Monday, November 5, 2012

Halloween 2012 Costumes

Insane.  Masochist. Glutton for punishment.  These all pretty much describe my feelings about myself after getting Halloween 2012 all finished.  It was a big year for homemade.  Everything except Hubs's costume was made by me.  And it was exhausting, but so worth it.  I always forget what a big production it is to make everyone a costume.  It only gets more hectic with more kids.  Not only does that add to number of costumes, but it takes away from the time available to actually, you know, MAKE them.  Everyone except me chose their own costume.  Well, Q-ball didn't get a choice.  The only choice a baby gets about a costume is whether to coo or cry.  He chose to coo.  What a good boy.  :)  I was still trying to do everything on the cheap and I think I did fairly well.

I made her put on a white tee so she'd be less naked.
This year became more of a challenge because my kids are starting to have an opinion.  I assumed the girls would want to be princesses.  I brought up patterns on the computer for Blue Eyes to look at so she could choose her princess.  Once she saw this Cleopatra costume she was totally smitten.  No other choice was acceptable.  She liked the "wings" on the dress.  I'm sure it was because it was the most difficult, most time-consuming, and least important part of the costume.  But I'm a loving mother and still made it.  The white fabrics came from my mom's fabric stash, and I purchased the black wig fabric, gold lame, and the jewels.  The jewels really made the costume.  How did I attach them?  I hot glued those bad boys on.

The Pink Blur was one I got lucky with.  She still wanted to be a princess.  At first she requested Cinderella.  I reminded her that she'd been Cinderella the year before.  Tangent:  She'd been Cinderella the previous year only because I'd run out of time to make the Snow White costume for which I'd purchased fabric, and we had Cinderella leftover from Blue Eyes's previous Halloween costume.  I gently directed her toward Snow White and she jumped on that.  Pink Blur was so excited to be her favorite Disney princess.  I was so excited that the fabric I'd purchased the year before had enough yardage to make a costume to fit her.  Hooray for free!  Free for this year, anyway.  I bought Snow White dress up shoes online for the costume.  The only size listed was 3 yrs + and I figured it would be okay if they were a touch too big.  Nope.  They were HUGE on Blue Eyes and her feet are bigger than the average 5 year old.  Maybe I'll have to make another one of these dresses in a few years.  Or not.

Know what happens when his older sisters take off the flying saucer and throw it off the back deck? Mommy searches fruitlessly for the ring and Q-ball becomes naked Shrek...with shiny boots.
I was so so so glad that little Q-ball was here for this Halloween.  His costume is one I'd had my eyes on for years, just waiting for a little boy so I could use it.  Turns out the pattern is out of print and I had to get it off eBay.  I'm not sorry.  I totally love it.  He is adorable as a little Martian.  I ended up buying everything needed for his costume.  Again, totally worth it.

Hubs is a Star Wars geek and went as Darth Maul.  He was scheduled for a raise so he went ahead and purchased his costume.  He also made most of the horns for the costume by carving them out of wood.  It was pretty awesome.  My contribution to his costume was the make up.  Easy cheesy, right?  Yeah.  I think it took over an hour and a half.  I was impressed with how long it lasted.  I'm also impressed that the Hubs left his bald cap on for over 12 hours.

After the neighborhood Trunk or Treat the kids were done.
My costume was a recycle because there simply wasn't time to put one together after I finished stuff for the kids.  I went as Arwen, same as I did five years ago.  There is a ton of satisfaction, however, in knowing that it was bigger on me this year than it was the first time I wore it.  Take that, weight loss!
I felt like I deserved something new after all the work I was doing for everyone else's costumes so I decided that if I didn't get a new costume that I should have elf ears.  I was so excited to open up my brand new pair of elf ears.  I was less excited when my "pair" of ear tips were both for left ears.  I was so tired by that point in the day that I almost cried right then.  Instead I bucked up, put on one ear, and draped my hair over the other ear.  They were non-refundable so I got half my money's worth.  Or something.  Next year, I get a new costume.

The kids all had a blast and got way more candy than necessary.  That's all part of the fun.
In the end it really was worth it because the girls loved their costumes and I loved Q-ball's.  Such fun.

