October 30, 2012

Creepy Window Painting: Happy Halloween!

I don't get into Halloween as much as some folks, and I was feeling a little guilty that I didn't have a single bit of festive decor to represent today's holiday... so I quickly whipped up a little Creepy Window Painting.

Window painting is a simple, inexpensive way for me to add a bit of holiday festivity to my casa. And one of my favorite places to paint is on the window on the bathroom door: it's an old door/window, and the glass is faceted with makes paintings blurry and cool! Here's a brefore shot of my plain, ol' door.

1. For my creepy project, I started with some acrylic paint, painter's tape, old paint brushes, a print out of my creepy saying, and...
2. DISH WASHING SOAP! I know, it may sound strange, but hear me out...
3. By mixing a bit of soap with my paint, it makes clean-up on my window way easier when the holiday is over! (FYI: I initially planned to use a couple of paint colors, but after I got started I decided to use plain old black paint.)

As I mentioned, the glass in my door is faceted, which means one side is smooth and one side is not. For painting purposes, I like to paint on the smooth side (obviously). Plus, since I wanted my creepy painting to  read correctly in the hallway and not in the bathroom, I taped my printed saying to the front of the glass and painted on the backside. That's kind of confusing to write, so I hope the picture is helpful! Also, I used a bunch of painters tape around the window frame since my door is white and I was painting with black paint... but I'm cautious like that!

And to make things extra creepy, I gooped (that's a word, right?) lots of paint on my letters so they would drip and add to the sentiment.

And there you have it - a Creepy Window Painting just in time for Halloween!

Acrylic paint
Paint brushes (preferably old or not too nice/expensive)
Dish washing soap
Painters tape
Print-out of Halloween saying

October 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Pumpkin

I love Thanksgiving! So even though Halloween is right around the corner, I've been a little preoccupied with making things for my favorite November holiday... case in point: this Thanksgiving Pumpkin.

1. When I was at Michael's recently, I snagged this tiny bag of paper leaves for $1.00 and picked up the cream-colored pumpkin for 50% off the original price.
2. I wanted to adhere the leaves to the pumpkin, so I grabbed some adhesive and got to work (my go-to glue is Tacky Glue - it works on so many things!).
3. I painted a thin coat of glue on the back of the leaves using a foam brush. I was especially careful to get the glue along all the edges of the leaves as I wasn't planning to seal it, so the leaves had to be completely stuck to the pumpkin.

And after a few minutes of gluing, all of the leaves were on the pumpkin!

But I wasn't done yet! I had saved a small space on the pumpkin for a holiday sentiment. I traced out my favorite Thanksgiving phrase ("Give Thanks") and painted over it using basic craft paint (I use Americana).

And that's all it took to complete my Thanksgiving Pumpkin

Plastic/foam pumpkin
Paper leaves
Foam brush
Acrylic paint
Paint brush

October 18, 2012

Autumn Felt Garland

I've seen beautiful, felt garlands popping up all over the DIY blogosphere lately and I've been dying to try my hand at one! So when I was at the craft store recently, I strolled down the felt aisle... and when I spotted this felt color combination I was completely inspired to make an Autumn Felt Garland.

1. I started with 5 different colors of felt, left over templates from my Paper Bag Leaf Wreath, and some brown embroidery thread.
2. I took one of my leaf shapes, and traced it as many times as I could onto a piece of printer paper. Then I went through my "sewing bin" and grabbed some straight pins and my fabric scissors.  
3. I made a stack of felt 5 pieces thick (one piece of each color) and pinned my page of leaves to the top.
4. And while I watched TV, I cut out all those leaves! It didn't take very long at all, and I was able to get 60 leaves out of 5 pieces of felt!

Once I had separated all of the leaves I had cut, I laid them on top of each other in a Roy G. Biv pattern (I couldn't help myself). I overlapped one end of a leaf to the next before pinning them all together.

