Search This Blog

October 19, 2022

Signature Cabochons

Most geocaches I run into these days are on the small side, so I decided that I needed to make something small enough that I can drop into these caches.  I've seen this type of DIY geoswag in other caches before, so I am copying the idea.  These pieces are glass cabochons on which I have glued cardstock that I've printed with the geocaching logo and signature with the QR code on the back.  Sealed with a coat of Polycrylic.  Not going to bother to number these since there isn't much handiwork involved in making them.  Maybe at some point I will do cabochons that involve a little more craftiness, but for now, this is my SWAG solution for small caches.

Caches where I've dropped these:


November 22, 2021

My first Unboxing of a Cache Advance Cache Crate (November 2021)


I strongly hinted to hubs that I would like to try a short-term subscription to the Cache Crate from Cache Advance.  Given that he is the awesome, fabulous husband that is surpassed by no one, he obviously complied.  I am not sure at this point how long of a subscription he bought me, but I am assuming it's for a few months at least. 

Here is what I received on 11/23/2021 in my first Cache Crate, pictured above.  

  • A "cache shaped" cookie cutter (looks like a slice of bread to me). It's in in the brown organza bag.
  • A Route 66 Geocoin
  • A GIFF set consisting of:  A patch (iron-on?  I assume so),  sticker, and a wooden nickel
  • A set of 3 decals (female, male, satellite) 
A Cache Crate retails for $25 + S&H.  I'll have to look up the total amount at some point to figure out the exact cost. 

I am unfortunately quite disappointed with my first Cache Crate.  Probably the most worthwhile thing in the box was the Route 66 Geocoin, but it's hard for me to figure out the value on that, given that it is a 3rd party issue.  Is it worth a $25 + S&H "surprise"?  Maybe.  But my impression so far is that it was a bunch of low-value junk that I wouldn't have bothered to pay for myself, even at a discount.  More than half of what I got was stickers.  Seriously?  STICKERS.  I could have crafted better things (and have done so and put them in caches)  myself for the a lesser price.  While the Geocoin is nice, whether it is worth it as a collectible is questionable at this point.


June 10, 2021

World Map Keychain


It's yet another keychain, 18 of them, made from "Tumbling Tower" blocks from the good ole Dollar Tree and map paper.  The edges are stained, and each is hand-numbered.  The blocks are finished with polycrylic to make them weather-resistant.   Attached to the jumpring is either my bronze or silver signature bee.  

Where were these dropped?

#1 of 18 - Dropped on 11/5/;2021 in GC8A6MW  

#2 of 18 - Dropped on 6/19/2021 in GC832BB

#3 of 18 - Dropped on 8/29/2022 in GC9VVQ9

#4 of 18 - Dropped on 6/27/2021 in GC7GFK9

#5 of 18 - Dropped on 7/3/2021 in GC4V67Q

#6 of 18 - Dropped on 10/10/2022 in GC4GWVP

#7 of 18 - Dropped on 6/19/2021 in GC7QPRT

#8 of 18 - Dropped on 6/19/2021 in GC8K6QK

#9 of 18 - Dropped on 6/25/21 in  GC6BGTJ

#10 of 18 - Pending

#11 of 18 - Dropped on 7/7/2021 in GC8Z0E4

#12 of 18 - Dropped on 12/14/2021 in GC99K87

#13 of 18 - Dropped on 11/14/2021 in GC20CNG

#14 of 18- Pending

#15 of 18 - Pending

#16 of 18 - Dropped on 5/11/22 in GC6ZGC1

#17 of 18 - Dropped on 6/25/21 in GC361CJ

#18 of 18 - Dropped 6/19/2021 in GC42CTV

Have you picked one of these up?  If so, I would love to hear what you think of it in the comments!

March 30, 2021

The Making of My First Cosplays: Buddy the Elf Costume

Background and Research

I was able to find the actual costumes worn by Will Ferrel online at an auction site, which made for a good reference.  This costume description indicates that the coat was made of antron fleece, and is closed with hidden snaps on the front.  Snaps along the waist hold the belt in place.  I originally thought the embroidered trim was only yellow, but the embroidery details are actually done in both yellow and green.  It is embroidered only on the front part of the coat.

