DIY Canvas Art

Art can be expensive, VERY expensive, but without it, walls look bare.  What to do? My answer: make your own! I’ve always loved sketching and painting, but you don’t have to have an ounce of artistic talent in your body to make beautiful art you can proudly hang on your walls.  All you need are some blank canvases and acrylic paint…oh, and maybe a paint brush or two (but don’t dismiss the idea of finger painting!)

We painted our master bedroom earlier this year and went with a charcoal grey, white and yellow colour scheme.  We don’t have a head board so I wanted to create some abstract geometric art to hang above the bed.  We got two big canvases out and used painter’s tape to outline the shapes.  Then we painted in the empty spaces in grey and yellow.  My husband got in on the action and we each painted a canvas. When the paint was dry, we removed the painter’s tape and voila: Art! I was very happy with the result and it only took about an hour to make!

Geometric Painting

For my friend’s 30th birthday I made this canvas for party decor (and as a bonus gift).

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We just recently finished our basement which will serve as a playroom for the next few years.  We had a very small budget so we purchased some inexpensive toy storage and used whatever other furniture we already had.

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As you can see, it’s relatively bright and cheerful (considering it’s in the basement!), but there was definitely a little something missing.  I had some extra canvases lying around so I decided to make some afternoon DIY art.

I looked up silhouettes for animals and sketched them out on paper, then cut out the shapes to create a template:

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Then I painted the canvases in four fun and vibrant colours.

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I used the cut out templates to trace a pencil line of the silhouette then painted it white.  I did 2 coats of the white to make sure the background colour didn’t show through.

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I find it really finishes the space! I also made a triangle garland using scrapbook paper in similar colours to help tie it all together.

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It really is that easy! Grab a canvas, some paint and a brush (or whatever else you want!) and start creating 🙂

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Easy DIY Drawstring Loot Bags

My little man will be turning two in July (cue mind blowing up – where did the time go??). We’ll be throwing a party but since he doesn’t really have any little friends yet we’ll only be inviting our close friends and family.  Some of them have little ones, but it’ll be mostly adults.  I have a TON of ideas for awesome party themes for the little dude (thanks Pinterest!), but I didn’t want to “waste” a really good one at an age where he doesn’t fully know what’s going on.  So, I decided to go with a theme that will be fun for big and little kids alike: a moustache bash! Given that moustaches are super trendy right now, it’s been very easy to find all kinds of fun things to incorporate the theme.

I will admit, I’m going WAY over board with this party, but, hey, I’m on maternity leave and have a lot of time to think of ideas and I can get things done during nap time (most of the time) so I figure why not?!  One of the little projects I decided to take on for this party is making fabric loot bags.  I found this fabric on Hawthorne Threads and I just HAD to use it somehow. I thought making little fabric bags would make the bags part of the “loot” and reduce waste. Win win!

I saw this fabric and couldn't help but think "I moustache it!!"  Hihi

I saw this fabric and couldn’t help but think “I moustache it!!” Hihi

I ordered 2 yards which was more than enough (I might just make a little something else for the little lady with the leftovers :)).  I counted a total of 15 kids potentially coming to this party, though I suspect they won’t all make it with it being in the middle of summer vacation.  Erring on the side of caution, I’ll be making 15 anyway just in case.

To fill the loot bags I’ve got all kinds of fun little things, including homemade moustache shaped cookies and moustache patterned pencils.

Moustache things are EVERYWHERE!

Moustache things are EVERYWHERE!

Given that I have 15 to make, I decided to go with a really easy, quick and dirty drawstring bag.  The length of the fabric is just over 21 inches when folded in half width-wise, so I cut three 7 inch wide pieces by 9 inches long (long enough to fit the pencils with seam allowance).  You could modify the dimension depending on how you’ll be using the bag.

I cut the fabric, folded in half, in 7x9 inch pieces.

I cut the fabric, folded in half, in 7×9 inch pieces.

Because my fabric’s pattern had a right side up, I had to cut two pieces for each bag to make sure the pattern went in the right direction on both sides, but if you had something like a stripe or a chevron, you could likely cut the pieces in 7×18 (double the length) and just fold over the bottom (saves you that extra stitch).

