Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Fishnet Jar

One day last week I was trying to play violin. Unfortunately, my e-string peg kept slipping. I was a bit frusterated. Fortunatley, when I got home, Patrick had a great solution: the local dollar store.  We went and bought some chalk line, which includes chalk dust that I could put on the peg to help it stick. Since I rarely just go to the dollar store, get what I need and leave (there are too many fun and funny things there), we walked around the aisles for a bit and wound up with some string.  Not just any string, but a 2 pack of "high quality" string. Pretty exciting, eh? 

Patrick is nearing the end of the semester, which means he is nearing the end of his degree. Thus, he has been staying up a bit later than he sometimes would.  I tend to just wait for him to be done and then we go to bed at the same time. This particular day I had finished dishes and the apartment was clean, so I had a few minutes to do something before bed. The string was still sitting on the table and I have a ton of pasta sauce jars just laying around (I don't know what to do with them all but it seems a shame to get rid of them). I decided to make a fishnet around the jar. 

This technique could really be used on any jar or bottle. It just needs to have a neck of some kind so the string can be tied at the top. First I cut six lengths of string. They were long enough that when I folded them in half and tired them around the jar, they were still about twice as long as the jar. I had plenty of extra string so I probably could have used less, but cut on the long side for your jar so you won't run out. I then tied each string around the top of the jar and organized them so they were evenly spaced. This gave the neck a thicker wrapped area on the neck. Alternately, I could have tied a shorter piece of string around the top and tied each of the longer strings onto that one to give it a different look.

Next, I took a single strand from a group of two and a single strand from the group next to it and tied a square knot to form a triangle. I then did this with the remaining groups all the way around. I tried to make the triangles roughly even, but I didn't measure. I think the imperfections give it more character (and is less work). If you want it to look even, you could measure each string and mark it at the same point with a marker and then tie on those markings. After the first level of knots, my jar looked like the picture to the left.

Next I did the same technique with my new groups of two. This time the strings mad diamonds. I again just eyeballed where I wanted the knot, but if you are measuring, this is where you will want to measure the next level. Don't just measure equal intervals all the way down at once because the knots will probably not be all equal so things with get off. 

At this point I contemplated just finishing . If you desire, you could just pull the loose strings straight down and tie them off on the bottom.  I decided to go on, but it would have looked roughly like the picture to the right if I had stopped. You can really stop at any point from here on, it will just give it a different look. 

To finish off I made sure to tie my last row of knots so they sat just on the edge of the jar when I pulled the string tight. I then took to sets of strings that were opposite each other and tied them tightly across the jar. It helps to get a tight knot to have someone put their finger in the middle of the knot as you tie it. I then tied another of the two sets that were across from each other in a knot around that knot; that is to say I tied the first cross over of the knot under the existing knot and then tied the second cross on top of the knot. I repeated with the remaining two string pairs.

I filled my jar with some clear and bluish marbles I happened to have, though you could put just about anything. Shells would look pretty. I think it turned out pretty well for an under-and-hour  project. If you have some writing on the lid that you don't like, you could simply spray paint the lid. I actually spray painted the lids of three other jars black. They are sitting on the shelf  in front of the mirror in my living room.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

How the Couch I Tore Up is Feeding My Pillow Obsession

I have always had a bit of a pillow obsession.  When I was younger, I  thought the perfect room would be one where everything was made of pillows.  I grew up and realized that they have rooms like that and they are called padded cells. Still, I do very much like pillows.

When I tore up and rebuilt the couch, I did not use anywhere close to all the materials the couch had to offer. The back of the couch actually had a ton of stuffing (because it was basically made from 6 large pillows) that I did not use in the storage bench. Some of the stuffing near the outer edges of the pillow was rather disgusting, but a lot of it was still good. So, I saved it with the intention of making pillows to sit on my storage bench.

I made a few pillows here and there, but most of my pillows were made a couple Fridays ago while playing nurse to my brother-in-law who had just had his wisdom teeth removed. I started sewing covers for the pillows that originally came with the couch from the thrift store.  I sewed one but it was slow going because I was changing ice packs every 10 minutes. I thought maybe I would stop there and just cover the other pillow in the pillow case from the leftover sheets from the curtains, but decided I really needed to just get both pillows done. Then, five more pillows later, I decided I should probably stop.