Replicating the Coat and Accessories

 The Costume Elements

  1. Green coat made of antron fleece, probably sewn with interfacing to give it structure.  Fur collar and sleeve trim.  Edges embroidered on the front.
  2. Yellow leggings
  3. Cone hat decorated with yellow trim and a red feather 
  4. Black belt, approximately 4" wide with gold buckle
  5. Black elf shoes

Making the Coat

I elected to sew the coat from felt instead of fleece.  If I had stuck to fleece, I would have had to likely fuse some interfacing to it to give it a more coat-like structure, whereas felt naturally has a coat-like structure.  Felt also has a similar appearance to the onscreen texture.  Plus, felt is super cheap!

Starting With a Commercial Pattern

I purchased Simplicity 2542 as the base for this costume.  Since I'm just starting out sewing cosplay, I don't have any basic patterns on which to base garments on, nor do I have the skill (or current interest) to draft my own.  Having now used this pattern as a basis to make a modified, more accurately constructed pattern and prototype, I'd have to say that buying a regular men's coat pattern would have been more useful.  Not only for this project, but also to simply have a basic men's coat pattern to use in the future.  I guess I was enamored by the picture on the package. It looks "kind of" like the Buddy Elf outfit, and it's certainly the look Simplicity was going for. 

I thought that I could simply lengthen the coat and add the curve on the front.  The collar looked spot-on and so did the hat.  I also thought that I might get some future use from the Mrs. Claus apron and dress pattern that was included. 

Problems with the pattern

First, the hat turned out to be a bust.  Since I was working on Buddy and Jovie more-or-less at the same time, I actually used the hat pattern to make Jovie's hat first.  After making it according to the pattern I decided that cutting out a simple cone on my own would have not only been easier, but would have also yielded a more accurate replica. 

More seriously, I should have paid more attention to the actual silhouette this pattern will yield.  If I had bothered to look on the pattern back, I would have seen that although the "Buddy" look seems like a straight coat on the pattern cover (like the "real" Buddy coat"), it really is just the Santa pattern cut short of the flared bottom. I couldn't simply cut away the front to get the curved edge without taking in the flared part of the coat.  Also, there is no back seam on the pattern, which is necessary to get a proper slit on the back of Buddy's coat.  I thus had to add a seam allowance to the back centerline so that I could cut it into two pieces. 

Pattern coat has no back centerline seam and flares at the bottom.

Buddy's coat is straight (no flare), seamed and darted on back with a slit for mobility.

I basically re-made the coat pattern using pattern making material ("Swedish Tracing Paper") and used it to perfect a prototype made from an old duvet cover.  After doing all of that. I could confidently say that the prototype looked correct sillouhette-wise, and it fit the hubs properly. 

Back and front pattern modifications vs the original pattern. 

Edge Trim, Front Embroidery, and Closure

The site that auctioned-off a couple of the actual costumes worn by Will Ferrel notes that Buddy's coat is closed with hidden snaps and is embroidered in gold and green.  The edges of the coat also appear to be finished with binding tape.  I chose to close the coat with a long zipper instead of snaps for both ease of use and to simplify the sewing. 

I kind of obsessed over the embroidery.  It's hard to tell exactly what the embroidered designs are from either studying the movie or the pictures online, but it looks like a combination of flowers/leaves, Christmas shapes like snowflakes and reindeer, along with random patterns.  Although I value authenticity, there was no way I was going to spend hours hand-embroidering two colors along the entire front edge of the coat.  Instead, I looked to putting together various decorative stitches that are pre-programmed into my sewing machine to get the look and feel of the design, rather than being a strict replica.  

I spent hours trying out different stitch and design combinations.


I finally settled on a very simple combination of two stitch types, sewn in three straight rows. 

Final Costing and Bill of Materials

 Item     Purchase Price inc tax (USD)
 Faux Fur (collar and trim) $8.30
 22" Zipper     $4.32
 Green AP Thread     $4.32
 Santa Belt     $12.86
 Green felt (2 yds of 72" wide) $12.10
 Sew-in velcro (for attaching fur trim) Scrap from Jovie Costume
 Yellow leggings$12.97
 Costume Pattern             $6.95
 Dark green bias tape (edge trim)    $6.46       

The Making of My First Cosplays: Jovie the Elf Costume

Background and Research

In the 2003 movie Elf, Jovie appears in two different elf costumes.  The one she is seen in most the department store elf costume from her job at Gimbel's.  This costume is what you would think of as a typical red and green elf outfit.  The second costume she wears is only shown in the ending scene where she and Buddy visit Papa Elf with their baby.  It is pink, red and white.

