Hand scraped flooring

Here’s a quick look at the latest progress in building our house- hand scraped flooring.  John ordered the scraper online and tried it out- the scraper is from Hardwood Industry Products if you’re looking for one (no sponsorship, just a link). The floor is made of salvaged pine boards that used to be a wall in an old house. John scraped and sealed it over the past week.

Although he’d removed some paint from the boards with the planer and some with a hand paint scraper, the blades wear down a lot quicker with boards that have paint on them.  If you’re curious about details, ask below and I’ll answer.  He scraped the entire board, leaving some high spots/patina.

Next time (on boards without the paint) he thinks he will try just at the edges to smooth the transitions between boards but leave more of that old patina on the boards.  (Also would be a quicker floor.) He spent 2 days scraping this one- approximately  12’x14′ room.


Close up hand scraping a foor


Hand scraping a floor


hand scraped floor- upper portion has been scraped, lower portion has not

Hand scraped floor sealed

Hand scraped floor sealed

hand scraped floor detail

hand scraped floor detail

hand scraped floor

hand scraped floor

hand scraped floor close/profile

hand scraped floor close/profile

hand scraped floor detail

hand scraped floor detail

Here’s the beginning of a new segment- hopefully these will be short and sweet.  I’m going to call it “My Spin on the Pin” since they’ll be inspired by things I’ve pinned on pinterest.  However, since I rarely do anything exactly as presented, you’ll be able to see or get a brief description of the changes.

So without further ado…  my first “Spin on the Pin.”

Salt dough fingerprint ornaments- this takes 2 of my pins.


Pin #1 is a Cinnamon salt dough recipe that can be found at grouprecipes.com.  A basic salt dough recipe plus some cinnamon for scent/color.

Pin #2 is a cute christmas ornament using thumb prints for the ornaments on the tree, found over here at Home Life Simplified.  (Warning- no instructions, just a link to a pin, that will not load for me).

fingerprint salt dough ornaments

I added a manger scene in fingerprints (sides of thumbs for Mary and Joseph, sides of pinkies for baby Jesus).

fingerprint ornament close

This was my first (stressful!) attempt at making Christmas ornaments with my girls (twins 4+, little sister almost 3).  They got to help with most of the stages- making the salt dough, helping with rolling and cutting out the ornaments, adding their fingerprints, painting the tree green and the stars yellow, and painting in the dots (Q-tips, 1 color at a time, 1 child at a time helped here).  I served as project manager and quality control, plus baking, painting details, sealing, and stringing.

3 painters

(IF you want the fingerprints to be visible in detail, I think I’d go with a polymer clay, unless you have an excellent no-puff, detail-able salt dough recipe.)

They had lots of fun, and I think they turned out pretty cute!

There’s also some gingerbread men and stars waiting in the wings to be completely finished- I left the girls unrestrained in their paint application and I think they’ll need some Q-tip dots to give them a cleaner look- we’ll see what happens.

That cute little snowman has a bit of a tilt, but he’s SUPPOSED  to look like a marshmallow snowman on a graham cracker, if you’ve seen any of those cute little guys out there in the stores…

**** If you’re a relative and you get one of these, pretend you didn’t see it first here ;)

Before I get going, I’ll warn you all that I’m only a self-taught seamstress- no formal training.  If you’re a professional, please don’t be laugh too hard.

I’ve done only a little wedding and formal dress work, but I’m good with concepts and finding out a way to make things work.

My dear cousin Judy got married in July (on one of the hottest days of the summer!)

Here’s her dress- un-bustled followed by bustled.  (Thanks to my sister for letting me use her pictures!)


I’m not sure what exactly you would label this dress type as, but it is a wrapped/folded fabric style with a bubble style skirt bottom and train, and because of the way the fabric wraps on the dress, it makes it kind of asymmetrical (At least the outside fabric is- the inside skirt is not).  All those factors in place, my cousin loved the dress and it fit her perfectly- no alterations needed, so she bought it.  The dress shop told her it would be a $300 bustle job (if it could be done at all).  She decided to skip that and try me instead.

I searched a bit online and came up with a basic concept to follow- the ballroom bustle.  It bustles by pulling the train up underneath the skirt.  There’s a diagram and some pictures at the Wedding Bee.

I could not pull the skirt up in the back and attach to the outside of the dress to bustle, since that bubble skirt has it’s secrets of how it’s formed so readily available once it’s lifted.  I don’t have a picture of the underside of the dress, but it basically looks like this (dress from my little girls bubble dresses I posted about here).

