DIY Felt Bird’s Nest Easter Basket

DIY Felt Bird's Nest Easter Basket

If you’re bored with dying eggs, here’s the perfect way to have some crafty fun with the kids this Easter weekend. Make this super-cute felt bird’s nest to give your sweetie a few Easter delights of the chocolate or perhaps Peeps variety, or showcase a special Easter surprise. It’s easy, cheap, and darling to boot. What more could you ask?

What You’ll Need

  • 1 round cardboard oatmeal canister, or another round cardboard container of similar size (empty, please!)
  • 2 9-inch by 11-inch pieces of white wool felt, or whatever color you want your bird’s nest basket to be
  • 1 3-inch wooden embroidery hoop
  • White acrylic paint
  • A couple of clothespins or binder clips to briefly hold things together in lieu of third hand (if you do in fact have a third hand, please disregard)
  • Craft, fabric, or wood glue or hot glue gun
  • Sturdy craft scissors
  • A handful of polyester or cotton fiberfill or wool roving
  • Liquid acrylic ink if you want to dye your fiberfill a nice Easter-ish shade
  • Small paintbrush
  • Mason jar or other container with a tight-fitting lid good for vigorous shaking

Hand-Dyed Polyfill for DIY Felt Bird's Nest Easter Basket

First, Do This

Dye Your Stuffing

Note: If you have access to wool roving, you don’t need to worry about any of this dying stuff here, so just skip to the nest itself. Roving already comes in so many beautiful shades, there’s really no need to dye your own, and also, some neutral-colored roving like this would be perfect, I think, like the color of twigs. But if you don’t have any wool roving at the ready, read on for instructions on dying some ordinary fiberfill for your bird’s nest.

Hand-Dyed Polyfill for DIY Felt Bird's Nest Easter BasketIf you want to fill your bird’s nest with candy-hued fluff,  place a few drops of liquid acrylic ink (like Liquitex Ink) in a mason jar half-filled with water. Swish it all around for a few seconds till your dye is well mixed and just the shade you want. (Keep in mind that it will dry lighter, so go darker with the dye if you’re not sure.) Now take that handful of fiberfill and stuff it into the jar, smashing as needed so that most of it is submerged in the dye (don’t worry, it doesn’t all have to be covered). Don’t overstuff the jar. It needs room to splash around in there, and anyway, your final Easter basket won’t need all that much.

Now, MAKE SURE THE LID IS TIGHTLY—AND I MEAN IT, REALLY, REALLY TIGHTLY—SCREWED ON THE JAR. Sorry to have to yell like that. But I don’t want you to replicate the Great Easter Egg Dye Disaster of 2006.  I went through it so you don’t have to. I’m selfless that way, you know. And seeing as how the giant pot of dye in question was a beautiful dark pink, my kitchen still looks like a Civil War battlefield. So take it from me, screw the lid on tight. Whew. Ok, let’s move on, shall we?

Shake that jar like a maraca, and when you think the fiberfill is nice and wet, carefully open up the jar and poke in there with some tongs, or a fork, or a chopstick. Move the stuffing and separate to make sure the dye’s getting in the nooks and crannies. Close the lid very tightly again, and shake a little bit more.

Spread out some newspaper or paper towels on an old baking sheet. Pull your stuffing from the jar, slowly so that the extra dye drips back into the jar. Spread out the colored stuffing on the tray to dry. Give it a stir every now and then, and make sure it’s all dry before you use it. This might take a few hours, or overnight, depending on how often you stir it up and how much air circulation is going on.

Paint Your Hoops

Also, if you’re so inclined, you can slap a quick coating of white (or any color you like, really, we’re not judgy) acrylic craft paint on the wooden embroidery hoop, skipping the metal closure. You can choose to paint a color that will blend with your finished nest, or use a contrasting color to add another design element. Set it on a rack to dry before you move on to the nest-building. Make sure it is thoroughly dry, too, or you’ll have a nice sticky mess on your hands later.

Now, the Main Event

Oatmeal Canister[1]  Cut the oatmeal container across the diameter, about 3 inches from the bottom. Hang on to the part with the bottom. You can do what you like with the top part. That’s really between you and your oatmeal.

