Thursday, December 18, 2014

How to Make a Candle in Jar {A Lovely Gift!}

I am not certain why we do it to ourselves, but my husband and I always make homemade gifts for our neighbors/friends/siblings come Christmas time.

 I suppose it all began with our very first Christmas together . . . dirt poor college students, who could only afford to make muddy buddies for those we loved.

Looking back now, we have come a ways from muddy buddies.  But even if it came from a box of Chex Mix, each gift through the years has been made together, and given with all our love.

We are blessed with many friends and family, so every year we try to think of the most resourceful way to share the Holiday cheer.  This year, for us, it was a candle.

A few years ago, my Aunt (who used to be into candle making), was searching for a home for all her candle making supplies.  I guess she decided she was "burnt out".  

Apparently, the word was out, that I was a total craft hoarder.  So logically, it all got passed to us and we packed around a giant tote of candle making goodness for 3 house moves.

The hubs just about threw away the box, figuring I would never do anything with it.  Ha!  I was just waiting for the perfect time to become a candle maker (because I need another hobby).

In this box, were chunks and chunks of wax (ya, I still have some left) and all the supplies we would ever need.  When I saw these sweet little milk bottle jars online, I was certain they would make the cutest little candles filled with white wax.

In my minds eye, it would look like they were filled with milk cream, fresh from the farm.  Most importantly - in my minds eye - they would be so fun to photograph!

A sweet little jar that holds still when I ask, always looks its best, and will wear simple white without complaining or getting dirty.  A mothers dream.

So after trying our hand at 40 something candles, we've packaged them up and they are ready for our annual, driving-around-until-the-kids-get-super-tired-and-cranky, night of fun!

I had so much wax left still, I couldn't resist pouring the extra's into some blue Ball canning jars as well.  A little something more for our Mom's and super special friends (okay, okay . . . and one for myself).

Joann's had the perfect star lid, to top it off.

So this candle making business, was really easier then it looked.  Though we did learn a few vital things along the way, which I would love to share!

Just in case you find the perfect little jar, and a tote of wax to go with it!

I'll tell you the supplies you will need to make your candle, and also how to package it like shown above.  The amounts will vary according to the size of your project.

Candle Making Supplies:
  • Candle Making Wax
    •  I've read that soy wax is the cleanest to burn, however, we used what we had.
  • Glass Jar
    • So many choices!  We found ours here, online.  The blue jars were found at Joann's Fabric.
  • Wick
    • We used the types of wicks with the metal stoppers already attached to the bottom.
  • Toothpick or pencil
    • To hold the wick in place.
  • Something to protect your work surface
    • I used a piece of clear vinyl over our countertops.
  • Metal pot
    • Wax melts the best in a metal pot, but you will need to set up a type of double broiler method, as the pot with the wax in it should not be directly touching the heat source.
1.  First determine how much wax you will use (total guess work on our part).
2.  If it is not already in small chunks, you will need to break it up.  My husband took a hammer to it with the wax in a garbage bag.
3.  Place the wax in the metal pot.  Put the metal pot inside another metal pot, filled half way with warm water.
4.  Turn your stove-top on high, until the water begins to boil.  Then turn it down to medium to maintain a gentle rolling boil.


5.  While the wax is melting, prepare your glass jar.
6.  Center the wick inside the jar, with a toothpick or pencil holding it in place.

7.  Once the wax is completely melted, carefully pour the hot wax into the jars trying not to drip down the sides.

Quick Tip:  We learned this the hard way.  You will actually need to do a second pour, once the first pour has completely cooled and hardened.  So do not fill it all the way to where you want it to be during the first pour.  Leave at least a 1/2 inch or so.

The reason for this is, a "sink hole" will form by the wick, especially likely if your jar curves at all.  You will need to fill it in and top it off with the second pour.

This will ensure that you have a solid and even top.

8.  Let your wax cool completely before use.

Finally, the last step is optional.  We chose to light each candle briefly to have the wick blackened before gifting the candle.  This was total visual preference for me.

But you could also leave the wick looking new.

To package our small candle, we set up a mini packaging station.

It consisted of:
1.  The Candle
2.  Small clear plastic bag (purchased at any craft store)
3.  Shredded paper pieces (any craft store)
4.  A small tag/label (with a message of choice)
5.  Hemp rope
6.  A candy cane

We hole punched our labels and cut our string to size, to begin with.  Then my little helpers stuffed a handful of shredded paper into each bag, while I placed the candle inside the bag and tied it shut with the string.


