Making a Ukulele Case

Ukulele Case Tutorial!

Ukulele Case Tutorial!

With the possibility of toting my ukulele around, I wanted to be able to protect it. I have a Makala soprano ukulele that came with a flimsy case that doesn’t do much good. I have only used my sewing machine once before this project and that was for a t-shirt quilt, so I didn’t want something too advanced. I set out to find some online tutorials regarding the topic and was VERY happy to find some!! Be sure to click the pictures to view the original sources!

Case #1

Case #1

I really liked this case! I love the longer strap on it and it looks very clean and professional! However, I found the steps on how to make it were lacking and I wasn’t going to be able to follow it as a novice seamstress. Alas, I was able to learn from the mistakes they mentioned and for that I was thankful for the inspiration and wisdom!

Case #2

Case #2

I really liked how this second case looked! It was more of a quilted design and I loved the appliqué used on it! Again though, the directions were not precise enough for me to follow, so I merely used it as inspiration for my own.

Case #3

Case #3

This one was a winner!! I loved the cute and fun designs and the directions were VERY good! In the process of making my own, I tweaked the tutorial a little bit, which is why I’ve decided to create my own! First things first:



What You Need:

  • Scissors
  • Sewing Machine
  • Zipper Foot
  • Duck Cloth (1/2 yard) – Used to add stability. Isn’t completely necessary if you’re okay with a flimsier case (and is easier to sew without it), but I would recommend it or something similar
  • 3/16″ Cotton Cording for piping (3 1/4 yard – 3 1/2 yard) – By the end of going around my case twice I only had 3-4 inches left, which was kind of close for my liking.
  • 1 Zipper (or possibly a second if you want a pocket on the outside as in the 1st case example) It was suggested to use a 36″ robe zipper, but I opted for a Parka zipper which was colorful and larger, but it was also only 30″ long. While I think the longer zipper might be better, with a good placement, a 30″ one did just fine
  • Interior Fabric
    • 1/2 yard for top/bottom of inside – I would suggest maybe 3/4 yard if you want to use the same fabric for your liner inside. I was wasteful when cutting out my top/bottom pieces to get pretty designs and because of that I had to piece my lining together. However, I don’t think it is that noticeable. So get more so you can get pretty designs or use less and make use of your space better.
  • Exterior Fabric
    • 1/2 yard – So for the design I chose I really only needed 1/4 yard for the two patterns I chose (so 1/2 yard total).
  • Piping Fabric – 1 Fat Quarter
  • Batting/Fusible Fleece – 1/2 yard – 1 yard
    • The first fusible fleece I bought was very thin and didn’t offer much protection, so I had to use more of it and ended up having to buy more. The second time I got some thicker batting that was on a roll and was MUCH happier with that. So I would suggest skipping the fusible fleece all together and get some nice medium-thick batting.

*If you want to make a pocket, decide what fabric you would want to make it out of and add 1/4 yard of fabric for that.


Here are the fabrics that I used for my project. The tie-dye-ish fabrics are for the outside, the owl is for an appliqué on the front, blue is for binding, and the paisley one is for the inside. Then you can also see the duck cloth and extraordinarily thin fleece that I wouldn’t recommend. IMG_8015

Step 1:

Trace your ukulele onto a piece of paper (I attached multiple pieces together using tape so I had a piece large enough). Make sure you leave 3/4 – 1 inch of space around it for seam allowances. If you want your ukulele to be less snug, then add more. This is also where you get to decide what shape you want your case to take on. I wanted mine to look more like a ukulele, but didn’t want the round head, so I adjusted for that. It also helps if you just trace 1/2 of it and then fold the paper in half and trace the other side. That way everything is symmetrical. I cannot draw that straight, so this was a way to avoid a wonky case.


Step 2:

You’re going to use your newly created template to cut two pieces (top and bottom) out of duck cloth, two pieces out of your inside material, and if you’re only doing one fabric for your exterior, two pieces of that as well. Otherwise, go ahead and follow the next few steps. To trace my template I used a sharpie or a pen, depending on the material and if I could see it or not. For some of my darker material, I had to pin the template onto it and cut around that.

Step 3 (if you have multiple fabrics for your exterior):

Measure the length of your ukulele template and add 1 – 1 1/2 inches onto it. Now divide that number by the width of your strips. I used 4″ strips, so I would divide by 4. This will tell you how many strips you’re going to need total. Divide that number in half if it’s even, otherwise you will have one more strip of one design than the other. I then made the width different, depending if the strip was for the neck or the body. I think it was about 3″ for the neck and 5″ for the body, but make the strips however long they need to be so the fabric covers the whole template.

Pieces cut

Pieces cut

Now you’re ready to sew! Use ~1/4″ seam allowance and sew all your pieces together. For mine, the design was on both sides, so I didn’t worry about sewing them on incorrectly, but make sure you pay close attention to how you’re sewing them! You want the two good sides facing each other when you sew!

Pieces sewn

Pieces sewn (back view)

Now to smooth things out we’re going to iron our edges down so everything is flat.

Ironed edges

Ironed edges

Front view

Front view

Now we attach our template to it and cut around it!

Getting ready to cut

Getting ready to cut

End result!

End result!

Make sure to do this twice, once for the top and once for the bottom. After you’re sure you’ve cut everything you need to cut with your template (2 pieces exterior, 2 duck cloth, 2 pieces interior), go ahead and cut around your template ~1/2″ so we can now use our template for the batting. If your batting is thicker, you might consider cutting your template down ~3/4″ or so, but I left mine at 1/2″. BUT before you cut it, measure the perimeter of it and write down this number! You will need it later when we make the sides of our case!

New template is made!

New template is made!

Now it’s time to cut out the batting! Originally when I had the thinner batting I decided I needed to cut more of it, so I used all I had (1/2 yard). However, ideally you’d only need to make 4 of these – 2 for the inside, and 2 for the outside.


Step 4:

Now it’s time to sew! Lay the batting on top of the duck cloth, and the exterior fabric on top of the batting (good side up). Pin this all together and quilt as you desire. I decided to do random squiggle lines since I’m a novice quilter, but feel free to do whatever you want! We just want to make sure that everything’s held together nicely and add some pizzazz. You’ll want to do this with both the top and bottom exteriors.

