Friday, January 18, 2013

"Silhouette" Wall Art

I recently made this wall art.  Obviously it's not hung; that's another post for another day since it's not done yet and I have something special in mind.  Anyway, I got this idea from Pintrest.  It doesn't look like I ever pinned this exact idea though because I thought I didn't have any interest in doing it.  But I thought of a spot of wall that needed something.  I don't know about you other moms out there, but I'm always the one behind the camera.  So I have very few images of me with my kids.  And I charish motherhood.  So I wanted an image that would highlight motherhood, not specifically me and my kids.  But since I know that it is me and my kid, it's even better.  So first, I had to have a baby (that's how long this project idea has been in my head.)  Check.  I've had this board laying around for some time, earmarked.  So I gave it a quick sand, stained it, and put a thin coat of Minwax Polycrylic. 

Then I set the camera to auto and had hubby click away.
We ended up with these two images that I liked pieces of.  I turned them b/w and turned the contrast up as high as it would go.  And printed both on my ink jet printer (then had to go buy another cartridge of course.)
I copied/drew the outline of the entire image onto a transparency using a sharpie and some alcohol on a q-tip as my eraser.  Then, on another transparency, I copied/drew the shadows that I wanted.  I'm not at all great at drawing.  I'd never done a study of shadows and highlights like this - I don't even know what to call it.  So it was tricky.  It's probably not quite right, but I enjoyed the challenge, learning something new.  Then I had to put the two layers together and make adjustments so they would match up the way they should.  (To make your life easier, just do a silhouette.)  Then I rigged up an overhead projector of sorts using a chair, barstool, pane of glass, flashlight, and lots of tape.  Since I had to align the highlight and shadow layers, I had to add T-shaped guide lines to help.  And once you get started, DON'T. TOUCH. ANYTHING.  One bump could have you starting over if you're doing the two layers... yeah, I did that.  The problem I ran into was when I tried to change transparencies...
 And since everything STILL didn't line up exactly, I put the blown up images in the window and again made adjustments using my printout as a reference.
Then I goosed the back of the highlight image with spray adhesive.  Lined it up on my board and smoothed it out.
 Then I cut away the image with an exacto knife and peeled off the excess.  If you're doing just a single layered silhouette, I think it would be cool to peel off the outside and have the image be the wood grain.  But I peeled off the middle...

 ... and spray painted it white.  Then repeat the process (if you're slightly crazy) with the shadow layer and paint it gray.  Thankfully, the woodgrain and white paint was enough contrast that I was able to see it through the sketch paper.  That helped me line up my shadow layer.  I had a problem with the sketch paper not sticking.  So for the second layer, I sprayed the paper even heavier with adhesive and smoothed it out even more firmly.  That time it stuck too well, and I paid the price.  It was a mess trying to get all of the paper peeled away after painting the gray.  I had to cut around the image again to help keep my paint from peeling off with the paper, and still some of the gray came off.  I had wet and scrub the paper off, then do touch ups.  In real life, they're obvious.  But I'm still happy with how it turned out.  Anyway, after all that, I sanded, lightly and painted a coat of polycrylic.  And I love it.

Baby Pants

My sister wanted to see this.  I made my son a suit to wear for his blessing.  I bought the shirt though b/c shirts are no fun to make.  I took an existing vest and made a pattern.  The pants came from a purchased pattern.  But I had to re-make them 2 extra times b/c the sizing and proportions were all wrong.
And here are the pants.  
 I learned how to use a twin needle to make the faux pockets.  Thank you blogging seamstresses!  It's so easy!  I could've used that years ago.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Refinishing a Queen Anne Dresser

