Favorites Friday - French Farmhouse Napkins

This is a Friday feature where I share some of my favorite finds.

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I know I'm probably opening up a big ol' can of worms here because we all know that no two Home Goods have the same inventory and sometimes finding what you want at your HG store can be challenging, but I'm just so thrilled with these cloth napkins that I had to share. (Whatever floats your boat, right?)

Anyway, If you're a cloth napkin kind of gal like me you may want to be on the look out for these darling ruffled French Farmhouse styled cotton napkins from Home Goods.

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If you've been following along with my Tabletop Tuesday posts over on Instagram you know how I love to set a pretty table which always includes cloth napkins. The problem is, most cloth napkins need to be ironed. Since these are made of a flour sack type fabric they have a very relaxed, casual feel and best of all they look fantastic right out of the dryer!

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These measure 19" X 19", are 100% cotton and a pack of 12 is just $16.99 - that's just a little over $1.40 each! (I hate to admit that I've paid as much as $9 for one napkin at Pottery Barn and they always have to be ironed!) Cry


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For me, these fabulous cloth napkins are a game changer. I just wanted you to know.

Encourage one another,

Suzanne


Tutorial Tuesday #10 - Scalloped Edged Kitchen Towels

I'm sure there must be a dozen ways to add a scalloped fabric strip to a towel but I'm going to share with you how I did it. I wanted this project to be fast and fuss free and honestly, I just made it up as I went - never dreaming anyone would ask me for directions. Now that you have, here's how I did them:

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I recently found these darling kitchen towels at World Market and thought they would be sweet with a fabric band across the bottom and maybe some rick rack and a few buttons. They are precious as is but since I love to embellish, I wanted to add something to give them more of a handmade look and I thought the scallops just made them a little more fun than a plain, straight band. This time of year we are always in need of a hostess gift or something small for a neighbor. Added to a tray of cookies I think these would make a perfect inexpensive gift.

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The first thing I usually do after purchasing my towels is to dig into my fabric stash and audition some creative possibilities. I've found taking a quick photo with my phone gives me a good first impression of how it will all look together.

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Once you've made your selection you'll need a strip of fabric about 10" wide by 22" long or two strips 5" wide by 22" long. (I was using scraps so I sometimes had to have a seam across the top instead of the preferred fold).

If you don't already own Lori Holt's Circle Rulers you might want to put them on your Christmas list. I find myself reaching for these so often (I use the larger  9" one for my round Mug Rugs and the loong overdue second part of that tutorial is up next - I promise).

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Making the paper pattern:

For those of you that don't have the Circle Rulers I've come up with a way to make the scallops with a Solo cup (you could also use a clear drinking glass). You will need a 4" circle for this project (although really any size can work - that's just the size I used here). 

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In the photo above you can see that I cut the white rim from a Solo cup (you'll want to be able to see the center of your circle so cutting it away helps that). I was trying to replicate the Circle Ruler, so I marked the horizontal and vertical lines with a sharpie on the plastic rim. You will need these marks later to make your scallops.

You can see in the photo below more clearly the marks I made. I think the easiest way to do that is to draw intersecting lines on paper, then center the circular rim on the lines and mark the four quarters. As you can see, the Circle Ruler has done all that for you, plus it has a center mark, so it just eliminates all that work. Dear Santa... Smiley

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I then taped two sheets of legal sized copy paper together so that they would be slightly longer than my towel was wide (24") then I cut the long strip of paper 4 1/2" deep and ended up with a strip of paper 24" X 4 1/2". Graph paper would be great here, but I didn't have any).

Next I folded the paper strip in half and drew a line down the middle 2" from the bottom edge*. see note at the end of this post

Starting at the fold I marked a quarter circle. Notice how the vertical marks line up with the fold and the horizontal marks line up to the line down the middle.

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Next I marked the second scallop but learned the hard way to leave a 1/4" space between the scallops. Your scallops will not lay flat if they don't have this space between them (at least mine didn't). Cry

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Continue to mark your scallops on the paper. You should have a total of two and a half scallops from the fold.