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Step 5:

Now it’s time for the binding and piping! I used this tutorial to sort of guide me through the process, which includes a link to making bias strips as well (make sure they are 1 1/2 inches thick), but I would also recommend this tutorial to see how to cut your strips initially (note that bias tape is the same thing as binding in these instances. There are only slight differences towards to end of making them. Binding you fold your edges inwards where as for the piping you won’t).

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Step 6:

Now it’s time to pin your piping onto the front of your case and sew it on with your zipper foot! Make sure to repeat this for the other half as well.

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Step 7:

This is a great time to add any appliqué or other things you want to add onto the outside of your case (unless you want a pocket, then you should have done that before putting the binding on). I wanted to put an owl on mine (only because they didn’t have any good penguin fabric), so I cut out my favorite owl making sure to leave a border around him, pinned him where I wanted him, then started with his nose and eyes (working my way from the inside out). There are some really great decorative stitches out there, so you can add all kinds of flavor to appliqués! After that I went ahead and used a blanket stitch around the border. It was kind of difficult with so many odd corners/edges – which is also why I decided not to fold anything in – plus I like the raw look with it. The goal is to make sure your appliqué or whatever decorations you have are in tact and are not going to be going anywhere anytime soon!

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Step 8:

Now it’s time to make the edges of our case! Start by measuring the depth of your ukulele (mine was about 2  1/4inches) and measure the perimeter of your template if you didn’t write down that number earlier like I suggested. This is another area where you can keep your uke snug or give it extra wiggle room – if you want it more loose, then go ahead and add on an extra 1/2 inch.  We also need to put our seam allowances in. For this you will add 1  1/4 ” and use a 1/2″ allowance. So all together I was at 3 1/2 mark, but I went ahead and made it 4″. I think since I added in some extra padding, this was the right decision, because it still feels pretty snug to me. Right now our focus is on our zipper, so we need to make two strips 2″ x 30″ (or however long your zipper is) (substitute the 2″ for however wide your number was divided by 2. Mine was 4 so I need two strips each 2″ wide). Cut this out of duck cloth and your exterior fabric. Then you will need to cut batting the same size, but making sure to trim it down 1/2″ again. Now do as we did with our exterior top and bottom and layer it duck cloth, batting, fabric, pin it, then quilt it. For this I decided to do a wavy line. Do this for both sides. Now it’s time to attach the zipper with your zipper foot! Once again, make sure you have your fabric facing the correct way so you don’t sew things on backwards. For this part, I would follow Steps 6 and 7 from the Mommy by Day Crafter by Night tutorial.  The idea is to have the Width of your two panels with your zipper be the width you decided upon (so 4″ for me). You can tell from one of the pictures that one of my panels was a little shorter than the other one somehow. Everything worked out okay, I just used less zipper. I would recommend making your panels go all the way out to the end of where the zipper goes, not just where the teeth go.

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 Step 9:

Now we need to finish making the other half of our sides! Take the perimeter amount minus the zipper amount and that is the length you will need to cut (use the same width, which was 4″ for me – or just measure the two panel/zipper combo to get your width). You will also want to add on 1/2″ for your seam allowances. So if my perimeter was 54″ and my zipper was 30″ then I’d need my piece to be 4″x24.5″. Cut this piece out of your side material and duck cloth, and another piece out of batting (1/2″ shorter on all sides). You will then pin them all together and quilt them however you like (I did two wavy lines on mine that intersected which worked out kind of cool and sort of met up with the other lines I did on the two panels for the zipper). Once that is done you will sew it to the zipper section to create a circle (Step #9 from the same tutorial I linked above shows a great picture of this).

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 Step 10:

Now it’s time to sew our side to one panel of our case! I don’t think it matters whether it’s the top or bottom, just make sure your zipper will be in the right place! It took me a few minutes to make sure I had everything how I wanted it. You should also mark where the zipper will go on the other panel so that they line up. As I was pinning the sides to my second panel, they didn’t the first time, so I had to start over with my pinning. So, save yourself some time and do it right the first time! This part was probably the trickiest. Once you have your sides pinned to one of your panels you will be sewing around it. Make sure to use your zipper foot! You want to get as close as possible to the piping (without actually going into the piping which happened to me a couple of times). What I did was go around the whole thing once and then inspected it and went over the sections that needed it again. Make sure you inspect thoroughly! At one point while I was nearing the end of making my case I noticed something had come out of it’s stitch because I didn’t sew it well enough and I had to go back and fix it!

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 Step 11:

Woohoo!!! Progress is being made and the case is starting to come together!! Now it’s time to attach our second panel and form an actual case! Make sure the pretty fabric is inside of your case for this (so our seams end up inside), and make sure you have the zipper undone at least part way so you can unzip it after it’s sewn together! This will work exactly like step 10 did! You can tell from one of the pictures below that at the handle, my case is a little twisted. I think part of this was not lining up my zipper well enough and while it is noticeable, it adds to the hand-made-ness of it!

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Step 12:

Time to add a handle!! I also wanted to add a strap to mine, but at this point in the game, decided I just wanted to finish it faster and not have to think about adding any more features, so I skipped out on it. But if you did want to add a strap, this would be the time to do it as well! So for your handle you’ll want a 4″x7″ piece of fabric. If you wanted it to be a little more durable then I would suggest maybe adding duck cloth to it, but then it will be harder to fold.


Now that we have our 4″x7″ piece of fabric, go ahead and fold in the edges 1/4″ on the short side so it’s 4″x6.5″. This was another step I really had to think about to make sure I was doing it correctly.


Next fold it in half and press it with an iron. Now it will be 2″x6.5″.



Now go ahead and press the raw edges in from the long sides and then fold it in half again so that it’s 1″x6.5″.

IMG_8092 Now you’ll want to stitch around the whole thing (either by hand or with your machine). Now it’s time to attach it to our case! Find where you want it then pin it in place. This part you’ll have to do by hand. What I did was make a 3/4″-1″ square and put an X in the middle of it for both ends. Depending how close the two ends are you can either get a tall handle or a longer but thinner handle.


