Wednesday, February 22, 2012

No-measuring Fabric Boxes

I am sure I am not the first to figure this out, but after lots of experimentation at my sewing machine today, I have an awesome box pattern to show you. It involves only 4 seams and a hem. I have used this pattern before, actually, when I made my sewing machine cover.

Actually, I don't know if I can call it a pattern. There are no measurements involved. I read a blog post lately where someone said they 'eyeballed it', so I guess that's what I did today too.

And before I start, I need to mention that I am terrible at sewing. But, because every cloud has a silver lining, I am awesome with a quick unpick. And I am not going to let my faults stop me from sharing this with you.

First of all, you need to make a little pillow-case like sack. If you can do this without instructions, skip to step 3. Or, just grab a pillow case!

1. Grab a strip of fabric. Cut the long edges with pinking shears and roll and iron the short edges.

2. Fold in half lengthways and sew up the side seams. Hem the top edge.

 3. Not sure how to describe step 3, so I'll let the picture do the talking. With the bag still inside out, sit it like this:

 4. Next, you are going to sew over the corners you created (the red lines in the picture below). This is the 'eyeballing' part that I mentioned before.

5. Once you have sewn the corners, flip the box inside out to make sure they are in the right place.

Looking at the bottom, you can see the 4 seams that you have created:

6. If you're satisfied with it, then go ahead and chop off the corners.

 And viola! You have a box!

I also used this method to make a little denim box using the leg of some old jeans. And I am sure there are other ways to use this very simple method. I was wondering if a pillow case would be the correct size to make a crate liner? Or if I could jazz up an old cardboard box by actually measuring it... Time will tell!!!

Happy crafting!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sewn Storage

I have been messing around with my sewing machine quite a lot today. It took me ages to achieve something, but I had a few scraps of fabric and a very full recycling bag.

These are my creations:

Right now my creations are all taking up residence in the bathroom, but it's a temporary home. Still not sure where/how I should use them.

But for now, I am off to bed. I will have tutorials up tomorrow :)

Vitamin Bottle Labels

 I have an incredibly intolerant immune system and find myself taking daily vitamins as a preventative measure... they don't work. Or, rather, I don't remember to take them as often as I should. If they are in a cupboard, they are out of sight and out of mind. If they are on the counter, they look ugly and I resent them for being there.

So, I decided to pretty them up a bit so they can stay in plain view and perhaps I will remember to take them.

This is what I am up against... 3 different brands with different bottle colours and sizes.

The big brown Echinacea bottle had to go. Too ugly. I switched it out with another vitamin bottle we recently finished. I then printed off some labels I made which you can download for free here (I am slowly discovering Photoshop). I have left it as a Word document so you can write on them using your favourite font.

I wrote the name of the vitamin, the daily dosage and there's a space at the side to write the brand name, incase you ever need to Google more info for it. They are just taped on as a removable cuff, so if you need to get to the information underneath, you can just slide the label off.

So, here they are out on the counter. It's not the best solution in the world because the bottles still don't match, but I intend to slowly collect matching bottles over time.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Neck Tie turned Cable Tamer

I am not sure what to call this invention... so I have dubbed it a cable tamer.

Here is the problem:

The appliance is super close to the power outlet, so I don't need the 3' cable that comes with it. It's puddling on the floor, collecting dust and dog hair. So, creativity to the rescue.

I have seen this done with a toilet paper roll on Pinterest, but have devised my own 'laundry-proof/ fabric' design so that as it gets dirty (and it will, being so close to the dog floor) I can toss it in the washing machine.

I wanted a neutral colour that would blend in with the cable and I had just the thing - one of hubby's old neck ties.

I had previously shoved a tp roll onto all the cables and knew that it was a good fit, so I found the point at which the tp roll and the neck tie were the same size.

I then chopped out that section, discarded the innards (who knew there was so much stuff inside a neck tie???) then hemmed both ends.

