Wherein I DIY Myself the Plan for a NEW Wardrobe!

First of all…

Happy 4th to all of my American friends!  Enjoy your day!

When the Ogre and I prepared to move in January, I purged.  Really purged.  Much of our furniture, dishes, basic housewares and home goods were sent to other homes or the curb.  It was good.  It felt light and right.  And I don’t regret it whatsoever.

However, we also purged our wardrobes.  Excessively, in my case.  So much so that I’m wearing fall/winter things to fill in to go to work.  It’s fortunate that my employers believe in air conditioning to a great degree, or there would be a puddle of what used to be me at my desk!

Clothing is NOT a priority to me, obviously.  If it were, I would have come up with a plan to rectify this situation sooner!

But I didn’t.  I ignored the issue and just thought I could/would make the best of it until my budget loosens up a bit.  Or until I lost 40 pounds and felt better about shopping for clothing.  But that’s just not working anymore.

So, I need a plan.  And, in true blogger fashion, I’ve decided to share that plan with you.

Cue the interwebs.  And my timely and monumental discovery of “Capsule Wardrobes”.

A Capsule Wardrobe is effectively anywhere from 5 to 15 basic pieces that work together to create a functional wardrobe.  The “seed”, so to speak.

Here’s the challenge.  The idea of running out and purchasing new pieces of clothing to adorn my plus-sized frame just makes me cringe.  It also sends my wallet into what might be a permanent state of shock!  This needs to be done on a budget. Which is sort of exciting, really.  After all, I’m converting my home on a budget.  Why not stretch that to my clothing?  (Except for underthings and shoes.  I draw the line there.)

I’ll SEW a wardrobe.  Yup, that’s exactly what I’ll do.


Yes, I know I can design and sew dance costumes, and nothing I make for “real life” will be as challenging as creating a well-fitting and adjustable bra and belt set, but that’s different… Right?  (Isn’t it funny how fear can be so insiduous?)

But I’m going to grab the tiger by the tail.  I’m going to take those patterning and design skills and use them to create and modify patterns for daily wear.  I’m going to finally make friends with my sewing machines (I own two) and sew myself a wardrobe.

Yes, that’s what I’m going to do. Wish me luck.  Please.  I think I’m scared… and need hugs.

Being the brave soul I am, I’m going to document this for posterity.  “Sewing Saturday” has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?  Not weekly… I don’t believe I’ll have enough time for that.  More “occasionally”, I think.

The first step, of course, is going to be getting my craft/sewing studio in shape.  That could be a procrastination thing, but I’m gonna go with it anyway!  After all, with the room finished, I’ll have a sewing space, a cutting space, fabric storage… you get the picture, right?

Here’s what the room looked like when my Mom visited…

Yeah.  That’s my Mom.  In my painting clothes.  Painting my sewing room because she was bored.  She really wanted to work on my kitchen, but I didn’t have a plan for THAT room.  She also discussed re-doing my old chippy bench that’s in my garden… but I don’t have a plan for that yet, either.  I DID have a plan for the sewing room, so she simply started.  My Mom’s the kind of person you see leisurely sipping her tea… until you realize that you blinked and the first coat of paint is on the wall.  Then you blink again, and the second coat is finished, brushes and rollers are clean, and the tea pot is on the boil again.  And she NEVER seems to rush.

I wanna be her when I grow up!

I’d really love to see your comments on the projects I do and the ideas I have.  I learn more from critiques than praise, but, honestly, I adore praise (and who doesn’t?).

Thanks for stopping by.

Tutorial Tuesday – Painter’s Tape Stencil

This is not the stencil for you if you’re looking for a single use stencil!  It’s rather time consuming, and is best saved for motifs you plan on using multiple times.  The benefits to this stencil is that it uses material that most DIY’ers have on hand, and it can be formed around awkward shapes without too much difficulty.  Once completed, it can be safely stored by lining the sticky side with wax paper and rolling up into a tube.  It’s reasonably cost effective, as well.  It can also be made to whatever size required – as long as you have space to work on it, that is!

Step One – The Foundation.