This dresser was my mom's when she was little.  And it was in our house all growing up too.  I inherited it about 7 years ago.  It was a yellowed white with gold along the edges where you now see silver. At the time was I dead set against anything gold.  So I repainted it.  This is the second piece I ever did.  I did it in our little apartment, and it looked worse when I was done with it.
 Look at how gross that looks!  It was now not only yellowed, but streaky too.  This is what you get when you put polyurethane over white paint.  I learned this from a crafty blog: always always use polycrylic instead.  It's a bit more expensive, but obviously worth it.  And not just over white paint either, use it over all light colors.  I built an entertainment center about a year ago and painted it gray.  I tested the polyurethane and it yellowed.  It's fine over black and dark brown stain, but I just don't even keep it on hand anymore.
And the dresser was dinged up, definitely in need of a face lift.  And I've seen so many amazing transformations of these pieces online that I finally got inspired to redo it this spring.
 But what to do with it?  I wanted to take it back to it's original glory, but distressed.  I couldn't do that without stripping off my bad paint job.  I'd vowed never to strip another piece of furniture after getting my skin burned off (repeatedly) for the sake of my mom's other antique dresser.  I used a spray on stripper from a metal can.  So, here's another piece of advice I learned from a crafting blog.  Use citristrip.  It comes in an orange bottle.  It's more expensive too, but it goes much further and lasts better between projects.  You could even do it bare handed, but I don't suggest it.  Goop some into a plastic tray. Then paint it on with a cheapo throw away brush (NOT a foam brush.  It eats away at foam.  Get a crappy $1 brush... or two.)  It smells like oranges, but try not to breathe it, b/c it still will give you a headache eventually.  After about 30 minutes, it looks like this.
And that's when you know you're ready to scrape off the paint.  Follow the directions exactly b/c if you leave it on too long, it'll just dry again looking like this.
 Use plastic or rubber gloves, a paint scrapper, and LOTS of paper towels coated in mineral spirits to get the paint off... oh, and a toothbrush with mineral spirits for the crevices.  You may need to repeat the process.  I wanted to leave the original finish, but of course it's not that precise.  So I had to do it again in some places to get through that first layer.  Make sure you're working over some kind of throw away drop cloth.  It's messy.
 After stripping it down, I discovered the drawer fronts were made of various kinds of wood.  It was obviously meant for paint, not stain.  I sanded it down with about a 120 grit sandpaper.  Then after a few experiments and a lot of thought, I finally decided how I wanted to do it.

I pulled out some old nasty paint left behind by the previous home owners.  It's an enamel, meant for trim moldings.  I grabbed my good paint brush and just thew it on.  Since the paint is old and thick, it went on unevenly.  That's a good thing.  Seriously, just slap it on as quickly as possible.  When it dried, I sanded again in some places with 80 grit.  Then I went over everything with 120 grit to get a nice smooth finish.  And for the first time ever, I didn't feel like it even needed a polycrylic coat, I guess because of the enamel paint.

Now I love it.  I'm just wishing I hadn't gotten rid of the original hardware.  I used to hate it.  I've also thought about one day adding some gold leafing around the edges like it was originally.  For now, it's awesome!  Oh, and since I had all the supplies from previous projects, it didn't really cost anything directly.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Non-Slip Headband

This post is for my sister, 8 months after she asked for it ;)  I LOVE these headbands!  I wear them almost daily, including when I exercise.
 So here's how you make them.  The trick is velvet ribbon.  I also just saw on pintrest that you can use velcro, the scratchy hook side of it.  I wonder if that would slip more or less?  I don't think the cost difference would be much.  Anyway, step one: choose your ribbon or trim and a coordinating velvet or velcro.  You'll also need elastic.  Next measure the trim on your head.  I cut mine to end right behind my ears.  That gives plenty of elastic (I've made mine with too little elastic and could barely get it on my head.)  If, like mine, your trim won't melt, you'll need to cut it a bit longer, long enough to turn the edges under.  Using that length, cut the velvet just a smidge smaller (1/4in. or less)
Next, melt the edges of the trim and velcro.  Or fold the edge down once and sew it.  Here, you should check to make sure the velvet will still just a smidge shorter than your trim to make sure it doesn't show on the edges.  But it doesn't have to be perfect since it'll hide behind your ears anyway.  Also go ahead and cut your elastic.  Measure along the back of your head from ear to ear without stretching it at all.
Then sandwich the two trims together and sew along the long edges.  
I also go ahead and sew the piece of elastic in one end by tucking it in between the two ribbons.  Now here's the trickiest part.  Put it on your head (holding that loose end in place.)  Pinch the ribbon and elastic so that there's just a little bit of tension and stretch.  You want it taut, not tight.  Trust me; if you stretch it too tight, it will no longer be a non-slip headband.  Still there's some wiggle room, so don't stress.  Then pull it off your head and mark the elastic where it should meet the velvet.  Then tuck that end of the elastic in between velvet and trim as well.  And sew it in place, making sure nothing is twisted.
Sorry for the discrepancy in the picture.  I often leave the trim long on one end and cut it to length after everything's sewn together.  I think I did that because I had limited trim and didn't want to risk making a mistake.  It was my grandmother's.  Anyway, you should now have a super cute headband that won't slip and can be thrown in the wash if you sweat in it.

