Category Archives: The Gentleman’s Guide – Tips and Projects for Gracious Living

The Gentleman Caller’s Non-Tacky Christmas Stocking

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

One thing about Christmastime has always baffled me. A good many people lose all sense of taste when it comes to decorating and what is acceptable to put out around their homes. Perhaps, rather, Christmas exposes people I didn’t know had bad taste as People Who Have Bad Taste. The vulgar plastic atrocities lining the shelves of the local K-mart continue to bring us to new visual lows as a society.

The two particular items I find most loathsome are 1) Santa hats, and 2) STOCKINGS.

Now, a stocking is a must. It’s half of the Santa shakedown. I would have run around as a child with nary a pair of underwear were it not for the Christmas stocking. But let’s class it up a little, can we?

The Gentleman Caller has taken the matter into his own hands. We are making our own. Go out and find some lovely material that incorporates your home’s decor with your Christmas tree, and then watch my video. It’s a VERY easy sew. And don’t forget: the bigger the stocking, the more loot Santa leaves.

Good luck and happy holidays!

xoxo,

The Gentleman Caller

The Gentleman Caller Custom Candle

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Ok, people. It’s a week out from Christmas and we ain’t got a second to waste. I am going to spit this one at you so fast your head will spin.

This is part one of a two-parter. The complete idea is a holiday window spray with custom candles and pine boughs. However, you can make these candles as gifts and things. They are very pretty and not labor intensive.

Let’s do this.

What you need:

  • pillar candle (wax, not soy)
  • wax paper
  • scotch tape
  • iPad or other device or a printer
  • tissue paper that matches your candle
  • piece of holiday ribbon that sheds glitter like crazy or actual glitter (the thinking behind this being that if you use the glitter from your ribbon it will match the ribbon in the spray exactly. This will make more sense in part 2.)
  • blow dryer
  • Sharpie

There are a plethora of sites that allow you to create a monogram in different fonts. Find a combination you like. Size it to scale for your candle. There isn’t a right and wrong here. Use your eyeballs and your noodle.

Either print a copy or just lay a piece of printer paper on a mobile device and trace.

Lay the tissue paper on top of the design. Tape the edges to avoid slippage. Trace the design again.**

**For a VERY refined design, you can get an 8.5″x11″ piece of card stock and tape a piece of tissue paper on that and run it through your printer. I think it’s fun to do the work by hand. Machines are clinical. Beyond that, you could do ANY design this way with a printer, including photos. For now I am doing a monogram.

Cut the design out very close to its edges.

Center it on the pillar candle. Be certain it is straight.

Pull enough wax paper off the roll to cover the circumference of the pillar. Tape tightly into place. VERY tight.

Put your blow dryer on high heat. Hold the dryer very close to the candle, allow the two surfaces to bind together. You’ll see ripples in the wax paper as the wax melts. If you don’t see ripples, it’s not hot enough.

Peel away the wax paper. The design should be firmly stuck to the candle.

Embellishment time! Get another piece of wax paper. With your hands, simply rub the glitter off the ribbon you’ve selected and allow it to deposit into the waiting wax paper.

Roll the candle up in the glitter paper tightly. Repeat the hair dryer step. This should leave your candle all glitter-ized.

Now give it as a gift or enjoy yourself.

And don’t forget, Santa is watching, you bad children.

All for now.

The Gentleman Caller

Make Your Own $80 wreath for less than $8

Knock knock knock.
Gentleman Caller.

Know what’s expensive? Christmas!

Now don’t misunderstand, I am more than accustomed to emptying my wallet for a pair of $1000 sneakers or a ridiculously overpriced backpack, but if I can save money on something, I will. Someone I was very close to used to say, “Austin, you will drive across town to save a nickel on an orange.” Accurate! What can I say? It’s my legacy. My great-grandmother was a Scot, like, off the boat immigrant. Scots are cheap. Ahem, frugal.

So when it came time to decorate for Christmas this year, I was confronted with two realities. If you invest in artificial pine things you have to STORE THEM. If you buy real throw away pine things, you still pay an arm and a leg and then you chuck it in the bin on January 2. Both of those options seemed unacceptable.

I live next to a Whole Foods. Like there would be no asking my neighbor for a cup of sugar because my neighbor is Whole Foods. I noticed they had put up a makeshift Christmas tree lot and the guys who worked there were trimming branches off the trees and putting them in the trash. Hmm…

So I decided to ask them for branches. Worst thing they could do is say no. But they didn’t, so up to my apartment I trekked, loaded down with two great arms full of aromatic fresh pine boughs. I got out a 5 gallon bucket and put some water in it. I put the ends of the branches in the water until I was ready to work with them to keep them nice and verdant.

