DIY Gold Stripe Tray

When I was considering adding the tulip table to my foyer I wanted to have a little spot to corral the mail, my keys and other things when I come in the door. I knew a small tray would be ideal for that purpose, so I set out to find one that met my criteria – it needed to be rectangular, not too expensive, and it needed to have some colour given the table and the walls in my foyer are white.

To be honest I had absolutely no plans on DIYing anything, and I actually did find a lovely contender for the spot at HomeSense that was just $13. Then of course I went to the thrift store and found a tray for $1.99 and my plans changed.  Given its thrift store provenance the tray was predictably ugly, but it was the right size and shape and I knew that making it prettier would be easy.Thrift store tray before

I’ve been in LOVE with this tray forever, and if it had been the right size I may have been tempted to buy it for my foyer (but only if it also went on sale). Since the original wasn’t to be I decided to make my own version using my thrift store tray and spray paint I already had on hand.

(Appologies for the bad cell phone picture)

(Apologies for the bad cell phone picture)

After spraying the tray white I set out to mark off the pattern on the top of the tray using masking tape. I eyeballed the pattern and used a small piece of tape to help with the spacing between the lines.  I did have painters tape on hand, but it was too wide for the scale of my tray so I ended up using the regular masking tape (I use it in class to tape my drawings to the drafting table).  Thrift store tray painted gold

Once the pattern was complete I sprayed the tray top and bottom with gold spray paint, and when it was dry I peeled off the tape and voilà – a gold stripe tray.DIY Gold stripe tray

There was some bleeding under the tape that more than likely wouldn’t have occurred if I’d used painters tape, but I’m honestly not too concerned.DIY Gold Stripe tray.

Not bad for $2 right?

DIY Birdfeeder

One of the classes I took last semester was Design Fundamentals, and one of the major assignments of the course was to design either a birdfeeder or birdhouse. When my instructor first told us about the assignment I wasn’t worried – I birdhouse couldn’t be too hard right? I mean, kids build them all the time in scouts and girl guides. It turns out I was a little misguided in my assumption of the project’s ease. Our projects had to be created out of materials that weren’t originally meant for either a birdhouse or feeder (this of course meant that we couldn’t buy a kit from the craft store and simply paint it – drat!).

Once I put my thinking cap on I came up with an idea I thought was pretty smart. My plan was to take a vintage suitcase and turn it into a birdhouse – I’d cut holes in it, and create vintage looking travel stickers depicting bird migration destinations. I ran into an unexpected problem however – have you ever tried to find a reasonably priced vintage suitcase in Toronto? I have, and I can tell you it’s not possible. I blame the hipsters.

Anyways, when it became apparent my genius (if I do say so myself) plan wasn’t going to work I had to come up with something else, and by then I had just a week to source materials and construct it. Unfortunately I faced a rather large problem – I had absolutely no idea what I was going to create. Searching the internet for inspiration was no help, so I did the only other thing I could think of – the weekend before the project was due I took an epic shopping trip to every thrift shop I could find between Toronto to Burlington looking for ideas.

I have no idea how many shops I went to. I bought random things here and there hoping I’d eventually be able to make them into something, but I still hadn’t had that ‘light bulb’ moment. Before heading back to Toronto I stopped in Ikea (on a Saturday afternoon – this should tell you how desperate for inspiration I was) and I found an item that finally looked hopeful.

I bought a white Skurar candle lantern and planned to turn it into a bird feeder. A few more stores over the next few days and I had all the rest of the materials I needed.

With just two days to complete the project I got started. I wish I could say I took process shots, but I was more worried about just completing the birdhouse which was worth 20% of my grade. The idea was to use the sippy cup to hold the seed and then attach it to the plate as the base of the feeder. The plate would hold the seed to also the birds to eat it, and give them a place to perch. The lantern would be tuned upside down over-top of the sippy cup to protect the seed from the elements and make it pretty. I also loved that the cut-out in the lantern would allow some of the colour of the sippy cup to shine thought – especially when it was sunny outside.

My first step was to drill a hole in the middle of the bottom of the lantern. I’d use that hole and the hole in the sippy cup lid where the straw would normally go to bolt the two pieces together with an eye bolt. The eye bolt would also be used to hang the bird feeder. Bolting the lid of the sippy cup to the lantern would allow the bird feeder to be easily refilled by simply unscrewing the cup bottom from its lid. My next step was to drill a series of holes around the base of the sippy cup to allow the birdseed to escape. I also drilled a hole in the middle of the bottom of the cup – my plan was to bolt the base plate to the bottom of the sippy cup. All of these steps, while a little time consuming were fairly straightforward and I started to believe my plan would work.