They make great gifts too.

Friday, July 13, 2012


Long time no see.  I got pregnant in December and took the next several months off vomiting.  But I've got lots to share now.  First off, baby boy's nursery.  I've had pieces of it in my head since we moved in.  So pretty much the day we found out the gender, I got to work.
First, a tour, shall we?  

Not much going on over there eh?  That's because we've got a photo shoot coming up.  I'm not sure if I want to use our pregnancy photos or newborns, but a couple of those are going there.

So this room has been "the nursery" ever since we moved in almost 3 years ago.  It was covered in dust, and the paint job felt like sandpaper.  But it took a while to get around to having a baby. ;)  So it soon became the kids' downstairs playroom and a spare room to put kids that were visiting or kids that wouldn't stop playing at bedtime.  It was covered in toys and, like I said, dust.  There was dust on the walls!  So I started with the insane task of patching all the holes from the previous owners (they were terrible painters and clearly didn't care) and sanding down all of the walls.  Most people would just clean the walls and paint right over it, but I knew it would bug me to no end if the texture didn't even out with the next coat.  
I'm terrible about taking before pictures, but this is basically how it started life, after the floor full of toys got moved back upstairs and I started prepping.  So I covered everything, took my palm sander and went to town.  My hands ached; it was a HUGE mess.  I had to wear two masks to keep it out of my nose.  It took a day or two just to clean up.  Then paint.  That took a few days too, and given my condition, all of this hurt... a lot.  I chose a color really similar to what was there b/c I liked the color, and it went with the bedsheets.  But even an orange (going on top of a similar orange) with so much less red in it still took two coats!  I wasn't happy to have to go back for another gallon of paint.  But at least I didn't have to match the two gallons, b/c the mixers got it perfect.  Thank you computers.  After paint and clean up, I replaced the blinds.  They were those cheap little plastic blinds with orange paint all over them. (I told you they were terrible painters!)  I definitely didn't want to try and clean all that orange dust out of them either.  So after all of that mess came the fun stuff.
This dresser was my mom's.  She got it, secondhand, when she was having babies.  It's solid (and I mean solid!) cherry, but was painted a butt ugly green.  So 3 summers ago, when we lived with them, I needed a project and offered to re-finish it for her.  She chose a black stain, and I started stripping.  I swore I would NEVER strip paint again (more on that in a later post.)  The slightest breeze would send burning chemicals all over my skin... but I was thrilled with how it turned out, and so was she.  I love how the red shows through the black stain.   Even my dad, who said it was a shame to use such a dark color on such beautiful cherry, liked it when it was done.  
I told her and all of my siblings ever since, that dresser IS MINE when she's done with it.  Well, my mom recently inherited some furniture.  So with no room to spare, it became mine.  Yippee!!  And just in time b/c, with baby three coming, I'd been searching for a dresser.  I wouldn't have chosen a black dresser for this room, but in the end I like it with the room too.
Here's what inspired the room.  Not long after moving into this house, my mother-in-law gave me two sheet sets that she got for $2 each.  She's all about cowboys.  Me and my kids, not so much.  But I thought it'd be fun for a baby boy's room.  So that's where it all started.  The only problem is that they were twin sized.  I had to cut and re-sew them to fit a crib.  Not hard, it took about an hour for each sheet.  And most of that time was spent threading elastic through the hem.