Step 13:

Almost there! This was about the point where I felt like I was almost done, but really I might have only been 1/2 – 3/4 of the way done. You should already have your two (top and bottom) interior pieces cut. Make sure to also cut some batting as well. I wanted my case to be very protective, so I tried to include as much as I could. You’ll also need to cut your sides for the inside (and I put batting here as well). I chose to do all of mine in the same fabric. I also ended up cutting tinier pieces and sewing them together to make better use of my fabric (and because I was running low on this fabric since I was being choosy on my designs for the top and bottom pieces). Just make sure they are the same length as you did above in step 8! You’ll also go ahead and sew it together into a circle like you did above.

An example of my pieces for my interior sides.

An example of my pieces for my interior sides.

 Step 14:

You could probably sew the interior in several ways. I opted for hand-stitching it and started with the bottom of my side lining. When you’re pinning your sides it is VERY important to line up your zipper space appropriately. I messed this up at least twice, which took time to take my pins out and start over.


This is the finished product after stitching the siding around the zipper. It was easiest to do this without the batting. The next step was adding in the batting around the sides of the bottom and pinning the lining to the bottom. This was to keep everything in place while I got my bottom piece situated. While time consuming and sometimes pokey (those pins are sharp!), I found this to be the best way to make sure everything was where I wanted it. I ended up putting the case on a pillow so the pins wouldn’t hurt my legs while I worked on it. Place the bottom batting down, and then the fabric. Now go around the edges and remove pins holding the siding down, folding over the main fabric over the batting, and then pinning them both in place.


After you’re done pinning, this is what it should look like! I liked to also go around and try to pull up the sides to see if they actually got pinned or not. It’s a good thing I checked because some of them needed to be pinned better! While sewing I tried my best to stay under the piping and zipper as close as possible. Sometimes this was difficult to do, but if you use a coordinating fabric, then it should be fine either way. Now get to sewing!

See what I mean about a pokey situation?

See what I mean about a pokey situation?


It’s not perfect, but it’s okay, because you can definitely tell it was hand-made!

Step 15:

So I opted to put a pocket in the inside of my case! I wanted one with a zipper on the outside, but realized I would be covering up a lot of my designs, so decided to move it to the inside. I didn’t have anything to go off of for this, so I cut a piece of fabric the same size as the base of the ukulele template I had and then just sewed the whole thing onto the top fabric layer. To prevent fraying on the opening of the pocket, I sewed the fabric under it self about 1/4 ” before sewing it to the main fabric layer.



Inside the pocket!

I had the hardest time making it look good at the top edges. I just sort of left it the way it was with some unfinished corners since I didn’t know how to make it better and was tired of messing with it. But it still looks good!

Step 16:

Back to sewing! Now it’s time to put the top layer on! Repeat step 14 for this.


It felt so great to see everything come together! I could tell I was almost done! 


Step 17:


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The largest noticeable flaw is with the stem of my case. It’s sort of twisted, which came from putting the outside of my case together. Regardless, my ukulele feels right at home in its new case! I love it! Sometimes I wish I had included a strap somewhere to allow for carrying it more easily (I usually have a heavy backpack, sometimes a coat, and this to carry), but the handle works pretty well.

One last final note, even while using expensive fabrics (mine were normal price $12.99/yard) if you can find them on sale (got mine for ~$9.99/yard) you will save a good chunk of money! Also make sure to use any coupons you find off of regular priced items (this saved me $2.59 off of my cord). Without the cost of buying a zipper foot ($5.59), and taking into account the excessive amounts of two fabrics I had left over, I spend about $32 (without tax) on my case. In my opinion, that’s not bad at all for something that is unique and to your liking, and you can tell everyone  you made it yourself!

Thanks to all the wonderful people who have created tutorials for ukulele cases!! It was extremely helpful in crafting my own and I’m not sure I could have handled the task as well as I did without them!



Bucket List Update 4!

Today’s the first official day of my second year of grad school, although I don’t have classes until tomorrow. With that, I figured I should provide another update to my Summer bucket list!

#11 Machine Learning Course – So I have one more assignment and one more week of lectures left for this one before I can cross it off!! If all goes well, it will be done before the end of the week!

#12 Read 4 books – I completed my third book not too long ago. It was Tithe, by Holly Black. It was an interesting read involving faeries, and it’s also the first book in a series of three. Unfortunately, I do not own the other two books in the series, so I will have to wait before completing the series, but I do wish to do so! The next book I’ve started to read (August’s book) is The Phantom Tollbooth. This is supposedly a classic children’s book, but I’ve never heard of it!! Alas, I expect it to be absolutely wonderful

#14 Mobile App Development – I will be taking another online course on this in about a month!

#19 Melting Pot – For those that are not aware, The Melting Pot is a fantastic (fancier) restaurant that serves fondue! I first had fondue in Switzerland with the Missouri Ambassadors of Music in 2008, I had it again maybe a year later, and since then I haven’t been able to find a place that had it! Luckily, there is a Melting Pot in Pittsburgh, and that was where I decided to go for my birthday! They had a lunch weekend special of 4 courses for $29.99 a person. Here’s what was on the menu:

  • Classic Alpine Cheese Fondue
    An ode to the classic flavors of the original Swiss fondues. We combine white wine and garlic with aged Gruyere, Raclette and fontina cheeses and finish with fresh lemon juice and a dash of nutmeg for a rich, earthy and buttery fondue.
    • With artisan breads, seasonal vegetables, and apples for dipping
Cheese Fondue!

Cheese Fondue!

  • Caesar Salad
    Crisp romaine lettuce, shredded Parmesan cheese, crispy croutons and an added touch of Parmesan-encrusted pine nuts, tossed with Caesar dressing.
Delicious Caesar Salad

Delicious Caesar Salad

  • Various Meats with a Seasoned Court Bouillon with the following sauces
    Fresh seasoned vegetable broth (with potatoes, broccoli, and mushrooms)
    • Curry – A mild, yogurt-based curry that complements fresh vegetables and salmon.
    • Green Goddess –A blend of cream cheese, sour cream, onions, chives and parsley that pairs great with vegetables and makes an excellent stuffed mushroom.
    • Teriyaki Glaze – A teriyaki glaze with garlic, ginger and onions that is outstanding with our steak items.
    • Gorgonzola Port – A rich and robust cheese sauce that pairs well with filet mignon and fresh vegetables
    • Ginger Plum – Our own unique recipe with red and green bell peppers, ginger and just a hint of plum that is delicious on chicken and shrimp.
    • Horseradish Cocktail – Great with seafood


Main Dish


Dipping Sauces

  • The Original
    Our original milk chocolate fondue swirled with crunchy
    peanut butter.
    •  With fresh strawberries, blondies, bananas, pineapple, cheesecake, Rice Krispies Treats®, marshmallows, pound cake and brownies.

