Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Updates, and a mini-tute: Roll-Up Storage for your Crafty Tools

upcycled placemat roll-up

Howdy! I have a brief tutorial for you today, a quick, easy, inexpensive upcycling project. These are a great way to store your crochet hooks, scissors, or even your kids' felt pen collections! First, though...

Casa Rodman (or at least some of its inhabitants) are feelin' the springy-ness, and bustin' out all over.
Remember Bob?

pet cricket

This pic's outdated...he's had 2 molts since then, and is now growing WINGS. He's also bigger, livelier, and in general, even more fun to watch! He should be able to sing, soon!

Fun fact: when field crickets have *just* molted, they're brown in color, until their new carapace hardens. Another interesting fact: when this happens, they eat the old one. The first time it happened, it was early-early morning, and I had to choke down a scream when I peeked into the tank- I thought, for a heartbeat, that another cricket had snuck in there somehow, and was eating Bob! Turned out, he was just getting bigger, but jeebies, it really freaked me out for a sec.

We also got some new fishies for our 30-gallon tank. This time, we chose a half-dozen platys and mollies (which are really the same thing) to befriend Grouchy Fish, our lonely little ember tetras, and 3 stray zebra danios. But that's not what we wound up with. We lost a few, in the first few days- normal attrition, when you've gotten your fish from a large chain store. We wound up with 5 adult fish.

Have a look at the tank.

fish tank

 Look closer.


There's Grouchy Fish, the plecostomus...

And then... there's all of these guys.

baby fish

Yes, those little black specks are BABIES. I, uh, probably should have done more research, before we went to the pet store. It seems that platys and their ilk, when moved to new tanks, immediately give birth. They're live-bearers. And some of ours were pregnant.

Here's a fun fact about platys and mollies: unless segregated by sex, they will produce babies every 6 weeks.
Up to 48 babies.
Lesson learned.

They're the size of large orzo now, but they're growing fast. We'll soon have more fish than we know what to do with.
Um, anyone want a new pet...?

Anyway- the tutorial! These are fun and easy, and make great homemade gifts for the crafters or kids in your life. They can be customized for pens, crochet hooks, knitting needles, or anything you want!

upcycled placemat roll-up

 I used the fancy-schmancy stitches on my sewing machine to pretty these up!

upcycled placemat roll-up
upcycled placemat roll-upupcycled placemat roll-up

Here's how to make one for yourself!
You will need:

A thrifted or new placemat (I used linen-blend ones that I found at the Idaho Youth Ranch, for $.69 apiece- score!)

Matching thread
Contrasting thread, if decorating
A couple of feet of bias tape, ribbon, or self-made fabric strips for tying up your roll

I don't have pictures of the process, but here's how you do it:

Iron your placemat, so you have a nice, flat surface to work with. 

If you're decorating your roll, load your sewing machine with your contrasting thread, and sew a nice edging all the way around the placemat, about 1/2"-3/4" in from the edge. If your placemats have a border (like mine did), roughly center the line of stitching on that. If you're using bias tape for your ties, sew it closed to make a ribbon, swap your thread for one that matches your placemat, and give it some decorative stitching, too! If you're using ribbon, make sure to at least cut the ends with pinking shears, to prevent it from unraveling.

Fold your placemat about 1/3 of the way up from the bottom; pin into place. Fold your tie in half, and tuck the folded end into one side of the roll; pin it in place, so that when you sew the edges, it will be sewn right into the seam.

upcycled placemat roll-up
Ribbon, sewn right into seam.

Sew the edges up with a straight stitch, and matching thread, so your decorative stitches really shine! Or, as an alternative, you could topstitch it all the way around, with the contrasting thread. Make your seam as close to the edge as you can- go over each side twice, if you wish.

You'll  have a pocket "blank" that looks like this:

upcycled placemat roll-up

Because they're so quick and easy, I made 3 of them at a time. The cool part is, now I can just sew up the little pockets, and viola! It takes longer to thread the sewing machine than to complete the finishing touches.

The final step is creating sections for your pens, crochet hooks, or whatever. I just laid the tools on the top of the pocket, and made little markings with a tailor's chalk at the top and bottom. Then, I just stitched up the little pockets. Super-easy!

upcycled placemat roll-up

This holds ALL of my crochet hooks, plus my rugmaking hooks and needles, AND my small scissors- pretty awesome! Everything rolls up nice and tidy. Because the pocket's so deep, nothing falls out.

upcycled placemat roll-up

I hope you enjoyed the update, and the tutorial- as you can see, things have been pretty busy at our place. If you have any questions, or just wanna chat, please, leave a comment- they make my day! 

Here's hopin' that it's warm and springy where you are!
(But maybe not quite as fishy.)



  1. How fun! that's nice, can be used for make up brushes too :) thanks for sharing!

  2. So much natural wonder going on in a couple of glass enclosures at your house! I saw set Things 1 & 2 up in front of the grocery store with sad faces and a sign that offers FREE FISH TO GOOD HOMES. Works with kittens, right? And then go all bob Barker and spay and neuter your pets.

    Great upcycle/repurpose! I love those rolls; if I ever take up any of the yarn arts, I'm coming back here to use this tutorial. I can never come up with a good project for the nifty stitches on my machine and I love the way that worked here!

  3. Thanks, you guys! :) Sure you don't need some baby fish....? ;)


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