Posts Tagged ‘DIY’

While at Pacific Fabrics today I stumbled across this Paris-themed fabric. At $19 a yard, I didn’t want to get too much, so I settled on a 1/4 a yard just to make something small. I ended up combining two different free tutorials to make this cute wristlet purse:

This is the primary pattern I followed:

Triangular Bag

and I used the strap instructions and instructions to attach them from this Wristlet Tutorial

You can follow the instructions for the Triangular Bag, but I took some photos of the points where I struggled.

Step 1: cut fabrics (directions on the triangular bag tutorial)

Step 2: cut strap fabrics (found on the Wristlet Tutorial)

Step 3: cut 2 small bits of fabric 1 inch wide and about 2 inches long and sew them to each end of your zipper. Follow the directions on the Triangular Bag tutorial. Don’t cut 1 inch square pieces, make them 1 inch wide and 2 inches long! More is better – you can cut the excess later.

Step 4: attach 1 lining and 1 outer fabric to the zipper, the Triangular Bag tutorial has a photo of how to layer the fabrics and the zipper. The outer fabric should be facing DOWN, the lining fabric should be facing UP, so they are facing right sides together. The zipper should be sandwiched in between, with the zipper facing UP.

Step 5: attach the 2nd lining and the 2nd outer fabric to the zipper.

In this photo, I had sewn the zipper to the lining and outer fabric, and was working on attaching the 2nd piece of lining and outer fabrics. I struggled to figure out how to layer the fabrics. This photo shows how they should be layered.

Step 6: unzip the zipper so it’s open. DO THIS or you will have nothing to pull the whole bag through once you’re done!

Step 7:  put the bag aside and make the strap. Follow the measurements and directions on the Wristlet Tutorial website. You can get away with using 18-20 inches long by 3.5 inches wide, whatever your preference. Just remember you will cut off 2-3 inches of the strap to use for the zipper pull handle.

Fold the fabric in half “hot dog style”, iron, and then fold each side toward the center and iron again, so you end up with this:

Iron again, and then stitch a line down each side. All this fabric folded over and over again makes it quite sturdy.

Step 8: arrange your bag so the inside fabrics are facing right sides together and the outside fabrics are facing right sides together. Pin them in place this way.

Step 9: attach the straps to the bag. Remember, there are two straps: one to help you grab something when you pull the zipper, and the other for dangling the purse by your wrist. You cut them from the same strap of fabric you just created.

You have already pinned together the right sides of the outer fabric. The straps go in between the right sides, with the scrappy ends facing out with the scrappy ends of the outer fabric:

This is peeking inside through the bottom of the bag pinned together, showing the straps.

Step 10: sew around the edges of the outer fabric, sealing in the straps in the process except the corners. (pictures on the Triangle Bag tutorial)

Step 11: pinch each corner of the outer fabric together and sew across (pictures on the Triangle Bag tutorial)

Step 12: repeat steps 10 & 11 for the lining fabric, except leave a 3 inch gap along the bottom, to pull the purse through when you’re done (pictures on the Triangle Bag tutorial)

Step 13: pull the bag through the hole in the lining,

Step 14: sew the hole in the lining closed.

Step 15: push and pull fabric to all the corners are poking out and not bunched up.

Step 16: admire your adorable bag!


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Sewing and I have a love-hate relationship. I’ll get into a rhythm where I sew a million projects one after another, and then I won’t look at or even think of a sewing machine for months. Last fall I took an upholstery class, and the last piece to my chair was the box cushion. I tried to do it on my own and struggled to keep it all straight. Sometime in February got so frustrated that I set it aside for a while and moved onto other projects including another upholstery class. Except the sewing machine has still been on the dining room table! 🙂

Lately I’ve been taking a break from house stuff (painting the summer bedroom is still not going well) and it’s too rainy to work much outside. So sewing has picked up again. Here are some projects I have been working on lately:

This cute card holder:

(The button un-attached itself here. I will have to try something different, I think.)

and this cute bag:

as a side note, I just LOVE this fabric. I have had it for a few years now and not known what to do with it. I still have quite a bit left to make something else, too!

Next, I think I’d like to try to make a mini version of this grocery bag alternative.

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I love Goodwill, and I always find great things there. I like Goodwill because the things I find are unique and I don’t have to worry about seeing it in someone else’s home. You can find high-end things there for cheap. And I don’t have to feel bad about painting or changing a piece, because it’s usually damaged in its current state. The things I tend to look for are books and furniture, sometimes jackets or skirts, fabric, fashion jewelry, and purses.

