Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Budget Dresser Re-do

There has come an age in every single one of my kid's little lives thus far, where they have decided the most fun they can have is throwing all their clothes out of their dresser drawers and then climbing into them... and jumping.  You can imagine the havoc that has been wreaked upon their poor dressers.  The twins even have gone so far as to climb into one drawer together, and with their forces combined... broken the drawer.  I will admit, we didn't get them the best furniture.  Budgets are a pretty strict thing in my household, what with one full-time income and five of us total.  I have to cut corners and save a few dollars where I can (and honestly, who doesn't?)   But, in the past few weeks they have efficiently broken the dresser beyond repair, and it was relegated to their closet until it could be replaced.

Well, my mother in law got wind that the kids had demolished their dresser, and she told me she had one at her house that we could have.  She also warned me it was ugly.  Ugly? Fine!  I can do ugly, as long as it is temporary and can be used!...

Then this showed up at my house.  I about had a heart attack when it came in the door.  No one told me it was water damaged, scratched, painful to look at and belonged on the side of the road waiting for the garbage truck to haul it away.  Okay, maybe that's a bit harsh.  But... ugh.

After a few deep breaths, and a mild panic attack, I figured I could at least give it a face lift.  I see people using Modge Podge on the worst furniture in the world on Pinterest all the time!... I could totally do that (I hoped).  

For this project I used:
One large jar of Modge Podge
Two yards of cotton fabric
Three cans of spray paint
Razor blade
2" drawer handles
and of course... a dresser

This project took me an ENTIRE dedicated weekend.  Phew!

I had two big jars of Modge Podge my grandmother gave me forever ago (I only used one big one), fabric is always in my fabric stash, sandpaper I nicked from my husband and paint I picked up for less than $15 at my local home improvement store.  I had extra handles from my kitchen makeover when I got new cabinets.

Well, first I got my husband to help haul this bad boy into the garage.  The worst part of the dresser was the water damage.  It worried me most because the entire dresser wasn't made of solid wood, it was mainly just the frame.  The top, sides, and most of the drawers were made of MDF.  Ever see MDF soak up water?  It swells, and doesn't go back down, leaving you with a giant lump.  I'd never tried to sand MDF before, and Googling how to fix MDF water damage left me with no hope... I just went for it.  And it actually worked! I was pretty pleased with the results.  I sanded down all the lumps, bumps and scratches the best I could.

After everything was as even as I could make it, it was time to put the fabric on the drawers.  Now, listen to my tale of woe!   I highly recommend painting the entire dresser before you Modge Podge the fabric on.  It looks a LOT nicer.  I, however did not know this, until I put the fabric on over areas where I painted, which of course was after I had finished the drawers.  I'll fix it later, after the twin's birthday party when I have less to do.  But it works for now.

I used a sponge brush to put the Modge Podge on the drawers, then layed the fabric down, smoothed it with my hands and then slathered more Modge Podge onto the top of the fabric.  The fabric hung over the edges of the drawers by about 1-2" on each side.  Oh, and I didn't use fabric Modge Podge, either... just high gloss!  I gave it about four hours to dry thoroughly.

Once it's entirely dry, you can use a very sharp xacto knife to trim down the fabric.  It will be stiff, and cut very easily without fraying.  I cut down all of the fabric on the drawers, and I also cut small slits over the holes where the hardware had to go for the drawer handles so the screws could go through.  

Even after all the extra fabric was cut, I still was worried about the kids being able to peel it off.  So, I did one final layer of Modge Podge around the edges I had just cut to ensure it would stick.  Then, I got to wait around some more for this layer to dry.  There was a lot of waiting around...

Then I added the hardware!  I would have preferred more vintage-looking hardware, but beggars can't be choosers and this was still a vast improvement over the 1980's mismatched junk that was there before.

I wanted to preserve the carvings on the top two drawers, and didn't want to Modge Podge fabric over it.  It gave the dresser some much-needed character, and I thought it also added a little bit of a feminine touch which was good for the twin's room.  I used Rust-Oleum's Painter's Touch 2X spray paint in gloss candy pink  to give the drawers a couple of coats of paint.  The MDF simply absorbed the paint... but I felt it gave it a vintage look and ran with it.  

If you notice on the upper drawers, someone had poorly filled in the original handle holes with wood putty.  Even after sanding and painting, the holes still were an eyesore.  So I decided to Modge Podge into the squares where the original handles were to cover it, and it worked out pretty nicely!

