Category Archives: tutorial

Cash Envelope System Wallet


I’m a fan of plastic. And by that, I mean the kind that fits in my wallet. I rarely ever have much cash in my wallet because unless I’m at a place that takes cash only, my purchase is going on a credit card. I don’t care if I’m just buying a pack of gum. I know that’s not the most financially sound thing to do, but I hate using cash. I think it’s because I always feel like I might need the cash later somehow, and that’ll run out if I use it. The credit card, however, magically lets me use it as much as I want. Of course, I suppose I have to pay the credit card company sometime, but that’s only once a month, and my husband usually does that before I even have to look at the statement, so it’s like I never had to pay for anything! There’s always some grumbling from my husband about how high the bill is, how we need to stop spending so much, blah blah blah, but I just tune that out.

 A couple of weeks ago, though, I was out at dinner with some friends, and a friend of a friend pulled out an adorable wallet with all these little pockets. I asked her where she got it, she explained it was a “cash system” that she’d made based on a tutorial. I looked up afterwards and learned that the “cash envelope system” is a way of budgeting developed or endorsed by Dave Ramsey where you set aside a certain amount of cash for different spending categories and organize them in envelopes. The cash envelope system wallet is just a neat and pretty way to keep all the envelopes together.   

The tutorial for the wallet is sold on Etsy, so I bought one (for the bargain price of only $1.61) and decided to take a stab at making one. I did make some modifications. First, I couldn’t find any oilcloth, so I made the outside cover out of outdoor canvas and the inside out of coordinating cotton prints. I reinforced the cover and pockets with fusible craft interfacing to stiffen them a bit. I decided to give the outside cover a more finished look by giving it a lining and topstitching the edge.  



It’s hard to see, but there are 3 card pockets and an ID window here.



I added a pen holder and two extra card pockets to the top of this side.

One of the biggest modifications I made was making the envelopes removeable. Instead of attaching them directly to the wallet, I attached them to another piece of cotton that I reinforced with interfacing that can be inserted into the two large pockets or removed when I don’t feel like carrying the envelopes. This also eliminated the neccessity of having to have the unsightly stitching on the back spine of the wallet.


Wallet with envelopes removed


Envelope insert

I’ve been using the wallet itself for about a week now, but I still haven’t used the envelopes. That would require sitting down an actually coming up with a budget. Good thing I made the envelopes removeable!

Spats Tutorial


I know it’s been a while. I keep telling myself I’m done with my DragonCon preparations, but I can never leave well enough alone, so I’ve been busy reworking some things and adding various details. One thing I decided my Steampunk Baroness costume needed was a  pair of spats. I had looked online at a lot of tutorials on how to make these things, but when I actually sat down to make the pattern, I couldn’t really get the other methods to work for me. After some trial and error, I came up with a pretty good way to make the pattern and was able to replicate the process (with a few changes) a few days later when I made another pair for my friend.

Of course, I learned a few things in the process. First, in making my spats, I thought it would be nice to line them. You can choose to do this or not, but I found that lining was completely unnecessary, so I skipped that step in making my friend’s.  Also, I thought it would be cool to have working buttons on my spats, but I’ve found that they really are a pain to use in practice.   I have ten working buttons on each of my spats, and it’s hard to button and unbutton them, especially because I’ve tried to get the spats to fit tightly over my boots. I used zippers on my friend’s spats, and they are definitely the way to go.    However, I used invisible zippers on hers, and they look fabulous, but the problem is that the bottom of the spats are too narrow for the foot of the boot to go through. She’ll have to put the top of the boot through the spats and then put her feet in before she zips up both. Separating zippers would work much better, but you won’t get the nice clean look you do with the invisible zipper.


1 yard fashion fabric

buttons or zipper

1 yard iron-on interfacing


1 yard muslin or other scrap fabric for the pattern

small binder clips

chalk or marking pen



Step 1

To make the pattern, cut out two rectangles of scrap fabric a little taller than and as wide  as your boot.  Hold the two pieces together and use binder clips along one side of the fabric to temporarily hold them together. Then, wrap the fabric around to the boot with the binder-clipped side to the back to the boot.  Pin the other edge of the fabric pieces down the front side of the boot as closely as possible from the top of the boot to the top of the foot. Once the front is pinned, remove the binder clips from the back side and pin.

