Sunday, September 18, 2016

Christmas 2016: A Decorative Box and a Mermaid Tail Blanket

First, I haven't forgotten the goals update.  I'll get to them tomorrow since Christmas gifts were part of my goals *laugh*.

So, for this installment of "Things Erika is Making for Christmas" we have two gifts that I made this week.

First up is a decorative box for my junior high aged niece.  She's kind of that age where I'm not really sure what to make for her, so I figured a decorative box to store jewelry or trinkets in wouldn't be a bad gift.

I started out with a heart shaped wooden box I found at the used store a while back for .50.  It was finished, but not great, lots of rough wood could be felt through the simple clear glaze they applied, so I figured it would be really easy to paint over since the finish was already so rough to begin with (and hey I was right!).
I used acrylic paints I had around here from previous projects and for design inspiration I looked up Swedish stencil designs on Pinterest and just made up my own design with similar elements throughout the box.  I then, once the various coats of acrylic were applied and dried, took some Modge Podge I had around here and added a layer of clear coat over the entire box.  I thought it turned out really good myself, especially since all of the designs you see are completely freehand, no advance pencil or pen work would have done me any good with the dark grey undertone, so I didn't bother *laugh*.

Total time to make the gift:  Well, that's kind of hard one.  I put two coats of acrylic for an "underglaze" and I waited in between coats at least 24 hours to make sure everything was well set and dried before applying another coat.  I did the design elements as they came to me throughout a day of work, taking breaks in between to think and do housework.  Another 10 minutes or so of touch ups toward the end of the work and then about 10 minutes for the Modge Podge to be applied and another couple of hours to dry.  Eh...we'll call it about 4 hours total of work on the actual project overall :).

Total cost to make gift:  .50 for the wooden box earlier in the year.
Next up is a gift for my baby niece.  My sister-in-law had asked her mother-in-law to make her a mermaid tail crocheted blanket on Facebook a while back before the baby was born, but her mother-in-law basically said, "Um, no beyond my ability" (it was super intricate looking to my not-great-at-crochet eye).  I kept that thought in the back of my head though and when it came to Christmas gifts thought I'd give a shot at sewing one.

The final results are above there.  I made the main body out of a light blue fleece remnant I've had for a long time and then used some really thin, but super soft, flannel that I'd gotten I think at Wal-Mart years ago for super cheap for the tail.   I used batting in the tail to help shore up the material as it is really thin material.

For the actual tail part I kept going back and forth trying to figure out a way to secure the tail fins, but let the tail be able to be opened so that mama could change baby/toddler (this blanket should fit the kiddo for a while), but nothing I tried really worked great, unfortunately.  So, I finally compromised, made a tapered tube shape for the main tail and only sewed it up from the bottom tail fin up about half way and then just left the sides open so that mama can open said blanket up to change the baby/toddler via mama judo (as I like to call it).  I made the tail fin pattern just by drawing out a basic shape on a piece of paper (using the entire length and pretty much all the width of a normal piece of computer paper) and then when I cut it out of fabric I eyeballed about 1/2 an inch onto the main pattern for a seam allowance.  It worked great I have to say and the fins are actually pretty much the exact same!  If you do this, just remember to cut out two pieces (the front and back for one piece) out and then flip the paper pattern over to cut out the other two so that you end up with opposite facing fins :).

I used some pink quilt binding to bind the top of the blanket to one, make sure that the curved edge I put on the top wouldn't be too hard to keep up (I figured if I folded it over to make a 1/2 fold over that the edge would start to suffer a bit) and also to just add some more pink to the blanket and tie the body into the tail better.

Total time to make gift:  If I count time thinking about a way to make a super awesome baby mermaid blanket counted, probably about 80 hours, but for actual time to make I'd say about 3 hours overall as it did take some tweaking to get it where I could live with it.

Total cost to make gift:  Nothing as I had all of the materials around here.

So there we go!  Two more gifts down!  More to go :).


  1. Love the mermaid blanket! So cute!

    The box is fantastic, how I wish I could paint like that!

  2. Those gifts are just amazing, Erika! The box has a wonderful, folk art look and is perfect for your junior high niece. I'm pretty sure your sister-in-law is going to absolutely love the mermaid tail. I'm thinking it would be perfect to use in a stroller to keep your baby niece nice and warm on a cool day. Love the inspiration! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Both gifts turned out great!! Very creative. Keep going!!

  4. Both are beautiful! I think they will be truly appreciated!