As the companion costume for Buddy, I chose to do the second costume even though she is seen in it for only a few minutes at the end of the movie.  I did this for two reasons.  First, this is supposed to be part of a couples costume.  The pink costume is what she wears after she and Buddy actually become a couple and are (presumably) married with a baby.  The department store elf costume is worn when she and Buddy have not yet hooked up.  Second, I feel that stylistically, the pink one looks better when paired with the Buddy costume, and is what a "real" elf (at least in the context of the movie) would wear.  On the other hand, the first costume in the context of the movie is the stereotypical department store interpretation of elf attire.

Replicating the Dress and Accessories

The Costume Elements

  1. Pink long-sleeved, skater style dress, likely made of fleece, trimmed with approximately 2 inches of fur at the collar, cuff, and skirt
  2. Red leather belt with silver buckle
  3. Cone hat with red trim
  4. Red embroidery at the collar
  5. A silver/shimmery organza underskirt
  6. Red tights/leggings and red leather elf shoes



The Dress

I compromised on this and purchased a basic pink skater dress in a knit fabric.  I already knew that I wasn't going to want to ever wear a fleece dress in our heat (Texas), especially for a costume that included leggings.  This style of dress is just too easy to buy for cheap, so I decided not to sew it from scratch.  The color and fabric are thus not quite screen-accurate.

The Underskirt

Jovie wears a shimmery, silver underskirt with silver trim.  I replicated this by gathering some silvery/gray organza and sewing it onto the hemline.  I didn't bother with applying a trim on the bottom, and doubled up on the hem to simulate a trim.

The crazy thing about this is that I could not find silver or gray organza or trim to make this.  There's a lot of white (for wedding dresses) and black (because black) available, but not so much in other colors.  While I was searching the internet to find organza, the only thing that was readily available in anything other than black or white was organza gift bags.  Hmm.  That made me recall that over the years, I've received gifts from Amazon where the giver paid Amazon to do the gift wrapping for them.  It used to be that Amazon would actually wrap their gifts in wrapping paper, but nowadays they just throw items into a pre-made gift bag made of....organza. 

Woot!  I had a couple of these bags in silver!

A few minutes and a seam ripper later, I got my underskirt material for free, along with some dark gray non-woven polypropylene material (the stuff they make reusable grocery bags from) that was used to give the bag structure and opacity.  As a side note, I got into sewing cosplay after catching the sewing bug (no pun intended) making masks for the Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020.  Non-woven polypropylene can be used to make face masks and mask filters, so perhaps I may use the other part of this gift bag for that someday.  

I cut the organza into about 12" wide strips, folded it in half, and sewed a 1/2" seam at the bottom.  After gathering the strip using two rows of machine basting, I finished the top edge by sewing it into a folded-over 2" strip of scrap fabric to make it easier to sew into the hemline. 

The faux fur that I purchased was labeled as dry-clean only.  Since I wanted to be able to throw the dress in the wash, I did not directly sew the fur trim onto the dress.  Instead, I sewed strips of velcro onto the dress and trim so that I could easily detach the fur when it came time to washing the dress.

The Belt

Jovie's belt appears to be made of (p)leather, but since I already had some scrap red felt in my fabric stash, I chose to use that for the belt, hat trim, and elf shoe covers. I cut out two strips of the felt and top-stitched them together to give it a little more heft and structure.  I attached the strip to a 1.5" adjustable silver buckle that was purchased in a pack of two.  This type of buckle works on tension and has no belt pin, so I didn't need to fuss with cutting holes and installing grommets.


A friend gave me some red knit fabric and elastic to use for Covid-19 mask sewing that I never used for that purpose.  Since I had the materials to make the leggings, I decided to give drafting a pattern and making some basic leggings with an exposed waistband for this costume.

Pattern drafted onto cut up grocery bags and sewn up into leggings with an exposed wide elastic waistband.

Jovie's leggings are decorated with a snowflake/star pattern made from dots/sequins (?).  I made my own version of this decoration by dotting silver glitter fabric paint into a star pattern.   

The Hat

Jovie's hat is a a cone hat decorated with four strips of red trim.  Unlike Buddy's cone hat, there are little gaps between the strips of trim. I could have cut out a simple cone and made a hat from that, but since I the pattern I purchased to make the Buddy Elf coat included an elf hat, I gave that a try instead.  I purchased a yard of pink flannel to match the dress color and a yard of heavyweight interfacing to make the hat.  


