Category: Tutorial

A Tank Top Recycling… Up-cycling… Revamping


Whatever you want to call this type of project… the point is I had a white tank top which had gotten a little grubby. Originally from Everlane, which incidentally makes some of my favorite clothes, I love their “Ryan” line of Rayon shirts and tanks so much I have bought them in a bunch of different colors. They aren’t selling them anymore, which is a tragedy and made me even less inclined to toss the tank in question. Overall the shirt was structurally sound but I wore it to the Great Sand Dunes and the front had gotten strangely sand yellowed and a few other spots were discolored as well. After trying in vain to get it back to white, I decided to change the color. Most people would have (wisely) taken the easy way out on this and dyed it. I of course concocted a far more complicated plan to hand draw designs on the tank and then “paint it” with fabric dye.

I bought a Tee Juice fabric marker in black and started drawing out designs from my coloring book “In the Garden”.

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Solvent Image Transfers

Not exactly ground breaking stuff, using a solvent of some type to transfer an image to another surface has been a popular DIY topic for years. I wanted to try it out on fabric, for both a new throw pillow cover and future mixed media projects. There is a huge number of other blogs who have done the same thing with a different solvent product. I have seen people recommend Citra Solv, paint thinner, lacquer thinner, acetone etc. I happened to have a bottle of full strength acetone already sitting in my cabinet, and a few copies of the images I wanted to transfer.

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Hanging a Lightweight Tapestry

A tapestry is technically defined as a thick piece of woven fabric, so a “lightweight” tapestry can’t really exist. I guess “wall hanging” would be more appropriate or maybe just “fabric I’m going to put on the wall”. I bought this batik dyed cotton wall hanging from Urban Outfitters:

Urban Outfitters

Possibly the dark colors were a mistake in the basement room I’m currently living in, but I loved the pattern, and it does feel cozy. I bought a 5 foot roll of adhesive backed Velcro similar to this stuff. If your tapestry is heavier weight or you want added security from pulling you could also buy sew-able Velcro and stitch it to the fabric. I took the easy route and just applied the Velcro tape to the top back of my fabric, after ironing all the creases out.

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Creating a Cameo Pendant from an Old Brooch

Vintage Cameo Brooch Refashion

I picked up this little vintage cameo brooch for less than a dollar second-hand forever ago. I don’t wear brooches… and rarely  wear gold, but I liked the cameo. I have always thought cameo’s were lovely, I think I had a porcelain doll with a tiny cameo when I was very little perhaps that’s why. In any case I got around to re-fashioning it the other day when I saw that the Vintaj line of natural brass findings were on sale at Hobby Lobby.

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Cleaning Real Fur at Home

Fur Clutch 1

I found this little clutch at a vintage clothing store in Denver. I have no idea how old it might be, possibly late 50’s to early 60’s… although it could be more recent. There are no labels of any sort in it. It is however real fur, I would say rabbit by the look and feel. It’s pretty easy to figure out if an item is faux or genuine fur if you can see the backing. Fake fur will be backed with fabric, genuine fur with of course be on hide/leather. If, like my clutch, it’s not possible to examine the back of the fur, the next thing to look at is the individual strands of fur:

Cleaning Real Fur


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Homemade Henna Part 3: Patterns & Designs *PLUS FREE VECTORS*

So you’ve made your henna paste, and you’ve learned how to expertly apply it, all you need now is some design inspiration!

When I was first getting into henna, I checked out every book the Denver Library had on the subject. My favorite by far however, was “Traditional Mehndi Designs” by Dorine Van Den Baukel a 200 some page “treasury of henna body art”. Over the years I requested the book numerous times, every time I checked it out it was in worse and worse repair. In preparation for this series I tried to request it again, only to find the library no longer had a copy. Presumably their only copy final fell to pieces, so I ordered a used copy from Amazon.

Traditional Mehndi Designs

It really is an amazing design book here are a few sample pages:

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Homemade Henna Part 2: Application

Homemade HennaIf you haven’t read part 1, do it now! I shared the recipe I use to make henna paste.

So now that you have a bowl full of sticky, potent, henna dye it’s time to apply it to your skin! There are two methods of application, cone or bottles. When I first started doing henna, many years ago my parents bought me a kit that included plastic bottles and metal tips. Since I have kept and cleaned the bottles I never explored using the cones. I’ve read that the bottles are a bit more manageable for beginners, and you can achieve many line thicknesses with different tips. Henna Caravan has a variety of application options for decent prices. Amazon does as well: cones, bottles.

