Showing posts with label projects. Show all posts
Showing posts with label projects. Show all posts


Ladder Organizer How To

Sometimes an idea is so ingenious you simply have to pause and absorb its brilliance. In the August 2005 edition of Martha Stewart Living magazine this ladder was the "Find of the Month" (I really miss that column!) shown in its new role as an organizer. Simply place wide, sturdy planks of wood between the rungs for an instant shelving unit in a garage, potting shed or basement. Two-sided ladders are best for large shelves. Find a ladder that is attractive and in good condition. You can use one of your own or find a used one at a flea market. Older ladders often have lots of charm; wooden ones can be painted or stained. 
For this project, you'll need a ladder with two sides of steps. To make the shelves, 1 x12 boards will work on most ladders (use two, side by side, for extra width if necessary). Have them cut 16 inches longer than the space between each pair of rungs for an 8-inch overhang on either side of the ladder. If desired, you can prime and paint the boards and the ladder. (In the photo above, the planks were left bare.) Secure the planks to the steps with 1.5-inch screws: pre-drill holes, and then drill the screws in.
This small, vintage ladder was repurposed into a display shelf for a collection of houseplants. The back steps were removed with a handsaw to allow it to lean against the wall, attached with small "L" brackets to keep it from moving. Measure the width of the ladder two inches above each rung. Cut lattice strips to these measurements. Nail one two inches above the back of each step. These lattice pieces will prevent the plants from falling off the steps. Sand, prime and paint, if desired.


Two Father's Day Fabric Crafts

Browsing through Martha's Handmade Holiday Crafts book, I came upon two easy Father's Day crafts that struck my fancy. I thought I'd share them here, for all the crafters among you!
The most iconic Father's Day gifts are classic for a reason. Even if your dad doesn't wear a tie very often, there are all kinds of special occasions that may call for him to wear one, such as weddings or a formal dinner party. Choose a tie in his favourite colour or pattern and then personally deliver it in a handmade envelope made of shirting fabric. This way he can use it to store the tie in his drawer or take it with him if he is traveling. For instructions and templates, click here.
A set of protective pouches should help keep Dad's electronic devices and personal accessories, such as cellphones, iPods, small digital cameras and eyeglasses, safe and sound. This simple project is great for older children who may want to practice their sewing skills. Argyle and striped socks are especially handsome, but any type of pattern or colour will do. Choose socks with a high cotton content (over 80%) for the best results.

What you'll need:
One adult sock per pouch, disappearing ink fabric pen, scissors, sewing machine or needle and thread. Turn the sock inside-out. The cuff will be the open end of the holder. Lay the device or accessory next to the top of the sock and measure to 1/2 inch below the bottom for a seam-allowance. Mark a line with the disappearing-ink fabric pen. Cut out with scissors. Machine-sew a seam. Alternatively, you can sew the seam by hand using a needle and thread. Turn right side out.


3-D Love (Stationery Style)

In the February issue of Martha Stewart Living there is a wonderful tutorial on making three-dimensional Valentine's Day cards for your sweetie. The materials and instructions are simple and the finished products are beautiful, handmade keepsakes to treasure. The best part about the projects is that they are artfully assisted by the use of free, downloadable templates and drawings designed by the Martha Stewart team. I love the free clip-art that the magazine provides in each issue and my PDF folder is almost bursting with saved templates from previous issues, from previous years. These ones below will also be added. Click Here to download all of the templates needed for these projects and see below for a brief synopsis of the projects. I'm sure you'll be as inspired as I was! Can you guess what my favourite card is? What's yours?

There is a wide array of 3-D cards to try. Just choose your favourite, select your papers and download the templates before you begin.

What better way to communicate your love to your main squeeze than with an accordion-fold card? A quick print, cut, and crease is all it takes to make a card with a trio of hearts, a big LOVE, or sweet old XOXOs.

An airplane chased by a lovey-dovey contrail, a heart-shaped lock with skeleton key, two little lovebirds sitting on a wire -- these garland-style cards simply require ribbon, cord, or twine. Mixing patterned and solid-color papers helps create contrast and adds visual interest.

A crush can be more powerful than a locomotive. It can also be as sweet as a hand-delivered note, or as cheerily optimistic as an upturned mailbox flag. These clip art illustrations require a few simple cuts and a couple of pieces of tape. The little envelope acts as a card within a card, containing a secret love note or special gift card.
These are the illustrations that you can download at to print at home for use in these projects.
The Materials: Card stock, scrapbook paper, and envelopes; Pens and pencils; Scissors; Ruler; Craft knife; Self-healing cutting mat; Double-sided tape; Hole punch; Bone folder.