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Next you will cut the paper scallops on the drawn line. It should look like this when opened - a total of five full scallops plus those little tabs at the ends.

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Once the pattern is made you're ready to sew. Remember this pattern can be used over and over so although it takes a few minutes to make, the whole project goes quickly once it's done.

Sewing:

Pin your paper pattern to your fabric with right sides together. If you had fabric that is 10" wide place the long straight top edge on the fold. Otherwise you will have a seam across that edge. I've done it both ways and it works fine either way.

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Now, simply sew around the paper. No need to trace the pattern. I did shorten my stitch length a bit. 

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Be sure and leave the tab ends open because that's how you'll turn the fabric right side out.

Trim seams 1/8" from stitching lines and clip those spaces between the scallops with a V cut up to the inside points.

Turn right side out through one end and using a Point Turner, coax the seams open. Need an inexpensive little gift for a sewing buddy? This is seriously my favorite sewing notion and has been forever! 

Press.  

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At this point you'll have a finished strip about 4 1/2" wide and slightly longer than your towel with raw edges on each end.

Match the centers of your towel and fabric strip and pin the strip to the towel with the top of the strip at the hem line of the towel.

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Tuck in the extra fabric at each end of the strip and press. The fabric strip should now be the same length as the width of the towel.

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You can now insert rick rack or lace 

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then top stitch close to the edge, connecting the fabric strip and trim to the towel. Top stitch the two folded ends closed.

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You now can add buttons and some hand stitching if you'd like. I think the big stitches add so much but you could certainly top stitch the scallops on the sewing machine if you're short on time.

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*One more thing. You can vary the depth of the scallops by how far up from the bottom of your pattern paper you mark your center line as shown below.

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You can see the difference in the two patterns below. No right or wrong, just slightly different.

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I sure hope this was clear. I am not a pattern writer (boy could I share stories to prove that fact), but I wanted to share with you how I added the fabric to my towels. Please let me know if you have questions.

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Season's Greetings friends and Merry Christmas!

Encourage one another,

Suzanne




 


Raspberry Walnut Thumbprint Cookies

I've been making these fabulous cookies since our boys were in preschool. It just wouldn't be Christmas without them.

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This is a delicious cookie to add to a cookie tray. They are fun to make and almost fool proof while the dollop of red raspberry jam adds a festive touch. You can find my recipe for the Mini Pecan Tarts here.

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Encourage one another,

Suzanne


Mini Pecan Pies

While going through my recipe boxes for old family recipes to display with my Christmas decor, I came across this one. I've been making it at the holidays for over forty years. These bite sized mini pastries make great gifts for friends and neighbors and are a nice addition to a cookie tray.

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I've had some questions about what a cube of butter is. I'm so sorry for the confusion, but mom always called a stick of butter a "cube" of butter so it's not my fault - it's mom's. So, whether you call it a cube or a stick, each one is a quarter pound and that's about what you'll gain around your middle when you eat one of these scrumptious morsels. Now that we've cleared that up...let's B A K E!

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Do you have tried and true family recipes that you make year after year? I'd love to hear about your favorite food traditions.

 Happy Thanksgiving!

Encourage one another,

Suzanne


Grandma's Christmas Fudge

When I posted this photo on Instagram

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I had no idea so many of you would want the recipe. Grandma called it "See's Fudge" but I'm not sure that is where the original recipe came from. All I know is that it's easy and pretty much fail-proof. This recipe makes about five pounds of fudge so it's a great one to share with neighbors and friends.

Make it with your kids or grand kids and make some yummy memories.

 

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Encourage one another,

Suzanne


Tutorial Tuesday #9 - No-Sew Santa Bag Pillows - part 1

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I know it's Wednesday when I'm posting this, but I couldn't wait until next week to show you these darling $2 Santa Sacks that I found yesterday at Michael's.

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How cute are these for just $2 each?! (The Christmas decor at Michaels isn't on sale yet but they will probably put everything on sale in the coming weeks). 

