Monday, July 7, 2008

What I did on my etsy vacation

Well, not everything, but here are a couple of my projects I did in my "DIY fit."

I turned this...

into this! For my daughter's room.

I also got the chair below at a yard sale for $5 and sanded, painted, polyurethaned, and recovered into the swanky version you now see. Before it was light brown wood veneer with bad '80s sort of burgundy and green faux tapestry. I think it is much happier now.

I would put more pics up, but my camera is in sore need of batteries.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Tutorial: Fabric Labels

As promised yesterday, here is the self-printed fabric label tutorial. Basically, it is a method to make your own bubble jet set for cheap. Gotta love that.

Here's what you need:

2 1/2 oz. Alum (found in the spices at grocery store - mine costs 89 cents per 1 1/4 oz.)
2 tablespoons Washing Soda (found with the laundry detergent)
1 teaspoon fabric softener
2 1/2 cups hot water

Freezer paper (found with the aluminum foil and such)

Mix first four ingredients together in a large bowl. It will bubble. Science!

Cut pieces of fabric in sizes that are slightly larger than a sheet of printer paper. My fabric is Kona cotton, prewashed to remove any sizing. 1 yard will yield about 8 sheets.

Starting with 3 of the sheets, soak in the solution for about 10 minutes. Make sure that the fabric is submerged as best you can. As you continue with the process and you have less of the solution in the bowl, you'll probably only want to put in 2 sheets at a time. You will have enough solution to do about 12 sheets.

After the 10 minute soak, remove and squeeze out excess solution gently. You don't want to wring it out completely, just enough that your sheet is no longer drippy. Hang to dry.

When the sheet is dry (you can use a blow dryer to speed up the process), cut a sheet of Freezer Paper to roughly the same size. The freezer paper will help the fabric sheet feed through your printer.

Using a press cloth, iron the fabric sheet to remove any wrinkles. Then put the freezer paper, shiny side to the fabric, and press gently. I usually do this with the paper side up. It will look wrinkly.

Cut the fabric (now fused to the freezer paper) to 8 1/2" x 11", to feed through your printer.
If the freezer paper comes unfused, just take it back to the iron and hit it again.

This part is a little more art than science. You want to make sure that the top of your sheet (that will be the part fed into the printer) is fused together well. But beware of insane wrinkles and scorching.

Using the label function (like for address labels) on your computer, make your label design. I have only used black ink for mine, and I don't have much experience using color. Print a sample sheet on printer paper just to make sure it looks good to you.
Feed your fabric sheet into your printer and PRINT! For best results, use the "Best" setting in your printer preferences.

Now, here is the hard part. Remove the freezer paper and let these set overnight. I know, but really, the longer the ink can set, the better.

The next morning, rinse the sheets quickly in cold water with just a touch of fabric softener. The fabric softener acts as a gentle detergent. I usually swish to the count of 15 and remove.

After rinsing, don't wring! Lay your sheets on a towel, fold the towel over and gently press out the excess water. Wringing at this point could redistribute the ink.

When the labels are just damp, I give them a good dousing with starch. I like the kind that you mix yourself rather than the spray, because I think it soaks into the fabric easier, but I'm sure either kind would work. Press well.

The starch makes the labels more crisp and easier to cut. I usually use a pressing cloth for this part, too, but if your iron doesn't have tons of gook on it, you may not need to.

Cut your labels! This is the fun part. I usually go with about 1/4" on all sides.

Ta-Da!!!!! You have made your very own label!

I usually apply mine with a strip of Stitch Witchery or Heat n Bond and then zigzag around the edges. I have also pinked the edges and then used a straight stitch just inside the border. Totally up to you.

Now, I certainly am not smart enough to have made this up. I found most of the info at craftster. A generous and talented crafter posted a formula for the bubble jet set (85% hot water, 10% alum, 4% washing soda, 1% fabric softener) and all I did was use my scale to figure out the amounts. You can find out tons more by going to craftster and searching "Homemade Bubble Jet Set." There is an extensive forum post about this. But I have done this now a few times, with great success, ever since my label maker on etsy decided to call it quits.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Dipping that pinkie toe in the water...

I'm back in my studio for the first time in a lonnnnnnng time today, and it feels a little bit weird. I keep feeling like I need to rearrange it or paint the walls or something to make it feel fresh, to get that new start going. I'm thinking a pale pale blue ceiling, but that's as far as I've gotten.

I'm also making some new labels today, and I promise to take pics and let everyone know the great method I've found of making your own fabric labels. Hint: everything that you need (other than your printer and the fabric) can be found at the grocery store.

Until then, how about some random pics of summer in small town Arkansas? Both of these were taken nearby.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The truth is overrated.

My last post was on April 22nd. I should be ashamed! And I am.

I've had, well, let's just call them "issues" and leave it at that. I could go into all the boring details - and believe me, boring is a kind word - so why don't we just all agree to believe that I was either...
a) abducted by aliens
b) recruited by the CIA for a covert mission
c) selected as a designer for Season 5 of Project Runway and we just finished filming.

But, if you happen to want a speck of truth, my health issues returned (headaches, insomnia, and my special flavor of crazy) and I had to deal.

See? Isn't the Project Runway lie waaaaay more fun?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Modern Charm back on May 1st

OK, I'm getting my act together - finally- and am planning to return to my etsy shop on May 1st.

So, Mendy, what gives? Sitting on the sofa eating bon bons?

I've certainly been away longer than I anticipated, but it seems it was a little bit necessary. I was having some health problems. Nothing scary going on, I promise, but I was having a lot of severe headaches and insomnia was kicking my ass. It became normal for me to Tivo things just so I would have something to watch at 2:30am other than informercials and Jonny Quest. I was taking a lot of OTC medicines, this to sleep, that for the headaches, etc... I felt awful. And less than creative.

So, I've seen my dentist (who pulled two wisdom teeth) and my doctor. I am finally getting some sleep and I haven't had a headache in a while. My husband was actually surprised when I began sleeping all they way through the night, it hadn't happened in so long.

I've also been on a DIY mission lately. I've refinished, repainted, and reupholstered three chairs. I've made pillows. I painted my kitchen table, my outdoor furniture, a bed, a bookcase, a mirror, planters, and picture frames. I've put a new landscaping bed in the back yard beside the deck. And I've got so much more to do.

I'm feeling refreshed, re-energized, and just all around good. And I'm appreciating every minute of it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Workin' on it.

I promise, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. I'm so flattered that my blogging buddies are encouraging me to come back already. I feel so speshul.

Also, one small thing that I neeeeeed to get off my chest...

Dear Madonna,

I have seen your new video with Justin Timberlake. And your Vanity Fair cover. Yes, we all know that you do lots of yoga. But please, put on some pants.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Just taking a few days off...

Modern Charm is contemplating a little makeover of sorts. Just looking into a little Botox and maybe a freshening chemical peel, but is totally drawing the line at leeches.