Everything was ABSOLUTELY delicious! The cheese fondue was a little strong on the wine flavor and it was hard to polish it off, so I’d probably go with a different choice on that next time. The salad was delicious! The parmesan-encrusted pine nuts were one of the best things I’ve ever had! The main entree had shrimp, beef, chicken, and pork. You would put them in the broth and then boil them yourself, which was very reminiscent of a Korean BBQ place we went to in Canada. The sauces were so tasty!! I think my favorite was probably the teriyaki and then the ginger plum. I didn’t care for the cocktail sauce or the gorgonzola port one. Finally, the chocolate fondue was one of the best desserts ever! By the end of it we were so full we didn’t want to think about food or consider going back to The Melting Pot for a few months, which is probably best for our bank account! I’d highly recommend it though for special occasions. They also have a club you can sign up for and get free chocolate covered strawberries on your birthday and when you sign up you get strawberries for spending $60, which is easy to do with two people.

As far as the rest of my birthday went, we went to Big Dog Coffee and then played 54 holes of par-2 mini golf! It was quite a fun day!

Mini Golf!

Mini Golf!

#23 Crochet Blanket – As of August 19 I have 16/30 octagons completed! I’m so happy I was able to reach my second summer goal for it and I can’t wait to finish it!

The 16 octagons I have completed so far!

The 16 octagons I have completed so far!

#25 Ukulele Case – I’ve also completed my ukulele case! You can look forward to a tutorial on that complete with LOTS of pictures soon!

#26 Pittsburgh Zoo – This was such a fun trip! Going into it, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the zoo is decent and they had many of the major animals you would expect to see in a major city zoo. However, I still think the Oklahoma City Zoo and Omaha Zoo are better! Regardless, I enjoyed seeing all of the animals and spending some time outside (even if it was a little on the hot side). I was even able to get tickets for only $5 a piece! You can’t beat that! Here are some of my favorite moments from the zoo!

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Summer Bucket List Update #3

It’s been another couple of weeks since my last update and I’ve been hard at work (and sometimes hardly working)! I’ve gone ahead and added a few more things to the bucket list and I’m ready to cross some more off!

My first addition (#25 on my list) is making a ukulele case! I decided I should take a fun class next semester to help balance out the workload I will have and decided on playing the ukulele! Carnegie Mellon University has these student-taught courses that are, as the the name suggests, taught by students! They’re mainly for fun, but you can learn some useful things in them! They have topics from programming for fun to roller coaster design, to bitcoins.  I used band as my outlet for all four years of undergrad, and it was kind of weird not to have anything this past year, so I’m glad I can incorporate music back into my schedule! I have owned a ukulele for…probably 5 or 6 years now, but I don’t play it frequently enough to retain my skills. Hopefully after this course I can keep up with it more regularly! The ukulele I have came with a very flimsy one-layer case (probably to protect against scratching) and a cardboard box. Since I’m going to be bringing my ukulele on the bus once a week, I figured I needed a better case for it; and being the creative/crafty person that I am I thought, “Hey! Why not make my own case?!” After looking online for some patterns, I decided on one and got to work! I like to think I have most of the work done, as I’m currently hand-sewing in the lining, but there’s still a fair number of hours left. My hope is to complete it before I need to take it on the bus!! I also plan on making a little tutorial with it as well, so others can make a case if they wish!

My second addition (#26 on the list) is going to the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium. With a college friend coming in town before school starts, and $5 tickets, I’ve been presented with an excellent opportunity to go and I can’t wait to explore – and see the penguins!!!


As for crossing things off my list, I’ve really only completed one:

#7 Attending the Wava Memorial Garden Dedication in Stillwater, Oklahoma – I wasn’t sure I was going to get to attend this until a few weeks before the event, but I’m so glad I was able to go!! Not only was it great to catch up with old friends and make new ones, and eat at Eskimo Joes, but it was also great to honor Wava, the found of the music and service sorority I’m involved with. Now anyone who visits National Headquarters will be able to visit and reflect upon the memories she has given us. Here’s a great article about it!

#11 Machine Learning – While I’ve technically “become more knowledgeable,” my c ours won’t finish until the end of August, so I’ll wait to cross that one off until then.

#12 Read four books – I have been able to finish another book! I read Double Identity by Margaret Peterson Haddix. It was one of those books I always saw in the library in middle/high school but never read, so I decided to give it a shot. While it was definitely more meant for younger folks, I still enjoyed it. I’ve also started reading Tithe, but I’m not too far into it. I’m not sure I’ll be able to get 2 more books under my belt before school starts, so I might have to just extend my goal to reading 12 for the year. I guess I never mentioned the first book I read. It was “My Name is Memory,” by Ann Brashares. It was an absolutely phenomenal book!! The only thing I didn’t appreciate was the cliffhanger ending, but I can understand why she ended it the way she did.

#23 Crochet blanket – I have now completed 10/30 octagons! This is huge for me! In my head I decided that would be my summer goal since I’ve been busy with other things, but checking my bucket list I see that I need to get 5 more in! Luckily I will be spending 3-4 days on the bus in the next couple of weeks, so I should be able to get 5 more done!

#22 Bus adventures blog – So This is going to take some time to set up as I’d like to incorporate it into my website, but I do have a bus story to share!