I then went back and shoved the excess cord into it. The whole process took about 5 minutes.

Problem solved.

Hallway Mirror Dry Erase Board

I have seen loads of cute dry-erase boards on Pinterest, made with frames and scrapbooking paper. They are oh-so-adorable and designed to match your chosen colour scheme, but I thought I'd show you my much cheaper and less time-consuming version. You probably already have everything you need already in the house. And this version takes about 1 minute. No joke.

Here's what you need to do:

Step 1: Find a dry erase marker.
Step 2: Write on your hallway mirror.

We don't have much space around here (have I mentioned our apartment is only 660 square feet?) so wall space is a luxury. I simply don't have enough wall space to hang another framed glass surface. So we use our entrance hallway mirror instead.

It is one of the last things we see as we leave our apartment, so it's great for shopping lists and errands (return library books!!!).

Here is the hallway and you can see the mirror on the right:

I'd love to hear your tips and secrets for having an organized home with little (or no) budget.

On a completely different note, I have been stalking LOADS of other blogs lately and am discovering 'Linky Parties' whereby everyone just shows off everyone else's blog posts using an external host. Neat idea. I have seen a bazillion different crafts (and I thought Pinterest was time consuming!) and I love sharing ideas. What an amazing and productive blogging community we have out there.

In celebration of the parties I have been linking up at, I have added another tab up the top to feature all of their buttons. Take a peek!!!

 Have fun!

Kitchen Needing TLC

I recently realized that I have not shown photos of our kitchen on my blog. I think it's possibly because it's the major downfall of our apartment. It is titchy, poorly designed and we hacked away at part of it to allow more storage space, but the whole thing desperately needs a renovation.

I am hoping that out there is the blogosphere, someone has suggestions on how to make this space more functional. PLEASE comment if you have any suggestions... I am open to all ideas!!!

1. We have a lot of counter space.
2. We have high ceilings.
3.We have all 4 standard appliances (fridge, stove/oven, microwave & dishwasher)

1. We have no pantry.
2. There is very little storage space under the main counter top.
3. The fridge sticks out like a sore thumb.
4. The opening to the kitchen acts as a bottle neck. No more than 2 people can be in there at the same time. The fridge and dishwasher cannot be opened at the same time, and if they do, the kitchen holds all people hostage. No one enters and no one escapes.
4. There is a very awkward "corner" to work around, making a back splash difficult to pull off.

See the grey curtain in the bottom right hand corner? That was inaccessible dead space. The counter wall used to stretch the whole length. So we hacked at it and discovered about 9 cubic feet of space (YAY!!!). We installed a shelf and it now holds bulk food (dog food included). But... the pipe is still visible (photos will come one day) and it's very much a "home hack job" out of desperation for more storage space. We need to put a real door on it, but it's too difficult to match the laminate cabinet pattern so we're waiting to see if we will renovate.

Here is the awkward corner I was telling you about. The tiles at the moment stop then start again as you move around the bend, but we would like a full back splash... just not sure how to do it.

The cabinet knobs were all (once) blue glass. But, every single one of them was chipped or cracked. We switched them for chrome handles, but the ones on the drawers are still the original handles (we also need to change them, but they need different sized screws. It's on our To Do list).

In the photo below, you can see how the "dead space" was inaccessible. Who does that to a kitchen? Honestly???


I have looked at a million 'small' kitchens on, looking for inspiration. But their definition of a 'small kitchen' is somewhat akin to the size of my entire apartment. Also they suggest drawing attention to the windows and to use natural light to open up the space. Our kitchen is smack bang in the middle of our house. No windows.

We would love a white/grey/turquoise tiled back splash with white cabinets, a granite counter top and stainless steel appliances (wouldn't we all!!!)... but we don't live in Fantasyland.

