How to paint a checkerboard

Today I’m going to show you how to make a simple checkerboard and set of checkers with a little wood and paint.

1. checkerboard

You will need:

  • One 12″ x 12″ piece of wood or plywood
  • A 12″ section of dowel, 1-1/8″ or 1-1/4″ in diameter
  • Access to a power saw of some kind
  • Four colors of paint: black, red, ivory, and a fourth color of your choice
  • A paintbrush
  • Sandpaper
  • About 9 feet of 1-1/2″ wide painters tape
  • A razor blade or X-Acto knife


1. Start with your 12×12 board. Give it a solid coat of ivory all over the top.

2. board

3. painted board

2. While that’s drying, start on the checkers. Paint half of your dowel red and half of it black. Let dry.

3. Using a power saw, slice the dowel into circles, about 3 pieces to an inch. (My husband did this part, so I won’t deceive you. But I’ll do your math for you to make it easy: You’ll need 12 red and 12 black checkers, which requires about 4 inches of red dowel and 4 inches of black.)

24 checkers x 18 boys = a lot of checkers

5. checkers

4. The power saw may leave shredded edges…

6. rough edge

…so sand them gently with sandpaper. They do not need to be perfect; you just don’t want rough edges catching the fingers of small players.

7. smooth edge

5. Paint the checkers, 12 red and 12 black, allowing one side to dry before flipping over to paint the other. (Latex gloves are a lifesaver at this point. We also provided homemade smocks for the boys, using kitchen trash bags modified with a few quick cuts–here’s how.)

8. painted checker

9. painted checkers

6. Now, back to the checkerboard! Find and mark the center of your board. Working out from the center, place 8 strips of tape entirely across the board, each one precisely against the next.

10. taped board

(You may note the edge of ivory left exposed on either side. We planned a 12″ board to perfectly fit eight squares, each 1-1/2″ wide. Then we found out that all painters tape has recently switched to the metric system and comes 1.44″ wide instead. We decided not to sweat it, and ignored the extra edge.)

7. Use an X-Acto knife and a ruler to cut a straight line across the center of your board, perpendicular to the lines of tape and cutting through them. You may cut just slightly into the wood; it will not matter. Then move your ruler over the same width as the tape and cut again across the board, parallel to the first cut. You are cutting your strips of tape into squares of tape. (If you have a ruler or makeshift ruler that’s 1-1/2″ wide–or 1.44″ wide, to be exact–this step is very simple. A strip of cardboard will suffice.) Continue this process, working out from the center on each side, until your board has eight squares by eight squares.

11. cutting

8. Peel up alternating squares of tape to expose the ivory surface. Press the remaining squares firmly into place.

12. peeled squares

9. Choose yourself a nice color of paint. (One of my favorite crafting supplies is a paint sample like those shown here–the perfect size for a small project, and only $3 at Home Depot.)

4. paints

10. Paint all exposed ivory on the checkerboard with the color of your choice. Let dry.

13. painting board

11. Peel up the remaining squares of tape…

14. painted board

… arrange your checkers… and start playing!

16. finished product

Here’s Ryan’s class, scowling against the bright sun but triumphant nonetheless:

16. class


Special thanks…

  • To GomiStyle, for a tutorial on the tape squares trick,
  • And to Ryan, who did the grunt work.

How to make a fabric purse

One of the joys of attending Family Week at SMBI was agreeing to organize a craft class for all the children ages 6-12. Ryan and I spent considerable time planning and preparing, then he took charge of the boys (18 of them) and I of the girls (28!). For one hour each day, four different days, we coached them through the steps of the craft we’d chosen—checkerboards for the guys, purses for the girls. The children were delightful to work with, and thrilled with how their crafts turned out.

We couldn’t have done it without significant help from a few parent volunteers–Sincerest thanks!

Special thanks also to NiyahBubbly, whose YouTube tips were most helpful. If all DIY videos were as hysterically darling as yours, I would watch them all.


Today I’m going to show you how to make a purse out of fabric, complete with a matching coin purse and flower pin. This project does not require a sewing machine, only hot glue and a minimal amount of hand-stitching.