For the body of the dresser, I had to use three thin coats of spray paint.  That didn't include the back of the dresser, which I largely ignored because I knew it would always be against a wall.  The top of the dresser had such bad water damage that was impossible to perfect (and I had learned that the exposed MDF would simply suck up the paint instead of letting the paint cover it), that I decided to Modge Podge the top of the dresser with fabric as well.  After hours of layering paint, layering Modge Podge and fabric, and using a new blade on my xacto for a sharp precise cut on the fabric... voila!  The body was also done.  

A vast improvement, if I do say so myself!  It is vintage shabby chic!  The only issues I've had with the dresser so far is that my youngest girl is a daredevil with a death wish and likes to climb on it, then jump off.  (I think we have solved that with moving her bed farther away from the dresser to discourage climbing from one furniture piece to another).   The dresser is now fully functional, much more sturdy than anything we had before, and I can stand to look at it!  I've had no issues with fraying fabric or chipping paint, and I'm extremely pleased with the results.
I'll have to find some other things to re-do...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Peep Bunny Plush

I always love to add a little handmade to holidays, and with Easter coming up I decided to make the kids some plush Peep rabbits!  This was really simple, and literally took me about half an hour to cut and sew together.  Plus, this is completely safe for very young babies, as there is no small parts, buttons or zippers.  This would be so cute for a first Easter gift!

For this plush you will need:

1/4 yard fabric for bunny body 
Black felt for bunny eyes and nose
Black thread & needle for hand sewing
Peep Bunny pattern (download above!)

I decided to use a nice pink flannel I found on clearance over a year ago from my fabric stash.  I'm such a procraftstinator.  I was going to make some plushes for the kids out of this fabric for Christmas two years ago, and never got around to it.  On the bright side, it's being put to use for and Easter plush now!

The list of things you will need says 1/4 yard of fabric (that is how much was in my cut piece), when in reality you will probably use only about half of this.  However, if you go much thinner than 1/4 yard, you won't get the whole bunny on the fabric. 

Any who, this pattern is pretty awesome if you are just learning how to sew.  It has a few tight corners, but it's good practice and there are literally only six pattern pieces (including the eyes and nose!).  I used my sewing machine on this plush, but it is entirely do-able by hand and probably won't drive you nuts in the process!

As always, you begin with cutting out your pattern pieces.  The body and rectangle will be from your body material, of course (so for me, the pink flannel) and the nose and eyes will be from your black felt.  You an see in the pictures that there is NOT seam allowance in this pattern, you must add it.  Just trace the bunny pattern piece on the fabric and trim about 1/4 inch around it.  You will be doing your sewing on the traced lines.

Now it's time to sew on the eyes and nose!  I just used black thread to go with the black eyes and nose, just so it wouldn't be so noticeable.  I wanted my bunnies to look as close to the Peep bunny as possible.  I used a simple running stitch around the eye.  A blanket stitch could also be super cute!

Here he is with his face sewn on!  If you need help with getting the placement just right, you can always poke holes in the pattern piece where the nose and eyes, then place the pattern over you fabric and make tiny marks through the holes of the pattern onto your fabric for guides.  You can also see where I made a mistake in the picture above... his face should be sewn on to the side without the tracing!  But that's okay, pretty easily fixed with some slow and careful sewing (which is no problem with my new amazing machine... oh I love that machine). 

You'll want to begin sewing the rectangle onto the body at the bottom of the plush.  This way, the seam will be at the bottom, and who looks there?  Leave about 1/4-1/2" tip of the rectangle unsewn, that way you will have some fabric to close the bunny up.  You'll get it in a second....  Just sew the rectangle of fabric around the bunny body using a 1/4" seam until you are all the way around and to where you started.  It should look like this!

You can see here where I left some fabric from the rectangle where I began sewing on to my bunny body  for this very reason.  Take the two ends of your rectangle, and sew them together.  Then trim the rectangle down to a 1/4" seam where you sewed the two ends together.  Then the hardest part is over with!

Then you get to repeat sewing the bunny body onto the rectangle with the other side.  Be sure that the traced lines are on the outside!  Use them as a guide. On this side, you will want to leave a gap in the seam so you can flip and stuff your bunny.  Once has both sides sewn together, flip him inside out! He should look like the bunny below!

Then stuff your new bunny friend!  I like my plushes stuffed a bit firmly, so mine took a good three handfuls.  I used my hemostats to help get the fluffings up in his ears. Then simply sew him shut with a slip stitch, and you have your own bunny Peep friend!