I went into Pittsburgh the other day to attend a lecture on Bioinformatics for Personalized Medicine and of course, decided it was the best place for me to crochet. I was right, because I ended up doing an entire octagon during my time on the bus (approx. an hour and a half). Now, since I was busily crocheting I wasn’t really paying attention to where we were, but I would look up every now and again. At one point I did look up and didn’t recognize any of my surroundings. Confused, I just kept looking with a confused expression on my face and it finally occurred to me that our drive had forgotten to take a turn onto a side road. Now, there are about 4-5 stops on this road. The driver obviously realized he made a wrong move (I guess that’s why he made a very jerky stop at one point, probably right after he missed the turn off, then realized he wasn’t going to be able to get on it), and started going to the stops a bus would go to if it were going TO Pittsburgh, not from it. This was the best he could do for those on the bus who needed off. He announced over the speaker what was happening and apologized, and all was good. Although, He didn’t go through ALL the stops. I think he missed two of them, so hopefully no one was waiting to get on the bus there! I couldn’t help but giggle a little bit, because out of all the times I’ve been on the bus this summer (probably less than 10), this happened during a time I was on the bus. Not only that, but this isn’t the first time a driver has missed this turn off!! However, this driver definitely handled it better than the previous one, who (this was the second to last bus to run for the night mind you) didn’t go through any of the stops he missed and just asked if anyone needed off in that area without using the microphone. What a mess!


With that I shall write again in a few weeks with some more updates!


Bucket List Update 2!

Hello hello!!

It’s been a while since I’ve updated, and I’m happy to say the summer bucket list is coming along quite nicely! Summer’s end is approaching fast, and at this point I’m certain that my bucket list will not be complete, but I would still like to get as much done as possible (and still enjoy summer)!

(See original bucket list here)

#4 College roommate’s wedding – What a beautiful wedding! Not only did I get to enjoy a day at a winery, a ride in a limo, being a bridesmaid, and seeing some friends, but I also got to watch one of my best friends from college marry the man of her dreams!! It was such an exciting day! I even got in some quality time with her before the wedding! The event also marked the first time getting my hair “professionally” styled (and paying for it), and the first time getting my nails done. While I haven’t attended many weddings, this one is definitely up there as far as weddings go.

The Bride and I

The Bride and I

#5 High School friend’s wedding – The following week I got to do the same experience with another great friend of mine (and she’ll do it again in Sweden this weekend!)! This marked my first bachelorette party (complete with a “put the kiss on the  main” poster), an awesome scavenger hunt, and trying Princess cake! Let me tell you, it was absolutely delicious! It was a wonderful wedding! I think my favorite part was when the bride surprised the groom by singing a song for him in Swedish during the ceremony. It’s always fun to see your friends start new lives together, although it’s a little hard to get used to their new names!!

Bridesmaids with the groom

Bridesmaids with the groom

#8 Reading a modeling textbook – So this one hasn’t been going very well. I think I’ve made it through the first chapter. It’s such a dense book that it’s hard to just sit down and read it. I’m hoping to make it through another few chapters before classes start

#11 Machine Learning – Making good progress on this one!! I’m about 3 weeks into a 10 week course from Coursera on the topic and it’s going well! It’s a really interesting field and definitely something to consider for the future!

#12 Reading 4 books – I’ve done awful on this task, but I’ve finally almost made it through 1 book! I’m hoping to finish it this week and get a good start on my second one!

#16 Pittsburgh Beerfest – This was such a fun event! We got tickets for probably $40/each that gave us a little souvenir cup and 4 to 4 1/2 hours to try over 250 beers! Needless to say, we didn’t try them all. I think I ended up trying 32 beers. Here are some of my favorites!

-High or Hell Watermelon by 21st Amendment Brewery

  • Very nice watermelon taste
  • light and refreshing
  • definitely something I would drink again

-Zingerbuch by Red Star Kombucha

  • gluten-free!
  • made using ginger, and even has a pink hue
  • very refreshing, something to end the night with as it acts as a pallet cleanser

-1877 by Red Star Kombucha

  • gluten-free!
  • made using lemon and black tea (more like a cider than a beer)
  • again, very refreshing, useful for an end-of-the-night drink
  • I think this one was more pleasant than the Zingerbuch

-Black Cherry Cider by McKenzie’s Hard Cider

  • Definitely the best cider I’ve had (comparing against woodchuck, angry orchard, Red’s)
  • Delightful black cherry taste that actually tastes like black cherries
  • SO good.

-Pumpkin Ale by Block House Brewing

  • The BEST pumpkin beer I’ve ever had, and I’ve tried several
  • It tastes like pumpkin pie in liquid form with an excellent blend of ingredients
  • Don’t miss out on this for the fall!

#23 Crochet Blanket – I currently have 4 octagons complete (in the sense of I still have to go around all of them one more time)!

#24 – I finished the R course! It was good to get some more practice with R under my belt, but I don’t think the course was very good. The programming assignments were useful, but too guided. I guess there’s only so much you can do with an online course with everyone having different backgrounds. Still glad I did it!

With that, I’m going to get back to working on my bucket list, and probably watching big brother.



Bucket List Update 1!

I thought I could update my summer bucket list and cross some things off! It’s been almost a month since I created it and I’ve completed 4 items, and added two more!

#2 Puzzle – Here’s sort of my progression in pictures. As you can tell, most of the progress occurred within a short time span! It was a 3,000 piece puzzle of an old world map I got from Jordan for Christmas. It was a LOT of fun to put together! A lot of times I end up gluing my puzzles so I can hang them up on the wall, but this one I decided to just put back in the box so I can keep putting it back together. It was really hard to put it back in the box after working so many hours on it! I left it out for a day so I could enjoy it before putting it away.

January 1

January 1

May 18

May 18

May 28

May 28

June 3

June 3


#3 Breaking Bad – We ended up binge watching the last 4 or 5 episodes. It ended up being a really great series and I’m glad I watched it! It’s an interesting topic and it really plays a lot on right/wrong, laws, morals, etc.


#10 & #23 Crochet Blanket – I had started crocheting this blanket back in December 2011 on a band trip to NYC. I actually didn’t make it very far! I couldn’t have done more than 3-5 small circles, which now take me about 15-25 minutes each to make. Since finding my crochet magazine with my pattern in it while cleaning out the 2nd bedroom I thought it would be fun to work on again. It actually ended up being a lot of fun and I’ve completed the 20 squares that make up my blanket! I’ve now moved on to the beginnings of my 30 octagons. My pattern is from the September/October 2008 issue of “Crochet Today!”. So I probably actually started this blanket back in 2008, but only made one circle and gave up. Here are a couple pictures of the design in the magazine, and the one I drew up for my blanket.