To create the top of the bag where the drawstring will go, start by folding over about a half inch corner on each side at the top of your fabric pieces, folded in toward the bad side (see picture below).  Iron down and sew a straight stitch down the middle of the fold.

Sew a simple straight stitch - nothing fancy here, we're going for efficiency!

Sew a simple straight stitch – nothing fancy here, we’re going for efficiency!

Next, fold over the top edge of your fabric pieces about 1 inch (modify this depending on what you’ll be using for the drawstring).  Stitch the folded edge down about 1/8-1/4 of an inch from the edge.

The top fold will be for the drawstring.

The top fold will be for the drawstring.

Pin your two pieces of fabric together, good sides together. Sew down the side and bottom edges, with about a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Back stitch where you start and finish as this is where the bag will open – it’ll need the reinforcement.

Pin both pieces together and stitch the sides and bottom.

Pin both pieces together and stitch the sides and bottom.

Turn the bag inside out.

Ta-da!

Ta-da!

Quick and easy DIY loot bags!

Quick and easy DIY loot bags!

Finally, thread your drawstring through, using a safety pin to help guide the ribbon or string through. I had some extra binded ribbon lying around that just happened to match the fabric perfectly.  Tie the ends of the ribbon and use a flame to seal the ribbon (if you’re using ribbon) and you’re done! Once I’d gotten the hang of it, each bag took all of 5-10 minutes to make so I could make about 5-6 in an hour (i.e. the length of a nap).

Cute and practical little home-made loot bags! I think the kids will like them :)

Cute and practical little home-made loot bags! I think the kids will like them 🙂

Now I can’t wait to fill them with fun moustache-y stuff!! Stay tuned for the party post! Lots more DIYs to come 🙂

 

 

DIY Sensory Stuffed Animal

Since I’d made my son a stuffed animal before Christmas (Stuffed Taggie Animals), I decided I should make a little something for my daughter too.  I had purchased some fabric for bumper pads for her room.  My mother-in-law graciously made the bumper pads and then she also surprised us with a gorgeous quilt for Christmas, using some of the same fabric.  I decided to use the leftovers of those fabrics to make a stuffed sensory elephant.

I ordered the florals from Hawthorne Threads - LOVE their selections!

I ordered the florals from Hawthorne Threads – LOVE their selections!

I free-handed my design on cardboard and cut out the shapes I’d need.

I free-handed the elephant shape and cut a diagonal where the ears would go.

I free-handed the elephant shape and cut a diagonal where the ears would go.

 

This is how it will look when put together.

This is how it will look when put together.

I then cut my fabric pieces using these stencils.

I decided to make the ears two colours - darker on the back, lighter on the front.

I decided to make the ears two colours – darker on the back, lighter on the front.

The first step was to sew the ears.  I pinned them wrong sides together (which was pretty easy since this fabric didn’t really have a “good” side), stitch along the rounded part, leaving the straight edge open.

The straight edge will be sewn onto the body pieces.

The straight edge will be sewn onto the body pieces.

Here comes the “sensory” part of this project.  I stuffed this ears with “crinkly” (don’t think that’s a real word) material.  I’d Googled this before-hand (because it’s important to do your research on these things! hehe), and it seems the most common material is good old celophane.  I experimented with various types of celophane from different packaging we had around the house (reuse, recycle!), and I found one that was the noisiest when between the fabric.

Finding the right celophane was just a matter of trial and error.

Finding the right celophane was just a matter of trial and error.

Next, I stuffed the ears with the celophane.  Enough to be crinkly but not so much that the ears were bulky.  Then came type to sew the ears onto the body pieces.  I pinned the ears along the straight edges between the head and body piece for each side of the elephant, right sides in.  Then it was a simple stitch along the straight edge. I didn’t bother backstitching since the edges were going to be sewn to the other side.  Repeat for the other side.

Make sure the celophane stays in the ear piece!

Make sure the celophane stays in the ear piece!

Here’s what it looks like once the ears are sewn on:

Already starting to look cute!

Already starting to look cute!

Next, I pinned the two sides, wrong sides together (so ears IN!).  I added a tail using small binding by pinning it in place, long side in.  I also decided at the last minute to add a loop of binding at the top for grabbing and for plastic rings (to hang off the car seat).  Again, pin the loop between the pieces, loop IN the body.  Then I stitched around, leaving an opening approximately 2 inches wide at the back to turn inside out and stuff.  Note that the seam allowance here is very small, maybe 1/8-1/4 of an inch, so some of the turns were tricky, I just had to go slowly and breathe!