I made a bed skirt for baby #1 (poor baby #2 didn't have a room, or a bed.  We moved every 3 months for the first two years of his life.)  The skirt was a baby blue, but it didn't match.  So I dyed it with a bit of blue dye and black tea.  I really didn't expect it to match to my satisfaction, but it ended up pretty darn close!  In fact, this picture doesn't do it justice b/c that particular sheet is a little faded.  I was thrilled.  I had plans for a super cute baby bumper that would better tie the room together.  But then I read they're "not safe" anymore.  I rolled my eyes at that b/c nothing is safe for babies anymore.  But then, I also remembered how much of a pain in the butt they are when trying to change the sheets 20 times a day.  So I nixed it.
These curtains were also from baby #1's room.  But they were way too short for our windows.  So I bought a few handkerchiefs and bleached them to age them.  Advice:  do it over the stove, or in the sun only if you're sitting right there watching.  If you just throw it in a bucket, it'll take a while.  Luckily, two was just the right width of the curtain.  I backed them with some brown fabric that I had on hand so I can kinda black out baby's room.  They don't look good closed though; I wish I had another set.  I suppose I should have picked out the existing hem along the sides to make it all match up better.  But it was good enough for me.  I've done this before and knew the fabrics wouldn't line up just right.  
I had one handkerchief left to make the pillowcase for my nursing chair.  It was a little too big, and I didn't want to loose the border.  So it took some math, but I was able to take the extra out of the middle.  If you zoom in, you can see how.  That's also backed with the brown.
The nursing chair is also from baby #1.  It's a little old granny's chair with that gold veloure-type fabric over it.  I got it from a garage sale for about $20, if I remember right from 7 years ago.  So I slipcovered it in this cute textured green.  But it's a bit worn out now, so it needed a bit of work too.  I cut a new cushion out of some foam I'd rescued form a neighbor's garbage.  If you've ever bought couch cushion foam, you'd understand.  I smelled to make sure it wasn't from a smoker's house, but as I cut into it, I saw that it was.  The top inch was gray, ew.  I sprayed with vinegar and rinsed gobs of black out of it and dried it out.  If you need to clean foam, here's a tip:  sit it in the hot sun for a day or two.  Then, take a blow drier to it to get the inside/middle.  I overheated my blow drier, but it was the only way to get it dry in the middle.  To avoid overheating, hold it a couple inches away and take breaks.  After that, I sewed a layer of batting and then muslin around it.  Then stuffed it back into the case.  So much more comfy now!  I also washed the slipcover and added this pocket on the side.  I've wanted a pocket on the side for quite some time, but never did it.  So glad I did now. 
And the hunt for just the right rug.  I wanted one big enough to fill the room, but didn't want to spend a lot... tough order.  I poured over websites and a Big Lots type of store in town, taking pictures with my iPod.  I agonized for a while before settling on this one.  I wasn't sure about the dk brown right next to a black dresser.  But I'm thrilled with my choice.  Given how dark this brown is, and the red streaks in the dresser, I think they look fine together.  It's a 7'x9' wool rug clearanced for $130.  It's cushy too.  Hubby says it doesn't match its self. :)  But I'm still a little giddy over it, a month later.  It's got a sort of corderouy texture to it with this swirly leaf pattern in it.  The colors were perfect.  Love!
I'm always looking for cheap ways to frame pictures without them looking chincy.  I used to be a custom framer, so my taste doesn't come cheap.  So I saw this on pintrest, or something similar.  And the room lends its self to the rustic.  So it was perfect.  I used some pallets I'd gotten and torn apart years ago and mounted the $3 Walmart frames to them.  My two critics don't like them.  Hubby says they're creepy.  I agree the one on the right is a little.  But I love the one on the left... maybe I'll eventually replace them with some kind of cowboy sillouette, maybe not.  Those of you who follow my personal blog know a bit about how big of a deal the ultrasound was for me. 
During this process, we took a trip.  I took the kids to the local children's museum where they had these murals.
I wanted something to spice up the room, so this tree would be perfect!  When I got home, I bought a quart of brown paint and got busy.
