I think I’m reaching new lows here with the mirror selfie. Apparently if I have time to document my projects at all, the best I can do is with a cell phone selfie. But since the point of this blog is just to be a diary for myself of my projects I’m going to go with it. Project recorded! I bought a plain gray t-shirt at Costco and embellished it with a freezer paper stencil. I’ve used and loved freezer paper stencils before (t-shirts for the kids, a bat table runner, Worth’s pocket friends come to mind immediately) but never used the technique to make a shirt for myself. I was downloading some feather and arrow embroidery files for another project (check them out if you are on Pinterest) and I got to thinking that feathers and arrows are kind of like the new owls and chevrons but I like them better. Which led to me thinking that maybe I needed some cool feather and arrow stuff myself, but all the embroidery files for my machine are a little small for adult apparel, and then I thought that maybe I needed to spend $100 buying cool feather and arrow fabrics on Fabric.com (because, you know, it’s like Target–you can’t ever check out with less than $100 even if you only needed one thing), and then I decided that maybe I should just try to use fabric paint and save my $100. And so I did.
I used an Xacto knife and straight edge to make the arrows and just freehanded the rest with the knife. I’m not very artistic when it comes to two dimensional stuff but feathered arrows aren’t too complicated. I used the multi-surface Martha Stewart craft paint and the kids’ paint brushes to fill in my homemade stencil, and that was that. I’m pleased with the shirt and the stencil is still intact after peeling it off, so I think I may put my design on a tote bag next.
Dorothy has been living in filth. She’s a hoarder by nature, tucking baggies of rocks and shells and old toilet roll tubes away like squirrels do nuts for the winter. The difference is that squirrels eat all their nuts in the winter, but Dorothy’s room just gets more and more crowded with junk. Telling her to clean her room didn’t even help, because she wasn’t sure where to put baggies of rocks and old toilet paper tubes. I drove to IKEA right after Christmas to pick up some storage furniture to replace daintier but less useful pieces and enlisted her help getting organized. Fortunately, she got tired of helping after the first hour or so, so I got to spend all my “free” time for the better part of two weeks putting together furniture and throwing stuff away without her there to witness it. I’m sharing my after photos. She’s now one very organized 8-year-old, and my hope is that the new system will help her keep it that way. I bought 3-inch foam to make a seat on top of the shelf under her window. All her doll accessories are now tidily at hand. Don’t notice my measuring “oops” on the side of the seat cover! After spending that much time sorting through 3rd grade ephemera I apparently lost the ability to do simple math.
This chair was in her room before, but it got a coat of white paint and a new seat cover. On the wall behind her is a pouch she sewed herself to hold keepsake letters.
This IKEA shelving unit got a little dressed up with pretty glass knobs on the cabinets and drawers. She painted the ruby slipper canvas at an art camp last summer.
I found this earring tree on Amazon.com to keep all her ear candy organized. She had earrings crammed in boxes and baggies all over her room. We put some other pairs in ice cube trays in her top drawer.
I made labels with a craft punch for all her bins. We use a velcro label system for toy bins all over our house. I staple hook tape to the bin, and glue the loop tape to the back of our labels. I keep a jar of the extra labels on hand for when we want to repurpose a bin. The bins can be exchanged for others in our playroom and in Worth and Daphne’s room when they want to rotate playthings.
I bought a wall-mount lamp at IKEA and spray-painted it to match the room. Putting the lamp on the wall helped free up space on her desk and alleviated my long-standing worry that she’d knock it off and break it. Dorothy made the name banner hanging over her bed.
Here’s a final view of her new window seat. I left her doll-clothes storage system of a ribbon strung in her window intact because it’s pretty and functional. I think I’ve blogged about her quilt and curtains before. When we moved into this old house, Dorothy fell in love with the bedroom she now occupies and the specific wallpaper hanging on the walls. I removed wallpaper and repainted every other room in our house, but we’ve honored her wish to keep her vintage wallpaper. I collected old bedsheets in similar colors from thrift stores and made her quilt and curtains out of them. It’s made a sweet little-girl room, with a nice blend of old and new. I’ll probably flip out in a few weeks when she lets it get messy again, but I’m enjoying the view from the doorway in the meantime! Because of course, as soon as I was done with the job and turned the room back over to her all sparkly and clean, she shut the door and hasn’t welcomed any other family members in since. C’est la vie.
