How to make a pillow cover with an envelope closure

Yeesh!  Sometimes it is the smaller projects that take a lot of time to write a tutorial on the process and this is one of them!  Here’s one more project to cross off the list for Pip’s room…one step closer to the big day…an entirely complete room in my house!  Can you tell that I am just slightly excited about the prospect of that?!  Today my power tool of choice is my sewing machine, and I used it to make pillow covers with an envelope closure.  And it’s pretty cool how the stripes take on a new look by cutting out some triangles and sewing them together.

DIY pillow covers

I made a couple of pillows like this for our couch awhile back, and when I found the clearance sheets for Pip’s room that I talked about in the Scrap Wood Upholstered Footstool I recently posted about, I knew I eventually wanted to make some pillow covers for her room using the same process.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

First we need to make a pattern.  Read More…

How to build a simple, scrap wood upholstered footstool

An upholstered footstool is one of the gifts that I made for Pip for Christmas this year, in my quest to have one room in this house completely finished up.  This is part of how I made it–I say part, because I think I deleted the building part of the pictures…oops!  It is so simple though, you really don’t need anything but a picture to put it together.  And I used scrap plywood and miscellaneous supplies from my sewing room, so it was free.

Scrap plywood upholstered footstool

See what I mean?  This was a very easy project.  I had put together the bench part before I started on the living room built-in, but I finished the rest of this in the midst of my general-Christmas-madness-combined-with-starting-a-major-project brilliance.  I will once again beg all of you to remind me that I should not start major projects during the holiday season next year!

I left the edges of the plywood unfinished–I just filled some spots where there were little voids in the ply with wood putty and sanded really well.  Two coats of primer and 1 coat of my white.  I did do two thin coats of polycrylic since I had it out already for the living room built in.  I really like the smooth finish I end up with when I use it.

Here are the steps I used to upholster the top.

Upholstered footstool supplies needed Read More…

Living Room Built-In {post 6: Make A Pocket Hole Plug Jig & Pocket Hole Doors}

If you use a pocket hole jig to assemble cabinet doors, you are left with holes on the back of the door that can be seen.  This may not bother you, and I decided it didn’t on Pip’s built-ins for her room because I didn’t want to deal with it and it wasn’t going to be seen by many.  For the living room built-in, I decided I needed to do something about them.  Using the plugs that Kreg makes is an option, but Kreg intentionally leaves them long so you can trim them for an exact fit.  I decided that if I needed to trim them anyway, I’d do it a little cheaper.  Here’s my DIY pocket hole plug jig.

Here’s a picture of one of the doors I put into the built-in for the living room.  I actually didn’t mean to construct them this way…I meant to do it the same way I constructed the drawer fronts on Pip’s closet organizer.  But I remembered that after I had already routered the edges on all the 1x3s I used for the rails and stiles.  Oops.  Constructing them this way  makes it more difficult to assemble the door perfectly square and end up with cuts that meet exactly right on the corners.

Mitered Corner Pocket Hole cabinet doors

One door was perfect and it was the one I did second.  For that door I assembled 3 corners, and then used the clamps in the picture to square up the door before screwing in the pocket  holes for the last corner.  To make sure the door is square, you measure the diagonal corners–each measurement should be the same.  If not, adjust the clamps until they are.  The one that I did first, and didn’t square it up with the clamps before attaching the last corner, did not turn out exactly square…I had to shave off the top edge.  Next time I construct a door or drawer front that is going to be inset, I’ll plan on making it a little oversized so I can shave it down to perfect (thanks for that hint Dennis!)

Now onto the pocket hole plug jig.  First step is to take a piece of scrap and drill the pocket holes into both ends.  I used my miter saw to shave off some of the ends of the boards after I drilled the holes, so that the screws could move freely without catching on the wood.  Don’t take off too much though, then the screw falls right through the hole (I did that the first try…).  Put screws into each pocket hole. Read More…

Sew a Tote from a Tank Top

With the new year in it’s first few days, you might be cleaning out some closets.  If you happen to have some tank tops that you don’t love anymore, I’ve got a simple sewing project that will repurpose tank tops into tote bags!  I had three that I removed from my closet awhile ago and I turned them into these:

Black tank top turned into a tote

Blue tank top turned into a tote bag

Orange tank top turned into a tote bag

Here’s the tutorial from CraftyNest.com.