So under we went with that train.

This bustle is done very simply- some ribbon, buttons, and a hand needle and thread were all the materials I used.  I did put the dress on a form for ease of working, but not necessary.

After a trial pin underneath, I decided that simple pull points underneath the skirt would not work well.   I would need many, and even then it might not cooperate to lift/bustle evenly.

Here’s what I did instead.  (The goal with gathering instead of just pull points is to make an easier, more even pull for bustling.)  For a hand drawn diagram that maps out what the bottom of the dress looked like as I describe below, check this:  drawing of bustle structure.

Underneath the skirt a few inches from the edge is where the inner tube dress meets the outside fabric to form the bubble bottom to the dress.  In my cousins dress, there was a bit of stiffener fabric inside, with a generous overlap of the fabric.  I stitched a channel along the entire bottom seam, from side to side.  I only had to take out a few stitches at the side- very easy to stitch back shut- and I just hand sewed a running stitch from outside- I didn’t open it up.  That meant I needed to stitch carefully so that I didn’t catch the skirt or the inner lining skirt with my stitches.  (I did have to go back through to re-do a few places where I accidentally got the inside skirt- easy to fix).

This channel ended up being something like 110 inches long, so it takes a bit of time, but not terrible or technical.

That’s the big part.  Now that the channel was in place, I took some simple 1/4 inch ribbon and sent it through the channel with some extra on each end for loops- one on the very end and one to hold the gathered train (more on that to follow).   A button at each end kept the loop from sliding into the channel when the train was down.

I gathered the train and tied a slip knot to experiment with button placement on the underside of the skirt to get the train up and the bottom even.  The gather should be evenly dispersed. It will gather to approximately the same length as the front of the dress.  You want the bustle points (following) to be straight pull lines, not drooping between points.  Once you’re finished with your pull points and bustle points and sure the length of the ribbon is correct, mark the ribbon at the best length, then make a loop on each side at this mark.  When bustled, this loop holds the train in the gathered position via the button at the end of the channel.  Then you can let it loose again and when completely flattened out, make your loop at the end of the ribbon.  This holds the ribbon from disappearing into the channel while the train is down.

The pull points at the bottom of the dress were spaced symmetrically and fairly evenly- 7 points- one on the center back seam and 3 on each side- seams being key reference points.   I relied on inside seams, not outside ones as my points to bustle because of the wrap/asymmetrical aspect of the outside.  I pulled to 7 button points- on in the center back, and 3 on each side of center.  The diagram at the Wedding Bee shows basically the same thing.  This seemed to be the sensible number for this particular dress.  You may need more or fewer.  Two landed on seams, one in-between seams.  For the in-between seam, I stitched a bit of fabric on to reinforce the lightweight fabric where the button was sewn.

I pinned and marked my points, checked and double checked, then stitched on loops.  NOTE:  Don’t stitch your loops to the ribbon inside of the channel.  These loops were made out of the same 1/4 inch ribbon I used in the channel and were just simple loops tied of ribbon just large enough to go over the buttons I used.  The loops stitched on the underskirt of the dress just above the union that forms the bubble bottom.  The knot went up, the loop went down (loop goes up around the button when the skirt is bustled).  I did have her try on the dress before I finally stitched the buttons to make sure she liked it and that it was even on her, not just on the dress form.

A note on what layer to bustle to:  I went to underneath the crinoline, but outside of the innermost layer of the skirt.  This just worked in this case, but if the train had been longer, I would have had to stay outside of the crinoline since the crinoline started around knee level and a longer train would have needed to be pulled higher up to keep from dragging.  Either placement would be fine.  I chose inside because I felt it did a better job of disguising the bustle underneath and shaping the outside of the skirt once bustled.

A few more notes.  Since this is a bubble bottom, asymmetrical wrap skirt, there are places where depending on how the fold “flops” at a given moment in time, it may look uneven.  The thing is that the dress does this everywhere on the bottom edge without the bustle, so don’t be terribly concerned if you look at it and it looks uneven at the bottom.  Do, however, make sure that those uneven bubbles hit the floor evenly around the entire bottom of the dress.

If needed, you could number or color code the buttons and loops to help prevent confusion.  I worked form one side to the other and designed/made it, so it was no problem for me to figure out.  You will also need to fluff/ re-sort the crinoline layer once the train is bustled so that it lays neatly again.

