Friday, March 28, 2014

sketched storage ottoman upholstery

We bought a small wicker storage ottoman a year ago to replace a large upholstered ottoman that had been given to us with our couch. The larger ottoman never had storage, so it was pretty much a useless space hog.

This ottoman, though, has the disadvantage of being made of wicker in a house with cats. The top got pretty beat up in a short amount of time, so I covered it up!

I upholstered the top in painter's canvas, which matches the new couch pillows I made (more on that soon), but to tie it in to the Ikea curtain fabric, I also sketched on the top with a permanent pen.

The result is a little more sketch-y looking than the original, but I think it's a nice tie-in without being too matchy-matchy. I haven't decided yet whether to thicken up the lines or add color or anything; I'm leaning toward leaving it as-is, but things tend to evolve around here over longer periods of time.

If I were to do this project over, I'd use more batting to obscure the wicker, but generally I'm pretty happy with how this came out. I'm trying to convince the cat to use the scratching posts exclusively, but cats are notoriously unreasonable. Here's hoping the sides of the ottoman hold up!

Thanks for reading!

p.s. You can make these photos larger by clicking, if you'd like to see more detail!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

simple animal paw shoes for theater + halloween costumes

I made these shoes for the Cat in the Hat for our preschool's recent production, to match the costume I retrofitted (coming up in a future post). It's funny; I had let the other costume maker borrow my one and only costume shoe pattern and was scrambling to get some shoes made for a dress rehearsal, but this style actually ended up working better than the pattern I'd loaned her.

You'll remember that my computer died? As in DEAD dead. The hard drive and logic board both keeled over at the same time, which means I could only use my phone for internet searches, and my phone won't send anything to my printer. So while I remembered this Martha Stewart felt slippers pattern, I had to improvise and hand-draw rather than printing it. All's well that ends well; these turned out just right.

For the soles, I used two layers of this old rough-backed felt from the stacks of leftover fabric in the theater supplies at school. For the body, I used one layer of the stiff-backed felt and one layer of the hound's tooth flannel I'd used for the Cat's costume. The foot pads are cut from a scrap of red ostrich leather I bought awhile back at a thrift store, zig-zag appliqued into place before assembling the shoes.

To make your own, you can follow Martha's original instructions with the following changes:

1) Instead of a single layer of thick felt, I used one layer of thinner craft felt and one layer of woven fabric, serged together at the edges. Word to the wise: when using thinner felt, using mutiple layers is key. You'll get a lot of stretch and wear-through with single layers.

2) The appliques are used (in addition to the rough-bottomed felt) to make the shoes non-slip, and to add some durability. Highly recommended, whether for Halloween or for theater. In addition to making the shoes less slippery and more sturdy, the pads are an especially nice touch if, at any point, your character shows the bottoms of his or her feet to an audience. This happened in our play, and every time I could feel how much it added to the kids' experience.

3) The original pattern leaves the seams on the outside; I tucked mine inside.

4) As the cuffs are layered with woven fabric + felt, they don't have much stretch, so the wearer will have to spend a minute working them onto his or her feet. It actually makes them fit really securely, and for a seldom-used costume piece it's not too much of an inconvenience.

Like most things, you can adapt these pretty endlessly to a variety of costumes. Switch up the fabric, use faux fur, different color leather, etc.

More to come! Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

removing water stains from a dresser

I have a veneered 1928 dresser with Bakelite drawer pulls that I found at a thrift store a really lot of years ago. We were mostly broke at the time, so it was kind of a big deal. It came with a vanity and a headboard, too (which aren't currently in use); I think I carted it home piece by piece in my car? Or maybe I borrowed a truck? It was a lot of years ago. I was really into Bakelite at the time, so I was pretty excited.

Right before we left on our road trip to Montana a year and a half ago, I tipped over a glass of water that had been on top and it splashed and dripped all down the front. The water stains appeared right away. I mopped up all the water, made sure everything in the drawers was dry and in good shape, and hoped that the water stains might dry out and disappear by the time we returned.

But that's not how water stains work, as it turns out. I've just been staring at my ruined treasure since then, wondering whether it was salvageable or whether it'd have to wait until I could pull it out and completely refinish it.

Good news: while cleaning my room, I finally decided to do a little on-line research to see if there was a safe, non-toxic, simple solution that'd tide me over until refinishing. There is!

