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!