Sunday, November 28, 2010

%&@#! Popcorn Garlands

I love the way popcorn garlands look on Christmas trees.  They're fun, festive and the white looks great on the evergreen tree.  Has anyone else ever made a popcorn garland?  If not, they are not as easy as they may seem.

Okay, I should say it depends on the kind of popcorn you make/get.  The larger pieces the better, but the popcorn I used was about 1/3 the size of the piece pictured above (from a cheap, old air popper that is on the fritz).

I thought it would be a project that my small children and I could do together, but unfortunately, with the sharp needles and thin thread required, it doesn't work out too well with them.

Some tips:
     - use a very sharp, narrow needle.  If you use a thicker needle it will break the popcorn more often and frustrate you more.
     - use thin thread (since I couldn't get thicker thread to fit through the eye of the smaller needle)
     - practice self calming techniques and hold your tongue when you're tempted to spout expletives after the tenth piece in a row crumbles in your fingertips or your children step on the middle of the five foot length you've already completed.

My verdict:  Not worth it.  Only if you've been snowed in for a week and have finished all your other projects.  Or you have no small children or anyone else to possibly get in the way and 10 hours of free time on your hands.

P.S.  None of the pictures are mine.  I was too frustrated to take any photos myself.  And, incidentally, I found the last picture on where you can purchase a 12 foot length of wax-covered popcorn garland for $20.  Hm... tempting...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Spray Painted Belt

With all the creative blog reading I've been doing lately I've seen several posts about spray painting shoes (I think I will have to try it someday soon).  I wondered if this could also be applied to belts since I often see cute belts at thrift stores that are just the wrong kind of color for me.  I've been wanting a wide belt and found one on a recent thrifting trip that was a strange metallic maroon-ish kind of color.  Not my kind of color, but a cute, simple belt, just like I wanted. (Which was also brand new and still had the $36 Express price tag on it... I snagged it for $4)


So I decided to try to spray paint it using Rustoleum's Universal paint in "Oil-Rubbed Bronze".  It says it's good for all surfaces, so I hoped it would work well for something that requires flexibility.  First I covered the metal parts of the belt with painter's tape.  I was careful to work the tape around the edges of the studs using my fingernail, then used an Exact-o knife to cut around the stud and remove the excess tape.



I sprayed two light coats of paint, allowing a little time to dry in between.  Then I let it dry completely (so it's not tacky anymore) before removing the tape.


I carefully removed the tape, and here's the finished product!


Ahh, much better.  And so far there seems to be no problem with the flexing of the belt, and the paint doesn't stick to the buckle or loop.  Success!

Now, what other accessories can I spray paint?.....

handmade projects

Monday, November 15, 2010

Children's Hutch -- Hopefully Transform Into Kitchen

I like to browse online classifieds from time to time (okay, since the weather is cold and rainy I've been doing it a lot).  I stumbled upon this vintage children's hutch for $5.  FIVE DOLLARS.



Photos courtesy of the seller

Yes, it needs a ton of work, but I was so excited to find it.  It's such a unique and rare piece.  I have plans to put in a sink (although I'll have to sacrifice one of the drawers, and turn one half of the bottom into an oven.  My goal is to have this finished for my kids for Christmas.  We'll see if it actually happens!  ha ha

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Paper, String and Branches - Bird Mobile with Template

A while back I received a Target mailer with coupons for baby items, but I was very intrigued by the picture on the front of the mailer.  It was a baby, laying underneath this...

I thought it was so beautiful and made plans to make my own in the future.  Then passes an embarrassingly large amount of time until today, when I finally did it!  Here's the tutorial and template:

First, go outside and gather some sticks/branches!  Even if you don't have your own stick-producing trees, try to find a friend or neighbor that might have some.  The great thing about this is you can scale it to whatever size you like.  You could go huge for a dramatic centerpiece or chandelier type display, or smaller for a bedroom or office. 

