Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Guest blogging

I'm so excited to share that I have written a guest blog for 52 Weeks Blog! 52 Weeks Blog is a great DIY/crafting blog that features a new project every week. I go there regularly for inspiration, and I am so thrilled to have been given the chance to write a tutorial for them! The project I shared uses plain ceramic kitchen tiles and alcohol ink to make pretty little coasters.

Please head on over to 52 Weeks Project for the full tutorial!

DIY West Elm style Pouf

The West Elm Pouf's have been all over the internet, and I can't help but to have been sucked into the hype. I love them. They're so cute, and so pretty. And SO expensive.


Maybe it's because I spent the first half of my summer teaching math, or maybe it was a desperation to have a pouf of my own, but I look at those and I think, that's nothing more than a cube. Like, it's really just one of those seventh grade, net style cubes that I just spent 3 weeks teaching to a group of 13 year olds.

I decided to try making my own pouf. I will say right now, it was so much easier and quicker than I could even have imagined. I'd say under 1.5 hours to do this entire project.

Supplies required:

-A pretty, sturdy upholstery fabric (about 1m)
-Some cardboard to make a template
-Sharpies, or something you can safely use to mark up your fabric
-Stuffing (I just tore apart old pillows that have been in our basement for years)

I began by dividing my cardboard into two pieces - one that is 40cm by 40cm, and one that is 20cm by 40cm. These are the two pattern pieces I need to make this pouf.

Now you will build your pattern piece, moving your pattern pieces along your piece of fabric, tracing as you go (I used Sharpie but be careful depending on your choice of fabric). You will build your pattern to look like this:
 Once you have finished tracing, you can cut out your pattern piece in ONE big piece. Following this, you are ready to begin sewing! I've made a sewing guide to make it even easier:

Start by sewing the first part of the box. Holding the right sides together, start by sewing the green line to the green line, as seen in the picture above. Continue by sewing the orange to the orange, yellow to the yellow, and red to red.

 When you're done, you’ll have a half box finished.

One note I will add - I wanted to make a  fancy edge on my pillow. I've never added an edge to a pillow before, so I was really just guessing as I went. If you want to add an edge, do it before you sew down the top part of your pillow. I added a photo below of how I made a corresponding edge so that it blended well with my pouf-to-be!

The next thing you are going to do is sew your top to your bottom. Following the sewing map, sew dark blue to dark blue, then pink to pink. Lastly, you will sew sky blue to sky blue, leaving the spot open so that you can flip your pouf right side in. The reason I left it in the center like that is because that way, you can easily flip it around to the back. Really though, you can leave the opening anywhere you want.

By this point, you should have an insideout pouf!

Then using the little hole you left, flip it rightside in.
And now for the fun part - stuff your pouf with stuffing!! Instead of purchasing stuffing from a craft store, which I find really expensive, I usually try to find old pillows (we always seem to have some lying around), cut them apart, and reuse their stuffing.

Once it's stuffed, hand sew your pouf closed.

Once you are finished with those seams, you are finished! Sit back and enjoy your $5 pouf.

Please let me know if you try it! I'd love to see your results!

Monday, August 6, 2012

The dresser saga, AKA, why I should stick to crafts

Oh, this was such a big project.

I found a dresser that I loved at an estate sale, for $15. It required quite a bit of work, including repairing two big gashes at the top. I fell hard though, and figured I could handle it.

From the start, this dresser was trouble. To get it home, I had to cram it into my Golf. I didn't remember until after I paid for it that our trunk hasn't been opening, so it had to be wedged into the backseat.
As much work as it was to cram into the car, it was a million times harder to get it out. We had to take out the knobs to roll down the windows, and broke a chunk off the bottom of the dresser on its way out.
But I was eager. I was ready to go.

After removing the hardware, the first thing I did was buy a roll of veneer (ugh...$25!) to redo the top of the dresser. I used contact cement to attach it, giving myself a terrible headache for the night, but I was okay with that, because I loved my dresser.

