Monday, December 20, 2010

Man Gift Five - Gobble, Chew, Slurp

While I've been doing a bunch of stuff I can't blog about (sneaky giftie stuff). It's gotten to be only two big sleeps until The Fat Man In Red arrives. (2! How?) Which could mean EITHER that it's time to freak out and panic. OR that it's the perfect time to whip up some last minute edible gifties. OR BOTH! (yay for multi-tasking.)
These edible gifties are my Ma's contribution to the Man Gifts canon. Which is a a GOOD thing; because while my cooking is distinctly average, my mum's is EXTRAORDINARY. (Dinner party for 25? Done. Baking for the local cafe? NO PROBLEM. Deliciousness in general? BINGO!)
Also, there's a good chance that anybody who has tastebuds will like these. So they're not man exclusive.
Hokay. First up is...

Chocolate nut and fruit squares
150g milk chocolate
150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
100g butter
4 T golden syrup (or corn syrup)
75 g blanched almonds roughly chopped
50 g dried cherries OR cranberries OR giant raisins
75 g BROKEN graham wafers not crushed
100 g white chocolate broken into pieces (do not melt)
grease and line an 18 cm pan (you could stick it in the freezer while you're making the goodies)
Put the first 4 ingredients into a heat proof bowl, melt in microwave or OVER saucepan of simmering water. Mix well until smooth.
Add 2/3 of each of the other ingredients, pour into pan.
Scatter remaining ingredients over the top.
Chill until solid.
Turn out and cut into squares.
For variation use toasted pecans instead of almonds
use wafer biscuits instead of digestives or use gluten free cookies

Sounds good right? Also easy.And you could round the giftie with some savoury snacks. Spicy ones. num.

Spicy Pumpkin Seeds
2 cups raw pumpkin seeds (the hulled ones)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp salt
1 T lime juice
Heat oven to 375c.
Toss all the ingredients together in a bowl and then spread on a baking sheet
Bake, shaking the pan once or twice until lightly browned 5 - 7 minutes. You'll need to watch these. Like a HAWK. A hawk with a monacle and an interest in spicy pumpkin seeds.
Cool, store in jars.
Only make these 1 or 2 days in advance of giving. So nowish would be perfect! You could stick these in plastic bags and pop a topper over them. Perhaps this one here? (Rudolph loves him some chilli).

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A $12 Rental Bathroom Makeover (again)

Way back when, ooou a squillion (ok like, 3) years ago, I had a rental bathroom that I hated. And while my first choice was to SACK IT LIKE CARTHAGE. I didn't. (I'm restrained, see!)
Instead I used $20 dollars worth of dollar store stuff. And I fixed it. You can read all about it right here. But here're the previous before and after shots:
We still have that same rental bathroom; but since then we've had a new bath and shower and tiles put in. But the hideous early 60's sliding door'd cabinet is a keeper apparently.
SO, that's the backstory. On Wednesday night I was whipping around the dollar store for supplies (adhesive photo-magnet backing, but that's a different post) and I spotted some sticky mirrors and had a lightbulb moment.
So, I picked up.
3 self adhesive mirrors- $2 a piece
4 plastic placemats - 2 for a dollar
3 new hand towels -$1 each
a lidded glass jar - $1
AND a big sheet of vinyl butterfly wall sickies - $2
Total = $12
The first thing I did was cut the placemats to size to use as new sliding doors, then I just stuck them over the same backing I used before (the skinny for that is here).
Big change already, and it took all of about 5 minutes.

Now, the slidey doors don't really need handles; but I happen to have some pushpins (you know, the kind for corkboard?) in the shape of teeny weeny birdies. I bought them 4 years ago from the dollar store but I've never used them for anything even though I LOVES them. Anyhow, I stuck them through the new doors and secured them with a tiny spot of Mighty Putty (like off the teeeveeeee!) Et voila. Door handles.

Then I gave the wall a quick clean and dry and stuck my new mirrors on. I was worried about how sticky they were but the answer is DUDE. PRETTY STICKY. So I lined them up careful like, and bam, another big change (If you're a renter and need to undo the stickiness, try giving stuff a blast with a hairdryer before peeling it off).

Next up I needed storage, so I dragged in some metal flowerpot buckets from the balcony(they were originally form the dollar store, anybody else sensing a theme emerging here?), and stuck stuff in them. Tubby toys? BINGO. Hairbrushes? YUP.)

