

Use the Cricut Explore to create a fun and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, pull down an envelop to reveal a letter in a hidden holiday message!

Secure the bow to the front of each paper present with more glue for a fun 3D effect!

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

Load each letter present into the corresponding envelope to conceal your hidden message or other countdown surprises!

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

Securing the Envelopes

With the envelopes all made and the message hidden within, it’s time to figure out how you want to display them! You could tape them to a wall or refrigerator or load them into a basket or jar. I found securing them to my old cork board gave me the visual display I was craving while also keeping it super easy for Henry’s little hands!

To hang up our envelopes, I hot glued some thumbtacks to the backs of some mini clothespins I snagged from the Target Dollar Spot ages ago…

Use the Cricut Explore to create a fun and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, pull down an envelop to reveal a letter in a hidden holiday message!

I then clipped up each envelop and pushed them right into the cork board in the formation that worked best with my hidden message.

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

This project was admittedly a little tedious because of all the paper pieces, but I’m so thrilled with the result and I know Henry will enjoy using it to countdown the days until Christmas. I also love how flexible this project is! You can use any paper shape/envelopes (even pre-cut ones available at craft stores or in the Target Dollar Spot!) and spell out any phrases or words you wish!

Henry hasn’t seen it yet, but I’ll be sure to update you on how it’s working out in my next coffee break post!

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

I’d love to hear how your family counts down until Christmas! Do you use some sort of countdown calendar? Do you do special activities or stick to chocolate? Am I the only one who gets an urge to craft this time of year? Feel free to share in the comments!

I’ll be back here on Thursday with a look at our holiday porch! See you then!

Megan Signature

6 Easy DIY Thanksgiving Place Card Ideas!

As a lot of you regular readers know, I’m not too good about getting my holiday projects and ideas out to you guys ahead of time so that you can try them too. I’m still very much a “real time” blogger, which means that you (mostly) get to see what I’m working in real time based on the needs of our house and family. But thanks to some recent contributor assignment deadlines, I pulled out my Thanksgiving craft supplies early and had quite the fun craft day coming up with some simple and inexpensive DIY Thanksgiving Place Card Ideas! All the ideas you see here were done using either things from my craft stash or the Target Dollar Spot and came together in just minutes! Let me show you!

Some basic supplies and just a few minutes are all you need to whip up these 6 easy DIY Thanksgiving Place Card Ideas!

One thing I love about setting holiday tables is that you can use a variety of inexpensive craft supplies to achieve some pretty cool and creative looks. To create the 6 looks you’ll see below, I used some rolls of wrapping paper, some plaid ribbon, peel-and-stick letters, 6″ sheets of Fall-themed scrapbook paper, gift tags, and some die-cut wooden leaves.  When looking for items to use (whether in your own home or in craft stores), try to keep things in a consistent palette to create a display that looks stylish and classy while keeping it budget-friendly and easy!

Some basic supplies and just a few minutes are all you need to whip up these 6 easy DIY Thanksgiving Place Card Ideas!

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IDEA 1: MONOGRAM NAPKIN RING

What You Need:

(1) wide wired ribbon | (2) peel-and-stick letters | (3) cloth napkins (or thick paper napkins) | (4) safety pin (not shown)

Some basic supplies and just a few minutes are all you need to whip up these 6 easy DIY Thanksgiving Place Card Ideas!

How To Do It:

If your ribbon is really wide (like mine was), fold it in half before wrapping it into a loop large enough for your napkin to fit through. Secure it in the back with a safety pin and then place a peel-and-stick letter (that corresponds to your guests’ first names) on the top of the napkin ring.

Some basic supplies and just a few minutes are all you need to whip up these 6 easy DIY Thanksgiving Place Card Ideas!

~

IDEA 2: LEAF MONOGRAM NAPKIN RING

What You Need:

(1) wired ribbon | (2) wooden die-cut shapes | (3) peeL-and-stick or rub-on letters | (4) safety pin

Some basic supplies and just a few minutes are all you need to whip up these 6 easy DIY Thanksgiving Place Card Ideas!

HOW TO DO IT:

Cut and wind your wired ribbon into a loop large enough for your napkin to fit through; secure it in the back with a safety pin. Stick a peel-and-stick or rub-on letter onto the die-cut shape (that corresponds to the first names of your guests) and place it on top of the ribbon napkin ring. If necessary, secure the die-cut shape with some double-stick tape.