Anyways, I found this cute gossip chair at Goodwill recently, and gave it a little sprucing up:

Here it is after using wood glue and clamps to put it back together, and a thorough sanding:

(That end table in the back is also from Goodwill – it says “Ethan Allen” on it but I’m not sure if it’s old or not – it sure seems to be. I haven’t figured out what to do with it yet.)

I know you’re wondering what those little yellow things are! They are these:

They help you paint all the way down to the side of your project, whether it’s a flat piece or a table or chair. The holes are there so if you’re working with saw horses, you can zip tie them to the saw horse so you can be sure those little trianlges won’t go anywhere. They’re really durable, I was surprised one leg or another didn’t fall off when I was painting and pressing against the chair with the brush.

These are the kinds of gifts I get nowadays from Johnny 🙂 He got them at Home Depot for around $5 I think for a pack of 10 triangles.

Anyways, here’s the chair after I scrounged up some paint, foam, and fabric I had around the house:

The paint is Martha Stewart Cumulus Cloud in flat (I used it on the ceilings in the day parlor (yellow room) and dining room (purple)). The darker gray is Martha Stewart Zinc, also in flat (bought a quart to paint a mirror frame that I haven’t actually gotten around to doing yet…).  The fabric is something from the home decor section of Joanns I got a while ago to make a pillow.

It turned out very nice and I’m quite happy with it. I’m not sure if I’ll keep it or sell it – I’m getting to the point where I need to start selling things if I want to keep purchasing new stuff and redoing them. It might be a good method of continuing to hone the look I’m going for! For now I’ll keep it, and when the next project comes along I’ll have to decide what will need to go.

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DIY duvet

Recently, I posted about a trip to IKEA. One of the many things we picked up there was a white duvet cover and pillow cases. I’ve been searching high and low for a yellow set, but everything I find is too bright and sunny. I was looking for a more muted tone, soft and warm and springy. While staring at the rows and rows of IKEA’s bedding offerings and feeling disappointed that they offered only 1 yellow set, Johnny suggested that I just dye a white set. And despite the fact that the only thing I’ve ever dyed was the crinoline under my wedding dress (blue), I decided this was THE BEST IDEA EVER. I found a white duvet with a raised stripe pattern that I thought I could dye. Once we got home I looked up RIT Dye recipes, and picked out Yellow 1 #47, which unfortunately I can’t show you here because RIT Dye’s website is lame. But you can go here and look at it (Yellow 1, then find #47).

This is for one ounce of fabric, so I figured my duvet cover and pillow cases weighed about 2 pounds (32 ounces) (this was very imperfect as we don’t own a scale).  This is where the math got confusing to me and I couldn’t decide if I should follow the fragmented directions on the RIT website or the box of dye. Plus I really didn’t want to use my measuring spoons with dye. The box of dye said to use one box per pound of fabric. Since I figured I had 2 pounds of fabric, I thought I couldn’t go wrong with 2 boxes of Lemon Yellow and about half a package of the Tan. I just guessed on the Tan. Like I said, this was very imperfect. I’m quite daring like that, especially considering the duvet cost $40 and I really don’t think IKEA would have accepted a failed dye job duvet as a return.

From there I followed the directions on the package to use very hot water, add some salt and detergent to the dyebath, and let it agitate for at least 30 minutes. When it was done rinsing and I pulled it out, I was afraid I’d be running to the store for color remover because it was so bright. But once it dried it mellowed out to the perfect yellow. Don’t ask me how I lucked out after my complete guessing game when it came to measuring the dye powder.

Even my kitty approves of it! 🙂

Now I’ve got to think about my problem above the bed. I picked up these 8×8 inch frames recently as well as some cheap 79 cent scrapbook paper for the insides, and now I’m realizing from this photo that the print is just too small. As I was thinking about this problem out loud the other night, I mentioned that it would be nice to put single images in each frame that related to each other, maybe a silhouette of something; maybe, “I could put a bird on it.”Johnny burst out laughing and pointed me to YouTube, for a skit I hadn’t seen before on Portlandia.

That’s right:

I just had to share that little tidbit. The silly thing is, I really like some of those bird silhouettes…

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I am so happy to report that the stenciling is done! WOOHOO!

And, as the world wide web as my witness, I will never stencil anything with such a repeating pattern ever again. 🙂 I’m open to something here or there on a wall, but something where the stencil repeats so often, and has to be so perfect, is not something I’m interested in tackling again.

