DIY Wall Decor on the Cheap

Moving isn’t always an option when you get tired of an apartment, but changing what it looks like is. I got tired of the blank walls in my apartment, but didn’t want to over-saturate the space with photos (two are posted above our desktop in the living room). I decided to make my own with what I had (because buying new supplies for every project makes for a crowded craft space!). I followed a Pinterest post for an easy DIY wall art from origami paper, which was posted on How About Orange.

The first one I made with solid colored paper:

DIY Wall Art

The second one I made using origami paper that had a somewhat oriental theme. Just for fun, I reversed a row of the squares:

DIY Wall Art with oriental pattern

After only thinking about it for two weeks, I finally got a bug in my bonnet about it and did it. I had a bunch of spare origami paper that I have had around for years, and this project used up just about all of it. I also happened to have thin Styrofoam packaging laying around, which is what I used as the backing. Check out the original post for how to fold the squares.

I measured and cut the Styrofoam, then taped the squares on by looping small pieces of packing tape. This worked well. What I had more trouble with was getting my “wall art” to stay on the wall. I tried looped packing tape, but after a few hours, both art pieces would fall. I also tried hanging them, but this also turned out unsuccessful, as the strings would rip through the Styrofoam eventually. Finally, I bought some mounting putty and it stuck!

I also printed and posted the Fixer’s Manifesto, framing it with blue paper. Check it out below:

FixersManifesto

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Crochet Hot Air Balloons in the Sky

Sometimes when the news of something hits me, I am instantly struck with a thought that I must make happen. When we talk about moving, I think of a house with a garden. When it came time to rearrange the furniture,  I knew exactly where I wanted everything to go and what I needed to add to the walls. When I found out I was pregnant, I knew I needed to make hot air balloons. Several of them.

We’re excited about the prospect of a little one coming next year, but since we still don’t know the gender, it’s hard to plan cute dresses or dinosaur bed sheets (although no matter the gender, the tyke might get both!). But hot air balloons — who doesn’t love a hot air balloon? They’re colorful, fun and you can fly in them! When I let the knowledge sink in that I was brewin’ a babe, I instantly pictured five or more hot air balloons of different colors hanging from the ceiling of the future Edrington’s space.

Hence, this adorable kitten hanging currently from my living room window.

Weeeeee!

O hai there!

The hot air balloon pattern is from Amigurumi Two by Ana Paula Rimoli, and the kitten is from Super Cute amigurumi by Annie Obaachan. I’m a sucker for those Suncatcher cat eyes, too, which I bought on Etsy a while back from Michelle McLaughlin.  Such brilliant colors! Much better than the ones they used to sell at Joann’s (but don’t anymore, from what I can tell locally).

I’ll admit, the nose is a little sloppy. Before I had sewn the body parts together, my cat decided that it was a plaything. She tore the nose up a bit so I had to do some trimming. But I don’t know — I think it adds character. Anyway, I’ve started the second hot air balloon and I’m not sure which animal will be its passenger, but I have plenty of books and online patterns to choose from …

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Saturday Quick Fixes

I’d like to say that I’m starting a new feature here… But my skill of posting every week is obviously not up to par for the life of a weekly feature. So, lets say I’m starting a semi-regular feature for when I can come up with something appropriate.

What is a Saturday Quick Fix? It’s something that you can do all in one day, and that will make a difference in how you feel about your environment/wardrobe/life. In essence, it’s something small you can do that will give you a bit of pleasure to know that you’ve done it.

Before and after of ironed curtains hanging side by side.

Today’s quick fix is something that took me over a year to do — ironing my curtains.

When the mister and I moved into this apartment, we scored big on clearance curtains at Bed Bath and Beyond. $300 curtains for $30. They were in exactly the right color and the perfect price point. They cover both windows in the front room, using six panels total. All I did was take them out of the package, shake them out, and hang them up, secure in the idea that they wrinkles and creases would let themselves out because these are heavy curtains and gravity was going to work for me.

Of course, it didn’t work that way. My mom had come to visit and told me I should iron them. I completely ignored her. A year later though, I couldn’t have her over for dinner commenting on how my curtains were still wrinkly. (Yes my mom comes over to visit very seldom; she’d much rather I make the drive to visit than have to drive over to my place.)