Homemade Teacup Lamp

Last year, for my birthday, I received a very special gift. My friend and former coworker Erin Ulrick - a talented designer - made me a lamp based on a design that I had seen online at Anthropologie's website. It was a lamp made from a collection of tea cups, saucers and a teapot. Since the lamp was not in stock at the store where I worked, and could not be shipped from the website, Erin adapted the design by using dinnerware she purchased from Anthropologie (From The Deep Dinnerware) and made the lamp herself! I was so impressed with the result. Just yesterday I purchased the lampshade - also from Anthropologie - and put the lamp on a small desk in my kitchen nook where I keep a lot of my files. The cup-and-saucer theme fits perfectly into the kitchen and I love the blue and white motifs. A friend called it "Nouveau Victorian - in a good way." I wholeheartedly agree!

Here are Erin's instructions on how to make the lamp, for all you do-it-yourselfers:

Drill a hole through the exact center of everything using a carbide tipped arrow head drill bit. (Be prepared to go through about 6 to 8 of these.)

To keep the bit cool while drilling you should keep a small cup nearby filled with about a half an inch of cold water. You can dip the tip into the water occasionally to cool it down. Don't push too hard, let the bit do the work. If you rush, the china may break. This step is extremely time consuming so be patient.

Lamp parts are available at most hardware stores. You can buy a kit with all the parts you're going to need. It will come with a cord, socket, harp and threaded tube. Follow the instructions on the lamp kit on how to put the basic pieces together.

Insert the tube through the drilled china starting at the top. When everythings in the spot you want put a washed and nut on the bottom to hold it all together.

Now moving on to your electrical lesson! You have to leave the harp and the light socket attatched to the china but remove the top section of the switch and access the terminal screws. (Terminal screws are the little ones on each side of the switch.) Now thread the electrical cord through the tube. Split the cord about an inch to an inch and a half and tie a knot in it. (You tie the knot so you can't disconnect the cord.) Strip approximately 3/4 of an inch of the insulation of the cord exposing the bare wires. Make a loop in the end of the bare wires and attatch it to the light bulb socket in a clock wise direction. Push the upper section of the light socket onto the base section. Screw in a light bulb, plug it in and BEHOLD!
This lamp from Anthropologie was the inspiration for Erin's design. She used plates, cups and saucers that she purchased at Anthropologie to make her own unique version of it for me. The teapot was purchased at a garage sale. I treasure this creation.


French-Door Room Divider

I love this idea from the September, 2003, issue of Martha Stewart Living. Sometimes open-concept floor plans need a little help to become cozy, private and intimate spaces. Rather than putting up walls, try folding screens and portable room dividers to bring sophistication and practicality to your room. They are light enough to maneuver and change seasonally, if desired, or they can be stowed away at a moment's notice if the occasion calls for it. This DIY version of a folding screen employs the use of three solid-core French doors (which are sturdy and can carry hardware nicely), a little paint and some fabric. A solid table with a floral arrangement anchors the vignette.

Double-acting hinges are used to secure the three French doors together. They enable the doors to fold in both directions, which is a luxurious bonus. Begin by priming and painting the doors. The ones shown here are new doors, but older, more rusticated doors would also be charming. Install two leveling glides on each end of the bottom of each door. This will let you move the screen easily and steady it on an uneven floor. It is recommended to have two people to undertake this project since the doors can be heavy and awkward when securing them together. In the screen pictured above, the editors chose an antique sconce to hang in the center, which adds character.
On the other side of the newly-formed screen, beautiful material is stretched between opposing curtain brackets on each door. These curtains bring the privacy factor, while still allowing the panes of glass to add interest on the facing side of the screen.