I also popped stuff like Pointy Metal Objects and hair bungees in the little jar I got. Then bunged a bit o' ribbon round it.

Next really big thing was the shower curtain. I have only just recently got over the opaque shower curtain = certain death by serial killer fear that's plagued me for years. (Thanks Hitchcock you big, jowly, jerk).
Anyhow, I happened to have a piece of fabric in my stash that I love a ridiculous, paralyzing amount. My ma brought it home for me from Sardinia when she was there ( I know right!) and it's a pink and paisley patterned cotton and it feels BLOODY GLORIOUS.
But I love it so much I couldn't decide what to do with it. At all. And it's just been sitting there in the drawer. So I whipped it out, folded it over and used a handful of safety pins as curtain hooks and stuck it over top of the shower curtain we had up already. Now I get to see it everyday and I can still make something out of it next summer. And when my chums ask if I'm wearing a shower curtain I'll be all "YAH I AM!".

OK, back to the bathroom. The last thing I did was scatter butterflies all over the joint. I wanted it to look like one of those Victorian specimen boxes had come to life and gone nuts in there. And just so you know, random is HARD for me. I am a Person Who Likes Symmetry; but I like how they turned out more.

And that would be that. One bathroom. Half an hour. $12.
In case you're curious, this is what is written on the door (um, prolly best not to look too close at the pictures if you're easily offended, the girls there are Edwardian nudey shots (100 year old porn!), a gift from my sis and the start of a my collection)

And lastly, I just wanted to say something on the subject of renting; we've been in our current apartment for 4 years and a few days. Which you guys, has gone RIDICULOUSLY fast. We never really intended to be here for so long, and there are/were plans for buying a place. But you know how it is right? In addition to the Insecure Jobmarket Two-Step we've been dancing a few rounds of the Visa Application Tango. I know my sweetie is eager to get our own place but our lives here have been brilliant so I'm not in a hurry.

sneak peekery

You guys! Want to see a sneak peek of my new bathroom do over?

Pink! Black and white florals! Glass with grosgrain ribbons! Shiny new mirrors and my TOTALLY favorite part... BUTTERFLIES! (also tiny weeny birds!). It's so girly! My sweetie looked a little bemused when when I yelled for him to come look (I didn't tell him I was doing it), but he says he likes.
The best part? Half an hour and $12. And job done.
It's the second project I've done today that came out as well as I hoped it would. SO yay for productive days.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Man Gift Four - Eye Eye Captain!

These are more of a silly-thing-stocking-stuffer than an actual giftie, and I feel kind of cheaty calling this a tute. BUT I've given these to a bunch of people for various occasions and they're grin-inducing. So onto the list they go!


Yup. That's it.
You grab a bag of googly eyes (I got mine from the dollar store), a handful of magnets (also from the dollar store) and some strong glue.
It's a good idea to stick your magnets to something metal before you apply the eyeballs, to make sure you're putting the eye on the wrong (repelling) side of the magnet. Next add a spot o' glue and an eyeball, then let them dry for a good while.
And that's it.
Presentation wise, you can stick them on bit of card with a face on it. And voila, anthropomorphic EVERYTHING! Is it a microwave? NO! it's Sir Nukesalot! Is it a fridge? No! it's MR. FRIDGE! Is it...

I've also made sticker versions. You can buy eyes with adhesive on the back already, but I use double-sided scrapbooking foam mount (cut into circles slightly smaller than the eyes) which means they can be stuck onto uneven surfaces. Like this:

And all of these.
I'd just like to note that the stickies are removable and don't damage surfaces, so while this might look like a spot of vandalism, technically it's more sort of Littering With Intent. (and I never mess with things that might compromise other folks safety, like warning signs or fire hydrants.)

Made of Weird

My kid is pretty bizarro. And it makes me ridiculously happy.

I suspect that this guy might have been the problem.

"mmmm... shoes"

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Shiny, lucky (and kinda rambly)

You guys! This weekend has been super shiny and awesome. With tree acquiring and salt dough and tree trimming and bunting making and friends and dinner and cocktail hat making and and secret santa-ing and a hors d'oeuvre and 25 people squeezed in here. SHINY I tells you!

