Category Archives: Miscellaneous Projects

How-To: Mason Jar Coin Bank

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I have several coin collectors tucked around my bookshelves, closets, dressers, etc. They take many forms including jars, tins, ceramic pots, jugs and various other vessels. Most of them are completely no-frills. About twice a year as they fill up I go through and empty them into my bank account where the funds hopefully purchase something fun like concert tickets, yarn or fabric splurges, a day trip out of town, etc. Other times the money goes towards something completely boring but necessary like bills. I have had a lot of loose change coming my way lately so I decided to take an empty mason jar I had sitting with my craft supplies and turn it into another little coin bank.

I decided on a nautical theme including a piece of my Anchors Away fabric from Dear Stella (one of my favorite fabric manufacturers at the moment). I have always loved anchors; I remember doodling them on my notebooks when I was little. Do you remember when we used to have those denim binders and drew all over them? They were “the” thing after Trapper Keepers went out of style. But back to the project…

Supplies you will need:
– Mason jar and rim, lid not needed
– Two scraps of fabric approximately 7″ x 7″
– Cardstock
– Double-sided tape or a glue stick is helpful!
– Scissors
– Ruler
– Pencil/Pen
– Any embellishments you would like (ribbon, cord, lace, etc). I chose cording to go with my nautical theme.

Step One: Trace the rim onto your card stock and cut it out – make sure it fits inside the rim before proceeding further. I cut two pieces and fastened them together with a little glue around the edge (no glue in the middle because we’ll be cutting the center). The double layer will make your top more durable. I used some scraps of card stock leftover from another sewing pattern that I made. I keep scraps in the back of my file for projects like this.

Step Two: With your ruler measure to find the center of the circle. I drew a line across the diameter and another line perpendicular. Then, using the center point and your diameter line as a guide draw a line 1.5″ across the center of the circle. I measured an old-school silver dollar at 1.25″. That was the largest coin in my nearest canister and I wanted to make sure there would be enough room to accommodate it. You can use a craft blade (or scissors if you feel confident) to cut a narrow opening in the center of your card stock – 1.5″ long as per your guide and just wide enough for a couple of coins to fit through at once.

Step Three: Cut your fabric squares to desired size (I think mine were around 7″ x 7″). You can put them on top of the jar with the rim to measure and see if the fabric is the size you want it to be. Fold your fabric in half with wrong side out, then fold it in half again to make a square. You will see your center point at one of the corners you just made. Make a tiny snip to mark your center. Unfold fabric so it is just folded in half. Now that your center point is identified and your center line is marked by the fold, it is easy to cut out your hole while fabric is folded. Hole should be just shy of the size of your card stock’s opening. My card stock’s opening was about 2mm larger than my fabric’s.

Step Four (optional): This step was very theme-specific. I took my navy cord and created a coil for the bottom of the jar. This would help to soften the sound as coins were deposited, and also protect the glass. I decided to sew rather than glue the coil. It takes more time, but it’s cleaner and more durable. Once finished, my coil was added to the bottom of the jar.

Step Five: Layer your card stock between your top and bottom fabrics, aligning the coin slot. I put a tiny bit of glue stick on each side of the card stock during this process. This wasn’t to permanently glue the pieces of fabric and paper together, just to help keep them secure during the top assembly. Once your lid layers are sandwiched, stick them in your rim (this ensures that the layers aligned as the pieces of card stock will guide your sandwich to the center). Place the entire piece on top of the jar, screw on the lid.

Step Six (optional): I tied around the lid a cord with a cute little knot. I took a match to seal the ends of my cord to prevent fraying and add some nice texture. Depending on your fabrics, you could use ribbon, a lacy bow, some twine, glue on buttons and gems or even leave the rim unadorned.

That’s it! Now you are ready to fill your stylish new bank. What are you going to splurge on once you’ve saved up some dough?

