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DIY Wood Pallet Sign

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It’s our first Thanksgiving in North Carolina and we are so pleased to be expecting family in town from Massachusetts and Tennessee. I have have been in full-on preparation mode, including my attempts to make the house look more festive. Today, I made this sign to hang in our entryway. ¬†We think it’ll give our guests some idea of what is expected of them during their stay ūüôā

I had never done a sign like this before but was so happy with the completed project that I decided to blog a brief tutorial on it.

First thing, after you’ve decided on your wording, you need to design it and print it out on a computer, laptop tablet, etc. ¬†I’m most comfortable with Excel, so that’s what I used, but whatever you choose, just be sure that it has a font (or two) that you like, and that you can print out really large letters. ¬†Here is what mine looked like on my computer.

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Print it out and compare it to the wood that you’re planning to use. Adjust font size and reprint as necessary. Once you’ve got your final design in hand, cut out the words leaving 1/8″ blank paper around each word like so.

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Now you will flip each word over to the back of the paper and write all over the back of the words with a charcoal pencil. I used one that I got at Hobby Lobby in a package of 6 for $5.00. Here is what it looked like.

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As you can see, it’s a “soft” charcoal, which I recommend. ¬†Here is what your paper should look like when you’re done writing on the back.

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Now, carefully lay out your words, right side up, on your board and once you have them all in place, tape them down at the edges to keep them from shifting around. I forgot to take a picture of this so hopefully, I’m clear.

Carefully, using a ball point pen, trace around each letter’s edge. ¬†By doing this, you are transferring the loose charcoal from the back of your paper to the wood. ¬†Sort of like an old fashioned carbon copy (so that’s what “cc” means).

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Once you’ve finished a word, you can carefully ¬†untape it and remove it from your board. Look what you did!

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How cool is that?  Think of what you are capable of!  You can transfer your favorite team logo, silhouette, saying, image?  The possibilities are endless!

Once I was done transferring the whole saying, I painted the letters on with a paint pen.  I also got these at Hobby Lobby.  Mine came in a 2-pack and looks like this.

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It was too easy.  Much more so than using paint and a brush I think, especially since painting is not my strong suit in the Great Big World of Crafts.

I didn’t bother sealing my sign with polyurethane since it is strictly for indoor decorative use, but if I were planning on using it outside, I would’ve given it a couple of coats of clear varnish.

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Stay tuned for more projects using this method.  Good luck with your own, and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

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DYI Posable Skeleton Hands – Made with wire, tin foil and masking tape

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I made these scary hands as part of my son’s Halloween costume this year. My initial intent was to just stuff some gloves with polyfil as I had done in years past, but I saw something similar to these on Pinterest and decided to give them a go.

First, gather up your supplies: wire (I used 4 wire clothes hangers), tin foil, masking tape, a piece of paper and a pencil, a Sharpie, scissors, pliers and wire cutters.

Lay your hand on the paper and trace around it.  Then, mark off where your knuckles are.  If you think your hands are kind of small, borrow the hand of a larger person.

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Now, cut and bend your wire to follow the lines of your finger and hand bones.  Use the picture and your own hand as your guide. I found that holding the wire with the pliers and using my hands to bend it worked best.

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Transfer the knuckle marks to your wires with a sharpie.

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Now, using your tape and starting with the palm, tape the four fingers together, leaving spaces between the fingers as you go. ¬†You should have masking tape “webbing” between each wire when you’re done, and should still be able to line it up to your picture.

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Use some scissors to shape the upper edge so that it stays just below the knuckle lines.  Now do the same for the thumb and wrist.

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Fun! ¬†Now you can start posing your fingers, using those joint markers as guides. It helps to pose your own hand the way you want the fake hand to be, and refer to it as you go. It should be noted that when I started posing the hand, I realized that I had limited my thumb’s mobility by making the gap between it and the index finger too tight. To fix this, I cut down the webbing, moved the thumb, then re-taped the thumb webbing.