The only way to remedy it? To pull them down an iron them. Now, if you had a stand up steamer, that would work to.

The curtains look 100% better now. It took me the better part of a day or two to get all six panels done — two for the small window, four for the window above. It may have taken me awhile, but it really was a quick fix. The curtains look better, pool at the floor better, and don’t look like my home had been attacked by a wrinkle monster.

If you haven’t ironed (or steamed) your curtains since you took them out of the package, do it! You’ll be pleased at how much better they look, and wonder how you lived with them looking like the did for so long.

At least, I wondered. A whole year? That is some crazy wrinkles.

St. Patrick’s Day Runner and Other Gifts From Mom

I haven’t had much time to craft lately, but my thoughtful mother sent me this surprise in the mail:

With Valentine Towel!

Gifts from Home -- Thanks, Mom!

The St. Patrick’s Day towel and runner are especially fantastic because I have a love of four leaved clovers. I love the fabrics she chose for the towels, too. Or perhaps they are heavy duty napkins? I suppose I could use them for either task.

She has used that runner pattern a lot recently — I’ve had a runner for almost every season for the past six months and I know my sister has received a few. No complaints here!

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How a Lion Went From a Purse to a Stuffed Animal

Perhaps I’m hoping to instill a little bit of the Post-Depression sense of MEND EVERYTHING into the children I know, as I got my “little sister” from the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in on Mend it Monday.

Together we did some stuffed animal mending. She calls them “stuffys” (or perhaps “stuffies”), but what we  had were two very different cases. There was a dog with a rip across the paw — she was able to sew that up using a simple ladder stitch. Then there was the lion reconstructive surgery:

Ripped Lion in need of Stuffed Animal Mending

Ripped lion in need of stuffed animal mending

Quite the dilemma for this poor guy. Her dog had ripped off the head, which may have been when the zipper broke. We thought about unstitching the zipper and replacing it with Velcro, but instead, we stuffed it with polyester fiber-fil and sewed it shut. She wasn’t that interested in using it as a purse.

Impressively, she did almost all the stitching herself! He does have a slight, quizzical turn to his head now, but it really just adds character. I did the first couple stitches of each part to show her how to do the ladder stitch, but she even ripped all the stitches to get the zipper out properly. She learns fast!

After all that reconstructive stuffed animal mending, he looks pretty good. You can hardly see the scars stitches:

Lion after stuffed animal mending

Lion after stuffed animal mending

She decided after we were done that his name was Simba. A good choice, since it means “lion” in Swahili.

I also did a little mending on my own clothes as she did that. I replaced missing buttons on my husband’s coat and shirt, and I also patched up a small hole in one of my undershirts:

Undershirt patch on stretchy fabric

Undershirt patch on stretchy fabric

My hand-stitches aren’t quite up to snuff when it comes to patches, so I used my sewing machine. I switched the needle to accommodate for the fabric type and was careful not to catch the underside of the sleeve. I actually didn’t have any problems, and now I get a little more use out of this blouse.

I didn’t intend it to be a business/professional undershirt, so I went with the same bright fabric to make the patch that I used for the DIY Kindle cover and the One-Yard Wonder car trash bag. I love the colors and design, though being on my elbow it may be hard to show off without using some odd gestures.

As far as Big Brothers Big Sisters crafts go, mending is a solid skill to show and teach.

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Sewing Projects with my “Little Sister” (or How I Volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters and Taught a Child To Craft)

Sewing is often a solitary task, so being able to share the hobby with someone can be incredibly fun. I started volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the North Coast last year and have recently had my “little” join me for some sewing projects. We’ve stuck to small crafts mostly and next week we are having a Mend it Monday: Little Edition to repair clothes and add our own embellishments.

If you haven’t heard of Big Brothers Big Sisters, here’s the short version: they pair kids and teens with an adult volunteer to create one-on-one mentoring relationships. My “little sister” is under 10 and we meet up for about three hours every week. Aside from going to concerts and movies, we have also been making time for crafts and she is getting into it!

