Tuesday, October 21, 2014

DIY Halloween: Elsa Cape Snowflakes Tutorial

I promise to do a full post on my first Elsa (the true star of the smash hit Frozen) attempt....but for now, I thought I would share my method for tackling those snowflakes on her cape/coat.  That might be of help for those trying to get this project checked off their list before Halloween next week!  Or, for anyone who is looking for a DIY solution to finding a good Elsa costume.  I hate to say it, but the store bought ones are pretty yucky.

First, have you noticed how horribly itchy and rough all that organza type fabric is that they're pushing for these costumes?  It has got to be 50% plastic and 50% awful.  And when I went to pick out fabric for my little Elsa, I couldn't even stand touching it, let alone handling it for long periods of time during the creation process.  And then worse, I can't imagine her wanting to wear it.  She's 7 and has way better taste in fabric than I do, so I needed a better option!

And then I found it!  I used a nylon chiffon tricot from fabric.com.  If I could live in this fabric, I would.  The drape is beautiful and it's SO SOFT and sheer.  No itchy Elsa allowed.

I will get more into the patterning and actual costume in a later post.  But basically, this fabric will be used in a shrug/cape combo to go over a satin skirt and already owned sparkly dance top.  Once finished, I had this coat/cape to work with:

Cute but basic.  And Elsa is not basic.  Elsa needs wow.  Elsa needs GLITTER (so much glitter).  Elsa needs SPARKLE!

To make just a basic fabric of any sheer nature Frozen appropriate, I used the following:

-Glitter (so much glitter).  I chose clear and I'm glad (it will look white in the bottle)
-straight pins
-wax paper
-snowflake print outs
-modge podge and/or aileen's tacky glue (the decision between to two, I'll talk about later)

The basic method is simple.  Your fabric is sheer, so place your computer print out of a snowflake (do a google image search and pick your favorite), underneath the fabric.  The take a piece of wax paper and put it BETWEEN the print out and the fabric.  So from top to bottom:  fabric, wax paper, print out.  Pin into place.  This is what it looked like while I was making several at once.  

Let's start with modge podge.  Using a paint brush, follow the lines of your snowflake and paint the modge podge on.  It doesn't have to be super thick, just a nice layer.

I did both thick snowflakes like this one and a few that were more intricate with thinner lines.  This one was my favorite, but the others worked, too.  It felt like a big ol' mess while I was in the process, but they all turned out pretty...it's amazing what a TON of sparkly glitter goodness can hide.

Once the modge podge is on, cover cover cover with glitter!!!

I let mine sit for about 10 minutes.  Modge podge doesn't take long to dry (bonus!) and I wanted to move on and do more.  Once I dumped and saved the excess glitter, it looked like this:

You can see the smaller and not so neat one next to it.  I was disappointed that shape didn't come out so well, but when it's all together, no one will notice.  Also the different sizes and shapes really made a nice effect.

You can also use Aileen's Tacky Glue and squeeze it out of the bottle with the exact same method.  But, the Aileens requires a longer drying time.  It's also very thick, so your snowflake will drip if you move the fabric to work on another part of your costume.  I will say, the squeeze option is nice for control but if I did it again, I would only use modge podge.  If you use Aileen's, don't panic that the flakes are white.  It does ultimately dry clear (usually over night).  The end result is surprisingly similar to the modge podge:

Once all good and dry, remove the pins and peel the wax paper off the back.  The modge podge does dry pretty quickly.  I did a large section at a time with multiple snowflakes and left it for an hour which is overkill.  I would say 30 minutes and you're good to go.

The biggest tip:  make sure your wax paper is covering the entire area in which you plan to put the modge podge/glue.  If you fail to do this, the printed image will appear on the back of your fabric and it is not fun to try to get it to come off.

Here's the finished effect:

I'm having a terrible time trying to photograph it properly, but will share the whole costume (I also made a skirt!) and the patterning method/sewing tips for making a coat/cape like this one!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

DIY Halloween Costume: Epic Pineapple Costume

I had a PSL today and therefore, it's time to talk about Halloween costumes.  I LOVE Halloween.  I love an occasion to dress up.  And I LOVE to make costumes (see the top 10 diy costumes on my list, the cotton candy cutie, and last year's Rockford Peach).

While I have some very definite/awesome plans for this year, I thought it would be good to share last year's shenanigans....enter, my DIY Pineapple Costume!

Right??!  I had SO MUCH FUN wearing it.  The best part?  I felt cute without being dressed like a total Trampy McSkankerson.

