DIY Letter-Stenciled Drawstring Bags

We're delighted to have gift wrapping expert Corinna vanGerwen visiting today with a fantastic DIY idea using our new drawstring bags.

While these little drawstring bags are cute as is, they’re also the perfect blank canvas for fun DIY projects. Here I used craft paint and adhesive letters (found at an office supply store) to stencil a light-hearted message onto the bags. This is a great way to make unique party favours or personalize a gift.

First, cut a piece of cardboard to fit snugly inside the bag. This will give you a smooth surface for attaching the stickers, and will keep the paint from bleeding through to the second side. You may want to tape plastic wrap or wax paper around the cardboard; I didn’t and found that the fabric stuck to the cardboard a bit after painting.

Next, attach stick-on letters in your choice of message, or try the recipient’s initials. To get the letters straight and evenly spaced, use a ruler and pencil to measure and create guides. Firmly press down to make sure the letters are securely attached.

When ready, squeeze a line of paint along the bottom edge of the bag, then use a brush to spread the paint upward toward the top of the bag, creating a fading, feathered edge. Brush in only one direction. Add paint as needed, and be sure to fill in all the corners around the letters.

Let dry, then remove letters and cardboard. Your bag is ready to fill!

Gift wrapping consultant Corinna vanGerwen provides gift wrapping services, training and workshops in Toronto. For more of Corinna's gift wrapping ideas, visit her over on the Corinna Wraps blog, sign up for her monthly Gift Wrapping Newsletter, connect via Twitter or get inspired via Pinterest.

Send Pretty Mail #17 - Upcycled Packaging

Our love for this fun packaging only pales in comparison with our love for the flip flops that came in it! It simply needed to be upcycled into something else - so why not envelopes? That's the fun of having envelope templates on hand, anything can be turned into pretty mail!

Washi tape stripes & triangles for added interest.

Why send one envelope when you can send three?

Small Japanese "pochi" envelopes are perfect for slipping small treats into and can be reused by the recipient.

Into one I slipped origami cranes folded from packaging scraps.

And into the other, instructions for folding paper cranes and paper squares. Spreading the origami love! You can learn how to fold an origami crane here.

Want to receive some pretty mail in YOUR mailbox? Send me a note at with your mailing address and a little something about yourself. I'll be making a list and choosing new friends to send mail to each month. And don't worry if you don't hear back from me right away - if you send your info, you should find a pretty piece of mail headed your way some time this year!

DIY Upcycled Dino Toy Necklaces

Since it's Earth Week, I thought it was the perfect time for Jenelle from TrashN2Tees to drop by and inspire us to rethink before we recycle (or even trash) something. Here's a fun activity to use up those toys that are always underfoot. Wouldn't this be a fun family activity?

I want to thank Marisa for the invitation to come by Omiyage for some Earth Week fun! I'm Jenelle, a recycling & repurposing revolutionary changing the way we consume and create. I love coming up with creative and fun ways to upcycle or repurpose items we might otherwise throw away- in fact I'm developing a mobile app for that. Did you know that 70% of the items in our landfills today can be reused or recycled? It's sad but true.

Today's tutorial is Anthropology and chore chart inspired. You see, as a mom of 2 rascals, my boys know that if your toys aren't picked up they stand the chance to be upcycled by me. And that's exactly what happened!

Materials Needed: 

  • small plastic animal toys
  • misc sewing trim, sequins, ribbons
  • jewelry findings (optional: I disassembled broken jewelry I had here and used jump rings, beads, and end caps)
  • E600 Glue or hot glue gun
  • craft paint 
  • eyelet screws (available at your local craft store)
  • necklace chain 

Does this make my tail look big?

I used the lace trim, folded in half, and used a basting stitch to cinch it together. Glue into place around dinosaur belly!

Here you can see how dolled up she gets, and finished off with an eyelet screw in the back. The necklace was made up of a large jump ring with silver (diamond) sequins, crowns consisted of small beads glued together or bead caps upside down. I didn't have any on hand but you could also use flower beads upside down with a seed bead glued on top to make party hats.

I love 3 things about this project,
1.) No more stepping on sharp pointy dinosaur booty
2.) Scrap busted fabric, broken jewelry, toys, and a gold bread tie
3.) My boys joined in and had too much fun helping!