The bigger kids and I decorated canvas shoes as a school art project recently. I bought them inexpensive canvas high-tops (green, because that’s what we found cheap in their sizes), and I got white slip-ons from Amazon for myself. We decorated the shoes with Sharpie markers. I thought we might spray them with rubbing alcohol to get the fuzzy effect, but once we were done we were all too attached to our line art as it was to spray it. The kids immediately wore their shoes until the grommets fell off and one of them got a hole in the toe. I didn’t love mine; the black pen on the white shoe just wasn’t doing it for me, and the stark contrast called too much attention to my I’m-not-an-artist pen work. Then my daughter and her sleepover friend were decorating t-shirts with fabric paint, and I got the idea to give a similar treatment to my shoes. I watered down multi-surface craft paint, then sponged the color all over my shoes. Even watered down, the paint covered my pen drawings a little too much, so I ran the wet-paint shoes under the faucet, and then I thought they looked just right. The color kind of settled into patches like it’s supposed to look like that, and now I’m pleased. This was a fun project and the shoes fit comfortably and feel just like my Tom’s.
Here are Dorothy’s, before the hole in the toe. 🙂
I love Halloween! Last year I made this photo garland for our favorite costume photos; this year I decided to upgrade our dining table. I sewed a simple table topper out of a burlap-colored fabric, then made a freezer paper stencil of a bat to paint on. I’m not very good at drawing, so I admit to tossing three bat attempts before settling on this one, but the good thing about freezer paper stencils is that you can use them several times, so after I peeled it off my dry bat on one end, I just ironed it down and used the same one at the other end.
This was a fun project and my favorite part about it is how much the kids like it. I’ve often thought that one of the best things about having a daughter is her genuine appreciation of my crafty efforts. I can show my husband one of my projects when he comes home from work, and he’s very polite, “oh that’s great! Looks so nice,” or whatever, just like he’d have said if I’d bought it from Costco. He’s a nice guy and he’d never omit a loving comment about something that’s important to me, but he doesn’t get it. But when I show my daughter something I’ve made, she bubbles over with genuine enthusiasm: “Mom! You made that! It’s amazing! Show me how you did the….” And I thank my stars, once again, that I was blessed with a girl-child. (Two, even.) But both of my kids were truly pleased with this one and Worth is now drawing bats on every scrap of paper in the house. Fun times.
These little jars got left out of my post about Daphne’s first birthday a few weeks ago. They are baby food jars painted with glass paint, spray-painted lids, then a little bead and felt leaf glued into place on the top. I filled them with M&Ms and gave them out as party favors to our small guests. They were inspired by a Pinterest pin and turned out cute, but the glass paint didn’t look like I wanted it to. I’d watched this Youtube video about liquid fill glass paint, but my paint wasn’t runny enough to do this technique. My bottle says “opaque,” so maybe that’s why? I just brushed it on instead and the jars were still nice gifts.
I’ve been into zippered pouches lately. It all started with the purchase of a colorful zipper assortment from an Amazon.com seller, and then kind of took off. I’ve made medium-sized bags for my mother and mother-in-law, cute little boyish belt packs for a couple of Worth’s friends, a beach coin purse for myself, and this little zippered purse for a friend’s one-year-old. Somehow I only managed to snap a photo of this one. It’s fully lined with the same fabrics as the exterior and should be just right for stashing all her toddler sundries. Babies love bags, and zippers too.
I made another composition book cover like the ones I did as favors for Worth’s birthday party, this time covered in exterior decorator fabric and embellished with the recipient’s name. I like this as a gift idea because most anyone of any age could use a pretty composition book cover, whether they are headed to third grade or to a meeting.