Denatured alcohol is recommended; as I don't have any of that, I used standard rubbing alcohol from my first aid box. I just poured a little on a wash cloth, and rubbed it on.

I had stared at those water stains for so long, I really didn't expect them to disappear so quickly, but they did. It worked so quickly that I didn't even take the time to run down the hall for my camera; I just snapped some quick photos with my smart phone. (Sorry about that.)

The alcohol took a little of the finish off, too (totally expected), so I followed up with some thorough drying and some paste wax.

Eventually the whole thing needs to be refinished (the shellac, like the shellac on my piano, is starting to crackle), but in the meantime, I don't have to stare at those accusatory water stains anymore. You might be amazed how much that improves the feeling I have when I walk into the bedroom, unless you've got some water stains of your own that you've been staring at for over a year. You will want to try this on your own.

Thanks for stopping in! 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

doll cradle + bedding

Donated to the silent auction at the kiddo's school:

 Birds & Branches flannel doll quilt

Tufted flannel mattress

Pillow and pillowcase

Refinished vintage cradle with leather insets

Yay! It sold!

You can see a previous vintage doll cradle project here. I might make this an annual thing. ;)

p.s. want to see some more detail? click a photo to see a larger version.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

the cat in the hat mini hats

A couple of factors played into the lack of activity at the blog over the past couple of weeks. First, I was scrambling to finish up the last few costume projects before our preschool's all-parent production of The Cat in the Hat. A few late nights, some scavenging for materials, and a couple of re-dos later, and everything came together. It was a pretty amazing group of people who came together on the project.

Second, my computer died. Like, completely. I took it in with a blank white screen with only a gray apple in the middle, and when it came back to me a little over a week later, they'd replaced the hard drive and the logic board. Thankfully, luckily, magically, there was a week left on the AppleCare extended warranty the Mr. had the foresight to buy. A week later, and we'd have been paying out-of-pocket for the parts and repairs. And it would have cost about as much as I earned on Etsy this year. I feel really lucky.

Anyway, on to today's post.

Let's look at making some Cat in the Hat mini hat headbands!

You can use this idea for making any kind of mini top hat, really, just by changing the color of the stiffened felt and adding some embellishments. Here's what you need to know.

Materials for two hats:

1 12 x 18-inch piece of stiffened felt (also called Friendly Felt) in white or glittered white
2 9 x 12-inch pieces of regular red felt or glittered red felt
red and white thread
hot glue
2 red ribbon-covered headbands

For each hat, cut a piece of stiffened white felt that's 4 1/2 x 12 inches, and three red stripes that are approximately 1 x 12 inches. You'll also need a red circle that measures approximately 3-inches in diameter, and two stiffened white circles (not one red + one white, as photographed) measuring approximately 4 1/2 inches in diameter.

Arrange stripes as shown, then stitch in place using red thread.

Using the red circle as a guide, pin the striped felt into a tube that will use the red circle as a top. You can either pin it inside out to machine stitch and turn carefully right side out again, or you can pin right side out and hand stitch using a mattress or a slip stitch. Both ways will work.
After pressing that seam to make sure the tube retains its round shape, sew the red circle to the top using red thread to whip stitch it in place.

Center the hat's top on one of the white circles, then use red thread to whip stitch it in place.

Hot glue the hat to a headband, then cut slots on either end of the remaining white circle to accommodate the head band (as photographed).

Line the circle up with the underside of the hat and the headband, then hot glue in place. Make sure to use lots of glue on the headband, and a scant amount of glue on the white felt so that it doesn't leak through. Then whip stitch to the hat and you're done!

Use similar materials for Mad Hatter or steam punk style hats! Switch to black or brown felt and headbands, and add feathers, ribbons, and other embellishments. And then send me a link so I can see what you've made!

Thanks for reading!

p.s. you can make these photos larger by clicking on them for more detail!

Monday, March 3, 2014

happy birthday dr. seuss

Celebrating the 110th birthday of Theodore Seuss Geisel, Dr. Seuss, creator of the modern picture book, whose stories help lull my kid to sleep on a wave of rhyme.

Fish Puppet for The Cat in the Hat play at the preschool, made from corrugated cardboard (old box), felt, cotton broadcloth, polyester fiber fill, cotton canvas (old painters' drop cloth), latex and acrylic paint, thread, and hot glue.