The inspiration was via a great pin from Studio DIY in which a darling and very skinny girl is wearing a very short yellow shift dress and a cardboard pineapple frond:

She's adorable, but I knew I would NEVER find a bright yellow dress in my size and the head piece being paper and forecast predicting Halloween evening drizzles, it sounded like I'd end the night with a major hot mess/hulk in drag situation.

So what's a pineapple to do?  Step one, make a dress.  Simplicity 1609 looked easy, fast, and rather adorable:

I used a yellow bottomweight twill as I wanted some structure and shape to the a line silhouette and sure enough, it worked perfectly.  And that sweet little bow was just too perfect to pass up.  It really did come together in a jiffy and honestly took longer to cut out the very few pattern pieces than it did to actually sew it.  I would say, skip the facings and use bias tape instead.  I found that a double layer of twill at the neck was a bit much.  If I was to do it again, I would make some great double fold bias tape and use this method of finishing the neck hole and the arm holes.

Now for the frond!  This is the best accessory I've ever, ever made.  I used green felt and cut simple pinapple frond shapes....lots of them (you probably need about a yard of felt).  Frond shape =

You could probably curve out the sides a little bit more on some of them, but you get the idea.  Using a styrofoam cone as the base, I then hot glued the pieces (layering them along the way and pinching a few on the short flat side to create more of a shape).  Once completed, it all got attached to a headband.  BOOM:  Pineapple head.

Wayfairer sunnies are a MUST.

The perfect final touch? My good buddy Christina made me a Dole button, and YES, she looked up the actual product code for a pineapple.  I'm a sucker for accuracy.

My grandmother's vintage Neiman Marcus sweater that I LOVE and wear every chance I get was the perfect addition.  She was very, very thin, and I am clearly not, so I was pleased that it looked so cute with this dress.

Here we are ready to go!  Christina did a KILLER "What Does the Fox Say" back up dancer outfit.

Go forth and PINEAPPLE!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Chairs, chairs, everywheres: Painted Rattan Chair Makeover

There's a pawn shop around the corner from my work.  And at the beginning of the summer, they put out some chairs.  I am sure I almost caused several accidents as I slowed down every day to take a look at these three babies hanging out in the sun, hoping for a home.  One day, I took a coworker with me (because ladies don't just roll up in pawn shops solo), and for more money than I probably should have paid ($15 per chair), they found a home.

All three are in major need of repair.  The wrapping is coming off in several corners, the seats are a mess, and the sisters on the left were coming apart where the back meets the seat.  You say trash, I say CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

The sisters were finally finished this weekend and they look fab.

First order of business was to repair that pesky wrapping.  Rattan chairs have what I learned is called "binding cane" to hide ugly joints.  On my chairs, it was missing or coming off or just real ugly.  I ordered some, left it to soak over night and fixed where it was missing using small upholstery nails  It was tricky, but with some patience, it came out just fine.

Sadly, the wood was in terrible shape.  I decided making them bright and fun was the best option, and Fioli Garden Pool (part of Valspar's National Trust for Historic Preservation line...my favorite!), seemed like a good fit.  Chad went out of town for a weekend, so it was a good time to (make a complete and total mess in our kitchen) mix up some of my DIY Chalk Paint and get to work.  This time, I used a wet rag to cover the open container of paint and I was able to take my time and get two good coats on the sisters without any problems or "setting up" of the paint.

The seat covers were not as smooth a project as I had hoped.  I'm an okay seamstress...maybe not the best, but I do like and know how to sew.  I figured a seat cover is just a matter of deconstructing the existing and cutting out a new one.  I picked up a $5 drop cloth from Lowes and decided to use that.  Turns out when you do this, you should cut in a GOOD seam allowance.  I'm thinking mine wasn't all that spot on and as such, I didn't have a great fit.  It took some tucking and stretching and ultimately, I will likely have to redo one side of one of the chairs.  But every failure is a learning opportunity!

I took the old, crusty cushions apart outside and I'm so glad.  There was probably 50 years of funk under those covers.

And no proper seat cover.  I decided to use a layer of batting to help keep it all together (that probably also cause the cushion fit issues).

I laid them out the best as possible for a template...I have to say, I got pretty close to having them fit perfectly.  But again, try to give yourself some extra room just in case!

I was able to reuse the old piping and create a contrast out of some pretty peacock fabric I've had laying around.  I do really love the end result.