They come in three sizes, (this is the smallest, measuring 7.5" X 10.5") four styles and are made from an unbleached osnaburg type fabric for a farmhouse vibe. I thought they would make fun no-sew projects.

Here's how:

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1. Give the bag a good ironing.

2. Above the line that says "recipient", write with a fabric marker or embroider a name. It would be fun to do a family name or a teachers name as I did here.

3. Add about a cup of Poly-Pellets stuffing beads for weight, then stuff the bag full to the top with poly-fill.

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4. Pull the drawstring closed and carefully hot glue it shut.

5. Add any embellishments that you'd like (optional) holly sprigs, jingle bells etc. then add a gift tag.

That's it, a cute personalized gift for under $5 - done in minutes.

Fun, right?

Encourage one another,

Suzanne

 


Tutorial Tuesday #8 - Sewn Silk Velvet Pumpkins

 

A few of you have asked how I made these silk velvet pumpkins so before I move on to Christmas (you know it's coming) I thought I'd do a really quick tutorial here.

First off you guys, I love this silk velvet from prismsilks.com! If you like the luxurious look of these I definitely think this fabric is worth the splurge. Look at their iridescent velvets. So yummy! You will need at least an 18" square of velvet for this size pumpkin so their fat quarters are perfect for a pumpkin like the one below with enough left over for acorns. Get 10% off your order with code "prism16".

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I've learned a lot this fall while making so many pumpkins and wanted to document it here.

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Any size works so use all your scraps and make various sizes. A seven inch round makes those tiny pumpkins like you find in the grocery store.

Using super heavy thread or dental floss, gather 1/4" from the raw edge of your circle. 

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You can fill it completely with pellets if you'd like. Experiment.

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Then finish off with fiberfill.

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Pull your thread tight and sew the opening closed. Knot thread and cut.

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I used a doll needle to sculpt my pumpkin - just pulling the stuffing up toward the top. This is optional since they are cute just as they are.


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Apply hot glue to the dried pumpkin stem and hold it while it dries.

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That's it! It takes about thirty minutes to make one and with the beautiful array of colors of silk velvet that's available, you can make them to match your decor. Because you're using real pumpkin stems, no two will look alike. So fun!

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Don't forget to save your pumpkin stems from this years jack-o-lanterns for next years elegant velvet pumpkins.

Encourage one another,

Suzanne


Tutorial Tuesday #7 Part Two - How to Make No Sew Velvet Pumpkins

Back in 2014 we made fabric covered pumpkins as a make-it take-it at Strawberry Patches during a fall shop hop. We went though cases of toilet paper (yup, that's the secret ingredient) and hundreds of fat quarters. To this day that was probably the most fun free project we ever did. 😍

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This year I decorated our main floor for fall using lots of velvet pumpkins

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but when I needed just a few more and our local gift shop had sold out, I remembered the cotton print pumpkins we made four years ago. Could I use that same technique using velvet?

The answer was yes! But I did learn a few things along the way that I wanted to share with you here just in case you want to make some.

Fabric:

Probably the single most important contributor to the success of your project is your choice of fabric. Because you will be building your pumpkin around a roll of toilet paper, and because you have to tuck the fabric into the opening of the cardboard roll, your fabric cannot be too heavy. If you are having trouble shaping your pumpkin or if you are struggling with getting all the raw edges into the paper core, your fabric is probably too heavy. You'll just need to experiment but go with the lightest weight fabric that you can.

Because I wanted my pumpkins to be in muted decorator colors (not fashion colors) I found the selection to be very limited. I found the pink blush velvet at Joann Fabric in the home decor section as well as the grey/dotted fabric shown in this post. They worked well but not as well as the white crushed velvet below.

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The white crushed velvet is called Panne by Glitterbug also from Joann. Real velvet is expensive and again, colors are limited so the search is on for next year for lightweight velvet with a slight stretch. For now, the Glitterbug Panne was the best choice. 

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Whatever fabric you decide on you will need about a 24" square of fabric (2/3 yard) to cover what I'm calling a large pumpkin. All the fabric that I used for this post was at least 58" wide so I could get two pumpkins from 2/3 yard. 