After I had pinned my garland, I lugged out my trusty sewing machine (which is older than I am and still in working condition, which blows my mind every time I use it!) and simply stitched all the way down the garland.  I'm not a fan of measuring unless it is absolutely necessary, so I eye-balled the sewing and tried to keep the line of stitches down the middle of the leaves.

And truth be told, I could have been done after the sewing... but I wanted a one last touch of autumn... so I hand-stitched using embroidery thread over the line I had just stitched with the sewing machine. 
5. Starting on top of the garland, I started by inserting the needle a little less than half an inch from the previous stitch.
6. When I brought the stitch up from the bottom, I actually brought it up behind the the stitch I had just started, making sure the needle came up between the strands of the embroidery thread.
7. I especially like this stitch because it creates a continuous line of color, as you can see!

And after all that stitching, my garland was finally finished!

Here's an up close shot of all that hand stitching... kind of fun, right? And I used all of the strands of the embroidery thread (rather than splitting it up), so the stitching really stands out!

And here is my finished garland, hung on my entertainment unit

I really like the way this turned out... and for a an hour or two of effort, this garland really adds a pop of festive color to my place! 

Craft felt (5 pieces of approximately 9x11inches)
Embroidery thread (I used just under 2 skeins on this project)
Leaf template
Printer paper
Straight pins
Sewing machine (you could skip this step if you wanted to!)
Embroidery needle

October 14, 2012

Upcycled Frame

Friends of mine recently moved to a new home, and I wanted to give them a house warming gift to celebrate the new location. As usual, I wanted to try and make them a homemade gift using things I already had in my stash; and since my friends appreciate "green" efforts, I thought they'd like this Upcycled Frame.

1. I started with an old picture frame a co-worker of mine was throwing away- nothing was wrong with the frame, but it was taking up too much space on her desk.
2. My friends like bright colors, so I new I wanted to make a drastic change to the previously black frame. But before I could re-paint it, I had to rough up the frame with a sanding block so the paint would adhere.
3. Then I painted several thin coats of white paint onto the frame. I let each coat dry completely before the moving onto the next, and it ended up talking 4 coats of paint to completely cover the black frame.

4. I couldn't just give my friends a plain, white frame, so I sketched a simple design I wanted to paint onto a piece of paper using a permanent marker. 
5. The next step was to get my design transferred onto the frame. But since I purged my graphite paper in my recent move, I had to make due. So I turned the paper over and scribbled over the back of the design with a pencil.
6. I took my design, and right side up (so the pencil scribble was facing the frame), I used a mechanical pencil with no pencil lead to burnish the design onto the frame.
7. Once I had gone over the entire design, I removed my initial sketch and used a pencil to add the details that didn't transfer from the burnishing.

And then it was time to paint my design! Knowing how my friends feel about color, I used some bright hues that I know they'd love.

And before I knew it, the frame was finished.

I added the little dots of paint using the end of a paintbrush, since I felt my initial design was a bit too plain.

And because the picture frame was surprisingly thick (almost 2 inches), I thought it would be a fun accent to add some paint to the edges. So I free-hand painted some scallops all around the edge of the frame using pink paint, and I accented the scallops with more dots of a contrasting paint.

And that's all it took to make a "new" picture frame for my friends' new place! Here's a before and after to show what a difference a little paint can make! Have you made an "upcycled" project before? What kinds of housewarming gifts do you give your friends?

Upcycled Frame SUPPLY LIST
Old picture frame
Sanding block or sand paper
Foam paint brush
Paint brush
Acrylic paint (I used Americana)
Scrap paper

October 10, 2012

Crocheted Rag Bowl

I've wanted to try crocheting with rags for a long time. So when a pair of pajama pants started to disintegrate the other day, I took it as a sign. Admittedly, the pants had served their function: I originally bought them on sale when I was in college (which was eons ago), so when they started to fall apart I didn't mind turning them into rags.

The first part of this project? I had to turn my pajama pants into rag-yarn.

