Friday, December 30, 2011

Recovered Chairs

I'm visiting my Mom's side of the family this week, and we're all staying at my uncle's bachelor pad.  He's putting his house on the market soon, so all the women in my family decided to give his place a little facelift while we're here.

His dining set was in need of some serious help.  The aunts took my uncle to the fabric store and helped him pick out a masculine fabric that would coordinate with his house.  The fabric even had a resistant pretreatment.  They got about 2 yards of fabric for six chairs.

The only other materials needed were ugly chairs, scissors, and a staple gun.

We first wiped down the chairs with some general cleaner to get a fresh base.

Then we unscrewed the seat from the chair.

Next we cut squares of fabric large enough to wrap completely around the seat, making sure the stripes were both centered and straight.

Putting slight pressure on the fabric, we then stapled the fabric on the straight edges of the seat.  To finish up, we wrapped the fabric around the corners and stapled that down too.  We didn't worry about it looking nice underneath, because nobody is ever going to see it!

To finish it up, we screwed the seats back onto the chairs.

About 2 hours of labor and $22, and the dining chairs look nice and new!  My uncle was amazed how easy it was to get a new look.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Vegetarian Cookbook

My fiance's family is doing something a little different for Christmas this year!  Like many families, we all drew names and randomly got one person to focus our gift-giving on.  The trick this year though was that the gift had to be $10 or less.  Time to get creative!

I was having trouble coming up with something meaningful and useful, and got a great idea when my future sister-in-law mentioned my giftee was vegetarian.  Although I'm not vegetarian, about 75% of my favorite recipes are vegetarian.  She's young, and is just entering those years when when she's have to start cooking for herself.  Clearly she needed a cookbook!

I tear a lot of recipes out of magazines or print them off from online, so I like the type of cookbook you can easily add pages to.  I'm also a messy chef, so those plastic page inserts work perfect for me.  Organize them all in a cute binder, and you're ready to go!  I love mine so much, I decided to make one for her.

Easy to add recipes, and easy to clean!

I picked out my favorite vegetarian recipes, typed them up pretty, and printed them out.  I also made a cute cover page for the binder.  I finished it off with fun wrapping!  Now let's hope she invites me over for dinner...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Make Your Own Hand Soap

*** I've updated my recipe - read about it here ***

The recent flurry of bar soap to hand soap DIY projects on pinterest piqued my interest!  Between being cheap and liking to know what goes into the products I use, I was sold.  It's tough to find hand soap without antibacterial triclosan polluting it.  You could also use up those little gift soaps or hotel soaps you never know what to do with.

All it takes to make hand soap is:
  • A bar of your favorite soap
  • Vegetable glycerin (I found mine at Whole Foods for $6)
  • Water
  • About 15 minutes

Here's how to do it:
  1. Grate the bar of soap into small flakes.  The smaller they are, the quicker they'll dissolve.
  2. Add 1 cup of flakes and 1 T of glyerin to 10 cups of water in a large pot.
  3. Simmer for a few minutes until the flakes dissolve.
  4. Let it cool.  ALL THE WAY.  I'll explain later.
  5. Refill all your hand soap pumps and store the rest for later!

    Did you get that?
    1 c bar soap + 1 T glycerin + 10 c water = oodles of hand soap = $3.50

    It cost me $8.00 to make my first batch of hand soap, and I didn't even use up all my ingredients!  I would guess it's more like $3.50 for about a gallon.  Now I have healthy and cheap hand soap with a smaller carbon footprint because they didn't ship water hundreds of miles.

    Some issues I encountered: Ok, so I let my mixture cool to about the temperature of bath water, and it was still super runny.  Some googling told me that sometimes happens, so just add more soap and glycerin if it does.  I did.  Still watery.  I also read that you can put the mixture through your blender.  Lots of suds.  Still watery.  So I gave up and went shopping.

    When I came home, I found all my cooking stuff was full of soap the consistency of lard!!!  Apparently it goes through a phase change of sorts around room temperature.  I added enough water to get back to the original recipe, boiled it down, let it cool, and finally had the right consistency.  Patience is a virtue!

    Also, my future in-laws and many coworkers decided I was a crazy person for making my own hand soap, so be prepared for skepticism.  I think when I bring them samples to try they'll change their tune!  I'm not sorry that I have over a gallon of cheap, healthy hand soap!