Magazine Example

Magazine Example

My Design

My Design











So the blanket is made up of granny squares and octagons. The pattern was for a 48 x 60 inch blanket involving 20 octagons (4×5), however I wanted more, so I added a row and column so that I will have 30 octagons. Now, this means my final blanket size should be about 60 x 72, however my gauge is smaller than the recommended one. I think my blanket will come out to be about the same size as their blanket, probably a little bigger, but not the full 60×72.

I decided to go with blues and greens for the octagons and then the squares have cardinal and gold in them. The cardinal and gold come from Iowa State University (my alma mater)’s school colors. Blue is my favorite color, and green is Jordan’s favorite color. So that’s where the color idea came from.

I’m still not sure how much I like the idea of blue/green with cardinal/gold, but I figured since there will be only small amounts of cardinal and gold it will work. I guess we will find out!

It’s kind of funny that I decided to make the blanket this way when I did. I guess I figured if Jordan and I didn’t work out, I could still enjoy my quilt because I like the color green as well. It also helped that I didn’t actually start making real progress on it until this summer.

Here are some more images of the squares that I’ve created.

Granny Squares

Granny Squares completed!

Time to work on the octagons!

#18 Mt. Washington – So I hadn’t actually planned to mark this one off so fast! However, I was able to spend a day with my Pittsburgh friend, Jen, and we took the incline up to Mount Washington, took some pictures and walked around, then headed back down and went to the Three Rivers Arts Festival. It was actually a really exciting day! If you ever get the chance to ride an incline, you should do it! It’s a fun experience that doesn’t happen that often. The only other times I can think of riding inclines are from traveling up a mountain in Zermatt, Switzerland, and then to travel out of a cave in Branson, MO.

The view from Mount Washington is absolutely gorgeous. It gives you a great view of the Pittsburgh skyline from up high. That’s the nice thing about Pennsylvania – all of the hills – although that can be disadventageous in the winter months.

Most of the pictures I took are on my camera, so I’ll have to let you see those later, but here are some I took on my phone.

Looking at most of downtown

Looking at most of downtown

Looking to the east of the city

Looking to the east of the city

It was a great day of firsts for me as I got to experience the city’s transit system (like subway), take the incline, and visit the Three Rivers Arts Festival! The festival was really quite wonderful! There are so many artistic people in the world and it’s so great to see their work. Unfortunately, most things were above my budget, but I did manage to find a book about penguins illustrated by the artist who sold it to me. It’s quite a wonderful book! It’s called, Penguins Hate Stuffand you should check it out!!

#23 A course on R – This is the last thing I changed/updated on my summer bucket list. I’m in the process of taking a free online course through Coursera on R, which is a free statistical programming language. I’ve worked with R in the past here and there in statistics classes, but I wanted some more hands-on experience with it. The course has actually been pretty good. I just completed my first programming assignment that took me most of the week to figure out. It’s nice when something is a challenge and you work really hard to figure it out, and then you get it! There were numerous times that I thought about just turning in the assignment with what I had done because I couldn’t get past the point I was stuck on, but I kept at it and it really paid off. The course is only 4 weeks long, and I’m hoping to finish it up ahead of schedule, because my second course on Machine Learning starts on Monday the 16th!

I went ahead and updated the original Bucket List I had created to show what was done and I added what was mentioned here. Feel free to check it out to see my progress!

With that I shall bid ado, until next time!


How to Create a Portfolio Website : Part 2 – Programming and Layout

Now we are at the building blocks of creating a website. How do we get content on our website? The purpose of this post is to give sort of an overview of any skills you might need, or programs out there you can use to help build a website. In the future I plan on going more in depth for the certain areas of a website I will be creating.

First off, there are a couple of ways to go about creating your website. The first way is much less technical, and it’s probably easier to get more creative. This is done by using websites that provide a GUI (graphical user interface) for their users. You can drag and drop images, rotate, change colors, etc. with just a click of your mouse! These include Weebly, and the more recent/popular Wix. Even if you don’t plan on publishing a website, they are still fun to go to and play around with. They have themes already generated and then you can add customization to them. It really is simple, and it looks great!

However, if you are like me, then you want more of a challenge. You want to code something from scratch and learn along the way. If this is your approach then I would suggest CodeAcademy. They offer great tutorials on how to get started with coding a website. Everyone can do this, from beginners who have never programmed before, to seasoned veterans. I decided to start from the beginning of their HTML course (which they said would take about 7 hours and you’d have a website by the end of it). It’s a little boring for me since I’ve had some HTML experience before (although it was probably 8-10 years ago), and have other coding experience, but it’s a nice refresher and I can breeze through the “lessons”. I plan on doing this for JQuery and JavaScript, possibly PHP as well.

There are also lots of books, websites, and tutorials online as well. If you’re looking to create a certain look, there’s probably a tutorial on it.

The middle ground between these two would be finding a template online and then tweaking it to create what you want. This is GREAT because you know upfront how something is going to look and if you know what you want to change, you can just make a few alterations and have a similar product that’s all yours!


Now that we’ve talked about languages, let’s discuss layout. A simple website is generally made up of a home page and subpages. The homepage is the first thing everyone sees. When creating one, you have to save it as index.html, or some accepted variation of this (home, default) with whatever extension you’re working with (html, php, xhtml, etc.). Once you’ve uploaded your index.html file to cPanel, or whatever else you are using, your website should be automatically updated! You can view mine here. Depending on when you read this, you’ll either see a white background with a line of text, or a whole website! .

It’s also possible for you to see how a page will look in an offline mode. This is the best way to edit things so that you know they work before having them go “live” for all the world to see. To do this just type in the file path your file is saved to in your address/url bar and it should appear. For example, I saved my index.html file on the desktop of my mac. So I can type /Users/Shalyn/Desktop/index.html and it shows the same thing! If you’re using Windows then you’ll likely have to include some sort of drive (C:, D:, etc).

Subpages operate in a very similar way. You can call them whatever you like, but know that they will show up in the web address as such. For example, if I created a page for my contact info, but called it bubbles.html, then it would show up as . There might be a way around this (I haven’t quite gotten past my home page yet!), but it just makes more sense to name pages accurately and concise!

