Archive for the ‘tutorials’ Category

TUTORIAL: DIY Ink/Paint Holder


I made this and shot pictures like 2-3 years ago. I just discovered it while cleaning up images on my desktop (which is a hot mess) and figured I would share. I’m sure it’s been done various other places, but I need to cross this off my list so here we go.


I found myself wanting small jars for mixing custom ink colors in gouache (for calligraphy, but works for any aqueous media) and then tipping them over. Constantly. We replaced the flooring in my studio not long ago because of how horribly stained it got. Also, I hate carpet.

So I made this little ink tray. You may want to, too.



Cut down your block to 12″ wide. Sand the edges so they’re smooth to the touch.


Mark out every inch along the board with a pencil. Optional: create an indent with the tip of the screw so your bit won’t slip around as you start the process.


Measure how deep you want the drill to go and tape it off. This will allow you to have consistent heights when you put your jars in the board.


Drill away! Go slowly and make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area with protective glasses.


Admire your handywork!


Use the sticky tack to apply to the bottoms of your jars so they don’t move around. it also helps tilt the jars when the ink gets low.

This tutorial or freebie is free for personal use and should not be distributed/republished without the express consent of Melissa Esplin. I love getting shout outs from around the web, but please, link with love. You may publish 1 photo along with credit back to the original post. If you would like to use this tutorial or freebie for commercial purposes, please email me. Thanks!

Sewing Style: Floral Two-toned Shift Dress

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I live in this dress. It’s comfortable enough to throw on and chase the kids all day, but it’s nice enough for a date night out.

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I originally bought this fabric (Mood!) like 3 years ago on a girls’ weekend to L.A. fabric district. We each bought a yard of this gorgeous fabric to see what we would do with it. I was so nervous to cut into the fabric, I ended up tying it around my waist and joking with a “no sew” tutorial. To see what everyone else did with the fabric, click here.

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Just before leaving for Hawaii back in May, I decided it was time to do something about that yard. I didn’t have enough yardage to make a dress knee length, so I got creative and color blocked the top to give me a little extra room at the hem. I didn’t want it to look like I just pieced a top and a bottom there. I sliced and diced Megan Nielsen’s Briar tee pattern. I raised the neckline a touch and pieced the front and back. Piecing isn’t as hard as you might think. Especially if it’s in straight lines. It’s easiest if you have some tracing paper. I like to use large sheets of tracing paper from a roll (you can get them in 24″, 36″ and 48″ widths). See below for the full tutorial.

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We had so fun at the photo shoot that I forgot to get a straight on back shot of the dress so here’s one flat from my studio.

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Sewing the ‘v’ together was a little tricky since I didn’t want any puckering to occur (go slow!), but I tell you, using two knit fabrics for piecing like this is a lot easier than piecing two woven fabrics together. There’s a lot more wiggle room. Literally.

how to color block-01

First things first, you’ll need:

For this, I used a pattern piece from the Briar Sweater pattern. This technique works on any pattern piece.


how to color block-02

Draw a line where you want your color blocking to happen. Drawing directly on the flat pattern how you want the pattern piece to look and where you want the seam to fall.

Then slip the pattern piece under the tracing paper and trace each section carefully. Transfer markings and information.

THEN ADD SEAM ALLOWANCE. You’ll add the same seam allowance to your color blocking lines as the pattern calls for. Write those seam allowances on the pattern pieces.

how to color block-03

Cut your fabric pieces out and align right sides together from the top corner to the middle. Pin at the pivot point.

Sew up to the pivot point and release your presser foot while keeping the needle in the fabric. Align the remaining fabric pieces and pin. Continue your line.

how to color block-04

Here’s the key: press your seam and top stitch the seam allowance to that side. I chose to stitch the seam allowance pointing upwards because of the fabric choices it just looked better.


Now sew your pieces together as directed in the sewing pattern. DONE!

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View More: details:

  • hat and bracelets: c/o Tai Pan Trading
  • necklace: handmade (tutorial)
  • dress: handmade by me! using Briar tee pattern
  • shoes: Toms
*This tutorial is free for personal use and should not be distributed/republished without my consent. Altering any files is NOT ALLOWED. If you would like to use this freebie for commercial purposes, please email me. Thanks!

DIY: Simple Rope Necklace Tutorial


It’s unreal how long I’ve had this DIY in the queue.


I made these necklaces back in 2013, just before I went to L.A. for a girls’ weekend. Back when I made this, I had an idea for a giant rope necklace, but didn’t have any giant rope. Turns out you can find this type of stuff in the upholstery section, but making your own rope is hyper fun. And insanely easy.


It adds a little bit of quirkiness, but it doesn’t look nearly as home made as it is. I love that.


For the simplest of necklaces, here’s what we’ll need:

  • Cotton twine: any kind (I found mine at Home Depot)
  • scissors
  • tape
  • jump rings
  • chain (16+ inches)
  • pliers

Click the link to see the full tutorial.


3 Fun Things To Do With Bleach: Tissue Paper

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3 fun things to do with bleach. The perfect last-minute craft you can do with your kids in-time for Mother’s day. Wouldn’t an artistic tee or apron be the perfect gift for grandma? Click here to see all the posts in this series.


Jazz up some plain tissue paper with spritzes of bleach!


Grab an old toothbrush, dip in bleach and spray onto the ends of the tissue paper. It works best on dark colored papers. I love black tissue paper. It works well for EVERY occasion.


Allow paper to dry (2-3 minutes) before stuffing in a gift bag. Be sure to spray bleach in a well ventilated area!! If you’re DIYing with kids, make sure at least one adult is supervising at all times!

3 Fun Things to do With Bleach: Gift Tags

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3 fun things to do with bleach. The perfect last-minute craft you can do with your kids in-time for Mother’s day. Wouldn’t an artistic tee or apron be the perfect gift for grandma? Click here to see all the posts in this series.


The great thing about these posts is that you likely have everything you need for this project! It’s super fun to do and it’s exciting to see the message unfold like a polaroid picture. You just might be tempted to shake the tag as you wait for the design to dry.

  • Bleach
  • Round Brush
  • Scrapbooking Paper

You may need to have an assortment of papers to test to see if they’ll react to the bleach. My Mind’s Eye Heavyweight Cardstock did very well.


It’s easier to just show you how it works in a quick GIF. Dip the brush in bleach (straight bleach works well*) and write! You’ll see the paper change as it dries. Be sure to rinse the brush in water after you’re done.


Create a bunch of reasons why you love your mom with a bunch of tags! I love how the color varied with each stroke.

Be sure to create this DIY in a well-ventilated area!! If you’re DIYing with kids, make sure at least one adult is supervising at all times!

*I experimented with different consistencies of bleach. I made the mistake of adding gum arabic to the bleach and created some chlorine gas! I noticed the solution in the jar started to foam at the surface and get warm. I quickly took it outside and watched the mixture boil. After a call to poison control, I realized what I had done. I didn’t make nearly enough to cause damage to my lungs (thank heavens), but I wouldn’t advise doing anything like that. I’ve read tutorials on thickening bleach with corn starch, but that’s still mixing an acid with a base. You may want to try toilet bowl cleaner with water until you reach your desired consistency (an idea I got from my aunt). STILL, use extreme caution and care around bleach.

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