Linking up to:

Bedroom Chair Makeover

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My older sister found some great chairs for her bedroom. The only problem – the fabric did not go. Both of them had an Ultrasuede-type fabric: one of them was a dark brown and one of them was a stone. Her bedroom is shades of blue. She took a trip to the fabric store and found a great textured fabric in shades of blue and white to give these chairs a little makeover.

The great thing about the Ultrasuede fabric is that it was so smooth and so thin that I could put the new fabric over top of it without having to remove the old fabric. This saves a ton of work!

I started out with the stool. It was not your typical rectangle, but not an oval either so still pretty easy to cover. My staple gun and I went to work.

The end result came out very nice. The stool sits at the little vanity area between her closet and bathroom.

This next beautiful chair my sister found at Home Goods (her favorite place for furniture-hunting). It was probably part of a dining set originally but was soon meant to be part of my sister’s bedroom set.

With some new fabric this chair now fit right in the bedroom. It’s a great place to sit and put your boots on! And it is very comfy if I do say so myself.

Custom Built Shelving Unit

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I finally completed a project that I’ve been wanting for myself for about four years! I have a lot of yarn, notions, etc. Most of it resides in baskets that I got at Home Goods and for the longest time these baskets were stacked one on top of another in a big tower. Since the baskets can be heavy it means I rarely got to go through my yarn stash and work on projects. I asked my dad several times to build me a shelving unit, but it never happened so I finally thought – why not build it myself?

Step one was taking measurements and figuring out dimensions for my unit – overall plus shelves & other details. I drew this rough sketch as my guide (obviously not to scale).

Next I headed out to purchase the wood (pine because apparently it takes stain very nicely) and I brought a knob from my dresser drawer to figure out what shade range I wanted to be in for the wood stain.

The next step was to cut the wood, and for this I asked my dad to cut everything to the measurements I spec’d. Secretly I think he was happy because it gave him an excuse to buy a new table saw (his old one found a new home with my brother). The wood was then sanded and wiped down.

I then stained the wood. Warning: If you do this wearing shorts and a tank you will end up with fake “age spots” from any splatter or drips. It took three weeks and a lot of exfoliating to make them go away. I then applied a coat of polyurethane.

Next step: assembly. Getting closer to a finished unit! Using a nail gun, nothing would take this piece down.

Here are photos of my finished unit and a before/after shot of the baskets stacked versus shelved. I have to take the baskets down soon to add the “feet” on the bottom and may give it another coat of polyurethane while I’m at it. I love the color, but I feel like the finish needs another coat of the polyurethane.

I spec’d the piece with a recessed top so that I could keep another basket or whatever else on top. The basket on top is actually much narrower so it works perfectly to keep my roll of knitting needles, crochet hooks, etc nested behind it. No more lifting numerous baskets; I can access everything by just sliding the baskets out a little! Not bad for a DIY project.

What I’m listening to as I write this post: Conan

Halloween Wall Art

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It’s that time of year… Halloween is creeping up on us and hopefully you have a fabulous party to attend. This year one of my sisters (who loves Halloween) is throwing a big bash. I thought it would be fun to make some wall art to hang around her place for the event.

I wanted an old, beaten up look so I started by burning the edges of my paper. Personally, I really like bristol board but you can use whatever paper you like.

I used acrylic paints because they are water based and this would help to give the distressed look I was trying to achieve. Mixing some brown, black, a little red, and a lot of water the paper was picking up the look I wanted. Plus, the char from the edges mixed with the water and paint was creating some “bumps” on my page which was some great added texture to achieve the desired look.

And finally I painted some theme-appropriate messages like “Double, double toil and trouble…” and “Beware”.

The artwork can easily be put up on the walls or doors with some painters tape on the back for the evening without causing any damage. A great temporary decorating solution for your walls!

Reupholstered Dining Room Chairs… set #2!

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This summer I helped my other sister reupholster her set of dining room chairs. We were fortunate enough that the cushions were still in great shape and didn’t need to be replaced so it was really just changing out the fabric.

I unscrewed the seats from all of the chairs and numbered every seat, chair base and set of screws so each set would be fastened back together after they were recovered.