Here he is with his little look-alike pals.  Isn't he freaking cute?  I'd love to see your bunnies, if you do them!  Pretty soon I'm going to try my hand at reviving furniture... oh, dear :)  Stay tuned, guys!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Painted Door Label Tutorial

My husband and I purchased our first home at the end of 2012, and while it was really exciting, we could only afford a 80's fixer-upper on our budget.  But it didn't matter!  Its ours, and I love it.  Slowly but surely, we have been gutting the entire house and upgrading it, which in itself has taught me so much that I never ever thought I'd need to know (how to install a wood laminate floor, or scrape up  two layers of linoleum, anyone?).  I've been living in a state of semi-construction for over a year now, but I've gotten used to seeing doorways with no frames and a lack of baseboard in our bedroom.  Here's some before and after pictures of our kitchen and dining room!  Everything (except the countertops) we did ourselves!

The kids are finally getting to the age where I can do small projects during the day, and they sure sleep hard enough at night where I can make all kinds of noise building things without them waking.  My husband removed the hall bath last week before we had our new one installed without a single kid waking to his clanging.  

With the girl's birthday party coming up, and company coming over, I want to get a big jump on our progress.  So, I figured it was about time to finish painting our doors.  I finished up all the bedrooms and the guest bath, then came to this guy.

That's our laundry room door before!  

I gave him his gray paint, and it was a vast improvement, but I still felt like I needed something else on this door to make a little bit of a statement.  Our laundry room is right off the kitchen, so guests can see the door when they visit.  And while I didn't want anything too eye catching, it still needed a bit of shabby chic.  So I decided to stencil "Laundry" on the door!  I used my Silhouette Portrait to make the stencil.  

I chose my font, enlarged it to the correct size I wanted, and then used the eraser to make sure any inner circles that would have otherwise been cut out would still be connected onto the background.  This way, I'd have a good stencil, instead of free handing it.  If you want to free hand it, more power to you!  You can also purchase stencils online or at hobby stores.

The cut settings are pretty important for a good stencil.  You'll want to make the speed low as possible if it is an intricate design, and usually I select double cut as well.  However, this was a brand new blade and I knew it wouldn't need it, so I opted out this time.

After cutting with my Silhouette, I took out the inner letters and voila!  Stencil!

I enlisted the help of my husband for this project.  He helped me make sure the stencil was centered and straight as I taped it onto the door (with painters tape so I didn't ruin the new paint job!).  After this, it's pretty simple.  I chose to use acrylic paint for the letters.  It's a pretty easy cleanup, and if I messed up it would be easy enough to scrub it off and paint over the area again.  

I put on one coat of acrylic and then removed the stencil.  I was going for the outline of the letters more than neatness.  White on a dark gray door definitely takes more than one coat of paint.  After removing the stencil I was left with this!:

You can see where the letters still have missing portions where I had to erase in my Silhouette program to keep the inner circles of the letters.  Easy enough to fix by free handing a teeny bit.  And after another coat (or two) of paint, and filling in those gaps, I was done!

I'm really happy with the end result!  I don't think I'll doing this to any other door, because who really needs every door to their house labeled?  However, it's the little cute charms in a house that make it your own, don't you think!

Next post I will be putting up a new free plush pattern, so stay tuned!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Tutorial: Polka Dot Garland

My twin girl's second birthday party is coming up next month, so it's time to start making everything I can ahead of time!  We decided to do a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic themed party for the both of them because they like the show (and I'm not going to lie... I do, too!  It's one of those kid shows that I don't cringe when they ask to watch it - if you have small kids, you know what I mean).  I've also been having a small obsession with garlands and bunting lately.  They are so cute and so easy to make!  This is my first time sewing card stock, but it was really satisfying and a lot of fun, and makes a cool swoosh swoosh sound when you sew, haha.

For this project you will need:  Card stock
                                               Sewing machine
                                               Hole punch

This is a project an absolute beginner can do!  Plus it's pretty cheap.  You can use any color of card stock, ribbon and thread, and cut your paper in any shape, too.  I decided to do a rainbow of colors, nine in total to help the red blend in with the purple where they met.  I used blue thread and ribbon, to make this garland a complete tribute to Rainbow Dash, the pony!

