Saturday, September 20, 2014

Adventures in Antiquing! Vintage linens

If there is one thing I do not need more of, it's vintage linens. I have tons - a basket full of them in my craft area, I think another basket somewhere in the back of the bathroom closet. I made pillows into some of them, but there's only so much you can do.

Until I saw these.

Something about those dancing radishes (strawberries?) caught my eye. That is the oddest embroidery design I've ever seen. I must have them….

The kitty cats immediately reminded me of my daughter, who absolutely loves animals. And the glasses one, well, I don't know what to think of that. It was definitely different. I loved the lily pad design, a big table runner with a repeating design on the other side - and the price was right: 99 cents!

I might try and work the two cats and the dancing vegetables together into a pillow top, or put them in a frame for her bedroom. So cute!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Adventures in Antiquing! Vintage "piecrust" mirrors

Ever since I saw this Martha Stewart Living cover, I've been addicted to these beautiful mirrors:

I, at least, have run across very few of them in my travels, so when I do, I usually snatch them up right away. I've never paid more than $25, and have found two in antique shops in Ohio and one in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. I would love to find more unusual shapes like rounds and ovals, but in the meantime, will take what I can get!

The two I have are more like the rectangular shaped one at top right, with the square bottom and rounded top, and just recently, found a lovely round one at one of my favorite Ohio antique stores.

I hung this beauty up in my basement craft area until I was ready to use it, thinking it would be out of the way from the kids. But then I thought, I should probably move that somewhere else in case it breaks.

Really, I should probably listen to my intuition, because a few days later it inexplicably fell from the nail it was hung on and is now in three giant shards (perhaps a testament to thick, vintage glass?). The rope-like material it was hung from just pulled apart from age, I guess. Note to self and perhaps a tip: always inspect hardware on vintage art and mirrors, especially heavier pieces! and restring with brand new, heavy-duty wire. *sigh*

I decided to stop in one antique shop I usually avoid (because they have lots of signs saying "NO this!" and "STOP that!" kind of stuff, which can really kill the atmosphere. LOL Case in point:

"We're NOT buying or appraising your items. PLEASE
remove your vehicle to shop elsewhere." Whaaaat??
With a bit of in trepidation I went in, and quickly found a wonderful gem hidden under a bunch of ugly dishes. I think I've seen it in there before, but just never paid much attention. This time, I noticed it had two holes for hanging …. double bonus!
A bargain at $18! 
The shop owner was pleasant enough (despite her signs, and the fact that I accidentally dumped all of her business cards all over the floor. She thanked me for picking them up). I wonder how long this thing sat there before I bought it - years, maybe?

The best part is that I can use the hardware from the broken mirror to hang the new one!

Then yesterday I found this - an even better bargain at $6! (marked down from $10) A totally crummy picture, but you get the idea. The best part was the stamp on the back, that had the manufacturer (still haven't been able to make out who it is) and the date: February 28, 1951. Cool!

Monday, January 14, 2013

DIY Barbie Townhouse!

The Townhouse is finished! I can't believe it.

A basic $20 shelf from Walmart
It all started when I bought a basic four-tier plastic shelf for my laundry area. As I put it together and stepped back to admire my work (all of 5 minutes' worth), the wheels started turning: I noticed this was pretty much the same basic construction as the old (and new, really) Barbie townhouse I used to play with as a kid. Three levels, posts for support, and something for the walls.

I wasn't sure if my harebrained idea would work, but I figured it sure beat spending a small fortune for the "real thing" - something that wasn't that sturdy or well-made, sadly. I looked at one in the store for a frame of reference, and poked the back wall with my finger. It was nothing more than cardboard! Surely that wouldn't last long. I wanted to make something sturdy, not that expensive, but something that was meant to be played with.

I started out by buying another 14" shelf like the first one. After I purchased it, unfortunately, I realized it probably wouldn't be big enough for everything. I took that one back and got a bigger one, that was about 16" deep and 36" wide - too big! I finally settled on one that was about 14" deep and 30" wide. Just perfect.

You can use any size you want, depending on what you want to do. But for my purposes, this shelf worked out perfectly, in more ways than one.