Step 2

Once the pattern is pinned, take a marking pen or chalk and mark along the seams that were pinned. Then, mark a line at the bottom from the heel to the front of where you want the spat to go, following the curve of the boot.

Step 3

Remove the pins, lay the pattern flat, and retrace the lines to make them more clear.  Cut the pattern out with a 5/8″ seam allowance. Once you have the pattern cut out, sew along the front and back lines and put it back over the boot to check the fit.

Step 4

Once you are satisfied with the fit, rip out the seams. Take one panel and draw a straight line where you want the buttons or zipper to go and cut. You should now have three pieces.

Step 5

Trace the pattern pieces on to the fabric you plan to use for the spats. Add a seam allowance where the buttons or zipper should go. If you plan on using buttons, add a 1 inch seam allowance. For a zipper, add a 5/8″ allowance. Cut two of each pattern piece. Repeat the same process with the interfacing. Iron the interfacing pieces to the fabric pieces.

Step 6

Match up side seams with the right sides together. Sew. Clip curves and iron out the seams.  Topstitch one line on each side of the front and back seams. Fold down top edge of spat  5/8 ” and edgestitch. Do the same with the bottom edge of the spat.

Step 7

If using buttons, fold side seams in one inch and edgestitch. Add buttonholes to one side and buttons to the other. If using a zipper, install as you normally would with the pull at the bottom of the spats. Decorate away, and you’re done!

My spats

My friend’s Wonder Woman spats

Well, after months of preparation, DragonCon is finally here. We’re heading to Atlanta tomorrow. I’m hoping to post some pictures from the convention, so stay posted!

Convertible Maxi Dress Tutorial


On lazy summer weekends when  I haven’t gotten around to shaving my legs and just don’t feel in the mood to whip out the razor, I like to reach for my maxi dresses instead (sexy, I know). Yesterday, I pulled out a dress I made a few years ago when I was going to London for the summer and wanted something that was versatile and could travel well. There are so many different ways you can wear it depending on how creative you want to be with the tying. Here are a few ways I tried it yesterday before my husband got tired of taking pictures:

I love this dress, and it was so easy to make, so I thought I’d share how I made it on my blog.


4.5-5 yards lightweight knit (I used silk jersey for mine)


1/2″ wide elastic (length= waist measurement minus 1/2″)


sewing machine

scissors or rotary cutter and mat

serger (optional)

Step 1

The skirt is a simple A-line with slight gathering at the center front for some added interest. I cut one panel for the front and two for the back, but it would be simpler to just have a front and back. I’ve made a handy-dandy diagram for you:

For each panel, fold about a yard and a half of fabric in half along the grain.  Measure your waist and divide by four. Add one half inch to that measurement. That will be the top measurement to the front panel. The length of the panel should be the length of the waist to the floor plus a half inch. The half inch is for the seam allowance, so the skirt will end up being floor length (my skirt ended up being a bit shorter than I intended because I didn’t do this. Oh well.). For the bottom measurement, I decided to make the panel as wide as the fabric I had (mine’s about 40″ wide).



Step 2:

Sew the front and back panels together along the sides. I used a serger for this, but you can also use a regular sewing machine.

Step 3:

Sew a six-inch gathering stitch in the center of the front panel at the waist. Pull the threads to gather. Baste over the gathers to secure. This step is completely optional. I just added the gathering for some extra pizzazz.

Step 4:

For the straps, cut out two strips of fabric that are eight to ten inches wide (depending on how busty you are and how much coverage you want) and nine to ten feet long.

Step 5:

Position the two straps on the center front of the skirt along the waist with the right side of the straps against the right side of the skirt, overlapping the straps by one inch. Stitch the straps down.

Step 6:

Cut out a two-inch wide strip of fabric the length of your waist measurement plus one inch. With the right sides together, pin the strip around the waist of the skirt. starting at the center front. Sew. This is the waistband.

