Wednesday, July 27, 2011

DIY Ottoman

I'd lived with a coffee table in our hearth room for several months, but it just wasn't working for me any longer.  It was too long, too tall and too leggy for the space.  We wanted something we could put our feet on and still have plenty of space for books and magazines.  I've faced the challenges of decorating this tiny nook before, so I knew the typical showroom ottoman would be too large for the space.

So I built my own.  I found everything I needed at Home Depot and Joanns.

I selected four 14" legs from Home Depot.

I started by staining them with the Minwax Wood Finish, the usual stain in a can.  I really wasn't getting the depth of color I wanted, and in hindsight, I probably should have used a wood conditioner before I started staining.  So I switched to another product:

 This is my preferred staining product (Minwax isn't giving me anything to say it).  I love the warm satin finish it gives, but it doesn't always give good coverage on cheap wood.  But it looked great on top of the can stain.  The leg at the top has a coat of Wood-Sheen after staining with Wood Finish.  The leg on the bottom has been stained with just Minwax Wood Finish.

While the final coat of stain dried (follow the directions on the product for drying times), I began working on the rest of the ottoman.

I cut a sheet of plywood down to 24" x 40" to best fit the space.  I used 1/2" thick plywood, but if you have children who like to leap from things or you know it will be sat on a lot, you might want to consider thicker plywood.

The most expensive part of this project is the foam.  I bought the thickest foam that Joanns carries in stock.  Watch for it go 50 percent off at Joanns and then combine the sale with one of their 10 percent off everything coupons.  The best way to cut foam?  One of those cheesy electric carving knives.  Seriously.  But, if you don't have one, a regular carving knife will work.  Just make long straight cuts in a single direction.

I've read in upholstery books to roll over the edge of the foam and glue it to the foundation.  This gives the foam a smooth appearance, and I tried it with a spray adhesive.  But it was about 95 degrees outside with 60 percent humidity, and I wasn't in the mood to fight the stiff foam with sticky fingers in a puddle of sweat.  So I gave up and used a staple gun instead.

The messy part was behind me, so now I could return inside.  I wanted to smooth out the foam and give the plywood edges a little more padding.  A real upholster would use Dacron, but I don't have access to any without ordering it on-line.  So I used two layers of quilt batting instead.

Actually, I found the crib size was the perfect fit when it was folded in half.

Tip: When tacking the batting to the plywood, tack in between the staples that are holding the foam in place.  It will help smooth the scallops of the foam.

Also, reduce bulk by trimming the corners of the batting before tacking in place.

Now we're ready for the fabric.  This part isn't really rocket science.  Measure twice, cut once.  Leave yourself plenty of fabric to grasp while pulling and smoothing.  Always start tacking in the middle, working to the edges, but stop about 3 inches from the corners.  Then tack the opposite side, stopping about 3 inches from the corners again.  Finish the other two sides in the same manner.  I trimmed the excess fabric on the corners the same way as I did the batting.  Here's a close up of the corner as it's being finished.

Next, attach the piping and finally, a dust cover.  I'm going to save the piping details for another post.

I attached the metal plates that the legs screw into and flipped the finished product over.  Standing back, I decided that it was too tall.  Ugh.  I studied it for a few minutes, and then plugged in the mitre saw and unscrewed the legs.

 I'll save these for another project.  Reattach the legs, flip over, and now I'm satisfied.

To be honest, this isn't going to be a $10 project.  If you pay full price for all the materials, it won't be cheap.  Watch the craft store sales for as many of the supplies as you can get.  But if you like to change colors often, this is a great way to get a custom look after the initial investment for the legs and foam. 

I'm linking up...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Another Quilt Update

To bring the newcomers up to speed, I started a quilt in January that I am going to donate to the 2011 Warm Embrace Project. The quilt will be given to a child this Christmas who is currently in foster care in South-Central Kansas.

It has to be finished by November.  I knew it would take me months to finish it, which is why I started early. 

Let's hear it for being realistic!

First, I'd like to thank all the kind people who reached into their fabric stashes and sent me favorite 6" square scraps.  Some of you are quilting for your own favorite causes and I commend you.

As with all big projects, I started with really great intentions and plenty of snowy days to spend at the sewing machine.

And then came Spring.  Blue skies.  Warm sun.  Who wants to be inside?  Not me!