I also got a little crafty with the idea of reusable gift bags. I saw these hefty vinyl bags at the Dollar Tree. They are the size of small gift bags, but made out of the same stuff as the reusable shopping bags. I laminated a gift tag and tied it to the bag with ribbon, then wrote the appropriate names in dry-erase marker on the tag. I’m hoping it can be regifted many times.
For Mother’s Day we used this Pinterest idea and decorated pots for the grandmothers. The big kids painted the sky and clouds, then Daphne lent her wee little footprints as the butterfly wings. I thought these turned out to be quite charming gifts and I liked that they involved all three kids.
Last fall I hit some nice clearance sales and picked up some off-season summer clothes for my kids to grow into. This spring I pulled them out and, all new and with tags and exciting, except that during the intervening six months my son Worth apparently decided he will no longer wear plain pocket t-shirts. They are “plain” and “babyish.” Because, you know, all really big boys go around with gigantic lizards or tractors on their shirts, right? Hmmmm. But instead of just giving up on these perfectly nice shirts I decided to try and liven them up a bit to suit my boy’s taste. I made freezer paper stencils and painted little “friends” coming out of the pockets. Now he likes them and wears them quite happily. I’m a little horrified that I ruined perfectly nice shirts with my bad freehand “art,” but am just going to focus on the positive. I told him this one was a little buddy–but he calls it a pocket monster.
This one is a shark that looks sort of like a blue banana too. But Worth loves it.
And finally…I realize this is probably going to end up on one of those websites where mean women make fun of other people’s blogs, but whatever. In retrospect I should have printed images on the paper to make my stencils, but I felt all self-empowered to do my own bad art, so I did. This one was supposed to be a dog, but Dorothy thinks it is a giraffe, Rob says llama, and Worth calls it a wolf. Really, I don’t care, I’m just glad it is shirt #3 that my son will now quite happily put on and wear.
My coffee table was looking really shabby. I bought it used on Craig’s List back before I had kids myself, when a friend’s son drew all over my old one in black Sharpie. It served us well through Dorothy’s toddler-hood, sustaining the abuse of many marker and crayon episodes, though I kept my Sharpies under lock and key. By the time Worth came along I thought it really could use replacing, but I hated the idea of getting a new one and then watching it suffer through another child. I decided to stick it out, and that poor old table got pock-marked when Worth banged on it with wooden food, scuffed when the boy and his puppy made a game of chasing each other up and over it and off the other side, and colored on some more. Then the legs, which always needed a periodic tightening, actually reached a place where they just wobbled hopelessly and no amount of wood glue could keep them from going askew when someone forgot, once again, that the poor old table was not for sitting. I still wasn’t sure I could get another one–after all, dog and boy are no more reliable around furniture than they were, and the Sharpies are bound to come out sometime. But then I saw the one in the picture above at a local thrift store for $15.00. I figured that for $15 I could watch the decline of another table; at least this one seems sturdy.
I sanded it and used chalkboard paint on the top panels. Maybe having a legal place to write on the table will save it from other child artwork mayhem. (A girl can dream.) I painted the rest in a shade of red that goes nicely with the flowers in my curtains, then distressed the edges a bit with sandpaper so when my paint job starts getting chipped it might look a little intentional.
The chalkboard panels look interesting and are functional too, since we often sit on the sofa to do our homeschool work. This is our official “first day of school” photo from this morning. I love not rushing out the door in the morning! We aren’t morning people, my kids and I.
I sewed erasers from scraps and an old towel. It has pockets on the back to stow the chalk.
I had some red paint left a the end of the project so I painted an old end table to match. I love the way paint makes non-matchy things go together.
Since I was already in furniture-painting mode I finally got around to sprucing up a desk chair I’d bought at a thrift store more than a year ago. I was using a very ugly, wobbly chair at my desk and I’d found this sturdy wooden one to replace it. I painted it in black paint left over from my china hutch project and recovered the seat, which had been wearing ripped faux leather. Now it feels good to have this room that we spend so much time in be a little brighter and all around less wobbly as we start the school year.