Has anyone else done this already?  Have you turned any other clothing into something useful?  I have a slight obsession with tote bags.  I think I need to cull some of my other not-so-cute totes and donate them…

Quick Tip {Painter’s tape as a third hand}

I’m just not sure why evolution hasn’t stepped in and fixed the problem of only having two hands.  Every mother certainly needs more than two.  I mean come on–why does an octopus get eight??!!  I have never seen an octopus simultaneously unloading an overflowing grocery cart and keeping a three-year-old out of the candy bars.  And what DIYer doesn’t need an extra hand or two?  Or eight?

Painter’s tape to the rescue!

Cove molding on the top of the desk hutch

Keep the moulding right where you want it while using a nail gun.

painter's tape as a third hand

This would have been impossible to try to drill into the cabinet without extra help.

Just two quick examples of how I have used it beyond its obvious purpose.  I’ve also seen some examples on the web how others have used the tape for clamping.  Here is a video from DittleDattle.blogspot.com where Carrie uses it to construct some 4×4 posts out of mdf.  This bit of genius may be coming in handy for a future project I have in mind for one of my boys.  And Sandra over at Sawdustandpaperscraps.com recently used it to finish her library.

What about you??  Have you discovered the wonders of painter’s tape?  What have you used it for (because I can always use a hint or two as well!!)

Living Room Built-In {post 5: How to install crown moulding}

Ahhh, crown moulding.  How I covet thee.  I want to put it everywhere in this house, but it seems so hard!!  This was my first attempt at any kind of crown.  Up until now, every built-in I have done has been capped off with casing (I think…or it is base…either way, it hasn’t been crown).  I’m pretty happy with how it turned out on this project, so I’m not as afraid to give it a go in other places now.  Here’s how I went about it!

First I did some research after I discovered that I wasn’t sure which way was up.  If you read my little rant, you already know that apparently other people don’t know which way is up either.  I had a little bit of a sticky situation though…I didn’t have much room before I hit a corner, and the crown I had picked out takes up more room depending on how you put it up.  Lucky for me it worked out.

Figuring out which way is up with crown moulding

The research said that the bottom of crown most times has the more decorative elements.  Also, the crown should take up more space on the wall than it does on the ceiling (that is what saved me from having to apply mine upside down–it gave me enough room before I hit the corner of the wall).  This is all in general–it might not be applicable in every instance.  Just don’t ask anyone who knows anything about crown to come into your house and you’ll be fine either way (I crack myself up sometimes).

Anyone interested in coming in and refinishing my floors for me?  Anyone?  Bueller?  Bueller? (Who can name that movie?)  Look how scratched up they are–and I want them a much darker color now.  Uggh.  I don’t look forward to that project.

During my research, I read this article from DIY Network.com where they put base moulding on upside down before the crown to build it up.  I loved it, so I did the same thing on mine.

crown moulding part 1

But it kinda ended up being a good thing I had planned on this.  I originally had a top to the cabinet that was separate that I was going to add between the cabinet and the shelves.  Then I made a big mistake and had to modify the plans, but the separate top was 1.5″ thick and I already left 2″ of clearance at the top.  That meant there was only air to attach the crown to on the cabinet and that wasn’t going to work.  The upside base gave me something to work with!

Read More…

Happy New Year! (and What I got done in 2012)

Happy New Year!  I hope your 2012 was a good one, and that 2013 is even better!

I enjoyed looking at what I got checked off of my to-do list last year, so I thought I’d do it again this year.  Thanks for indulging me :)

I started off 2012 declaring that I would finish Pip’s room by the end of the month.  Ha!  It’s close to being done now, but that was a year ago!  This is what I started with:

DIY ruffled flower pillow

How to sew a Ruffled Flower Pillow

Then I released my first full-length major motion picture titled

How to cut plywood with a circular saw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ThrBGQP4Zo

Pip’s room gained some curtains.

