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DIY Home Decor Holiday Decor

How to make a Faux Spell Book from a box

I have seen many of those faux spell books all over Pinterest and they looked like a fun project to try.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have any sacrificial books to turn into spell books, however, I did have a book shaped box that my iPad cover came in.  I hung on to the box for no reason other than my slightly latent hoarder genes.  It was such a nice box and I was sure I could find a use for it.  I’m proud to say that not only did I find a use for it, but my faux spell book doubles as a secret hiding place for all of my “spell” casting needs. 

Materials for your faux spell book:

  • Sturdy box that has a hinge opening
  • Hot glue gun and hot glue
  • Black paint (I used chalkboard paint)
  • Gold mica powder
  • Decorative paper for the inside
  • Mod Podge (or you can water down some elmer’s glue)
  • Several Kleenex’s 
  • Paint brushes
  • Sharpie
  • Spell book template (download below)

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How to make your faux spell book.

First, I went to Google for inspiration.  I already had some cool animal skull print paper to line the inside with and that was my inspiration for the outside.  After googling many different animal skulls, I decided that cows were sort of quirky, yet ominous.  I then free-handed a skull on the front and then drew some mystical looking symbols around it.  If you’d like you can download my pattern for free, fill out the form above and you’ll get a pdf in your email.  I also wanted the book to have a title, but somehow I felt like “Spells” was too on the nose.  So, I found a Runic alphabet and wrote spells, but with a little more flair. 

The project started with a basic box and then became a creepy spell book.
The faux spell book began as an unassuming box and became an almighty spell casting book.

Next, I traced over everything with my hot glue gun.  I did several passes to build up the glue height.  One trick I often do with hot glue is to keep a little water nearby and if I need to fix something, I dip my finger in the water and then reshape the glue without burning myself. This was a trick I picked up while making my Bee Wreath.  

After the hot glue dried, I got out the Mod Podge and Kleenex.  It turns out that my tissue actually consisted of three layers. So, I started by separating the layers to get three very thin sheets of tissue.  Next, I dabbed some mod podge glue on the box so that the tissue would stay in place when I put it down.  Lastly, I went over the whole tissue with Mod Podge, making sure that it really tucked around all of the hot glue and that the details showed clearly. After I covered the front, sides, and back I allowed the box to fully dry for 24 hours. 

The next step was pretty satisfying.  I painted over everything with black chalkboard paint. I did leave the edges of the “book” white. After the outside was dry to the touch (1-2 hours), I painted the inside walls black as well.  This helped to give the inside a more finished look.

Once the paint was totally dry (I waited 24 hours), I used my finger to rub some mica powder over all of the raised parts.  This was literally the most satisfying part, because it created instant gratification.  The box looked so good after the mica powder was added. 

Spell book with the mica powder added
The mica powder really transformed the book and gave it a slightly regal, yet worn look.

Optional: Line the inside with decorative paper

I wanted to cover the graphics on the inside of my box with my super-rad animal skull paper (the paper came from www.pepinpress.com—they have amazing stuff). I added the paper to the inside front cover and the back.  My original plan was to line the sides too, but painting the sides black ended up being much easier.  In order to attach the paper, I coated the surface with Mod Podge and then tried to smooth the paper down from top to bottom to avoid bubbles.  Then I covered the top and edges really well with more Mod Podge.  It ended up with a few wrinkles, but they add a little character.  

The faux book with the “spell” casting materials
My faux spell book hides all of my secret “spell” casting supplies.

Looking for other spooky DIYs? Check out our bleeding candles and skull chandelier.

Categories
DIY Home Decor

5 tips for a Budget Closet Makeover

I’ll admit it, I watched Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix.  While part of me aspires to throw away nearly everything I own and have a magical home full of only items that spark joy, the other part of me wants to punch the t.v., embrace  all of my things and tell her to shove it.  However, I feel like neither of these is realistic.  I do enjoy having less things and an uncluttered house, BUT I have more than once been glad I didn’t throw something out right away because I found a perfect purpose for it later.  Because I know that I like things, but that I also like my things organized, I’m trying to find a balance for myself somewhere between Konmari and full-blown hoarder.  

When I reorganized my closet this summer, I did start by getting rid of some things.  I think I filled up at least a full trash bag of items to donate.  But I also repurposed things that I had kept around from previous projects to spruce up and reorganize.  The best part of this project, for me, is that I only bought one thing (these really fun dresser handles).  Luckily, this one thing actually sparked joy.  So, I sort of feel like I’m half-embracing the Konmari method. 

Five tips for a budget closet makeover

  1. Purse hangers with Giant 3M hooks—I love these! They don’t leave marks on the walls, and the heavy duty ones can hold up to five pounds.  I used them to display my purses on the wall and to hang up my scarf holder. 
  2. Clothing dividers using Old CDs—I had some old CDs and some of those printable labels (god knows how long I’ve had them, because I don’t remember the last time I burned a CD for anyone) and I used them to create dividers between my clothing.  I find it helpful to have labels to keep my closet organized and it helps me to remember my organization system. 
old CDs make excellent clothing dividers.
  1. Dresser makeover with Contact paper—I can’t get enough of this contact paper! I used it for my IKEA nightstand makeover and on my DIY desk organizers, I just really like it.  I just cut it to size and put it on the front of the dresser. 
Ikea dresser makeover
  1. Earring holder using Old Canvas—I covered an old canvas with fabric to create an earring holder.  This fabric is perfect as the weave is loose enough that it is easy to slide the earrings in and out. 
  2. Necklace holder with hooks and a drawer front—I found some wood in my basement from our previous owners.  I think it was intended to be a drawer front at some point, but I added some cup hooks and drunk octopus hooks (I don’t know what they are really called) and it is now a fantastic necklace holder. 