IMHO, cutting out a simple cone would have yielded a more accurate replica.  The hat cut from the pattern has a floppy brim, and the Jovie and Buddy hats are closer to a true cone.  Since at this point I had not yet made the Buddy hat, I will do a simple cone for that instead.  I don't know if I will re-make the Jovie hat, although I do have enough extra material to re-do it. 


Final Costing and Bill of Materials

 Item Purchase Price inc. tax (USD)
 Pink knit skater dress   $24.89
Red felt (shoes, hat trim, belt) Scrap from previous crafts
 Silver adjustable slide buckle (2 pk)  $4.32
 1 yd pink flannel (hat) $6.48
 1 yd heavyweight interfacing (hat) $4.32
 Red leggings DIY from fabric and notions stash
 Silver organza "underskirt" Upcycled gift bag
 Glitter Fabric paint (snowflake decor on leggings) $3.45
 2 yds Sew-in 3/4" wide velcro (for attaching trim) $6.61
 White faux fur (trim)     Scrap from Buddy costume

 TOTAL $50.07

September 11, 2020

 Bubbles Micro Log Roller

Just like the Floaters keychain I made previously, these keychains are made of champagne cork to make it somewhat buoyant.  This should help you retrieve your keys more easily if you drop them in water while you are caching.  Also like the Floaters, the geocaching symbol has been decoupaged and sealed with polycrylic onto the cork with my signature, 山蜂.  Attached to the jumpring is also my signature bee in the form of either a silver or bronze charm.  The twist on these is that I've turned this into a micro log roller by inserting a cotter pin into the bottom of the cork. If you have had to struggle with rolling micro logs tightly and neatly enough to get them back into their tiny caches, you know how useful these things can be.  Many retailers sell these gadgets for USD $7-8, which IMO is way too much for what is essentially a 0.50 cent cotter pin jammed into a bison tube.  So congratulations!  You just got one for the mere price of a geocache trade.  (I hope you traded up or even :-))

Bubbles Log Rollers from #1-7 (L-R)

#3, #5 and #6 have silver bee charms, all others in the series have bronze charms.  You will notice that #4 also has the paracord wrap that I did for the Floaters.  That's because I had wrapped an extra cork for that project and used that extra one here.  So if you got #4, know that you also have about 3.5 feet of paracord at your disposal should you need it. 

Where were these dropped?

#1 of 7 - Dropped 06 Feb 2021 in GC8A3AP

#2 of 7 - Dropped 15 Oct 2021 in GC7G3A7

#3 of 7 - Pending

#4 of 7 - Pending

#5 of 7 - Dropped on 04 July 2021 in GCYQ9T

#6 of 7 - Pending

#7 of 7 - Pending

Have you picked one of these up?  If so, I would love to hear what you think of it in the comments!

September 6, 2020


 Floaters - Floating Keychain with Paracord


These are keychains made from a champagne cork, which should provide a little buoyancy for your keys should they accidentally get dropped in the lake while you are geocaching.  I've made seven of them, numbered in series.  In the picture above, they are ordered 1-7 from left to right.  1-3 are in the front row, 4-7 in the back row.  The geocaching symbol has been decoupaged and sealed with polycrylic onto the cork, and my signature bee charm is attached on the jumpring.  I couldn't decide which looked better - the silver charms or the bronze.  Mr. Geek liked the silver better, so I made four of them with silver, and three with the bronze.  So #1, 6, and 7 have bronze charms, and the rest are done with silver bee charms.

To add a little more utility to this, the cork is also wrapped with approximately 3.5 ft of paracord in a turks head knot.  Having paracord and duct tape with me while camping, hiking, or being outdoors in general has saved me more than a few times.  Hopefully it will come in handy for you too.

Where were these dropped?

#1 of 7 - Dropped 11 Sep 2020 in GC6ZEJE 

#2 of 7 - Dropped 30 Nov 2020 in GC1CJ5Y

#3 of 7 - Dropped on 25 Sep 2022 in GC8C98F

#4 of 7 - Dropped on 29 Aug 2022 in GCHG6G

#5 of 7 - Pending

#6 of 7 - Dropped 01 Feb 2021 in GC8A3AB

#7 of 7 - Pending

Have you picked one of these up?  If so, I would love to hear what you think of it in the comments!