This will conclude the second part of this website portfolio adventure! I’m not sure how long it will take me to have a decent basic website outline up and running, but I’ll add another post once I’ve got enough new material to cover! Until then, happy building!

How To Create a Portfolio Website : Part 1 – Buying a Domain

So as one of my summer projects I wanted to set up my own website, mainly to showcase myself and have all of my projects and interests in one place. It’s also a great way to gain some programming skills (HTML, CSS, JQuery, JavaScript, etc), and I can be creative! So I thought why not share what I learn along the way!

So you want to make a website. What’s your first step? Well, you’re going to need a domain name. This is the address for your website. You’ll need to decide on your name, but we’ll get to that in a second. First you’ll need to find a place to buy it from. The most popular option is probably GoDaddy. However, I was advised by several friends to avoid them at all costs. There are so many add-ons to deal with after buying the initial domain and it’s just a big hassle. Other websites to look into:





I opted for NameCheap after spending a day comparing and thinking about it. There weren’t overwhelming pros or lots of cons against the others, it just came as the overall favorite amongst friends, and the price was reasonable. Definitely do your shopping though! Make sure you are getting what it is you’re looking for! I’d also recommend a quick google search for promo codes for whichever company you go with. I was able to save about $10 doing that.

Now that you’ve decided on a site, let’s talk about a name for your site! This isn’t always an easy decision since a lot of domains may already be taken. When thinking about a portfolio, it’s generally a good idea to have your name be the domain. It’s simple and informative, as well as professional – and generally they are not already taken, unless you have a very common name. If you’re looking for more of a business website or something else, then just keep in mind that you want it to describe whatever your website’s purpose is and you want people to remember it!

The next step of the process is options. For myself, I was going to need hosting. I wasn’t going to have a dedicated server always up and running to run my website, so I wanted someone else to do it for me. There are free ways to do this, but it often comes at the cost of ads. If that’s something you’re okay with, then that’s fine. Otherwise, expect to pay for it. It’s not as bad as it seems though! My upfront cost was about $47 for a year for hosting, but with the coupon it was about $38. That came out to about $4 a month, which isn’t bad! You’re paying for space, bandwidth, and some other things, so it’s a pretty good deal. The domain name itself was about $11/year. So $5/month for a website – cheaper than Netflix! Some other options to think about are WHOIS Privacy, email accounts, and SSL.

WHOIS is the database for containing info about owners of domains. Normally this is public knowledge, but you can often pay a little extra to not have your info out in the open. I wasn’t for sure whether this was a good idea or not because most of the time it means that you don’t actually own your domain (although I doubt problems would arise because of this). However, in the end I chose to do it, mainly because it was free. It can help protect the email address you give from spam amongst other things. Speaking of spam – when you sign up, make sure to use an email address you don’t mind getting spammed through, it will probably happen.

Some sites throw in free email accounts, others make you pay for it. For a portfolio-style website, it’s not completely necessary, so I didn’t care much about it. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is basically added security for your website. If you’re going to be doing any sort of transactions through it, it’s probably a good idea to include it. When I bought my domain I had this option for just an extra $1.99/year. Totally worth it – although I opted not to get it since it wasn’t really needed.

Once you’ve selected all of your options, you just have to fill out some information for the WHOIS database (most of the time you’ll use the same info for all sections), and then pay for it! You can buy multiple years at a time, and you can also choose to auto renew if you would like.

At this point I was a little unsure of what to do next! I now had a website in my possession, but what was I supposed to do with it? Some advice – be patient. It can take a couple hours to get everything set up and running, it doesn’t just happen right away. And unless you have pages all ready to add, you’re not going to be able to put content up right away. I had to wait for an email saying my website was being hosted. It also gave instructions on how to log into cPanel, which is basically a GUI (graphical user interface) for web hosting. It has everything in one place, you just upload your files to it (or create a shortcut to their server on your local computer), and it’s easy to use! I had never used it before, so it took a little getting used to, but it’s not difficult. They have a little tutorial at the beginning to help set everything up and guide you through everything. They try to make it as user-friendly as possible.

With that, you now have a registered domain in your name and the necessary services to get your website up and running! You can look forward to more thoughts and resources on this topic as I make my way through the process.

Summer 2014 Bucket List

Hello, Hello!!

It’s been far too long since I’ve updated everyone! I’ve completed my first year as a graduate student, and I’m half-way there! WOO! I averaged about 37 hours/week on studying/classes this semester. I even managed about 7.5 hours of sleep a day, except I’m sure my average was lower on week days considering I slept 10-12 hours/day on the weekends. All said and done though, it turned out to be a pretty good semester!

So now that it’s summer, I’m currently trying to find an internship or some sort of research group to work with. In addition to keeping myself academically stimulated I thought I should create a list of what I want to accomplish this summer.

1. Build my own personal website – I’ve wanted to do this for a while but haven’t had the time for it, so I figured now was a good opportunity!

2. Finish my 3,000 piece puzzle – I’ve been working on this since December, and I’d like to finish it before school starts in August. Completed June 3

3. Finish Breaking Bad – This should be an easy once since we’re already half-way there! Completed June 10

4. Watch one of my best friends from college get married! – So excited for this one!  Completed June 28

5. Watch one of my best friends from high school get married! – And equally excited for this one!! Completed July 5

6. Visit Hershey,PA – It’s only 4 hours away and how could I not?!

7. Attend the Wava Memorial Garden Dedication in OK – I’m not sure if I will get to fulfill this one, but I definitely want to! Completed July 25

8. Read most of my Modeling textbook for next semester – It’s going to be a tough class, so might as well get a head start!

9. Work on my cross-stitch dragon – I don’t want to set a goal for how much to get done, because it’s hard to measure, but I would like to work on it some more

10. Work on my crochet blanket – I think I’d like to get all the small circles done and start working on the next round for sure! Completed

11. Become more knowledgeable in Machine Learning – This is another head start move for next semester

12. Read 4 books – this will have me on track to reading a book each month (or 12 for the year), which is something I haven’t done in a VERY long time. And I have PLENTY to choose from!