1. I started with the large pieces of my pajama pants that remained after I removed the drawstring and hems.
2. After snipping the end of the fabric at one inch intervals, I ripped the fabric into strips.
3. Then, using a technique I learned about on the Internet, I folded the end of the strip and cut a small slit.

4. After making the small cut in the strip, I unfolded the end to reveal a little hole.
5. And then I did the exact same thing to the other end of the strip so BOTH ends had little holes.
6. Then I took two strips, and fed the end of one through the other...
7. Before taking the end of the yarn and feeding it through the hole in the opposite end.

Confused yet? I was too at first. But there are lots of videos on youtube that show you how to make this rag-yarn if you want to check that out!

But after lots of ripping, snipping, and joining together, I had a fairly good-sized ball of rag-yarn... so I got to work!

I started by crocheting a circle (again, I learned how to do that thanks to the great youtube videos that are available). Once the flat circle was the width I wanted my bowl to be, I stopped increasing the stitches so the sides of the bowl started to work their way up. And after no time at all, my bowl was finished.

Not too bad, right?

Of course, as soon as I was finished, I ran to my kitchen and filled my newly created bowl full of fruit. 

I really like the finished look of the torn/ripped fabric- all of the little strings and imperfections give the bowl a rustic look. Plus, I used a small-ish crochet hook (size N) so my stitches were really tight.

In case you're wondering, this entire bowl was made using the single stitch -  boring, and yet effective! And since the bowl is 100% cotton, it is also very absorbent. So when I bring home fruit/veggies, I can wash them and throw them into this fabric bowl where they can dry... handy, right?

So there you have it- my first foray into crocheting with rags... and I loved it! Now every time I open my closet, I want to rip up my old clothes to make rugs and baskets! 

What about you? Have you crocheted using rags or fabric before? Any tips for my next project?

October 7, 2012

Peephole Transformation: Yarn Wrapped Frames

I live in what my fellow New Yorkers refer to as a "pre-war" building, which means my apartment was built over 70 years ago. Such old construction means I can enjoy some really great features in my apartment. However, it also means that there are a couple of places that are a little dull... the peephole on my front door being one of them!

So, with the TV show Friends as my inspiration (remember how Monica decorated the peephole on her front door?)...

I picked up a couple of cheap-o picture frames from the Dollar Store and got to work.

Using the color scheme from my entryway rug, I started decorating the empty frames (I recycled glass and used the cardboard backing in another project). Since the bigger of my two frames was made of wood, I painted it two different colors using acrylic paint and set it aside. But the pink frame was plastic, so I got to work wrapping it with yarn!

Wrapping the frame didn't take too long at all! I just dabbed a bit of hot glue onto the back of the frame to anchor my yarn, and then I wrapped it tightly around the frame... over and over... and over!

To keep things interesting, I chose to use a few different colors/kinds of yarn I had in my fiber stash... it was a great way to use up some pesky remnants from old projects!


Now, since I was planning to hang these frames on a moving surface I decided to affix them to my door using Command Strips. If you haven't used them before, the strips are really easy to use and come in handy for all sorts of projects!

After a few seconds with my level (to make sure the frames weren't too wonky), I was finished.

All in all, I think this little project was pretty fun - especially given the fact that I only spent about $2 dollars in all - everything else came from my stash of supplies!

And because I LOVE before and afters, I wanted to make my very first one! Here's the before shot (a.k.a. boring, ol' peephole)...

And here's how it all turned out (a.k.a. snazzy, ol' peephole)! Do you have a spot in your house/apartment that's a little dull? I realize decorating a peephole isn't necessarily "normal;" have you decorated an abnormal place/thing before?

Peephole Transformation: Yarn Wrapped Frames SUPPLY LIST
2 frames from the dollar store (one frame slightly bigger than the other)
Acrylic paint (I used Americana brand)
Foam brush
Yarn remnants (the blue and white are Red Heart while the green is Lion Brand)
Hot glue
Command Strips