Book Review: Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics

I’m here today to a book review courtesy of Tuttle Publishing.  They have provided me with the book in exchange for this review, but the opinions are all my own.

If you’re in the market for a unique gift for a friend who sews, or you’re looking for something a little different to try yourself, I have the book for you. 

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Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi might look a little ordinary at first glance.  It’s filled with 25 basic handbag designs, with variations to bring the impressive total to 60 different options.  The colors used throughout the book are fairly neutral, and the many of the shapes we’ve seen before.  Why is this book so unusual then?  All of the bags are meant to be sewn completely by hand.

Knowing that really changes the way you look at this book.  I’ve been doing a lot of hand embroidery recently, but I’m so tied to my sewing machines that I forget it’s possible to construct something without touching a machine at all.  Somehow, a simple bag is a little more beautiful when you know it was made entirely, and literally, by hand.

The projects are divided into three categories,  and the first is shopping bags.  My favorite here is the Checkout Basket Bag.  What a smart idea!

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The next topic is everyday bags, with a selection of simple bags that could be used in a million different ways.

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The last group is fashion bags.  There are some nice shapes in this section.  And a hand-sewn zipper!

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Following the projects, the book covers the construction techniques, equipment and materials used to make these bags.  Everything is explained in such a way that I wouldn’t be afraid to give this book to even the most novice sewist, with the recommendation that she read through the whole book before starting on her first project.

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The instructions for each project seem very thorough.  There are plenty of illustrations, which is a huge plus for me in both sewing and recipe books.  Apparently I’m more of a show, don’t tell kind of person.

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As I mentioned, I’ve been embroidering like crazy, so I really appreciate that the book doesn’t just say “put this sort of stitch here.”   There are diagrams showing what each stitch looks like and how it’s made so that even someone nervously clutching her first skein of floss knows what to do with it.

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Many of the bags are constructed using basic shapes, but there is a pattern sheet in the back of the book for the more oddly shaped.

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Without a doubt, this is my favorite book I’ve reviewed for Tuttle Publishing so far.  There isn’t a single bag shown that I wouldn’t consider making, and I’m completely in love with the idea of sewing it with nothing but a needle and thread.  Maybe some pretty bag fabric will find its way into my Christmas stocking!

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Friday Favorites–Thanksgiving

Okay, I swear it was just Halloween.  How did we get to Thanksgiving already?  I suppose next I’ll turn around and Christmas will be here.  I don’t want to get ahead of myself though – let’s take a little time to give this holiday its due.  Otherwise, I’ve got a 20 pound turkey in my fridge that I’ll need a new excuse to cook.

Crafty Staci's Friday Favorites - Thanksgiving

Speaking of turkeys, and it doesn’t seem like you can avoid it when it comes to Thanksgiving crafts, I think this Little Turkey No-Sew Thanksgiving Onesie from Creative Ramblings is adorable. 

Little Turkey Thanksgiving Onesie from Creative Ramblings

Something about Thanksgiving particularly brings out the toilet paper roll projects.  These TP Tube Turkeys from A Girl and a Boy would be fun to make with the kids.

Thanksgiving TP Tube Turkeys from A Girl and A Boy

This recipe for Turkey and Stuffing Turnovers from A Family Feast is more day-after fare, but definitely sounds worth the wait.

Turkey and Stuffing Turnovers from A Family Feast

I’ve never seen Corn Husk Pom Poms, like these from Centsational Girl, but wouldn’t these be great Thanksgiving decorations?

Corn Husk Pom Pom from Centsational Girl

These sweet, printable Thanksgiving Utensil Holders from Craftaholics Anonymous are easy to make and would be a nice addition to the table.

Thanksgiving Printables from Craftaholics Anonymous

These Turkey Rod Pretzel Treats from Sugar Aunts (great blog name!) look fun to make and eat.

Turkey Pretzels from Sugar Aunts

The New York Times shared a collection of Thanksgiving Recipes representing each of the 50 states, plus D.C. and Puerto Rico, which is beautifully done and fun to read.  Pictured below is Cranberry Sauce with Pinot Noir from my home state of Oregon.  Thanks to Craft Gossip for the heads up on this one!