Then I slid the label onto the string and began another knot.  Before I closed the knot securely, I slid a candy cane into it.


And that's a wrap!

Here are the links to some of the previous "neighbor gifts" we have gifted through the years (minus the muddy buddies).


Friday, December 12, 2014

How to Make a Stocking from an Old Sweater

With the year almost coming to a close, I find myself reflecting on 2014.

It's been a wonderful year.

It has been a year of UPS and DOWNS for my family and I.

The UPS have been soooo up!!  

And the DOWNS have been . . . well . . . a bit down.

But there is something about reflecting on it all, that makes you so grateful for all the challenges and the wonderful blessings.  When all is said and done, you realize how perfectly all those challenges and blessings worked so closely together to give you a beautiful new perspective on life.

Any way - one of our best UPS was a sweet new addition to our family.  A new child means - a new stocking!!

But not just any stocking.  This addition had to flow with the rest of the families stockings.

(To see more of our Christmas Decor, go here.)

Which meant a trip to the thrift store to find an unwanted chunky knit sweater.  And I found just the one I've been hoping to find.

Actually, I found two, because I wanted this stocking to have a bit of a contrasting top.

I used the hem of a brown sweater, and the front and back of a white knit sweater to create this up-cycled stocking.

It totally looks like I know how to knit (psst - I totally don't!).

But this stocking fits in perfectly with the others, which I also made cutting apart thrifted sweaters.  (See the original post here).

So head to your local thrift store, or dig through your closet - because I am going to show you how to make this fully lined stocking, with a fold-over cuff out of an old sweater.

You'll be amazed how easy it is!

(To see details of our DIY flocked tree, go here)

I've added a couple of yarn pom pom's, but you can embellish it any way you would like!

Here is what you will need:

  • 1 thrifted or unwanted knit sweater for the main section (or 2 if you want to use a different style for the cuff - but this isn't necessary).
  • Lightweight fusible interfacing (about 3/4th to 1 yard, depending on the size of your stocking)
  • Lightweight cotton fabric for the lining (just enough to cut the shape of your stocking twice).
  • Any embellishments you would like.
  • Ribbon, cording, or any type of string to use to hang the stocking.
Be sure to wash and dry your sweater (if it is thrifted, you just don't know where it's been!).  This will also shrink the yarn fibers as tight as they will go.

Next, you need to create a stocking pattern.  I simply traced an old stocking on paper, added 1/2 inch of seam allowance, and cut it out.

Lay your pattern on your sweater, with the top of the stocking matching up with the hem of the shirt.  (if you are using the hem of this sweater as the cuff of your stocking as well, I suggest lining the pattern up in the center of the sweater and cut off the section you want to use for the cuff.  Look ahead to the directions for the cuff, before you cut into your sweater, and it should make more sense).

Be sure any pattern on your sweater is where you want it to be for the stocking.

Cut through both front and back layers of the shirt around your stocking pattern.

Cut out 2 pieces of fusible interfacing, in the shape of your stocking.  Press them onto the wrong sides of the stocking.  This is pretty important if you want to hold the shape of your stocking well.  Knit sweaters tend to stretch significantly if you try to sew on them without the interfacing to hold it together.

Pin the stocking, right sides together, and sew around leaving the top open.

Press your seams and turn the stocking right sides out.

Make your lining by cutting  2 pieces of the lightweight cotton fabric from the same stocking pattern.

Pin it, right sides together, and sew around just as you did previously with the knit sweater section.

Press the lining seams open, and insert the lining into the stocking, with wrong sides together.

To make the fold-over cuff, you need to cut the hem section off of another sweater (or the same sweater) with about an inch extra from what you want to use.

Cut the cuff to match the length of the top of the stocking.

Sew the open end(s) closed, right sides together.

Now you are going to slide the cuff into the stocking, with the hem facing towards the bottom, and the right side of the cuff section facing the right side of the lining.

Line up the top raw ends and pin all 3 layers evenly together.

(Also note, It would be best to insert the ribbon, or whatever you have selected to use as the hanging part of the stocking, into these layers and sew it in.  I didn't do that in this step, and had to hand sew it in).

Sew around the top of the stocking, with at least 1/2 inch seam allowance.  If desired, serge or finish the raw edges.

Fold over the cuff to the outside of the stocking, and press the seam.

I used some braided fabric as my hanging section, and hand stitched it in place at this point.

I also made some yarn pom-poms (great tutorial for that here) and tied them together at the top.

Then I simply hot glued them in place under the cuff.

And that completes your re-purposed sweater stocking!

So many possibilities!