And then those balmy days turned into day after day after day of this:

Ninety-nine degrees.  Whew!  Who wants to be outside?  Not me!

In my grand quilting plan, I knew this would happen.  Really.  I anticipated it.  Time to start sewing again!

I'm making a disappearing nine-patch quilt.  The squares have been neatly trimmed and stitched into larger 9-patch squares.

Using a straight edge and a rotary cutter, the large square is quartered.

Assembling has been fun so far, but this stage is a blast.  Let's see another one:

Only...let's see...40 more squares to go!

But I'm on a roll now.  Bring on the heat!  I'll be in the cool basement sewing these darling squares together.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Out with the New

Thank you for all the sweet comments regarding my potting bench.  Over the years I've come to appreciate the patina of old terra cotta pots.  I'm not always very good about bringing in my terra cotta flower pots in the winter, so I have a fair collection of bottomless flower pots that froze to the ground.  I just bury halfway in the soil and keep using them until they finally shatter.

So my terra cotta flower pots never get a chance to develop a nice mossy patina.  They always look brand-spanking new. 

I've heard of people using yogurt to age them, but that just sounds gross.

Then I read about using garden lime.  Most of the tutorials show pots that covered with a heavy white crust, which wasn't wasn't the effect I wanted.  I just wanted to take away some of the new look.

I picked up a bag of garden lime at Home Depot.

I stirred in two large heaping spoonful into about a cup of water (or around a third of a venti-sized cup).

I found that the lime was hard to dissolve, so I just stirred frequently while I worked.  I brushed several coats liberally onto a flower pot.  It was a hot day, so it dried quickly.

When it is dry, use a soft rag, like an old t-shirt, to brush the excess lime from the pot.  Check out the transformation.  It's instant aging.

To be honest, I had my doubts that the lime was doing anything other than just adding dust to the terra cotta.  So I sprayed them with a garden hose.  They have sat in the rain.  And they still look like this:

I'm linking up...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Potting Bench Transformation

I live in a subdivision with a homeowner's association that does not allow sheds which is too bad because it seems like the garage is never big enough.

When we moved in eight years ago, the previous owner left us with a workbench in the garage.  Every spring, summer, and autumn I'd tidy up in the back nook where it's located.  A few weeks later, it would return to this:

Yeah, one hot mess!  The drawer was so heavy on its own that by the time it was filled with small hand tools and hardware, it was falling off its tracks.  We were finished with it!  I figured I'd have to either post it for free on Craigslist and hope someone would take it off our hands or saw it into smaller pieces so I could put it in the trash.

Thumbing through a garden design book, I found myself admiring a potting bench.  How quaint it would be to have a pretty potting bench in my own backyard!  I could build one or...

Mr. Tallgrass was more than willing to rid the garage of the hulking mass.  His blessing to the project came with two conditions: 1) I had to put some kind solid surface under it and 2) he really didn't want me to spend any additional money on the workbench itself.

I can work within those parameters.  No problem.

I made a trip to ReStore and found some pavers for a good price, plus I found the light fixture that I later turned into this lantern.  A very productive trip to ReStore!  After cutting away the sod and laying the pavers, I was ready to tackle the workbench.

First I pulled out the drawer and removed the drawer slides.

I knew part of the drawer was made from particle board which wouldn't hold up to the weather, but some of it was solid wood.  Since the sides of the workbench weren't really trimmed, I could take apart the drawer and use the boards to build a skirt for the top of the bench.  Fortunately, the drawer was held together by screws and it wasn't glued together.

I really wanted it to have a top shelf, like a hutch, but the way the workbench was assembled on the back side wasn't going to lend itself to any easy upper shelf addition.  So I added a few more scraps to trim the top so nothing would could be accidentally pushed off the backside.

Some primer and a couple of coats of exterior paint and I have transformed a bulky, problematic workbench into a charming potting bench.

I spent $24 on pavers, $2 on a quart of paint at ReStore and $3 for the decorative scroll. 

Eventually I will probably have to replace the plywood top with boards, but I think it will hold up for a couple of seasons as it is.  We're both happy to have the extra space in the garage and I love having my garden supplies on hand where I use them.

I'm linking up...

Monday, July 4, 2011

Seaside Tote

I have a new addition to my Etsy shop to share.

I usually lean toward brighter colors, but the seaside greens and blues in this striped fabric were so soothing.

It's available here.