Stems:

I, by far, prefer natural dried pumpkin stems on my velvet pumpkins. The nice people at our local pumpkin patch just gave them to me. As I stated in the previous blog post I cut the stems from pumpkins that had been accidentally smashed in the field. You could also cut the stems from the pumpkins you purchase this year and store them for use next year. You must use dried stems only because green stems will mold and ruin your fabric. To dry the stems that I gathered this year I simply cut off all the flesh then baked them in a warm oven for a few days until they were totally dry. They will turn light brown and be very light and hollow sounding when tapped once the moisture is removed.

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I plan to store my left over stems for next year when I hopefully have a better selection of velvet to work with. One other good source for free natural stems is at the bottom of those big boxes that pumpkins are sold from. Usually merchants will give you broken off stems since they end up throwing them away.

If you don't have access to natural pumpkin stems you can use sticks, cinnamon sticks, twisted craft paper or sculpt stems from air dry paper clay.

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Embellishments:

This is where you can go just as crazy as you like. I've decorated some pumpkins for this post with milliners flowers

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as well as artificial flowers and berries purchased from places like Hobby Lobby and Joann Fabrics. (The stem below was made from air dried clay then painted).

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With the right stem I think they are beautiful just plain.

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One manufacturer sells 6" natural stem velvet pumpkins embellished with feathers for $80 each. Make no mistake about it, they are gorgeous, but way too expensive for my budget so making them myself was definitely the way to go for me.

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The photo above and below is of my mini pumpkin. (Directions below).

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Joann Fabrics has a wonderful selection of inexpensive feathers. My feathered velvet no-sew pumpkins cost less than $5 each to make and took only a few minutes to do.

Here's how:

Cut the corners off your 24" square of fabric. No need to make a circle since the edges will be stuffed into the cardboard core of the toilet paper. You just want to reduce the bulk a bit.

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Prepare your toilet paper roll by unwinding it a bit then re wrapping it loosely with the tissue you unwound. As I rewrapped the roll I twisted the paper every once in awhile to create volume. By adding the tissue back just to the very center of the roll you will be shaping it slightly, taking away the look of flat square sides. 

Sit the roll in the center on the wrong side of your fabric and add a few handfuls of fiberfill. I like to add a little to the bottom of the roll to create a nice round bottom. πŸ˜‚

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Then add more fiberfill to the sides and top, leaving the hole open on top.

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At this point I fill the paper core with stuffing beads to add weight. You could also use rice or beans, but remember we are going to enjoy our velvet pumpkins for years and don't want any critters munching on their insides. 😱

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Now you just start bringing the sides up and into the core. If you pick the roll up just slightly, the stuffing beads will fall to the bottom of the soon to be pumpkin and give you more room to stuff the fabric into the core. Continue poking the fabric into the core, all the way around, shaping as you go.

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Use chop sticks (I used kitchen shears) to poke the fabric into the hole and to shape your pumpkin.

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Once you are happy with the shape add the stem and embellishments.

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Here's and idea for smaller pumpkins. Just cut the height from a nearly empty TP roll. (I won't tell you where I was when this idea came to me). πŸ˜‚Then wrap it with more paper and some stuffing. It makes darling smaller pumpkins. 

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I'll thinking a paper towel roll would work too for a really huge pumpkin, you'll just need lots of fabric.

This technique is perfect for all ages and skill levels because there is absolutely no sewing involved and except for the embellishments, no gluing. I hope I've given you some fresh ideas and that you will share your creations and ideas with us here. Also I'd love for you to comment below if you know where I can find lightweight crushed velvet in home decor colors.

Until next time,

Encourage one another,

Suzanne

 


Tutorial Tuesday #7 Part One - The Tale of the Velveteen Pumpkin

The Tale of the Velveteen Pumpkin

There once was a farmer named Mister Johnson who planted a huge pumpkin patch in hopes that children would come from near and far with their families to pick the perfect fall pumpkin. He planted orange Jack-o-lantern pumpkins, pie pumpkins, some fancy ones called Fairy Tale and Rock Stars. There were white ones, spotted ones, ones with bumps, even black ones and some exotic ones called Heirlooms. Farmer Johnson faithfully watered his pumpkin crop and watched it grow. Soon there were thousands of big beautiful pumpkins and it was time to open the fields to the children. 

