Wednesday, June 1, 2011

How to Make a Pretty Decent Hula Hoop

I just got back from Playa Del Fuego and was inundated with hooping madness. I caught the fever, and now have spent the past 6 days spinning and dropping a hoop in about 95 degree weather and giving myself bruises from this new hobby. A friend gave me a hoop to start out with, but it only took me 2 days of using it to want to make my own. I can't enjoy anything fully unless I can take it apart or build a copy of it :P Cut Out and Keep was where I found a pretty good tutorial to start out with.

So I went to build a hoop and make as thorough a tutorial as I could (as some others I found were made by people who were really used to doing it and I think they left out little steps) So here's a tutorial for beginners from a beginner.

First off, the supplies:
you may have to go to a couple places to get everything, I hit Lowe's, Target, and Sam Ash. Here's the list
- coil of 100 or 160 psi poly irrigation tubing in 3/4" or 1" (you can get it at Lowe's in the plumbing section in a 100 foot coil for about $22)
- a roll of gaffer's tape, which is huge and costs about $17 (I couldn't find it at any hardware stores, so I googled it and found that Sam Ash and Guitar Center carry it. You can also use duct tape, but it wraps a bit funny around the tubing.
- 3/4" or 1" connectors, about 40¢ each (also in plumbing)
- some sandpaper, I used a scrap of 60 grit
- a heat gun OR a hair dryer OR a pot of boiled water
- several rolls of colored electrical tape (I got a small pack at Target, but used up the yellow roll before the hoop was done. So I went to Lowe's and got more in a bigger roll)

It does add up, but if you have a couple friends you can go in together and still make a bunch of hoops. The 100 foot coil is really a lot of tubing that you kinda have to see un-taped on your living room floor to appreciate.

OK, so step 1 is to assemble your materials together

I decided to try the 100 psi tubing to try and bruise myself less, haha

these are the bigger rolls of tape I had to get, mid project, that I should have gotten first :P

Step 2
Decide how big you want your hoop to be. Generally, you want the top of the hoop to come up somewhere between your belly button and the middle of your chest. The bigger the hoop is, the easier it is to turn and smaller hoops are good for off body stuff (which I haven't gotten to yet)

Here are 2 example sizes; the blue hoop is chest height for easier hooping (and you can learn on it a little easier before moving to a smaller hoop). The red hoop is about waist height and is better for hooping at the knees or etc. Also the smaller one is much easier to cram into a car if you need to take it somewhere.

I made a big and small hoop. Pictured above is the latter.
You can cut the tube with pretty much anything that's designed to cut wood. I used a miter saw, and made a pretty straight cut. Once you cut, sand the ends of the tube

Step 3

Take your hair dryer/heat gun and heat up the ends of the tube to put the connectors in. I don't have a process pic because I was the only one in the house and couldn't get a good angle. But just make sure not to heat the end too much or burn your fingers and the connector goes right in. I did this one end at a time and had no problems.

If you have neither a hair dryer or heat gun, you can use a pot of boiling water. When the water is at a rolling boil, dip one end of the tube in for a few seconds, and then stick the connector in tube.

I also sanded a bit around the connection to smooth it out a bit, it looks awful but will be covered with tape eventually and no one will be the wiser. Of course you should wait til the tubing is cooled before you do this and not be impatient like I was.
I also took a bit of electrical tape and wrapped around the connected end so there wouldn't be a little gappy place before the gaffers tape went on.

Step 4

Very carefully start wrapping the gaffers tape around your hoop. The angle is important, and I was 2/3 around the hoop before I got it right (but since this is my first hoop, I'm ok with that) You want the tape to overlap only slightly if at all, and you may have to do several strips because eventually the tape overlap gets bigger. It's so much easier to wrap with smaller tape later, but the big tape is somewhat of a pain. Also, this is a good time to watch netflix, because it will be boring and take a while to cover your naked hoop.

here's where I finally got an angle that worked, and it still could have been a little more.

Step 5
The best part! Making the hoop look FANCY! And again, it is loads easier to wrap little tape nicely and you can do endless patterns and designs. I did a quick google image search for "hula hoop tape patterns" for ideas, but decided to go simple on my first hoop.

This was what happened when I used the tiny roll of Target tape that I had hoped would last at least 1 hoop. It didn't, and so I went to Lowe's to get a bigger roll. (excuse the painty floor, when we ripped up the carpets recently we discovered the previous painters hadn't bothered to cover anything because they were covering it up with carpet eventually anyways)

Step 6
Go test it out! Get yourself out into that overgrown backyard that hasn't been tended because you've been off camping and whirl around like a crazy person.

I love this hoop because it's BEES COLOR! hahaha, I have more ideas for different patterns of tape. This one was kept simple because it was my first.

Links to places to buy exciting hoop tape! seems to have pretty good pricing and selection
identi-tape has some really fancy stuff but a bit pricey
hoop supplies I just ordered some tape from them, not bad prices
ebay I just did a search for "hoop tape"
tape brothers they take paypal, you can order in bulk or small amounts, and they have a ridiculously huge selection of tape

This has been a hopefully very thorough tutorial for making your first hoop. If I have left anything out, let me know and I'll add it in, or make some suggestions because I think some parts could be a bit clearer. I may draw a figure of the connector adding step to make that a little easier to understand.