As pretty as my pine branches were, I wanted to amend with some other varieties of plant. Cypress, juniper, boxwoods. You’d be surprised how many overgrown shrubs you see when you are thinking about gathering branches. So I started asking people: May I trim your shrubs? An odd request, I admit. But it worked and I came home with a sack full of cypress, juniper, and boxwood. If I had been in Texas, I would have used those waxy leaves from magnolia trees. That would be gorgeous. Maybe next year.

Now to construct a foundation. I just used three layers of stiff cardboard. I turned a round table upside down and traced a big circle. I then found a mixing bowl and traced the internal circle. I had about 3 inches of width to work with.

I hot glued the layers together. I brushed on some acrylic paint, but I mixed white and dark green together as I brushed so that it had dimension.

We have arrived at the Dollar General portion of this project. So far we have spent about zero dollars, especially if you have old paints available.

Your dollar store is going to have everything else you need. Fine gauge wire, a couple feet of ribbon and a handful of ornaments.

Now let’s build. I would advise that you either do this outdoors, in your garage, or put down a plastic sheet or something. This project is messy.

Lay your foundation on a flat surface. Cut about 8-10 inches of branch and just start layering, working backward. Branch, wire, branch, wire. At first you are probably going to think Wow, this looks like some kind of shitty 3rd grade arts and crafts project. Keep at it. Fill it out as you go. If you make the circumference of the wreath and it looks anemic, get more branches and keep shoving. You can continue shoving supplemental branches in existing wire. Do that until you reach the desire fullness.

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Embellishment time. I cut 10-inch segments of ribbon and hot glued the ends to the back of the wreath on opposing sides. Then I wired clusters of ornaments together and wired them into the greenery. It’s basically like decorating a tree. Be creative.

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In all honesty, I almost pulled all the ornaments off after I put them on because the simple greenery itself was really stunning. You be the judge. Sometimes less is more.

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Time to hang. I had a hole available on my door that I could easily put a wire through. You might need a 3M hook or something like that. I am sure you can figure it out.

Here we are at the end. I spent about $4. Not bad indeed.

Now get to work! Send me photos of your endeavors!

Out for now,

The Gentleman Caller

 

Walkin’ in a Winter Onesie-land – Simple Sewing of a Snuggly Onesie

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Knock, knock, knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Here we are, our first sewing challenge! Who’s pumped?

This one is a lot of bang for your buck. A soft, cuddly onesie that is easily gift-able, or you can reap the benefits of your work for yourself.

The video is very helpful, even though it moves fast. Please overlook that you can see the band of my undies almost the whole time. The camera was mounted on the ceiling and I wasn’t going to ruin my shot worrying about my knickers.

This is a quick and easy sewing project; don’t be intimidated.

  • First you need about 2.5 to 3 yards of fabric for an adult onesie. I’ll do another post for a child’s onesie. I chose this funny Chicago Cubs polar fleece since the Cubs just had the big victory and all.

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I always go to the same fabric store in New York’s famed garment District. This is Jorge who helps me out. There are several stores all on 38th and 39th Streets between 7 and 8th Avenues.

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This is my friend who helped me select a zipper.

  • You need to choose a coordinating zipper, probably 22 inches long. Get something substantial, not a dress zipper. (Remember all these measurements are approximate. Please do math.)
  • Choose a coordinating thread.
  • Find a pair of sweats and draw a chalk line (see video).
  • Chalk outline with the sweats as a guide on the fabric. Allow a half inch for seam allowances.
  • Assemble and sew. Sew the shoulder seam first, then the side body seam, and the inseam seam. Follow on the other half. Put the two inseam seams together; stitch them together and continue the seam up the back. Go over the inseam seam one more time and sew up toward the belly button area to where the zipper should end.

Sewing in the zipper is a little bit of a trick. I line the top of the zipper up with the neck line on both sides and pin. If I hear for you all that I need to post a zipper “how-to” I sure will.

  • Sew the shoulder area but don’t close up the armpit area. Wait to sew the sleeve seam till you have sewn in the shoulder. Guiding off of where the armpit seam is on the body of the suit, figure out where the arm seam should be. Sew the arm seam. Then meet the arm seam to the body/armpit seam and sew them.
  • Add the hood or finish the neck hem if you aren’t adding a hood.
  • Hem the legs and arms.

VOILA!

Readers, if this isn’t clear enough let me know. I will post some diagrams and more video. I want you to know what you are doing! Sewing is your friend, and breaking in your skills on a simple sew like this will allow you to start doing money saving things like altering your own clothes.

Thanks for joining me today!

That’s all for now.

xo,

The Gentleman Caller

UPDATE! Kelly got a onesie too! With fur cuffs.

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