Projects of a Different Stripe

There's something about the crisp, clean look of stripes that brings an air of freshness and calm to a space, and often a touch of nautical adventure. Playing with the colours, widths and lengths of stripes can change a space even further. Below are examples of projects that use stripes to enhance spaces, indoors and out.
STRIPED SHELVES: It's stripes on stripes: Paint shelves with chalkboard paint in a color different from the wall for a linear look. These shelves have chalk-drawn lines along the edges. Displaying white items emphasizes the graphic effect. Learn how to make chalkboard paint.
STRIPED PENDANT LAMPS: A pair of white-and-blue pendant lamps brighten this eclectic kitchen -- with its 19th-century farmhouse table and retro-style chairs -- in more ways than one. Wrapping cotton cord around aluminum shades gives them a softer look, while the silvery interiors maintain their industrial edge. Lamp how-to, click here.
STRIPED ROPE BASKETS: Like magic, humble cotton cord meant for Venetian blinds becomes a basket with natural appeal and chic style. All you need is a little time and some glue. Wind the cord (Venetian blind cord, by Librett Durables, around a plastic flowerpot, gluing as you go and changing cord colors to make stripes. Use the baskets for bread, fruit, or potted plants, or create a set of desk accessories.
STRIPED TAGS: Plain tags from an office-supply store become bright and cheerful with the addition of stripes. Just wrap the tags with lengths of washi tape, a kind of Japanese masking tape (often sold in packs with several colors). The speedy, goof-proof process makes this a great project to do with kids.
STRIPED DESK ACCESSORIES: Buy decorative accessories or even office supplies in two colors, and -- voila! -- instant stripes. Here, we alternated storage boxes and envelopes for a graphic look.
STRIPED PILLOWS: Nautical stripes in faded blue combine with neutrals and naturals for a room that's modern and inviting. The daybed's large pillows began as throw rugs that cost $3 each (really!) and were stitched into shape with a carpet needle.
RIBBON-STRIPED SHEER CURTAINS: Inexpensive and ubiquitous, store-bought sheers will save you precious time and money by serving as the canvas for your creative additions. Turn organza ribbon into soft stripes on cotton-voile sheers.
STRIPED TABLE: Set the table for a whole season of festive cookouts by giving it a new summer coat. The wooden slats of a classic picnic table provide a ready-made outline for stripes. Table how-to, click here.
PAINTED STRIPE FLOOR: Painting a floor can give form to a room where everything is function, offset the formality of a living room, and restore life to a tired stairway. It is a bit of trompe l'oeil underfoot -- a visual pun that plays to an entire room. Floor how-to, click here.


Creative Coaster Craft

Here's a simple, cost-effective and creative craft to make for dad this weekend, or for your next party. Maps can lend an air of adventure to your d├ęcor and even the smallest hint of their intricate designs can have impact. These small coasters were featured in the August 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Living and I revisited them recently on the website. Below are the instructions.

Don't stash away or discard maps from your favorite vacation spots. Use them to make these handy coasters and you'll be reminded of that special destination every time you reach for one. Create a set for yourself and another for your travel companions as an artful memento of your trip. Tip: Choose maps from one location, or make a set mixed with local and overseas destinations.

Step 1: Place map on a cutting mat, printed side down, then place cork coaster on top. Step 2: Cut out circles from map by tracing coaster with craft knife.

Step 3: Use brush to apply glue sealant to one side of coaster, covering completely. Adhere back of map circle to coaster, smoothing to remove bubbles.

Step 4: Brush top and sides of coaster with a thin layer of glue sealant, and let dry. Repeat to make a set.


The Dining Room Office

When I was growing up, I would frequently find my mother and father working at the dining room table: sorting bills, doing their taxes, writing letters, checks and invitations, filing, wrapping and occasionally drawing. Because of this model, I have always felt that dining rooms are the perfect spaces in which to confront household paperwork. Let's face it: most of us don't use our dining rooms on a daily basis and to relegate such prime real estate to only the occasional dalliance seems like a waste of beautiful space.

Thankfully, the editors of Martha Stewart Living magazine think along the same lines. In the April, 2008, issue of the magazine, they came up with this ingenious solution for an infrequently-used dining room.
They converted one of the built-in hutches into office storage, allowing the other to store dinnerware, silverware and glassware. Also hidden under the cushions on the window seat are lift-up lids that reveal a carefully planned filing system.

 Inside the hutch, silverware caddies were painted to match the interior colour. They help organize pens, scissors, stationery, hole punches and glue sticks. They can be carried to the table when needed. Labeled boxes store computer discs as well as photo and plain printer paper. A pull-out shelf made with drawer-glide hardware ensures hassle-free access to the laptop and printer. Cords are kept out of sight by a concealed surge protector situated behind the computer.
 The drawers of the hutch also hold office supplies, such as staplers, rulers, a box of stamps, tags, ribbons, paper clips, a p-touch, additional envelopes and notepads.
In one of the bins under the window seat there is storage for filing. The other bin contains supplies such as packages of paper, toner for the printer, chargers and extention cords.