Here's to a calmer Halloween next year!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Making a New Me, or Losing Two of My Firstborn

The Hubs took two days off before the Fourth of July and we did a lot of great stuff together.  One of those things was a family trip to the zoo.  The walk up to the parking lot has quite the incline.  Blue Eyes was done walking and wanted to be carried.  Rather than listen to the whining Because I'm such a sweet mommy I agreed to give her a piggy back ride.  By the time we got to the top of the hill I felt like death.  There was a bit of grumbling on my part about how out of shape I am and how I need to lose weight.  That's when it occurred to me that carrying my daughter was difficult not just because I had her extra weight, but because I also had my extra weight.  That breakthrough in thought came because my extra weight is equivalent to carrying two Blue Eyeses around with me all the time.  All. The. Time.  No wonder I get tired.

That provided some motivation for me, but it was also getting a copy of pictures that threw me over the edge.  As pictures go it's not bad but, oh my, I never realized how badly I have "little head" problem.  You know, the one where it looks like you're part way through some kind of witch doctor head shrinking ritual which leaves you with a tiny head and enormous (by comparison) shoulders.  The pictures were taken the day before our outing to the zoo.

I found myself unhappy with how I've been looking.  To top it off, I've been gaining weight since nursing.  That always seems to happen when I'm breastfeeding, but that doesn't make it feel any better.  I weighed myself and found that the only time I've ever been heavier was a few months ago, just before giving birth to my son.  Boo.  

So now I have some motivation to make lasting changes.  And I'm liking it.  I've attempted a few diet and exercise blitzes that promise big results only to drop out and fail within two weeks.  The change was simply too radical.  This time my mind set is that it takes the time it takes.  If I make a mistake I'll do better the next day or even the next hour.  Beating myself up will not help (but it does usually get me several cookies).  I'm trying to choose better, more healthful foods and gradually start moving my body more.  When I get cravings I either limit my intake or remind myself that I'm in control of my body, not the other way around.  I have to be able to live this if I expect change.  

Losing my daughter's body weight twice over is a tall order.  My "ideal" BMI puts me at 132 lbs.  I don't think that's actually realistic for my body.  If I lost my daughter's weight once I would be over the moon happy.  So that's what I'm working on for starters.  And guess what...I'm down two pounds already.  :)  Here's to taking charge of my body!

Monday, June 25, 2012

2012 Baby Contest

I have once again entered the kids in the Freedom Festival Baby Contest.  This was my first year bringing along a boy.  Last year we were building the house and my parents took the Pink Blur.  I'd signed up and paid the money before I knew I wouldn't be able to make it there.  This year I was able to take her and Q-ball myself.
I think she's not a fan of contests, but she DOES love the costume.
Pink Blur went as Wonder Woman.  I used a swimsuit pattern and added a circle skirt at the waist.  The stars, belt, and Wonder Woman logo were attached with WonderUnder.  I had originally planned to do a satin stitch around the outside edges and on the detail for the logo.  That plan changed when I remembered I would be doing a satin stitch on knit. thanks.  For the detail on the logo I used my super skills of a ruler and a Sharpie to get the straight lines.  Easy cheesy.  I ran out of time to make boot covers and figured those were less important than the rest.
And now you know my last name.  :)
Q-ball went in a flight suit I made for him from an old t-shirt Then Hubs doesn't wear anymore.  The hat came from pant trimmings from Air Forces blues.  I added the silver ribbon because silver piping on your Air Force hat basically means you're in charge.  The combat boot socks were a hilarious online purchase, as well as the little pilot glasses.  The name tape and wings were scavenged from The Hubs's old uniforms.  He got second place in the age category and first place in the costume category.  He was the only entrant for costumes in boys his age and one of two entrants in the general age category.  A kid can't win first in more than one category, so he won his first and second place awards by default.  I'll take it.  :)  All my kids are pretty stinkin' cute no matter what.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cost Effective(er) Moby Wrap

There must be at least five different baby carriers at my house.  I've tried most everything out there and have found what I do and don't like.  The Moby Wrap is right up there at the top of my "like it" list.  I just don't like the price.  I can't justify that cost for a single strip of fabric.  So I talked to a friend of mine who has one and got some dimensions from her.  That was almost four years ago and I don't have the original dimensions.  Sorry.  What I do have is good enough, though.