 It looked good at first, but after a few hours, I noticed that the veneer was buckling. By the next day, I noticed that there were huge air bubbles everywhere. No amount of rolling and pushing and working at it could get it to go away. Finally, I realized that I would have to remove the veneer. I figured I could remove the veneer off the top of the dresser, but leave it on the curve, where it wasn't actually buckling. This was also the only part that actually needed to be repaired to begin with. I really should have only worried about that part from the start.
Removing the veneer was the worst. I swear, the contact cement fumes come back tenfold when they're being plucked apart with a spackle knife. The whole top of the dresser had been destroyed from the contact cement. To fix it, it required an entire night of sanding and refinishing the top part using wood filler. By the end, though, it looked fine. Once the top was feathered into the remaining veneer using the wood filler, I was pretty sure I was good to go!

The next day, I began priming it. I used a stain blocking primer by CIL, so that I wouldn't have to stain the entire dresser. I have read about these stain blocking primers, and I have to say, I was super happy with the results. It made that part of refinishing the dresser much easier!
The primer looked beautiful! Except as it was drying, I noticed something... worrisome. The remaining piece of veneer was starting to bubble up again.
It wasn't TOO bad, and I figured that once it was painted, it would barely be noticeable.

I used the color Tempest by Matha Stewart. I was looking for a color that had a nice, antique, powdered blue kind of feeling, and I am really happy with it. Here you can see it against the white stain, to get a feel for how different it is.
But as the paint was drying, I noticed that the veneer was bubbling so, so badly. UGH.

Horrible. The only thing to do was just rip the entire piece off. So even though it was already sanded, feathered, primed, and painted, the remainder of that darn veneer piece had to come off.

If you're keeping track, this is the entire $25 piece of veneer that has been ripped apart and trashed. I was just so frustrated. The worst part is that by now, I still hadn't fixed the initial problem with the dresser, which was those two gashes missing from the sides. I ended up filling them in with wood filler, which is absolutely what I should have done from the beginning. I also hard to redo the whole curved part of the dresser with wood filler, the same way I had redone the top. I didn't even take pictures of this part, because by now, I was so over this dresser.

Once the curve was refinished with the wood filler, I was finally good to re-prime and repaint the top of the dresser. The curve isn't perfect. I didn't sand it as well as I could have, and I didn't take my time as much as I had been. All I cared about, though, was that it was done.

The last little detail I had to do was refinish the hardware using brass finisher. I just love these handles, and I was so happy with how nicely they cleaned up.

So after ALL of that, I can finally present to you... the finished dresser!

I am so, so happy with how it turned out. But if I can offer anyone any advice - stay away from veneer unless you really know what you're doing!

Friday, July 27, 2012

DIY Dog Collar Tutorial

 For the past while, I have been wanting to replace my dogs collar. It is OLD, dirty, and just not cute anymore. I went to a nice shop downtown last week to find one, and the prices for a collar for a dog my size STARTED at around $45! (She's a lab, around 90 pounds.) Unreal.

I looked at my dogs current collar, and took note of the pieces on it. Today, I went to Fabricland to get my materials. Here's what you need to make a dog collar:
  • Nylon webbing (my Fabricland had only two choices - black or white)
  • Ribbon to decorate the webbing (I got some from an estate sale, but Michael's has a great selection)
  • 1 D Ring
  • 1 Buckle
  • 1 Slider
 First, you need to figure out the length. I measured around my dogs neck, then went about 5 inches longer than that.

Next, you'll need to pin your ribbon to your nylon webbing.
 After that, sew the two pieces together!
 Now you need to add your hardware. This part is incredibly hard to explain in words. I would really say the best technique would be to look at your current dog collar, and just replicate what you see. That's what I did, and it worked. I tried to take a picture of putting on the D ring and buckle, but seriously, it's just hard to explain in pictures or words. Just take a look at a collar and it should make sense!