I originally bought it solely because it was the right size, and it was white. (Barbie's house, if it isn't pink, should be white, right?) I didn't want anything too tall, because after all, my daughter is six - it would be frustrating to not be able to reach that high. It's lightweight both for moving around, and in case of tipping, it won't do much damage.

For the walls, I picked marker board, which is basically hard board (the same stuff that pegboard is made of, only without the holes) that cost $10 per sheet at Lowe's. I bought two, allowing for any extra pieces that would be used as inside walls to divide up the rooms. We had just enough (with a little tinkering) to make the back and side walls minus one, leaving it open for a possible 'patio expansion.' :)

I started by using spray adhesive to attach sheets of scrapbook paper for the walls. I had to mix and match the plaids - this may take extra to match the stripes, patterns, etc. I used six sheets (four for the divided rooms, which are smaller) and it was a tight stretch, but worked okay. It all depends on the size of your "walls." I would advise doing better measuring than I did!
You can see the 'lip' edge - this was perfect to hold the side wall panels in place with a press fit. We measured the side pieces to fit in between the posts and slid the pieces up underneath inside. It worked perfectly!
 The back - I wanted the prettier white side to show. You can see the screws - there were, to my amazement, holes in the back for some reason so we used this to attach the back wall panels. I thought it would make it lighter and easier to decorate if we cut the pieces rather than using one solid sheet.

The walls, papered and in place. Some of the glue adhesive started to come up after drying, so I used a paintbrush and some Mod Podge to repair it.

I chose different papers for each "room" and then added a dividing wall on the first shelf to make two separate rooms. Below is the future dining room/bathroom. 

The dividing wall between the bathroom and dining room. I just used a leftover scrap piece that was tall enough to wedge up against the plastic pieces in the "ceiling." 

Barbie's bedroom, with some furniture pieces I made ahead of time. (The table was purchased for $1, I think, at AC Moore, a local craft chain. I found the tiny alarm clock for less than $1 at a hobby shop.) 
Barbie's sleeping in on Christmas morning! 

On Christmas morning: Waiting for someone to open presents to finish off the bathroom and dining room. :)

Stay tuned: It's time to decorate! 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Glittery angel wings tutorial

I know Halloween is long over (and this costume was from Halloween of last year, yikes!), but Christmas is coming - this would be perfect for Christmas plays, etc. In fact, we're even using it for this year's card! And I've been so busy working on projects that I haven't had time to update - but it doesn't mean I haven't been doing anything, that's for sure!

I live for making Halloween costumes for my kids - it's the highlight of my crafting year! So while they're still young and actually continue to let me do this, I will do my best to give them what they want - within reason. It can't be all blood and guts, and it has to be something I can make.

Last year my daughter wanted to be an angel. I try not to "steer" them too much but coach them to come up with something imaginative. Not that angels are bad, but I figured there'd be a million of them, and how would we make ours stand out? (Because I am just anal that way, obviously...)

Although there are commercial patterns available, we found a first communion gown that was perfect - easy peasy! So it was time to make the wings. They had to be glittery, feathery, everything an angel's wings should be, you know.

I started with a template, made out of a large sheet of paper (or sheets taped together) and folded in half. Once you figure out how large they should be, open your sheet and trace the cut out onto a piece of foamcore posterboard. You might want to score the outline first with an Exacto knife and then cut, smoothing any rough edges down with some fine sandpaper.

To make straps, cut slits in the middle part of the wings and thread a long piece of half-inch elastic through them. Don't forget to try them on at this point to make sure they fit and hold up the wings - obviously if they're too long your wings will sag! Mine were long enough that I could still machine sew the ends together.

Now comes the fun part - decorating! I used a combination of glitter, feathers and silver bugle beads, but you could probably use just about anything, really. For mine, I started on the outside edge first, and ran a bead of Elmer's glue all the way around. Use a paintbrush or your fingers to smooth it out.

Then I did the same thing again, this time adding a row of bugle beads. If I remember correctly, I think I let the beads and glitter dry before adding the feathers.

I bought my feathers from AC Moore, a craft store in my area, pretty inexpensively. According to my (now expired) receipt, I bought 10 bags of feathers (4-6 inch size) at $1.59 a piece, and have six bigs left. I kind of layered the feathers so as to cover up the stubby ends, and this is what I came up with:

Depending on how much time (and patience) you have, you can either use regular glue or hot glue to affix the wings. I used hot glue and it didn't seem to melt or harm them - whatever works! I did layer them in such a way that they're all facing one direction, starting from the bottom of the wings.