And a last detail.  The ribbon that gathers the train when bustled hangs out quite a bit when bustled.  Here’s what to do with it so that it doesn’t drag.  After all the loops are on the buttons, pull the extra over the center/highest button bustle point, then put the loop over one of the button bustle points on the opposite side of the dress.  repeat with the extra ribbon and loop from the other side.

This took about 6 hours total- from the time my cousin arrived with dress in hand until I stitched on the last button.  That included a lunch break and my planning time to figure out how exactly I was going to do this, and pinning a mock channel to try before I sewed it, and some other experimentation time- and hand stitching everything.  $300- ridiculous!  I’ll do any bustle you want for $50+ per hour!

Actually- I’d do them for a lot less.  If you’re in the WNY/NW PA area, I like to make and work on formal dresses (if I’ve got a bit of spare time).  I’m too old for high school formal dances, so I have no excuse to make a dress for myself anymore!

Nothing too original with this one- I just followed the directions over at Somewhat Simple.

Cut the bottom off of a bottle and put a baby sock over the bottle (enclosing the hole you made by cutting off the bottom). Dip it in straight dish soap (in any container with a flat bottom that will accommodate your bubble snake).  I used the super cheap stuff from the dollar store.


For each kid at VBS, they got 5 minutes to color an infant sock with permanent markers (put the sock on the bottle, then color).  Then we spent the rest of the time blowing bubbles for our last night of VBS.  Each crew was different.  One group competed for longest snake, another group worked together to make a giant bubble pile/cloud on the ground, some just ran around and blew their bubbles.


Pre-school age kids are most likely to breath IN when they put their mouth on the bottle, so encourage them to only blow out, or they’ll get bubbles in their mouth.

These were super simple, but tons of fun for all ages!  They’ve seen a lot of use at my house this summer!

These butterfly notebooks were the craft for day 4.  With school upcoming, this seemed like a fun and practical craft that should really be useful.  I made some other versions for my girls at home- definitely a neat back to school craft as well.

They are a bit time consuming to prepare, but it’s a neat craft that sticks nicely to the butterfly as a theme for the Resurrection (the bible story for the 4th day of VBS).

I got spiral notebooks at the back-to-school sales.  Clear re-positionable contact paper comes in a roll 18″x24′.  I think other sizes were also available.

My butterfly was really a simplified blown up version of a butterfly stencil.  The copier did all the hard work for me to size it, then I just transferred it onto a piece of cereal box to make a stencil.  Of course, any object will work, or letters.  Use your stencil to trace your shape, or free hand it.

Small scissors or an exacto knife work well for cutting out the shapes, but I had a free-form shape cutter that I’d used for one of my crafts last year (someday I’ll post about it) that sped things up quite a bit to make the number I needed.  I couldn’t cut them out completely with the free-form cutter since the base of the cutter wouldn’t go over the spirals in the notebook, but it was simple to cut the rest of the wings with scissors.  Whatever shape you use, remember to keep them simple if you have a lot to do!


Once the shape is cut out, you move on to the contact paper.  I put on the outside layer for each notebook and left the paper backing inside so that it wouldn’t adhere to the first page.  This stuff is forgiving and re-positionable, especially for the outside piece.  The size of  your piece will vary based on the size of your cut-out shape.  Just make sure it overlaps your shape by at least 1/2″ or so.  I cut the inside piece of contact paper and slipped it into each notebook for after the kids decorated them.


Regarding applying that piece of contact paper, you can take the whole backing off and set it on like a giant sticker- reasonably easy to do.  But for the kids to do it (and maybe adults, too- whatever you prefer), this is a better method:  Start to remove the backing from one edge of the contact paper.  Set it on the cut out shape and adhere the edge, make sure the whole piece sits squarely over the cut-out.  Then pull the loose edge of the paper backing from underneath the contact paper and smooth it down as you pull off the backing. I did “burnish” the surface to get it to stick better once it was properly placed, but only for the front- the kids didn’t burnish the inside.   To burnish I used the handles of my scissors to rub the contact paper and get it to adhere better to the notebook.


