Monday, July 16, 2012

Paint Chip Mobile

I had a hard time decide what kind of mobile to make for the nursery.  I didn’t really want a theme for the nursery, opting instead for non-traditional nursery colors with geometric prints.  Not saying I have anything against a theme, but there wasn’t anything that jumped out to me.  Most mobiles I’d seen online went with the theme of the nursery: clouds and raindrops, giraffes, owls, birds, airplanes, etc. However, I have constantly been drawn to the simple mobiles made out of colorful cardstock.  I wasn’t fully satisfied with anything I saw, so I decided to incorporate parts of a few different styles.

The first mobile (found on etsy) I really liked because of how full it looked.  With three different layers of colors, it wasn't as sparse as some other mobiles I'd seen.
The second mobile (also from etsy) I liked because each strand gradually switches colors, instead of all being the same.
Since I live in a town without a hobby shop of any kind, my only option for cardstock is Walmart.  So basically I have no options for cardstock.  Instead I decided to use paint chips, as I would be able to get the colors I wanted in a variety of shades.  So yes, I lingered around the paint chip aisle and took a sizeable stash.  But no, I feel no guilt.  This is my first paint chip project, and we’ve spent hundreds of dollars in the paint section at Walmart while fixing up our foreclosure.  Then I spent a good chunk of time cutting out circles.  I wish I had a circle stamp to quickly cut circles, but at least I had taken my mom’s scrapbooking supplies hostage, so I had a circle tool I could use to make perfect circles.  After cutting TONS of circles (I cut the turquoise ones in 1 ½”, 1”, and ½” sizes, and the yellow ones in 1” and ½” sizes), I was still left with circles with color only on one side.  So I got out my Elmer’s spray adhesive and glued all of the circles together so that I’d have color on both sides.  Not gonna lie, this part took forever.  But finally I was ready to actually assemble the mobile!

I don't have any photos of this process, so hopefully I'll get better about remember to take more pictures as I work on projects!

I had a lampshade in a closet that I’d bought at Salvation Army for $.50 but hadn’t used yet, so I took it apart and used the metal rings for the form of the mobile.  I figured out how many strands of circles I’d need and laid out the circles in a gradient pattern, beginning with the dark turquoise to light turquoise, then the darker yellows and finishing with the light yellow circles.  I got out some yellow thread and a sharp but thin needle and strung the dots together, with about an inch or so between circles (tying knots before putting on each circle so they’d stay spaced apart).  Then I tied the string around the metal ring, spacing each strand out evenly.  After finishing with all of the strands I was getting excited about how it looked, but felt like it needed to be a little fuller.  I used an old metal hanger to make a smaller circle to go inside the larger ring, and used up all of the leftover circles.
In retrospect I wish that I had painted the metal circle, but I can always go back and cover it with some paper or ribbon so that it blends in more with the turquoise and yellow.
Even though it took forever, I’m so happy with it!
To fill in that space to the left of the mobile I have an empty white frame and plan on putting a birth announcement in it.  I already made the birth announcement, but of course had to wait to actually have the baby so I had her information to put in...even though it already happened, I never had a chance to get it on the wall.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Thrift Store Treasure

On a random trip to Salvation Army this past spring, I stumbled upon these two cute porcelain owls.  
I know owls are trendy right now in blogland, but I really bought them because I know that Dylan likes owls (and they were only $.99 each !).  They had some good heft to them, so I immediately had the idea to make them bookends for our nursery.  But leaving them as is wasn’t an option…I’m a bit clumsy, so I pretty much assume that I’ll knock stuff over at some point.  These would get broken the first time I reached for a book, not to mention what would happen when our little one becomes mobile.

First I found some 1x4 scraps in our basement, cut them to size, and made two L-shaped pieces that I would later glue the owls to.  To make the L-shaped pieces I made pocket-holes using my Kreg Jig and screwed them together.