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Much better. ¬†So now we start adding the knuckles and fingers. You want to add a little flesh to your wires, or bulk up the bones, and to do this, you will wrap them in tin foil. Starting with the fingers first, take a small ball of foil to make the first knuckle. ¬†Hold the ball in place then take a 1″ wide strip of foil and wrap it around the knuckle to hold it in place, then continue wrapping the strip of foil up the finger to the next joint. ¬†When your strip of foil runs out, grab another and keep going. ¬†Make another knuckle-ball (keeping in mind that the joints get a bit smaller as you go out the length of each finger), hold it in place and wrap it up in your foil strip.

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Keep doing this until you reach the end of the finger.

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Now, wrap your finger in masking tape using small strips of tape. Start at the base of the finger, being sure to secure the first knuckle to the hand with your first strip.  You may find it easier to work with thinner strips of tape for the fingers than you did for the hand.  If so, just rip the masking tape into more manageable size pieces. Feel free to pinch and mold the fingers as you go.   Continue until you have finished all the fingers and the thumb.

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Now, you can start fleshing out the palm. ¬†Keep in mind that most of the “meat” in your hand runs around, but not into, the center of the palm, shape some tin foil to fit under the four fingers and down the pinky side of the palm. ¬†Make a separate piece for the base of the thumb, again using your own hand as a guide.

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Cover the the first piece with masking tape.

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And now cover the thumb side piece.

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Add a little flesh to the center of the palm, and that will finish off the palm side of your hand.

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Creepy!  For the back of the hand, you need only add a little foil below the knuckles, as our bones really do show through back there.

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Cover it with tape and the back is done.

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Now for the hard part…repeat the whole thing for your second hand, making sure to reverse it so that you don’t end up with two lefts or two rights. ¬†I took my original drawing, traced it through to the back of the paper and¬†went from there.

Here are my finished hands, front and back.

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They are very posable, but use care when manipulating them as you don’t want to crush the layer of tin foil too much. ¬†I left the hands just like this, but some of you may want to paint them or coat them in a layer of liquid latex. If you plan to use them in your outdoor decor, you should at least coat them with a waterproof finish. My son used them for his costume, and the whole thing was a big hit in the neighborhood.

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Super creepy fun! ¬†Let me know if you’ve got questions and good luck with your own creepy hands.

DIY Sherlock Holmes Costume


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So this Halloween, Trevor, my minion from last year, said he wanted to be the world’s greatest detective. I suggested Sherlock Holmes and after we looked at a few images on Google, he enthusiastically agreed. I think it was the magnifying glass and the pipe that really clinched it.

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I’m calling this post DIY Sherlock Holmes, but mostly it’ll be DIY Sherlock Holmes hat. ¬†I did make the coat too, but I just followed a pattern, McCall’s #M6641. ¬†We will not be telling Trevor that I made his coat from a “girl’s pattern” since you know how 9 year old boys can be.


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I made the coat shown here in yellow, but without the hood and the collar instead. Also, I didn’t bother putting pockets or a lining in it since it’s just a costume after all. Once I completed the coat, I made the cape ¬†and attached it around the outside of the collar. To do that, I cut two big circles from my fabric, as big as I could. ¬†My fabric was 45″ so it was just a little smaller than that in diameter. ¬†I cut a hole in the middle big enough for his neck and collar then cut an opening all the way¬†down the front. I sewed the two circles together (one for the inside of the cape, one for the outside of it), and attached it to the coat. ¬†Moving on.

For the hat, I started with two brown baseball caps that I puchased for a couple of dollars each from EBay.

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After turning them back-to-back, fit one over the other.

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It should be noted that you should do this with the caps on the head of the person who will be wearing them so that you get a correct fit.  One you are confident of the fit, hot glue the two hats together.  I just spot-glued them around the inside band of the top hat.

Next, I covered the hat with the same fabric I had used to make the coat. First thing, I made a pattern piece that matched the wedge shape that makes up the hat.  This is what I mean

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The top of the ball cap is made up of six of these put together.  I made a pattern piece to match these out of craft paper.  To do this I took the piece of paper, laid it over the cap and scored along the seams with my fingernail  there was a little trial and error with this method, so if you know of a better way I encourage you to use it.