The tree was acquired early Friday morning from City TV's Charity Tree Deal. Whereby the kids at City fill up Dundas Sq with Christmas trees (and this year a SUPER jaunty tenor choir - LOVED those guys) and sell Christmas trees to raise money for The Food Bank. Which just works for me on a bunch of different levels. Firstly of all, the getting up early and walking down there, all bundled up makes it seem like an occasion. And the square smells so GOOD. And we get our tree and we get to make a donation to a charity that's a pretty big deal for me.
As an aside, can you imagine how difficult it would be to have to worry about something as basic as feeding yourself or your family? I'm IMMENSELY grateful never to have been in that position; but you guys, I feel like all that is is luck.
Where was I?
OH YAH! My sweetie carried the tree home two and a half city blocks for us, hoisted over his SHOULDER. And oooh la la but that man looks good getting his lumberjack on. Mouth-dryingly yum. Then of course we had to grump and wrangle about where exactly we were going to put it. (I won!).
The bear was WIGGLY with excitement about the whole process. And was an enormous help putting the lights on the tree. He's available for a modest fee if you're looking for a short blond to help out by standing on wires and cooing
"Izz so boot-a-wul (beautiful). You see? you see? Ours tree is Boot-a wul!"

Next came a foray into the unknown for me. We made salt dough! I'd never done it before, but I saw the how-to over at Aunt Peaches (have you been over there? YOU SHOULD! Really, she makes beautiful stuff, but even better, her writing is extraordinary; I went for the paper flowers and stayed for the laugh-out-loud-with-a-dash-of-heartbreak storytelling. I'm a fan.)

Anyhow, the bear and I whipped up a batch of salt dough gingerbread chaps. Only some genius (me) decided to add a bit of food colouring to the dough. They turned out the same anemic, fleshy pink as my legs after a long winter. Not cool. Creepy in fact. Like a trayful of nekkid faceless people. But we painted them a nice gingerbready colour on Friday night and we're all agree to never mention it again.

On friday night I also made a bit of bunting,

And some smooching paper birds.

And Saturday morning the bear and I made craft paper gingerbread guys to decorate for our secret santa shindig.

And lastly I got WAY overdressed for that self same party. See:

And I made a cocktail hat! Well technically I stuck 3 dollarstore coasters on a dollarstore headband and painted them black. But I'm totally calling it a cocktail hat! See:

It was a fun time. And you guys are all invited for Our New Year's Soiree!

Hey as an aside, I worry a bit about sounding smug when I write about the nice stuff in my life. BUT, I AM lucky and writing it down helps me remember that I am, and it helps me to pluck the shiny, awesome moments out of the drab ones. That said, I TOTALLY won't be offended if you skip the Lucky Me posts!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Monster? Owl? Rabbit?

You guys, the time has come, I feel, to have a frank discussion about the awesomeness of interchangeable eye'd stuffies.
Because if not now then WHEN!? And if not us then who (wait do I mean whom? Maybe I do) and if not...
OK, so really all I wanted to say was that these guys here KILL me with their cuteness.

They're called Oddbods, and their eyes and badges are interchangeable. I'm a fan and I think maybe you should check them out HERE.
I have this theory that Mildred Brown and Eric have some kind of EPIC love story going on (WAY more epic than Twilight) but I could be wrong, see what you think and report back?
On a slightly less crazy note, these guys are made by someone pretty awesome, to whom I am tenuously connected and for whom I wish good things. So yay for Nikki.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Man Gifts Three - Farah Makes... a BAG!

Squee! You guys, we have a guest! (The bloggy kind, so I don't have to change out of my sweats or clean the house or anything!)
Farah from over at Farah Makes Stuff is AWESOME (she's got sewing GAME!).
Today she's been kind enough to come on by and share the skinny on a Man Gift that is pretty much, oh, the bomb. It's useful, cute and appliqued and comes complete with instructions that ACTUALLY make sense! ( I know right!?)
Take it away Farah!

Hello luck and bliss readers!

My name is Farah, from Farah makes Stuff. I was soooo honoured when Erin asked me to do a guest post for her man gift series. I have been reading her blog for a while, and on top of her adorable writing style, I love her creativity and resourcefulness! Plus, she lives in the same city as me! Toronto for the win!

Sewing for a man can be a challenge, but since I have 2 very special men in my life, I am always up for that challenge. My project is a man-bag (murse?), or a special, masculine, custom bag for your man and his iPad. I first made this bag for myself, but when my husband got an iPad, we realized it fit perfectly. So a few tweaks on the pattern, and an applique chosen by the man, and we have the iPad Man-Bag.