 DIY Felt Bird's Nest Easter Basket Tutorial

[2] Lay one piece of felt open flat and center the cut oatmeal container on top. Fold the felt around the cardboard container, covering the sides and tucking in the top. Fold the felt and overlap as necessary. Depending on the thickness of your felt, it will either stay folded inside the round container or keep popping back out in a manner clearly designed to drive you to drink—It’s ok, have a quick cocktail, we’ll wait. If it behaves perfectly, staying neatly in its place all on its own, no help required, like that older, smarter sister who always beat you at everything and got into Yale and Stanford and won’t let you forget it and thinks she’s sooo perfect, well then, get on with things. If not, at this point you might want to dot some craft or fabric glue on the underside of the felt and press it to the cardboard if your felt isn’t staying put. Further wrangle it into submission with a couple of judiciously placed clothespins, just for the time being. It’s ok if it doesn’t perfectly cover the whole container. Who wants perfection anyway, right? So boring. And also, we’ve got backup coming.

Slide Inner Hoop Around to Hold Felt[3] Once your glue is dry (this should only take a minute or two), remove the clothespins. Fold the second piece of felt in a bit of a funnel shape, bringing the edges up together, and push it down into the container.  Now, take the inner ring of the embroidery hoop (the one without the metal screw closure) and slide it down the over the container, encasing both pieces of felt. Stop at about the midpoint of your container. It should be snug enough to stay put there. Tuck any stray corners of felt inside to hold everything in place.

Add Outside Hoop to Basket | DIY Felt Bird's Nest Easter Basket TutorialNow, once you’ve got everything reasonably situated where you want it, slide the second, outer ring of the hoop over the first ring, and once again tuck any stray bits, folding, wrapping, and draping artfully so that the rings are mostly covered and it’s not too bunged up in one place or another. Now, grab hold of the two pieces of the ring’s metal closure and pull, pull, pull until they’re close enough to get the screw in. Screw the ring closed as tightly as you can without crushing your nest.

[4] That’s it, you’re done! Only the fun parts remain. Fill to your heart’s content with your stuffing of choice, and top it all with some treats for your sweets. Stand back and admire your creation, preferably with chocolate in hand.

DIY Felt Bird's Nest Easter Basket

Do I Choose the Crazy or Does It Choose Me?

It Does Not Do To Dwell On Dreams Dumbledore Quote Harry Potter

So, life went kerfflewwy there for awhile. A few weeks ago I found myself suddenly buried in work deadlines and hardly had time to come up for air. The little time I had away from work was, of course, consumed with family, and the puny leftovers went to other general unavoidable commitments of daily grownup life.  Oh, and did I mention that we’re moving in just a few short weeks? So, there’s that.

At first, I obsessively worried about this little blog, scheming about how I would squeeze in time to write some posts, sort through photos. I scribbled ideas (I have piles of these awesome blog planners filled with ideas for future post. Did I mention I’m a list-maker?), and filed them away, mentally and physically, where they grew tentacles of anxiety that threatened to bring my productivity to a screeching halt if I didn’t get a handle on it. And then I was struck by how quickly, over just a few short months, the blog had morphed being from a creative outlet and source of pleasure and to a pressing obligation, a source of stress and worry, another item on the endless mental to-do list.

Ugh. How on earth did this happen? To some degree, it grew from love. I dipped my toe in the blogorama and wasn’t sure how it would feel. But it was indeed love at first sight, and the blog became important to me. I was so annoyed with myself for feeling pressure about something that had been voluntary, pleasurable, and satisfying. A choice, in other words: the furthest thing from an obligation.

So I made another choice. I chose to stop worrying. I let it go, let it fly right out of my brain. Out of the tensed muscles in my neck and the spinning wheel of stress in my brain. Out the window, gone, gone, gone.

What a relief! I am frequently amazed by how I can transform choice into a requirement. I can sometimes feel locked into “have to’s” that I have entirely created in my mind. It seems to me that a lot of our modern-day obligations are just self-created illusions, and when we step out of the dance and get clarity, it’s shockingly obvious that we’re feeling bound up by our own perceptions. In reality, we don’t “have to” do so many of the things we think we do. We want to. Or maybe we don’t. Either way, we have a say in the matter. Not always, but way more often than it seems. This is not a new revelation for me, but it’s easy to lose sight of when you’re in the day-to-day of it all. I occasionally need to give myself a reminder slap to the forehead.

So I had to let go of the need to keep all those balls in the air, and I prioritized my focus. I had to remind myself that the blog would be here when I returned, and if I let go of the “have to,” it would still be a source of pleasure, as intended, and not the self-imposed cherry on top of my typical modern stressful life.

That’s just a really long-winded way of saying that I will be back with more posts, when I get around to it. Hopefully that will be soon. But if it’s not, I’m not going to beat myself up about it.