Some basic supplies and just a few minutes are all you need to whip up these 6 easy DIY Thanksgiving Place Card Ideas!

~

IDEA 3: MONOGRAM GIFT TAG PLACE CARDS

WHAT YOU NEED:

(1) paper gift tags | (2) peel-and-stick letters

Some basic supplies and just a few minutes are all you need to whip up these 6 easy DIY Thanksgiving Place Card Ideas!

HOW TO DO IT:

This idea really couldn’t be any easier and is perfect for last-minute tablescapes! Simply secure a paper letter for each guest to a paper tag. Then, tie the tag around the water glass at each place setting!

Some basic supplies and just a few minutes are all you need to whip up these 6 easy DIY Thanksgiving Place Card Ideas!

Some basic supplies and just a few minutes are all you need to whip up these 6 easy DIY Thanksgiving Place Card Ideas!

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IDEA 4: SIMPLE MONOGRAM PLACE CARD

WHAT YOU NEED:

Die-cut letters in pretty colors or papers

How to Do It:

Here is the ultimate last-minute idea that still looks super stylish! Find or make 3-6″ tall die-cut letters in interesting patterns or colors. Place the first letter of each guest’s name directly onto each plate or napkin.These can then also be used to label To-Go bags of leftover food!

Some basic supplies and just a few minutes are all you need to whip up these 6 easy DIY Thanksgiving Place Card Ideas!

~

IDEA 5: MONOGRAM MENU PLACE CARD

WHAT YOU NEED:

(1) die-cut letters, one for each guest | (2) Patterned cardstock | (3) white cardstock | (4) paper adhesive (not shown)

Some basic supplies and just a few minutes are all you need to whip up these 6 easy DIY Thanksgiving Place Card Ideas!

HOW TO DO IT:

Using a word processing program, create a table with cells that are 6″ wide by 3.5″ tall. On the right side of each cell, type in the name of each guest followed by your Thanksgiving menu. Have fun playing with fonts until you find a combination you love. Print out the menu cards onto white cardstock and trim down to size (6 x 3.5″) with a paper cutter or scissors. Using adhesive, glue the white menu cardstock to a 4 x 6″ layer of patterned cardstock. Apply a peel-and-stick or large paper letter on the left side to add another layer to the menu card.

Some basic supplies and just a few minutes are all you need to whip up these 6 easy DIY Thanksgiving Place Card Ideas!

Place each menu card on top of the napkin or plate for each guest!

Some basic supplies and just a few minutes are all you need to whip up these 6 easy DIY Thanksgiving Place Card Ideas!

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IDEA 5: MENU PLACE CARD

WHAT YOU NEED:

(1) 4 x 6″ patterned cardstock | (2) 2.75 x 6″ solid cardstock | (3) white cardstock printed with your menu and the names of each guest | (4) adhesive (not shown)

Some basic supplies and just a few minutes are all you need to whip up these 6 easy DIY Thanksgiving Place Card Ideas!

HOW TO DO IT:

This menu card comes together very similarly to Idea #5, but if you’d like more detailed instructions, you can see the full tutorial HERE!

Some basic supplies and just a few minutes are all you need to whip up these 6 easy DIY Thanksgiving Place Card Ideas!

For a really fun and whimsical display, use a variety of Fall-themed papers to make your menu cards…

Some basic supplies and just a few minutes are all you need to whip up these 6 easy DIY Thanksgiving Place Card Ideas!

…and once your table is set, just place them right on the plate or napkin for each of your guests!

Some basic supplies and just a few minutes are all you need to whip up these 6 easy DIY Thanksgiving Place Card Ideas!

All 6 of these place card ideas come together in mere minutes, which means you can have a snazzy and thoughtful Thanksgiving tablescape without too much extra work, hassle, or money! These are also great projects to keep older/teenage hands busy on Thanksgiving day while you cook, clean, prepare etc…just gather up some fun supplies and let them go to town. Just a quick note – I found almost everything here at the Target Dollar Spot; but when I was just in, I noticed they are clearing house to make room for Christmas merchandise. If you want to find some similar supplies, get over there soon to stock up!

While you’re reading this, I’m putting the very final touches on the Baby’s nursery. Just as I suspected, all the finishing elements really brought the design together, and I can’t wait to show it to you. Come back on Thursday for the final reveal!

Megan Signature