Once stitched, still inside out.  Note the placement of the white binding for the tail and loop.

Once stitched, still inside out. Note the placement of the white binding for the tail and loop.

Here’s what it looks like once turned right side out:

Looks a little wrinkled now but a little stuffing will fix that right up!

Looks a little wrinkled now but a little stuffing will fix that right up!

Time to stuff! Use LOTS of stuffing – elephants are BIG! 🙂  I used polyester, hypoallergenic and washable batting. I used the eraser end of a pencil to get the batting all the way into the trunk. Then I hand-stitched the opening – I’m slowly getting better at that part.

Here’s the final product!

A huggable friend!

A huggable friend!

Here's that loop I was talking about - great for hanging off the car seat or play mat.  Also adds to the "sensory" part of this toy.

Here’s that loop I was talking about – great for hanging off the car seat or play mat. Also adds to the “sensory” part of this toy.

The crinkly ears are a big hit! The little one has already taken a liking to this little fella.

The crinkly ears are a big hit! The little one has already taken a liking to this little fella.

 

Easy Pillow Dress

After yet another round of illness in our home, we are more than ready to get this winter over with and welcome spring and summer with open arms.  In an effort to will summer to arrive sooner rather than later, I made a cute little summer dress for my little lady.  I had some fabric that I’d originally ordered to make throw pillows, but I thought it would be really cute of a little girl’s dress.

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I couldn’t find a ribbon that matched exactly but I think it still works.

Most of the tutorials I looked up required a serger (which I don’t have) so I was excited when I found this awesome tutorial to make this (very) easy pillow dress. I really liked the sizing chart the author provides.  I went with the 12 months sizing.  Our little girl will be 6-8 months this summer but I figured I’d make the dress to work for the next few summers – it can always be a cute top once she gets taller!

As always, I pre-washed, dried and ironed my fabric.  I measured and cut two pieces, 15″ wide by 19″ long, making sure the pattern was in the right direction.

Then I folded over about 1/3 inch down the sides of both pieces, ironed, folder over once more, ironed again.

Fabric pieces

I think I need a new iron because after washing, I can never get the fabric perfectly flat…so pardon the wrinkles!

Then it was just a simple straight stitch down the sides. I didn’t bother back stitching since I’d be closing off the ends.

Easy peasy straight stitch, now THAT I can do :)

Easy peasy straight stitch, now THAT I can do 🙂

Next came the opening for the ribbon.  I lined up the pieces side by side to make sure they lined up and gave myself about 1/8 of an inch on either side of the width of the ribbon.  So just over an inch.

Make sure to leave yourself enough wiggle room so you'll be able to thread your ribbon through.

Make sure to leave yourself enough wiggle room so you’ll be able to thread your ribbon through.

Folded over, ironed, folded over again, and ironed once more (are you seeing a pattern yet? hehe).  I was careful to sew as straight as I could along the edge to make sure the opening would be big enough. I made sure to backstitch at each end here.

Sew about 1/8 of an inch from the bottom edge, making sure to leave enough room for your ribbon.

Sew about 1/8 of an inch from the bottom edge, making sure to leave enough room for your ribbon.

Next was putting the two pieces together, right sides together, to sew them and create the arm hole.  The tutorial was for a 2T size so the author left a 6 inch opening but given I was making a much smaller size I started 4 inches down from the top.

Pin the pieces together where you'd like the seam to start, leaving enough room for the arm hole.  A good trick is to use a current piece of clothing to check the length you'll need for the arm hole.

Pin the pieces together where you’d like the seam to start, leaving enough room for the arm hole. A good trick is to use a current piece of clothing to check the length you’ll need for the arm hole.

I pinned to mark my starting point, then, starting my stitch below the pin, sewed down tight against my other seam, backstitching at the top only (where the arms will go).

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Then I pressed the seams down.

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Next was the hem.  I folded over once, about an inch, ironed, folded over again, and gave it a final iron.

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I stitched the top line, then I decided to get a little fancier, and stitched a bottom line, creating a little more weight at the hem.