Yours won't come with the eternal spit up mine tends to have.  Say it with me: machine washable.  Good.
I like to use interlock knit because it looks the same on both sides and the cut edge doesn't roll.  It also has more stretch in the width than in the length.
See?  Same on both sides.  It makes me happy.
I once used fabric that had spandex in it and a lot of stretch in the length.  It ended up cutting off circulation in my baby's legs and little Blue Eyes ended up with purple legs.  No fun.  Jersey knit without much spandex is another good (and usually cheaper) knit to use because it's sturdy enough without being too heavy.  There are tons of cute prints available in cotton jersey.  I just don't like how the cut edges roll.
Knit side, purl side, and lots of roll.
Start with 5-6 yards of fabric.  That will actually give you enough fabric for two wraps.  If you only want to make one wrap you can buy 2.5-3 yards and cut it up the center to make two long, skinny strips.  Place one right on top of the other before continuing.  There will be a seam in the center of the wrap when you're done, but that will also help you to find the middle when you are ready to wrap it around yourself.  I bought a full 6 yards because I had a baby shower to attend and wanted to make one for both the mom-to-be and myself.

For a wrap without a center seam the very easiest way to cut out the carrier is to fold the fabric in half along the width (hamburger style) .  It makes for more even edges and takes up less space on your cutting board.  Or your living room floor.  For a wrap with a center seam just make sure your two cut pieces are right on top of each other with the edges matching up.

Smooth out the fabric as much as possible.  This task is much easier when there aren't children running over it or deciding to park their little keisters in the middle.

How does anyone stay mad at that face?  It's impossible.  The Pink Blur wins again.
The wrap in the picture above was made to the measurements my friend gave me.  Rather than measure and cut again I just used it as the pattern.  It's about 24-25 inches wide, though you could probably go as narrow as 20 inches and still be happy.  The tapered section is 29 inches long from the point to the parallel edges.  If you're an anal nut job like I am it would also help to know that the taper is 14 inches wide at its midpoint.  Measure, mark and cut.  It's pretty easy.

For wraps made with 2.5-3 yards of fabric, stitch the two pieces together.  I suggest a flat fell seam for both stability and a uniform look on both sides.  You now have one loooooooong piece of fabric to wrap a baby in.

No one in their right mind would worry about this, but I did.
If you weren't convinced of my analness before, it can be seen again in the picture above.  I folded the cut edges in half to match up the tapers.  Then I trimmed them so they matched exactly.  Toldja I'm a nut job.

Now all that's left is to serge, serge, serge around the edges.  Then serge some more.  It takes awhile to go up and down 6 yards of fabric.  Most knits don't require a serged edge, but I think it looks more finished with serging.

Wearing instructions can be found on the Moby Wrap website.  I'm just now moving my little man up from the newborn cradle hold to the hug hold.  He gives the wrap two thumbs up.  Cost-wise, two wraps will run you about the same as one real Moby Wrap if you use interlock. Jersey is cheaper.  Coupons are a good thing.  Sales are a good thing.  Too bad you can't usually combine the two at a fabric store.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Glorious Green

The nursery project is still underway, though there are a couple of other things I've completed since my last posting.  I've been having too much fun with the baby.  Having a brood of three keeps me pretty busy, too.

The next change to the nursery was a pretty big one.  The walls are green now.  And I love them.  I was able to take my fabric to the paint store to find something that coordinates.  Thanks to a freak occurrence with our paint going bad during the home=building process, I was owed a free can of paint.  Woohoo!  That's a price I can afford.

I chose a green color that wouldn't be overwhelming.  I avoided yellow like the plague.  Several years ago I attended a teaching conference, including a class on color and how it affects people.  The presenter said that babies in yellow rooms tend to cry more.  Yeah, sign me up for that.  Sure.

Ever wondered what it looks like when a hippo paints a wall?  Now you know.
Even though I did paint prep on the houses we built and the Hubs did the painting on them, I still learned a lot from the process.  I learned things like using a paint roller rather than a sprayer still requires a bit more coverage with paper and tape than I thought.  There are still some spots of green on the ceiling I need to cover with white.  Speaking of green spots, it's always good to have a drop cloth, even if you don't think you need it.  There's a reason I had to buy Goo Gone for the carpet.  I also learned that it takes two coats of paint, even if you're sure you got plenty of paint on with the first coat.  Something else I should have known is that largely pregnant bodies take up quite a bit of space.  Did I back into a wet wall and leave a big fanny print in the paint? course not.  But don't ask the pants I was wearing.  They lie.

I am really happy with the finished product.  The color is both vibrant and inviting.  I'm super proud of the job I did, even if I do have touch ups to do on the ceiling.  There are tons of painting tips and tutorials to be found online.  If you want to tackle painting a room it's good to watch a lot of them...and actually use the tips.