It took about a week.  I am no painter.  I paint walls and furniture, not objects.  So I was pretty nervous to start this on my perfect orange walls.  But armed with my inspiration photo, I got started.  First, I marked where the crib would go with painter's tape to make sure the wall would look balanced, even though the crib is not centered.  Then I taped off the base boards and outlets.  Then, I marked out basically where I wanted the limbs and such.  Then I outlined in black, blending that into the brown.
Before the leaves, as I expected, they were a little wonky here and there.  But I was thrilled that they looked even that good.
It took some shopping around and thinking to come up with a way to do the leaves.  At the museum, they were done with some kind of thin sheet metal.  That was going to be WAY too much time and $.  But I wanted something sturdier than paper.  I wanted the same kind of copper leaves, but quickly decided it was too much brown.  So I settled on white cardstock spray painted: the cheapest, thickest option I could come up with.  With 5 cans of spray paint, and 25 sheets of cardstock, I got 200 leaves, a good place to start.  I used one can of copper too and mixed those in, spraying both front and back.  The kids helped a little.  We would fold the paper down the middle of our leaf and use a template to cut an inverted heart shape, sort of a tear drop shape.  Then we stapled them up.  I love how it turned out!  And 200 turned out to be a good amount for both trees.
My other critic, my daughter really wanted to help more.  She loves decorating and crafting as much as I do, but I have a really hard time letting go of my projects to a 6 year old.  So she made baby a mobile. So sweet.  I hung that to the ceiling before moving the crib back in place.
I had a couple of builds for this room.  I built a side table to put things while I'm nursing.  The top is also made from the pallets.  And the base is made from a 2x2 and some scrap 1x4.  I was going to cut the top down to a circle; I still may, not sure.  But that's why the base is so much smaller than the top.  I sanded everything, stained the base, sanded, and put polyacrylic over everything.  The only thing I bought was the 2x2 which cost about $3.
The last build was this crate.  I was going to make it out of more scrap pallet wood.  But I didn't think I had enough left.  And considering I am pregnant and had a couple other builds going on, I ran out of steam.  So I waited for a handy 40% off coupon to Michael's and bought it for $6.  Score!  It was exactly the size I would've made it too.  I got home and cut a shelf for the middle from some 1x9 I had leftover from something else.  Again, I sanded, stained, sanded and poly'ed and was done about 2 hours later.  That's the beauty of living in the south, were paint dries super quickly.  But it wouldn't totally cure until I got it inside, out of the humidity.  Then I found the center and screwed the shelf in.  I grabbed my level and screwed right through the back into the wall.  These builds would've taken much longer if I wasn't going for the rustic feel with sanded edges and exposed screws.  I would've taken much more care to fill holes, sand, give ample dry time between layers, and apply paint and poly much more neatly.
Ok, whew, that's baby's room.  Anyone still with me?  Impressive.  Lets look at the final product again:
I don't love that the crib is white... but I guess there's enough white in the trim and doors and such that it's fine...  I'd be afraid to paint a baby's crib.  And I'm certainly not buying a new one.

This lamp came from the same store as the rug at $13.  The basket was in my bathroom holding toilet paper.  But I built a wall cabinet recently and it matched here perfectly.  It was a $3 basket that I stained and made a cover for.
So all baby things are cleaned, floors are vacuumed, drawers are filled and organized, I even have a hand full of NB diapers ready for when he comes.  I'm still in frantic project mode though, as I wait impatiently, so I've got a few other things to post about another day.

So here's a breakdown of the cost:
two gallons paint: $50
two blinds: $50
rug: $130
extras (lamp, batting, spray paint, brown paint, crate, 2 frames, handkerchiefs, dye, etc):  I dunno, $50 - $100.  
So this room cost about $330 - $380 to put together.  Not bad!