The finished product! They looked awesome.

Now, time for the halo. I used wire (sorry, I have no idea what the gauge is, but something that can be bent easily enough with tools but not too easily). I think I bought it at Lowe's. Start by forming the circle first, wrapping the wire around sort of in a knot and then down to make the "stem," making a rounded hook at the bottom. Put hot glue (you're going to need a lot) on the pipe cleaners and wrap them tightly around the wire as you go, so no wire is showing underneath. In hindsight, I think gold Christmas tree garland would probably stand out and pop more, but could be very frustrating to glue on, especially if you're in a hurry!

I just used duct tape (as you can see in the photo above) to affix the wire to the inside of the wings, making sure the wire was long enough so the halo would clear my daughter's head. Of course, it hung crookedly as she walked, which is more than appropriate!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Halloween Safety

As we head into October and Halloween season, it's fun to pick out a costume and be someone else for a day. But especially with small children, sometimes those fun costumes can have hidden dangers that we just don't think about.

I am scouring the net looking for ideas for my own kids, and came across this one from Parents Magazine. Really cute, but also potentially very dangerous. Why?

Photo credit: Dani Steele/Parents Magazine
Apparently cotton balls are highly flammable. One guy who made a similar costume found out the hard way.

He attempted to light a cigarette, and the hood he was wearing (as part of the costume) caught fire. The fire spread, apparently, and he credits two nearby friends with helping him - otherwise he thinks he would not have been able to get out of the costume in time to save his life.

While obviously your child is not going to be smoking, there are plenty of other sources of open flame, especially at a child's level: luminaries lit on sidewalks, candles, Jack-o-lanterns, etc. Costumes with wide sleeves that hang down (think wizards, etc.), tassels or fringe, or billowy pants with lots of fabric should also be worn with caution. With heavy trick-or-treater traffic it's easy to lose track of a kid momentarily, or not be fully aware that someone is standing too close to something they shouldn't be. We can't seal our kids in a magic bubble, but we can be extra cautious during this fun holiday season.

More reading:

Halloween Fire Safety tips
Is your child's Halloween costume flammable? 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A treasure trove of Barbie patterns!

I've been busy and on the run all summer - still managing to work on some projects here and there, but not spending nearly as much time in my craft cave as I should. I've been sick for the last two weeks, but my daughter's sixth birthday is approaching so it's time to get back in Create Mode again!

My mom just texted me and asked the age-old question, "What does she want for her birthday?" I'm never quite sure what to say - because we have our fair share of toys and some definitely don't see the light of day that much, which saddens me. She admitted the other day that other than the fact that last year's present, a Cabbage Patch doll, "stinks like baby powder," she also doesn't like the clothes she came with. "We can fix that!" I cheerfully screeched upstairs, coughing and hacking (my husband jokes that I sound like Suzanne Pleshette when I'm sick). So when my mom texted me, of course I immediately thought, "Pinterest!"

I haven't even got to the Cabbage Patch patterns, but instead searched for Barbie first. There are some really wonderful things on there, that definitely take me back to play dates at classmates' houses, trunks of Barbies strewn all over the floor. I had a number of Barbies, but never seemed to have as many clothes for them as my friends did. (I know, I was so deprived...)

There are a number of nice ones available through regular pattern manufacturers, and you can get them anytime Joann's has a pattern sale. Be forewarned, though - as far as I can remember, they're all designed for the older Barbies - the newer ones have had a bit more of a bust makeover (in a lame attempt to look 'more realistic.') Whatever. But it's an easy fix. If you're experienced enough, you probably don't even need a pattern, and I easily created a halter top design just by sewing darts in a rectangle with a Velcro closure. Easy peasy!

Here are some cute ones I found on Pinterest, via : instant nostalgia!

Nice, modest patterns (because who of us haven't noticed that Barbie's wardrobe in stores these days is lacking a little.... fabric?) - my favorite is the second one from the left, top row. Super cute! The poster also includes all the original links to the pattern in the forum post. Excellent!