Reuse, Recycle, Reimagine

One of the most alluring aspects of Martha Stewart's "Good Things" is the fundamental aim to reimagine the ordinary, to turn the usual into the unexpected and to repurpose and reuse the beautiful and ordinary things we live with day to day to create something special. Below are some eco-friendly crafts from Martha Stewart Living that fulfil that inspiring mandate.
Reinvent a collection of old glass bottles by painting their interiors with pretty hues of enamel paint. Simply pour the paint into the bottles and rotate them until the paint runs across the entire interior surface of the bottle or jar. Do this over paint trays, or the paint cans themselves, to catch and reuse the excess.
Leftover wallpaper scraps? Try fashioning them into interesting, handmade greeting cards. If I had these lovely tea tins I would definitely want them on display. Oftentimes the containers we buy things in are just as lovely as the items they hold. Here, beautiful tea tins are used as flower vases.
Old cereal boxes need not all be thrown into the cardboard recycle bin. Save a few and transform them into magazine and book holders. Decorate them by gluing strips of wrapping paper onto their surfaces to cover up the branding. Each of the boxes shown in the photograph above, once once a box you could find in a pantry. Reused and reimagined, they become useful and attractive desk accessories.
Ever since I saw this craft in Martha Stewart Living (six or seven years ago now) I have wanted one for myself. Two or three tweed and wool blazers are refashioned into a masculine and durable patchwork quilt. I'd love this at the foot of my bed.
Turn a beach towel into a terry-cloth beach tote with a few simple stitches.
Create fun and interesting dioramas in a kid's bedroom using old sardine and ham tins. Here, a nautical vignette is created by lining the backs of the tins with old maps and then gluing on pieces of rope, sea shells, plastic fish and boats. This is an excellent craft to do with kids.

To view more eco-friendly craft ideas, click here.


Reusing Wrapping Paper

Several years ago when my grandmother moved from her house into an apartment, one of the tasks we faced was sorting through the boxes in her basement to determine what would go with her and what would be donated. Among the finds was a large box filled with wrapping paper scraps, some fairly substantial in size and most in very good condition. I immediately siezed upon it and went through the scraps with zeal.

There were so many examples of vintage patterns from the 1960s and '70s, which I loved: gold Christmas wrapping with big depictions of a Victorian fireplace setting in black, repeated in a maze of pattern; cherry blossom wrapping paper in pink and white; bright pink and green wrapping paper made up of Andy Warhol style poinsettia plants. I kept all of it and have used it in scrapbooking, card-making, stationery projects and, yes, to wrap small gifts as well.

A couple weeks ago in the Martha Stewart Living newsletter there was a great feature on reusing your wrapping paper scraps. Here are some of the ideas, many of which I've used over the years:The first thing to do is to save the wrapping paper that you are most impressed by: both on gifts that you receive and leftover pieces from rolls that you buy. To keep it organized, keep it in a clear container for easy recognition and store it in a dry, dark place, making sure the lid of the container is firmly sealed. This is a great way to create an instant pencil holder. Clean an old aluminum can and then embellish it with a beautiful strip of wrapping paper, pulling it taut and gluing it firmly at the seam where the edges meet.Making notebooks with used wrapping paper is a great way to customize and personalize your journals.Why spend money on bookmarks when you can very simply make one? Glue pretty wrapping paper strips onto cardstock paper and cut it into a rectangle. Punch a hole at the tip and tie a ribbon or twine through it.If you have any hardcover books that have lost their dust jackets, use wrapping paper to cover them. They will look extra pretty on the bookshelf and you can easily title them by using stick-on labels attached to the spine.Using wrapping paper to make cards is a simple and fast way to create something unique and memorable for your friends and family on special occasions.
Try lining the bottom of a tray with beautiful wrapping paper to make it seasonal or festive. You can shred wrapping paper scraps to package gifts that are breakable by using it as filling inside the box. It's also an attractive way to securely package gifts that you are sending in the mail.
Use small squares of wrapping paper as label inserts on storage boxes to colour-code the contents: pink is stationery, blue is craft supplies, etc.I've always loved this project. Cover clipboards with wrapping paper and then hang them over a work station as an attractive way to keep notes, mail and documents in view but still organized.