DIY: A Festive Christmas Cactus

I recently came across some adorable Christmas cactus pottery on Instagram and I loved them so much!

Source: Brushstrokes Pottery (click through for listing)

Unfortunately, they were a bit out of my current price range. And this certainly wasn’t a new idea – I’ve seen lots of variations of it everywhere and I wanted one for myself! So, when I remembered that I had thrifted a wooden pallet that I had been meaning to redo when inspiration struck… it worked out perfectly!

I thrifted the “Always Stay Humble” pallet for $4.99 with the intention to repurpose it at some point. I also purchased the paint set and brushes when I was in a painting mood and stuck them in a corner.

It took about 3 coats to cover the old text and then I used chalk to draw on the outline of my cactus. I mixed my own shade for the main body of the cactus, so that I could use the darker green for the lines.

The green took about 2 coats and the magenta was about 3 coats. Then, once it was dry, I added the darker green stripes. At this point, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to paint on the Christmas lights or use brightly colored felt I had sitting around. I decided to go for the felt, so that the colors would be more saturated and also I liked the slight fuzziness of the felt on the painting.

And this is how it turned out! I felt like the base needed a little something extra, so I added some purple plaid to it. I cut out the little gumdrop shaped felt for the lights and also a pretty star for the top. And it just happened to look extra cute with a pompom garland draped on top.

Sure, I still want one of those adorable pink Christmas cactus pottery sculptures. But, my version is pretty darn cute too!

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DIY: Adding Elastic to a Too Small Skirt

I’m on a roll with my easy sewing projects lately (in case you missed it, here’s DIY: Adding Elastic to Track Pants for a Tall and Slim Kid). Well, this time I have the OPPOSITE problem. I was a little too fluffy for the waistband, but I looooved the skirt. And I had *just* enough confidence after my last project to think I could do something about it.

Here it is:

I’ll be sharing this skirt in my November Thrift Haul post later this month, but I picked it up at the thrift store recently for just $3.75. It’s a thick linen/cotton fabric with some absolutely beautiful hand done embroidery. A google image search leads me to think this is a vintage skirt that was handmade in Guatemala. Unfortunately, my thrift store no longer has dressing rooms, so I had to just cross my fingers that this might fit. And it didn’t.

The zipper on the side got maybe halfway up and that was it. It was so beautiful though, so I thought that since I had such luck with my last sewing project, I’d give another one a try. And in the worst-case scenario that it didn’t work out, I could still cut apart the fabric and make a pillow or tote bag with it.

I’m about to take you though the steps I did for this project, but please keep in mind… I’m a *intuitive sewist* and not an actual sewist. I basically just figure out what makes sense my head and I try to make that happen.

First up, I carefully cut away the waistband.

This was pretty easy to do, since it was sewn on with big stitches by hand. I’d just cut a stitch and then pull until I was able to get to another stitch and worked my way around the waistband. Once I got to the end, I gave the fabric a good tug to get rid of the pleating. Here it is with the entire waistband removed, so now the top of the skirt is way, way larger!

Next up, I removed the zipper. I don’t have a seam ripper, so I just snipped a few threads with my scissors and worked the entire zipper off the skirt.

Now that the zipper was out, I could just follow along the lines and sew the skirt up to the top. You can’t even tell that there was ever a zipper there.

Okay, now the moment of truth. I needed to add some elastic. I was going to use the same elastic I had on hand from Jack’s pants project, but I wanted the skirt to have a similar look to my notPERFECT LINEN skirts. I measured their elastic area and it looked like it was about 2 inches wide. So, I ordered this Elastic Band for Sewing, 2 Inches. The whole roll cost $5.99 and it was delivered overnight by Amazon.

I took the top of the skirt and I folded it over to make a little tunnel for the elastic. Real sewists call this a casing. I eyeballed it based on the width of the elastic and put in pins where I would need to sew. I removed the elastic as I ‘measured’ with it, so that the tunnel was empty when I sewed it on the sewing machine.  Don’t forget to leave a little access hole!

Empty pocket = done

Next up was time for the elastic. Because this elastic was very thick, I made sure to stretch it first. I went all Get-In-Shape-Girl-Aerobics on it and gave it some big stretches. This way it won’t immediately get too baggy once I wear the skirt.

Once I did that, I wrapped it around my waist to figure out how long I wanted it and pinned it to size to make sure it would easily stretch over my hips and butt when I wanted to get the skirt off.

Then, I just fed the elastic through the tunnel. I put a safety pin on the end of one side of elastic and bunched the skirt up as I went. At the end, I safety pinned the two ends of elastic to each other so that I could try on the skirt before sewing everything into place.