    Follow Me on Pinterest

    Recycled Bobbin Christmas Ornaments

    While working on my recent Shirt Stripes Quilt for Tommy, I produced a number of empty bobbins.  I love to reuse items, and I thought these would be cute turned into Christmas ornaments for my Mom.  We both collect ornaments to commemorate travels and special events in our lives, so I'm making these to commemorate The Year She Made My Wedding Dress, as well as her growing quilt business.

    To jazz them up I applied a nice thick coat of glitter.  To do this, I painted on a generous coat of craft glue and then liberally sprinkled with glitter.

    Once dry, I applied a coat of spray-on polyurethane in an effort to keep the glitter from rubbing off.

    Next I wrapped the bobbins in pretty colors of embroidery floss.  Blue is my Mom's favorite color, "Bonnie Pink" for the wedding, and burgundy just because it looked Christmasy.

    To finish them off, I strung a handful of coordinating beads above and below the bobbin, and ta da!  Cute ornaments for my Mom!

    DIY Recycled Bobbin Christmas Ornaments

    Disclaimer: Maizie over at Chic Done Cheap was the creative mind behind the glitter and beads.  Also, this project took wayyyy longer than I had anticipated, and overtook my kitchen table for more than a week.  So just because it sounds quick and easy, doesn't necessarily mean it is!  Love you Mom!

    Monday, December 12, 2011

    Christmas Tree Skirt

    My fiance's employees went all-out decorating their office this year.  He made them promise to wait till after Thanksgiving, and he came back from vacation to discover Christmas had overtaken!  They posted a cute photo on facebook of their efforts, but I noticed something was lacking - a Christmas tree skirt!  This had to be remedied immediately!

    pretty, but it needs a skirt!
    I perused the fabric store, looking for ideas.  This skirt would need to be hip and fun to mesh with their brand.  Velvet?  Felt with the company logo sewn on?  Quilted?  Sequined?  There were lots of choices!  Finally I decided on a glittery blue satin (approximately their company color).  While waiting around for the cutting table to open up, I also found white fur trim.  Perfect!  There was only 1.5 yards of the blue left on the bolt.  I eyeballed the piece and it seemed sufficient, so that's what I got.  Also, some quick math determined I would need about 4 yards of the fur trim.

    To cut the basic shape of the skirt, I folded the fabric into eighths, like you would to make paper snowflakes.  My fabric wasn't cut square, so I measured the shortest radius length - 27 inches.  Then I measured 27" from the center to make a rough sketch of where I should cut.  Then I cut out the big circle!  (Note: I read online that your tree skirt should be approximately the same diameter as your tree.  I hope mine is big enough!)

    Next I cut the small center circle using a similar technique.  To finish up, I cut a slit in the circle so we'll be able to get the skirt around the tree.

    Then I hemmed the raw edges to make them look nice and prevent fraying.

    To finish it off, I attached the fur trim.  Apparently my either my geometry or measuring skills were off, and I was lacking about 12" in fur.  Turns out I didn't account for the 2" width of the fur.  I cut an extra 2" off the circle, and it was perfect!

    blue and white tree skirt, complete!

    close-up of the glitter and fur
    As an extra bonus, I also wrapped some empty packages to accessorize their tree.  I hope they love it!

    DIY Blue/Fur Christmas Tree Skirt

    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    A Project Girl's Holiday Wish List

    I've been seeing a lot of imaginative and inspiring wish lists going up on the internet lately, so I thought I'd add one for the DIYers.

    1) DIY envelope template - $15.  I've been musing about making my own cards, and I think it would be really fun to make my own envelopes to go with them!

    2) Packs of cool paper - $10.  I'll need fun papers to make those sweet envelopes.

    3) Dremel tool - $132.  Useful not only for trimming the dog's nails, but we've also been using these to carve messages in rocks and signs on our family farm.  In the product description, it can also be used as a planer, to sharpen yard tools, as a screwdriver, and more.

    4) Cute cork boards - $DIY.  So I can hang up my inspiration photos in plain sight!

    5) Dress form - $169.  I've been dreaming up outfits I want to sew, but it's REALLY hard to pin things on yourself!  This one is great because you can adjust it to your measurements, and change it if you are making things for friends.

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Sofa Facelift

    Teleworking today, I finally reached the end of the rope with my sad, saggy, sofa.  It was a $100 craigslist find that I got when I moved into my current place.  An extra $50 on for a slipcover, and I was in business.  It even has a hide-a-bed!

    But after more than a year of abuse, it needed some help, clearly. 