My closet is much more functional now, and I love being able to see my earrings, purses, and necklaces on display. I also love my dresser makeover.  It seems to brighten up the space and it has inspired me to be better at fully closing my drawers, which means I need to make sure the clothes in the drawers are reasonably organized.  While I may not have achieved full Konmari status, I think I have put some serious bumps in the road for my hoarder tendencies.  I’m feeling like I may need to purge a few more items to ensure that my closet remains a tidy oasis for me to view all my lovely things. 

Categories
DIY Home Decor

Inexpensive Home Office Solutions

So, it seems that many of us have had to convert some corner of our home into a home office. It was one thing to have a temporary space set up for remote work in March… when we all thought there was an end in sight. But now, you may need to start thinking about how to create a space for yourself or your child to get work done. Hopefully, this space will be temporary… and it doesn’t make sense to go out and spend a ton of money on it. Here are a few of mine and Thrifty Ellen’s favorite inexpensive, but stylish home office solutions.

Ten Budget Solutions for your Home Office

  1.  Rethink surfaces.  Can you create a new workspace out of things you already have?  I repurposed some metal garage storage shelves and wood planks to make a DIY standing desk. I did it because it was FREE and I can always turn it back into a garage shelf, but I’ve kind of grown attached to it. Look around your own home.  Could you turn a craft table, an old door, or a coffee table into a desk?
A metal storage shelf with some nice wood on top makes an excellent adjustable height desk. The holes were in the wood already and are convenient for cords!
  1. Repurpose tin cans as desk accessories.  I used some empty bean cans, contact paper and copper tape to make pretty pen and pencil holders.
Tin cans covered in contact paper are great for pens and pencils. The shorter one is from a condensed milk can.
  1. Turn an old cookie sheet into a magnetic memo board like Thrifty Ellen did. Some spraypaint and contact paper and you have a cute place to hang things that you need close by or to put pictures that inspire you.
Cookie sheet magnet board
A cookie sheet spray painted with some contact paper makes an awesome magnetic memo board.
  1. Make your own chalkboard.  I used an old cabinet door and painted the inside with chalkboard paint.  You could easily use an old picture frame or paint that cookie sheet to make a magnetic chalkboard. 
Cabinet door turned into chalkboard
This was an unused cabinet door. I painted the inside with chalkboard paint and it became a chore chart. TIP: I wrote the chores with a chalk pen and I check them off with regular chalk that easily erases.
  1. Reuse items you have! This should really be number one.  Maybe you have a pretty vase or bowl just collecting dust.  You can put that item to use to hold pens/pencils/post-its etc.  There is something so satisfying about finding a better use for something you already own.  It is like putting the last piece into a puzzle. 
Milk glass pen holder and nicknack tray.
Thrifty Ellen collects milkglass and repurposed some to hold her desk necessities (yes, a seashell is a desk necessity . . . She needs to remember what she is working for).
  1. Put up a dry-erase board anywhere. You can use dry-erase cling film to create a dry erase board wherever you need it. The cling film is slightly more expensive than the contact paper type, but you know that it won’t leave any residue on your walls.
  2. DIY magazine covers—you can make magazine covers out of old cereal boxes, or if you have some but don’t like the color, you can cover it in contact paper.
  3. Organization boxes—IKEA sells inexpensive boxes for a few dollars.  They are perfect for organizing materials for your office and anywhere else in your home. They neatly stow things that I’d rather not look at. 
  1. USB extension cord—I needed to plug in multiple devices at my desk and so bought a little USB extension cord that allows me to charge several things at once.  I like that it is less bulky than other types of extension cords but allows me to charge my phone, iPad, and to use my tiny USB powered fan. 
Handy USB extension cord
This handy cord makes charging a snap and you can see my “splurge” purchase in the background. I can use it to time my Facebook breaks?
  1. Splurge—Buy at least one thing that makes you happy and excited to sit at your desk.  It doesn’t need to be really expensive or even practical, but it is nice to have something that makes you want to sit down at your desk and get work done.  For me, it was a random sand timer, filled with gold baubles and my biggest splurge, a comfy chair for those times when I can’t sit at my desk any longer.  For Thrifty Ellen it was her fun chair cover and her cute mouse pad (seen above).  
Categories
DIY Home Decor Pet Projects

How to make DIY Dog Silhouette Art

I have been a dog owner for over 20 years. My dogs are my children, which means I need to hang large pictures of them around my house.  While I want all my guests to admire my adorable pet portraits, I don’t want to look like the crazy dog lady.  So, instead of full-blown oil-paintings of my dogs in gilded-gold frames (btw no judgment for anyone who goes this route), I have opted to create DIY dog silhouette art.  I love doing silhouette style art, as you don’t need to be an artist. You just need to be able to trace. I created painted silhouettes for my first two fur babies that still hang in my dining room.  These worked so well because they both had very distinct profiles.  The portraits captured their individuality perfectly. 