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The final step was threading the ribbon! I turned the dress inside out and gave it one last iron.  I heated the ends of my ribbon to make sure they wouldn’t fray.  Just be careful not to get too close with the flame.  I couldn’t for the life of me find a safety pin so I just used a sewing pin to give the ribbon weight and help push it through the opening.  The tutorial called for two pieces of ribbon that tie on each side, but I decided to leave the ribbon in one piece and have it tie on just the one side, and skipped stitching it into place. This way I can always go back and change it if I want later on.

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And there you have it!! A very easy, breezy pillow dress ready to go for the summer weather (if it can ever get here!!).

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I also found these super cute bloomers on sale that I think will go really well with the dress 🙂

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I can’t wait to dress up my little lady!

 

Magnetic Chalkboard Wall

We have a problem with organization in our kitchen.  I love having everything organized, but life gets in the way and just when I think I’m on top of things, BAM, life runs away from me and I’m trying to catch up to it and running out of breath.  In an attempt to help keep our daily lives a little more on the ball, we decided to create a magnetic chalkboard wall in our kitchen and make it an “organization station”.

We have this sort of useless wall next to the laundry room door just off the kitchen where we used to hang a calendar.  The popularity of chalkboard paint got me thinking we could make better use of this space.  My darling husband did some recon work and suggested we make the chalkboard wall magnetic: brilliant! So we bought the magnetic paint and chalkboard paint, taped off the area we wanted to paint and got to work.

The magnetic paint went on first.  Warning: this stuff is oil based so it STUNK up the place.  It’s also incredibly hard to mix because, well, it’s metal! Had we known it would smell so bad we wouldn’t have tackled this project in December when the temperature drops and having windows and doors open leave you curled up on the couch under layers upon layers of blankets.  Live and learn.  In total we put on 3 coats of the magnetic stuff. Unfortunately,  the wall isn’t as magnetic as we’d like, so in hindsight a few more coats might have helped.

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This is the best angle I could get of the wall. We went all the way down to the floor so the kids can use it too once they’re old enough.

Then it was time for the chalkboard paint.  Water-based, this stuff is pretty much scent free and much more user friendly. It also only required 1 coat.  Much easier! The manufacturer instructions said to wait 3 days before writing on the chalkboard.

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The light switch is in an annoying spot but we’ll just work around it.

We bought pre-primed trim to frame in the area.  Keegan cut and nailed it into place and I puttied the joints and nail holes and painted it white.  I just used the white semi-gloss paint we used on our baseboards.

The manufacturer’s instructions for the chalkboard paint recommended that you run the flat edge of a chalk all over the entire surface, then erase, in order to “prime” it.  Not doing this could result in your first etchings being “un-eraseable”.  Warning: this makes an INCREDIBLY dusty mess.  I recommend having a vacuum close by.  You will likely need to wash the floors after too.

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Corner joints puttied and chalkboard “primed”.

Finally, now for the fun part! We went out to buy chalk and, believe it or not, in many stores (including the craft store we went to), chalk is considered “seasonal”, so we could only find white chalk. Bummer.  I was really hoping for some funky colours.  I made due with what we found (for now).

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I haven’t had time to do anything more creative than the “K” at the top but eventually I’d like to create something artsy and fun.

Just this past weekend though, Keegan found some coloured chalk (at Chapters of all places!), so today I updated our menu 🙂

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I’m looking forward to having our weeknight meals organized and not scrambling at the last minute trying to figure out something healthy and tasty to eat!

I have plans to make this space even more useful, but that’ll have to be for another post 🙂

DIY Baby Hats

Our little lady is one week old (already!!) and we’re loving every minute with her.  She’s still teeny tiny so we’ve had to go out and buy some smaller, warmer outfits.  We’re also in the middle of a deep freeze with a freshly fallen 20cm of snow today.  Unfortunately, most of the baby hats out there are way too big or a very strange fit (what’s with that???).  So I decided to try my hand at making my own out of things we’ve got around the house.

The first I made used up a pair of old leg warmers that I’d bought for a Flashdance Hallowe’en costume and never worn again.

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I cut the leg warmer in half – I had originally thought of just making an overhand knot with the top, but the fabric was too thick, so I cut out a U-shaped chunk down the middle of the top part, about half-way down the length of the piece.

