Saturday, November 28, 2015

A Stenciled Santa

I love stenciling.  It takes time and patience but absolutely no special skills. Anybody can do it. And you can make almost anything. Say, for instance, you wanted a dish towel with a retro black-and-white Santa image printed on it. You probably wouldn't find one in a store, but you could stencil one. 

vintage Santa graphic

You'd just have to download an image you liked from The Graphics Fairy.

vintage Santa graphic
And if you didn't like that the finger on his left hand was pointing at nothing, you could redraw that hand to have a mitten on it.

vintage Santa graphic on parchment paper
Then you'd want to print out the image on computer paper and trace it onto parchment paper. (Or if you were smart, you would cut the parchment paper down to size and feed that into your printer so the image printed directly onto the parchment paper.)

parchment paper stencil
The hardest part of the whole project would be figuring out what to cut away from the image (the parts that you wanted to paint black) and what to keep (the parts that you wanted to remain white).

cut out parchment paper stencil
 You'd have to cut the silhouette out with a sharp craft knife.

parchment paper stencil
Then you'd want to go back in and carefully cut away all of the inside pieces. (All of the pieces on the left side above are waste. The pieces on the right side are the stencil.)

iron stencil onto flour sack dishtowel
You'd have to iron your stencil onto a towel. (Parchment paper will stick to fabric when it's ironed.)

textile medium and acrylic paint
You'd want to mix a little textile medium in with some acrylic paint to prevent the paint from cracking after it dries.

pounce paint onto stencil
 You'd want to pounce the paint onto your stencil.

peel stencil off fabric
 Then you'd get to the fun/nerve-racking part: peeling away the stencil to reveal the final image.

remove stencil
 If you did it right, you would end up with nice crisp lines of black paint on all the edges.

vintage Santa stenciled on dish towel
And Santa would be smiling at you.

Then you'd want to run a hot iron over the back of the towel to heat set the paint, and you'd be done.

black and white Santa on dishtowel

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Monday, November 23, 2015

How to Make Easy One-Piece Pillowcases in Six Months

patio cushion pillows
After buying new cushions for my patio furniture this summer, I had these old pillows left over. They didn't match the new cushions, so I didn't want to use them on the patio, but they were still in good shape, so I didn't want to throw them out. I figured I'd hang on to them for a while and wait for inspiration to strike.
Calvin laying on patio cushions
In the meantime, I "temporarily" tossed the pillows on the dining room floor one day, where Calvin promptly discovered them and claimed them as his own.
Calvin laying on patio cushions
Calvin's two favorite things in life are soft cushions and sunny windows, so finding one in such close proximity to the other made his day. And his next day. And his day after that... Fortunately for Calvin, I didn't have a plan for the cushions yet, so they stayed on the dining room floor for quite a while.
Calvin laying on patio cushions
Finally, months later, I read a post on Censational Girl's blog called "Easiest Pillow Covers Ever," in which she made envelope pillows with ONE piece of fabric. She's probably not the first person in the world to invent the one-piece envelope pillow, but it was the first I'd heard of it. Whenever I've made envelope pillows before, I've always used three pieces: one for the front and two that overlapped in the back.