Curtains up in Pip's room

Sometimes the smaller projects can make a big impact.  My under-sink situation was out of control in my bathroom so I decided enough was enough and built some under-the-sink storage.  It has kept the mess reigned in even to this day and I love it. Read More…

Why I Don’t Care and Why You Shouldn’t Either

I can only go so long reading something that irritates me before I drag out the soapbox.  So I’m dragging it out again, hoping it will purge me of the irritation–and hopefully help you navigate a similar situation.  If not, we can lament together.  Unfortunately, the cause of my ire is–and it pains me to say this–other woodworkers.  Not all other woodworkers, just a select few elitist woodworkers.

I would avoid them altogether, but they pop up regularly when I go to do some woodworking “how-to” web research.  If you have done any of that beyond Ana’s site, you have probably encountered them also.  For instance, when I was looking into crown moulding recently, I ran across some boards where the “pros” frequent and they were talking about how irritating it is for them when most of the homes they go into have the crown installed upside down–one mentioned that he doesn’t even tell the homeowner because obviously they are happy with it the way it is.

Crown moulding right and wrong side

Same piece of crown. Can you tell which way is up?

How kind of him.  The torment he must feel letting that go.

Have you ever looked at crown?  I’m pretty sure it doesn’t really matter which way you put it up–it is visually appealing either way!!  And you know what?  I used baseboard moulding upside down in my crown application as a way to stack the moulding and get a chunkier look.

Up.side.down.

Oh the horror.

Interestingly enough, putting the baseboard on upside down was a suggestion from some “pros”.  Apparently it is only acceptable to use moulding upside down in certain applications.

Drawer construction is a sure-fire way to bring the elitists out of the woodwork (oh, the wonderful puns!).  Some feel that unless you can do a perfect dovetail joint you just shouldn’t bother at all.  All I really want from a drawer is the ability of a box to slide out of a cabinet.  I can appreciate a lovely dovetail drawer and if you have that skill I am duly impressed.  But that does not make you better than me–it means you construct a drawer differently than I do.  Mine still works.

And just to be clear–I have run into some woodworkers with professional level skills who are encouraging and supportive to beginners and others.  I do not lump them all into the same category.  Clay Dowling immediately comes to mind–you’ll find him over at Ana’s site giving helpful advice in the forums and comments.

This is the comment that sent me to the “Add a new post” button on the blog.  I was recently mentioned in this Slate article and here is a comment made after the article:

WTF?

I just love these “You can build beautiful furniture too” stories, whether aimed at men or women.

When I was in college I could turn out a serviceable bookshelf/cabinet storage/wall unit thingie or a bed frame, but the workmanship was pathetic (kind of like the stuff pictured on Anna White’s website). I don’t do it for a living, so it took me years to turn out furniture that had near invisible joints, properly compensated for temperature and humidity changes, high quality finish etc. It took more years to learn to do work that occasionally wins prizes.

“Eventually…you will want an expensive compound miter saw, but to start, go with something less pricey” is probably the worst advice anyone could give. You don’t have to pay top dollar (and you can find amazing bargains at yard sales) but there is nothing more frustrating than shoddy tools. If you don’t have experience you don’t even know why you’re so frustrated.

“I think a jigsaw is less intimidating than the circular saw?” Ummm… maybe so, but jigsaws and circular saws are intended for different kinds of work. They’re not in any way interchangeable tools.

Ahhhh, wonderful commenter, I bow to your obvious superiority–you even win prizes for your skills (as I roll my eyes).  Some of us have to work with what we have and we aren’t in it to win prizes, and a jigsaw will in fact cut through wood quite well.  If you are going to build an entire house full of furniture it would not be ideal to do it with a jigsaw, but if you have one already and want to see if you might enjoy throwing some boards together to make something, by all means grow some thick skin, ignore this commenter, plug in your jigsaw and try it out!  If we all read this kind of drivel  and believed it, we wouldn’t ever try anything new.

None of my projects would win a single prize, but I love every one of them.  I’m proud of every one of them.  And I wouldn’t have built even one of them had I been around that commenter for more than 5 minutes.