Here's another one:

Aren't these gorgeous?! I love the fabrics! So cute.

Now all I have to do is get started... if I do one outfit a day for a year......

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Do-it-yourself lampshade tutorial

I love garage sales. Even better is when I have a laundry list of improvements around the house, and find all I need in the $5 pile somewhere - like this lamp.
Loads of banana yellow goodness

I have dreams of making a corner of my bedroom into a little reading spot - a nice little slipper chair, maybe a small table and a lamp. I priced some at Target (not the best quality) and Lowe's (wayyy too expensive) and wondered how that would ever happen. Then I happened across this little baby hiding in a basement corner at an estate sale.

I used a number of tutorials to get started, and then ended up doing my own thing in the end. The basic instructions often use a spray adhesive to attach the fabric to the lampshade, but some have also used fabric glue to tack it down. I used Krylon Spray Adhesive, which was still tacky but repositionable, which always helps. LOL

I started by spray painting the lamp base in a nice nickel finish so it would match the other light fixtures in our bedroom. The spray paint was on sale at the local hardware for store for less than $4.

Then I made a template with the lampshade. I found a roll of brown paper wrapping at the Dollar Store, laid it out flat and rolled the lampshade along and traced the outline. Make sure to leave an extra amount (maybe 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch) on the edges so you can wrap it around the top and bottom of the lampshade.

Once I had my template, I sprayed on the adhesive and attached the fabric. Like I said, it was repositionable, so smoothing wrinkles, etc. is easy peasy. I wanted a somewhat bold, geometric print and they didn't have quite what I wanted, but I picked a nice Waverly pattern (on sale!) called "Viewfinder" (which I thought was cool, being a photography buff) that matched my color scheme perfectly. Note: depending on the pattern you choose, if your lampshade is slightly wider at the bottom than the top, like mine was, it could make the pattern look a bit skewed. If you're okay with this, proceed as normal.) When you go to cut it out, you can probably fix this a bit by lining it up straight on the grain.

Here's where things get fun: normally you're supposed to fold your fabric over once, then once again, over the inside edge of the lampshade to make a nice, clean edge. Since I wasn't thinking straight, I cut the overlap a leeeetle too short, and well, that put an end to my nice inside edge. At first things were going smoothly - I glued it on and then held it with the clothespins as suggested in other nice tutorials - then I realized I could only find three clothespins. So we moved onto whatever we could find next: which happened to be curtain rod hooks. Nice. But at least you get the idea - if you have a zillion of these, it could hold down the double-folded fabric along the entire edge while the glue dries.

If you cut yours too short like I did mine, here's what you could potentially end up with: a slightly messy, unevenly cut and fraying edge. No worries, you just cover that up with a nice binding. More on that later. Here is where I got impatient with the idea of fabric glue and decided to step it up a notch: hot glue. It dries very quickly for us impatient types. And I only burned a little of my skin off once. Wait, twice. Excellent. 

Now comes the next part: normally some tutorials would have the Heat 'n Bond stuff on the outside for a decorative finish. I changed my mind halfway on this one and decided not to do an outside trim, but still had that messy inside edge to contend with. Then I thought how a nice funky ribbon, like the kind you can get on a $1 spool at Target or other craft stores, would look really cute - but I wasn't about to go out again just for that. So I figured, I spent money on that Heat 'n Bond stuff, so I wasn't going to not use it.

I chose the 5/8" width, although in hindsight I probably should have picked the half-inch. It all depends on how wide you want it, and you can of course trim the edges if you're that picky. (Which I contemplated.)

All you do is make a basic binding - cut a strip of fabric (mine was about two inches to account for the folded sides) and fold over the edges, with the Heat 'n Bond sandwiched in between - then press.
Measure the binding to the circumference of
your shade and glue into place.
Once I had all my hem tape made, I then hot glued it to the inside of the shade - it covered up all those rough edges and glue boogers nicely. You could easily do the same along the outside edge if you wanted, too.
Trim is in place. Hot glue is such a marvelous invention. 
Time to plug it in (hope it works!) and
enjoy. The nickel finish paint turned out
quite well, I think. 
A close-up. You can also add a layer of white fabric in
between if your fabric is especially light-colored or thin.
You may want to test it out first,  just in case!