July 30, 2013

How To Dip Artificial Flowers in Plaster

Remember when I was challenged to upcycle one of three dusty old materials?  The crowd voted for the award trophy plaque and I got started right away.  After mulling over a bunch of ideas, I ended up basing my final decision on the materials and tools I already had on hand.  What came out of it all was a plaster flower bud vase (or tea light) wall sconce.

I had never used plaster before...it was so fun!  Kinda messy, but very satisfying and worth it.

Here are more photos of the finished sconce AND a tutorial to show you how to dip artificial flowers in plaster!

June 7, 2013

How To: DIY Upcycled Necktie Fabric Bouquet

dyed fabric flower wedding bouquet

A few months ago I posted photos of this dyed fabric flowers project that I created for a friend out of upcycled necktie interlacing.  I've gotten heaps of feedback, mostly that it would make a beautiful wedding bouquet for a diy or green wedding. This tutorial should make a few of you really happy {and hopefully will lessen the amount of emails I receive on the daily}!

The project is pretty simple, really. Mostly it's just methodical and takes a lot of time. In a nutshell, you deconstruct some neckties, dye some fabric, fold and glue them into flower shapes, then glue them onto a Styrofoam ball that is set up to hang with twine.

Gather your supplies:
Large Styrofoam Ball
Neckties (quantity is dependent on the size of the Styrofoam)
2 Buttons
Hot Glue Gun & Glue Sticks
Fabric Dye
Containers for dyeing

Deconstruct the neckties:
Using scissors and/or a seam ripper, tear apart those stitches!  After you've opened up the exterior fabric, you'll see the white, woven interlacing fabric strips inside.  Set the exterior fabric aside and use it for another project.  Get rid of the itsy bitsy threads.

Prep the fabric to be dyed:
1. Boil the interlacing strips in a large pot of salt water
2. Squeeze excess water from the fabric, after it's cooled off of course
3. Fold the fabric strips in half lengthwise, then roll them up to look like a cinnamon roll. Use stick pins to secure it as you go. Don't worry about the shape so much now since crafting the actual shape of the flower happens later. The folding and rolling of the fabric now is just the prep work to be able to dye the fabric in multiple colors.

Let's add some color!
1. Line the fabric rolls in rows in a flat container.
2. Following the instructions from the manufacturer, mix and pour in enough dye to only cover the bottom half of the fabric rolls, then cover to retain the heat. Let them sit for the suggested amount of time.
3. After one side has been dyed, it's time to dye the other side a different color.

Dye the second side of the fabric rolls:
1. Open the containers, then lay the un-dyed side of a few of the pink fabric rolls flat into the red dye.
2. Lay the un-dyed side of a few of the pink fabric rolls flat into the purple dye.
3. Lay the un-dyed side of a few of the red fabric rolls flat into the purple dye.
4. Lay the un-dyed side of a few of the red fabric rolls flat into the pink dye.
5. Lay the un-dyed side of a few of the purple fabric rolls flat into the red dye.
6. Lay the un-dyed side of a few of the purple fabric rolls flat into the pink dye.
7. Let the fabric rolls sit in the dye for the amount of time suggested by the manufacturer.

Does this ever happen to you... You're knee deep in a project and someone happens to come along to see what you're working on, expecting to see beautifully-placed-in-perfect-containers-and-photo-ready-magical work in progress (you know, like the ones you see in Pinterest photos?) Then, after one look at your crazy eyes and at the mess surrounding you, they raise their brow at the hand-dyed murder scene they just walked in on and look like they want to bolt.  This, my friends is when you know you're ready for the next step of this project {No one said this would be a pretty WIP!}.  Time to rinse!

After a cold rinse in the sink, unravel the fabric rolls and follow the manufacturer's instructions on washing and drying the dyed fabric. Here are some fancy shmancy before and afters.  See how different it looks PRE and POST rinse, wash and dry!?

Create the flowers
I used this simple tutorial by Jones Design Company to create my flowers, but you may choose to craft your flowers any way you wish.  Once you have all of your flowers created, move on to the next step.

As you can see, my flowers are less than perfect.  This is a very forgiving project!

Construct the ball
Using an awl (or a skewer, perhaps), poke a hole all the way through the entire center of the Styrofoam ball.

Lace your twine (yarn or string) through both holes of your button, then thread both ends of the twine through the center of the Styrofoam ball, using the tunnel you just created with the awl.