After rounding the edges with a handheld sander, I wiped the pieces down and stained them using some “Jacobean” stain we got on clearance at Ace Hardware.  I put the stain on heavily, allowed it time to sink in, wiped off the excess, and put on a second coat.  I haven’t used this stain before, but I really liked the final color.  It was a dark brown without any hint of red, which is hard to find.  Two coats of polyurethane later, I was ready to attach the owls.

The owls were primarily white to begin with, but they had creepy, beady yellow eyes, so I gave them a coat of white spray paint (Rustoleum’s Painter’s Touch White).  To attach the owls to the wooden pieces, I used an epoxy.  After allowing them the afternoon to dry, I put them in the nursery bookshelves.

They look so cute holding up those well-loved children’s books (well-loved at least by myself and my siblings, maybe even more generations!).

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Nursery Sewing Projects

Finding bedding or other nursery items was been difficult as I chose untraditional colors... dark turquoise and golden yellow.  I gave up any hopes of finding anything I would like already made, and as I have some sewing skills I decided to make everything myself.  I bought a few different fabrics from

First I made a crib skirt out of Premier Prints Indoor/Outdoor ZigZag Blue Moon.  I chose an indoor/outdoor fabric in part because I was able to find several prints in the same color that I liked, and partly because I figured it would hold up better over time.  Another nice bonus was that it was a bit wider than cotton prints (54 inches wide instead of 44 inches wide).  When I first got the fabric I was a little nervous because it was stiff and a bit scratchy, but after pre-washing everything, it was much softer and exactly what I wanted.

The crib skirt was a piece of cake.  I measured how far away from the ground the crib mattress springs would be when it is in its lower position, and added 2 inches.  One inch was for the hem, and one inch was to allow extra to fold over and Velcro to the metal mattress springs.  I got some cheap adhesive Velcro at Dollar General, 16" for $1, and it worked great.  I also measured how wide the front and sides of the crib were.  For the front panel it worked out perfectly from selvedge to selvedge with a couple of inches for overlap on each side.  For the sides, it was also perfect if I cut the fabric in half.  A nice perk was that since I planned on attaching the front first and wrapping the edges around (which would be hidden by the side panels) I didn’t have to hem the sides so I just left the selvedge in place.  For the side panels I hemmed only one side (where I cut it in half), which became the side that showed in the front.  The other side (the selvedge) wrapped around the back and out of sight.  Total time to make and attach to the crib: less than an hour.
I also made a changing pad cover out of some of the fabric I purchased.  For the changing pad cover I used Premier Prints Indoor/Outdoor Polka Dot Blue Moon.  I basically just followed the tutorial at Prudent Baby, and it took about an hour and a half.  I probably could make it faster, but I was distracted by watching Once Upon a Time while I made it.
It basically fits like a sheet.  It is fitted around the top and has elastic around the bottom so that it is easy to take off to wash.
Now that we've actually been using it, we realized how often "accidents" happen even while on the changing table.  We didn't want to have to wash the changing pad every time, so I cut out a rectangle of white vinyl to put on top so we can just wipe it up.  I found the white vinyl in the outdoor tablecloth section of Hancock Fabrics, and it was really cheap (I got a yard for about $4).
I love seeing the nursery come together!  I have a few more nursery sewing projects to share soon, and I'll have some pictures of the finished nursery!

Friday, June 22, 2012

New Blog, New Name

Welcome!  This is my first post on my new blog "Naptime DIY."  You may have read some of my other posts on my old blog "Fine Line Home," which has now been closed (though I did add the posts from that blog onto this one).  As you'll discover, my husband and I try to be thrifty when we can, so after my free year of hosting, we closed the blog.  I was teaching full time and pregnant for the entire school year, which made me tired all of the time!  I didn't really do many house projects, and therefore, didn't write much on the old blog, so it didn't make sense to pay money if I wasn't going to use it.  Not only that, but we're moving out of our house (in less than 3 weeks!), so I figured that my new blog should reflect more about my new phase of life rather than our former house.  Hence the name "Naptime DIY."