Here we have a nice, masculine, messenger bag style satchel, which can be gussied up with an applique, or left simple. Inside is a padded sleeve for an Ipad (or heck, maybe even for another electronic gadget) plus room for a wallet, keys, comic book etc. The applique can be suited to your man's own interests.

Or make one for your self. I made this pink one (minus the iPad sleeve) almost 2 years ago and use it as a purse very often.

What you need:

-Main fabric (A) - About 1 meter of a heavy cotton (home dec weight, denim or twill would be great. I used Corduroy)
-Lining (B) - About 1/2 meter of lining, I used black twill, but a lighter cotton would work)
-Ipad sleeve fabric (maybe 1/2 meter?)
-a bit of poly batting
-24 inches of twill tape
-a bit of velcro
-for applique, scrap of fabric (you could use the lining fabric), and some Heat n Bond
-some metal snaps or buttons
-a bit of bias tape

Cut List:
-from main fabric (A),
cut 1 piece 12 x 20.5 inches (front/back)
2 pieces 9 x 2.5 inches (sides)
1 piece 12 x 18 inches (front flap)
1 piece 8 x 58 inches (this was the width of my fabric) (strap)

from lining (B),
cut 1 12 x 20 inches (front/back)
cut 2 9 x 2.5 inches (sides)

on the side pieces (both the main fabric and lining) round one of the shorter edges so you have a U shape. I traced around a round pin box to get the round shape.
On the front flap piece, round all 4 corners (i used the same pin box to round the corners)

from the twill tape,
cut 2 pieces 8 inches long, and 2 pieces 4 inches long

Sewing Directions (1/4 inch seams)

1- Sew front/back piece of A to side pieces of A by easing the longer sides of the front/back piece to the U curve of the side piece. Do this for both side pieces. You will find that the front/back piece is a little bit too long and there will be extra fabric. Ensure the extra fabric is on the same side (at the back) for each side.
2 - Repeat step 1 with the lining pieces B
3 - Turn lining assembly right side out, and put into main fabric assembly, matching top raw edges, and side seams. pin in place. Trim extra length on the back so the edges line up all around. (the extra length is there to allow some room for error in sewing around the curves on the side pieces, we don't need it anymore). Sew lining to main bag around top edge, leaving a 2 inch gap on the top back for turning.
4 - Turn bag ride side out through the gap, press lining inside bag, and slip seam allowance of the gap in. pin gap closed. Top stitch around top of the bag, closing gap as you stitch. set bag aside.
5 - Lay front flap piece face up in front of you, and decide on applique placement. The 12 inch shorter edge is the bottom/top of the flap piece.

let's take a break now and discuss the applique. The applique on my bag is a Cactaur, which is a monster from the Final Fantasy video games. My husband picked this design. On the pink bag seen above, I appliqued an asterisk on the bag, because I thought it matched the graphic print of the fabric. Make sure the applique is a simple design, as you don't want to be sewing anything too complicated. A mustache? a Muppet? perhaps a star wars emblem? How about a giant squid? or even an apple. You could even do a monogram.

Google the picture you want, and look through the images to find one that will work. Once you have selected your image, trace it onto the paper side of the Heat n Bond. (I put my paper right up onto my computer screen and trace it with a felt tip pen, instead of bothering to print it first). Remember that it will be backwards when ironed on to the bag, so ensure your picture is flipped. Cut out the heat n bond loosely around your picture, and then press it (paper side up, iron on silk setting) onto the back of your applique fabric. Now cut out the applique fabric and heat and bond at the same time, being as precise as possible. There. You made an applique. Now back to the sewing instructions.

6 -Peel the paper off the back of your applique and place it face up on your front flap piece. The applique should be only in the lower third of your flap piece, and be clear about 1/2 inch from the edges for seam allowances. once you are happy with the placement, iron in place. You can go hotter than the silk setting this time to make sure it really sticks.
7 - Edge stitch around the perimeter of the applique. This may not be necessary if you are using the permanent (ultra) heat n bond, but I like too anyway both for definition and for security.
8 - Fold your flap piece in half, right sides together, matching corners, so the applique is in the inside. You should now have a 12 x 9 flap piece, with a fold at the top, and rounded corners at the bottom.
9 - sew around the sides and bottom of flap, leaving a 2 inch gap on one side for turning. clip curves before turning.
10 - turn right side out, press flat, top stitch around perimeter, closing gap as you stitch. Flap done.
11 - pin the flap to the top bag of the bag. The top of the flap sits outside the bag, about 1/2 inch down from the top edge of the bag.
12 - stitch flap in place by top stitching close to the edge of the flap.