I learned a lot.  I'm excited to tackle the last of those three pawn shop chairs, but for now, I'm going to look for a place for the sisters to live.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Meet Scarlett: The Pretty Little Cabinet from Lincolnton

Once upon a time, there was a little cabinet named Scarlett.  She was made by a man who lives in Lincolnton, NC.  Scarlett used to have to sit by her painted sisters at Metrolina, hoping that someone would come along and see all that potential just waiting to become something completely fabulous.

Then Scarlett met me.  And I decided right then that she should come to Fredericksburg and have a makeover and sit in my kitchen and hold all of my very favorite dishes.  And after living in my parents' garage for three months (due to my lack of a truck), she finally made it home so I could get started.

Meet Scarlett now:

Isn't she gorgeous???!!  I'm very in love.

First came the paint.  I decided not to chalk paint her and instead just stuck with regular latex in a to die for Valspar Historic Preservation color, Fairmont Suites Clay Red.

Once she was all painted up, I used Miniwax Paste Finish Wax as I have on my chairs and the table legs for my suitcase table.  Again, it worked beautifully and will protect the surface without any worry of yellowing or other discoloration over time.

Scarlett's best feature?  She was made with wood salvaged from an old house (so cool), and on top she has this gorgeous old glass pane that lets light shine down into her (so VERY cool).

The not so great part?  It was real hard to paint.  There was a white edge visible all the way around and even though we used painter's tape and Chad was really careful, some of the paint still leaked through to be seen from the top.  And Scarlett is far too pretty for that nonsense:

There wasn't really a way to fix that with paint as any attempt would result in a red mess all over the glass. Instead, I picked up some washi tape to add a little detail that doesn't look like a mess.  Likely, I will replace this with a washi tape in a more neutral (maybe metallic?) hue/pattern....but for now, it's an unexpected fun little addition that can only be seen from above.

Next fix was that "West Virginia lock" or little wooden piece with a screw in the middle that kept the doors shut.  Had to go.  The hole was patched and replaced with two inside magnetic cabinet latches that will keep the doors shut.  The addition of two sweet knobs from World Market (for $1.99 each!) completed her hardware needs.

The last bit to overhaul was the cabinet backing.  SURE, I could have just painted it like the rest of the cabinet, but what fun is that?  Turns out the board was just tacked on, so it came off easily.

We covered that crazy maroon nightmare with two coats of the clay red, but the side that shows through the front had a higher calling.  At first I was thinking wall paper, then scrapbook paper, then wrapping paper...none of which I could find with the right look.  Then I thought I would just paint it with a stencil...but wow, that sounded very time consuming and I am LAZY.  But then, a Joann's trip for a different project uncovered the BEST find:  this amazing (and pricey) metallic printed burlap:

At $14.99 a yard (I needed 50 inches), Joann's had it on "sale" for $1 off a yard.  Which meant I couldn't use my coupon (which was, of course, a much better deal).  I left it behind the first trip but couldn't get it out of my head.  It was really perfect, so I sucked up the $20 and went for it.  And I'm thrilled with the result.

The burlap is attached with spray adhesive by laying the back piece of wood down, lining up the fabric on top and spraying about 4 inches at a time, smoothing as I went.  I then trimmed the excess.  I hate spray adhesive so very much as it makes a mess, but it really was the right thing for the job this time.  By doing it a small section at a time, you ensure you get a good bond, everything stays straight and non wrinkled, and also the mess is contained.

There she is.  I'm so in love and now have extra storage for my dish problem.  I am also now one step closer to getting my kitchen just the way I've wanted it for a long time.  Remember how I was going to spend 2013 getting my house together?  Well, it is now 2014 and I'm still working on it.

But a gal like Scarlett =  worth waiting for.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A DIY Wreath for Every Season

I've really loved making wreaths this year.  They are just such a nice way to brighten up your front door and make it look like home.

In the fall, I made my first wreath in all its football season glory.  It started with a simple foam form wrapped with burlap.

Since that form was wrapped with burlap, it has been the perfect base for four awesome wreaths.  One for each season!  Below is the Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall line up.

The newest is the summer and I LOVE it.

My moss covered letter B was attached with hot glue and as soon as the weather got too warm, it didn't want to hold on to that wreath anymore.  Instead I went with a metal bike I had laying around painted red with my DIY Chalk Paint recipe (chalk paint is GREAT for metal).  Using strips of mustard quatrefoil fabric, I created a stripe pattern over the simple burlap base....mostly because I didn't have enough fabric for the whole wreath.  But I like the effect.  The grosgrain ribbon is a simple but sweet accent.

