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.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


All Market Totes, Makeup Bag Sets, and Zippered Wristlets are on sale today, and today only. Regularly $12, today they are just $8.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Egg-ceptional (sorry)

I came across this through Whip Up - a great post about dyeing eggs using natural things to produce these gorgeous colors, as well as greens and blues and such.

And, of course, Martha has these stylish Botanical Eggs.

Just when I think I have Etsy figured out...

they restart Alchemy. I guess I'm just going to have to sit down and read through all of the forum posts, otherwise I'm sure to miss some vital piece of info or etsy-quette.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Blah Blah Boring Blah...

I promise, if I had something of interest to write about, I would do so. However... yeah, nothing.

Let's see, I painted a chair. My haircolor has been discontinued and I have to find a new one. I gave the cats a bath. I finally bought a curtain rod for my bedroom. I made a pan of brownies.

See? Nothing worth a blog post. Even the cat bath was, relatively speaking, uneventful. I mean, a madder-than-hell cat is not an unexpected scenario.

I promise, as soon as something remotely interesting happens, I'll be all over it with pictures and commentary.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Giveaways! Wheee!

Check out The Downtown Boutique! She's participating in The Ultimate Blog Party and is having a giveaway for 9 different prizes (including a Modern Charm Makeup Bag set).

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Project Runway: Congrats Christian!

Tim Gunn resists the undignified urge to give Christian a noogie.

Oh my gosh, what an amazing show! All three collections had amazing pieces - Rami's antique lace gown and Jillian's kick-ass jacket - but Christian's show was stunning. Plus, the look on his face when it came time to announce the winner - priceless. He was either going to hurl, or cry, or pass out. Not sure which, but it clearly showed how important this was to him.

The minute that I saw his clothes on the models, I KNEW that Christian had an amazing stroke of luck with guest judge Posh. Lots of skinny pants? Check. Over-the-top dramatic details? Check. And MAJOR shoes.

And not only does he fit inside tote bags, supermodels can carry him while wearing 6 inch heels. (I'm not exactly sure if this helps him as a designer, but I guess it couldn't hurt.)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

I confused am.

On Sunday it was 74 degrees and sunny and spring-like and gorgeous. Monday, it rained and rained and rained. And this morning...


In other news, introducing Large Market Totes! The big sister to the Market Tote.

These are just a touch bigger, just a tad wider, just a pinch taller, and the handles are just a wee bit longer.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Leap Year Day!

Spring is just around the corner, and I'm loving these latest Market Totes with a patchwork of cool spring colors.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Project Runway: Just a hair creepy...

Au revoir, Queen Chris! We will miss you!

However, when you proudly announced to Tim Gunn that you had trimmed your garments with human hair, I threw up in my mouth just a little bit.

Human. HAIR.

Gee, couldn't find any fingernail trimmings to use as buttons? I'm sorry, Chris, but you crossed a line, baby.

In other news, Christian lives in a closet! Literally. I had always assumed that he lived in a hollow tree.

Jillian was wearing a bulky sweater tucked into tiny shorts. TUCKED IN. Does she have internal organs?

I am soooooo excited to see the final collections next week! I've fought against the desire to look at the photos of the final show online. I want to see them in action.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

7 Things

I've been tagged! by Ann of Beadiful Things.

The Rules

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.


7 Things

1) I hate pictures of myself, or having my picture taken. My husband recently asked for some pictures of the family to put on his desk at his new work. I gave him pictures of daughter, and Baxter, and a lovely framed photo of Catherine Zeta-Jones signed, "Merry Christmas Darling! Love, Your Wife".

2) I would love to learn how to silkscreen. If it weren't so messy looking.

3) Starbucks scares the bejezus out of me. It's intimidating. I only drink coffee occassionally, and going in there and looking at that huge board written in... what? What language is that? The last time I was there (there is one in our bookstore), I ordered a cappucino. Easy enough, right? Then I 'm waiting for my order only to be asked if I want it dry or wet? I don't know what that means in relation to COFFEE. Sorry, I'm just not one of the cool kids.

4) I was once on a jury on a murder trial. An ax murder. I'm not kidding.

5) My newest favorite show is The Universe on the History Channel. It's like astronomy and physics for Dummies! Dummies who are visual learners and like pretty pictures and graphic metaphors! I totally feel like I understand dark energy and neutrinos and black holes and our ever expanding universe.