I tried to apply this similar technique to creating the profile silhouettes for my new girls, but it didn’t really capture them. They are sisters and while they look similar, they have distinctive personalities and the painted portraits just didn’t capture that.  So, I decided to go for a cut out approach, which honestly was much easier. 

Cameo silhouettes
While these were cute, they just didn’t feel like I had captured their personalities.

Step One: Capture the Personality

You need to start with a good picture.  A picture that is not head-on will give you more to work with, but I also like one that shows the dog’s personality, as well.  I found that running around outside with my dogs first gave them a cuter mouth-open, playful look.  If I woke them up from a nap, they would’ve just looked sleepy or complacent (which is not either of them).  

Step Two: Outlining

You can outline it in several different ways.  The easiest is to print it out and then use a pen to trace the shape you want.  Most of us are better at tracing with our hands than doing it on a computer.  To capture a little more of each dog, I had a few places where I followed the natural line of the ears or the paws to cut in.  Once you have the basic outline, I think it is helpful to color it in with a black marker.  This will give you a sense of how the final project will look and if the silhouette will read how you want it to.  If you have a tablet or feel skilled with photoshop, you can also do this step on the computer.  I just pulled the picture into pages on my iPad and traced it that way.  Because I was using a tablet, it felt just like tracing with a pen.   

Dog silhouette on ipad
I started by outlining on my iPad, but you can also print and do this by hand.

Step Three: Printing to Scale

Once I knew how I wanted the profiles outlined, I wanted to print it larger than one piece of paper.  For me, the easiest way to do this was by converting my design to a pdf and opening in Adobe Acrobat.  Adobe has an option to print a tiled image.  This allowed me to increase the size to 150% and it printed across four pages that I then taped together.  You may not need to do this depending on how large you want your final silhouette. If you are opting to trace it by hand, you will need to retrace the profile following the same lines you did before.  This will help guide your cutting in the next step.  You don’t need to color it in, as you already have a sense of how the final will work.  

Step Four: Cutting out the profile silhouette 

Take your print out of your dog profile and tape it on top of your cardstock.  You can optionally get rid of some of the excess white around your pet first.  Once it is securely taped, place it on a cutting mat and use an Xacto knife to cut around the silhouette.  It took me about 20 minutes per dog.  However, I did this as I watched silly TV.  I found having something on in the background, kept me from rushing and I took my time. Other folks might find it distracting, but it was kind of relaxing for me.  

Cut outs of dog silhouettes
After the silhouettes have been cut out. Then I used spray adhesive to attach to the white background.

Step Five: Framing

I reused old frames that I already had.  I was able to just flip the picture around and attach the cutout silhouettes to the back.  If you aren’t able to do that you just need the background (out of cardstock or thicker) cut to the correct size.  I then used 3M spray adhesive on the back of the silhouette and placed it on the background.  You want to spray the silhouette and not the background.  If you spray the background, you will have extra sticky stuff in place you don’t want it.  Once it has dried, then put it in your frame and hang it up.  While I love my painted portraits, this was so much faster as I did not have to wait for any paint to dry. 

If you like the nightstands under the portraits, you can check out that tutorial here.

Categories
DIY Home Decor Pet Projects

Easy DIY Double Dog Crate Plans

Dog crates are ugly.  They are big giant cages in the middle of our living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens and if you have two dogs . . . it’s even worse.  I know there are some dog owners that are anti-crate, but for my girls the crates are a safe place to snuggle for the night, eat a treat, or just hangout. While standard dog crates are not pretty, they are affordable.  I had tried to find double dog crate furniture at an affordable price, but everything was in the $1000+ range. So, I decided that I was going to use our existing wire crates and create a DIY double dog crate table around them. 

However, all of the online plans for two crates had the longest sides facing forward (which does look really pretty).  They look like lovely buffet tables or sideboards.  Sadly, that orientation just wouldn’t work in our bedroom.  Also, most of those plans looked like they required more time, money, and skill, then I was ready to put into this project. So, I took what I liked from several plans and put together my own version of a super easy DIY double dog crate.  

One of the challenges during this DIY was that I could only use materials that I already had on hand.  Who made up this rule, you say? Well. . . Thrifty Ellen and I had challenged each other to a “Use what you’ve got” Design Challenge.  This was mostly because it was in the middle of the pandemic and we didn’t want to go to anywhere.

For your reference, this crate cover was made to go over two 36 inch crates.  While I will give my measurements, you should definitely measure everything for your situation. If you want to be able to slide the crates in and out from under the crate furniture, you should add on a few inches to all of your measurements. You could also modify these plans to go over just one crate as well. 

Cutting the wood for your dog crate:

For the legs, I cut the following out of ¾ inch Nelson* wood: 

  • Four 2.5” x 26” (part A in diagram)
  • Four 1.5” x 26” (part B in diagram) 

For the top braces:

  • Three 2.5” x 47” (part C in diagram)

*Nelson wood is wood that Home Depot delivered to us by mistake with another lumber order in the middle of the quarantine.  I would have taken it to Nelson, but figured they might not want wood that had been hanging out in a stranger’s garage for a few days until they discovered it with a sticker saying “Nelson” on it amongst the rest of their lumber.  Nelson—if you are out there: I hope Home Depot brought you a new delivery and know that your original wood did not go to waste.