Really, though, it turned out SO nice. I’m so happy with it – the green is perfect (Martha Stewart Beach Grass) and the metallic paint (Martha Stewart Precious Metals in Bone) shimmers just perfectly in the light! It looks like expensive Farrow & Ball hand-painted wallpaper, which is just the look I was going for. And with the trim painted white, it looks so close to being “done”. Of course the big sore thumb is the biggest project of all – the stairway! I can NOT wait until I get that painted! I’m so excited for a white stairway!

While I figure out what to do with that, here’s how I did the stenciling:

First, find a stencil you like. I found mine here, at the Jones Design Company blog. It even comes with a PDF stencil you can print out! The only thing I will warn you about now, though, is that if you print off the stencil, make sure to fold it in half both ways to make sure it’s symmetrical, because if it is not symmetrical, your alignment will be screwed up!

After I hit up the library to print off the stencil (we don’t have a printer, and black and white prints are free at the library), I picked up some plastic folders (I got 2 in case I made a mistake) to create my stencil, an idea I used from the All Things Thrifty blog. After cutting away the other half of the folder so I was left with one clear 8×12 piece, I got to work. Unlike her directions, I placed my printed stencil under the clear plastic, and traced it onto the plastic with a Sharpie. Then I used an exacto knife to cut out my stencil, leaving a section at the top and bottom to keep the middle in place.

Next, I assembled my supplies:

  • Martha Stewart Beach Grass paint (already painted on the wall)
  • Martha Stewart Precious Metals paint in “Bone”
  • a narrow paintbrush
  • a level
  • a ruler
  • a silver colored pencil

Originally, I was just going to stencil the design on with paint as I went, rather than drawing with pencil. My plan was to go every other row, so that the stencil wouldn’t touch drying paint. But, that proved to be too difficult and most of all, that method also didn’t produce the “painted” look I was going for. So, drawing by hand and then painting was the route I took!

I made sure that the ceiling, wall edge, and lower trim were level (miracle of all miracles, they were!) Then I placed my stencil on the wall and drew it on with my silver colored pencil. I drew the design in columns because I had the edge of the wall to keep me straight, and later I had the previous column as well as the stencil directly above to keep me straight. It was really pretty simple, it just took a lot of patience and a steady hand. I stenciled large sections by pencil and then painted them – the painting went a lot quicker than the drawing, and it was satisfying to see the wall become something new.

Here is the final result!

another view with the door:

There is a bump-out section on the wall with the stencil on it that I decided not to stencil. We’ll see how I like it over time and if I end up stenciling.

and a close-up of the stenciling!

I ran into 3 problems during this project:

  1. My first problem came 2-3 columns into tracing. The design was not lining up. I figured out it was because the stencil was not perfectly symmetrical – one end was longer than the other, and was throwing everything off. I folded the original paper stencil horizontally and then vertically, cut off the excess, and had to make a new plastic stencil.
  2. After erasing the couple rows and starting fresh, I later made the mistake of branching out horizontally, and got excited and began painting in my lines so I could see what it would look like. Drawing horizontally led my stencil to start sloping ever so slightly because I only had one finished edge to line up the stencil with, and when I came back with another couple rows, it didn’t line up! I had to sand the painted area and then repaint the wall!
  3. So after I started over, I only drew columns of stencils, and it worked great. There were places were it started to get a little wonky – maybe I was tilting the stencil ever-so-slightly, I don’t know, so I got out the ruler and level again and make sure things were straight from there on out, and then when it came to painting the wonky area, I just had to make a few brush strokes a little wider than others to make sure everything connected properly.

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Well, our 2011 To-Do list just posted yesterday, and I’m so totally obsessed with painting the staircase right now.

Of course it’s really not that simple. Ever. But I’m always so optimistic, I think that’s what makes all this home repair bearable.

When we first got the house, we immediately ripped out the old carpeting:

And were left with this gunky foam, and more nails and staples than you can imagine smashed into the stairs from every angle

Soon after we took off the carpet, I tackled the nails and staples and foam, working my way from the bottom up. I stopped about 4 stairs to go for some reason, and that was months ago! With the creation of our 2011 To-Do list, I’ve been re-inspired to finish where I left off and the other day I ripped out every last nail, staple and piece of foam.

What will the stairs look like, though? What will the room look like? What work is ahead of us?