Now for some inside decoration.  I used shaped paper punches (butterflies, stars, helicopters, and planes) and fine glitter in the little shaker containers.  I punched a full 8 1/2″x11″ paper of each, and for 66 kids that was sufficient.  It also kept things simpler with only one color choice for each punched shape.  Adults handed out the shapes to the kids- a small pinch of punched shapes goes a long way.  I handed out the last of my stars and almost all my butterflies to the last crew that came through, but no one lacked any.  Stick the paper punch outs on first, then the glitter.  Don’t get too crazy with the glitter, or less of the contact paper will stick.  Also, be sure to brush off excess glitter from the inside cover before trying to put on the contact paper so it has more places to adhere to seal in all those decorations.

I tried crayon shavings at home and melted them with an iron after I put the contact paper on.  They turned out okay, but the melted crayons aren’t an appealing look where they seep into the notebook cover.  It’s most obvious around the clown nose below.

Once the decorations are in and the cover is swept clear of excess glitter, The inner piece of contact paper can be put on. (Review directions above for the easiest way for the kids to apply the contact paper themselves, or at least help.)


So I tried yet another homemade play dough recipe the other day.  But this one was better than any I’ve tried before- as close to the “real” thing as I think you can get.  It even works in those silly play dough machines.  I saw it on pinterest and checked it out at Modern Parents Messy Kids.  Click here for the full post and recipe instructions.  Here’s what you’ll need:

1 c flour

1 c warm water

2 T salt

2T cream of tartar

2T cooking oil

1-3 oz pack of Jello


It all goes into the pot, gets mixed thoroughly, and cooked. Then cool and knead.  If you’ve made cooked play dough before, you know the drill.  If not, make sure you check out MPMK for the full tutorial.

I tried it with unflavored gelatin (like Knox) as well, and it turned out just as wonderful. Use 1-1oz package or 1 Tablespoon if you’ve bought it in bulk like I have.

This is now my go-to recipe!  Hope you like it as much as I do.

Day 3 we made Prayer Windsocks.  While searching for my crafts online, I ran across Artist Holiday and LOVED the concept of prayer flags that she used at her church’s SKY VBS this year.  See her post about them here, where she gives a more detailed understanding of prayer flags.  Inspired by her shared information and wanting to give our VBS kids the same opportunity to explore prayer with pen and fabric, I developed a similar project.

These windsocks were hopefully brought home and hung up to be a pretty reminder of God’s presence as one who loves to hear our prayers.

Each windsock is made from a 12″x22 1/2″ piece of muslin.  I got 90″ muslin at Jo-Ann’s (with a coupon for 50% off, of course).  90″ wide makes 4 of these windsocks across, and you’ll get 3 per 36 inch length, so 12 a yard.  (certainly 45″ would work fine, to, just plan on 6 a yard.  But per piece, 90″ wide was cheaper.)

I cut the rectangle with pinking shears to limit fraying.  Fold over and stitch a channel in one end.  (For a no-sew version, just use hot glue or liquid stitch for this part.)  Mark (in pencil or chalk) the top block and 6 streamers about 11″ long and 2″ wide.  Sorry for the wrinkly pictures!

Thread a piece of yarn about 18 inches long through the top of each at the middle and tie it there- this will eventually hang the windsock.)  With so many to do, I cut a looong piece of yarn and after stitching through and tying off at the end, I just cut to length and kept going.  Otherwise you’ll be threading that needle a lot.)

The kids used permanent marker to draw/write their prayer(s) on the windsock.  I encouraged them to think of things they were thankful for or things they wanted to ask God about or talk to God about.

I just reminded them that anything drawn on the windsock tails would be cut apart if they didn’t stay in the lines there.  After coloring, cut up the tail lines (but don’t cut them off, of course…).  These tails have been waving in the breeze for a little while now, and are holding up pretty well.

Then a bit of hot glue (I did this part for them).  I wrapped around a pringles can for a form to work on.  Just overlap the two edges and glue down the main body portion of the windsock.

I pre-cut and twisted wire to go through the channel sewed in the top.  Total length is about 14″ with a small loop twisted into each end, so finished size is just over 12″.  Mine is cut from a roll of picture hanging wire.  Pipe cleaners might work fine here if they’re long enough- I just didn’t have that on hand when I was making these.


The kids put the wire through the channel.  The loose end of the yarn was then threaded through both wire loops and tied to form the hanging portion of the windsock.   (In my pictures of finished windsocks, a different wire method was used.  The way I describe here is how I they were finished for VBS and is much easier to do for the kids and for those preparing the craft.)


Beautiful reminders of prayer, the connection we have with God through prayer, and the ability to pray in different ways.


For more VBS/ kids crafts, check my VBS tab.


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