Once you've sewn the hardware in, you're finished! All you have to do now is find a cute dog to give it to. I swear my dog was purposely making it hard to get a picture. Her hair usually covers up a lot of her collar, so I had to catch her when she was sitting in a way that it could be seen.

This project was incredibly fast - under an hour.

Monday, July 9, 2012

DIY Faux antler necklace holder

Here's a craft I made last week. I wanted something to put my necklaces on, so I decided to make some faux-antlers! I saw many versions of this on Pinterest, but used this one as a guide. I learned during the process - there are definitely things I would change when doing them again, but I am happy enough with how they turned out!

1. This is the backing piece of wood that I will be using to affix my faux-antlers.
2. Begin building an antler shape using tin foil. This doesn’t have to be too thick, as you will build upon it with you Sculptey.
3. Add details to your antlers – look at a photo online for inspiration!
4. Begin to cover your antlers with Sculptey. This is where you can make them really thick.

5. Finish building your antler – try to smooth out the lumps as much as you can.
6.  Build your second antler, and cook them as per Sculptey directions (I left mine in about 30 minutes.) Take them out and let them cool. I gave mine a bit of a sanding, to smooth them out.
7. Paint! I somehow didn’t get a picture of myself painting the antlers… I’m the worst sometimes. For what it’s worth, I used the paint colors Antique White, Gold, and Raw Umber. 
8. Screw your antlers into your wood piece.

9. Here you can see the antlers screwed into the plaque. My biggest problem with them in that the color came out much too dark - I got a little paint happy with the Raw Umber color, and I think it's just a bit much.
10. Using Martha Stewart's clay silicone molds, I made lettering for my board (saying Necklaces, etc.)
11. I glued the letters to the board.
12. The finished product! It's really strong, and definitely supports the necklaces really well.

Well, that's it! I will post when I try making more antlers. I think I can do much better with the paint job!

Friday, July 6, 2012

DIY - I left my heart in Boston

So last night I got some unexpected news - our summer school site was going to be shut down for the day today due to the excessive heat (our air conditioner isn't working.) Not that I don't enjoy teaching, but an unplanned day off is really about the best thing that can happen to someone like me. I vowed to use my day to it's fullest. After exercising and going out for lunch with a friend, I decided I would take on a craft from the Harpster Home that I have been eying for a while. I chose to do this project with a map of Boston, my absolute favorite city in the word.

Things you need for this project:
  • A square piece of wood
  • Paint
  • A map of a place you love (I found mine via Google search here)
  • Scissors
  • Painters tape
  • About 100 1-inch nails
  • Hammer
  • String (complementary color to your paint)

    Start by painting your piece of wood with your chosen color. I got one of the little sample cans of Martha Stewart paint in Sea Glass (they were on sale for 75 cents!) and there's so much leftover!
Using painters tape, attach your map to your piece of wood.

Start nailing your little nails around the outer edges of your map. Make sure that anytime you have a corner, you put a nail right where the two lines meet. This will help define the shape of your map piece.

I intentionally skipped a few spots on my map, as it would have been too hard to properly wrap the string around them later.

When you're finished with the nails, you can remove your map piece.

This next part was actually really fun. All you have to do is wind the string around the nails, going from outer nail to inner heart nail. Each nail in the inner heart nail will support several loops of string - this is because there's so any on the outside. Really, the more nails you can fit into the middle heart, the better, when it comes to wrapping later (lesson learned for next time I do this project!)

You need to be careful with certain map pieces. On mine, the middle right side of it juts downward, which was weird when stretching the yarn back to the heart. I ended up skipping some of the nails , because it just wouldn't have worked to put yarn on them (you can see an example of that in the photo below, where the nails curve down near the top of the map.)

Once you're finished that part... you're done!! A very simple, fun project that only took a couple of hours. Enjoy!