Monday, April 7, 2014

Reclaimed Wood Project

I'm very slowly starting everything back up as I get past the shock of actually finishing my degree and cleaning the house after two years of focusing on the degree. I've done a lot but haven't had time to blog about it. I hope to post pictures of the 2nd wedding dress, the amazing storage bench for the kitchen, and the hundred other projects later.

Today I will focus on the beginning of the 

Reclaimed Wood Project.  

I love Pinterest, who doesn't?!  Thanks to Pinterest, the fire pit has been viewed almost 600,000 times.  That blows my mind.  Some of my favorite pins are the pallet wood furniture photos.  What's not to like?  Free wood, kept out of the landfill, turned into rustic and functional home furnishings.    

I have a neighbor who runs a toy business,, who let me have all the pallets I wanted. After a few days of constant hammering at pallets earning nothing but a sore arm, I had a friend weld together a pallet pry-bar.  A good pallet could be torn apart in 20 minutes, the bad ones needed a saw.  

Most pallets have four 2X4's and twelve 1X4's.  I took apart at least 25 pallets. 

That should be over 400 pieces of wood. NOT!

I was able to salvage about 100 usable pieces of wood. 

Only 1/4 of the pallets were suitable for projects.
The rest either broke as they were pried apart or the nails wouldn't come out.  The non-painted pieces will end up in the fire pit over the next SEVERAL summers and the painted ones won't.
This pile is much smaller than it was. I only say this so you know what you are getting into if you undertake a similar project.

I took a few days off for spring break with my daughter and put together a few things.  The bench is for a patio area I put in last Fall, the table will go in the back yard with the bench.  The boxes and the shutters will be finished and sold at a craft fair my employer organizes for their employees twice a year.  I LOVE MY JOB!

I decided to finish one of the boxes as naturally as possible.  No stain or finish, just reclaimed fence posts turned into a box, wrapped with jute bailing twine finished with two herring bone braided handles.   It is beautifully rustic.  

I love it and hope others will too.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Witch Costumes

*Note to readers* I started this post 2 years ago.  I am publishing it today to get it out there.  I might come back and finish it or I may just move on....

We were given two tickets to the last Harry Potter movie for opening day.  Of course we HAAAAD to dress up. 

I spent the most time on the vest, maybe 6 hours.  I wanted to keep the cost to nothing so I used fabric I had on hand.  If I had the time and means I would have done the green, crushed velvet hat and robe Professor McGonongall wears.

Bean Cages

Continuing with the re-use of political signs . . .

I needed bean cages.  I took the wire stakes from the political signs and turned them into spider webs!

We have very little means and I've already spent too much making my garden this year.  I told myself that I wan't going to spend another penny on the garden and anything I needed now had to be created by us.  The wire stakes weren't much help as they are so I needed to do some sort of net thing, but it needed to be fancier than just string them together.

I've made a few dream catchers in my day and knew that would make some pretty fancy bean cages.  I took a spool of kite string and went to work. 

The garden should be a lot more mature now but I had a rabbit that kept every tasty plant mowed down until about two weeks ago.  I have had to re-plant most of it.  What happened to the giant french lop bunny?  Well after weeks and weeks of building and re-building his enclosure; feeding him every scrap of vegetable matter in my kitchen; and sacrificing my first garden at my new home to Severus Snape Rabbit . . . It all proved too much for him.  He is now happily destroying God's vegetable garden in the sky.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Aprons

These were another gift from mom.  She bought the pattern from a cute, little mom-and-pop quilt shop somewhere and the fabric to match. 

They were soooo much fun to make and look great on the kids.

I hope to sell them all on or I'll give them as gifts this Christmas and for birthday's next year.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Serenity's First Sewing Lesson

My daughter has giant windows in her bedroom.  For 10 months now she has been asking, and needing, window coverings. 

She picked the fabric and did all the work herself.

There was enough
 fabric left over that
she could make a
matching pillow. 

I must say that she was an amazing student.  She was very patient with her teacher's anxiety.  All I saw were those 11 year-old fingers next to a fast moving needle, yikes! 

I will always cherish this day.  She is a natural and will go on to make many things now, but I was able to be her teacher just like my mom was my teacher.


Friday, June 10, 2011

The Wedding Dress

A dear friend called and asked if I would make her daughter's wedding dress.  They paid me, She wanted to pay more, but . . . 
The honor is mine.
I'm only sorry she was stuck with an amateur like me.
She deserves a professional.

They came to my house with a drawing and a dream, literally.  In October the bride had a dream of her wedding.  When she woke up she sketched the dress.  A few months later she meets the man destined to be hers and I get to make the dress her subconscious designed. 

The satin is slightly textured.  The “right side” of the fabric is shiny.  She chose the matt “wrong side”.  It was perfect.

The folded ribbon was made just for the dress.  The skirt was a lengthened version of the skirt in the pattern (she wanted the fun, full skirt rather than the A-line of the original drawing).  The bodice was pretty much custom made.  The sleeves (“capped please”) were tricky but I made it work after a couple of tries. The zipper was done 4 times before I had to say “that is the best I can do.”

The simplicity of the dress dictated the sash.  She is a vibrant girl who has chosen a bright, multicolored theme for her wedding.  The beautiful blue lace will compliment the yellow converse she will be wearing on her feet.

I had so much fun making the garter.  I wanted to make the bow out of the lace but it wouldn’t lay right.  I made a strip of the lace for color and made the bow out of some pretty ribbon I always have on hand.  Again, the theme here was simple, but beautiful.

Her Bridals were taken recently  by a very talented photographer.  Her website is  As it turns out, her photographer is someone I did sewing for also.  She had 3 flower girl dresses made, 2 bridesmaid dresses altered, wedding dress hemmed, and a pair of trousers turned into shorts for the little nephew.  She hired a professional to make matching ties for all the men.  It was a fun and beautiful wedding.  The following photograph was taken by Ashley.  I only take credit for sewing the dress.  The majesty of the picture is all the bride and photographer.

If I had it to do over. 
I would have bought the dress form at the very beginning rather than at the end; it would have helped with the sleeves.  Thankfully I now have it for future commissions. 

There is a seam down the front of the skirt.  I will forever regret that.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Fire Pit

We bought our home at the beginning of the fall so we had an entire winter to ponder the spring and summer in our back yard.  I decided the first priority, and the center piece of our back yard, would be a fire pit for tin foil dinners and just gathering family close. 

Once the ground thawed out I dug the pit and started hauling rocks off the mountain.  The rocks all had a layer of dew on them so the colors popped out at you.  I picked each rock for its color first, then for its flat face and shape. 

Once the temperatures stayed above freezing at night I poured the based and had everyone put their hands in.  I should have done their feet.  I know it's hokey, but I'm creating this home for my kids and their kids so the more personal the better. 

After that, any day that it didn't rain I was out gluing stone together for the walls.  I had to redo some of the mortor because I either got it too runny or too dry.  It really needs to be like peanut butter or it doesn't work. 

The pit only cost me $8.00 to make.  I can't calculate the time because I worked on it 15 minutes here, an hour there over the course of 2 months.  I didn't want it to look like a $300 fire pit from Home Depot becuase then it looses some of it's home-made, country cottage charm.  Wait till you see the porch swing that will go in by it... in a couple of years.

If I could do it again
I would do the stone work in one Saturday using cement rather than mortor.