Begin by measuring out the size you’ll need your finished stencil to be.  Do this on a flat surface – a cutting board, craft table or, if you need much, much larger, the floor or wall.

Once you know the size you’ll be working with, start placing your tape.  Once the first strip is down, you’ll be layering the subsequent pieces of tape over top by about 1/4 to 1/3 of the width of the strip.

Continue doing this until the entire area is covered with tape.

Step Two – The Layers

When you have the first layer firmly in place, it’s time to work on layer two.  This layer will be placed ACCROSS the first layer at a 90 degree angle.  Again, you’ll be laying each piece of tape over top of the prior piece by about 1/4 of the width.

After layer two is done, layer three is applied.  This time, you’ll be working on a diagonal (corner to corner) until the base is fully covered.

Layer four is a repeat of layer three – with the opposite diagonal being used.

This is actually a shot of layer 3 with the direction for layer 4 indicated

Step Three – Finishing the Base

At this point, you have four layers of tape, all firmly stuck together.  It’s OK to stop here if you don’t plan on re-using the stencil very much.  However, since I NEVER know if I’m going to want to use the stencil again, I tend to repeat the first and second layers to give me an even sturdier piece.  I’ve even been known to throw a layer of duct tape on top, just for fun!

I straightened the edges to give myself a neater finish, and it’s off to the next step.

Step Four – Placing the Design

Now it’s time to actually draw your design.  There are a couple of ways to do this.  If you are an artist, you could freehand.  (Of course, I’d have to hate you if you did!)

I print out the image I want to use and copy it to the size I need.  In this case, it’s the “Keep Calm and Sleep In” motif I wanted for the guest room.

I printed the images in reverse so that I could simply stick the back side of the paper to the sticky side of the tape.

Now, I peeled off the multi-layered base and placed it sticky side up.  I centered the motif and pressed it firmly down into the painter’s tape.  The alternative method to this is to START with the motif and apply painter’s tape to the back.  I find it more difficult as the paper seems to sometimes have a mind of it’s own, and I end up taping the table anyway!

You think I’m nuts right about now, because you just covered the sticky part of your stencil, don’t you?  Bear with me, OK?  It actually makes sense as we go along and get to the end.

Step Five – Cutting the Stencil

With your image either drawn or attached, it’s time to break out your exacto knife and cut.  If you’re working on the floor, wall or a table that you don’t want damaged, you’ll have to lift the portion of the stencil you’re working on and slide a cutting surface beneath it to protect your surface.  Cut the stencil out to the dimension of the board, then peel the tape layers back and move the board accordingly.  The painter’s tape will allow you to reposition easily.

While you’re cutting, don’t forget to leave bridges where required to keep the centers intact.

Step Six – Removing the Lower Level of Tape (if and when required)

Yup.  You read that right.  After going through ALL of that trouble to put the first layer down, I’m telling you to rip it up.  It’s not as intimidating as it sounds… honest!  Simply lift an edge of your paper away from the stencil base.  If you’re very lucky, the paper will release from the tape with no difficulty.  If, however, the first layer of tape wants to come with the paper, it’s OK.  There are at least three MORE layers of tape holding your stencil together.  (More if you’re me.)

This step is also what I do if the tape loses it’s stick.  For stencils I’ve had to use dozens of times, I just add another layer of tape to the top side and recut.  That keeps the stencil solid and stable.  I try to never have the stencil LESS than 4 layers thick.

Here’s a shot of my stencil with a layer of duct tape over top.

Step Seven – Marking For Placement

Now that the stencil is all cut out, it’s wise to take the time and mark some straight lines on the non-sticky side.  For this project, I marked top, bottom, sides, and centers.  This helps with placement on your project.  (Unfortunately, I got too eager, and didn’t take photos of this step.)

Congratulations!  Your stencil is now ready to use.  Break out the paint!  Because the bottom layer of the stencil is painter’s tape, the stencil will pretty much stay where you put it and mold itself around curves and angles very nicely.  There’s less chance of paint bleeding under the tape as well.