The color I used was Lemon Thyme from Kwal.  It's a bit warmer color than I would usually choose but it goes with the nursery fabric.  Turns out that a gallon of paint was exactly how much I needed to get two coats of paint.  I have just enough left to do touch-ups.

This wall and the dresser need more work to make the space more visually appealing.  I'm trying to figure out what I can do with some art of pictures.  We'll see.  I do have one favorite addition to the nursery.  With this little guy in there how can anyone notice anything else?

Cute little man.  He makes me give out happy sighs.
If I get really ambitious I'll make some more things with the fabric I have. The plan is to do just that and keep the nursery free. However, I have already spent some money on it. The part that costs is something I haven't put up yet...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

My New Arrival

Here's a quick picture of my newest little project.  His birth went well and I've been enjoying the cuddle time.  Now I just need to figure out where to find the time to shower. :)

Saturday, March 31, 2012


There was more fabric leftover from the crib bedding than I anticipated.  Woohoo; bonus valance!  I liked the crib skirt so well that I decided I would use the same design for a valance.  There were just a couple of modifications I wanted to make.

Finished valance
First off was making the valance shorter and wider to get the look I wanted in the window.  I kept the orange strip at the same length as the bed skirt.  The animal print and the blue both got a couple of inches knocked off.   Then I had to accommodate the window width.  It's just under 48 inches wide.  I also thought I'd try smaller picots.  I'm not sure which one I prefer, but it doesn't matter because it's already made.  :)

The other, bigger problem was what to do with the valance in terms of how to use it with the plastic valance that came with our blinds.  A curtain rod would either cut off view of the plastic valance or not fit underneath it. Then I remembered that the plastic valance is, in fact, made with plastic (brilliant, no?).  A little hot glue would stick the fabric on well and not cause damage when I'm ready to take it down. Double score!
Marking center on both plastic and fabric valances

Once I put it up on the window it was clear that I had overlooked one very important part: lining.  It was really noticeable when I put it up and the light was shining through the seam allowances.  There are plenty of them because I was using remnants as much as possible, rather than cutting into the larger bits of fabric.  I had no desire to take down what I'd already glued on and decided to just glue the lining on to the valance.  Besides, hand stitching it on would have taken more time than I was willing to spend.  That plan would have worked well if I hadn't run out of glue sticks.  I have two glue guns, a standard size and a mini size.  I was only able to find the mini gun and the standard sticks.  The rest is somewhere in the pile of packed boxes in the basement.  Of course.  I did find some self-stick Velcro strips and felt pretty clever for using that to attach the lining to the back.  At least, I felt clever until it became apparent that the adhesive was designed to be just strong enough to hold the Velcro in place until it can be stitched down, which I hadn't planned to do.  In the end I hand stitched the lining while watching TV.  Is it just me, or does it seem like all my best laid plans for this nursery keep falling through?

The Hubs holding up the valance because I'm not ready to snap it back in place just yet.  He's a good helper.
Sorry for the flash on the picture.  I just really wanted to get this posted.  The seams still show up on the orange when using a flash.  Interesting.  Anyhow, next up in the great nursery transformation is a bit more color. :)  I have the feeling I'm going to love this.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Crib Bedding

I finished the crib bedding today.  Yeehaw!  (I just moved into a rural area so I've got to get used to speaking like the natives, right?)  The crib sheet and skirt are all done and even placed in the crib.  Maybe that shouldn't make me overly proud, but I'll take any accomplishment I can get when I'm as roundly pregnant as I am at the moment.

Picture from
I'm extra pleased that they fit into my $0 budget for the nursery.  There's still more I want to make (curtain, diaper stacker, possibly cover a lampshade, etc.) but I'm happy to have the essentials done.  All he really needs is the sheet to sleep on so I'm doing well to also have the skirt done.

For the  bedding pattern I kind of merged the one I used for my daughter (Simplicity 3795) with the one from Amy Butler's book Little Stitches for Little Ones.  (follow the link and if you click on "First Pages" after you click on Look Inside! and continue clicking through you'll find a picture of the set.  Sorry, that's the best I can do for a picture)  From Amy Butler I used the basic measurements for the sheet and crib skirt sizes, as well as using panels rather than large pleats.  From the Simplicity pattern I used width measurements for the three different  fabrics to be used for the crib skirt.  I'm completely skipping out on the bumpers pads because 1) they were more trouble than they're worth last time around, 2) darling as they are, SIDS stats are increased with using them, and 3) my second daughter slept with her face pressed into her crib bumper and we ended up just taking it out of the crib, anyway.