One of the most involved pillows I made was the one to the left. I cut out  leaves from my sheets and basted them on a yellow square in a random scattered pattern. Then I used used a medium wide zigzag with a very small stitch to stitch around the outside of each leaf.I think it turned out okay. I got better at the process as I went along, so the leaves that look pretty good were likely some of the ones I stitched latter.

Pillows are really easy to make because you can make them from all sorts of scraps and you really only need very basic sewing skills to sew a basic pillow, but you can also do all sorts of complex things. Sometimes, however, they are just a bit to easy to make.  When I was making the pillow to the right (which is based off of this one from Joann Fabrics, though I didn't really read their instructions) I messed up my pattern and accidentally made 2 more pillows. Don't ask me how that happened, I am just talented sometimes. I probably should have read the instructions.

I have at least one more pillow I am going to make based on one that someone is selling for $159 here (Who has $150 to spend on a pillow?), but then I think I might have to stop for the front room. I already have a lot of pillows.

I still have a ton of stuffing though, as you can see from this bag to the left..  My bed might be getting some fun pillows to.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Mirror Frame and a Shelf

The house I live in is separated into 4 apartments, one in the attic space, one on the main floor and two in the basement.  We are in the larger of the two basement apartments, and we also have access from our apartment directly into the boiler room, which we use for some extra storage. It has also produced some exciting items.  For instance when we didn't have a lot of extra money around when David was born at the end of November, it miraculously produced a Christmas tree we hadn't known about before.

Another exciting item was a large mirror.  It was dusty and had a bit of damage around the edges, but who finds a 4 foot wide mirror? We pulled it out and cleaned it off and mounted it on the wall the nasty plaid couch I tore up and rebuilt (here) used to sit.

I used a piece of plywood left over from the loft bed (here) to make a shelf. I just spray painted the piece and mounted it on three decorative shelf brackets Patrick and I got at Home Depot (which is quickly becoming a favorite store). We placed it about 2 inches below the edge of the mirror.

I am not much into the distressed look. I mean, a few pieces of antiqued furniture are fine but why would you want to intentionally make something look dirty? In any case, I didn't really like the chipped looking edges, so I decided to frame the mirror. Patrick and I looked at Home Depot for just the right trim (I was thinking garden stakes or something), when I realized we had a set of broken blinds at home (Patrick had replaced them on a job).

I cut a section of blind long enough to edge the entire bottom of the mirror and another for the top. I then cut two lengths that were the height of the mirror minus the width of the two blinds I had cut. This formed a rectangle that lined the mirror (without hanging off the edge).

I then cut additional pieces to fit on top of this rectangle, except the ends were cut at 45 degree angles to fit together like a picture frame. This meant I had two rectangles that lined the mirror while sitting on top, but the edges of the pieces did not line up.

I glued a long piece with the 45 degree cut on top of a long piece without the angle with Gorilla Glue and clamped it in place. I then repeated with the other two long pieces. I similarly glued the short sides together with the non-angled-edged board centered on the angled one. I then fit the boards together so the angled board on the short side overlapped the non-angled board of the long and glued and clamped the corners. It looked like a giant picture frame. I then filled in the holes where the string held the slats together with wall putty. After it all dried, I spray painted the frame.

A couple days later to ensure complete drying of the paint, Patrick helped me used Tacky glue to glue it to the top of the mirror.  We glued it with the mirror on the wall  because that way we could hide the mirror fasteners. Unfortunately, that meant we had to tape it really well while it dried. I chose Tacky glue because, being water soluble, it will wash off. The mirror is not technically ours (though it was made in 1969, so I suspect the original owner doesn't really care). I thought about hot glue but I was unsure if it would a) hold very well and b) manage to not crack the mirror.

I am quite pleased with the result.  Just putting up the mirror really helped distract from the radiator that is the prominent feature of that wall, and the frame and shelf just drove that home.

Coming next: How the couch I tore up is feeding my pillow obsession.