Monday, October 31, 2011

Painted Chest of Drawers

Paint can transform a piece of furniture.  Behold this chest of drawers from a thrift shop.  It wore an odd whitewash sort of finish.  I couldn't tell if it was intentional or a project gone bad. 

I lightly sanded the chest, then applied a coat of latex primer.  Because the chest was going in a room with wallpapered walls, I kept the paint scheme a simple black and grey.  I used Behr latex paint in "Beluga" and "Porpoise." The marine mammal theme of the paint names was entirely  unintentional. ;)
Adding decorative knobs dressed up the drawers without making the piece too busy.  Because I use the chest as a dressing table, the top needs to withstand constant use and the heat from my curling iron.  A large glass cutting board which has rubber edges to keep it from sliding has worked perfectly.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Turn Fabric Scraps into Halloween Treat Bags

If you sew, you inevitably end up with scraps of fabric. If you sew a lot, you end up with piles of scraps.  I decided to put some of my scraps to use by making Halloween treat bags.  Using my serger, I made 25 bags in about 2 1/2 hours (which included stopping to take photos). 

First, determine what size(s) you would like your bags to be.  Cut your fabric into rectangles that measure the desired width of your bag (plus a bit for seams) x twice the desired length (plus a bit for seams).  For example, if you want 5" x 7" bags, cut your fabric into roughly 5 1/2" x 14 1/2" rectangles.

Next, run the short ends of your rectangles through the serger. (You can skip this step if you are using fabric that doesn't ravel.) To save time and thread, serge in serial fashion. Serge the short side of a piece, and when you reach the end of it, put in the next piece without cutting the thread tail.  Just keep stitching one after another.

Once you've serged one side of all the pieces, clip the thread tails to separate. Repeat for the other short sides.

Fold your rectangle in half, right sides in. Serge the sides closed. You can do these in serial fashion as well.  Turn right side out. Your bag is complete!

Fill your bag with treats.  Mmmm... candy.

Lastly, tie treat-filled bag closed with ribbon.  I made bags out of several types of fabrics (some you might recognize from my Novelty Cottons post).  I am curious to see how the trick-or-treaters react.  :)

Post-Halloween update: The trick-or-treaters loved the bags.  Even the teenagers used words like "cool" and "awesome." :)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sewing for Newbies: Follow the Lines

When choosing patterns, try to ignore the fabrics and colors used in the pictures or drawings on the envelope.  Focus on the overall design of the items.  Look at the shape of the pieces, the location of seams and how the pieces are put together.  The line art can be especially helpful.

Looking at Simplicity 2449 view A, you might be put off by the turquoise and rattan.  But remember that you get to choose your fabrics and colors!  If you look at the line art, you can see how the skirt is put together - it's multiple panels making a flared skirt.  There is even an option to bustle up the skirt. By using gothy fabric(s), you can create a skirt that barely resembles the pattern envelope's photo but is identical in construction.
Turquoise and rattan = not very goth
Line art shows the construction of the skirt.
the skirt made in a bat print cotton alternated with solid black
same pattern made in black and purple panne velvet
same pattern made in a skull print cotton alternated with a stripe cotton
Let’s say you love Lip Service’s Devil Dolls III Starlight Rocker dress but can’t find it in your size.  (In my experience, if you're bigger than a size 6, you're usually out of luck with Lip Service.)  Check out McCall’s 5094.  At first glance, it’s a cacophony of pastels and florals.  But look at the lines and you’ll see that the basic shape of view A isn’t entirely unlike the rocker dress.  Sewn in black fabric, with ribbon trim added over the bust and waist seams, and worn with a tulle petticoat peeking out, it would be very similar.
So breezy! So pastel! So not goth!
Line art shows a shape not unlike the Lip Service dress.
Let's say you love the style of WahMaker's Victorian frock coat but you want it in purple.  Alas, it is not offered in purple.  Look at Butterick 4929.  The shape of view B is similar.
Line art indicates a shape similar to...

this lovely frock coat.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Easy and Inexpensive DIY Jewelry Display

With this simple and inexpensive project, you can put your jewelry on display to enjoy every day.

Cost:  $5-15
Materials needed:
  • picture frame
  • velvet or other fabric
  • cork tile
  • cardboard
  • duct tape
  • scissors
  • utility knife
  • ruler or measuring tape (not shown)
  • stapler (optional - not shown)

Your picture frame can be any size but needs to have enough depth to accommodate the cork and cardboard.  No glass is needed.  I used an 11" x 14" frame.

You can use any opaque fabric of your choice.  Black velvet makes an especially lovely backdrop for silver jewelry.  I used pieces of a $4 velvet skirt from a thrift store.

Cork tiles and rolls are sold in various sizes online and at many craft and office supply stores.  A package of four 12" x 12" tiles costs about $10. 

Begin by cutting your cork tile and your cardboard to the proper size to fit into the back of your frame.  If you have glass from the frame, you can use it as a template.  I like to use a utility knife and ruler; scissors will also work. 

Cover the tile with fabric by placing the fabric right side down, placing the cork on top, and wrapping the fabric around to the back of the cork.  Trim the fabric as needed; secure with staples or tape.

Place the fabric-covered cork face down into the back of the frame, then place the cardboard on top of the cork.  Secure with duct tape.

Turn frame over to reveal your completed project! 

Use pins to hang your jewelry on the display.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Create Unique Containers with Paintable Wallpaper

Paintable wallpaper is an easy way to turn plain boxes or canisters into unique storage containers.  It’s also great for resurrecting old containers, especially ones that are too scratched or gouged to be painted.  For this project, I used a tin ceiling style paper to cover a set of four wood canisters purchased at a thrift store for $3.  Sorry, no "before" pictures of the canisters, but just imagine plain brown, scratched, and ugly.

Step one of the transformation is to cover your container with wallpaper.  Wrap the wallpaper around the container like a tube to determine the length of wallpaper you need; cut to size.  Don’t worry about cutting the top and bottom yet.

Apply glue to the back of the wallpaper and wrap it around your container.  Press to secure.  To trim the top and bottom, use a utility knife or razor blade.  Make sure the blade is sharp; a dull blade will tear the wallpaper raggedly.  By keeping the blade perpendicular to the container, you can cut the wallpaper perfectly level with the top and bottom of the container.

After the glue dries, you can paint the wallpaper using a brush or roller.  For this canister project, I used Behr latex paint in a grey called Pewter Mug.

To accentuate the texture of the wallpaper, use a different color over the base.  It’s important to brush on the top color carefully so that it’s applied to only the raised parts of the wallpaper.  Load your brush lightly with paint, then brush the excess onto newspapers or paper towels until the brush is almost dry.  Holding the brush almost flat to the wallpaper as shown below, brush the top color on lightly.  Brush in all directions, a little at a time until you get the desired look.  You might want to practice first on a scrap of wallpaper to get the technique down. 

The photo below shows examples of different paint combinations: grey over black (top left), lavender over black (bottom left) and black over grey (top and bottom right).  I used black over grey for the canisters.

For the lids, I painted a black base coat and then glued on a cut-out of wallpaper.  I used small black drawer pulls for the handles.