Tuesday, May 31, 2011

DIY Lego Wall Art

I started with a picture frame

some white cardstock, a pencil, hot glue, and

my son's left over legos (I had permission to use these)  :). 
I freehanded a faint outline of his initial onto the cardstock, then used my hot glue gun, small lego pieces and started gluing away.

This was my first draft.  I felt like it looked too skimpy. 

So I did a lot more filling in and even layering some of the lego pieces.  

My advice on this project (after the fact):  Use a standard font for the letter.  At first I thought I wanted a slanted cartoon-like letter shape but after the first draft (above), I realized that a standard font would look better.  Start with larger pieces and create the outline of the letter first, then fill in.  Vary the pieces, don't line them up.  Stick to 2 - 4 colors.  Don't bother with the glue strings until the end, then you can pluck them off. 

Here it is in my son's room.  He loves it!

Linking to:     My Photo
The Shabby Nest

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

And on Mother's Day....We Built a Garden Box

We moved into this house last August so this is the first chance we've had to work on the yard.  I really wanted a raised planting bed which I keep calling a garden box.  Here is the tutorial.  I scoped the yard out for a sunny spot.  This side of the house gets morning sun.

I started by taking a few sticks and my tape measure and laying out where I thought the border should go.  Seemed like 8' by 3' rectangle would fit the yard (we have a small yard) and create enough room for a first garden.

We went to HD to check out the boards that are available.  The 2x10 treated boards (in the decking material section) looked wide enough and they came in 8' lengths.   We bought 2 of these and had HD cut the second into 2 3' pieces.

We started the digging by creating a 2" trench, just wide enough to fit the 3' board (I used my favorite digging tool:  the back of my hammer--worked pretty well until I got the the part near the house).

When the trench was wide enough and deep enough, we put the board in and checked for level. 

We pulled the board out and adjusted the trench and put the board back in over-and-over a dozen few times before it was leveled horizontally, then checked for vertical level.  I held it in place and backfilled the trench.  Next we started on the trench for the 8' board.  For this trench, we used the spade shovel.
Once this board was in and leveled, 2 screws were used to secure the boards to each other.  Galvanized screws are the proper ones to use for this, to prevent rusting, but we didn't have any so we used some regular screws and plan to replace them later.

We drilled pilot holes first to prevent the wood from splitting.  Lastly we dug the trench and leveled the second 3' board and secured it with 2 more screws. 

I read somewhere on another blog (not sure where??) that newspaper could be used as a weed blocker so I lined the box with a few layers.  Note that we did not remove the sod, the newspaper went right over the grass, I'll let you know how this works out.

There was plenty of room in the box for about 5" of garden soil.

All ready for planting.  :)  What a great Mother's Day gift!

Linking away:

The DIY Show Off

Monday, May 2, 2011

Family Room--More Progress

The curtains are finished, the curtains are finished!  Take a look:

I am beyond pleased, they are beautiful!  I was looking for a bright fabric--some sort of print with maybe lime green, orange, or purple.  I couldn't find a print that was bright but this faux silk orangey-red fabric caught my eye and it way only $3 a yard. 

These were tough, though!  I've been working on them here and there for the past 5 weeks--it seems like it took forever to finish.  I had a hard time figuring out a good process (by the 4th panel I had it down) but once I had it down I was cruising.  I'm going to describe here in detail for a tutorial but also for my own future reference (I tend to forget). 

1.  How much fabric do I need?  The walls are 9 feet (108 inches) tall, the curtain rods would be 6 inches from the ceiling and the clip rings would add another inch.  I just put a piece of painter's tape where I thought the rod should go and adjusted the tape until it looked like a good height, just eyeballing.  So, 108-6-1=101 inches plus 2 inches for hemming so I needed a 103 inch long length of fabric for each panel (since 3 yds=108 inches I rounded up to 3 yds of fabric per panel).  I wanted to keep the width of each panel the width that it came in off the bolt (this fabric was 54" wide).  I was making 4 panels.  So, I needed 12 yds of fabric.

2.  Lining the curtains.  I wanted to line these curtains because the fabric I purchased was kind of light and I wanted a full look and because I wanted them to be light-blocking.  I read about using painter's drop cloth for a drapery liner on Centsational Girl's site so I purchased 4 6x9 drop cloths ($9.99 each) from HD. 

3.  The process.  It took me a few trys but I have this process down now.  I don't have any formal training (can you tell?) so please bear with me and my non-technical jargon.
  • Unroll the curtain fabric (I did this on the floor) and cut to 103" long. 
  • Lay the drop cloth on top of the fabric and trim to about 4" narrower and shorter than the fabric panel.  The advice I've read about drop cloths is to prewash before using.  This is good advice because they tend to shrink after drying, the fabric is also a lot softer after washing.  I have to admit I was too impatient to do this for 3 of the panels so I'm in trouble if I have to launder these down the line.
  • Hem (I used iron on seam tape for this) the bottom of the fabric panel 1".
  • Lay the 2 pieces of fabric on top of each other, right sides facing, with the top of the drop cloth even with the top of the drapery fabric.  Here is a little diagram:
  • Pin and sew the right side of the drop cloth to the right edge of the fabric.  Pin and sew the left edge to the left edge of the drop cloth.  Since the drop cloth is narrower than the fabric, sewing the edges together ensures that only the curtain will show when finished.
  • Flip curtain inside out and iron edges creating a small seam on both edges with just the curtain fabric.
  • Flip curtain inside out again (now the right sides are facing).  Pin and stich the top. 
  • Flip curtain again, push out top corners.
  • Iron entire panel and hang using clip rings.
4.  Lessons learned.  Sew the sides first, then the top.  I took out so many seams :(.  Use a heavy gauge sewing needle and heavy weight thread, sew at medium speed.  I broke 3 needles in the process of figuring this out and thought my entire machine was broken (it wasn't).  Use the steam option on the iron for pressing the fabric.  I ended ironing on the hard wood floor with a towel under the part I was ironing.  This was the only way I could contol all of the fabric.  Don't iron directly on the carpet without a towel underneath (I learned this the hard way).  Don't hem the drop cloth, just cut the end and leave it.  After washining you may have to trim the loose threads but it doesn't need to be hemmed and its taxing on the sewing machine (mine anyway).

5.  Hanging the curtain rod.  Here is a shot of how I do the estimating.  I put up the tape and leveled it.  I got up and down the ladder a few times to eyeball the height, just using the tape.  The small vertical pieces of tape mark where the brackets go.

Cost.  $10 per drop cloth x 4 = $40
          Fabric @ $3/yd, 12yds = $36
          Curtain rod $15 x 3 rods = $45  (I used 2 rods for the long set of windows but put them together to look like one)
          Clip rings $7/pack x 4 packs = $28
          Total = $149

Here is the before and after (up to now, this won't be the final after):


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