If you're interested in having a wreath for your front door, starting with a foam form and some burlap wrap is really the perfect start.  From there, you can create anything you (or pinterest) can imagine.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Misadventures in Chalk Painting - Troubleshooting Tips

After one of the most fantastically productive weekends I can remember (salvaged guest room side tables in place, new diy queen headboard, suitcase table done, and some new pretty butterfly art on the walls), I just experienced one of the most frustrating I've ever had.

My plan was simple:  fix up my two harp back chairs I have in the basement and make a dress.

The outcome of my weekend?  The dress is cut out with no hope of being put together anytime soon and one of my chairs is half done.  The sister chair is "done" but looks bad.  Like baaaaaaaaaad and will need to be redone.

What happened, pray tell?  I was SO EXCITED about the idea of chalk paint that the crafty peeps in the world have been buzzing about forever.  Paint with no prep that is great to use on salvaged furniture finds? I'm in.  I blogged all about it last weekend when it worked brilliantly on my suitcase table legs.  Due to the cost of boutique chalk paint, I was all about making my own by adding a little plaster of paris and water and the first time around, it worked.  This weekend, it did not work.

Every batch of chalk paint I made with different plaster of paris amounts (starting with the successful ratio of 3 parts paint, 2 parts plaster, 1 part water) started setting up almost immediately.  It was like painting with brownie batter.  I went through 3 different $3 paint samples and every time it completely screwed up.

It was so very, very frustrating.

After analyzing what I had done differently down to wearing socks last weekend and not this weekend, I realized when I had the DIY Chalk Paint success, it was pouring down rain.  The humidity must have made it possible for me to use the 3, 2, 1 ratio and even leave the paint for an hour or two while I grabbed lunch with my husband.  This weekend, if I even looked away, it started to get globbity gooky.

But, not willing to accept defeat, I forged on with my first chair and the result is just horrific.

The hope was that I could do the pair in a nice warm brown to match my already existing dining chairs.  That way I could use them at the table when we needed extra seating.  I mixed the paint with the plaster and almost immediately I was working with grimey paint sludge.  After the paint set up and I really couldn't use it anymore, I noticed these splotches coming through.  Almost like dark sun spots all over the surface of the chair.

Sheldon is also not amused.  Yeah, it's bad.  Even worse is that I thought "distressing" the splotches out would be a great idea!  Now it just looks like a mess.  The new seat is pretty, but that's about the only thing.


1.  My paint ratio was all kinds of off for the beautiful, blue sky, breezy, 70 degree day.  A 7.5 oz paint sample should have 2.5tbsp of Plaster of Paris and 2tbsp of water to start.  If you live in the tropics, you can probably use more plaster!  But the Virginia recipe is much less.

2.  After it got globby, I finally decided to add water and stir.  That worked!  So keep a cup of cold water nearby and when it starts to get funky, just add some water slowly and stir your little heart out.

3.  The splotches on my first chair are from an earlier attempt to save the piece without painting.  I applied some oil to see if it would help with the scratches and really bad parts.  I'm thinking I didn't clean it nearly well enough before I started painting and that is why I have those dark spots.  The fix for this will be to try to clean it down with mineral spirits and paint again.  We'll see if it works.

4.  (added on 7/15/14 as I am constantly learning MORE tricks!)  You're going to mix your chalk paint in a different vessel....be it a cup or jar or whatever.  So while you're painting, get a rag good and wet and lay it over the open container.  This helps lock moisture in and keeps the paint nice and smooth.

My Sunday night fit of "GRRRRR, I have accomplished nothing" resulted in breaking out the paint again at 7pm and praying for a miracle.  Guess what, it was a miracle:

Much, much better.  The color is Valspar's Woodlawn Snow (yep, Historic Pres collection and it is a really, really pretty off white).  It's not waxed yet, nor have I covered the seat, but I finally got the paint part right after much annoyance, trial & error.

Here's a close up of how this chalk paint business should look:

Flaws?  Yes.  Apparently some finishes from the 30s and 40s wind up making a weird pink reaction on your piece.  Luckily, mine were all in spots that will be hidden by the seat.  I've read that if this happens, you stop and spray down the spot with some non toxic clear sealant, wait for it to dry, then paint over it again.  That will keep it from discoloring your piece

I finished her off a few weekends later!  The fabric choice is exciting...a bright and colorful ikat from Fabric.com.

And the dress?  Lisette Round Trip Dress.  It's cut out, but will probably be another few weeks before I get it done.