What about you? Do you have any tricks to keep your eyes on the prize? Or do you get weighed down by the “have to’s” also?

Do Men Have Mental To Do Lists Too?

Or, Things I Ponder As I Vacuum Cat-Hair Tumbleweeds At 3 AM

Because sometimes I wonder how many of my brain cells are used up with remembering how to properly load the dishwasher so it won’t stop halfway through its cycle again, that the field trip permission slip is due tomorrow, that the electric bill should be paid if we don’t want to live in a historically accurate 17th-century theme park, that we need to get a present for that wedding on Saturday… And will I ever get those brain cells back? If my husband carried an equal share of our collective family mental to-do list, would I regain enough brain cells and mental energy to be a rocket scientist, or Beyoncé? Because, as I near as I can tell, I am the sole repository for the shared history, future plans, and current logistical and practical needs of The Family. And pretty much every mom I know is the same. It’s a never-ending ticker tape of strategic planning and mobilization, obligations, worries, speculations, and dreams. There’s a roadmap to crazy in there, and I can’t always turn it off. It just runs in a loop in the background while I go about my life, like Muzak for the (hmm, nearly, almost, can-see-it-from-here) middle-aged mom.

So basically what I’m saying is, my brain looks like this:

Mental To Do List Infographic

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know the guys worry too. They worry A LOT about money and jobs and such. It’s not really the worry I’m talking about. That’s universal, I think. It’s the ongoing playlist of who needs to be where and when and what do they need to bring and what needs to happen first to make that work and DEAR GOD HOW DO I MAKE ALL THE PIECES FIT INTO MY PUZZLE!? That really, as near as I can tell, seems to be a mom thing. Guys I know just seem to assume all those logistical details will fall into place somehow. And I guess they do. Does that make me an enabler? Ah well, I can’t be resentful, since my own dear spouse regularly works 70-hour weeks at his incredibly stressful yet also often mind-numbingly boring job, and never, ever takes a sick day, and still manages to coach basketball and T-ball and go to scout meetings and engage in epic video-game battles and get down on the floor to build Lego masterpieces with his kid.

As for me and my ticker tape of crazy, I make lists. Then more lists, and lists of lists. And because I’m old school like that, I put actual pen to actual paper. I’ve tried lots of online listy things and it just doesn’t quite scratch the itch for me.

If it so happens that you are a crazy list-maker/worrier/planner like me, here’s a free printable (blank!) version of my daily planner sheet to download. Hopefully it will help you stuff all your crazy life pieces into your own too-small puzzle.

Sewthegirl Daily Planner

Once More, Into the Breach!

Boy Stuff

I was up until 1:30 am last night, then back at it at 6:00 this morning, feverishly sewing a Roman centurion costume for a school performance I only found out about 2 days ago. It’s a familiar story for most parents of school-age children, right? The cupcakes for the bake sale you’re told about at 7 am the day they’re due, the week-late forms found crumpled in the bottom of the backpack, coated in sticky remnants of snacks gone by. But you know what? It was so much fun! For once, we managed to get everything done on time, no one was crabby or overly critical or demanding. We scrounged up the components from stuff we already had around the house—a never-used, never-will-be-because-it’s-way-too-ugly-ugh-what-was-she-thinking-when-she-bought-me-that? belt; the handle from an old broom for the sword, with cardboard sword tip painted silver; sword’s sheath sewn with leather scraps leftover from a deconstructed coat.

As much as I love the precision of sewing, constructing an item with care and time, as much satisfaction as I get from (the rare instance of) sewing a perfect quarter-inch seam, nothing—I mean, nothing—comes close to the satisfaction of using my skills to make a slap-dash, better-than-it-should-have-been costume in a few hectic hours, sending the kid off to school with a hug and a grin, knowing that his unreasonable confidence that “My Mom can make that!” is, at least this time, true.

Stitch 1, Take 2

Desktop SurferOften in life there’s no way to it but through it. Let it be said: A first blog post is paralyzing. The white void of the blank page, the cursor blinking impatiently. Come on then, just do it! it says. And so I am.

Hello, Interwebs! Welcome to Sewthegirl. I’m just hanging out here on the corner of Responsibility and Creativity, doing a little sewing, a little crafting, and whatever else strikes my fancy, while trying to raise kids, take care of my family, juggle a day job, and maintain my sanity, one stitch at a time. So, what’s the next move? And did anybody bring a map?