DIY Shoe cubby

One thing I love, is taking something old and making it different and better. I also love low-cost craft projects.

So when the daycare I worked for was going out of business, there was a lot of stuff up for grabs. I snagged this shoe cubby that we used to hold the kids shoes, with the intention of  updating it and using it for my own shoes.

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The first order of business was to clean it up, since obviously it had been well used over the years. I scraped the stickers off with a straight edge razor and cleaned the whole thing with a soap and water solution. I removed the shelves which made the cleaning process easier. The glue residue left a stain that I knew I’d have to cover.

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Next I spray painted the entire thing. I used white spray paint on the outside and a mint green spray paint on the shelves to add some interest. 
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Then to deal with the top I bought green paper to match my shelves and a gorgeous white lazer-cut paper from JoAnn’s. I used spray adhesive to secure it. The finished product looked like this:

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It has served me well for the past year and a half. It doesn’t have enough room to hold my boots and my boyfriends shoes are too large for the small cubby holes but for a project that cost under $10, I can’t complain.

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And because they’re always so fun, here’s a before and after for you!

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What awesome freebies have you updated with your own DIY touch? Let me know in the comments below.

Essential vs. fragrance oils

Liz McCarty has worked for Zenith for the past four years.

When I met with Liz McCarty from Zenith supplies last week, I asked her about essential oils and fragrance oils. I’ve heard a lot about them, and have used them in homemade soaps, but I had no idea what the difference was.

     Essential oils are distilled from plants. The plants are steamed, heated up, and they distill the natural oils. At Zenith, all of the essential oils are 100 percent pure. If there is one more than one type of oil, it is diluted, or there is anything un-natural in them, they’re considered a fragrance oil.
     “That purity is really important, because a lot of it you’re applying to your body,” McCarty said.
     Fragrance oils are not pure like essential oils. They’re often synthetic, or a blend of natural and synthetic, and made in a lab.
     While people are often attracted to essential oils for their purity, fragrance oils have a place. There are some scents in nature that you cannot extract essential oils from.
     “No matter what you do to a cucumber, you’re never going to get cucumber essential oils,” McCarty said.
     Other times, people will go for fragrance oils based on price. For example, at Zenith, an eighth of an ounce of essential rose oil is $68, which equates to $1 a drop. But rose fragrance oils are much cheaper, about $5 per ounce.
     Despite their purity, people can have reactions from essential oils just like fragrance oils. McCarty recommends diluting any oils and patch-testing them on a small part of the skin before going all out with application.
     McCarty said the sky’s the limit when it come to uses of both fragrance and essential oils.
      Have you ever used fragrance or essential oils? Let me know what you’ve done with the products in the comments below

Inexpensive art printing on the UW campus

For DIYers, finding inexpensive resources is essential.

There are so many places around campus to print. But if you’re looking to print art and not a term paper, the School of Art (SoA) lab on the UW campus has high quality equipment available to students.

Mark Rector oversees the SoA lab, located in the Art building, room 229.

“We have color laser which is standard to most labs on campus,” he said. “We also have eight large high-end workroom class inkjet printers for different paper types and sizes. And then we have five large format plotters, also for different paper types.”

There is custom sizing available. Their largest plotter prints 44 inches wide and can print eight to 10 feet long. Rector said the standard plot side is four by five feet.

Any printing done on the small printers is paid via Husky card, just like all other printing locations on campus. There are two payment systems to print on the large scale plotter prints. You can deposit money at Schmitz hall to the Art Lab fees account and bring the receipt back to the lab. Or you can pay using paypal on their website, but that way has additional costs to cover paypal fees, Rector said.

The SoA lab is some of the inexpensive printing on campus and cheaper than any print shop on the Ave by a long shot, he said.

“It’s all cost,” he said. “It’s not profit centered or anything like that, so it’s cheaper for students to print.”

Rector doesn’t advertise the print shop because he doesn’t want his team to be overwhelmed by the demand. Art students do have priority in the lab, especially when they have projects due. Students work in the labs, so there is always someone on-site to  answer questions.

The lab is open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday – Thursday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday – Sunday.

Do you have a favorite place to print art?

Tune in tomorrow to find out what I’ve done with inexpensive art prints to make super cheap wall art.

Reupholster chair DIY

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Remember that fabric I hand-painted last week? (More on that here.) Well I put it to use and I’m pretty happy with the result.

It all starts with this chair.

It didn’t look too pretty here, when I first bought this chair from Goodwill a year ago for $2. It was scratched up and had horrible fabric.

I gave it a once over with sandpaper and hit it with a can of white spray paint. Then I took the upholstery off and covered it with fabric I was using for my room. It looked so much better.

It looked great in my old bedroom where it matched my decor.

But after a year of being used every day as a computer chair, and then being moved to a room where it no longer matched, it was time for another DIY reupholster makeover.

So I removed the seat. I then removed the reupholstery nails I had used before, with a flat head screwdriver.

This is what lies beneath the fabric. It’s not a pretty sight.

So once again I put my fabric down to recover it. Lay the fabric with the right side facing the floor and place the seat face down on the wrong side.

I then used the same upholstery nails and holes as before to secure the first side. (I  purchased the upholstery nails at True Value in the U-District. I don’t remember how much I spent on them but you can find them for really cheap on Amazon.)