    Sad saggy sofa

    My first order of business was making the cushions tighter in their cases.  I took in about 6" of fabric on both the inner pillow and the pillow case.  Because I was going to slipcover it, it didn't matter how good it looked.

    taking up the pillow insert
    taking up the pillow case

    Aside from saggy pillow, I also hate it when the cushions slowly slide off the sofa.  You know, when the bottom one pops out the front, then the back ones slide down into the sofa?  I hate that.

    My lovely mother recently sent me about a yard of 2" velcro, so I got that out and got to work.  I applied the soft side to the sofa in six places (so any overnight guests using the fold-out bed wouldn't feel scratchy places).  I put two on the bottom cushions to keep the from slipping out, and four on the back to keep my now-poufy cushions high and tight!  I sewed them to the sofa by hand and to the cushions with my sewing machine.  The thread was mismatched and it looked terrible, but again nobody's going to see it so who cares.

    bottom cushion velcro
    top cushion velcro
    Then I reassembled the couch!  What do you think?

    so much better!!!
    After a run through the wash on hot, with a few tablespoons of oxyclean, the slipcover was good as new, too!


    Tuesday, November 29, 2011

    How We Made My Wedding Dress: The Prologue

    When I was little, my mom designed and made custom wedding gowns out of our home.  She made over 100 wedding gowns, plus veils, bridesmaid dresses, mother of the bride dresses, and more!  I was little enough to not fully understand the work she was doing,  but it sure was fun having people over to play dress up all the time!

    She eventually started a women's clothing store, then got into costuming, and is now interested in quilting (see her awesome patterns here), but she always vowed to make one more dress - mine!

    I had seen dresses I liked on TV and in magazines, but we wanted to have me try on a few to see what styles best flattered my body and tastes.  Over Thanksgiving, we visited two stores in the Atlanta area to get inspiration!

    I tried on about 50 dresses between the two shops, and actually almost bought one at the first store.  It was beautiful, neither of us would change a thing about it, and it was priced reasonably.  However, at the second store I really liked some qualities of another dress and couldn't get it out of my mind.  So the solution?  Design a totally unique dress combining the best parts of both!

    Mom is headed to the garment district of LA this week to look for fabric, and then she'll start making the pattern!  She's planning to make a practice dress in black so she'll have a better estimate of the yardage required.  It'll be in black so I'll have a beautiful ball gown on hand!  Can't wait!!!

    Some inspiration:

    Dress 1
    Dress 2
    Dress 4

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    More Wedding Project Inspiration

    Bouquets - I think I've decided to make my own bouquets!  I have some practice now, and with help from my bridesmaids it should go quickly.  I'll make them the morning before and they should stay fresh enough!  I might have to get someone from my Dream Team (Mom's friends and sisters) to make the boutonnieres on our wedding day though.

    Here Comes the Bride - I would love for our flower girls to carry a sign like this.  I think I can iron on letters, then sew fabrics like I'm using in the rest of the decor around the border to bring it all together!

    Art - Tommy and I have a few cute sayings that we frequently use with each other.  I would love to put them in a cool font, print, and frame them.  They are "I love you Moore", "You're the love of my life", "What's up Granola Bar?", and probably a few more I can't think of right now.  Maizie made some cute things like this recently, and I love the idea!  I think these would be adorable both as decor at our wedding and at our home.  (Hint hint, maybe a good wedding gift???)
    Honey Bee Printable from Chic Done Cheap

    Buttons - I want to make buttons for people to wear so everyone knows who they are!  I made a lot of these in high school back when I thought it was cool to have a lot of "flair" on my backpack, so it'll be fun to get out the badge-o-matic again!

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    DIY Fall Wedding Bouquets

    I had so much fun making bouquets and boutonnieres for my friends' wedding this past weekend!  Their wedding was scheduled to be outside overlooking a field and forest in late October, so they chose harvest colors to coordinate with the natural beauty of the landscape.

    You can see the autumn-themed bouquets and flowers that inspired us here.

    Early Friday morning I made the trek to Potomac Floral Wholesale in Silver Spring, MD.  As always, the staff was very helpful and accommodating!  I also lucked out, and they had about 50% more flowers than usual, so I had lots of selection to choose from.

    I spent about an hour picking out flowers and fillers in burgundy, red, burnt orange, and yellow.  My bride really wanted sunflowers, so I made sure to get plenty of those!