The button marks the bottom of the Styrofoam ball, and the top is where the twine comes through the hole.  Leave the ends of the twine nice and long so you can later create a tied, loop handle after the flowers have all been attached.

Attach the flowers
I used a hot glue gun to attach my flowers, but I suppose any glue would work well as long as it's compatible with fabric to Styrofoam.  Here are some tips before you begin:

  • Do not glue any flowers over the button on the bottom
  • Leave a small space (the size of your button) at the top of the ball where the twine comes out
  • Be sure not to glue on or cover the twine since it will be used as your finished handle
  • Glue each flower very close together so you don't see any Styrofoam white space peeking through.

Squish a large amount of glue on the back of your first flower, then stick it to the ball.  Do the same for the rest of the flowers until the entire ball is covered, being sure to glue them so their sides are touching.

Create a handle
After all of the flowers have been attached, slip the ends of twine through the bottom two holes of the remaining button, then slide the button down to rest on the ball.  Put a dab of glue under the button to secure it.  Tie a small knot on the top of the button for extra security if you'd like.  Then tie the loose ends of the twine in a knot at the top to finish it off.

Finishing touches
I added some dyed leaves to the top of my bouquet, but if you have a super awesome, way better idea (don't worry, I won't sulk for long)...do your thing!

To add the leaves, follow these simple steps:

1. Cut two small pieces of white, woven interlacing fabric in the leaf shape of your choice.  I selected interlacing that had already diagonal stitches woven in.

2. Dye the leaves using the manufacturers instructions.  You'll notice that my leaves are different colors...even though they were dyed in the same batch (same package of dye, same container, same amount of time, same rinse/wash/dry process), the difference in the synthetic fabric affected the end result of the colors.

3. Glue the leaves to the top of your bouquet.

Show of hands...who forced everyone they know to look at your finished project?  When they're finished "oohing" and "awwing", send them over here to make their own!

As usual, I'd love to see photos of your finished project.  Feel free to post them to my facebook page, or tag me at @upcycleyourlife on Instagram and Twitter.

May 14, 2013

Upcycling Initiation Challenge

I have some really fun news and some really exciting news.  You want to hear the exciting news first, huh?  Here goes...

Shortly after my move from Michigan to Florida, I was offered a partnership with Tampa Upcycle, a sister company to The Upcycle Exchange in St. Louis, MO. And I accepted! The official announcement was posted here if you want to check it out.

This may explain my whereabouts over the last couple of months; it's been kind of a crazy whirlwind around here.

To welcome me :ahem: Morgan and our awesome Upcycle fans are hazing me with an Upcycle Initiation Challenge.  You can get in on it too!

Here are the super easy rules:

  • Head over to the Tampa Upcycle facebook page, and Like the photo of the object that you want me to upcycle
  • The photo with the most Likes will be the one that I will upcycle.
  • I will have to use at least 80% of the material, and will have 30 days to complete the project.

Here are the upcycling choices:

An old beaded light kit

Country fabric

Old trophy placque

All three choices are pretty terrible, but regardless, I am SO ready for this challenge!

April 24, 2013

Etsy Craft Party 2013 - Are you going?

It's almost time for another Etsy Craft Party!  On Thursday, June 20th, crafters and makers will be coming together in their hometown for a fun time of making, meeting, greeting, learning and, of course...partying.  There's probably an Etsy Craft Party already brewing in your neighborhood, but if not, it's not too late to plan your own craft event.

I'm thinking about leading a demo at my local party, but haven't decided what to make yet {any ideas for me?}.  I am also hoping someone demos a needle felting project!

If you live in Florida or are planning a visit in June, visit the Tampa Bay Etsy Craft Party event page for all the details.  Be sure to leave a comment on the event page if there's a project that you would like to see at the party, or better yet, if you would like to demo a project of your own!

March 12, 2013

Milo Makes! Hand Sewing Project for Kids

yellow stuffed cat pipe cleaner whiskers

Both of Milo's grandma's have exposed him to needle crafts {knitting and crochet} ever since ever, so he thinks all hand work involving a needle is called Knitting.  My silly boy.

He picked out this pre-made craft project at Joann's the other day which got me all excited.  Despite the box recommending the craft for an older child, he did pretty darn good! 

sewing crafts for kids joann fabrics

He insisted on standing up to pull the yarn straight.  Every.Time.

Once he had the yarn nice and straight, he gave it a good shake.  A really really good shake.

The box came with two projects and he finished them back to back.  I didn't know that he actually had an attention span longer than 20 minutes!  

