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Creativity, DIY Ideas, Textiles

Simple DIY: Six Word Short Story Bracelets

A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on

This weekend I decided to spend equal times working (e.g.: digging myself out from mountains of email) and playing (getting out my old sewing machine). While the garment that I sewed myself was not perfect (hello, wrinkly hem!), I have to say that forcing myself to try a project that stretched my boundaries in a weekend really set me on the path of wanting to sew again which is something that I haven’t spent a serious amount of time on in a few years.

Now I’m super-excited to try a bunch of new patterns, which lead me to thinking about how the writing and story process often starts the same way for me – you have to start with something small, like a sentence, to get to something much bigger, like a finished book. In the spirit of this, I thought I’d finally share the project that I designed to take to School House Craft earlier this fall – the Six Word Short Story Bracelet. If you are looking to start in textiles with story (or vice-versa), this is a very basic project that can get you started.

Can you tell a story in six words? This project is a great way to try. 

Ernest Hemingway was challenged in a bar bet to compose a story of only six words. He did: For sale: baby shoes, never worn. Since this time, thousands of people have written six word stories, and you should too!

Here’s some examples of other six word stories (from the excellent website

Left handed woman seeks Mr. Right (by Amber)

Nerdy Kid. Rocket Launcher. Bully Gone! (by Captain Doom)

Three Blind Mice, Cat Had Lunch (by Joe Douglas)

Sharp New Yellow Pencil, Limitless Potential (by Melissa Wilson)

Here’s How to Make It: Supplies:

    • a pen and paper
    • Cotton twill tape or a natural fibre ribbon 6-8 inches in length, 2-3 inches in width. If you will ever launder the bracelet, you should pre-wash the twill tape.
    • scissors
    • sewing needle
    • thread
    • snaps are specified in these directions, but buttons, Velcro, and jewelry clasps work well too.
    • tiny rubber alphabet stamps (smaller in size than the width of the ribbon) or fabric markers which will dye the fabric. I purchased my stamps at Michael’s in the party favours section, and each set only cost me $1.50 for the full alphabet.
    • fabric-ink (I purchased a brand called Momento Luxe, but any fabric paint will work)
    • an iron and a pressing cloth
    • pinking shears (optional)


A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on

 Step 1: Write your Six Word Story/Poem – Take a pen and a scrap of paper and WRITE! Don’t hesitate, just try! (turn this page over and use the back!) Write the first thing that comes out of your head. Usually we have something in our subconscious that is dying to get out. Go with it. Not sure? Read it aloud to another person  and get their feedback. There’s no right way or wrong way to write a six word short story, but it might be easier to think that your six words have a ‘beginning’, a ‘middle’, and a ‘end’. Don’t like it? Write another – just six words. Keep going until you come up with one that you like. Go as fast as you can – eliminate your inner editor! Have a story that you like? Good! Now, pick your favourite one and transform it into a bracelet! Don’t like it? Start writing again!

Step 2: Make Your Bracelet ­– Cut a length of ribbon to fit your wrist (6-8″ is standard). Pinking shears will give a semi-finished edge, but I also recommend finishing ends with binding tape, or hand sewing a finished edge. Using a flat ribbon is recommended but pieces of linen, binding tape, and twill tape, in a natural fibre, will also work for printing. Attach a clasp to the wrong (non-shiny side) of the ribbon.

Step 3: Print Your Poem – Using rubber stamps and archival ink, your poem will be stamped onto the ribbon. I suggest planning where each word will go (words longer than 10 letters may take some creative placement) before you stamp, and then stamping one letter at a time. It may be erratic and look a bit messy, but both life and stories are like that, so embrace your mistakes. Don’t have rubber stamps? Handwrite your message onto the ribbon with a fabric ink pen. Decide what kind of handwriting works best for your story – is it script or block printed? Fine penmanship, or stylistic lettering? FInished writing or stamping it out? Ta-da, you now have a six word story bracelet!  


A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on

Step 4: After Care – For longevity, I recommend heat-setting your ink with an iron once the ink is dried. Cover your bracelet with a ‘pressing cloth’ (a scrap piece of cotton or old pillowcase will work well) and iron the right-side (the inky side) for a few minutes with an iron set to medium heat (do not use the steam setting).

Step 5: Share Your Story – Stories are meant to be seen by others. I’d love to see a photo of your finished project or hear about your experience making it! Send it to me at [email protected] or @leanneprain!

DIY, DIY Ideas, Events, Hoopla, Workshop

How to embroider on paper

Rob and Andrea, the masterminds behind Got Craft?, invited me to participate in this year’s Got Craft? Holiday fair which took place at the Croatian Cultural Centre in East Vancouver this past weekend. Since the workshop was a drop-in affair, I created a simple and fun craft project inspired by the Photo Feelism project in Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery, which instructs readers how to stitch on photographic paper.

I used my Print Gocco to silkscreen 100 die-cut cards that I bought from an art store. I chose simple fonts in a medium weight, and gave one card a simple snowflake and the other a few little stars. Workshops participants were asked to embellish the simple designs however they wanted – they could trace the silk-screened artwork or draw around the design. My good friend Mary Alice Elcock (of the preserving blog Plan to Can) was there to help me by taking photos and showing participants how to make french knots, her favourite stitch.