The big challenge with the crib sheet was lack of yardage.  I wanted to use the print with larger animals but there simply wasn't enough yardage (or was it width?).  Instead of deciding which other fabric I wanted to use I just took the measurements for side panels straight from the book and made them from the coordinating yellow fabric.  I thought I was brilliant until I saw that there are companies selling crib sheets this way so parents can avoid putting bumpers in the crib.  Ah, well.

My big surprise came as I was deciding which fabric to use on the crib skirt.  The surprise was the choice to use the printed side of the blue fabric.  I'm not usually a fan of mixing lots of prints, but it just looked a whole lot better to use the printed side.  So I did.
See?  Much better.
The next problem (in my mind) was that I wanted a little more embellishment for the crib skirt.  To me that is the show piece of a bedding set, particularly when bumpers aren't being used.  But embellishment would mean I'd have to spend money.  Dang it.  I decided to bite the bullet and purchase some jumbo rick-rack when I got my little stroke of brilliance.  The darker yellow color I had from leftovers didn't have a lot of yardage, but you don't need a lot to make picots.  I love picots and knew they would make a great addition...especially without needing to purchase anything.

Someday I will learn to take good pictures that all have the same light.
Just a little embellishment can take a project from kinda-cute to darling.  I'm really a fan of the picot trim.  I also like that it feels bolder and more masculine than rick-rack.  But that's just me.  I hated myself for choosing to make picots while I was in the process of cutting, pressing and sewing them.  However, as is my usual, once I got them on the crib skirt I was happy I'd done it.

Finished product being stepped on by daughter #2, aka The Pink Blur
Once I put the crib skirt on the I realized that most of the picots are covered by the bar across the bottom.  Bother.  One would think I might have planned for that.  I blame pregnant brain.  At least it should fix itself when we drop the mattress down to the next height.

I'll clean out under there before baby is born...maybe.
If I feel really ambitious I could make little animals to attach to the crib rails in place of the flowers on the pattern I used before.  I certainly remember making all those flowers.  Oh, so very many flowers.  I think making those was enough to give me arthritis all by itself.  But they were charming and I wasn't sorry.

Overall, this project isn't as scary or irritating when the bumpers are left out.  I highly recommend skipping them for the sake of your sanity.  I have other pictures and things to use for a tutorial if anyone is interested.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Beg, Borrow, and Steal" or "Making a Free Nursery"

There were a few things I learned in my brief stint as a teacher.  Okay, there were a LOT of things I learned.  One of them was what I call the Teachers' Creed.  You might think it has something to do with ensuring every child has a quality, educational experience in the classroom.  While that is every teacher's goal, that's not the one I'm talking about.  I'm talking about "Beg, borrow, and steal.  Don't reinvent the wheel."  This has to do with maintaining your own sanity by using others' ideas and making them your own to work with your students. You don't need to create everything yourself.  Ask for help.  I put that principle to good use when gathering the fabrics for the nursery bedding.

My original idea for the nursery would have included buying everything new...and probably not sewing the bedding.  I did that for my first daughter and swore I'd never do it again.  Too much work.  Having more time than money changes that up.  Because I'm going for a $0 budget to make this nursery I have no choice but to use what I can get my hands on for free.  Beg, borrow, and steal, right?  Note: Don't really steal.  It's wrong and bad and I don't actually do it. I don't have a big fabric stash (all mismatched knits) so I had to turn to my mom and ask if I could raid hers.  She has way more than I do.  My mom had actually purchased some fabric for me to use for my oldest daughter's crib bedding.  I had already purchased all my fabric for that project.  While a jungle theme wasn't really what I had ever planned on doing for a nursery, the price was right, there was enough yardage, and the fabric was cute enough.  The two jungle prints and the lighter yellow came from my mom's fabric boxes.  I wanted a little more variety, so I called my grandma and asked to go through her stash.  The orange print and the blue solid came from her house.  The darker yellow on top is leftovers I found at my house, but I doubt I'll be able to use it because there's so little of it.