13 - make strap. Fold strap piece lengthwise in half and press. fold each raw edge into the center (as if you are making really big bias tape) and press. Top stitch around entire strap, tucking raw edges on short ends in as you sew.

14 Stitch strap onto bag on the sides by sewing a box with an x in it on the strap. The straps should be sewed on the inside of the bag.

15 - Add some snaps or buttons (and button holes, of course) to the bag to close it up and you're done your bag! Stop here if you man has no need for a padded iPad pouch.

For the padded iPad sleeve
1 - cut two pieces of fabric, 17 x 10.5 (one lining, one main), and one piece batting a bit bigger than that.
2 - place the lining fabric face down. place the batting on that, then the main fabric on top, face up. make sure edges of lining and main fabric line up, batting should stick out a bit around. pin in place.
3 - add some quilting stitches through the whole thing to hold the layers in place, starting from the middle and working out. I stitched vertical lines 2 inches apart. Use a walking foot if you have one. If not, should be okay anyway.
4 - Once it is quilted, trim off excess batting, and fold in half, with the main fabric to the outside. you should have a pouch which is about 8.5 x 10.5.
5 - use a serger, or a zig -zag stitch close to the edge to sew up up the side seams. I stitched on the outside with raw edges showing because i did not want the bulkiness of a seam on the inside with the iPad. if you prefer, sew wrong sides together and flip right side out. You could also finish the side seams with bias tape, but my sewing machine would not go through all those layers.
6 - finish top edge of pouch with bias tape. iPad sleeve done.

Straps to hold iPad in bag
1 - sew the soft side of a small square of Velcro onto one edge of each the longer twill tape pieces, tucking in raw edge under velcro. sew the prickly side onto the shorter pieces the same way.
2 - about 2 inches from each edge, pin the shorter twill tape pieces in place on the top back of the bag only, not on the flap. this picture may help understand where they go. The bag is inside out here. The straps are placed on that little 1/2 inch overlap we left on the inside when sewing the flap in place. Place it so the velcro is face down when the straps are pointing down towards the bottom of the bag. sew in place.

3 - sew the corresponding long pieces of twill tape onto the bottom of the bag, also about 2 inches from the sides, and close to the back of the bag. This time your velcro is face up when the strips are in place. see this picture below. when sewing, the stitches will show on the outside of the bag, so make sure your thread matches the bag. Again, the picture shows the bag inside out.
4 - slip the iPad in the sleeve, place the sleeve in the bag and secure in place with the twill tape straps. Ta-Da! you have now made a custom man-bag with a secure, padded iPad sleeve. And there is room in front of the iPad for your man's wallet, blackberry, and comic book. He'll love it. I promise.
I know I am not very good at writing instructions. Please feel free to email me with any questions, and let me know if you make the man-bag!

OK! Me again. Didn't she do well! (You should go on over and hit the folla' button.)
Thanks THIS MUCH for sharing Farah.

monday. huh.

monday. yah it is.

Suckfest of a weekend here, with the snivelling and the facegoo and the snorting and the missing out on Christmas movie watching parties and the one eyeball constantly leaking from sinus pressure so I look like a sad, squinty, bloodshot-eye'd pirate. Arrrh.

whine whine whine whine WHINE.
And weeeeeee're done. Hope your weekend was WAY more awesome.
Also, I'm hustling over here this morning (and hooboy there's good stuff out there today).
BWS tips button

Friday, December 3, 2010

Small Animal in the Spirit House,

I was just thinking about something I'd almost forgotten and then I though OH crap I better write that down or it'll be gone.
You know how we love the ROM right? Me and that short blond. Well one of us only loves 98% of the ROM. The other 2%, well...
The lobby of the ROM has a space called the Spirit House, it's a darkish space with crazy angled walls and bouncy acoustics. And there's a permanent Art/Sound Installation Thing (wow, they should let me write the brochure). It features sounds. Random sounds. That bounce off the walls and reverberate and actually are kind of awesome.
Anyhow, back when I was waddling, hefty, miserable pregnant I would go in an perch my swollen caress on the sophisticated-but-uncomfortably slithery chairs in there.
And fetus Teddy would completely love it. He would either instantly settle down and stop kicking me in the organs. Or he would wake up and rock out, depending on the sounds. He appeared to particularly like the deep base sounds. It was nice thing to do at a time that was otherwise frankly kindoflousy.

