Archive for November, 2010

paper christmas tree ornament tutorial

paper christmas ornaments

a paper christmas tree ornament

This as simple as it gets. A few scraps of paper, one seam and in minutes you’ve make a pretty, handmade ornament. I used paint chips (in lovely martha stewart colors) from the hardware store because I had them on hand, but cardstock or thin cardboard or old christmas cards would all work well.

an ornament from paint chips

Cut out one star and three to five strips of paper.  If you’d like to use the same measurements I used, you can download the pattern pictured below. If you would rather do it freehand, cut progressively longer strips for the tree, as wide as you like, and cut a good size trunk.

paper tree pattern

You are going to sew a seam down the middle of everything on your sewing machine. Sewing on paper is really not that much different than sewing on fabric, except that you use a slightly longer stitch and it’s ok to use a dull needle. If you are anything like me, there is one in your machine right now! Make a bunch of paper tree ornaments with that perfectly dull specimen and then do yourself a favor: take it out! And get a nice, new sharp one in there for the rest of your christmas sewing.

First make sure you have about three inches of slack from the bobbin and past the needle before you begin sewing. Then place the star under the presser foot of your machine take one stitch forward and then one stitch back (a little sewing dance!) to secure the thread and then sew down the middle of the star. Before you get to the bottom nudge the shortest strip of paper under the presser foot and sew down the middle of it.  And so on, with the rest of the strips and the trunk.

sewing paper trees

When you get to the bottom of the trunk, sew back and forth a few times to secure the thread again. Tie the ends on top of the ornament together, so it makes a loop for hanging. Snip the thread ends on the bottom of the trunk and you’re done!

christmas tree ornament made out of paint chips


I included a pattern for a snowman in the PDF pattern as well, but a million other things are possible: candy canes, bells, santas, pretty much anything you can think of to cut out and sew together!

snowman ornament made from paint chips

a christmas present for my lovely readers: a week of handmade ornament tutorials!

I will be accepting advertisers  on Elsie Marley starting January 2011. If you would like to reserve a spot please email me and we can discuss the specifics! Thanks!

straw and pompom garland tutorial

the straw and pompom garland hanging on a mirror

a straw and pompom garland

I ordered a bunch of natural straws from the lovely online shop, Imagination Childhood (they call them swedish straws). I bought them for another project (thursday’s tutorial!), but I loved working with them so much I wanted to make a simple garland with them too. Obviously this can be done with plastic straws or even some pretty paper straws, if you don’t have any swedish straws lying around. But the natural straws are, well, natural and because of the they are curved slightly and the colors are mottled and the surface uneven, all of which makes them pretty beautiful.


materials for make a pompom and straw garland

To make this garland I paired the natural color of the straw with cream colored yarn, which is a little on the understated side (for me). I think bright, almost neon, pompoms in christmas light colors would look pretty fantstic too.

  • natural straws
  • bowl or pan in which the straws can lie flat
  • yarn
  • button thread (or any heavy duty thread)
  • yarn needle


First you have to make some pompoms. If you have a pompom maker you are good to go, if you don’t that’s fine too–just use this simple tutorial over at Bella Dia for making pompoms using only your fingers. You can, of course use the little store bought pompoms too.

making pompoms

While you are making your pompoms put the natural straws in some very hot water to soak. This makes the straw less brittle and less likely to split when you cut them. They should sit about an hour–enough time to make a bunch of pompoms. When you are ready to use them, take them out from the water, drain and wipe them off gently.

soaking the straws

To cut the straws, make a mark on one straw every two inches. If your yarn needle is shorter than two inches, make your straws a little shorter too–this will make things a little easier when you make the garland. Then take about 5 or 6 straws, including the one you marked, in your hand and line them up. Then cut. Some might go flying, but if they are still a little damp they shouldn’t go too far.

cutting natural straws

Now take a long piece of thread, knot it, and stick it through a pompom. It might take a few tries before you find the right spot where the knot doesn’t go right through. Then alternate pompom, straw, pompom, straw. Finish with a pompom and hide the knot in the yarn. If you want to keep going but ran out of thread, ready another needle and thread (knotted) and insert the need where the last straw and pompom meet, then just keep going.

pompom garland on the tree


Pretty paper stars also look nice between the natural straws. Popcorn might work, dried orange slices would look nice.  And I bet you can think of a bunch of other things too.

a christmas present for my lovely readers: a week of handmade ornament tutorials!