Our beautiful baby girl, Juliet Morgan, is 7 weeks old today!  She's a champ, for sure, and we're blessed to have such an easy baby our first time around.  It's amazing how long we can just watch her and how many times a day we say, "She's so cute!"  Here she is only one day bugs me that this photo is not in focus, but I love how little she is and that she's looking at the camera, so I'll deal.
With her cuteness abounding, I've learned that the way I spend my time has changed drastically.  During the day, as soon as she falls asleep for a nap, I know that if I want to do anything around the house I'd better get going!  Up until now I've been doing sewing and art projects with my free time.  But with our moving date less than three weeks away, I'm getting my rear in gear on packing up.  We don't yet have a house to move into, so we're selling a lot of our furniture, purging, and packing up the rest of our stuff to go into storage until we find our dream fixer-upper.  I'm hoping that during this next phase of life as a stay-at-home mom, this blog will serve to document our lives and milestones as well as serve as a creative outlet for me...DIY is great on its own, but it's so much fun to share projects and ideas!  So who knows how often I'll post stuff (total fail at consistency on my old blog), but check in if you're interested to see what I'm up to!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Nursery Furniture

About two months ago I had a nervous realization that our baby was due in the not too distant future.  While I’d thought about the nursery quite a bit, I hadn’t yet started putting anything together.  I knew that before I could put together the nursery, all of my sewing and craft stuff would have to be relocated, and I was not looking forward to doing that.  Finally I bit the bullet and dove in headfirst.  My goal was not just to move all of the random stuff I’ve collected to another room in the house, but rather to make it work better for me in the next few months, and also to make it a breeze when it’s time to pack up and move this summer.  I spent 12 hours one Saturday tearing apart the study (which we use as a backup pantry and store other random things), our front hall closet (which I’d been dumping stuff in for a year and a half and slamming the door shut to keep stuff from falling out), and the sewing room.  I also had to move around furniture (and by that I mean I sweetly asked Dylan and another friend to move it all, because it’s time I took advantage of being awkwardly seven months pregnant).

Our nursery has been put together with furniture more cheaply than I could have hoped for.  Last summer I saw a dresser I liked the shape of at our local Salvation Army, but held back on buying it because it cost so much (ha! try $15).  But without Dylan’s approval, I didn’t want to buy it.  I told him about it and he went by after work.  Somehow it was still there!  Decent furniture at this Salvation Army usually sells really quickly, so we were surprised.  He liked it, bought it, and we picked it up the next day.  We actually found a stamp inside a drawer telling us that it was made by a company that usually sells dressers of this size for over $1000!

Other than giving the dresser a loving home, I didn’t put it to much use for awhile.  Finally, when I had oil-based primer out when Amy and I tackled the study, I gave it a coat as well, because I knew I’d be painting it.  We love wood finishes, but this one was a bit too rough around the edges for that, especially with the way the drawers were put together.  I was NOT going to sand that down!  After priming it, we stashed it in our guest room for 6 months and covered it with some fabric (to hide the fact that it was only primed).  I wasn’t sure at the time what color I wanted to paint it, so instead of putting in time and effort to paint it only to change my mind later, I hid it until we needed it.

When I realized that I needed to get my rear in gear on the nursery, I had Dylan and a friend carry  it back downstairs to the garage so I could paint it.  I had decided to spray paint it a glossy white, the same as the crib.  This part actually took a lot longer than I’d hoped.  In the end I wished that I hadn’t primed it with a brush, because it left so many stroke marks I had to sand it down and prime it with a spray oil-based primer.  After that, I gave it about four coats of spray paint, let it cure for several days, then we (of course I mean Dylan and a friend) carried it back upstairs to the nursery.  Here's the finished product:

Now on to the crib...We like us a good deal, and I’d say this crib definitely qualifies as one.  Where did we get it?  A dumpster.  Yep, that’s right.  We saw it in a dumpster, and checked it out.  It was a Jenny Lind style, solid wood frame, without water damage from being outside, in overall good shape.  We quickly stashed it in the car and gave it a new home.