The next problem was a crib.  We bough convertible cribs for the others to grow up with.  Then we only need to buy mattresses.  We're too poor to buy a crib right now.  We put our oldest in a big girl bed (with a mattress set my parents no longer need), our second in the toddler bed that our oldest used to use, and planned to put the baby in the crib from our second.  That idea worked well enough.  Then I saw someone post on Facebook that they had a crib (in need of repair) to give away.  I took it.

It requires a bit more repair than I feel comfortable putting a baby in after I'm done, so it's back to square one.  But don't think I haven't got a plan for that little crib.

The great thing about telling people you're looking for free or cheap nursery stuff is that it gets it on their radar, too.  Last week I got a call from my mom asking me if I wanted a gently used crib.  It was used for sleepovers at a grandma's house.  I quickly said yes.
Yes, the nursery is currently serving as the catch-all room.  You know you've done it too.
So now everyone has their own bed again.  The crib sheet above is one I made for my oldest daughter.  You can see why I'm not excited to put my little boy in it.  Anyway, we'll just have to buy this kiddo a convertible bed when he's older and we can (hopefully) afford it.  I'm so excited to see how the nursery comes together!  Oh, yeah...I like the price, too.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Tale of the Purple Picture

The majority of my house has purple walls.  I love them.  I'm pretty lucky my husband agreed to it.  The purple is actually a pale lavender but still counts as purple.  Going into it I knew exactly what I wanted.  It needed to be noticeable while not assaulting the senses.  Again, I'm lucky my husband trusted me enough to agree to having purple walls.  Most everyone else I talked to about it seemed...politely doubtful of the wisdom in my choice.  No one said outright they thought it was a bad idea.  Everyone I talk to is way too nice and way too tactful for that.  The message came through, though, especially from the men.  My very sweet mother in law also gave me the impression that she thought we might not be happy with purple, though she never said anything of the sort.  That was what I read into it.  Actually, I started to feel like the misunderstood genius who later becomes the villain in a kid movie.  You doubt the brilliance of my purple walls?  Well, I'll show you!  I'll show you all! Ahahahaha!  Okay, maybe it wasn't that bad.  I did, however, harbor pleasant thoughts of peoples' reactions after seeing how I could make it work.  Take that, doubters!
The purple really is pretty subdued.
Choosing the final paint color was a bit more tricky, as I wanted something that wouldn't be too pink or too white once it was on the wall.  You really do have to either paint a sample on the wall or on a board to see what the paint does with the light in the room.  We were in the process of choosing the final color (including having purchased five samples and painted the boards) when my husband got a call from his mom.  When he got off the phone he said, "Mom bought us a picture for the new house.  She said there's a purple flower in the corner and we can take it to the paint store to have them match the color."  I was floored.  And pretty upset.  She chose art for our home that will ALSO dictate the color of the walls?!? What if I hate the color?  What if I hate the picture?  These were all things I was screaming inside my head.  I didn't think it the best of ideas to voice my thoughts aloud until I had a chance to calm down a little bit.  I just went ahead and chose the wall color and figured that if it didn't go with the picture (or if I simply didn't like it) I just wouldn't hang the picture.  Ever.

When my in-laws brought it over the next day I was nervous to see what it was.  Especially to see what the colors were.  I opened it after they left.  There have been few times in my life where I've felt the kind of relief that washed over me when I opened the box.  It was a picture of the Mt. Timpanogos temple, where my hubby and I were married.  I love that building.  And the "purple flower in the corner"?  Well, you can the picture below.  Between the sky and the flowers the picture was almost certain to go with any purple I might have chosen.  After I found that I totally loved the picture I talked to my mother in law about what I had understood from what I'd been told.  Both my husband and I had completely misunderstood her.  All three of us had a good laugh.  I had to wonder what I was so worried about.  I've seen how her house is decorated and I like her choice in color and art.

Now the picture hangs beautifully in our front room.  I really do love it.  It looks fabulous with my purple walls.
Now I just have to wait until we can afford the living room set I want to go in here.  It will look stunning.  Our current couch is in the post-relative style (given to us for free by our relatives and not really my style, but in good repair) and makes for comfy seating until the budget opens up a little more.  Donations are gladly accepted. ;)  Did I mention that I love my purple walls?  They'll look great with crown molding and more pictures.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bookcase Redo

In keeping with my plan to use what I have to decorate our new home, I chose an old bookcase as as my first project.  To say it's nothing special is a bit of an understatement.  It's a simple laminate that does it's job just fine.  Whether it came with my husband as part of the marriage or whether we bought it later is something I just don't remember.  I brought it up from the basement because I wanted a bookcase to hold books and movies for the kids next to the TV.  My preference was to have an all black bookcase to match the TV stand and the other decor I plan on putting up as I go.  And it would look great with my purple walls.  Because I need to use what I have I figured I could try something I've never attempted before: spray painting.