During the process of handling the paste remember that it is DYE and will DYE whatever it comes into contact with! It’s a good idea to wear gloves while you prepare the applicator and keep paper towels handy.

To prepare for application, take your henna paste and begin to thin it out with lemon juice. You want the paste to flow smoothly though your applicator. In the video below you can see that my applicator keeps getting clogged. You want the paste to be thin enough to be pour-able, but not so thin that it’s no longer sticky. Once the paste is a nice consistency spoon it into the bottle, and snap on the tip. Practice a bit on paper to see that the paste flows well, if it’s too thick add some lemon juice. If it’s too runny, add more of the undiluted henna paste.

When you’re ready to apply henna to the skin, make sure the skin is clean and dry. Different areas of skin will take the dye differently, since it works by dyeing the layers of the epidermis the thicker the skin the darker the stain. Palms of the hands, soles of the feet etc dye darkly, thighs, forearms etc dye more lightly.

Watch me draw out a wrist design below:

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Homemade Henna Part 1: Recipe

Homemade Henna

Henna or mehndi is the practice of using paste made with the powder of the henna (Lawsonia inermis) plant along with other additives to dye the skin or hair. It’s been practiced for 1000’s of years in the Middle East, India, Pakistan, and Africa. For a more in-depth history check out this article from Silk & Stone.

I started playing with henna when I was in middle school. I don’t have any tattoos and have never really wanted one, but every so often for years now I draw semi-permanent designs with henna on my arms and legs. I recently made a new batch of the sticky green henna paste and wanted to share the process on Zounds! In this mini-series I’ll go over the basic recipe, how to apply the henna paste to skin and then lastly design ideas! Today let’s tackle how to make your own homemade henna paste.
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How to Create Earring Hooks

I’ve found some cool jewelry at thrift stores in the last few weeks. This bangle was $4 and I love the distressed look of it:

Thrift Store Cuff

I also bought these chandelier/fish lure looking earrings, they make the prettiest chiming sound when they move:

Brass Dangle Earrings

Lastly the real subject of this post, I bought these vintage stone clip on earrings:

Clip on Earrings Redo

I have no idea how anyone could wear clip on earring for any amount of time, they hurt! Plenty of jewelry stores and craft stores sell earring hooks pre made and ready to use. However, if you already have the supplies it takes no time to make replacement wires.

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Recognizing and Cleaning Marble

In my last post I showed you my new little thrifted marble topped plant stand:

Vintage Marble Plant Stand

The wood legs and base are in decent shape, but the wood top in between the marble and legs has significant water damage. Cleaning Marble

The marble top was badly scratched, had several deep water mark and was generally yellowed. Since I don’t know yet what I will be doing to the wood base, I thought I would at least tackle getting the marble clean.

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Polishing Silver with Natural Ingredients vs. Silver Polish

I bought this little bowl a few days ago, you might have seen it in my first thrift finds of 2015 post. Silver Plated Small Bowl

It was pretty badly tarnished. The first thing to figure out before you try to polish any metal is what it’s made of, silver plate, sterling silver etc. The easiest method is to check for a label. On the bottom of my bowl, was the faintest remains of what once said Paul Revere Reproductions. I’ve seen these plenty of times before at thrift stores. They were made in sterling silver and silver plated varieties. In America sterling silver will always have either the word sterling or the number 925 on it. Sterling silver is 92.5% silver hence the 925. If no label is present it is most likely silver plated. Which is copper electroplated with a thin layer of silver. With old pieces there is also a good chance you can look at the silver finish and find a couple spots that look coppery colored.

I didn’t find any sterling silver markings on the bowl, plus there are several spots on the inside that are copper colored. To polish silver plating the most important thing is to be gently since you are an infinitesimal amount of silver away from a copper piece. Here is the bowl interior before polishing:

Silver Plated Bowl Polish

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Inktense Watercolor Look Throw Pillow: Part 1

Continuing on my journey to fill this sofa with lots of colorful throw pillows, I’ve been loving the watercolor trend:
Abstract Watercolor Pillow CoverHand painted abstract watercolor pillow coverWatercolor Art, Art Pillow, Watercolor Pillow, Throw Pillow, Home Decor, Accent Pillow, with Optional Faux Down Insert

The ones above are all from Etsy and still available to purchase. From left to right, Foreverwars‘ digital print pillow 16×16 for $40, Kolorena’s $40 hand painted 20×20 version, and  CASACreated’s $30 16×16 printed pillow cover only.