While the cost so far was $0, this crib cost us in labor.  We had to sand down each side, as the polyurethane was chipping off (maybe from age, possibly from being outside).  This would have been a piece of cake if it was a different style, but with all of the curves this one had, it was no quick task.  Thankfully Dylan helped out with the sanding, and a few episodes of Parks and Recreation later, we had it ready to be wiped down and painted.

I used Rustoleum spray primer and the same white spray paint as I’d used on the dresser.  I’m not going to lie…it took a lot of paint.  Each spindle had to be hit from 3-4 four different directions to get it fully covered, and the whole crib needed several coats.  But since the crib was free, we felt like this was worth it.  I'm looking classy in the picture below, eh?

We did have to make a couple of trips to the hardware store to figure out how to attach the front part of the crib.  Needless to say, dumpster cribs do not come with hardware.  In the end we used four L-brackets, for a total of 8 bolts attaching the front to the sides, instead of the only 4 that had been previously used.  It’s not going anywhere.  I spray painted over the hardware to make it blend in.

At this point, the crib was done, except for the fact that we didn’t have a mattress support frame.  I’d kept my eyes open at thrift stores and Craigslist ever since we found the crib in December, but hadn’t seen a single thing.  So I looked it up online and was prepared to make my own from 2x2s and 1x3 slats when I got home from school one day.  On a whim I stopped by the Salvation Army on my way home.  After two months of no cribs, they had two!  One of them was broken, so they weren’t going to be able to sell it, which means that I got the steel mattress support for only $2!

The third main piece of furniture in the nursery is a side table.  This I just made this past weekend (yep, 38 weeks pregnant...).  As I was cleaning up the house, I noticed a couple of drawers we'd removed from our kitchen three years ago in the renovations.  I hate seeing perfectly good things just sitting around going to waste, so immediately my mind went to how I could use them.  As the nursery has taken shape I've been really happy with it, but it needed a side table.  Not wanting to spend money on one (and not seeing one around town that I liked anyway), I decided to build one.

I modeled it after Ana White's Simple Nightstand (I made two of these as my first building projects two years ago), but adjusted it to have two drawers instead of one.  The side table I made ended up the same height, but had a much larger base, which I like.  I used scrap materials on this side table.  The only items I had Dylan buy were two 8-foot 1x2 furring strips (cheaper than pine 1x2s, found in the lumberyard at Home Depot), for a grand total of $.85 each.  Other than those, I used 1x3s, 3/4-in plywood, and beadboard leftover from re-facing our kitchen cabinets, all of which we had on hand.  I spent about 5 hours on Saturday coming up with the adjusted measurements and building the side table.  On Sunday I filled the holes and cracks with wood filler, then on Monday after sanding everything smooth, I spray primed and painted it outside with the same paint I used on the dresser and crib.

I certainly was not the perfectionist on this project that I've been on every other building project, but it's not anything people would notice.  Just things I usually wouldn't be able to let slide.  Tuesday Dylan carried the side table up to the nursery, and I was able to finish putting everything together in there.

The other pieces of furniture in the nursery are a twin bed (left in our house from Dylan's former roommate) and an awesome rocking chair I bought in Costa Rica when I studied abroad there in college.  It's not actually in the nursery yet, because it's Dylan's favorite chair to play video games, but he knows that as soon as the baby gets here, it'll be moved.  I've always planned to use it in a nursery someday, and now I actually am!

I plan on writing a post soon about the sewing projects I undertook for this nursery, and I'll include some finished nursery pictures!