The last part of the plan was to drill through the dollarstore plate to allow it to be bolted to the bottom of the cup. I’ve drilled through some ceramic tile before so while I knew it would take some time I was confident it could be accomplished. I was wrong. I drilled, and drilled, and drilled, and drilled some more. My neighbours must have thought I was nuts. Over an hour later, and I’d only just managed to get through the plate but I still had hours of drilling left to make the hole big enough for the bolt. I gave up, and decided to take a chance with gluing the plate to the cup. I picked the plate up out of the sink where I was was drilling (I was using a bit of water to keep the bit cool), and started to dry it off.bang

I could have cried. There I was, on a Sunday night, and I’d just dropped and smashed the plate I’d just spent over an hour drilling, and I didn’t have a spare. Class was on Tuesday so I had just 24 hours to get another plate and hope and pray that gluing the plate would work as I no longer had any time to come up with an alternate plan.

DIY BirdfeederThankfully it turns out that two-part epoxy works really well at attaching plastic and ceramic together and my DIY bird feeder ended up looking like I had imagined it would. More importantly my bird feeder was appreciated by my instructor, and I got an 18/20 on the project.DIY Birdfeeder.DIY Birdfeeder in the sun.What do you think? Have you ever made a DIY birdfeeder? How did you do it?

DIY Boot Inserts

With fall here and winter rapidly approaching I’ve finally switched out my summer shoes and clothes for my cold weather ones. This means I just moved it all to the middle – I’m not fancy enough or have a big enough home to have separate closets for different seasons. If you’re one of those lucky people to have separate closets then I’m rather jealous. Moving on.

When I pulled out my leather riding style boots I noticed a small problem – they hadn’t fared too well over the long summer months being shoved in the back of the closet and looked a bit forlorn, and well, wilted. I started looking for something easy to DIY to combat the droop but I could only find ones made of rolled up newspapers and magazines or cut up pool noodles – I wanted something a little prettier.

My boots didn't do so well in the back of my closet

My boots didn’t do so well in the back of my closet

At BlogPodium Tonic Living had given all the attendees two yards of fabric and asked us to create something with it and any other fabric we had on hand for an Instagram contest. I decided I’d use my new fabric to make pretty DIY boot inserts. The contest is finished, but I’m rather pleased with my creation so I thought I’d share.

What you’ll need

Fabric – 4 circles and two rectangles
Fiberfill, or stuffing of your choice
Dried Beans (optional)
Ribbon

I used a yard of Varenna fabric in coral, and a sample of Cameron in storm - both from Tonic Living

I used a yard of Varenna in coral, and a sample of Cameron in storm – both from Tonic Living

First you’ll need to measure your boots. For tall boots you’ll want the inserts to be tall enough to support the ankle but still reach the top of the boot. Mine were 14” tall. You’ll also want to decide how wide you’ll want them to be. I decided mine should have a 3” diameter, however once finished I found that a little big – 2 ½” would probably be better.

Cut your shapes. I used a ramekin to trace my circle

Cut your shapes. I used a ramekin to trace my circle

Cut out your shapes. Cut four circles to form the top and bottom of your inserts – remember to make your circle a bit bigger for the seam allowance. You’ll then cut out two rectangles.  The rectangles will be the height you’ve decided on for your insert plus about an inch for the seam allowances at the top and bottom. The width of the rectangle will be the circumference of your circle plus the allowance. This is where that high school math you were sure would never use in real life is useful (circumference = diameter times 3.14. In my case it was 3” x 3.14= 9.42” which I rounded up to 9 ½”).

Pin the tubes together

Pin your fabric together to make two tubes

Pin your fabric rectangles right side in to make tubes. You’ll want to sew along the short side leaving your seam allowance. Once those are done you’ll pin one circle to each end of the tube – again, fabric right side in. You may have to fiddle with this a bit, but  I found pinning inwards worked best. You’ll then sew your rounds to the top and bottom of the tube. Take your time – this was my first time attempting to sew anything other than a straight line, and it worked for me with a little patience.

Pin the circles to the tubes of fabric to make the top and bottom of your inserts

Pin the circles to the tubes of fabric to make the top and bottom of your inserts

Leave an opening at one end of each tube so you can turn it inside out, and then stuff it. I wanted to have a little weight at the bottom of my inserts so I used a cup of dried garbanzo beans, but this isn’t required.

Once you've sewn your inserts turn them right side out, and insert the dried beans

Once you’ve sewn your inserts turn them right side out, and insert the dried beans

Add dried beans if you wish for weight, and then stuff your inserts well

Stuff your inserts well – use a wooden spoon to push the stuffing firmly into the bottom.