When you’re done of the job, it’s time to put the stencil away.  Lay it out with the sticky side up and get your plastic cling wrap.  Cover the sticky with the wrap, overlapping where required.

Now you can roll it up for storage or store it flat.  I wouldn’t recommend folding it, though.  That distorts the piece too much.

With this particular stencil, I took a sheet of copy paper and labeled it  with the design.  Then I wrapped the paper around my rolled stencil.

When it’s time to use it again, the cling wrap will peel off easily and you’re ready to start again!

As I said at the top of this post, this IS a time consuming method.  Acetate and spray adhesive is much quicker.  But the benefits of this one outweigh the time for me.  Maybe they will for you!


There have been times I didn’t have painter’s tape, but had a supply of masking tape.  Despite the fact that masking tape is stickier, it can be used as well.  Before applying it to a wall or finished surface, though, I stuck it to a length of cotton fabric.  The fabric “ate” some of the adhesive, leaving just enough to use the stencil without worrying about damaging the walls.  I’ve also used masking tape for the 5th layer and above when I had more on hand than painter’s tape.

I’ve also used wax paper to cover the sticky side, but I personally prefer the cling wrap for “removability”.

 I’m sharing here

I’d really love to see your comments on the projects I do and the ideas I have.  I learn more from critiques than praise, but, honestly, I adore praise (and who doesn’t?).

Thanks for stopping by.

Bookcase Week – The mini-reveal!

OK, so this isn’t REALLY the big reveal.  It’s a mini-reveal.  There are still a few things that need completing before we get to the end.

Nonetheless, it’s time to show you what they look like against the wall.

If you remember, these cases started out as a motley array of beech and birch finished, multi-sized lovelies.  Some from K-Mart (when Canada still HAD a K-Mart), some from Zellers and some inherited from The Girl, I think.  There were also three short Billy’s that the Ogre and I purchased about 12 years ago.

After some Gorilla Glue and homemade chalk-y paint, the pieces were left to cure for several days before loading up again.  (Here’s where I take a deep breath and hope you all like it as much as I do!)

Continue reading

Fabric to the rescue!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the projects that bring me the most rewarding feelings – whether it be in the planning, the doing or the enjoying afterward.  I know for some, paint is the answer to any question.  For me, it’s fabric and fibres (yarns, etc).

There’s really no surprise in that.  My Mom is a long time seamstress turned quilter.  Both of my Grandmother’s knit and crochet things of great beauty – and warmth!  My Dad is a knitter.  His Dad knew his way around a sewing machine, as well.

I started knitting when I was 18.  For about 15 years I designed and knit pretty much anything.  I used to joke with the Ogre that I could knit a couch!  I probably could, but can’t see any reason to, though.

I had to stop knitting, due to the repetitiveness of the motion.  I was experiencing too much physical discomfort in my arms, shoulders and neck.

So, I started sewing.  First by machine, then by hand.  I love working with fabric.  Feeling it in my hands as I hand sew is a relaxing, zen thing for me.  Most of my sewing is done by hand.  (I own two machines, but prefer my little needle and thread!).  I began belly dancing, and the costuming for that was exciting and thrilling.  There’s something so wonderful about taking a floppy piece of fabric and turning it into a bedlah (bra and belt) or circle skirt.

When we started planning for this move, I put my needle and fabric away for a while.  Walls need painting, furniture needs refinishing…  sewing and beading just had to be put on the back burner for a while.

Of course, I did do a bench cushion for the mudroom.  And a curtain panel for the doorway leading to the basement.  Now I’m working on some curtains for the patio door.

But I have an idea percolating in the back of my brain.  A way to use fabric to shore up the wood working skills I don’t have.  I’m hoping to experiment with that this coming weekend.  I’ll keep you posted.

I will tell you, though, that it has something to do with this lovely…

I’d really love to see your comments on the projects I do and the ideas I have.  I learn more from critiques than praise, but, honestly, I adore praise (and who doesn’t?).

Thanks for stopping by.