Cost breakdown of nursery furniture:
  • Dresser                              $15
  • Crib                                   Free
  • Crib Hardware                  $5
  • Mattress support                $2
  • Side table supplies             $2
  • Spray primer and paint      $50
  • Labor                                 Free
Total Cost:                                 $74

*NOTE: I realize a pregnant woman spray painting causes many people to cringe (and probably judge).  Just be assured that the garage door was opened so that the fumes could escape and my husband bought me a special mask that I wore when painting.  I felt like Darth Vader the whole time, but it’s worth it so that my baby girl doesn’t have two heads!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Patio Concrete Stain

Early last summer I saw a project on Beneath My Heart about staining their concrete patio.  It transformed the plain concrete patio into something beautiful!  In my head, I started secretly planning to do the same thing to our concrete patio.

Our patio has come a long way since we moved in.
Here’s what went down:
  • we tore down the ugly screens
  • we power-washed the chipped paint off the ceiling
  • Dylan replaced every two 2x4 supports with a single 4x4 post
  • Dylan tore off the old flat shingled roof and replaced it with a pitched tin roof
  • we primed and painted the ceiling and posts (with the help of friends)
  • we cut down an ugly evergreen shrub/tree and improved the landscaping

After all of that, the patio was already looking much better than when we started, but I felt like staining the concrete would take it to the next level.  My parents and sister Amy were planning on visiting us during a weekend in August, so we decided to work on it that weekend.  First I swept off the concrete and scrubbed it with muriatic acid and a hard bristle brush.  I was extra careful in this step, because muriatic acid is some nasty stuff!  Don't you just love my nerdy protective goggles?
The next morning we used a carpenter’s square and tape measures to mark off 18 inch square “tiles” on a diagonal pattern.  After I’d gotten several lines marked off, my mom and Amy started taping off the tiles with ½ inch masking tape.
Note: ½ inch masking tape isn’t easy to find…fortunately I found a place in St. Louis on their route that sold it, so they picked it up on the way.  I didn’t want to use standard ¾ inch tape, because it would make the taped off portion (the grout lines) too wide.

This part took awhile, but we were already getting an idea of what the finished product would look like, which was exciting!
And, of course, we did all of that under the supervision of the cutest kitten in the world.
In the next step, we hit a glitch.  In the blog tutorial on Beneath My Heart, she found her concrete stain at Lowe’s, and they had several options for the color of stain.  Because I live in a tiny town, our only option was Home Depot.  While usually I like it just as well or better than its counterpart, Home Depot didn’t have many options for concrete stain.  We were hoping for a brown-ish gray color that would coordinate with the tin roof, which was called "Burnished Slate."
After seeing the limited options (most were too red) and discussing it with the paint counter pro, we decided to use the jet black stain at 30% of the power (hoping it’d give us a gray color).  However, when we got home, for some reason the “black” looked decidedly blue, which was not the look we were going for.  We were able to return it and get our money back.  At this point, we decided to go with some semi-transparent concrete stain at Walmart, in the color “Brownstone" of the Seal-Krete brand, and add some blacking to it, which we purchased a bottle of at Home Depot.  This way we were able to get more of a color we wanted, with the only down side being that adding the blacking meant that the stain was no longer semi-transparent, but rather opaque.
We started rolling it on, and loved the way it was looking!  After all of the time-consuming cleaning, measuring, and taping, this part flew by!
However, as always seems to happen, we ran out with only a few square feet to go.  Bummer.
The coverage wasn't perfect, though, and there were a few places that stroke marks were visible, so a second coat wasn’t the worst thing.  Back at Walmart, we bought another gallon of stain and took it home to mix up our custom color.  As the patio needed more dry time, and we’d been at it all day, measuring, taping, and finally staining, we decided to do the second coat the following day.
Sunday after church we got busy staining, and this time around it went very quickly.  As the stain dried we carefully tip-toed around the patio and peeled off the masking tap.  Fortunately we didn’t have to deal with the tape peeling off the stain like sometimes happens with paint.  The family headed back to St. Louis shortly after, and Dylan helped me put on three coats of clear, glossy concrete sealer later that night.  One gallon was enough for all three coats!  The concrete sealer goes on milky white, but dries clear.
Finally the next day we were able to see the finished product in the daylight.  It looks like real tile!  We had a few friends over and they commented on how great it looked, and were taken aback when I told them that we’d stained it.
One of the greatest things about this project is how inexpensive a transformation it was!  Here's an estimated cost breakdown (because by now, I've forgotten the specifics!):
  • muriatic acid: $8
  • stiff bristle brush: $5
  • rubber gloves: free (already had)
  • 1/2 masking tape: $5 for 3 rolls
  • concrete stain (2 gallons): $50
  • blacking: $5
  • concrete sealer: $25
Grand total: About $100.