6) My favorite quote is by William Blake. "Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best."

7) I make my 7's backwards. I begin at the bottom and go up and then left. This freaks many people out.


OK, here's the deal. IF you want to continue this, leave a comment that links back to your 7 things post on your blog. I will happily send anyone who does so a free headband of their choice.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Fun with Bill the Bard

William Shakespeare

Assume a modern charm, if you have it not.

Which work of Shakespeare was the original quote from?

Get your own quotes:

Well, it's way better than "Beware the modern charm of March!" Ominous.

Get your own here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sort of a Tutorial? Mosaic Hurricane Candle Holders

I have a hard time calling this an actual tutorial, because all I basically did was glue, but I glued with pictures! So here goes.

It all began with this sad, tired candle thing that I did a couple of years ago. It has been moved from place to place to place, and I'm just sick to death of it. But, I wanted to do something with the sea glass pieces. (Not actual sea glass. Just the stuff in the floral section in little bags for a buck called sea glass. But still, pretty colors!)

While shopping at the Evil Empire this morning, I found these vases, left over from Valentine's Day, for only $1.20 each. (Shut up! I know!) I also got a small tube of clear silicone adhesive (found in the hardware section with the caulk and liquid nails). Less than $3.

I decided the use the not-sea-glass pieces as a mosaic on the bottom of the vases.

Although this project can be completed without the Cadbury Mini Eggs, why would you want to?

The short version? Just start gluing the pieces of glass on the vase! Easy peasy.

I stole the basic technique from Betz White, who has a great tutorial on her site about making cake plates with glass plates and glasses. (Go there! I can't explain, but it is genius!)

"Your silly craft project bores me. "

This is about halfway finished. The silicone is substantial enough that it holds the pieces of glass in place.

Almost there!

I'm going to use these on my deck this summer. I'm so happy with them, and I think it was a great way to use the not-really-sea-glass. I think I may also put about a cup of sand inside each one to hold the candle, to really push home the beach idea.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Old Navy, why hast thou forsaken me?

I am big fan of Old Navy. Cute! Cheap! Fun! Cheap! Not exactly where I would go for an interview suit or an LBD, but for the stuff that I live in (and will ultimately stain with pizza sauce or craft paint), they rock.

Well, rocked.

First of all, they changed their store. They no longer play groovy music that you haven't heard in 20 years and oh-my-gosh-I-used-to-love-this-song. My daughter, though now she is way cooler and more mature, used to dance UNCONTROLLABLY in the aisles. It was retail hilarity. Now Old Navy has watered down their choices to grocery store muzak. Radio Top 40. Bleh.

Second, what is the deal with the new jeans styles? The Flirt? The Diva? Can't you just say "mid-rise boot cut" and go with it? I now have to decipher a code?

Third, it appears that Old Navy is going for the "Banana Republic" lite look. Right now, there are tons of safari-inspired things. None of which I can/would wear.

The safari romper? (which begins the description with "Him Tarzan. You sexy!") Who the hell over the age of 3 wears rompers???

Can I get an Urban Sombrero to go with that?

OK, there is one thing that I like. These shoes... (oh, and they have also messed up their website, too, so if you want to see them, you have to move your cursor around the gray box. It bites.)

The ultimate heartbreak of these shoes is that I love them, but feel ridiculous when I have tried them on. Like I'm trying to be Jessica Simpson with the huge platform. I keep imagining these with a cute wrap dress in the summer (NOT the Safari Romper)... but I'm (gulp) 40.

Will I look like a big idiot?

Please be kind. My ego bruises like a peach.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Random Post of Vagueness

First things first. The Winner of the Market Tote Giveaway is...

Congrats craftymamamia! (You should have heard my daughter saying your name when she pulled your name out of the bag! ) I hope you enjoy it!

Look what I got for Valentine's Day!

Aren't they gorgeous? I love tulips and I can't believe that my hubby was so sweet!

I made some chocolate kisses and hugs cupcakes (and a heart shaped pizza, which photographed so horridly that I couldn't think of posting it).

In other news, I recently painted my guest bathroom. I love the blue!

Then, I decided that I liked the color so much (and I had a good amount left), I would paint my shipping table...

and then a border around my studio mirror...

and my bookshelf.

Thank heavens the cat wasn't around, or he probably would have been painted, too.

I've got some new Market Totes and Headbands to list this afternoon, and the tulips came in handy as props.