Tutorial Tuesday…

Tuesdays have become my day to share with you the cool tutorials and links I’ve found during the week.  Some of these things are in my own “project pile” and may someday be accomplished.  Some are simply things I find very interesting, but may never have a use for, or won’t fit into my planned decor.

This week, I found a terrific tutorial for a Decorative Twine Ball from Homemaker in Heels.  These are definitely in my to do pile.  They’d look terrific in my “alabaster” bowl!

I’ve fallen in love with these trivets made by Jessica Jones of How About Orange?  I’m thinking that they’d also make terrific placemats.  If I got really ambitious, I think it would make a wonderful runner… right down the center of the dining room table.  Doing them in multiple colors would also be gorgeous!

Andrea from Opulent Cottage did this beautiful tabletop garden.  She makes it look so easy, but the end result is very lush.  Once I learn how to keep plants alive, I’m definitely going to be trying this.

How about you?  Have you come across some wonderful tutorials lately?  Feel free to share!

I’d really love to see your comments on the projects I do and the ideas I have.  I learn more from critiques than praise, but, honestly, I adore praise (and who doesn’t?).

Thanks for stopping by.

Easter Wreath…

I did manage to get Windows 8 installed, and had a bit of time left over to make an Easter Wreath. I have been working on getting the muslin for the reupholstered chair done, but that takes a bit more time.

I’ve got a St. Patrick’s Day wreath up now, but that’s only for another two weeks!  Then, I need to replace it with something.

I started with a quick trip to the Dollarama.  For this project, I spent $8.00.

$1.50 for the cutest little nest ever.  With glitter eggs and feather fluff.

$1.50 for these little birds.  They’re out of scale with the eggs, but they were too pretty to leave behind.

$3.00 for three branches of pussy willows.

And $2.00 for some green organza ribbon.  Total dollars spent – $8.00 (plus tax, of course!)

For the base, I used the Faux Pool Noodle Wreath that’s been my Winter wreath.  I think this might be the last incarnation for it, though.  I truly love how it turned out.  I seem to have gotten everything right with this one.

From the little bird…

To the nest…

And the overall placement of the pussy willows and the ribbon.

I’m thrilled with how it turned out.

It calls for Spring and Easter, but isn’t too kitchy or “out there”.  The Ogre thinks it’s the best one I’ve done yet.  And I agree.

Submitted to the following parties… 

   five days five ways  feature friday free for all

I’d really love to see your comments on the projects I do and the ideas I have.  I learn more from critiques than praise, but, honestly, I adore praise (and who doesn’t?).

Thanks for stopping by


Saint Patrick’s Day Wreath!

I didn’t have any holiday decorations for any holiday/celebratory day other than Christmas when we moved into this townhome.  But, I came to the conclusion that it was important to celebrate.

This means I HAVE to come up withat least one thing for each calendar event.  Cheap is good.  Cheerful is good, too.  But the “thing” I come up with HAS to be something I can reuse again for the next year.  Just as I built my Christmas ornament collection, I’m hoping to build a collection for other events.

I have a protected front door.  There’s a glass and screen door between it and the world.  This gives me a great place to hang a wreath – and not worry too much about the weatherproofness of the materials.

This wreath was made from a wire coat hanger, bent into a circle.  I then wrapped the wire with a strip of craft foam.

Sometimes, I get so involved in a project, I forget to take photos of the “during”.  This was one of those times.

Basically, I cut out shamrocks from kelly green craft foam.  I painted some of them a darker green, and some a lighter, yellow-green.  Once everything was dry, I hotglued them to the base.

And this is what I ended up with.

A little blah, no?  Bland and boring.

But a trip to the Dollarama yielded this.

A little strategic cutting and glueing and I’ve got a fun wreath for my front door. 

It’s not elegant and regal, but it sure is cheerful and fun!

Total cost?  $2.00  (I had the paint and coat hanger on hand.)

I’d really love to see your comments on the projects I do and the ideas I have.  I learn more from critiques than praise, but, honestly, I adore praise (and who doesn’t?).

Thanks for stopping by.

Wee Wallet Wednesday – $0 spent!