Thanksgiving Recipes Across the United States from The New York Times

These Printable Thanksgiving Placemats from Cheryl Style are just genius.

Printable Thanksgiving Placemats from Cheryl Style

Oh, you need some crayons for your placemat?  Just add these DIY Crayon Turkeys from Paging Supermom.

DIY Crayon Turkeys from Paging Supermom

This Kraft Paper Table Runner from Dawn Nicole is so simple, but the little bit of black calligraphy makes it look elegant.

Kraft Paper Table Runner from  Dawn Nicole

Easy Round Cushion Covers

I intended to share this with you on Monday, but I got knocked flat by a nasty bug that my husband tried REALLY hard not to share with me.  I’m finally vertical again, but the sooner this cough goes away the better.  Enough of my sickly whining, I want to show you a quick way to cover round chair cushions.

With the holidays upon us, doesn’t it seem like you’re always looking for an extra chair for company?  You can easily recover round patio chair cushions to fit in better with your indoor Thanksgiving or Christmas décor!

Easy Round Cushion Covers - Crafty Staci 1

To create your pattern, measure the diameter of your cushion, add the height, then add 1”.  Cut a piece of string 3 or 4 inches longer than the number you just came up with.  Tie one end of the string around a pencil.  I found it helpful to use a pencil with a cushion on it so the string wouldn’t slide around.  Tie a knot in the other end at the distance from the pencil that matches your number.  Fold a large piece of paper in quarters.  Stick a pin through the knot on the string into the tip of the folds.

Easy Round Cushion Covers - Crafty Staci 2

Draw a curved line with the pencil by stretching the string as far as it will go.  Cut along that line.

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Unfold your pattern and pin it to the fabric.  I was making two, so I doubled my fabric to cut them both at once.

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Sew a buttonhole starting 1 1/8” from the edge.  Fold the fabric in 1” and stitch near the edge.  I didn’t fold the edge under because it will be on the inside, but if you’re worried about it fraying you can fold the edge under 1/4” before stitching.  Tie a knot in a piece of cord and attach a safety pin.  Feed it through the buttonhole, around the circle through the casing and back out the buttonhole.

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I cut a smaller circle and laid it in the center so none of the bare cushion would show.  You don’t necessarily need to do this, especially if your cover is temporary.  Lay the cushion in the center of the cover.

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Pull the cord to gather, then tie a bow.  You can either tuck the extra cord inside or cut it off.  I’d recommend tucking it so it can be reused.

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Wouldn’t it be cute to make these with holiday fabrics?

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This set lives on my daughter’s apartment deck now – maybe she needs Christmas chairs! Smile

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DIY Coffee Cup Sleeve Sewing Kits

I’m excited to announce I’ve added a new item to my Etsy shop – DIY Coffee Cup Sleeve Sewing Kits!

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Everything you’ll need to make your own reversible coffee cup sleeve is included, except a sewing machine and some thread.  Even the sewing machine is optional, as these could be sewn by hand.  I’ve even included a blank tag, which can be personalized with a fine tip permanent marker!

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I just listed these, so there are lots of fabric options to choose from.  At only $5 each, they’ll make great stocking stuffers or small gifts.

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To celebrate this fun new addition to my shop, when you buy two kits you’ll get a third FREE!  Just add three kits to your cart, click “Apply Shop Coupon Code” and enter the code BTGOKITS and click “Apply.”  It will deduct $6 from your order – $5 for the kit and $1 for shipping.  The code is good through Sunday, November 16, 2014.

These have already hit the Kits and Tutorials page in Gift Ideas on Etsy, so don’t wait – they might not last long!

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Friday Favorites–Gifts to Make for Families

I’ve been following the annual Sew Mama Sew Handmade Holidays series for years now.  I’ve had my projects featured and I’ve donated one of the prizes in the form of a gift certificate to my Etsy shop.  But this year I am actually one of the curators!  My selections are things you can make for those times you need to give a gift a whole family can use.  After sending the projects for Sew Mama Sew to feature, I found myself with lots of great ones still left in my file, so we’re going to have a little crossover episode today.  Check out these fabulous projects you can make to give a family, then click on over to Sew Mama Sew for more!