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Then I tied the two side pieces together, twice, and voilà! Easy baby hat with a cute bow on top.

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Of course, I wasn’t really 100% satisfied with this hat given that it can easily come apart, so I decided to step it up a notch and bust out the sewing machine.

I used a light pink cotton t-shirt I hadn’t worn in years – notice that I didn’t even bother washing or ironing it first.

DIY the lazy way - I figured I'd wash and iron the hat once it was finished.

DIY the lazy way – I figured I’d wash and iron the hat once it was finished.

I lined up the bottom hems and cut out a Hershey’s kiss shape.  I used an existing store-bought baby hat to determine the size I needed, which was about 6in wide and 4in high to fit the baby’s head – I added another 4 or 5in for the “peak”.  The cotton has stretch in it so I wasn’t too worried about being exact with my measurements.

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Then I just sewed the two pieces together, wrong sides facing, turned it inside out and overhand knotted the top.  A perfect custom fit 🙂

I think it's pretty cute!

I think it’s pretty cute!

Confession: In my sleep-deprived haze I actually forgot to flip one of the pieces before sewing so one side of the hat has the wrong side facing out.  Luckily it’s not very obvious, but it bugs me, so I think when I have a bit of time I’ll try using the rest of the t-shirt to make another hat, I’ll just have to hem the bottom of the hat myself given that I’ve used up the existing ones already.

DIY Christmas Cards

Last year we spent way more than we’d planned on our Christmas cards.  Granted, they were very cute – we used one of A’s sleepy newborn pictures and ordered a Peace, Love, Joy themed postcard from MyPublisher.com.  I was very happy with them.  But in the end they were much more costly than our budget should have allowed for.

This year we wanted to do something on the cheap, but keep with the personalized theme.  I got this idea from Pinterest (where else?) – using your little one’s footprint to create a fun character.  I wanted to go for a simple, rustic, organic look so I decided to go for the footprint Reindeer (if you’re on Pinterest, I’m sure you’ve seen lots of them).

I found these blank ivory cards at a craft store – I think they were only $10 or so:

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I then attempted to take A’s footprint.  The first time, I did it on my own.  NOT a good idea.  I hadn’t really thought it through, didn’t have any paper towels or washcloths nearby and put WAY too much paint on the platter.  DISASTER.  My husband, Keegan, came home just in time to find us both covered in brown acrylic paint (he thought it was something else. Imagine his relief!), which unfortunately didn’t wash out all of our clothes.

Lesson learned.  The second time Keegan helped me and we go this PERFECT print:

Such a perfect print! Too bad it's on the wrong side of the card :(

Such a perfect print! Too bad it’s on the wrong side of the card 😦

EXCEPT – it’s on the wrong side of the page.  I’d confused which end of the foot I was going to have to draw the antlers.

Take 3 was a success.  It was a little darker and smudgier than I would have liked, but A was beyond fed up at that point so it would have to do.  I painted the antlers, nose and eyes with acrylic paint and used a gold Sharpie to write “Joyeux Noël”:

Scanned image unedited

Scanned image unedited

I wasn’t pleased with my script – it’s too small and a little crooked.  I practiced a bunch of times before writing it on the actual card but I think I got nervous and choked.

I scanned the image to my computer.  Once on there, I was able to edit the exposure and colouring of the image (just using the stock software, nothing fancy) to make it a little more grainy, a little more “raw”, like I wanted. I also cropped my script, enlarged it, and pasted it back on to make it more proportional.  Ah the wonders of editing!

Scanned image edited

Scanned image edited

I typed up the message to go inside and a little ode to my new blog on the backside.  I feel like having something on the back makes them seem more “official”.  Looking back, I could have just printed the date, so I’ll keep that in mind for next year. I then printed the whole thing on the cards.  I had to practice a few times to get the image printed on the right side and then flip the paper to print the message on the inside, but it didn’t take long to figure out.  Finally, I tied on a twine bow to add a little rustic texture to the cards.  And there you have it, our DIY personalized Christmas cards:

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The perfectionist in me isn’t 100% happy with them, but I think they turned out pretty close to what I had envisioned.  And really, I’ve got plenty of years ahead of me to practice making them just right 🙂  Now all that’s left is to add a little message and mail these babies out!