The craft kit from Joann's included pre-cut felt shapes, coordinating yarn, a plastic needle and stuffing.  But these would be so easy to make at home, especially if you have a stash of felt scraps.  I spotted a giant box of felt sheets in multiple colors at Tampa Upcycle last weekend, and am definitely going to give it a go (maybe with my Silhouette craft cutter?). 

upcycled felt sewing project for kids

February 15, 2013

Fabric Flower Bouquet: an Upcycled Necktie Project

Finding materials to use for the Indie Lovely Valentine's Day Gift Swap proved to be quite a challenge since the only materials I've stockpiled since the move are neckties {and their reusable scraps}. 

woven necktie interlining
I wanted to make something sweet and girlie for the swap, and a vintage tie wallet just didn't seem fitting.

What to do?

Dig deep...you know, that spot in your brain where you find your "Aha" moments?

After mulling over my limited material options, I decided to expand on an idea that was born from a year-old convo with a crafty gal pal...Giant, vibrantly dyed, fabric flowers from my piles and piles of {boring, dull} necktie interlining fabric.  


Who doesn't enjoy flowers on Valentine's Day, right?

handmade card for the gift swap
Can you believe the transformation!

I would have ever guessed that this was fabric from a necktie, had I not created it myself.  That's pretty satisfying to me.

I'm looking forward to enjoying new creative challenges like this as I continue settling in to my new space!  

EDIT 06/09/13:  Here's the link to my tutorial on how to make your own multi-colored dyed fabric flower bouquet

February 14, 2013

Conrad and Helen, a Love Story

Vintage Photograph Sepia Love Hug Man Woman At the Lake Valentine
Yesterday I was showing Milo photos of my Grandpa Conrad and Grandma Helen.  When he saw this one he said, "they fell right in love."  He was excited to learn that Grandma played basketball in school, and I almost melted when my told me that Grandma just loved Grandpa's big bear hugs.  

I sure wish that I had known more about them!

Vintage Photograph Man Woman Suit Film Reel Ruffled Plaid Dress

Their love story began while Grandma was still school and living with her sister.  Grandpa's sister happened to live across the street, and this is how they met. He was a few years older than her and already working.  

Vintage Wedding Photograph Bride Groom Bridesmaid Best Man Flower Bouquet
Grandma graduated in 1939 and they married in May 1940. Grandpa showered her with gifts, but also worked hard to support her and their little home outside of town.

After their first baby was born they moved into town and Grandma took up ironing to help make ends meet.  

{Some of my primary memories of my Grandma are of her ironing.  She not only enjoyed it until the day she passed away but let me tell you, she also ironed like a champ...clothing, household linens and sheets.  She even made sure Grandpa's underwear were wrinkle free!

Vintage Family Portrait 1960 Sixties Black and White Grandpa was a bit of a crack-up and loved to make her laugh.  He had a true gentlemen's spirit...opening her doors, helping her with her coat, and always insisted on promptness. 

They went on to have 3 more children and lived a simple, comfortable life together for almost 57 years.  

Valentines Day Date Vintage Photograph Dinner Restaurant WWII

In the photo above, Grandma is the first lovely lady on the left.  Although they were pretty conservative when it came to public displays of affection, it appears that Grandpa was attempting to woo her with his wit from across the table. 

I'm betting that as soon as the camera flashed, Grandma batted her eyes demurely, then blushed with a shy little smile for Grandpa's eyes only.

Collage Vintage Photographs Marriage

What a sweet example of simplicity, strength, and romance.  

I was a little teary-eyed while perusing the photos, enough so that Milo noticed and made a comment about hoping he will have parents forever.  It was a really touching moment for the both of us.

What are some of your favorite lovey-dovey memories?

Signature Text

February 8, 2013

Upcycled Vintage Tie Wallets on Sale Today!

Each Friday, I have a $10 Off sale on the Aisle 3 Vintage Tie Wallet that received the most Etsy hearts during the course of the week.

Today's Friday Favo is...

Available here on Etsy
$30.00 $20.00 today only!

Also, enjoy $5 off these two runner's up...

Available here on Etsy
$30.00 $25.00 today only!

Available here on Etsy
$30.00 $25.00 today only!

Your favorite didn't make the cut? Don't be sad!  Share the link of your favorite Aisle 3 Vintage Tie Wallet with your friends and fans {who will have fun pressing the cute little Etsy heart!} then check back again next Friday.  Easy peasy.

PS:  Follow my posts here on the blog, or on facebook, google + or twitter to be notified of next week's Friday Favo.