Here are some blurry iphone photos of the weekend:

Emily Smith, one of the main organizers of MakerFaire Vancouver, made a card even though she’d been up all night felting an LED sign for the MakerFaire booth. Yes, you read that right, FELTING an LED sign. Emily is amazing.

Artist Rachael Ashe‘s freeform interpretation.

If you’d like to try this project on your own, any piece of card will do. Recycle a Christmas card or use an old photograph.

A few tips for stitching on paper, photographs, or cardstock:

1. Pre-punch your stitch pattern on the card with your needle before threading it. This makes pulling your thread and needle through the card much easier.

2. Use a thimble to protect your fingers. Cardstock is more rigid than fabric, therefore your needle will require a stronger push, which a thimble can provide

3. If you try and make your stitches appear close together (as in a backstitch), make use of the holes already made from the other stitches. Too many holes close together in your card will cause the paper to tear

4. Always knot your floss when you start so you don’t pull the thread out of the paper.

5. Divide your floss in half so that it consists of three threads (commercial floss comes in six strands to make up the larger thread). This will make it easier to work with.

6. Choose a sturdy needle. I like crewel needles for this kind of project.

7. Don’t forget to have fun!


Bikes, DIY Ideas

The Summer of the Bike

This summer I’ve spent a lot of time offline – far away from blogs and tweets and electronic distraction. I  avoided what I enjoy spending time on the most – knitting and sewing and stitching. I was burnt out on writing and making. I needed time to rest, or  in short, ‘acedia’,  a term that I came across in Susan Page’s wonderful book  The Shortest Distance between You and a Published Book.’  Acedia is, in a nutshell, the languid pace between projects.

Over the past few months, my thoughts have been on simple things: picking berries, farmers markets, visiting loved ones, and my bike. Not a knit covered bike – but a bike for the romance of transport and re-discovering the quirks of Vancouver’s neighbourhoods.

I’ve had several bikes throughout my life but none ever felt right for me. The closest I came to liking a bike was having a tiny red bmx that a friend fixed up for me during Vancouver’s infamous four month transit strike in 2001. That summer it was impossible to find a bike, and this one was just my size and easy to ride around the quiet neighbourhood that I lived in. My feeling of affection changed in 2008 when I was living in Vancouver’s busy West End and felt ridiculous riding a tiny bike that hurt my knees on hills and I frankly felt too old to ride. I looked for a bike for several months – my only requirement being ‘it can’t have a bar across the top, my feet have to touch the ground’. I ill-advisedly purchased a road bike, thinking it would be fine but every time I tried to get on it, my body would scream and I’d mentally shut down. The bike and I took a handful of uncomfortable seawall trips together and then it sat in the jumbled and dusty bike room where bikes went to die. I left it there and convinced myself that biking and I did not go together.

Last fall I moved back to the quieter neighbourhood that I’d lived in before, very close to one of Vancouver’s tree-lined bike paths. I started a job that has a beautiful and secure bike room and talked to many of my coworkers about cycling to work. I decided to take out my old road bike for a test ride and found myself huffing over a small hill. My shoulders hurt and my back ached. I hated every minute of it.

Then randomly, I came across Lovely Bicycle and began to learn about mixtes and derailers and lug work. I read her bicycle guide and learned about the differences between road biking and commuter cycling and the simple notion of cycling on the right bike; for the notion of enjoyment. I fell in love with the idea of the bike as a beautiful object – something that I’m sure many serious spandex-clad cyclists would sneer at but works for me. A bike for inspiration and pleasure, rather than sport and endurance.

Like a well fitting bracelet or a great pair of shoes, this past May I found a bike that suits me in character, appearance, and behavior. I purchased a vintage Raleigh Ladies Superbe from the early 1970’s off of Craigslist. The previous owner said that she hated to part with it but she had two many other bikes. She looked tearful as I rode away and as I took my first hill – I understood why. The hills that had seemed so difficult when I was bent over on my ‘properly sized’ road bike, were easy. I stopped thinking about riding a bike and actually began to enjoy riding a bike – something I hadn’t felt since childhood. I’ve spent the last few months using the beloved bike for grocery shopping, touring Stanley Park, visiting friends, and simply meandering. It has been a life changing experience.

Now that the weather is turning colder and I count down the last of my vacation, my thoughts are turning to the change of season and the desire to start making things again – which of course, leads me to a bunch of bike DIY projects. Here is a list of my favourite discoveries:

Personalizing Your Bike (via Lovely Bicycle)
Apply Twine (via Lovely Bicycle)
Sewing an Easy Bike Seat Cover (via Shellys Sewing Shrapnel)
Make a reflective tiecycle (via archives from Readymade – R.I.P.)
DIY Leather U-lock Holder (via BikeCraft)
A lining for a bike basket to hold picnic materials (via DesignSponge)

And of course, I have a lot of love for this knitted U lock cozy from The Knit Cycle.

As for myself, I recently ordered this highly reflective wool from Etsy which I will be combining into thin stripes on some small fingerless gloves and a cowl, both perfect for riding in early winter darkness.