The pumpkins were all very competitive, each one thinking they were more beautiful than their neighbor.

Pick me, pick me they each thought.

"I'll make the most delicious pie," the pie pumpkins thought.

"Pick me." thought the big orange ones, "I'll make the scariest Jack-o-lantern."

"Pick me", said the Heirlooms," I'll decorate your front porch for the whole month of October". 

As the children ran through the field searching for the perfect pumpkin to cut and take home, some of the smaller pumpkins got kicked and stepped on. They began to split in the sun. Surely no one would want a pumpkin that was broken and spoiled. The other pumpkins made fun of the broken pumpkins. "Who will want you? Your seeds are showing. You stink!" The broken pumpkins were very sad, knowing what happens to pumpkins that don't find homes.

Then one day a lady came to the pumpkin patch, not looking for big beautiful, colorful pumpkins but for unusual stems. You see she was making velvet pumpkins that would last for years and wanted real pumpkin stems for her unique creations. As she walked through the field she realized that the stems from the pumpkins that had been kicked and stepped on were perfect for her special velvet pumpkins. She didn't care if their seeds were showing because she was going to use the stems for something much more beautiful and lasting than a Jack-o-lantern or porch decoration. Of all the thousands of pumpkins in the field, she chose only the less than perfect ones because they were perfect to her.

 

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The moral of the story is: We don't have to be perfect to be beautiful.

Next time I'll share all I've learned over the years in making no sew fabric pumpkins.

Encourage one another,

Suzanne

 


Tutorial Tuesday #6 - Playing with Paper

If you've been following me on Instagram (suzanne_zingg) you've probably noticed that I've been a bit obsessed with decoupage as of late.

It started with apples

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moved on to pumpkins

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then graduated to ice cream cups.

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My inspiration for these projects was from my favorite Halloween decorations by Nicol Sayre. I have cherished these two boxes for years and always look forward to displaying them at Halloween.

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So I picked up some plain paper mache boxes at Hobby Lobby and tried decoupaging them in Bethany's style.

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(The boxes are on sale this week at Hobby Lobby).

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I cut circles slightly larger than the boxes from chipboard (Michael's) for the bases

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and covered all the surfaces with paper by Tim Holtz (Michael's) using Mod Podge.

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I found the toppers at Hobby Lobby for $6.99 each. They only had two styles and they were intended to be ornaments so I pulled off all the ribbons and gave them new fancier, more vintage looking collars and hats.

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I think they make fun treat boxes for my Halloween table.

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The added paper appliques are also from Tim Holtz and found at Michael's (on sale this week). Of course I added vintage mismatched buttons and some doodads that I had in my stash.

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I used my sewing machine to gather the tulle and crepe paper streamers to make the ruffles.

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When  I found this witches hat at Hobby Lobby

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I thought, why not? So I covered it the same way

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and added ric rac, more buttons, black feathers, ribbon and tulle.

Did you know that witches sew? 

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Yup, they do and this one is a milliner. 

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Here's the back

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and a look at the inside. This one is just for decoration since unlike the boxes it doesn't hold anything.

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 Here are a few more shots of my ice cream cups. So fun.

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Instead of a base I cut a ring to go at the top of the cup.

Here's what the ice cream cup looked like before I started.

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After the top ring was glued in place, I decoupaged the whole thing inside and out (love this tissue paper from Hobby Lobby), added a crepe paper ruffle along with some vintage tinsel, then filled it with vintage looking mini ornaments.

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Once you've gathered the supplies, these are simple to make and take very little time to put together. You can bet I'll be on the lookout for toppers for Christmas treat boxes. In fact, my next project is to make the toppers myself using paper clay. I'll let you know how that goes.

I hope this inspires you to dig out the Mod Podge and give these a try.

Until next time... Hearts

...love you more than Mod Podge,

Suzanne