Craft supplies for free!
Glue or tie the sticks together.  (See my fabulous trackpad drawn stick art below)

I think the Target mobile used sticks like the ones on the left.  I used straight-ish sticks crossed over each other like the ones on the right.  I tied them with string (actually I used embroidery thread, the kind that looks like string, not the kind that comes apart into six strands), wrapped around, alternating which sticks the string went around.  I hope that makes sense!

A closeup of how I tied the sticks together
Hot glue flowers to the sticks.  You can use pre-made flowers from scrapbooking or craft supply stores (that's what I used).  Or you can use punched out flowers (the Target mobile did), small silk flowers, cut your own,  or if you're making a large one, use larger silk flowers, or you can even make tissue or crepe paper flowers. 


Hot glue the leaves to the sticks.  Again, you can used punched out leaves, premade leaves, or cut your own.  I included a leaf template, and a half leaf so you can cut on a fold to save time.  I folded my leaves in half so they would have a bit more dimension.  

This thing was hard to photograph -- it kept spinning around!
Cut out the bird pieces.  You can trace it onto paper or import/trace the template in a program to use with a cutting machine.  I traced it onto cardstock and erased the pencil lines after.  Use a good quality cardstock so the wings will stay upward when folded.  Also, use an Exacto knife (or similar) to cut the slot for the wings and tail, and at least for the tail cut a small amount of paper out of the slot (equal to the thickness of the carstock) so it doesn't try to bend or lay flat against the body.  Punch a tiny hole in the back of the bird so you can thread the string through.  You can vary where you place the hole to change whether the bird is facing up, straight, or down.  The closer to the head the more it will face up, the further back the more it will face down.


Slide the wings through the slots in the birds' bodies, fold upward and use a tiny bit of glue when putting in the tail. 


Tie strings to the back of the birds, then tie them at varying lengths and directions to the sticks.  Make sure the mobile stays balanced. 



 There you have it!  Feel free to use the bird templates for any other projects you have.  Let me know what you've used them for if possible.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Simple, No-pattern, Two-tiered Girls Skirt

This is the skirt I made to go with my daughter’s fairy Halloween costume. 

I started out with a vintage sheet I found at a thrift store.  (I actually found several of them, one of which I’m going to use to make a fabulous fifties style dress for myself)  Cut strips of fabric from the edges that had a border and hemmed the bottom edge (for a slightly cleaner finish you can wait to hem the strips until you’ve sewn the side seams).  I actually just cut them longer than I would need, with the intent of testing the width on my daughter later.   



Cut an extra strip of fabric to make the bottom tier of the skirt long enough.  Sew it to the bottom tier, turn and topstitch.  [For a variation you can gather the bottom tier and sew it to the flat extra strip to give the skirt a little extra poof]  At this point I measured on my daughter and estimated how wide would create a cute gathered skirt.  Cut both strips to length and sew the side seams. 



Put the bottom tier inside the top tier with the right side of the top facing the wrong side of the bottom tier, like so and stitch… 


Pull the bottom tier through and press (iron).  [Sorry I changed the angle of the skirt in the photos]


Flip the top tier over  and press again. 


Stitch a seam about 1/8” wider than your elastic away from the top edge of the skirt, but leave a gap so you can insert the elastic.  



My highly technical, complicated and difficult (note: sarcasm) way of inserting elastic…


Insert the safety-pin into the gap, push it through the channel, bunching up the fabric.  Hold the safety-pin and smooth the fabric out over the elastic.  Repeat until near the end of the elastic. 



When you get close to the end, pin the elastic to the fabric so you don’t end up pulling it into the channel and have to pull it all the way through just to start over again!


Continue to push the safety-pin through the channel until it comes out the other end.  Pull it through enough to keep the fabric out of the way while you sew the elastic together.  Make sure the elastic is not twisted, lay one side flat on top of the other side and stitch. 



Pull the elastic so it completely goes inside the channel, even out the fullness and stitch the channel closed. 


Voila, skirt complete!  (I cut off a bit of the bottom level because it was too long.)


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