Friday, May 6, 2011

another fairy house

One of my earlier posts was a bunch of pictures of a fairy house Holly and I made on a camping trip. Well I made another one recently on another camping trip. I found the perfect spot for it in between 2 trees for protection from accidentally getting stepped on.

a tiny wood pile and little "bowls of offerings", tiny stacked rocks, purple helicopters, and little acorn caps with plants and moss

the whole area

pinecone tree and fire ring

with real burned wood bits from an actual fire

back view

the back fence

It's delightfully magic-looking and tiny! I was hoping some kids found it after we left the campsite and would believe in magic just a bit longer ("OMG MAGIC FAIRY HOUSE!!!")

small zippered bag

I went for entirely too long avoiding sewing zippers into things. But when I finally did it and found out how ridiculously easy it was, I put zippers in everything like a crazy person. A crazy person!
This is one of my favorite and most non-threatening zipper installation tutorial ever. Literally anyone could make this, it's quick, easy, and produces something immediately useful (which is one of my favorite kind of projects)

Here is the tutorial, from Skip to my Lou

And here are some examples of bags I made. All the material is from fat quarters, so it's perfect for small stash projects. I got all of my fat quarters from Quilting Adventures

I made the sugar skulls bag for my friend Abby and the flowers bag is part of a mother's day present for my mom :)

the linings

mom's bag has lots of shiny gold bits

Abby's bag has a neat polka dot fabric that I really like

It's really easy to add the little loop to the bag too, I just used a piece of double fold bias tape but the possibilities are pretty open.

This is so super easy and fast you have to try it, especially if you aren't a fan of zippers.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

punked out hoodie

I got this hoodie a little over a year ago with the intent to alter it in some way. The pink and black lining came from this thing I got at the thrift store that I could never figure out if it was a skirt or a shawl (from the bizarre way it was cut). But it didn't matter, as I purchased it for the sole purpose of fabric harvest! And I love neon pink and black.

The round studs came from studs and spikes, they have good prices and ship fast (and send free stickers too!)

pocket studs. The pocket itself is too small to hold much, maybe a cell phone or a pack of gum, haha

It's a cropped hoodie, hence the mostly useless pocket size :P but it looks cool with studs on it

The studs are silver, but look gold in the flash somehow

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I'm going to a ladies only dinner party this saturday and figured it was a great occasion to whip up a new dress. Now I'm not super girly, I like comfort and function. And pockets (which will be added before the weekend). So this isn't a formal dress. It was made from a size large button up shirt I found for $3 at my favorite thrift store.

Giant shirt. I can assure you it was huge on me, but you'll have to take my word for it because in my triumph to actually remember to take a before picture, I forgot to WEAR IT IN THE PHOTO. Good job there, crafty lady :P

The first thing I did was turn the shirt inside out and cut off the sleeves.

Then I measured roughly how long I wanted the sleeves to be (to the elbow) and cut, trying to follow the original curve/angle of where the sleeve would meet the shirt. Follow the curve! This is important because if you cut it straight across it will sew on ok to the shirt but look really frumpy and pull in weird places when you wear it. I learned this the hard way years ago :P

Then I took a girl size button up shirt and shamelessly used it to figure out how I wanted the shirt-dress to fit and where the shoulders should end. (I do this all the time) Then I traced around the shirt with a yellow Prismacolor pencil (it washes out easily, is less dusty than chalk, and the buttery smooth lead is oh so nice)

Next I pinned all along the yellow lines of the inside out shirt and tried it on to see if it fit right. You can use a dress form for this too, then you won't accidentally stab yourself multiple times with pins. This is the time to do tweaking, because pins are forgiving.

When the sides are all fitted correctly, they can be sewn up and now it's time for the sleeves. I narrowed them down a bit from man-size and matched up the bottom seam with the armpit/side seam of the shirt and pinned all around.

This sleeve is sewn on and ready to be serged. I serged everything so the dress can be thrown in the laundry and not unravel itself completely. If you don't have a serger, just leave enough selvage to do a tight zigzag stitch close to the edge.

What's the opposite of inside out? Do that to the shirt. I can't think of the correct term but my husband came up with several that didn't necessarily sound wrong but were still strange :)
Anyways, I wore a tank top and leggings under it, threw a belt on (this is key to making it appear more fitted) et voilĂ ; Manshirtdress!

I will probably wear a pink tank top and pink Chucks to the dinner party, but I couldn't find the tank for this picture so here's a blue one.

The back of the dress. You really don't have to add darts even, if it's just a comfy flowy dress.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

I'm Batman!

I've always been a fan of Batman since I was a kid. I still have loads of comics and other miscellaneous collectibles around, up to and including costume parts and accessories I made. This year I finally made something awesome and even more dortastic; the Bat Cloak! I found a tutorial online for cloaks and used the 'opera cloak' pattern for Batman, adding little "bat ears" to the hood. It's made of polar fleece and I even serged the seams inside even though this was a quick and dirty try to see if I could make it and work out all the kinks before constructing a really nice one with a lining. It's still pretty warm though.

here are the bat ears

and here is probably the most dorky picture I have ever taken, but I love this cloak anyways :P
The original pattern for the cloak had to be modified because it makes a MAN sized garment and I am 5'3 and about 100lbs soaking wet. So I cut like a foot from the hem and had to seriously downsize the shoulders (that was where having an adjustable dress form came is super handy)
All in all, it took about 4 lazy hours to make this, I could probably cut the time down a bit (even with adding a lining) if I really worked on it seriously. But it was a pretty easy project to tackle and I don't know why I didn't make a cloak ever before.

ANYways. . .

I also made (like a million years ago) a Batman belt, just quickly and out of fabric, but it's pretty cool. There will be a replacement belt soon with no fraying edges, but I still love the original.

frayed edges=bad! But the little pockets are real pockets. Mostly they hold bobby pins, gum, change, a book of matches, etc. You can't put much in there, it's just for looks really.

This was the latest full Batman(girl) costume