Then came the super-fun part… removing the old fabric. First of all, the fabric was fastened with teeny tiny staples that couldn’t be pried out with pliers, staple removers, flathead screw drivers, the back of a small hammer head, or any other tool we could find. A few were loosened enough when the fabric was pulled that I could get at them with pliers, but 99% of them were destined to stay in there.

We ended up removing the fabric, cutting and yanking around all of the staples (of which there were a LOT). And this fabric was truly amazing. It must have had a resin coating on the back of it – maybe to help adhere to the cushion? Or maybe on the surface to help make it stain-resistant? In any case, after these many, many years (my sister purchased this dining set a couple of years ago from an older lady) this resin had made the surface of the fabric very sticky. It made removing it that much of a messier job. It took the better part of a day to strip all of this fabric! The best part of the day was when we took a late afternoon break to watch Project Runway and the Weaser’s Ice truck paid us a visit.

My sis picked out a nice fabric to recover these chairs. It is a thin plaid pattern, neutral with some subtle pops of color. It has a soft hand feel and is nice to sit on. Here’s a good comparison shot of the two fabrics so you can see the difference, especially in texture. We never realized just how purple the old fabric was! (She is still working on lighting in her dining room so the fabric often looked a little more brown than purple.)

It was a relief when all of the old fabric was taken out with the trash! My sister kept a small swatch for her Home Binder which shows a lot of the before/after of her renovations. I think she also keeps the binder full with a lot of tear sheets from magazines/catalogues and swatches of design ideas she likes or fabrics and paint colors she has considered. One by one I was able to start covering the seats with the new fabric, then fastening them back to the chair bases.

Check out this before/after photo!

And another before/after shot. It really brightens up the room.

I think the chairs came out great! I left my sister with a bottle of Scotch Guard so she can take on the last step of the chairs’ new look. The room looks great and the fabric goes well with all seasons. Next project: reupholstering two chairs in her bedroom! Hopefully I can get that done in early November.

What I’m listening to as I write this post: Regina Spektor

How to get rid of fruit flies

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We had some peaches that went south. Result: a ridiculous amount of fruit flies. Gross. After the peaches were tossed, many of the little things decided to attack and ruin my fresh pears while the others decided to make a home on my melon. This situation had to be resolved.

A quick Google search produced an interesting homemade solution so it was time to create my own version.

I took a disposable bowl, put in some rind from the melon I had just cut up plus a couple of raspberries (any fruit would really work here). Next, the bowl was covered with a layer of plastic wrap and scotch taped under the rim to ensure the plastic was secure. I took a toothpick and poked a few holes in the top. And just in case the fat little insects could read, I took a Sharpie and wrote “FRUIT FLY TRAP” on top of the plastic (actually, that was so nobody would see the trap and throw it out thinking it was just a bowl of fruit left out to rot).

Time to put it to the test! I found the perfect spot on the counter: near a nightlight where the fruit flies like to gather in the dark. The trap would sit there overnight. My bowl of fresh fruit was moved to the other side of the kitchen, far from the trap.

Results: In the morning, there was a lot of activity: 10 fruit flies in the trap who realized they were completely stuck. Woo hoo! They are not very bright – flying toward the rim for some sort of escape (and just bouncing off the plastic) when all the holes I poked were in the middle. I did not take an “after” photo because… well, it was just gross. I tossed the trap in the trash can and gone are the flies.

Let’s hope that is the last of them. I saw one stray guy flying around this morning, but maybe I can squash him before this goes any further.

September 29th Update: Another remedy that has worked is soap suds and wine vinegar! Take a small bowl, make it sudsy with some dish detergent and water, and add some red wine vinegar. Leave it out on the counter where you usually keep your fruit bowl. The fruit flies will be attracted to the vinegar and they will drown in the soap suds. It is pretty effective.

Real Simple’s 102 Uses for Old Things

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Real Simple recently published the article “Organizing New Uses for Old Things: Everyday products that help conquer clutter”. They feature 102 ordinary household items and ideas to use them in a new way.