    My selection at the flower shop

    When they added it all up, it turned out that I had quite the eye for expensive flowers!  My bride had really liked these burgundy and yellow calla lilies, but at $3 each, I ended up trading them in for more roses.  I have an affinity for Billy Balls, but those were also on the pricey side, so I replaced them with yellow poms.  I also discovered that you have to be careful with roses!  I had picked out some gorgeous orange garden roses, but they were over $3 each, so I traded those in for more gerbera daisies.  These tradeoffs took about 30% off the total.  While I loved the textures and colors they provided, I was able to substitute flowers in similar sizes and colors for much less.  Even though I was trying to be cost-conscious, I still splurged on the red-tipped yellow roses I used for the boutonnieres and of course the sunflowers!

    The staff was also very helpful in helping me find good deals.  The red roses that were in the showroom were all long-stemmed and thus $1-2 each.  I asked about more affordable red roses and was led to the back room where they had plenty of shorter-stemmed roses for only $0.59 each!  For bouquets, you're just cutting them down anyways, so there's no need to pay for extra stem length.  If you try this for yourself, please take the time to talk with the staff about your budget and how to meet it - they can be very helpful.

    In addition, I opened an account!  So now I'll get even better discounts if I get to do bouquets for more friends.

    As soon as I got home, I got to work cleaning the flowers.  First I recut the stems and placed them in water so they could hydrate.  For most flowers, all I had to do was remove all the leaves and any dead petals or flowers.  Roses are more difficult - I had to cut off all the thorns and remove a number of the outer petals to get down to the pretty ones.  I saved all the petals, and the decorator ended up scattering them in the aisle where they were a beautiful touch!  While they weren't nice enough for boutonnieres, they were gorgeous scattered around.  In all, it took maybe an hour to and hour and a half to clean all the flowers.

    I divided up the flowers for the bouquets into seven stacks - one for each bridesmaid and one for the bride.  Everyone got more or less the same flowers and amount of flowers, and I doubled those counts for the bride.  This way I could be sure I'd have enough for everyone, especially because I saved the bridal bouquet for last.

    I started by grouping 3-4 flowers together and securing with floral tape.  Then I would add 1-4 more stems at a time, again securing with floral tape.  I mixed colors, sizes, and textures and continued this process until I had used all the flowers.  It was a great idea to prep all the flowers first, because then I could simply add them to the bouquet, rather than having to stop to clean them as I was going.

    After all the flowers were added, I wrapped the stems tightly with floral tape.  Next I cut the stems to the desired length.  Finally, I covered the floral tape with a 1.5" satin ribbon, and secured it at the top of the handle with corsage pins.  Then I set each one in about 1" of water in a glass cylinder, to stay hydrated as well as look pretty and stay safe!

    In all, the bridesmaid bouquets took about 4 hours.

    I made the bridal bouquet Saturday morning using the same technique as with the bridesmaid bouquets.  It took longer because I had more flowers, but wasn't too much trouble.

    Next I worked on the boutonnieres.  I used one red-tipped yellow rose, a fern, and a berry bunch for each one, to keep with the autumn color scheme.  I secured them together with floral tape, then cut the stems to my desired length.  To finish them off, I wrapped a 1/2" satin ribbon over the floral tape and secured the end with super glue.  I made 22 of these, and they took a little over an hour.

    I ran into a problem with my super glue though!  It was supposed to dry in 30 seconds, but some of them NEVER dried.  The groomsmen had to be really careful about which ones they used, so they wouldn't get glued to the tuxes.  Next time I plan to either use hot glue or simply secure the end of the ribbon with a tiny shirt pin.

    In the end, the bride, groom, and parents loved the bouquets!  The kids in attendance had a blast carrying them around all night, and I think even took a few home.

    The autumn colors really popped against their clothing and stood out beautifully in photos!  My bridal bouquet even withstood a bouquet toss, so I guess I made it pretty stout!  I noticed a few ruined boutonnieres in the box, but that's why I make plenty of extras.

    So was it worth it?  Absolutely!  Congrats to my friends!

    Thursday, October 20, 2011

    Fall Wedding Bouquet Inspiration

    I'm doing the bouquets and boutonnieres for another friend this weekend!  I'm super excited!

    Her wedding has an autumn theme, so I want to use burgundy, red, deep orange and yellow, and dark purple flowers, especially roses, calla lilies, mums, sunflowers, dahlias, and gerbera daisies.  I might also add in some berries and peppers for visual interest.

    A few weeks ago we made a trip up to Potomac Floral in Silver Spring to get inspired.  I took photos of flowers she liked so I'll have a better idea of what to get when I go shopping this weekend!

