Posts Tagged ‘project idea’


Silhouette image Easter eggs.

Wishing you & yours a very happy Easter Sunday! Last Easter I posted photos of some of the silhouette eggs I have created over the years. If unbroken these eggs will last indefinitely, but 20+ years of mischievous cats and accidents have taken their toll, so this year found me once again cutting paper silhouettes and saving onion skins.

I originally read about making these eggs in a Country Living magazine article written by Wendy Schultz Wubbels that appeared in the April 1997, Vol. 20 Issue 4, on page148. If you happen to have a stash of old Country Living magazines go dig out this issue! If you don’t, I’ll give you the basic steps for making these amazing eggs:


gather your materials…

Gather Your Materials: First and foremost save the skin from every onion you use! You need a LOT of onion skins to dye these eggs… I needed to come up with a lot of onion skins in a hurry, so I resorted to peeling 6 lbs. of onions! After carefully peeling and saving every bit of onion skin I made a huge pot of French Onion Soup. 🙂

You’ll also need white eggs, an old pair of panty hose, some twist ties, vinegar, white copy paper, small sharp scissors, copy right free silhouette images or your own hand drawn silhouettes, and a large pot.



french onion soup

French onion soup.

Cut Out Your Paper Silhouettes

Trace or use a copier to transfer your desired silhouette images to plain white paper. I usually use copier paper because I find it to be a good weight to work with and I always have it at hand. Carefully cut out your silhouettes with a small pair of sharp scissors. I generally cut one or two extra silhouettes just in case I have any issues when I place them on the boiled eggs.

Boil Eggs & Steep Onion Skins

Gently boil clean, raw white eggs for at least 30 minutes. You want to get the interiors very hard boiled because the idea is to dry up the inside of the egg as much as possible. While the eggs are boiling place your onion skins in a large pot of water and add a generous splash of white vinegar, simmer on low until you get the color intensity you desire. I like to make my dye bath really dark because I use it to dye multiple batches of eggs. As the pigment leeches out of the dye bath, successive dye lots will get lighter and lighter. You may place the onion skins directly in the pot, or if you prefer to keep things a bit more contained like I do, put the onion skins in the mesh bags that your onions came in, with a twist tie to close the opening.

Mount Paper Silhouettes on Boiled Eggs

boiled eggs and cut out silhouettes

boiled eggs and cut out silhouettes…

Cut an old pair of panty hose into approximately 4 inch squares. Let your boiled eggs cool enough so that you can handle them easily. Fill a small bowl with water. Dip one paper silhouette in water and immediately position it on an egg. Gently smooth the paper with your finger so that all the edges are down and the entire surface of the paper is affixed to the egg. Place the egg in the middle of a square of pantyhose, silhouette side down, gather up the edges and pull the hose tight, twist tie edges together at the back of the egg.

Dye Eggs

dye eggsGently lower eggs into dye bath and simmer on very low heat until the eggs are dyed to your preferred intensity. Remove eggs from pot and place on white paper toweling. Let cool and drain a bit. Remove twist ties and hose, then carefully peel off the paper silhouette. Let air dry. Display!

  • Because I needed to have some eggs that are both cat and toddler proof I also dyed some white plastic eggs that I purchased from Walmart. The only changes I made to the directions above is that I did not have to boil the eggs and I soaked the eggs in a lukewarm dye bath for 24 hours. The dye does not take as well on plastic, so the eggs are lighter and wound up being “brown paper bag” colored. (which I like) 🙂

plastic eggs

Cat & Child friendly dyed plastic silhouette eggs ❤

See more of my silhouette eggs in previous posts:


Wishing You Easter Joy!

Wishing You a Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!