You also might have seen a number of peoples DIY attempts at this trend with Sharpies and alcohol  most notably on Brit+Co, check it out here. I’ve set myself the goal of using only supplies I already owned to make the pillow covers sooooo Sharpies were out. I didn’t have the right colors, and Sharpies are pretty pricey. I considered just using watercolors but they don’t achieve a really bright saturated hue once dry. Derwent’s Inktense colors are very saturated and I received a new tin of the blocks for Christmas, so I decided to try them:

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Sewing a Simple Envelope Pillow Cover Tutorial

As promised, here is my pillow cover tutorial. I made my first cover late at night and the pictures kinda suck so I made this pretty infograph to illustrate the process a bit clearer:

How to Sew a Pillow Cover

My pillow inserts were loosely measured at 17 x 14:

Sew a Pillow Cover

I cut the new fabric out of green velvet, that I either got from my grandma or possibly it was a remnant from Joanns.

Sew a Pillow Cover

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Washing Down Pillow Inserts

As I mentioned in my last post, I am working on filling my sofa with throw pillows. The inspiration is this picture off a paint sample brochure:

Couch Inspiration

I love just about everything in these photos. I have a couple ugly pillows I want to cover but I will need some new ones too. I’ve been looking around online and there are hundreds and hundreds of throw pillow ideas floating around. So I created this board on Pinterest, which is all the tutorials for interesting pillow covers I could find/liked. I’m still adding to it so go check it out! I’m going to be doing a series on making different pillow covers. I also want to set myself the challenge to make all of the covers with supplies I already have.

First things first though: the inserts. I prefer down inserts, which can be expensive from craft stores, but very cheap from thrift stores. They are generally disguised in terrible pillow covers like these were:

Down Pillow Inserts

They were $2 a piece, and inside these hideous covers:

Ugly Pillow Covers

It’s easy to clean down pillows. First check to make sure the cover has no rips or tears, and is strong enough to take the machine. If the feathers can get out they will get everywhere and the insert will be ruined. If you aren’t sure wash the insert inside a larger zippered pillowcase to contain any feather explosions. Use a gentle cycle and mild detergent. To dry the inserts can take a couple of hours. They can be laid outside in the sun or put in the dryer. Adding some clean tennis balls to the dryer will help keep the pillows fluffy.

Get your inserts ready because the next post will be how to sew a simple cover! If you don’t do thrift stores or are impatient, check Target or Home Goods clearance section for cheap pillows with nice inserts.

Re-Painting and Re-stretching an Acrylic Canvas

The Great Wave Acrylic Painting

You may have seen the painting in question here. It was a thrift store find, and a bit banged up. Besides being dirty, and loose on the frame, it was also vaguely unfinished. We had it propped on the back of our sofa, and it just couldn’t continue to live with all the pencil marks still showing. I broke out my drawer of acrylics and got to work:

The Great Wave Acrylic Painting

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Copper and Rope Hanging Planter Tutorial

I had these lovely Epipremnum aureums (Golden Pothos) in hanging pots but nowhere nice to hang them. The hook in the ceiling is too dated for my taste.

PothosSo I came up a copper and rope hanger for them! To make your own you will need:

Supplies for Copper Rope Planter Hanger

Rope, copper pipe, copper end caps, copper brackets, thin hemp rope to bind the ends of the large rope (that’s whats pictured but I ended up using heavy duty black thread for color contrast), screws and anchors for the ceiling, hooks to hang the pots from (or you could slide the hanging pot right onto the pipe), and the planted hanging pots you want to hang. Everything I used is from Home Depot, except the hooks and pots which are from IKEA.

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Scarf Storage Wall

I have tons of scarves and it’s always been hard storing them effectively. Folding results in creases and having them out of sight means I never remember to wear one anyway. For the past couple of years I have had them on my letterpress jewelry trayScarve OldBut the longer they hung on the hooks the more wrinkled they got. When I’m about to leave and decide to throw a scarf on there is no chance I’m going to take the time to steam the one I wanted. So on the empty wall of my project/dressing room I decided to make a hanging scarf storage system. Here is the wall before:

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Cheap ~ Easy ~ Comfy Tent Dress!

I buy a lot of skirts at thrift stores. They’re one of the few articles of clothing most second-hand stores have a great selection of. I suppose it’s because a nice skirt is something a woman would buy, wear a few times and then never wear it again. On another note, it’s sometimes hard to guess why items end up at thrift stores, in this skirt’s case though I don’t have to guess… I know. This skirt bleeds dye, lots of dye, and did the first time I washed it and does it still many washes later. If it wasn’t a favorite dress of mine, I wouldn’t bother to hand-wash it separately every time.

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