For the crate top surface I used ½ inch thick plywood that had once been part of the base of a platform bed.  It was already cut into planks that were 3 ⅞ inches wide.  I needed 13 planks to cover the top of the two crates.  I stained it with minwax special walnut 224 and then added two coats of minwax polycrylic finish (which were both leftover from my nightstand project).

Close up of top corner of crate.

Constructing the frame:

First, I placed A & B together at a right angle (see diagram) and then attached with three wood screws—one at the top, one at the bottom, and one in the middle. Before I put in the screws, I did pilot holes with a drill bit slightly smaller than the screw. Create four of these posts, by combining your remaining A & B pieces. 

Next, take two of the posts and place one of your C pieces on top of them (kind of like a bridge).  I oriented mine so that side A would face out when I put it on the crate (see diagram).  Drill pilot holes and then screw C to the posts.  Do the same thing for the other leg posts and one of your other C pieces. Your basic frame is now constructed.  I recommend painting or staining it at this stage, as it will be harder to do once it is attached to the crate cover. 

Constructing the wooden crate top:

Note: You could stain all of the top planks before this next step.  I stained mine after putting them together, and only stained the parts that would be seen. 

Carefully, line up all of the planks and get the edges as even as possible.  I used a carpenter’s square to even mine out.  Place the remaining C piece across the boards in the middle.  Then using small nails, add a nail through C and into each plank.  Before you hammer, make sure that the nails won’t go all the way through.  This top piece is really unwieldy.  Each plank acts as its own teeter totter.  If we had more wood, we might have done two cross beams, but once it is attached to the frame it is very sturdy.  If you haven’t painted or stained your top planks, do so before the next step.

Final assembly of your Double Dog Crate

Complete the final steps around your crate, unless you sized yours up and can slide the crates in afterwards.  Ours fits snug enough to hide more of the crate. If we need to get the crates out, we either lift it up and over, or remove the four screws in the top cover.  

Place one of the two “bridge” pieces at the front of the crates and the other at the back (see diagram).  Carefully, place the top cover over the two bridge pieces.  It should rest with one end on each of the bridge pieces and the middle brace should keep it from sagging or bowing in the center.  Drill your final pilot holes, add one screw at each corner, and TADA . . . you have completed your own DIY Double Dog Crate!

So, this was my “Use what you’ve got” Design Challenge Entry.  You can check out Thrifty Ellen’s Entry here.  Let us know who you think won, or better yet share your own version!

Categories
DIY Home Decor

DIY low-profile Headboard

We have not had a headboard for the past three years. It hasn’t bothered me as our bed was in front of an accent wall with a huge painting behind it, but then we adopted two amazing dogs and had to rearrange the room to accommodate two dog crates. The only other place for the bed was directly in front of the window.

Now, there are way too many blogs out there that tell you why you should “never put a bed in front of a window”.  Seriously, do all of these people live in endlessly cavernous places that never require compromise? Also, I actually like how it looks and I like to look out the window while lying in bed. However, I didn’t like that the bed squished the curtains. I wanted my curtains un-squished and my views unimpeded. I did lots of googling and could not find any DIY headboards or already made headboards that I liked. Clearly, I needed to come up with my own DIY low-profile headboard. 

Materials:

  • 2×8 long enough to span the width of the bed
  • 2×4 long enough to create two posts to attach headboard
  • Batting
  • Fabric-base layer (I used an old sheet) and final layer (I used linen curtains)
  • Staple gun-I have a simple and cheap one like this.
  • Skillsaw (or have them cut it for you at Lowes)

Making the DIY low-profile headboard

Using the skillsaw, I first cut the 2×8 to the width of our queen bed (about 60 inches). Then I wrapped three layers of batting around the front and sides and stapled it in place. As I was using leftover batting from another project, I had to be creative about covering the board.  If you have any bumps from overlapping layers, I recommend that you stretch the batting in that area to make it lay more smoothly (I stretched it like you would stretch fake cobwebs).  

Next, cover it with a base fabric.  My base fabric was an old cream sheet. You may not need this layer if your final layer is thick enough and dark enough. However, as my final layer was made from white linen, I wanted to make sure it looked crisp.

Now for the final fabric. I used some old white linen curtains originally from IKEA. The fabric has a very subtle texture with some raised stripes. I decided that I wanted the stripes to go diagonal. This was not the most economical use of the fabric, but I didn’t like the horizontal striped look and I didn’t have enough length to create a vertical stripe.  

When adding on the fabric, I tried to find a balance of pulling it snug, yet not pulling it so tight that it created puckers (sort of like too-tight non-stretch pants). After I had the front and corners covered, I created a long fabric rectangle to hide the ugly unfinished edges on the back. This isn’t necessary as it won’t be seen, but I would always know it was ugly on the back if I didn’t hide it. 

Adding the posts

Now, it is almost done. You will need to measure the distances between the rails on your bed frame and then space your posts the correct distance to line up with the rails. I actually used posts from an old headboard rather than 2×4’s, but it is the same idea. I placed the posts on the back, using a carpenter’s square to make them even and then used deck screws to attach them to the back of my headboard. You can drill through the fabric, but it helps to have a second set of hands to keep everything tight. (Note: I did not have a second set of hands and had to use my knees while the headboard was laying flat on the ground, but I imagine that help would be . . . helpful). 