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About thirty years ago my mother gave me several vintage Valentines and managed to pass on her fondness for emphera to me.  Unfortunately, according to my husband, she also passed on her love of dolls, dishes, granite ware, antique and vintage cooking implements, quilts, baby shoes, antique furniture, etc., etc., etc…  🙂

Now whenever I see vintage Valentines I think of my mom.  For me the memories and feelings that my collections invoke are one of the most precious things about collecting.   I don’t really consider myself a Valentine collector, I just happen to be a person who owns several dozen vintage Valentines.  I’m not really sure what the magic number is that you have to pass, to turn the things you own into a collection, but I don’t think I’ve gotten there quite yet.

In addition to my vintage Valentines, I also save Valentines from my husband, children and friends.  I have one friend who often hand makes all of the Valentines that she sends out.  I tell  myself that I need to do the same, but I have to admit that I rarely manage to fit in time to make my own.  If you are better at time management than I am and would like to try your hand at making Valentine Puzzle Purses, you can find the directions here. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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If you have been looking for a Valentine’s Day project, let me suggest two heart-shaped pincushions from the Amusing Work section of  The American Girl’s Book; or, Occupation for Play Hours by Miss Eliza Leslie, Boston: Munroe and Francis; New York: C.S. Francis, 1831.












The American Girl’s Book, or Girl’s Own Book as is printed on the spine and cover title, contains games, plays, riddles and sewing projects for young girls.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the book, it became a childhood standard whose immense popularity resulted in 16 editions in its first 23 years alone. The final paragraph of the introduction to the book states, “The author of this little book has not aimed at compiling a juvenile encyclopedia. – It is simply an unpretending manual of light and exhilarating amusements; most of which will be found on trial to answer the purpose of unbending the mind or exercising the body, and at the same time interesting the attention.”

Miss Leslie, author of The American Girl’s Book, was an amazingly prolific writer and editor, all the more astonishing for a woman during the time in which she lived. Eliza Leslie was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Robert Leslie and Lydia Baker Leslie on November 15, 1787 and died at the age of 70 in Gloucester, New Jersey on January 1, 1858.

When her first cookbook, Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats, was published in 1828, it was credited as being written by “a Lady of Philadelphia”.  By 1831, Miss Leslie felt confident enough to publish The American Girl’s Book under her own name. Her written works for children and adults include a novel, short stories, magazine articles, cookbooks, and manuals on housekeeping and etiquette.

Miss Leslie edited an annual book entitled The Gift that included such illustrious contributors as Edgar Allan Poe. In 1843, she edited Miss Leslie’s Magazine, which contained the writings of Lydia Huntley Sigourney, Park Benjamin, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow among others. The magazine underwent two name changes before eventually merging with Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1846.

By the end of her life, Miss Leslie was a well-established celebrity in Philadelphia and known for her work throughout the United States. In fact, Mary Todd Lincoln is known to have purchased one of Miss Leslie’s cookbooks while the Lincolns were living in Illinois.

Many of Miss Leslie’s receipts, games and projects, like these pincushions, are as delightful now as they were 180 years ago. Intended as a sewing project for a beginning seamstress, the pincushions are  a wonderful parent and child project or a charming Valentine’s gift for any of your dear friends that sew.  I think that Miss Leslie would be pleased that her “amusing work” is still “interesting the attention” of people today.

Project Instructions

A Heart Pincushion

Cut two pieces of linen into the shape of a half-handkerchief.  Sew them  together, leaving a small open space at the top, and stuff them very hard with bran, or wool.  When sufficiently stuffed, sew up the opening and cover the pincushion with silk, sewed very neatly over the edge.  Then make two upper corners of the pincushion meet, and fasten them well together.  This will bring the pincushion into the shape of a heart.  Put a string to the top.  Emery bags are frequently made in this manner.  Pincushions should always be stuffed with bran, wool, or flannel.  Cotton will not do.