This isn't our Forever Home so we don't plan on spending too much time or money on it, but we want to increase the resell value of our home in whatever small way we can. So, fill me with ideas!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

No-Mess Painting with Feathers

Most of my students love painting with things that aren't paintbrushes. Lettuce. Pipecleaners. Ribbons. Oddly-shaped pieces of cardboard. You get the idea. The only problem with painting with flexible objects is the mess involved. My kids invariably end up with a squished piece of something that's too difficult to maneuver, and paint all over their hands. Some of the kids love it but some of them also hate it. Lets face it; not every child loves getting messy. When a 'I'm-not-touching-that' sort of child sees the other kids getting paint up to their elbows, they opt out of the activity and miss out on some great learning experiences.

Seeing as we recently did a unit on animals, I thought it might be neat to paint with feathers. After a quick rummage through our craft cupboard, I found a great way to limit the mess - clip a clothes pin to the base of it.

 I did my trial run with two children who dislike dirty hands and it worked!

They had a great time making tiger stripes with the feathers and didn't get much paint on themselves at all.

It has now made me think of all the other objects we could clip between a peg and use to paint; ribbons, yarn, pom-poms, scraps of felt or fabric.

I'll give it a go and let you know if it works...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Displaying Art that doesn't Match

I love pictures that match. I love the look of three pictures, all relating to one theme, hanging vertically on a wall, all in matching frames.

But I don't love it when we have only one wall and the 'picture sets' don't match.

Here's what I was up against:

I have two 'groups of people' photos in nice matching wooden frames:

I have three very different scenic paintings of different orientations in matching grey frames (dollar store), but not matching mats:

And I have three scenic paintings of Australian bushland in matching black RIBBA frames from IKEA:

How the heck do I hang them all one wall?

Well, it took a lot of creativity, then some hopeless despair, then a flip through the IKEA catalog to come up with this genius idea:

We just placed the pictures haphazard all over the place then called it 'organized chaos'. The picture rails are the only thing attached, so it's a lot less damage to the walls and as we get bored with certain pictures, we can easily switch them out for other works of art.

Problem solved.

Multipurpose Room

I recently posted about my craft desk and organizing the spare room closet, but I realized I haven't posted about the spare room in quite a while. So here are some recent photos.

This is hubby's office and he works from home. We knew he'd be working from home before we set up this space, so we had to make sure it would function smoothly for his business AND could also be a guest room if need be.

*Despite where we live, guests are few and far between so they get an inflatable mattress on the floor. I'd love a Murphy Bed to flop out of the wall, but alas; we have higher priorities.

The tall cabinet on the left and the two mounted to the wall are IKEA kitchen cabinets. The one on the far left stores all of our Costco bulk purchases (toilet paper etc.) The desk is an IKEA desk.

Previously, the ceiling light was a horrible flushmount thing that just created a yellow glare around the room. We replaced it with this wonderful ceiling fan thing.

Instead of a guest book at our wedding, we had everyone write a message on a picture mat, which now frames a wedding photo taken on Whitehaven Beach. It's the picture hanging above Hubby's computer. Not sure if he likes staring at wedding wishes all day, but he hasn't complained yet! :D

We don't have a television, but we use the iMac to watch movies and stream TV shows.

Oh and there's my craft desk, of course. I like that Hubby gets his masculine work area and I get my uber-feminine craft desk but they still complement each other.

The other end of the room has the chair that we reupholstered (before Molly claimed it), an antique school desk that I LOVE and glass shelves. It's also where our big junk closet is.

We used to have everything here stored on a bookcase. When we got puppy, we decided to put everything up higher... especially plants. These shelves are a discontinued item from IKEA.

They hold all of our books (we are largely a paper-free house) with our re-purposed license plate book end, a silver box we received as a wedding gift (originally a recipe box, but redundant now that we use the Recipe Box app on the iPad), my paper mache E, and a few pictures and knick knacks.

So there you have it; Our spare room/ office/ craft room/ floor-space-for-guests.