As someone who loves the idea of sewing but who possesses only rudimentary sewing skills, I was giddy with the possibilities. If I did the math correctly -- unfortunately my math skills are roughly on par with my sewing skills -- I figured this new one-piece method would involve approximately two-thirds less sewing.
old white bedspread
In a fit of inspiration, I remembered an old nubby bedspread that I had bought at a thrift store a while back even though I didn't have a bed to spread it on. At the time, I just loved the texture. Now I knew what I was going to do with it: cut it up into one-piece pillowcases for Calvin's pillows.
clipping buttons off of patio cushions
In a rare moment when Calvin wasn't around, I picked up the pillows and snipped the buttons off of them. Then I laid the bedspread out on the floor to start measuring and cutting.
Calvin laying on pillows
I had barely gotten started when he showed up and proceeded to move from whichever pillow I was attempting to work on to whichever pillow I was attempting to work on. He's helpful that way.
Calvin sitting on pillow
Fortunately, I knew his kryptonite: dangly tape measures.
cutting bedspread into pillowcases
After successfully luring him off of the pillows and onto the other side of the bedspread, I measured out the pillowcases. I wanted the pieces to be the same height as the pillows but about six inches longer, so the fabric would overlap in the back.
cutting bedspread into pillowcases
 I measured, marked and cut the pillowcases.
bedspread pillowcase
Then I wrapped the cases around the pillows to make sure they would fit. When I was confident that I had cut the pieces to the right size, I turned the fabric inside out and marked with pins where I was going to sew.
how to sew a bedspread pillowcase
 All I had to do was hem the raw edge and then sew seams across the top and bottom. Easy peasy.
sewing a pillowcase out of a bedspread
Or at least it would have been if my assistant didn't keep coming back and sitting on my work surface.
sewing a pillowcase out of a bedspread
Eventually I got all the pieces up off the floor and ran them through my sewing machine.
bedspread pillowcase back
Once I had the raw edges hemmed and the seams sewn, I turned the pillowcases right side out, and I was done. Here's the back.
bedspread pilllowcase front
 And here's the front.
bedspread envelope pillows
When the cases were all sewn, I stuffed the pillows inside.
bedspread envelope pillows
Each case looks a little different because I used different parts of the bedspread for each one.
bedspread envelope pillows on couch
I put the pillows on the couch for now. I haven't decided if they'll live there permanently or if I'll put them on a bed. Either location will be an improvement over the dining room floor. (And look: Calvin found a new sunny window to lay in.)
vintage office chair
 In case you're wondering, here's my next project...
vintage office chair with cat
 ... or more accurately, here's our next project. (Sigh.)
vintage office chair with cat
I love vintage office chairs, but I want to replace the worn orange fabric and pleather with something a little nicer.

Linking to:
Show and Share
The Scoop
Metamorphasis Monday
Tweak It Tuesday

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Turkey Under Glass

turkey and nuts in shadow box
Here's a Thanksgiving shadow box I (somewhat accidentally) put together the other day.
turkey cookie cutter
It started with this plastic turkey-shaped cookie cutter that I found. It looked so sad and orange, I decided I'd give it a 10-minute makeover by wrapping jute twine around it.
turkey cookie cutter
After 10 minutes of searching for -- and not finding -- my roll of twine, I moved on to plan B: wrapping it in string. Then after 10 minutes of attempting to wrap an orange cookie cutter in white string -- and seeing lots of orange plastic peeking out in between the strands, I moved on to plan C: spray painting the cookie cutter white first.
turkey cookie cutter
Thirty minutes into my 10-minute makeover, I discovered wrapping a cookie cutter with string is not as easy as it sounds ...
turkey cookie cutter
... at least not if your cookie cutter has lots of wonky indents and corners. If you use too much string on those spots, you get a weird bulge in the silhouette. If you don't use enough string, there are obvious gaps in the coverage. And unfortunately, the more I handled the cutter, the more the white spray paint wore off.
turkey cookie cutter covered in string
When I finally had the whole cutter wrapped in string, I touched up the orange spots that were peeking through with off-white craft paint.
shadow box backer board
At this point, I decided I had invested so much time in the cookie cutter that I should showcase it in a shadow box. But my shadow box had been used many times before, and this is what the backer board of it looked like. All the pin holes and glue spots needed to be covered up.
old dictionary
 I pulled out an, old falling-apart dictionary, and thought maybe I could use a couple pages from it to cover the mess. I looked on the "turkey" page and the "Thanksgiving" page, hoping to find a definition with a picture, but I struck out. So I started flipping through, looking for a good random page to use ...
old dictionary page
... and look what I found in the F's.turkey shadow box
 I rubber cemented the pages to the backer board and popped it into place.
turkey shadow box
Here's the full shadow box. It has a hinged cover, so it's really easy to work with.
turkey shadow box
 I positioned my turkey so the picture of the turkey was inside him. But the shadow box looked a little empty.
old suitcase
 I knew I had some great fall filler inside an old battered, tattered mini suitcase.
nuts and acorns
 I picked out the nuts I wanted to use...
turkey shadow box
... and filled in the open space around the turkey with them. 
turkey shadow box
Then I put the cover on the shadow box and stood it upright. The nuts were packed around the cookie cutter tightly enough to hold it in place.

My 10-minute craft ended up taking a little more than 10 minutes, but I'm happy with how it turned out.