Once the first side is done, it’s time to move on to the opposite side. The most important thing to remember is to keep things pulled really tight every time you put a nail in. This ensures there will be no wrinkles or loose fabric when you’re done. Make sure you cut off any excess fabric at this point. Once you secure all of the sides it should look like this.

Then it’s time to secure the corners. This may not be the most professional way, but the way I’ve had the most success is to twist the corners together, pull tight, and then nail in place.

After that I put an upholstery nail on either side of the twist where the fabric was poofed up away from the wood. When you’re done, the back should look something like this.

From start to finish this took me under an hour.

As you can see, everything looks tight and in place, even though the underside doesn’t look perfect, that’s ok as long as the fabric looks tight and secure.

I’d like to get a throw pillow to add to the chair for some added comfort. I’d also like to eventually get a side table to add to this side of the room. But overall, I’m really happy with my new and improved chair that didn’t cost me a penny. Who doesn’t love a good before and after?

Have you done any DIY upholstering lately? Have you ever re-done a DIY project? Let me know in the comment section.

U-District fabric stores

Fabric is a universal DIY and crafter tool. So I thought I’d share some of my favorite fabric stores online or near the U-District.

Stores:

1. Pacific Fabrics. I mentioned Pacific Fabrics last week. This store is pretty well-rounded and does have a small selection of craft products as well. They also have a side store that has wedding and special occasion fabric. My favorite part of Pacific Fabrics is their interior design fabric on the big bolts. Even though this is usually pretty spendy, they have a great, really trendy selection. Pacific Fabrics is about a 25-minute bus ride from the U-District.

2. JoAnn Fabrics. JoAnn’s is a much more well-rounded craft store. They have a wide variety of fabrics and craft materials. The best part of JoAnn’s is their coupons. If you sign up for their mailing list, just about every week you can buy something for 40 percent off. The closest JoAnn’s to the U-District is in Ballard, about a 40-minute bus ride away.

3. IKEA. IKEA has a great fabric section with modern style fabrics that could easily be turned into throw pillows or curtains. The one thing IKEA really lacks is a staff. The fabric section is cut-it-yourself. So while at most stores you can go to the cutting counter and ask the staff questions or advise about your fabric, you’re on your own at IKEA. That being said, they have a great selection and you can almost always find bolts on clearance. IKEA is over an hour away by bus.

Online:

4. Etsy. Etsy is a fantastic resource for fabric online. I purchased four yards of this fabric from an Etsy vendor to use in my living room. Etsy also has hand painted and dyed fabrics available if you’re not willing to try it yourself. (Check out my attempt here.) Prices vary widely on Etsy so make sure you shop around.

Where is your favorite place to buy fabric? Are there any great fabric stores in Seattle that I’m missing out on? Let me know in the comment section.

Hand painted fabric DIY

After going to the Creative-U event this past Saturday I was dying to paint something myself. (More on the fabric dyeing event here.)

Because I am on a budget I decided to use a stencil, fabric, and spray adhesive that I already had. I also took Chris’s advice and used cosmetic sponges instead of a paint brush.

The stencil I used is this Moroccan pattern that I purchased at Hobby Lobby this summer for another project. Unfortunately Seattle doesn’t have a Hobby Lobby but you can buy it online here.

I went to Artist & Craftsman, a craft store in the U-district to buy the fabric paint. They had a pretty good selection and I settled on these two colors.

I then tested out different pattern ideas on some scraps of my fabric before I settled on the simplest design (on the right).

This big ugly piece of cardboard is probably one of my best DIY tricks. Because I live in an apartment and have no access to outdoor areas to paint, it’s really useful to have a big surface to paint on.

That way, when you’re fabric inevitably bleeds, it’s your cardboard and not your fabric that looks like this.

Two things were really key with this project. The first was using a spray adhesive to keep your stencil in place. You can really tell where I was diligent with it and where I wasn’t. The second thing was using the cosmetic sponge. They were super inexpensive and allowed you to dab on the paint without having too much excess.

Once I finished, I left the fabric to dry for 24-hours. Then it was time to iron the fabric to set the dye.

There are some problem areas when you look closely. (This is why the adhesive is so important.)

But overall, I’m really happy with how it turned out.

As far as budget, I spent $10 on the fabric paint and $3 on the sponges but I hardly made a dent in either of them.

I have big plans for this fabric. Tune in next week to see what I do with it.

Have you painted fabric? How did it turn out? Let me know in the comments below.

Welcome to Rainy Day DIY

Hello fellow DIY lovers,

I have thought about and put off creating a DIY blog for the longest time. Growing up, a lot of the furniture in my house was made by my dad and my parents did a lot of home repairs themselves. I must have inherited that gene too, because I love creating things by hand for my house. I think I was the only 13-year-old who had an entire design inspiration folder when it came time to remodel my childhood bedroom (and strip it of its fantastic ’70s floral wallpaper).

Since moving to the rainy city of Seattle to attend college at the University of Washington, I have lived in both a house and an apartment. And while I wanted to decorate and make those places feel like home, I was working on a college budget with renter’s restrictions. But I am constantly searching for bargains and coming up with ways to make things mine, without changing too much in my rented home. So hopefully, I can share some tips and tricks that students in the U-District and all DIY-lovers can put to use.

See you soon!

-Sarah