Crafty Staci's Friday Favorites - Gifts to Make for Families

One of our favorite activities to do as a family is play games.  I’ve never heard of this one, but I’m intrigued.  We might need to try out this DIY Koob game from Let’s Get Together.

DIY Koob Game from Lets Get Together

What better gift for a whole family than a big Striped Stash Buster Blanket, like this one from Simply Collectible, that everyone can cuddle under together?

Striped Stash Buster Blanket from Simply Collectible Crochet

Make everyone in the family their own personalized ornament, with these Felt Monogram Ornaments from Say Yes.  These would also make cute gift toppers.

Felt Monogram Ornaments from Say Yes

Bread mixes make great family gifts, and I love that Wicked Good Kitchen went with the slightly less common Homemade Cornbread Mix, complete with a gluten-free option.

Homemade Cornbread Mix from Wicked Good Kitchen

Get the whole family in on the fun (or their photos at least) with this Go Fish Game on Infarrantly Creative.

This refurbished picture frame from Goodwillionaire would be a great place to display family photos and art.

Photo Frame from Goodwillionaire

You could make one of these Dress Up Activity Magnets from Minted Strawberry for every member of the family.

Dress-up Activity Magnets from Minted Strawberry

Everyone needs a place to set their drink, and if you’re making these Reversible Drink Coasters from The Stitching Scientist you could use different fabrics for each member of the family.

Reversible Drink Coasters from The Stitching Scientist

I know ours isn’t the only family with a plan for when the walkers try to take over, so this Zombie Apocalypse Kit from Comic Con Family is a great idea.  I’d add a few items from this list of Useful Stocking Stuffers to Help Survive the End of the World from DoDo.

If the family you make these English Toffee Bites from Shugary Sweets for doesn’t like them, go ahead and send them my way.

English Toffee from Shugary Sweets

For more family gift ideas, come see me over at Sew Mama Sew!

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Siren Nation and Disney Coffee Sleeves

I was a vendor at my first craft show in about 20 years last Sunday.  It was called Siren Nation, and was held at McMenamin’s Kennedy School in Portland.  For those of you from the area, you know the look that the McMenamin brothers are famous for, and this was no exception.  They are masters at making quirky and weird seem like the natural order of things.  We were at a table just inside one of the doors, and spent the day chatting with customers and vendors, while beating the sales goal I had set for myself.  I had a few friends and family members come to visit (thank you all!) and my daughter stuck with me all day. 

Codi and Staci at Siren Nation

Remember how I promised a DIY Coffee Cup Sleeve Kit to anyone who visited me and told me they read my blog?  One of my first customers took me up on it!  I was so excited I failed to make a note of her name, but she was here visiting from Pennsylvania (I think?) and decided to come by.  It made my whole day!

Look for a recap of my booth setup and some tips for getting ready for a show in a hurry coming soon.  I’ll also be sharing my tutorial for the cute vendor aprons my daughter and I wore.

Vendor Apron by Crafty Staci

In other news, it’s time for a new Disney project at Undercover Tourist!  I wrapped up a whole series on coffee cup sleeves last year, and made no promise you’d never see new ones from me again.  Turns out, I hadn’t covered my Disneyland obsession yet, so I made these before our trip in September.

Mickey and Minnie Coffee Cup Sleeves - Crafty Staci

To get the pattern and instructions, just visit me at Undercover Tourist.  These would make a great stocking stuffer for the Disney fan in your life!

My last bit of business involves Wedding Wednesdays.  I have a few more things I’d like to show you, but I’ve decided to suspend that series until after the holidays.  There’s just too much going on.  Look for the last few installments in February.

Join me this Friday for some make-able holiday gifts for the family – both here and on Sew Mama Sew’s Handmade Holidays!

Friday Favorites–Halloween Party Food

Happy Halloween!  Since I’m still frantically trying to get ready for Siren Nation this weekend, I hope you don’t mind if I keep this short and sweet.  Enjoy!