Once I tried it on, I realized I wanted it a little tighter. So, I just yanked the elastic a little and re-pinned it. Then, I sewed the two pieces of elastic together — I got all crazy and zigzaged it a bit. Yes, it looks super messy but I wanted it to hold and nobody will see it anyways.

After the elastic was sewn together, I shoved it back into the tunnel and sewed up my access hole. For my last step, I put a line of sewing through the elastic on each side seam of the skirt. Hopefully this will keep the elastic from twisting… so we’ll see if it works.

And BOOM! I’m done!

Here is a closer look at the waistband:

I can’t believe how easy it was and honestly, looking at the skirt you wouldn’t know that I chopped at it and added elastic so it would fit me. So, if you’ve been intimidated by sewing projects like this… maybe give it a try because it really wasn’t that difficult. Especially if you thrifted something for less than the price of a Starbucks latte!

11/16/23 Update: I wore my new skirt to work today and I love it so much!

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DIY: Adding Elastic to Track Pants for a Tall and Slim Kid

I’ve written about my quickly growing kid and how he likes to sprout right out of his pants pretty much as soon as I buy them a few times over the years, including here and here. Once again, we had an early fall growth spurt that left all of Jack’s small sized Adidas track pants looking like capris. So, we upgraded to the same exact pants in a size medium and they fit wonderfully in the length… but the waist is huge on him!

These are the ones he likes, the Adidas Iconic Tricot Jogger pants. They are made a bit slimmer than the other athletic brands, and we usually buy them in a couple colors (navy with white stripes, black with white stripes, and black with red stripes).

The joggers have elastic in the waist and a drawstring, but they are still way too big on my kiddo. Sure, we can tie the drawstring as tight as possible, but then he can’t push them down and up for the bathroom. And when he tries to tie them on himself, he just can’t get them tight enough that they stay around his waist (and don’t fall around his ankles). Because this is a problem that every preteen wants when he is going to middle school. Obviously.

So, this year, I had the big idea to tailor his track pants so that they fit him better. And I took photos of each step, so that hopefully this can help some other person out there with a tall and slim kid who needs the length but not the width in their track pants, sweatpants, or joggers!

Here’s what you need:

  • Pants that fit in the length. Actually, if they’re a little too long, that’s even better because maybe the kid can actually wear these pants for more than 6 months!
  • Braided elastic. I got Loops & Threads braided elastic in ½ inch width from my local Michaels store (they were $2.49 each) I bought 6 because I had 6 pairs of pants to do and I had some left over from each for future projects. However, this roll from Amazon is a much better deal for price. (If you’d prefer to go the elastic + buttonhole route, this roll and pack of buttons would be great).
  • Either a sewing machine or a needle and thread.

Note: The reason I chose this specific braided elastic is that I took Jack’s pants to the store and then picked the elastic that would be the same width as the drawstring so that I could utilize that exact space in the waistband. It’s a work SMARTER, not HARDER type of situation over here!

Here’s what the drawstring looks like before I start:

Step 1: Tie the elastic to one side of the drawstring and cut a little flap on each side so that you can shove the knot into the hole.

Step 2: Cut a little slit and a flap (you can see the flap better on step 5) on the back side of the waistband where the drawstring is sewn into the pants. I wish that one piece of string went all the way around (because they would have made this so much quicker!), but there are two pieces of string in each pair of pants. Once you cut the slit, yank out a loop of the string.

Step 3: Pull the drawstring OUT of the pants, which threads the elastic through in its place.

Step 4: Sew a line over the elastic in the back of the pants. I got a little nuts with this and went forward and then backward to make sure the stitches stayed in place through an apocalypse. Or a preteen, whichever is harder on clothes.

Step 5: Trim the extra elastic and then shove it into the seam, replacing the flap of fabric over the elastic. This will keep it from being itchy for your kiddo. I didn’t sew the flap into place or anything, it just stayed where it was supposed to be with no additional effort.

Repeat steps 4 and 5 for the other side too. So now you have both sides of the drawstring replaced with elastic.

Step 6: Call your kid into the room. There will be lots of moaning and groaning because you interrupted their tv shows and/or video game playing. Make them put on the pants. Then, yank the waistband tight on both sides and tie a very tight bow.

While the elastic is tied, have your kid try to put the pants up and down over their hips to make sure that once they are sewn into place, they can easily tug them up and down. Then, have them carefully take off the pants without untying the bow.

Step 7: Sew either side of the bow (exactly the same as you did Step 4) and then cut off the extra elastic and flip the flap of fabric back over the elastic.

Step 8: NOW you have a pair of pants that actually fit your kid!

The best part is that when you need a little extra room in the waist, you can add elastic as needed, or just snip the threads and completely yank out the elastic you put in there.

I’m hoping this little fix gets me through at least a few months of growth spurts!

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. This means that clicking on a link may help me earn a small commission at no cost to you.

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