I then stuffed my inserts using a pillow I sacrificed as I didn’t have any regular fiberfill. To help get the stuffing to the bottom of my tube I used a long wooden spoon. You’ll want the insert to be stuffed firmly – remember the purpose of the insert is to support your boots. Once they were filled I hand stitched the holes closed.

Stitch the openings closed and then add your finishing touches

Stitch the openings closed and then add your finishing touches

To finish the inserts I attached a length of ribbon to the tops using a simple whip stitch, and then added a small bow to the tops. The ribbon in optional, however I wanted to be able to hang my inserts up out of the way when they weren’t in use.

I attached a length of ribbon to the top of each insert

I attached a length of ribbon to the top of each insert

A length of ribbon attached at the top makes your boot inserts easy to hang out of the way when not in use

A length of ribbon attached at the top makes your boot inserts easy to hang out of the way when not in use

These were easy to make, requiring limited sewing skills and a bit of patience, and they’d make a great Christmas gift. What do you think? Would you make yourself or someone else some of these?IMG_5170

My DIY Foyer Rug

My apartment has wood floors which I love even though they’re not in perfect shape. What I don’t love is the amount of ‘stuff’ that gets tracked in from outside. Even though I have to walk across my building’s entry rugs, and then climb a carpeted staircase and down a carpeted hallway before I get to my unit a lot of stuff gets tracked in on my shoes and boots. It’s winter here in Canada, so there’s the salt and sand that gets thrown down to treat slippery sidewalks and driveways, and the snow that melts and gets everywhere no matter how hard you try to bang it lose before coming inside. When I moved into my apartment the previous owner left behind an entry mat which I used for the first full winter I lived here, but it wasn’t a really great solution – the above mentioned salt, sand and melted snow made a daily mess of my foyer, and I tired quickly of mopping and sweeping it on an almost daily basis, not to mention the damage the stuff was doing to the hardwood.

My Foyer with it's wood floors and numerous doorways

My Foyer with its wood floors and numerous doorways

I looked high and low for a rug I could use in the space, but I had two problems – the room is small (It’s about 5’x8’ but has 6 doors so a 4’x6 rug wouldn’t work) and as is common in old buildings, the floors are uneven. In my foyer the floor in front of my front door rises a bit, which means the addition of a regular, even flat-woven, rug impossible as the door would get stuck.

After a few trials and errors with various rugs I schlepped home on the subway I came to the conclusion that if I wanted something for my floor I’d have to make it myself. After a while Google introduced me to the idea of floor cloths. While I like to consider myself handy and creative, I’m also pretty lazy, so I figured instead of painting a pattern on blank canvas I’d just buy some fabric with a pattern I liked instead.

I found some navy and fuchsia stripped fabric at King Textiles that I quite liked. The only problem was it was a bit stretchy, and not wide enough to fill my odd-shaped foyer. One seam, and some iron-on interfacing and I had the base of my rug. I then quickly hemmed the four edges to make it the right size (I’m a bag blogger and didn’t take any photos – but I’m sure you can imagine it – it’s was very simple).

I could have left it like that, but I wanted my cloth to be somewhat water-resistant as I knew I’d be standing on it in snowy boots. I laid out a big sheet of plastic and then laid my new ‘rug’ on it, and then proceeded to paint it with polyurethane. I had a half can leftover from a previous project and I figured that would be more than enough – I was wrong. The fabric soaked up the urethane like a sponge, so I ended up using another full can.

My next task was figuring out a way to prevent my new rug from sliding all over the place. Traditional rug pads wouldn’t work because they added too much thickness and prevented the door from being opened. I had pinned this on Pinterest sometime last year and I figured it would solve my problem, and it did – sort of.

Martha Stewart - Caulk Rug Tip

Rug slip-proofing tip – Via marthastewart.com

While the caulking did prevent my new rug from becoming an indoor slip ‘n slide it wasn’t ideal for the thin material I was using – after a while the lines of caulk because visible through the fabric, and I worried that eventually there would be permanent wear marks where the caulk was. My rug with the caulk applied to the backLuckily a while after I started using the mat I was at Ikea when I spotted their extra-thin rug underlay, and it works quite well without adding that dreaded bulk.

My DIY Foyer Rug in Place

My DIY foyer rug in place

I’ve lived with my DIY rug for a few months now and I really like it. I sweep it to get rid of the dirt I do track in and an occasional damp mop gets rid of the salt and water marks. I love the bright graphic stripes, and the fuchsia picks up the colour of the flowers in the art print I have hanging on the wall.

What do you think? Would you ever consider trying to make your own rug?

Linked to: Young House Love, The Shabby Nest,