I wish I had researched painting laminate furniture a little more before I began.  Mostly I knew that there needed to be some prep work to get the paint to stick on properly.  Being rather impatient to just get the project going (and wanting to finish several other projects before my baby is born) I decided I could get away with just buying the Krylon paint+primer spray and call it good.  That choice ended up working out for me.

Another bit of necessary prep work was wiping the bookcase down and getting rid of this hardened glob of unidentified yuck.  

I don't know what that is or how long it's been there.  It just needed to go.  Sandpaper wasn't effective, but the blade of a butter knife chipped the glob off nicely.  I imagine that would work well for any laminate project, so long as you don't mind losing the top layer of the laminate.  It shows a little on the finished project.  You could probably get rid of the mark with a light sandpapering prior to painting, but I didn't care that much.

After the glob was off I used sandpaper to lightly scuff up the cardboard back to prep it for the white paint.

Wait...the white paint?  Yeah, I decided that just painting the whole thing black wasn't quite ambitious enough.  I figured that I would try yet another thing I hadn't ever done and put fabric on the back of the shelves (more on that later) for a little interest and contrast.  I had a mesh fabric and wanted the white to show through.  Sometimes I'm a masochist that way.

The white paint was leftover from repainting the baseboards and trim in our house.  It's a semi-gloss in the same color white that we have throughout most of the house.  The price of "free" was just right.  I also didn't bother to tape off the sides or paint primer behind the white.  I should have put on primer.  The sanding wasn't enough.  You'll see.  And, yes, I did paint the white onto the back while it was laying on my living room carpet.  Nothing dripped. :)  I did take the bookcase down to our unfinished basement before spraying.
Once the paint was dry I busted out the painter's tape and some grocery bags (can you guess which store is closest to my house?) to protect the white while I sprayed the black paint.  It took the whole can to coat all the visible surfaces.  There were a couple of places on the shelves that missed getting all the paint they needed. No pictures of the spraying process.  Sorry.  I did, however, take a picture of what happens after you take tape off a painted surface that wasn't properly primed:
See?  Big mistake to skip priming.  That white paint peeled like a sunburn.  I was forced to buy a bottle of black craft paint and pray that it matched the spray paint to do all the required touch up.  I got lucky.  I touched up the white where it had come off, then I used the craft paint hit the black spots I missed , as well as to touch up places where I got touch up white paint on it.  I really should have primed.

Once everything was dry (after three sets of touch ups...grumble) I moved on the the next frontier of I've-never-tried-this-before.  Several years ago I heard about using laundry starch to apply fabric to a wall without damaging it.  I had a large quantity of gray mesh fabric with black velvet flocking leftover from a skirt I made at least ten years ago.  It was begging to be used in a room with lavender walls.  The whole reason I spent all the time and frustration using the white paint was to best show off the mesh fabric.

So here's the procedure for putting up the fabric.  Cut the fabric to the desired size and/or shape.  Get some fabric starch.  I sent my husband to the laundry aisle at Walmart to pick it up.  Pour a little bit into a bucket to soak the fabric.
Wring out your fabric so it's still wet but not dripping.  Smooth the fabric over the area you want to cover and get rid of any air bubbles.  With the mesh I found it easier to center it and work from the middle out.  Again, no pictures of the process.  It's not hard.  I hear that fabric sometimes bubbles and assumed a mesh fabric wouldn't be so bad.  It wasn't.  The beauty part is that when you get tired of the fabric all you do is peel it off and wipe off the residue.  Your walls will be good as new.  Here's a picture of what it looks like when finished.
Mmm...fuzzy pics.  My favorite.
Yup.  I like it.
I like it a lot.
Once everything is dry you can fill up the bookcase.  I tossed a few pictures on top that I found while I was looking for my kids' books.  I have no idea (yet) what I'll do with the space on top, but this works for now.  I still have more books to get out of boxes, too.
I think it goes well with the room and the fabric adds a fun element.  Now I just need to wipe off the starch I dribbled.  Total cost for this project came to about $7.  That made me smile.