I will be accepting advertisers  on Elsie Marley starting January 2011. If you are interested in reserving a spot please email me and we can discuss the specifics! Thanks!

crochet pillow and crochet links

crochet pillow wip

I’m nursing a pretty brutal cold that seems to be going around (and around and around), so I’m doing some quiet crocheting while the baby naps. I started this project for Erin’s pillow week, but even though I was (and still am) very excited about the idea I got bored with the actual making of it.  I may be getting ahead of myself–seeing as I’m not even done yet–but I’d like to make up a pattern for the pillow. But again, I have to finish first and then felt it and then see if it even turns out and probably test it again. So don’t hold your breath.

crochet projects and links
1. linen snowflake (ravelry link) 2. acorn shrug (login required, here’s a finished project) 3. jam jar cozies 4. granny basket

These patterns, on the other hand, are finished and free for the taking. They are all crochet and all dead easy. It seems I only start crocheting in earnest when the weather turns cold (last year I went crochet crazy) and today it feels a little like winter outside. Anyway I think all these projects would make pretty gifts (to yourself even) and would quickly satisfy the need to work with yarn. It becomes strangely addictive that yarn.

I know I talked up my advent calendar the other day–which I have to dig out of the basement this weekend–but I rediscovered Sarah’s very simple and infinitely adaptable blank advent calendar she so posted a few years ago. I think I may make a photo version for the grandmas.  Not that I don’t have a thousand other things to do! I’m working on some handmade ornament tutorials and patterns for next week. There will be 4 for sure and maybe if I kick this cold 5! So stay tuned and have a happy thanksgiving!

holiday lists

I’m starting mine: cookies, cards, menus, gifts. I plan on making (and doing) much less this year than I have in the past, but somehow my lists are long anyway. There are always so many new cookies I want to make:

  • I’ve always wanted to try these christmas rainbow cookies.
  • these pistachio sandwich cookies look like a royal pain in the ass to make, but they also look freakin delicious.
  • I think super crispy gingerbread men sandwiched together with chocolate ganache would be good, do you think?
  • alfajores are definitely on the list this year (looks like sandwich cookies are the theme this year)
  • I’ve never made lebekuchen, but I do love it.
  • these mexican hot chocolate cookies look simple and really good.
  • I could go on and on

Martha somehow roped me in to buying another one of her christmas cookies magazines. And now the list is even longer and it might even have “make cookies that look like little mice” on it. Shesh. This is sort of why I shy away from making lists–I know there are so many of you out there that love them.  Mine start out small (laundry, post office) and then quickly get grandiose and undoable (paint the house, rip out kitchen counter). And then when only a few things get crossed off the list I feel awful and lazy and guilty (and, oddly, like the list is watching me).

Enough of my guilt ridden midwesterness. I thought I’d share a few simple ideas from the archives for the holidays. The picture is from a few years ago when I realized I didn’t have any thanksgiving decorations, so I slapped together this project. Two years later I still don’t have any thanksgiving decorations and clementines on the mantel have become a little tradition.

English toffee is always the first christmasy thing I make every year: it freezes well and travel well and little nibbles sustain me through the season. You can find my recipe and tutorial here.

There is time to sew up this advent calendar before December 1st. Really, there is. I think it looks more complicated than it is: there is some simple machine sewing and then a movies worth of hand sewing.  The pattern and tutorial for the string of lights advent calendar is right here. We had an activity in each bulb last year and the kids and I loved it. I put the slip of paper in the night before, so a big project didn’t sneak up on me and because I’m last minute like that.


And hey! you guys are awesome! Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to fill out my silly little survey. It was super helpful and makes me want to create more surveys so I can get to know you better. The consensus seemed to be you like the little blog just how it is, but wouldn’t mind if I change it up a bit: ads are ok, a recipe or two (if they are good), and more kid’s crafts, food, tutorials, and sewing!  Thanks to the commenter who said, “no pressure or anything!”  And thank you, everyone, for all the kind words. It was unexpected and so incredibly wonderful.

the blogue

Having a blog is sort of ridiculous. It starts off as a little place to show off the lovely things we’ve made for ourselves, but becomes a demanding little blog you have to make things for. I enjoy making things for the pleasure of it, but I also love making things–tutorials and patterns–that I think you will like.  I need to define a bit more what I’d like elsie marley to be and I need your help with that. I’m slowly (and with much help) redesigning this little blog and I’d love to know what you think of it, where you think it should go, and what you would like to see more of here.

If you have a minute I would love it if you could answer a little survey for me. It is 7 questions that will help me know you a teeny bit better (hello lurkers out there) and know where you think the blog should go. It is such a pleasure to have lovely readers like you!  Without you I would be sitting here talking to myself and that would be silly, because you are much more interesting to talk to.

Click here to take survey

The photos are two pictures I put up on my tumblr a little while back and I cannot. stop. looking at them.  Click on the pictures for the source.