Halloween Party Food - Crafty Staci's Friday Favorites

Dracula’s Dentures from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Dracula's Dentures from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Brains in a Jar Cake from Living Locurto

Brains in a Jar Cake from Living Locurto

Thai Spiced Deviled Eggs from Foodista

Thai Spiced Deviled Eggs

Halloween Eyeball Punch from Happiness is Homemade

Eyeball Punch from Happiness is Homemade

Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Treats from Essentially Eclectic

Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Treats from Essentially Eclectic

Pumpkin Rice Krispie Treats from Cincy Shopper – Combine this recipe and that last one – pumpkin flavored, pumpkin shaped rice krispie treats!

Pumpkin Rice Krispie Treats from Cincy Shopper

Homemade Candy Corn from Hoosier Homemade

Homemade Candy Corn from Hoosier Homemade

Candy Corn Pudding Pops from No. 2 Pencil

Candy Corn Pudding Pops - Number 2 Pencil

Halloween Pretzel Spider Web Treats from One Little Project at a Time

Halloween Pretzel Spider Web Treats from One Little Project

Sugar and Spice Roasted Pumpkin Seeds from The Baking Beauties

Sugar and Spice Roasted Pumpkin Seeds from The Baking Beauties

Have a safe and happy Halloween tonight!

Thank You, Wedding Vendors

My daughter and son-in-law’s wedding was, obviously, as very DIY affair.  In the early days, we thought we were going to do it all.  As the planning process progressed we realized, for the sake of our sanity and relationships with each other, that we should consider hiring a few professionals.  Now that it’s all over, I don’t regret a single one of them.  So, as I frantically try to get ready to be a vendor myself at Siren Nation this weekend, it feels like a good time to give all of our wedding vendors the public and sincere Thank You they all deserve.

I’ll start with the first person we hired, and the one you’ve already seen a bit here.  Heather Fitch from Heather Fitch Photography was calm, professional and gave us photos that were everything we hoped for.  She not only captured everything we expected to see, but the spunky, fun personalities that define these two.

Heather Fitch Photography on Crafty Staci

I’ve mentioned before that the groom has celiac disease.  Gluten-free isn’t a choice for him – it’s mandatory.  After we decided on a dessert buffet for the reception, we also chose to make sure that the groom (and the bride, since she gave up gluten for his sake) could eat anything that was served without worry.  That’s where the amazing Liberated Baking came in, providing treats that had me saying “Yes, I know it’s delicious and you can’t tell, but it really is gluten-free!” to guests all evening.

Liberated Baking Gluten Free Bride and Groom Cookies on Crafty Staci

Liberated Baking Gluten Free Lemon Bars on Crafty Staci

We thought it would be fun to have some popcorn on the buffet too, and so we ordered some from a local store called iCandy.  I think it was the best cheese corn I’ve ever had, and everyone we’ve talked to there has been so sweet.

iCandy Popcorn on Crafty Staci

It was very early on that Codi proclaimed there would be cupcakes instead of a traditional wedding cake.  I think it had something to do with Gluten-Free Wednesdays at Bella Cupcake.  The couple went in for a tasting and chose Raspberry Lemonade, Pumpkin Chai, Strawberry Shortcake and Salted Caramel.  How was anyone supposed to choose which of those to put on their plate?  To alleviate that issue, we went with mini-cupcakes so guests could sample more than one flavor.

Bella Cupcake Mini Gluten Free Cupcakes on Crafty Staci

Bella Cupcake also provided the adorable giant cupcake for the bride and groom to cut and share.

Bella Cupcake Giant Gluten Free Cutting Cupcake on Crafty Staci

When it came to the bridesmaids’ and flower girl’s dresses, Codi knew what she wanted.  And I knew I was capable of making them.  However, just because I could didn’t mean I should and I decided that was a project that could be better accomplished by someone else.  We went with BL Couture on Etsy.  I’ll admit, I tried to talk Codi out of putting just the maid of honor in yellow and everyone else in grey, but it really worked.  And the girls loved playing with all the different ways they could wear these.