This week we  made little pillows for our cats stuffed with both fluff and catnip. Her cats were interested, but mine is unfortunately not the type to fall head over heels for catnip. As for sewing, this is what we went over:

  • Adding seam allowances
  • Clipping corners before turning it right-side out
  • Cutting the fabric
  • Drawing your own pillow pattern
  • Sewing in a straight line
  • Hitting the reverse button to reinforce the end of a stitch
  • Pinning fabric together

She did pretty well and it makes for a great Big Brothers Big Sisters craft project. I like small projects with kids because it holds their attention and they have something to show for it at the end. Starting with clothes can be a tough choice, as a shirt or skirt can take a LONG time if you aren’t used to sewing at all (I should know — my first project was a pair of drawstring pants).

But the DIY catnip pillows were pretty simple and I let her use scrap fabric (finally, a reason to keep it!):

Two catnip pillows for two lucky cats

Two catnip pillows for two lucky cats

This is a simple kids sewing project that is great for kids who love their cats!

She also embroidered a pillow a couple weeks ago:

Pink pillow with dove embroidery

Embroidery pattern from "Sublime Stitching"

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Turning a hardly worn scarf into a new favorite accessory.

As it turns out, one seam can take a scarf from hardly worn to a must-wear.

In the before photo, I’m wearing a scarf I made probably 5+ years ago. It’s the only handmade scarf I have, and I never wore it. Maybe once a season. Why would I not wear it? Because it’s wool, 10 feet long, wrapped around my neck 3 times, and the ends of the scarf would always get in the way.

This winter, scarf cowls are all the rage. One of my favorite blogs, Adventures in Dressmaking, recently posted two different tutorials on how to change up a scarf to a cowl.

The mechanics are simple: sew the ends of the scarf together with a matching yarn/thread, and wrap around your neck as loose or as tight as you want.

In the after photo, I have it wrapped around three times. I love this scarf now. It makes a huge statement when I wear it, and I can wear it all day long without getting too hot or the ends getting in my way. I get compliments every time I wear it, and it goes with so many more outfits than it used to. It looks good under coats, or on top of a short sleeve silky top (how I wore it to work yesterday). I did this in the beginning of December (the photos were taken by a co-worker now on maternity leave) and have worn the scarf at least once a week since then.

I definitely recommend this for any scarves you have that you never wear. It’s such a simple change up. And if you don’t like the way it looks, easy enough to revert back to the way the scarf was before. Just rip out your seam.

One Night, One Fabric, Two Projects

My sewing machine was still humming late into the evening yesterday as I anxiously attempted to wrap up the last few details. There are few things worse than going to bed with a nearly complete craft project — only a really good book is worse to walk away from. So I stayed up past my usual time.

One reason I was trying to wrap it up before bed is the two projects were (literally) cut from the same cloth — I had already finished one and felt I should complete the second one, too. The other reason is I am stubborn and I wanted to finish everything that night. Unfortunately, I got a bit sloppy and I was working with a few materials I’m not as used to.

The first project was a fabric waste receptacle to hang in the car. I’m hoping my husband and I will actually use it, but even if not, it’s pretty cute. The pattern is from the first One-Yard Wonder book and the fabric is Odyessa by Momo for ModaFabrics.com.

"Not-Ugly Car Trash Bag" from One-Yard Wonder pattern

"Not-Ugly Car Trash Bag" from One-Yard Wonder pattern

I love that fabric! I bought it quite some time ago with the intention of doing just this. The One-Yard Wonder book doesn’t always use up a whole yard, and that was the case with this one. I lso just noticed the loose thread on the bag in the first photo. Luckily it wasn’t attached — just a scrap.

It fit nicely on the passenger’s seat:

Not-Ugly Car Trash Bag

Not-Ugly Car Trash Bag in the car

It may have used half a yard or less, which is why I had enough to make this DIY Kindle cover:

Handmade Sewn Kindle Cover

DIY Kindle Cover to protect my little e-reader

Maybe I should call it a Kindle cozy? I just made up the pattern as I went. Basically, I cut two long strips of fabric a couple inches wider than my Kindle. I determined the length by doubling the height of the Kindle and adding five inches for the flap. I bought some batting to place between the two, then I sewed the red bias tape from my grandmother’s stash all the way around (this is where I got sloppy). I then folded the piece to create a pocket for the Kindle, leaving enough to create a flap over. I sewed the two sides together to create the pocket, and then I turned it inside out.