Attaching to the frame

Line the headboard up with your bed frame and then mark where it will attach on the posts. Pre-drill holes all the way through your posts and then attach the post to the frame using bolts. That’s it!  This was a really fast DIY and I love that I can open and close my curtains without them catching on my pillows. But I can also still look out the window and keep an eye on everything without sitting up in bed. The best of both worlds. 

Want to make the nightstands in the photo? Check out the tutorial here. Or maybe the pet silhouette caught your eye? Here are tips for making your own.

Categories
DIY Home Decor DIY Outdoor Decor

DIY Garden Owl using old CDs

I planted raspberries two summers ago and have been immensely proud of their success.  Granted, raspberries are pretty hearty and I haven’t had to do much but prune and fertilize.  However, the neighborhood birds have noticed the free buffet in my yard.  In previous years, I have covered them with bird netting, but that made it hard for me to harvest the berries.  After some research, I decided that I needed a garden owl to scare them away.  I could have bought one of those plastic owls . . . but I’ll be honest . . . they scare me too.  So, I decided to do a DIY Garden Owl to scare off the birds.  During my Google research, I found that birds are very visual animals and that reflective surfaces also scare them away.  Apparently, I could just hang CDs throughout my garden and that would do the trick.  However, my heart was set on an owl guardian to watch over my berries and there was no turning back.  So, if you’re also in need of a cute DIY Garden Owl, read on!

Supplies Needed:

  • ¾ inch plywood (mine was at least 18”x12”)
  • Jigsaw
  • Rust-o-leum Vintage Gold spraypaint
  • Minwax pre-stain, Minwax stain, and Minwax polycrylic finish
  • Paint brushes or paint sponge brushes
  • Four old CDs
  • Contact Paper (or other coated paper for creating a stencil)
  • X-acto Knife and or a utility knife
  • Sandpaper (80, 150, 220)
  • Two large rubber bands or fishing line 

Creating the pattern

I created a cardboard pattern of one side of the owl and then flipped it over to create an identical second half. I traced a bowl to create the circle in the center where the CD will go.   

Trace the pattern onto the wood. I actually wanted my owl to have a slightly bigger butt then it would have if I exactly mirrored the pattern.  So, I angled the pattern out a little to make the bottom half larger. 

Cutting the wood

I cut the hole in the center before I cut out the silhouette.  I started by drilling a hole slightly larger than my jigsaw blade on the inside of the circle. Then I put the jigsaw blade in and began cutting.

Next, I cut out the owl silhouette.  Because the plywood was ¾ inch and the outline had some sharp turns, I cut away the outside pieces rather than trying to cut it out all at once.  Some of the turns were so tight that it may have snapped my blade. This was slower, but I think cutting away the outside in small sections was the safer method.

Owl cutout unsanded
Don’t worry, your owl cutout will be rough until you sand it.

I then drilled in the holes that I would use to hang the CD.  I cut lines at an angle to the holes to loop rubber bands through. Alternatively, you could just drill the holes and use fishing line or wire to suspend your CD.

Sanded DIY Garden Owl
This is the sanded owl with the holes for attaching the CDs.

Finishing touches on DIY Garden Owl

After you cut out your owl you will need to sand it beginning with an 80 grit sandpaper, followed by a 150 then 220 grit. (If you are new to sandpaper, the smaller the number the coarser the grit.  Start with the lowest number and then work your way to the bigger number.  For a wood project, 220 is usually considered a good finishing grit). 

You don’t have to make any features on your owl, but it is much cuter that way.  You could just paint or seal it and call it a day.  However, I wanted mine to also be my garden buddy, so it needed a face.  

Trace your owl onto contact paper. Then use different sized glasses to trace circles for the eyes.  I found that the bottom of a shot glass was perfect for the pupil and then a juice glass for the inside of the iris and a larger drinking glass for the outside.  I then made a diamond shape for the beak and free-handed the wings and eyebrows. 

So, I had not intended to do a spraypaint over the stain, but my first attempt at staining the face went wrong and so I just fully stained one side.  I actually like both looks, and am pleased by the accident. 

Adding the face:

How to stain the features on.

I used minwax pre-stain on both sides of my owl before beginning. If you are staining the features, it is easiest to stain in sections.  I divided my owl into thirds.  Cut out the tail part of the contact paper with your Xacto knife.  Then carefully laid it on the wood cutout.  Then using an old rag and very little stain I rubbed it on the tail and then wiped with a clean rag.  My stain was dark enough that I didn’t really use much wait time.  The key to not ending up with bleeding of the stain under your stencil is to not oversaturate your stain rag.  I then pulled off the contact paper and moved onto the other sections. 

How to paint the features on: 

Because I had messed up on my first attempt at staining the features, I stained one full side in a dark walnut stain.  After it had fully dried (24 hrs), I placed the full stencil on the cutout. 

I then used painters tape to cover all of the edges and inside of the center hole.  I taped it really well and just before I spray painted it, I made sure that there was a good connection with the contact paper around the face.  This part gave me the most trouble as far as sticking.  A glue dot or some double-sided tape probably would help.

After it was all taped up, I did two coats of the gold spray paint.  I made sure that both coats were very light to minimize any paint running under the stencil.  Before the paint dried too much, I carefully removed the stencil and the painters tape. 

Sealing your DIY garden Owl:

So, this step is key even if you decide not to put any facial features on your owl.  This owl is going to live in my garden and face all the sun and rain that the mid-Atlantic has to throw at it.  I gave mine 3-4 layers of a clear-gloss polycrylic seal.  I used a 220 grit sandpaper to lightly sand between each layer and then wiped off all the dust before adding another layer. 