1. I started this project by cutting out a 7 inch square of linen and of red polished cotton for the pincushion and a 2-1/4 inch square of canvas (I picked canvas over linen to keep the emery from seeping through the weave)  and a 2-1/4 inch square of red polished cotton for the emery.  I didn’t have any red or pink silk on hand, but I did have some lovely vintage scarlet polished cotton.  You may certainly cut to triangles like the original instructions advise, or you may decide to simple fold a square, like I did and skip sewing one seam. 🙂   You may also change the size of the triangles/squares until they meet your preference.

2.  I folded my squares into a triangle and sewed along the edges of the linen, leaving an opening for stuffing, then turned them right side out.  I repeated this step with the polished cotton, leaving quite a large opening in one side so that I could insert the linen triangles after they were stuffed.





3.  Stuff your pincushion firmly with wool.  I find bran very difficult to come by, and Miss Leslie was absolutely correct in stating that cotton will not do, because it is quite difficult to stick pins into something that is firmly stuffed with cotton.  If you are making an emery, it is easiest to pour the emery into the opening using a small baby’s spoon.   Sew the openings closed after stuffing.

4. Slip the stuffed triangles into the decorative outer covers and sew the opening in the seam closed with matching thread.

5. Stitch two points of your triangle firmly together and put a string or ribbon through the top.  I chose to use silk ribbon that I dyed to match my scarlet fabric.

A Bunch of Hearts

Cut out ten or twelve hearts of double paste board; that is two pieces of pasteboard for each heart.  Cover them with different shades of red silk, crimson, scarlet and pink, sewing them very neatly at the edges.  Sew a string of narrow ribbon to the top of each, and tie the ends of all the strings together.  Stick pins round the edge of each pincushion where the two sides unite.  These  bunches of hearts look very pretty when hung on a toilet-glass.

1. To start this project I cut out several paper hearts and chose the one I liked best.  Then I traced the shape of the paper heart on to lightweight card board.  You will need two pieces of cardboard for each heart you make.  Next I cut out the cardboard hearts.

2.  I used my paper heart to trace the same shape onto red polished cotton, adding 3/8th of an inch for a seam allowance all the way around. Then I cut out the fabric hearts.

3. I stitched the two fabric heart together, making sure that the right sides of the fabric were turned to the inside.   Make a 1/4 inch seam, you need that extra 1/8 inch for the thickness of the cardboard. Leave a large opening in one side so that you can insert the cardboard.

4. Turn the heart right side out, tuck two cardboard hearts into the fabric heart.  Sew the opening closed and sew a matching ribbon to the top of the heart.

5.  Add pins around the edges, I used vintage brass pins.  Repeat to your heart’s content. 🙂  Then dangle them from the mirror of your dressing table (aka toilet-glass).

One Additional Heart

Since I already had all of the right fabric and notions out, I did make one more heart.  I was inspired by a photograph of a lovely heart that  Christine Crocker posted on her blog last February.

I chose one of my cutout paper hearts and traced it onto the front side of my red polished cotton with a pencil, next I added a 1/2 inch seam allowance and cut the heart out of a double thickness of fabric.

I pinned the two fabric hearts together and handstiched along the pencil line, leaving an opening along one side of the heart.  Next, without tying off my thread, I stuffed the heart firmly with cotton, then finished sewing along my pencil guideline.

Finally I hand pinked the edges using a sharp pair of embroidery scissors.  Pinking sheers will not work for this, you must hand pink.

While I don’t love my heart quite as much as I do Christine’s, I am quite pleased with the results.  I think it would be fun to make up one to hang in every window (in my case that means I need to get busy and make 42 more!)

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Snow Ice Cream

One of my fondest childhood memories is making snow ice cream with my mother.   On snowy winter days she would bundle us up and send us outside to play.  Before we came inside to warm-up, Mom would hand us a pot to scoop full of clean snow.

This is a wool glove that I wore as a toddler. It’s mate was lost on an outing when my own children were still tiny enough to wear the gloves.

After we sere stripped of our wet, frozen mittens, boots and scarves, we would gather in the kitchen to turn snow into ice cream.