Unfortunately, my sloppy stitches meant that the bias tape had not been sewn in place on the bottom side (though it was all stitched on the top side). I had to make the pocket even smaller to make the stitching work, but that turned out to be a bit of a blessing. The Kindle now fits much more snugly than it otherwise would have.

Fabric Kindle Cover -- handmade!

My little Kindle fits nicely in my finished e-book cover.

I still haven’t decided how I want to keep it closed. I added that ribbon as a last minute effort, as I was fading and didn’t want to mess up any more stitching. I may actually stitch the ribbon in place to act as a tie or I may just use no-sew Velcro.

All things considered though, late night sewing or not, my DIY Kindle cover and car trash bag turned out pretty well, actually. Even more importantly, one of my craft New Year’s resolutions was to finish that trash bag project! On to that dress …

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Making a list for the new year.

I was lucky enough to get gift cards to both Amazon and Barnes and Nobel for Christmas, which means that there is an influx of new craft books in my life.

Every time the calendar rolls around to a new year, my mind always rushes toward setting new goals. I didn’t make any resolutions, but I did spend time on new years day thinking about what I want to craft for myself, my friends and family, and my home in this coming new year.

The first four months I imagine will be a frenzy of crafting. My sister is expecting her first child in April, and there is just too much I want to make for my new nephew. I also really want to attempt to create stuff for my home that I love, that will be whimsically stylish, and that will really improve the function of our space. And finally, I want to get a head start on Christmas crafting (really? already?), as there are many people who deserve hand made from me, and some have already requested finished goods.

The other day on the Colette Patterns blog, the Coletterie, Sarai asked her readers if they had any sewing goals for the new year. I realized I did, but not like her list. Hers is a list of goals to improve sewing techniques. Mine is more a list of things I want to make sure I make time to make.

For the rest of the month, in between knitting a baby blanket for my nephew, I’ll be scouring my books and magazines to come up with a master list of must-makes. For now, I’ll probably keep them all together on a google docs spreadsheet, so I can list what it is, where the pattern is, when I need/want it by, who/what it’s for, and any other pertinent information I can come up with.

Then, I’m going to share it all with you, so that you can keep me honest about what I am (or am not) working on.

Now, to be sure, I will want to make everything on the master list. But I’m sure I’ll come across projects that are screaming to be made that I didn’t know about in January. I may make stuff that isn’t on the list, and I may continue to add to the list. But there will be a list, and I’m going to attempt to use it to force myself to not procrastinate.

Do you have a list of stuff you want to make?

Sewing Christmas Loot and Crafty New Year’s Resolutions

BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook

Custom outfits and patterns here I come!

My crafting time was severely reduced this year — Turns out starting your own business takes up a majority of your time (who knew?). However, I recently learned one of the most valuable pieces of advice a business owner can get: Take a day off!

Being an entrepreneur can be a 7-day-per-week job if you let it, but you risk burning out and closing shop if that’s the route you take. I realized that I have to give myself time off. Otherwise, I become a horribly unproductive person. So now that I’m taking weekends off, I can get back to crafting!

And my Christmas haul has made sewing even more tempting. My mother picked up the BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook for me — I’ve always wanted to learn how to make alterations effectively and I feel like this book is a step in that direction. They offer alteration suggestions and show you a few variations on five master patterns: blouse, dress, bag, skirt and coat.

Altered Clothing book

Not quite what I needed.

Last year I bought a book called Altered Clothing, but it really wasn’t what I was looking for. That book focuses on altering clothes you already own, and sadly there isn’t much you can do with a plain t-shirt (only one suggestion in that book). Most of the other options I either didn’t have the clothes necessary to alter or I didn’t want to alter them.

As for New Year’s resolutions …

Finish old projects (in various stages currently):

  • Finish blouse
  • Finish dress
  • Finish car accessory

Start new projects:

  • BurdaStyle skirt
  • BurdaStyle  dress
  • More amigurumi!

What are your crafty resolutions?

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