After you choose your card stock, ribbon and thread, there are a few options to cut your paper.  The most obvious (and tedious) would be doing it by hand.  Ugh... and who has time for that?  If you do, more power to you!  However, I chose the "I have three kids and limited time" approach, and used my Silhouette Portrait.  If you haven't ever heard of this machine, it is a lifesaver!  Make an image on your computer, it'll cut it out!  It also has a print/cut ability if you own a printer.

  I simply programmed my Silhouette to cut a dozen two-inch circles per color, as many as would fit on the sheet.  If you don't have a fancy-pants Silhouette, you can always purchase a nesting circle punch, which comes in a variety of sizes.  It's pretty much a giant hole punch... and usually less than $10.  You can also purchase pre-cut shapes in some scrapbooking stores, or online. 

After cutting all your circles out, I like to arrange them in the pattern I will be sewing them in.  It makes for faster, neater work in my opinion.  You can see the nine colors I chose, plus my little Rainbow Dash doll I had to borrow from Lexi for party inspiration (she's such a helper).  I cut enough circles for 18 feet of garland.  I prefer the garland with no thread left between the circles, so I just had to add the diameter of each circle together for the total length.  Easy!

On your first circle, you'll start sewing at the center.  This will leave room for you to add a hole punch and ribbon for tying your garland to things for hanging later.  Your first and last circles are the only ones that will be done this way, all other circles are sewn completely through!  

It took a little bit of trial-and-error to figure out tension.  With my machine, and heavy textured card stock, I had to put my tension all they way to 1 to get nice, neat stitches.  You'll have to do a little bit of messing about with your own machine to make sure you don't have loopy loose stitches.  I suggest using some extra card stock you have lying around so you don't mess up your circles!

When you get to the end of your first circle, simple place the next circle right up next to the first under the presser foot.  I found no need to lift the foot for every circle, they simply slid nicely underneath.  Be sure you do not overlap the circles, though!  Your garland won't be able to swish about freely, and instead will be more like a long, thin piece of dot paper... we want it to swoosh!  Also, if you are unlike me and like some thread between each dot, simply pull a bit on your dot when you get to the end of the circle so you have some extra thread out before placing the next dot.  Either way, just repeat sewing through the circles, and adding your dots until they are all used up! 

 Don't forget to only sew half way through your last dot! Trim the excess thread off the first and last dots, then use your hole punch on them.  I cut about one foot of ribbon per each side, then tied a slip knot through each hole with the ribbon I cut.  This way, you won't have to stick pins or place tape on your garland ever, and you will be able to simply tie it where you need it.

My cat loved this project.  I did not love the cat so much his enthusiasm.  Here's the garland as it was being sewn, and...

Completed!  It's currently hanging in the twin's bedroom until party day, so the kids and cat can't get to it.  They all so love to shred paper, and it would be a shame to lose it after all that work!  It's pretty cute in there, too.  I may make it a permanent decoration after the party.

In all, this is an easy easy project anyone can do!  It makes for a cute, quick and professional-looking decoration and adds a little fun.  

On a side note:  Any one notice my new machine?! I'm so excited about it.  My old machine (a Singer 7043 Imperial, made in the 80's and given to me by my grandmother a few years back) decided to blow up in my face - literally.  A big bang, a sad whine, and she was kaput.  So, I have been wanting to upgrade to a machine that was more quilting friendly and had a few embroidery options and this was the perfect excuse!

I stuck with Singer, and ended up with a Singer 9100 Professional.  I'm extremely happy with it so far!  It took a bit of getting used to, it seems so much more sensitive than my old machine, but with a little bit of "getting to know you", I'll have this machine tamed in no time!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Bee Happy Free Printable

Well in Texas, spring has sprung!  I have started digging up the whole backyard and remodeling it, planting veggies and flowers.  I love this time of year!  Everything is waking up and green and the grass has yet to be scorched within an inch of it's life from Texas heat... we probably have about three more months before everything dies from 100+ degree weather. But I digress...

Spring makes me giddy!  It puts me in the mood for lots of color and some whimsical-type crafting!  Time to pull out the water colors and paint a bit.   I drew this up and I think I'll hang it up in the twin's bedroom as a little poster.... just have to choose which one after I painted so many of them!  This is what I like to call "adult coloring"... I mean, don't you want to just sit down and color a little bit sometimes, too?  (Why should my three year old get all the crayons?)

You can download this Bee Happy printable yourself!  It'll make a great card, postcard or poster!  I'd love to see it if you color or paint it!

Download your Bee Happy printable here & share!