BL Couture Convertible Wrap Dresses on Crafty Staci

BL Couture Wrap Dresses on Crafty Staci

Did you see all the amazing hair in that last photo?  Codi wanted all the girls in different braids, and our regular hairstylist, Wendy from the Orient Barbershop, totally delivered.  Not only did Wendy come to our house for the entire day and style all the girls hair, but she did their makeup as well.  Thankfully, I was included in that because otherwise I probably would have been a mess.  Wendy was a calming presence while everyone was getting ready and I don’t know what we would have done without her.

Wendy from The Orient Barbershop on Crafty Staci

Another Etsy store we shopped at was for Codi’s garters.  We talked about making them, but as we started looking around she spotted exactly what she wanted at BridalGoddess.  All we had to do was attach the firefighter charm Codi wanted and she was ready to go.  These were so pretty, and the quality was great.

Garter by BridalGoddess on Crafty Staci

One of the last things we held out on doing ourselves was the flowers.  The closer it got, the more terrified I became, which was a good sign I should give it up to a professional.  Fortunately, one of my closest friends has a sister who owns In the Garden, a floral shop in Redmond, Oregon.  Kellie agreed to do them for us, even though she is halfway across the state from us and it was pretty close to the event.  We emailed her photos of arrangements Codi liked, and when the flowers arrived we were all stunned.  They were amazing.

In the Garden Floral on Crafty Staci

We originally planned to set up a stereo with an iPod playing for the reception.  We didn’t think anyone would really dance anyway.  I am so glad we hired Dennis Marcellino to DJ instead.  He had almost everyone out of their seats and dancing – my husband I were a little shocked.  He was great at keeping everything running smoothly and made sure fun was had by all.  He even sang “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” since he was a member of the band the hit belonged to, The Tokens!  He also played the saxophone, which was a nice combination with the recorded music.

Dennis Marcellino had everyone dancing!

Last, but not least, is this lovely young woman – Savannah Gentry.  She is one of the bride and groom’s friends from high school.  Listened to her playing the songs they chose in my living room before the wedding brought me to tears.  She provided violin music while the guests were finding their seats and during the ceremony and every note was gorgeous.  Savannah is talented and beautiful, inside and out.

Savannah Gentry on the violin

In addition to all these amazing vendors who made it a day to remember, I’d also like express my gratitude to all of our friends and family who went the extra mile (or several) to make sure we could enjoy the day without having to worry about anything.  You all know who you are – THANK YOU!

Siren Nation, Feather Your Nest and Craft Warehouse

At the beginning of this year I made a goal for myself to get involved in some in-person craft events.  Don’t get me wrong – I love my online work.  It has given me the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, and I’m thankful for that.  But it’s just me, sometimes in my pajamas, and I felt like that could be better balanced with some real-world interactions.  And real clothes.

One of the ways I planned on achieving my goal was to do a local craft show or two.  I participated in a few back when my kids were small, but the game has changed a lot since then, and I wasn’t sure where to start.  I decided I would apply to my two dream shows, and make a point to visit as many of the others as I could so I could plan for next year.  I sent in applications to Crafty Wonderland and Siren Nation, both in Portland, and received the “thanks for applying, but…” emails from both.  No surprise – they’re both popular, juried shows and I didn’t really expect to be accepted on my first try.  Imagine my surprise when I got the email last week letting me know that Siren Nation had a cancellation and asking if I would be interested in the spot!

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If you’re going to be in the Portland area next Sunday, November 2, 2014, I’d love for you to come visit me at McMenamin’s Kennedy School.    There will be many tables filled with handcrafted items by female artists, including me and my lovely daughter.  It opens at 10 am, and there’s no charge to get in.  In fact, if you come to my table and tell me you read this on my blog, I’ll give you one of my new DIY Coffee Cup Sleeve Kits for FREE!  Meeting someone in person who reads my blog would be the best of both worlds colliding and would make my day.  Also, look for a future post titled How to Prep for a Craft Show in 12 Days Without Losing Your Mind.  Hopefully I’ll be qualified to write it by then.