13. Enjoy the outdoors – Whether it’s camping, hiking, or disc golfing, I want to take advantage of the nicer weather!

14. Learn more about mobile app development – I’ve wanted to do this for a while!!

15. Make crayon art – I have all the supplies for this, just need to do it! You know, the canvas and melting crayons!

16. Attend the Pittsburgh Beer Festival – what more is there to say about this?! Completed July 18

17. Go to a local brewery

18. Take the incline up to Mt. Washington Completed June 7

19. Eat at The Melting Pot – For those that don’t know, this is an awesome fondue restaurant! Completed August 17

20. Go to a Pirates Game – This one may not happen until September, but I still want to do it!

21. Get caught up on blog topics

22. Start blog for bus adventures

23. Have half of my octagons done for my crochet blanket Completed August 17

24. Complete a free online course on R Completed June 22

25. Make a case for my ukulele from scratch Completed August 24

26. Go to the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium Completed August 23


That’s about all I have for now on that topic. I’ll add more if I think of them as summer continues! I’ll try to get updated on the events that have happened over the past year sooner rather than later!

Until then!


Building a Cat Habitat

I’ve always been unsure of how to describe a kitty habitat, but my mom came up with a good name for Pixel’s. It’s become Pixel’s Playhouse. This was my winter break project this year. Pixel like’s to scratch on the walls and she hasn’t really had any place high she could sit, so I thought this would help with the scratching and give her something fun to play with. They’re pretty simple to make, just take some time and hard work!

Step 1. Come up with a design

This is obviously the most creative step and you can really make it however big or small you want it to be! You can add in shelving, bookcases, etc. We actually got a stereo cabinet at a thrift store for about $13 that we incorporated into ours. This was our initial design.


The middle piece is the stereo cabinet we purchased and the small post on the left is one we had previously bought. The rest we were going to have to come up with. My dad had lots of wood lying around that we could use and a family friend was able to give us some carpet. I would say it’s a good idea to know how big you want things to be, put some measurements down. In our case, we were sort of just working with what we had so it was on the fly.

Step 2. Gather Materials

I would consider this step to be a preliminary gathering. Sometimes you just don’t know how much you’ll need of something and you’ll have to get more. Here’s what we ended up using:

-stereo cabinet

-carpet roll tubes (PVC could also be used, or wood – if you don’t use wood you’ll have to have some way of attaching them. We ended up putting a 2×4 inside of the carpet tubes.)



-batting/filling (available at Hobby Lobby, Michaels, JoAnn’s, etc)

-rope (We were able to get this at Lowe’s, and ended up using 3 rolls of it at $10 a roll)

-staples, screws, staple gun, drill, screwdriver, carpet glue, eyelets, key rings, sewing machine, paint, utility knife, nuts, washers

-large PVC pipe for tunnel

-PVC pipe to cover all-thread supports

-All-thread for extra supports

Step 3. Assemble

We had to make our Playhouse transportable, which involved a little bit more work. This was also done over the course of a couple of weeks.


The first step was to carpet the bases and the top piece. This was done following this helpful blog I found from I found it very useful. While my  results could have been better, they work. You can’t see any of the wood until you get right up close to it! For the bases I only stapled it to the back, but it could have been done better had I glued the front of it as well. Since everything would sit on the larger base, I felt staples were enough.

Once the bases were done the next step was to carpet the inside and outside of the cube. This took some time (a couple of days as time to let the glue set then glue two other sides) since glueing two sides required using a wall. The carpet was able to be stapled to the large carpet tubes, but had to be glued to the PVC pipes covering the all-thread. We decided to use zip-ties to shape the carpet first and then used them to dry securely! It worked pretty well. The back-up plan was to just intersperse rope up and down the pipe to secure it.

Fabric was glued using the carpet glue to the top of the cube, and the inside and outside of the tunnel. We stuffed the platforms and bottom hide-out with batting and the filling/stuffing you would put in stuffed animals. The batting allowed for a more level surface while the filly made it more poofy. The batting was only used in the middle layer of the stereo cabinet.

The only things left to do were to tie little toys in a couple of spots and add the kitty hammock. The kitty hammock was just fleece doubled over and sewn then attached to eyelets via key rings.


I hope this post inspires you to create your own kitty habitat!

2013: The Year in Review

This year has been a year of change and growing up.

I graduated from Iowa State with my Bachelor’s Degree,


Drishti and I before the graduation ceremony

co-signed a lease for my first apartment in Pittsburgh, PA,


Part of the living room and dining room in our apartment

and successfully completed my first semester at Carnegie Mellon University!


Mellon Institute building on campus

Whether I like it or not I’m that much closer to becoming an adult and living in the “real world”.


In addition, we now have a kitty, Pixel who is now 7 months old. She’s currently snuggling up to my warm laptop.


Pixel when we first got her


Pixel today

I also got to do a fair amount of traveling this year!

I spend last New Year’s in Tennessee as part of the Liberty Bowl, traveled to Idaho and Massachusetts for a convention, got to watch the Cyclone Men’s Basketball team play in the NCAA tournament in Ohio, and watched the Cyclone Football team win on the road in West Virginia! Here are my state counts:

Tennessee : 1

Arkansas : 1

Missouri : 4

Iowa : 3

Kansas : 1

Ohio : 7

Idaho : 1

Minnesota : 3 + airport

Colorado : airport

Illinois : 5

Indiana : 5

Pennsylvania : 2

Oklahoma : 1

New York : 2

Connecticut : 2

Massachusetts : 1

West Virginia : 5

That’s 17 states! I hope to continue my love of travel in 2014 with at least one trip to West Virginia and another to Canada! I hope it doesn’t end there!

I’m not much of a person for New Year’s resolutions, but I hope this year holds surprises, travels, happiness, knowledge, love and success. I wish the same for all of you! Whether you plan to lose weight or pick up a new hobby, don’t put your aspirations on hold. In fact – I don’t think you should wait until a new year to start anything! There’s no time time like the present. With that said, go eat your black eyed peas, celebrate with a chocolate covered strawberry and some champagne, and ring in the new year right! I will be watching the Cyclones basketball game, and putting together a 3,000 piece puzzle I got for Christmas!


Happy New Year!