Those of us who rent our homes are all too familiar with lights like this…

They do the job, but there’s certainly nothing eye catching or elegant about them.  Just this little, insignificant globe hanging up in the ceiling.  Not even a medallion to make it pretty.

But wait!

I didn’t want to BUY a medallion.  Not only do they get pricey (the pretty ones, anyway), there’s the whole mounting permanently thing.  So, I decided to make one.

Out of paper towel and toilet paper rolls.

There are lots of wonderful tutorials out there about using paper rolls as the building blocks of art, so I won’t bore you with details.

I’ll just show you the after.

Ahhhh.  That’s better.  And it looks really nice when the light is on, too!

I made it using paper rolls – free.  Painted it with Benjamin Moore’s Stone White that was left over from other projects – free.  Mounted it with scraps of 3M Strips that I used to mount other things – free.

And now, my insignificant little globe light looks like something!  And that makes me a happier renter!

I’d really love to see your comments on the projects I do and the ideas I have.  I learn more from critiques than praise, but, honestly, I adore praise (and who doesn’t?).

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday Sharing

Nothing of my own to show you today, Lovelies.   I’ve managed to get the second coat of paint on in the hallway and it looks wonderful.  It’s such a happy little yellow!

Tomorrow, I’ll be painting out the trim and hanging the shelf I made.  Once I manage to scrape all my paint drips off the floor and wash it, I should be able to have some shots for you.

Until then, I’d like to share two projects that I think are wonderful.

First, there’s Melissa’s Fairy Garden.  I’m truly horrid with houseplants, but I think I’m going to make one of these.  The idea of a garden in miniature tugs at my imagination.  I wonder who would brave our cat to live in mine?

The Inspired Room's Fairy Garden

You will never believe how Lori made this little gal!  What a wonderful, whimsical piece.  And the story of how it came together highlights just how a creative mind sometimes works.

from Bleak 2 Unique

I’d really love to see your comments on the projects I do and the ideas I have.  I learn more from critiques than praise, but, honestly, I adore praise (and who doesn’t?).

Thanks for stopping by.

Don’t be afraid… it’s just a little paint!

With the technology mostly restored, I can get on with other things.  Here’s a bit of an explanation about how I have to do things for now.

Monday, Thursday and Friday, I have enough time to do 3-4 hour projects.   Tuesday and Wednesday are  spent on dance related things and, occasionally, photo editing or blog planning… for both the DIY and dance blogs.  The weekends, unless marred by disaster of some sort (such as technology failure!) are for the bigger things.

This weekend was a tad messed up.  But I did manage to get a few “weekday”-like things done.  Here’s a few shots of what I ended up finishing!

First, the before…



I found this large-ish print at the Salvation Army a while back.  The center of the mat is 11′ X 17″ – exactly what I needed to frame a calendar print I’ve been hoarding for about 5 years!

The frame, glass and mat were in great condition… but the wrong colors for what I had in mind.  That’s a VERY easy fix!

I sanded and I primed…

Sanded and primed

I gave it four coats of regular, old fashioned Oops paint and painted the mat with the same burgundy I’ve used for the candlesticks and wall sconces that will be displayed in the same area.

Painted frame and mat

I left the center portion of the mat the original pinky-white and used a black Sharpie to separate the white from the burgundy section.

Finally, I mounted the calendar print.  It’s from a calendar the Ogre and I got at Costco in 2005.  Each “page” was a double sided copy of Pan Am’s 1940′s travel advertisements.  The lush colors of this one really speak to me.  So much, that I’ve planned a complete display around it.

I haven’t been able to take very good photos of the finished result, but the real thing makes me smile every time I see it.  That, and think of my friend Laura who just came back from Cuba.  I can imagine her dancing to the music, too!

I was able to find a better image of this poster at www.allposters.com.  This is MUCH closer to the richness of color than I can capture!  Check them out if you’re interested in vintage travel posters.  Their selection is wonderful!

I’d really love to see your comments on the projects I do and the ideas I have.  I learn more from critiques than praise, but, honestly, I adore praise (and who doesn’t?).

Thanks for stopping by.