My mother’s favorite flavor of ice cream was vanilla, which is what we usually made.  Although you can certainly make any flavor that you prefer.  When my brother was able to talk my mom into making chocolate instead of vanilla, she flavored the milk with PDQ (do you remember that?) and then poured it into the snow.  The directions are really so simple that I hesitate to even call it a recipe.

Snow Ice Cream flavored with ground vanilla beans, served in an early 19th century pink luster-wear bowl. The tiny spoon is a silver-plated child’s spoon from the late 1800’s.

Snow Ice Cream

fresh clean snow



vanilla or other flavoring

Put in as much milk as you would like to achieve the consistency that you prefer.  The sugar and vanilla are added to suit your taste.  Stir well and eat immediately.

On the next snowy day take a few  moments to try this recipe and make a lasting memory of your own.


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Frozen Fun

When was the last time you made a snowman?   It’s still as much fun now as it was when you were a child!

This tiny fellow is only a hands length tall.  He’s perched on a metal post, guarding the walkway to my side porch.  His eyes are tiny bits of coal that I gather and save when I find them in my flower beds.  They are the remnants of long ago coal deliveries, from when my house was heated with a coal burning furnace.  His nose came straight from my vegetable bin and his scarf is a bit of scarlet dyed batting.

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I love old photographs, whether they are family keepsakes, or glimpses of strangers that provide windows into the world of the past.  I also believe in living with and using my antique collections.

A whimsical and inexpensive way to decorate for any holiday is to alter pieces from your photo collection to fit the occasion.

Here is How I Do It:

I’m sure everyone who loves antiques already knows that heat and light are two major villains when it comes to preserving antiques.   I do try to store and display my antique photos in safe locations.   However I also think having a back-up copy of your photographs, just in case, is a good idea.  You can either scan your original photographs ( here is where the heat and light comes in), or choosing the better conservation choice – photograph them using a digital camera without a flash.  Once you have a copy of your photographs made and stored you are ready to move on to the fun part of this project.

Method #1 – Take your stored image and using Photoshop alter the image by adding seasonal accessories.  In my case this also means talking one of my very computer and graphic literate family members into doing it for me :).  For this photo I had my son add a witch’s hat to a photograph of my great-grandmother Henrietta Josephine Wallace Prather.  He also layered in part of another photograph of one of our cats sitting on a pumpkin.  No, he didn’t have to Photoshop the cat onto the pumpkin, she just happened to like sitting on pumpkins!  Weird cat… enough said.

Method #2 – Print out a high quality copy of your stored photograph, then get out your pencils, pens and markers and draw in all of the details that you would like to add.  In this example I used a photo that I purchased of two young siblings( because I liked their clothing) and drew in witch’s hats.  After I finished, I re-scanned the altered photo.  However you wouldn’t have to re-scan if you want to just use the photo as is.

What can you do with your altered goodies???  Anything you can imagine.  You can re-size and print your images in dozens of different ways.  Try printing on card stock, vellum, fabric, photo paper, business card stock and labels.

I turned my witchy version of Henrietta Josephine into a Halloween necklace by printing it on vellum and tucking it into a glass locket frame, to which I added a sheer black ribbon.

My two tiny witches look adorable in a black vintage frame and they also made fun necklaces to give to dozen and a half friends.  To make the necklaces I printed the altered photo on fabric that is specially treated and backed for use in an ink jet printer.  I cut out the fabric photos, added a plain piece of fabric for the back, then stitched them together to form a pocket,  I bound the edges with black twill tape which also forms the hanging cord.  I added a velcro dot fastener inside the top edge to secure valuables, then sparkled things up a bit by gluing on glitter accents.  Sew on buttons and other trimmings if you desire.

Happy Halloween, I hope you enjoy creating your own “haunted” photographs!

The instructions, photographs and project ideas in this article are all copyright 2010 by Paula Walton.

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