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Once you have the pattern piece in hand, cut out six of them, making sure to add a half inch seam allowance all the way around.  When you sew them together, I recommend using a quarter inch seam allowance as you need for it to fit over the hat and if it is exactly the same size, you will struggle.  Start sewing the wedges together, pieces should be right sides together and sew a straight seam from tip down one side.  When you finish adding the sixth wedge, sew the first to the last to make a continuous ring of wedges.  Clip seams at curves and turn it right side out.  It should look like this

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Iron all seams flat.

Next you will make the ear flaps. ¬†Use the same pattern piece you used for the wedges, but cut the tup off to make it blunt-ended. ¬†Cut out 4 of them then sew them into two sets with the straight side left open. ¬†If I was thinking, I would have sandwiched the tie for these into the tip of the flap, but since I didn’t, I just tacked them on in a later step.

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So now, I matched up these ear flaps on the outside of my pieced-together cap, lining each up with a wedge on an opposite side of the cap. Stitch these on across the straight side, lining it up with the bottom hem of the cap. Like so…

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It looks a little weird now, but it’ll get better. ¬†Now, flip the ear flaps up and iron a hem along the bottom band of the cap. You may want to slip it onto the baseball caps to get an idea of how big of a hem you’ll need, but mine was about a half inch, all the way around. ¬†Once you’ve ironed it in place, sew it around, close to the fold making sure you have your ear flaps pointing up as you do.

Before you permanently add this to your hat, you will want to to first cover the bills of the hat.  I only covered the tops of the bills, leaving the underside plain brown.  I made a pattern for the bill using craft paper, and employing the same (rather crappy) method that I did when making the pattern for the cap. Trial and error, a little wine, and lots of patience.  I ended up with this

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A little blurry (must’ve been the wine), but you get the idea. Cut two of these from your fabric, then zig-zag, surge, or use liquid sealer around the edge to keep it from fraying.

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Now I hot-glued these to each brim of the hat.

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My fabric worked well with hot glue and left no visible traces or bleed-through marks. ¬†If you find that your fabric isn’t as forgiving, you may want to try traditional fabric glue. ¬†Just be sure to give it time to dry before moving on to subsequent steps.

Alright now, almost done! ¬†One more thing you need to do before putting your homemade cap onto the finished hat is to tack on the ties that hold the flaps up. As I mentioned before, it would have made more sense to include these in the ear flap construction, but I wasn’t thinking ahead at the time. ¬†So instead, I took a 8″ length of ribbon (I found one at Joann’s that looks more like a shoe lace) folded the end over and machine tacked it to the top inside of each ear flap

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Now give the cap one final ironing and fit it over your baseball caps, lining up the ear flaps on the sides and the center seams in the front and the back. ¬†If your baseball cap has a button at the top, clip a few stitches at the point of the cap and pass it through to the outside. ¬†Trim away any excess fabric at the tip of the cap. ¬†Once you are happy with the overall fit, glue that sucker in place with dabs of hot or fabric glue around the inside of the bottom band. Allow it to dry then tie the ribbon at the top of the hat. ¬†Trim ribbon if necessary. I also glued the knot in place because the hat really isn’t constructed to allow the flaps to hang down and I didnt want my son to be tempted to futz with them.

Here is the finished cap…

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He really does LOVE that magnifying glass.

With the coat and hat done, I gathered up the other pieces of his costume. I purchased his beloved pipe and magnifying glass on EBay. ¬†The set cost me $5.99. He had some navy dress pants and dark socks. ¬†Still need to get him some shoes but with Halloween still a few weeks off, I’m feeling ok about that. He might also get a white button down dress shirt, but I’m not sure if he needs one since I made him this fabulous ascot that covers his neck.

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I used this tutorial that that I found on Pinterest, which was very straightforward. I downsized it a bit for my 9-year old. ¬†I’m didn’t bother giving his a pointed bottom since I knew it would be tucked into his jacket like so…

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So it’s pretty much all done except for the Trick or Treating. ¬†And I don’t need to tell you that he loves it.

One¬†costume down, one to go! ¬†Stay tuned for my older son’s costume to be posted as soon as I finish it.

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