Now I do like to spice up my wardrobe with some funky finds, and these might be a little 'too much' for you thats okay! I left a few naked dinosaurs alone. Maybe one day I'll spray paint them and cover in glitter but until then I triple dog dare you to wear a naked dinosaur too!

When I'm not rescuing abandoned toys, I'm found behind the sewing machine. I would love for you to find out more about my 100% recycled clothing designs at Trashn2Tees  and learn more about my commitment to change the way we consume and create on the blog & through the Create Change Movement.

Handmade Find - Fashion. love, Africa

How fantastic are these bags from Fashion. love, Africa?

Each bag is handwoven out of used plastic bags by women who live in the Gioto Garbage Slum in Kenya. $25 from each purchase goes directly towards sending children from the slum to boarding school and helps to break the cycle of poverty.

You can read more about the story and the people behind the bags here.

Shop Update

Has it been really quiet around here, or is it just me?!

Thankfully it's just been a busy week prepping new items for the shop - pop over & see what's fresh!

Handmade Find - The Link Collective

I have a bit of an obsession with furoshiki - Japanese wrapping cloths - and The Link Collective's are particularly fantastic. Great contemporary design combined with traditional Japanese craftsmanship is never a bad thing, right? The large sized furoshikis can be used as scarves, for wrapping gifts, for carrying all manner of objects. Add one of Link's leather straps, and you can even turn one of these multi-taskers into a purse!

Check out the full collection in their etsy shop. Discover different ways to tie a furoshiki. Connect via Facebook or Twitter.

Neon Triangle Patterns

Here's another way to wrap it pretty - create patterns on kraft paper bags with neon triangle stickers.
Modern + crafty + fun!

The neon stickers are a great new addition to the shop and aren't just great for making patterns - they're also a perfect size for sealing a paper bag or envelope, or for use as labels!

Wonderful Washi Patterns

Since we're all about pattern this week, thought we'd sneak you a peek of the new tapes heading into the shop shortly. They just arrived today but we'll let you know once they're in the shop. For more pics,  visit us on instagram!

Which design is your favourite?

Send Pretty Mail #16 - Neon + Glitter

Neon is such a fickle beast when it comes time to take her picture - but rather than fight with the camera or spend eons editing these photos, these lackluster images of a pretty fantastic piece of mail are what you're going to get!

Shocking pink & turquoise & neon green glitter tape play on a basic white envelope.

Tiny triangle tape confetti add dimension to a bright pink bow. Insert address here!

Tucked inside, some of our new (well, soon to be new) neon triangle stickers and, my favourite, index cards glammed up with a little tape action.

The back of this envelope is having even more front than the back. All sealed up with more glitter tape and she's ready to fly off someplace far away!

I took a bit of an Instagram poll on neon love and it seems like neon in crafting is in, but wearing it is kinda out. But maybe that's the opinion of those of us who've lived through neon (and hyper colour) before?
How about you? What's your take on neon?

Want to receive some pretty mail in YOUR mailbox? Send me a note at with your mailing address and a little something about yourself. I'll be making a list and choosing new friends to send mail to each month. And don't worry if you don't hear back from me right away - if you send your info, you should find a pretty piece of mail headed your way some time this year!

Eye Candy - Fric de Mentol

Portuguese artist Ana Raimundo creates the loveliest things for her shop Fric de Mentol. Gocco prints and paintings and gorgeous embroidery and more. Heavily influenced by nature and her own nomadic lifestyle, Ana's works are full of quirk. How can you not fall (veggie) head over heels in love with her characters? I'm particularly enamoured with her Big Headed Women!

See more of Ana's work in her Etsy shop and connect with the artist via Facebook or Flickr.

Covet Garden & DIY Cards

The latest Covet Garden is out today and I love everything about it from this month's home to the projects to the round-ups. L-O-V-E! Like these DIY pop-up cards. How sweet are they? You'll have to click over and read the issue to find the how-to.

Have you heard of Covet Garden? It's a monthly Toronto-based online magazine which features a look inside one home per month. Real lived-in homes vs the super-styled ones featured in regular design mags. It's a gem!