Personally, I like the idea of using a cookie sheet as a memo board. How cute for your kitchen! You could also put your recipe up there with a magnet so it’s visible while you cook yet out of harm’s (spills and splatters) way.

And of course they posted the ever-useful zippered bed-linen bag for art supply storage. I use these all the time! For yarn, craft supplies, paints, office supplies, or a myriad of other things!

They wrote about using binder clips for linen storage. I like to use binder clips to hold shut a bag of granola, cereal, or snacks.

RS suggests using a coat rack as a jewelry holder. I actually did this same thing with a beautiful bird coat hook that I found at Loopy Mango in Soho NYC earlier this year. It keeps all of the chunky or long necklaces that don’t fit in my jewelry box not only handy, but beautifully accessorizing my room.

I love this idea of using earrings as tacks on your memo board. It is true that sometimes you just lose an earring and the one you have left is too pretty to toss. I also love that they posted a card for Purl Soho in the photo of their sample board. They have some beautiful yarn there! I got a great Japanese yarn recently – very nautical. Perhaps it will make an appearance on this blog once I decide what to do with it.

Using file folder stickers to ID cords is a great idea. I generally use masking tape labeled with colored markers.

RS suggests to use paper plates as a separator to protect your china. I have used paper towels in the past, but I like this paper plate idea better – they would last longer!

Using a photo album to store business cards is somewhat similar to my method. I actually have an old binder (on the list: decoupage that binder!) full of sheet protectors with business card-sized slots. There are also a few protectors with photo-sized slots for those stubborn cards that are larger or shaped differently than the average card. They are separated out with dividers: business contacts, friends, local businesses, craft stores (there are a lot in NY to keep track of!) – I make notes on the cards or add a post-it with comments about my experiences, how I know the people/places, what products they have that I like best, etc.

I also like the idea of using a shower caddy to store laundry supplies. This is especially great if you lack shelf storage. (Although, if you use large size laundry detergent bottles, it might be difficult finding a shower caddy to fit one.)

As many great ideas were posted, there were a few that I definitely don’t subscribe to. Examples: using a pasta maker as a paper shredder (way to ruin your blades!), using an altoids tin as a tissue holder (even after you wash it, you will still have that super-strong mint or cinnamon flavor infiltrating your tissues), or storing magazines in a wine rack (sure, if you don’t mind ruining those expensive glossies).

What I’m listening to as I write this post: iTunes shuffle: The Alternate Routes “Love the Way”, Carla Bruni “Quelqu’un M’a Dit”, Van Morrison “And It Stoned Me”, Florence and the Machine “Drumming Song”, Shakira “En Tus Pupilas”, Catherine Wheel “Sparks Are Gonna Fly”, Charles Aznavour “You Are The One For Me (Formidable)”

Reupholstered Chairs

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When my younger sister moved into her new apartment a couple of years ago my parents gave her this beautiful pair of chairs that belonged to my great uncle. The color, the wood carvings, the details were all gorgeous – except for the cushions. They were a little… we’ll say flat.

My sister had a lot of work ahead of her with moving and unpacking, so I helped out with reupholstering these two chairs. New cushions, new fabric, new look! Look at this beautiful textured fabric my sis picked out. Remember: you can click on any photo in this blog for a larger image. She used the same fabric for accent pillows on her living room couch and chairs.

I think they came out beautiful. The chairs are placed in her living room as extra seating. I wish I had before/after shots and a step-by-step tutorial from this project, but all I have are photos of the finished product. I did find for you an amazing DIY tutorial put together by the design*sponge blog last month. Check it out!

The Fifth Beatle

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“If anyone was the fifth Beatle, it was Brian.” -Paul McCartney

My friend Vivek is writing and producing a film about the life of Brian Epstein, The Beatles’ manager. I constructed the website for The Fifth Beatle movie. Check it out!

The Fifth Beatle Movie