Constructing the CD spinner:

You could just hang a CD in the center and I think that would work.  However, I wanted to create sort of a paddlewheel effect.  Because my CDs had a sticker on one side and I didn’t want to peel it off, I started by gluing to CDs together with the reflective sides out.  Then I took a third CD and carefully scored down the center on the side with the sticker (I didn’t go all the way through).  I then folded it back on itself so that the reflective sides were out and I superglued them together.  I did the exact same thing to a fourth CD.

Next, I glued the two folded CDs to my center CD to create sort of a paddle wheel shape.  I did this one at a time and fully allowed the first to dry before adding the second.  I had to prop it up on paint cans to add the second one. 

Once the CDs have dried, use fishing line or rubber bands to attach them into the center of your owl. Then you need to find a spot to hang your owl creation.

Putting up your DIY garden owl

It is best to hang your owl high in a place that an actual owl might be. Garden scarecrows work best if they don’t stay in the same place. I have two or three places that I plan to rotate my owl through. While this can be a bit of a pain, I’ll just do it when I’m watering my garden. Vegetable gardens take a lot of work anyway (at least mine does). I’m pretty sure that this will just be one point in a many-pronged strategy as I combat the vermin that are after my produce.

Categories
DIY Home Decor Handmade Gifts

DIY Empty Toilet Paper Roll Bee Wreath

I love bees.  They pollinate our gardens, make delicious honey, and they have some serious grrrrl power action (most bees are female—the male bees (called drones) mate and then kick the bucket). I wanted to add some bee decor to my home without it looking like a second grade classroom.  So, much of the bee decor I’ve seen is a bit too cutesy for me.  Looking around my house for possible materials, I found my bag of empty toilet paper rolls.  You may be wondering why I have a bunch of empty toilet paper rolls . . .  Well I teach science and honestly, empty toilet paper rolls are the best building material for hands-on projects.  They are free and can be used in soooo many ways.  Anyway using my toilet paper tubes, hot glue, spraypaint, and some cardstock, I made this awesome honey bee wreath. 

DIY honeycomb bee wreath
The wreath also looks great as a window hanger! And . . . No. . . that is not real honey.

Supplies for DIY Wreath: 

Making the Toilet paper roll honeycomb

I wanted the wreath to have hexagons like actual honeycomb. However, if you want to save yourself a lot of time, you could just keep them round. If you are doing that, just cut each tube into three or four equal “honeycomb” rings. 

To make honeycombs, start by scoring (a light cut that doesn’t go all the way through) a straight line down the tube using a ruler and an X-Acto knife. Then repeat on the opposite side.

Your tube should now lay flat.  Measure the distance between the two cuts and divide by three.  For most of my tubes that was ⅞ of an inch.  Measure that distance from both edges and make two more score lines on that side of the tube.  Then turn the tube over and do the same on the other side. Once all score cuts have been made, fold the tube at each cut to get the hexagon shape.

Next, cut your tube into three or four even rings.  I used the width of my ruler as I wanted all of my honeycombs to have the same thickness. Each tube made three honeycomb rings. 

Cut the honeycomb rings from score tube
Cut 3-4 rings from each tube. I used the width of my ruler as a guide.

Making the wreath: 

Lay out the tubes into a design that is pleasing to you.  I went for a hexagon shape with some open spaces.  I do think a solid shape would be the sturdiest. Hot glue the hexagons together.  Make sure to really push each piece tight to minimize gaps.

Fill in any gaps with hot glue.  Tip: dip your finger in a little water and then you can mold the hot glue before it hardens and not get burned or have it stick to you. 

Spray paint your wreath.  I did two coats of yellow all over and then I dusted it with a final coat of gold.

Spray Paint toilet paper tube wreath
This is two coats of yellow. I then added a final dusting of gold spray paint.

Making the Bees: 

While I waited for it to dry, I used an X-Acto knife to cut out the honeybees from black cardstock.  I taped the printed out bee to the top of the cardstock and then cut through both layers.  I did not cut out every little vein in the bee wings but varied up which parts I cut out for each one. After cutting out the bees, cut out the bee body from a contrasting color (one body per bee).  Glue the body behind the bee silhouette cutouts. Download a Free-BEE silhouette template at the bottom of this post!

Cut out bee silhouette and body
Glue the bee body behind the silhouette (I used a glue stick).

Finishing touches on your DIY Toilet Paper Roll Bee Wreath: 

After the wreath has fully dried (at least two hours) you can add some hot glue honey.  I recommend you practice this on some scrap tubes first.  While holding the wreath upright, add a small puddle of hot glue to the bottom front of one ring.  Wait 10-20 seconds and then tilt it slightly forward to form a drip.  If the drip looks like it is going to fall, dip your finger in water and then support the drip until it dries (the water will keep the drip from sticking to you).  

I wanted my honey drops to sparkle. So, I added some mica powder.  This is the same stuff that gives makeup its shimmer. You could also just use gold eyeshadow. Just add it using your finger to the dry glue.

Next, glue your bees to your wreath.  If you plan to put it on your door, add a few coats of a spray polycrylic protective finish.