    I'll make primarily floral bouquets (little or no greenery), and finish them with a garnet satin ribbon.  The boutonnieres will either be roses or calla lilies, but the choice and color will depend on what looks nice on the day I go buy everything.  All in all, it will be seven bouquets and fifteen corsages/boutonnieres!!!

    Now that I have some experience doing all this, it will hopefully go smoother and be faster than last time.  Skipping the 20 centerpieces should help, too!!!

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Forays using Etsy

    If you haven't heard of etsy, it's about time you get over there to check it out!

    I've recently found some excellent gifts on their site, like this sign I got my parents for their anniversary (obviously I customized it for them).

    There are so many darling things on there, and just browsing really juices up my creativity.

    adorable, but out of my price range

    I was even inspired to start selling some things of my own!  Going online increases your audience tremendously, and it only costs 20 cents to list an item.  It's easy to create a shop and start listing items for sale.

    The first product I listed was a quilt kit.  The process of making eye spy quilts produces LOTS of those hexagons with the pictures on them.  The fabric store won't just sell you just a snippet, so I usually buy enough fabric to make 10-25 hexagons (1/4 to 1/2 a yard).  While I love my friends and family dearly, I just don't need to be making THAT many baby quilts.  So I decided to make kits and sell them online!

    My kit comes with all the hexagons needed to make a baby quilt, templates so you can cut out your own pictures, and detailed instructions.  I would rank the difficulty level at "intermediate", and they take about 20 hours each to make (including design, cutting, sewing, and quilting).  I've already sold a few!!!

    After making earrings for my bridesmaids recently, I realized that they might also be a good product to list on etsy.  I can custom make them for any wedding (or other occasion).  I'll let you know if I have any luck!

    What neat products have you discovered on etsy???  Have you had any luck selling items?

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    DIY Bridesmaid Jewelry - Earrings

    I started making jewelry when I was about eight years old - putting together simple earrings to sell in my Mom's clothing store.  Since then, I've designed and made lots pieces for myself, as gifts for others, and to sell!

    I have this idea for my bridesmaids to all wear different yet coordinating dresses in a color my best friend calls "Bonnie Pink."  It's kind of a watermelon/coral shade of pink.  Rather than give the girls paint swatches or something, I figured I would go ahead and make their earrings, and they can use them as color inspiration!

    They'll be able to pick/design whatever dress and shoes they want, and I hope the overall effect will be whimsical and fun.  And it's not my fault if they can't wear the dress again!  They're picking it out!  Given that many of them are still in school of some degree, I'm also hoping this will be budget-conscious.  Better yet, my Mom offered to make them if they want.  I see guest blogs in the future!

    I chose a variety of beads in different shades, shapes, and textures that I'm hoping will be good inspiration.

    I put each bead on a head pin first, then attached them all to a short chain so they dangle nicely.

    It's really simple!  Like all my projects, it took some trial and error to get them looking nice, but I like the end product!

    I'm a strong believer in good presentation, so I put them on little cards in coordinating colors to show them off pretty.

    This was a quick (< 2 hours), fun, easy, and functional project, and I hope my girls love them!  I can't wait to see what dresses they pick out!

    If you love the earrings but aren't up to DIYing them, check out my shop on etsy!

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    Here Comes the Bride DIY Sign

    A month before our wedding, we'll be celebrating the nuptials of Tommy's best friend!  His fiance and I have very similar tastes about weddings, and I've been loving all her ideas!  Recently we made a "Here Comes the Bride" sign for her ring bearer to carry down the aisle.  So cute!!!

    our inspiration

    She's going for a rustic feel, so she used reclaimed wood from shipping pallets.  (Green, and saves green, too!)  The letters were made with basic stencils from the craft store.  FYI, they have some really awesome stencils out there these days!  Who knew?

    We ran into a few snags getting the paint right.  We tried a stain first, but it ran and looked smudgy.  Then we  tried flat wall paint in her wedding color, but it was too watery.  It also didn't give enough contrast for the letters.

    Finally we settled on black craft paint applied with these paintbrushes called "spouncers" which is basically a round sponge on a stick.  They helped tremendously with the paint bleeding around the edges.  The wood was rough, so we still had some bleed around the edges, but I thought it added to the look!

    She's going to let it "weather" outside for a while to give it an even more rustic feel, then finish it off by hanging the sign on a ribbon.  I can't wait to see it walk down the aisle, followed by a beautiful friend!

    In all, this project took about one hour, $5 in supplies, and was super easy.  Can't beat that!