27. completed purse set

The lovely thing about the craft is that it takes very little fabric, and could be made from scraps you have on hand. It’s more beautiful when you interchange two coordinating fabrics, so make two if you like, or find a crafting partner to work with you–then exchange coin purses and flowers for a mix-and-match look.

For each set, you will need:

  • One rectangle of fabric, 12″ x 30″
  • One safety pin
  • One button
  • One yard of ribbon
  • One or two yards of embroidery floss, and an embroidery needle
  • Two coffee stir sticks
  • About an inch of Velcro
  • Scissors
  • Fabric glue or hot glue


1. Start with a rectangle of fabric, 12″ x 30″ or so.

1. coordinating rectangles

2. Cut as shown. Specific measurements are not important; straight lines are.

2. cut rectangles

3. Cut the smallest rectangle into a rough circle. From your scraps, save a small additional piece (not shown), about 1 x 1-1/2 inches.

3. cut rectangles

4. First, let’s make the flower pin. Take your long strip of fabric and fold it in half lengthwise.

4. flower fold

5. Starting at one end, twist it…

5. flower twist

…and coil it, twisting as you go…

6. flower coil

…until you have formed a rosette.

7. flower

6. Apply fabric glue or hot glue to your fabric circle.

8. flower back

7. Gently pick up your rosette and set it atop the glue, pressing firmly to adhere. Use additional glue to attach any loose places. Trim off any part of the circle backing that is exposed.

9. flower top

(Your flower will look prettiest made with striped or variegated fabric!)

10. flower alternate

8. Cut the small scrap of fabric saved from above…

11. flower with scrap

… into an hourglass shape.

12. flower with hourglass scrap

9. Position with a safety pin as shown, and glue both pin and hourglass securely to the back of the flower. (You could omit the pin and simply glue your flower to the purse; but I think it’s nice to have it removable so you can wear it elsewhere, such as pinned on a dress.)

13. flower with pin

10. The two remaining rectangles of fabric will become your purse and coin purse. “Hem” each one with hot glue, turning over 1/4 inch on all four sides. (–Unless you want to allow selvedge to show–I think it’s pretty. If your fabric is non-fray, you can skip the hemming entirely.)

14. hem

11. Your purse will be formed by tri-folding the fabric like this. Position your folds so they look good, with a longer or shorter flap as desired.

16. little purse

17. little purse flap

15. big purse

12. On the large purse, glue a coffee stir stick to the inside of each fold. This gives extra stability to the purse’s shape, and prevents sagging between the handles.

18. stir sticks

19. stir sticks on purse

13. Using all six strands of your embroidery thread, hand-sew a simple whipstitch (tutorial here)…

20. whip stitch

…or blanket stitch (tutorial here)…

21. blanket stitch

…up the sides of your purse. Make sure to completely encompass the glued hem with your stitch; it will be impossible to stitch through it. Repeat on the sides of your coin purse. (You can simply glue the sides shut, but I think the hand-stitching is what makes the craft charming.)

14. Fold in both sides of the top flap if desired, to expose more of the hand-stitching. Secure folds with glue.

22. envelope fold

15. Using a sharp scissors or fabric punch, pierce a tiny hole through the flap, just off the end of the stir stick, where you want your handle to attach.

23. handle pierce

16. Force one end of a yard of ribbon through the hole. (A sharp scissors will do the trick.) Tie a large knot in the fabric end, inside the purse. Secure to the fabric with glue if desired. Repeat with the other end of the ribbon, at the other end of the purse.

24. handle

17. Cut a small bit of Velcro to become the flap closure. Glue in place, on both the large purse and the coin purse. Glue an ornamental button on the coin purse flap if desired. Pin your completed flower to the large purse flap…

25. completed purse

…and you’re done!!

27. completed purse set

26. on Kelly

Here’s a work in progress with different fabric:

28. completed alternate pattern

And here’s my happy class:

29. class

My biggest girls:

30. biggest girls

And my smallest girls:

31. smallest girls


Any questions? Feel free to ask! I think these would make lovely gifts–but perhaps the gift of time (spent in crafting alongside your niece or granddaughter) would be the best gift of all.



PS–I am unspeakably thankful not all my blog posts are this long.