I hot glued two coffee stirrers to the back of mine to give a little more support at the top.  To add the hanger, use a hole punch to make a hole on either side of the wreath and then thread some cord or yarn through it.  Tip: If you don’t have any pretty cord, you can take handles off old gift bags and they work perfectly.  I just twist tied mine together to make it long enough. 

DIY toilet paper roll Bee wreath
A fun DIY wreath to celebrate summer!

Looking for other DIY home decor projects? Check out our IKEA nightstand makeover.

Download a Free-BEE Template Below!

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Categories
Handmade Gifts

DIY Zipper Pouch with Heart Cutout

So, I picked up this adorable narwhal flannel on sale at JoAnn’s last season.  I did not know what I planned to do with it but it was too cute and ½ off.  So, I bought a yard (I wish I’d bought two).  The Narwhal fabric went well with some pink fleece I had on hand. I planned to use both for my DIY zipper pouch, but the problem was I wanted to feel the fleece, but see the Narwhal!  I also didn’t have enough of the fleece to fully line the pouch.  So . . . I did a DIY zipper pouch with a heart cutout that allows you to pet the soft fleece as you gaze at the Narwhal’s smiling face. 

If you have made a simple pillow before and have gotten down your straight stitch, then this zipper pouch is an excellent project to push your skills to the next level.  There is not a pattern per se as you are just measuring squares of fabric.  You can size down or size up your pattern to suit your needs. Now on to making your DIY zippered pouch with a heart cut out.

Materials needed:

  • Two 8×10” rectangles of fabric for the bag outside
  • Two 8×10” rectangles of fabric for the bag lining
  • One 4×4” Square of bag outside fabric
  • One 4×4” Square of fleece for inside of keyhole heart
  • One 8” zipper (or cut your dimensions to your zipper length)
  • Thread in coordinating color

How to sew your own zippered pouch with cutout heart:

Part 1: Cutout Heart

  1. Cut a heart out of paper and trace it on to the back of your small square of the outside fabric. 
  2. Carefully, place that fabric on top of one side of the large squares of the bag outside fabric.  Place them right sides together and pin the small square one to two inches from the top edge (the edge where you plan to put the zipper).
  3. Sew around the heart that you drew and then cut away the excess fabric.  Clip the inside curve of the heart and clip as close as possible to the thread without cutting it (see picture).
  1. From the backside of the large fabric reach through the heart hole and pull the corners of the small square back through the hole and iron flat (see picture).  Now admire your work!  Good job!
  1. Next, on the back side of your large square with the heart cutout, place your fleece fabric so that the fuzzy part is poking through the hole (for some fleece’s this won’t matter, but mine was only fuzzy on one side).  Carefully pin it in place and then with a coordinating thread sew your way around your heart.  I take it nice and slow and in order to get the curves, I stop my machine with the needle down, lift the presser foot and pivot the fabric to get my corner smooth. 
  2. If you want to at this point, you could just turn this into a little pillow with a fuzzy cutout heart and skip the zipper and the bag (because you’ve already learned a new skill and I believe in challenge by choice).

Part 2: Adding the Zipper to outside fabric

  1. Pin your zipper to the top edge of the bag with the zipper front facing the fabric front.
Zipper pinned to top of bag.
Pin one side of zipper to top of bag. Front of zipper should face the right side of the fabric.
  1. Put the zipper foot onto your sewing machine, and sew along the top edge.  If you haven’t sewn a zipper before, here is a great tutorial on using one. Tip: After I got halfway, I left the needle down, removed the presser foot and then slid the zipper to the other side of the needle to make it possible to sew all the way to the end. 
  2. Press the zipper and the fabric open (see photo below). Place the second square of fabric on top (right sides together) and then pin to the other side of the zipper and sew. It can be a little tricky to figure out how to arrange the fabric under the presser foot.  You can see in the picture above how I did it.  Tip: Start with zipper half open and at the halfway point remove zipper foot, move the zipper past the needle, then replace the foot to keep sewing to the end.

Part 3: Attaching zipper to inside lining of fabric

  1. Arrange your bag so that it looks like the top picture and then place the lining fabric right side down on top (it should be facing the wrong side of your exterior fabric).  Align the top edge of the lining with the very top part of the zipper (see picture).  Pin and then sew the lining in place.
  2. When you’ve finished sewing the first side, you should be able to unfold the lining and see the zipper teeth neatly sandwiched between the exterior fabric and the lining. 
One side of lining attached.
You should now be able to see the teeth of one side of the zipper neatly sandwiched between the outside fabric and the lining fabric.
  1. Place your bag on a flat surface so that the layers of fabric are in this order: Exterior fabric pretty side up, exterior fabric pretty side down, lining fabric pretty side up (see picture below).  Now carefully lay your last lining fabric on top of these layers, lining up the top edge with the other side of the zipper.  Pin it in place and then sew it. 
  2. When you finished with that, you should be able to lay your bag out and see all of the pretty sides are visible and all of the back sides and stitches are hidden. 
  1. Optional: before you move to the next step you can top stitch your zipper.  You can see how I did it in this photo.  I actually like how it looks either way. Just know, that this seam will be seen in your final bag and therefore you will want it really straight.  It does help with preventing fabric from getting caught when you zip the bag up. 
Topstitching Zipper
This is how I topstitched zipper. I removed presser foot halfway to slide zipper past before replacing it and continuing on.
  1. Trim any layers that may no longer be square.  Sometimes, even with our best efforts this can just happen. 
  2. Lay your bag out like a butterfly, where the zipper is the body.  Line up with the lining facing the other lining and the two exterior fabrics facing each other.
  1. Pin it in place.  When you are pinning by the zipper you want the teeth of the zipper to face towards the lining (see picture above) on both sides.  This will make sure it can zip properly. 
  2. Mark a two inch opening on the bottom of the lining that you will leave open.  Start on one side of that opening and then straight stitch around the edge with about ½ seam allowance all the way back to the other side of your opening. Trim corners.
  3. Push the bag though that opening and turn the whole thing right side out.  Make sure you really push out the corners. 
  4. You can either do a blind/ladder stitch to close the opening or machine sew it.  Finally give your bag a final press and then stand back and admire your work. 