Step 7:

Fold the waistband over and sew to create a tube for the elastic to fit in. Leave the last inch open. Insert the elastic into the waistband. Overlap the ends of the elastic and sew to secure. Sew the waistband closed. And you’re done!

Just experiment, and you’ll figure out lots of different ways to tie it. If you decide to make this dress, I’d love to see the  ways you’ve worn it. Have fun!

Steampunk Goggles Tutorial


I’ve admited before that I’m not a steampunk expert, but it seems like if one accessory is a staple of a fashionable steampunk wardrobe, it’s a nice pair of goggles. With the goal of saving time, I looked and looked for some regular goggles that I could transform with some paint. I thought with summer here I could defintiely find some good swim goggles or something. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything with the right silhouette. The quintessential steampunk goggles have round lenses, and all the ones made these days are oval and streamlined (as a former competitve swimmer, let me tell you that steampunk goggles are not what you’d want in a pool). So, once again, I decided to take a stab at making something new.

I looked at tons of tutorials, and thought I would try these airship goggles. However, they required cutting metal, and I just don’t have the equipment for that. One day, though, I was putting away my son’s old baby bottles and inspiration struck. These were so easy to make, so I thought I’d share how I made them.

Materials needed:

2 baby bottles
faux leather (enough to make eye pieces and straps)
clear plastic cup
metallic paint

Optional materials:
toilet paper roll
gears, rivets, nuts, etc. for decoration

sewing machine
glue gun(optional)

Step 1:
You’ll need the bottle and lid. If you have a selection of them, like I did, find the bottle with the most interesting lid, preferably with no logo on it. The first lids I used for this project had “Evenflo” marked on the front, which I didn’t really notice until I’d painted them.  
It was fine, though, because the second set of lids I found were much prettier. Once you find the right lids, paint them. I spray painted mine with a satin finish gold paint and added some Rub N Buff for a more aged look.
Well, these are better anyway
Step 2:
Saw off top of bottle, retaining the threaded section to secure the lenses. I used a hacksaw and some help from my husband.
Step 3:
I made lenses for the goggles by tracing the top of the bottle on to a clear plastic drinking cup. I decided to use a colored cup for added interest. I was torn between pink and orange and ultimately settled for pink. After tracing the circles on to the cup, I cut them out using scissors. I then sandwiched each lens between the lid and the sawed-off top of the bottle and screwed the top on. 
Step 4:  
I used toilet paper roll to make a pattern for the eyepieces. I cut the roll to make a segment with the approximate depth I needed. I then cut one side of the segment with a curve. I kept holding it up to my eye and making adjustments until I got the correct contour for my eye socket. Once I got the right shape, I made a vertical cut so that I had a flat piece of cardboard that I could use as a pattern.
Step 5:
I added a quarter inch seam allowance when I cut out the eyepieces out of the faux leather except on the sides in which case I left a half inch seam allowance. The circumfrence of the toilet paper roll was slightly smaller than the lids, so I took that into account. Once I had the leather pieces, I hemmed along the top and bottom. I then wrapped the piece around the lid, marked, and sewed the ends together by hand.
Step 6:
I took a two-inch by one-inch strip of faux leather, folded it in thirds, and sewed. I then used the strip, cutting to fit, to make the nose strip. I sewed the strip to the eye pieces by hand.
 Step 7:
 I had a small buckle that I had cut off of an old wallet. It was silver, so I spray painted it gold. I cut two ten-inch by two-inch strips of leather, folded in thirds again, and sewed to make the straps. I attached the buckle to one strap and after measuring on my head to see how much I needed, attached it to one eyepiece. I attached the other strap to the other eyepiece. Finally, after measuring on my head again, I used and awl to punch holes in the strap without the buckle and attached grommets.  
Tah dah!

I haven’t decided if or how I should embellish them yet. I thought avout adding some (faux) rivets and maybe a gear on the sides. I feel like they’re a bit plain, but then again, the Baroness might use goggles that were pretty utilitarian. What do you think?