He is right in one respect–quality tools do make a job more enjoyable.  I encourage you to invest in quality tools, but you can start out in woodworking without a lot of them.  You can see if you even like DIY without taking out a second mortgage (even the more affordable options for tools can add up) or spending your weekends scouring the yard sales.  You won’t win prizes, but you will get some things accomplished in your home.

Well, obviously my title is somewhat misleading…I DO care–I care that people who want to try their hand at home improvement projects might read comments, articles, forum posts, and the like from people like our commenter above and decide they can’t or shouldn’t.  If you care a lot about winning prizes for your projects, my blog is probably not for you.  If you don’t expect perfect and you’re willing to try something out, you are in the right place.

You need to have thick skin and be able to ignore people who need to feel superior.  You need to keep your reason for woodworking at the forefront–I want to finish up our house and to do it within a budget I can stomach, so I build the projects myself.  I kept in mind that I was a beginner in the beginning and tried to keep those projects in rooms that were off the main area.  As I improved, I moved to more visible parts of the house.

Reading comments like the one above fires me up, not because it affects me, but because it might affect someone else.  I truly could care less about opinions like that–I take what I can learn from the search I conducted (like the crown moulding tips) and discard the rest.  I truly hope you don’t care either.

What do you think of the comment?  Have you run into similar people while on the web?

Living Room Built-In {post 4: Coping Base Moulding}

I have attempted to cope moulding in past projects with limited success, so I was a little leery of how well it would go this time.  It was one of the things I was determined to learn because I would like to put in crown moulding on the entire first floor eventually, and from what I read, it sounds like coping is a necessary skill to make it look good year-round due to expanding and contracting of the wood during seasonal weather changes, and from walls that may look perfectly straight, but are not (so you don’t have a perfect right angle to split in half and you have to figure out what angle you DO have–not fun I imagine).  I am here to tell you that you can master this skill in very little time with the right tools!

In case you happen upon this post without seeing the project I am talking about, here is the built-in I will be referencing in this post :)

Built In cabinet left side

First I want to show you how I put the Living Room Built-In right next to the wall to make it look built in without removing any base moulding.  In previous projects I have removed all the base, cut the base so I could slide the cabinet next to the wall, and reattached the moulding around the cabinet.  If you want to go that route, you can look at Pip’s built-ins or the laundry room built in and see what I did on those.  It will involve this:

Removing base moulding

There is a LOT of moulding to remove on the wall where this built-in resides.  I dreaded the thought of having to pull it all up, so…

I originally planned on using a Dremel MultiMax like they do in the video “Cutting trim from a wall” so that I didn’t have to remove all the moulding.  But in the end I decided to do something a little different so that I could move the cabinet if needed in the future.

I traced around a scrap piece of the base on the back corners of the cabinet and cut it out with a scroll saw.  I should have erred toward cutting it out a little shorter than my base because the cabinet sits on carpet and causes the base around the cabinet to stand proud from the base already on the wall due to the carpet height.

Did you follow that??!!  It wasn’t a big deal–I had a small hole that I filled with caulk–you’ll see it a little farther down in the tutorial.

Cut out the back of the cabinet to slide over the base moulding

Built-in cabinet slid into place

So now it slides right up to the wall and can be moved along any point of the wall and still look built-in once the moulding is applied to the front and sides.  However, now the only way to apply the moulding to the sides is to cope the wall end to fit over the existing wall moulding.  Here’s an example of a coped joint from Family Handyman if you want to check out their instructions.  Maybe you can get good results with a coping saw–I couldn’t.  Then I found this YouTube video and now coping is possible for me! Read More…

Living Room Built-In {post 3: The Reveal}

First we had a flurry of activity around here to get the Living Room built-in finished before Christmas hit, and now I’m settled in by the computer with a flurry of snow accumulation happening outside, as I write up the reveal post for the Living Room built-in (we think about 6-7″ right now and it’s still falling).  I’m breaking from my regular format and doing the reveal before all of my write ups on the process this time, for no other reason than I want to :)  My goal was to have everything done but the doors before we had Christmas at our house, and it ended up that the entire thing was done!  Yay!

Befores and afters:

Whole room before picture--living room side

Built In--whole room picture living room side

Read More…

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