So, when I took him into the Spirit room for the first time post- womb, I kind of expected that he would like it.
Not so muchly.

The first sound was a grumbly purr then a deep, bear-type growly noise. And apparently whatever is programmed into small animals to make them fear large growly ones works just fine in Teddy. Because he completely lost his noodles. And tried to climb into my face. Whimpering (apparently full-on screeching makes you an easier target) and shaking. I got him out of there instantly AND I managed not to laugh at him (that gets me a parenting award right?). And we haven't been in there since.
The whole thing made me think about the fact that infants are kind of snack sized for the big carnivores or hell, even an Eagle with the right can-do attitude.
I don't know where I was going with this, I guess I just mean Babies - Squishy and Delicious.

I don't know about now though, this guy looks like he could beat an eagle in a bar fight.

OK. Done here. Carry on.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Man Gift TWO - Leather 'Tache Keychain

Just for the record this giftie doesn't HAVE to be mustache shaped (if you're suffering Movember burnout or you aren't into awesomeness). Essentially all you're doing is sewing two pieces of leather together and adding a taggy to hold a keyring. And voila, nice tactile keyring in the shape of your choice.
It could be pretty much anything.
I just like 'taches.
And I've given these as Man Gifts with some success before...

Ready to get started?
The first thing you'll need is some leather. Mine started life like this:

Well OK, I guess technically it started life as a cow, but at some point it became a handbag that I found at Goodwill for $4.99 (but It was half off day so I paid $2.50). There is enough leather here for a few projects.
So I hacked it up.
Now bearing in mind that all my leather working experience is "huh, I wonder if that'll work?" And it sometimes ends up with "OH CRAP! IT'S ON FIRE!" these are a few things that I found useful when prepping my leather to work with.
  1. Clean is good. And it's way easier to clean a whole handbag with leather cleaner (or a damp cloth) than it is an itty bitty keychain.
  2. Don't quote me on this BUT I found that ironing the rough side of the leather made it a bit easier to handle when sewing. But test a patch first.
  3. I kind of don't love specific leather needles. In fact I had better luck with a ball point/knits needle than with the leather specific one.
  4. You know the extra strong thread? Gutterman does some? You don't need that. In fact my leather and machine both HATED it.
OK. Next step is to find your shape. Not tooooooo detailed unless you're looking to make yourself crazy, because you'll be leaving some space outside of your stitching line. I made my 'tache template freehand. But this is the internets! There's cool stuff everywhere!

Next you'll need to mark your design onto your leather. Pencil/pen works fine for this.

Just make sure there's enough room for your design on the two pieces of leather (of roughly the same colour and texture) with wrong sides facing. You only need trace your design onto one piece of your leather.
The next step is optional. But I like to sew the two piece of leather together, so I don't have to worry about them slipping. Like this see:

Now the next step is to sew your design. Sew through both pieces of leather along your template lines (if you want sewn details do them on each single piece of leather separately first).
This is the point where you should decide where you want your loop bit to go (the bit that you'll attach the metal circle too). All you do to make the loop is fold over a piece of leather (this is WAY easier if you iron it a bit first). Then sammich it between the two main parts of the keychain, where it well be caught up in your stitching.
Now it' time to sew! (you've set up your stitch and tension already on two layers of scrap leather haven't you? OK. Awesome.)
You should go slowly. Really slowly. Fast won't win you anything but howls of rage and wasted bit of leather. Ask me how I know (and notice that the next picture is of a different piece of leather... and that it's scraggly because I apparently don't learn) SLOW IS GOOD! Also, you don't have to use a contrasting colour here, I did for tute purposes (this keychain is going on my keys, not under the tree) a shade that matches is more forgiving.

Right! Now you've sewn 'round your design and caught your loop; it's time to cut your shape out. Best to use sharp scissors and to give yourself some wiggle room. Also, cut through the layers that the loop is sammiched between separately.
The last step is optional, but I like to finish off the raw edges of the leather with my trusty brown acrylic paint pen, applied really carefully. I bet a Sharpie (maybe even in a contrasting colour) would work really well too.
And voila! One keychain/super useful portable disguise.

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