Not bad at all!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Duvet Cover Sewing Project

In preparation for the baby's arrival (the due date is 4 weeks from today!), we've been rearranging some furniture around here, which has thrown off some of the color schemes.  When we moved the twin bed into the nursery, we had a navy blue comforter amidst the gray, golden yellow, and dark turquoise color scheme, which bugged me every time I walked in the room.

Fortunately, we have an extra twin-sized comforter that is nice and fluffy, but we weren't using because not only did the the color clash, but the fabric was discolored in some places.  As we've been trying to stop spending money on home decor for this house, buying a new duvet cover or comforter wasn't an option.  I've been sewing a lot lately and decided to sew a duvet cover that would match the room.

However, finding fabric wide enough for a duvet cover (without piecing it together) is not easy.  Not to mention trying to do this as cheaply as possible.  I found a plain gray twin-sized sheet set at Walmart for only $10, and though I knew I'd have a tight fit as the dimensions wouldn't give me any breathing room, I decided to try to make it work.  In retrospect, the hardest part of this whole project was working with the twin-sized would have definitely been easier to buy a sheet set that was a size larger, but Walmart was out of full-sized, and the queen-sized added another $10 to the price.

Sewing a duvet cover is not a hard task (there are plenty of people that have already written great, easy to follow tutorials online), but I didn't just want to use the sheets as they were, because I thought it'd look like a cheap giant pillow case.  After looking up ideas online, I settled on the idea of using pintucks to add visual interest (and distract from the fact that it was made out of cheap bed sheets).

The width of a standard twin comforter is 63" and the width of the flat sheet (after pre-washing) was 61".  With 1/2 inch seam allowances, the duvet cover would be about 3 inches too small.  This wasn't really a drawback, though, because it would give the comforter a little more body instead of seeming flat around the edges.

After ripping the seam along the top edge of the sheet, I had about 12 inches of extra vertical length to use to make my tufts.  I followed a tutorial I found online to make the pintucks, arranging them about 12 inches apart in each row, with rows spaced 6 inches apart.  I laid the sheet out on the living room floor for this step, and it should be noted I do not recommend this project for women who are 8 months pregnant. :)  After marking the location of each pintuck with safety pins, I started sewing the pintucks.  I expected this part to take forever, but it actually went faster than measuring and marking the locations.

Finally I was ready to actually assemble the duvet cover!  This part when quickly compared to the rest of the project.  I lined up the edges of the top and bottom piece (the bottom piece was the fitted sheet with the elastic taken out and extra material sewn together to make it a perfect rectangle, but as it won't show, that didn't bother me), with right sides together.  I sewed around three sides of the duvet cover, leaving the middle of the bottom edge open (to make the corners crisp on this fourth side, I recommend sewing about 8-10 inches on each side).  I used pearl head snaps on the bottom edge, as they were easy to attach and look nice with the gray color.
Dylan helped me slide the duvet cover on the comforter, and after a bit of adjustment, I laid it out on the floor so I could see if all of the time and effort was worth it.  The verdict?  I love it.  100%.
I left it laid out on the living room floor for a couple of days and smiled every time I saw it.  Even after I finally put it on the bed in the nursery, I walk by the room and get excited just looking at it!  It definitely doesn't look like two cheap twin sheets sewn together (as I think it might have if I hadn't added the pintucks), and I know we'll want to keep it for use in our next house.