September 2, 2020

Castiel and Uriel World Tour (Geocaching Trackable DIY)

DIY Geocaching Trackable

I recently purchased some trackable travel tags for geocaching.  I am using the codes on some DIY proxy travelers that represent the Cats of Geeks Gulch, Castiel and Uriel. We have traveled with them on road and camping trips since they were kittens, so they are quite used to travel and staying in new places. 

The Cats:  Castiel (Left) and Uriel (Right)

 Castiel and Uriel camping out in the travel trailer

Here are their traveling proxies, made by decoupaging and sealing their pics on some mason jar lids.   (I've covered up their tracking numbers to prevent virtual discoveries)


On the back is their goal and their tracking code, also decoupaged and sealed with polyurethane:

I hope they go far and wide!  I dropped them off at the same Travel Bug hotel (GC6ZEJE) on 11 Sep 2020.  Lets see how far each has gotten toward their goal in one year.  Who will be winning the race?

Castiel's Progress

Uriel's Progress

August 31, 2020

Make a Mend

Make a Mend

These are little pouches that I've sewn from fabric leftover from making Covid masks.  Inside, I've tucked in a little mending kit.   I wanted the pouch to be somewhat useful after the mending kit was used up, so I sized it to hold business cards/personal geocaching cards.  A bee charm (my signature, 山蜂 ) is sewn on the outside. 

Inside, I've sewn my geocaching handle, the number of the series, and "Make a Mend".  

The mending kit was randomly grabbed from the stash I've accumulated in my travels from various hotels. 

Where were these dropped?

#1 of 4 - Dropped 01 Sep 2020 at GC51N3E

#2 of 4 - Dropped 06 Sep 2020 at GC4K7V3

#3 of 4 - Dropped 01 Feb 2021 at GC8A39W

#4 of 4 - Dropped 06 Feb 2021 at GC8A3AY

Have you picked one of these up?  If so, would love to hear what you think of it in the comments!


August 26, 2020

About your geocache find...


Hi.  If you're here, it's probably because you picked up one of my DIY geoswags from a geocache I've visited.  (But if you're just here randomly, you can learn about geocaching here.)

First, a little history.  I've been casually geocaching off and on since 2007.  During that time, I've been trading the usual stuff you see in caches - plastic figurines, chochky from trade shows, and those toys that you get in Happy Meals.   Then one day in August 2020, during a camping roadtrip in the Texas Panhandle, I saw something wonderful in a cache located in Palo Duro Canyon State Park.  What was it that was so life-transforming?  It was a rock.  Yes, a rock.  But not just any rock.  It was a rock that someone took the time to paint with the international geocaching symbol and the phrase, "Not all who wander are lost".  Affixed to the rock was also her geocaching handle.  The whole thing was also carefully sealed with urethane so that it could withstand the abuse that items stored in geocaches normally take.  I was charmed that someone would take the time to make something by hand, and it's inspired me to do my own DIY geoswag.  But still...I had so many questions.  Where did the rock come from?  Her own backyard?  What inspired her to handpaint it?  What did she use to seal it to make it weatherproof? How many rocks did she paint? I was glad that I could at least look up her handle on, through which Mr. Geek was able to PM her to tell her we picked up her rock.  Thus the motivation for this accompanying blog.  

 In case you were curious about what you picked up, who made it and why, hopefully you will find those answers, and that it inspires you to craft something personal of your own. 

The Rock Rocks!
The Rock that Started it All

Below, I list the crafts in each series that I have made and have or will drop into caches.  If you've picked up one of my crafts, it's labeled with the series and number.  Regardless of the craft series, each piece I make will have a bee somewhere on it, which links it back to my previous geocaching handle, Yamabachi (山蜂, "Mountain Bee" in Japanese). 

Click on the link related to your series to read more about it.  And if you have picked up something I made, I'd love to have feedback in the comments on it so I can improve future crafts. If you picked it up, was it in good condition?  Ruined by weather?  How much did you like it on a scale of 1-5?  Suggestions for improvement or a future craft? Whatever you'd like to say, I am all ears.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by.  Keep Calm and Cache On!   --TXGeekette


 Make a Mend - Mending Kit 



Floaters - Floating Keychain with Paracord



Bubbles - Micro Log Roller Keychain