How it will look (in our minds at the moment):

  • Stair risers: white
  • Stair treads: white
  • Entryway trim and stair trim: white
  • Ballisters: white
  • Newel post: stained wood
  • Handrail: stained wood
  • Runner: painted or carpet, either brown or dark blue
  • Entryway walls: blue or taupe
  • Entryway ceiling: Martha Stewart Cumulus Cloud
  • Front door: outside yellow for sure, inside either yellow or white
  • Light fixture: TBD

Staircase To do:

  • removing old treads and replacing them
  • sanding uneven parts
  • stripping paint off the newel post and handrail
  • cleaning thoroughly
  • painting
  • finding a stair runner and installing it

Entryway To Do:

  • spackle walls
  • sand, prime, paint walls
  • paint trim
  • sand, prime, paint front door
  • find, purchase, install light fixture

(can you tell I like lists?!) But I’m really excited to get started! And I’m feeling quite motivated since most of the dirty, hard work is already done (horray for starting a project months ago! haha)

In fact, yesterday I got started on the newel post. I used 2 aerosol cans of paint stripper, one plastic paint scraper, 1 roll of paper towels, a squirt bottle of water, and a brass bristle brush to get in the crevices. First I sprayed the post with the stripper and after 15 minutes, scraped. A second coat was necessary so repeated the process, and this time I started getting down to the wood. Then I added another coat, and a fourth, clearing away more paint in the process. In between the last 2 coats I sprayed on water and cleared off all the excess paint stripper and mucky paint, and used the bristle brush to get in the crevices before adding another coat. I finally cleaned up the whole thing with a good dousing of water.

This was as I scraped off the 2nd coating of paint stripper:

And this was after all 4 coats and cleanup:

Of course it needs some more paint stripper applications and brushing in the tiny grooves, but it is SO CLOSE! After I finish this, I can tackle the handrail!

Here are some inspiration pictures:

Ours is supposed to have 2 balusters on each stair (you can see where they used to be both on the underside of the handrail and on each tread). So we’ll be scouting the Re-Store and any other home salvage store for the perfect balusters. We’re realistic it’s not likely we’ll find an exact match or enough for all the stairs, so we may have to continue on with single balusters on each tread.

from apartmenttherapy

I just love this picture:

I’m just in love with this white and blue stairway:

Here is another with a white tread and stair and a colorful painted runner:

I LOVE the shade of the newel post and handrail in this photo. This will be the color we go for.

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This Christmas my mom and I must have been reading each others’ minds. I came across these beautiful stockings right around the time she mentioned that she wanted to make some this year. We got busy and didn’t get around to making them, when on December 23rd I suddenly became inspired and became determined that we absolutely had to make them for Christmas 2010! I ran off to Pacific Fabrics, where I tried my best to mix and match fun, Christmas-like fabrics that didn’t scream Christmas (no nutcrackers, Christmas trees or lights).

Of course, figuring out the cuff was the hardest part! We used both the directions for the cuff as well as a stocking made for me by Johnny’s aunt the previous year to put ours together. It took about 4 hours to trace and cut all the fabric and sew together 6 stockings. The next day I made two additional mini stockings using scraps for the dogs 🙂

Here they are. Sorry for the poor-quality flash photo, I took it at 11:30pm when we finished them! The two stockings facing the other way are for my brother and Johnny, who are both left handed 🙂

For 6 stockings, I purchased:

  • 1/3 yard for each outside fabric
  • 2 yards of the same fabric for lining all 6
  • 1/2 yard of the same fabric for the cuffs for all 6 (but then we realized the red polka dots didn’t look too good with all the outside fabrics since some of the reds were more coral or orange, so we used scraps to mix and match and make more cuffs that matched better)

Here are some better photos of mine and Johnny’s, we took them home with us since they were loaded with candy and goodies.

Also you can get a sneak peak of our big surprise – a fireplace! It’s not done – we still need to sand and paint a few areas, attach crown moulding on the top, and cut the brick paneling to fit, but I just couldn’t resist “hanging” the stockings (with wine bottles!) on the new fireplace. Also check out my mini tree, my awesome Goodwill finds: the wooden frame and cheery Santa Claus.

And here is a close-up of my stocking – I couldn’t resist the cute animals decked out in holiday gear!!

Stay tuned for a big update about the fireplace soon! It’s so beautiful and looks awesome in the yellow room! It gives the room more purpose, and I get the fireplace and mantel I’ve always wanted! (our real fireplace was torn down sometime before we bough the house).

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