DIY Coffee Cup Sleeve Kits from Crafty Staci

That’s not my only venture into the real world that’s coming up though.  Before my daughter’s wedding, she noticed a new quilt shop, Feather Your Nest, that had opened up across the street from the cupcake shop.  I paid them a visit, and walked out with an armload of cute fabrics and a promise to contact the owners after the wedding to discuss teaching a class.   After sitting down recently with the very sweet mother-daughter team, I have two classes scheduled in their shop for next month.  If you’ll be anywhere near Gresham, Oregon on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at 7 pm or Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 10:30 am, come join me and learn how to make my favorite thing – a coffee cup sleeve!  For only $15 you’ll receive all the materials you need, a pattern to take home and personal instruction from me.  To sign up or get more info, contact Kris or Abbi at feathered.nest97030@gmail.com.

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My participation on the Craft Warehouse Design Team is online, but it feels a little closer to live to me because I am always in their store.  They don’t all stop and wave and shout my name when I walk in the door, but I’m working on it.  Last week it was my turn to work on a project for them, so if you want to know a little more about me, you can see my designer profile on their blog here.  The important part is the project though, and this time I got to make a cute Chatterbox reversible apron using some prints from Windham Fabrics Oh Clementine line by Allison Harris for Cluck Cluck Sew.

Apron for Craft Warehouse - Crafty Staci

I had a seriously hard time choosing a favorite side.

Chatterbox Apron for Craft Warehouse - Crafty Staci

Visit me over at the Craft Warehouse blog to see how it came together!

So, for once, I can actually cross a New Year’s resolution off as achieved.  I’m getting out into the real world as a teacher and a vendor.  And it only took me until October!

Friday Favorites–Halloween Costumes

We moved our family out to the country about 11 years ago.  Before that, we lived in a neighborhood in the suburbs with lots of other families with small children.  We probably had quite a few trick-or-treaters stop at our house, but I wouldn’t know because we were out with our own little ones on Halloween.  I haven’t got to hand out candy since somewhere in the early 90’s.

This year, I’m hanging out with my daughter while her husband goes on a civilian ride-along with mine.  Lots of trouble happens when Halloween is on a Friday night, so it’s all hands on deck at the police department.  The good news for me is that my daughter lives in an apartment complex with a jillion kids.  At least, that’s how it feels when you drive through the parking lot.  I get to hand out candy and admire all the spooky-cuteness.  I can’t wait!

Halloween Costumes - Crafty Staci's Friday Favorites

This Book Fairy Costume from Lilliedale would be the perfect thing for my book-loving daughter.  Although I doubt she could bring herself to do this kind of damage to any book.  They’re like puppies to her.

Book Fairy Costume by Lilliedale

We aren’t dressing up, but if we were, this Wonder Woman Costume from The Sewing Loft is what I would go with, hands down.

Make Your Own Wonder Woman Costume by The Sewing Loft

If you happen to be using my Robin Hood Hat pattern this year, you might be on the lookout for some green tights.  Dye your own with this tutorial from If You Give a Girl a Needle.

Dying Tights by If You Give a Girl a Needle

If you’re looking for something quick, easy and completely adorable, check out this Flower Pot Costume from Dukes and Duchesses.

Flower Pot Costume by Dukes and Duchesses

This little Wolf Costume from Make It and Love It has rascal written all over it.

Wolf Costume by Make It and Love It

I love the idea of using capes to create different costumes, like these from Simple Simon and Company.

Easy Cape Costumes by Simple Simon and Co

As the proud owner of a Maleficent t-shirt (bought years before the movie) I’ve gotta love a girl who thinks outside of the Disney princess box, like the wearer of this Evil Queen Costume from Northstory.

Evil Queen Costume by Northstory

Babies in costumes – it doesn’t get better than that.  This little Pineapple from Lines Across makes me smile.

Pineapple Onesie Costume by Lines Across

Sometimes you need a costume you can whip up quickly.  As long as you’ve got a yellow hat, the rest of this Last Minute Minion Costume from Make and Takes is a piece of cake.

Last Minute Minion Costume by Make and Takes

Not to leave out the traditional Halloween fare, I love these DIY Skeleton Gloves from Eat Sleep Make.

DIY Skeleton Gloves by Eat Sleep Make