Looking for other projects that use up scrap fabric? Check out our scrap heap monster!

Categories
Handmade Gifts Holiday Decor

DIY 4th of July light up Bracelet

I love wearing things that light up.  I’ve made and attempted to make a variety of light up jewelry and costumes over the last few years.  Some (like my festive light up Christmas sweater have been successful) and others have just been frustrating.  However, I have found some really awesome sewable LED lights and battery holders by Adafruit.  They have made my wearable tech endeavors so much easier.  So, easy in fact that I have successfully introduced similar activities to my middle school science classroom. This would be a fun 4th of July project and the bonus is that you will be able to locate your kids when the sun goes down and the fireworks come out.

The light up bracelet in action

Supplies Needed for DIY 4th of July Bracelet:

How to make your own 4th of July light up bracelet

  1. Start by downloading and printing the template from above. Then cut out all of your felt pieces.
  2. Place the battery and the LED lights on your main bracelet band. Be sure that the positive symbols for the LEDs are all pointing the same direction and that the battery is oriented so that the positive end of the battery is on the same side.
Place the battery holder as shown and then the lights with the positive end pointed the same way.

Gluing down the lights and battery holder

  1. Hot glue the battery holder and the LED lights into the locations shown. Note the lights should be glued face down in order for them to shine through the felt fabric.
  2. Glue the Velcro in place for the battery holder (see the right picture above). Don’t worry about the Velcro for the bracelet yet, as that will need to be sized for the wearer’s wrist.
  3. On the side opposite of the battery and lights hot glue on the stripes and star. If you place the star over the center light, it will light up when the circuit is turned on.

Sizing the bracelet

Front view of bracelet (the back has all of the circuitry).
  1. You can also go ahead and size the bracelet at this point too. Wrap it around the wrist and allow it to overlap 1-2 inches and cut off any excess fabric.
  2. You can use hot glue to secure Velcro to both sides of the bracelet to create a secure connection. I added two sets of Velcro. I attached one fuzzy piece to the short edge of the inside (circuit side) and another fuzzy piece to the opposite short edge but on the outside (pretty side).
  3. Then I placed the matching “hook” side on top of the fuzzy sides, wrapped it around my wrist overlapping the ends and marked where the “hook” side should be and then hot glued them down.

Sewing the circuit for you light up 4th of July bracelet

Sewing down the battery with thread going through negative hole
Make several loops through the hole marked negative and then knot the thread.

A few words about circuits and LEDs: LEDs are directional lights, which means they won’t work if you don’t attach the negative side of the battery to the negative end of the bulb. In addition, you need to make sure you don’t create a short circuit. A short circuit is created by crossing your negative and positive “wires” (in this case conductive thread).

  1. Cut a piece of conductive thread that is twice as long as the distance between your battery and your last LED bulb (If you are a novice sewer, give yourself extra). Thread one end of the thread through your sewing needle. Do not tie a knot in the other end.
  2. Take the thread and loop it 4-5 times through the positive hole in the battery and then tie it off.
  1. Sew towards the positive side of the first LED light. As you sew do not go all the way through the felt. Just barely catch the fabric to keep the conductive thread all on the same side.
  2. Loop the thread through the positive side of the first LED light 3-4 times. Then sew in the same manner to the second light, loop the thread, and then go to the third (always going through the positive side).
  3. After you have reached the third LED, loop and then tie off thread. Your positive side is now complete.
Completed side of electrode
When you get to the last LED, loop and then tie off thread.
  1. Cut a new length of conductive thread and complete steps 1-5 for the negative side.
  2. When you are done, you can add a dab of clear nail polish to all of the knots to keep them from coming undone.
Completed circuit with lights on
This is how you completed circuit should look.
  1. Now, slip the battery into the holder (you should be able to see the positive side of the battery when you are looking at the battery holder).
  2. Flip the switch on and your bracelet is ready to go!
Red, white and blue felt bracelet with star
You are now ready for some fireworks!

Trouble Shooting your circuit

So, I made several of these and despite the logically correct circuit, I had some trouble shooting I still needed to do. One thing I discovered it that my Amazon purchases were knock-offs and not all of the battery holders worked. I recommend you order straight from Adafruit.com as it will save you some time. You can also order the LED lights from there, but my Amazon purchased ones seemed to work find. Here are some common mistakes that can cause your circuit to not work:

  • Not wrapping the conductive thread through the hole enough times or wrapping too loosely.
  • Having a long tail on your knot that crosses over the oppositely charged side of your circuit.
  • orienting the lights or the battery the wrong way.
  • If you want to get more tips or learn to sew more complex projects, you should definitely check out this website.