How To Un-MacGyver Your Curtains

taking down curtains put up with 3M command strips

My second-most popular post ever in jhb history was this one where I hung curtains in a creative, albeit rudimentary, sort of way.  I think it’s safe to say that most renters struggle with whether or not to hang curtains, because some landlords are so very strict about damaging their walls (understandably so).  I also faced the challenge of having a window on a mirrored wall (helllooooo 1983), which I was most certainly not willing to drill into.

See me?  Ask me how fun it is to try and take pictures of your living room for your blog with this bad boy getting in the way…

taking down curtains hung up with 3M command strips

Anyway the quick and dirty version of the story is: because the 16 lb weight capacity 3M Command Strips weren’t strong enough to hold up my curtain rods, I decided to run a bead of Turbo Tacky glue down the strips to hold them together.  I then promised to return to you to talk about taking them down.  Here I am.  Feel free to check out the original post for the full rundown of the original installation but be forewarned – I couldn’t find my point-and-shoot so you’re going to be stuck with really bad iPhotos.  Sorry, friend.

Oh and to answer your question: yes it drove me batty to look at highwater curtains for the past year but not as much as it would have to look at those 80’s-Special plastic and pastel fabric vertical blinds.  Pick your battles with your house, people.  Really, I kept meaning to get new curtains but it just didn’t happen, k?

taking down curtains hung up with 3M command strips

The removal was really easy and I’m pretty pleased with myself for coming up with this little idea, although I will say it worked better on the mirrored wall than on the textured painted drywall.

I grabbed my box cutter, put in a brand new mega-sharp blade and very carefully and slowly ran the blade down the length of the dried glue.

taking down curtains hung up with 3M command strips

That left me with this little guy.

taking down curtains hung up with 3M command strips

You can see where the glue was at; I tried to angle the blade in a way that favored the wall to avoid gouging it.  So the line of glue you see is actually both sides of the command strips stuck together, which left a hole in the strip stuck to the bracket.

taking down curtains hung up with 3M command strips

But check it out, guys:

taking down curtains hung up with 3M command strips

Zero wall damage.  And it only took a few minutes.  The white spots you see are leftover adhesive from the Command strips, which rubbed off with a swipe of my finger.  Victory!  Except for with the second bracket, where I slipped a bit with the blade and gouged the wall.

taking down curtains hung up with 3M command strips

Womp womp.

Obligatory safety police post: BE CAREFUL WHEN YOU’RE USING A BOX CUTTER, KIDS… That is, if you like your wall.  And your fingers.  And toes.  And floors.  Etc.

The removal was even faster on the mirrored wall because the surface is much more durable, thusly making it easier to pull the command strips with vigor, without worrying about pulling off any paint.  I forgot to get an after picture for you guys but its basically this without a bracket on a mirror.  Anti-climactic but true.

taking down curtains hung up with 3M command strips

The strips didn’t even leave any residue on the mirror.  And they held up my curtains forever. Wins all around.  Except for whomever bought this condo.  Sorry ’bout your new-old blinds, friend.

taking down curtains hung up with 3M command strips

Guys, I’m almost 100% packed up and ready to bust out of this natural-light-lacking little condo.  My next post will probably come to you from the new jhbhq.  In the interim…

Have you hung curtains without drilling holes in your wall?  What was your method?  How did the removal go?  Do tell…

String Art – a “How [not] To”

Here lately, I’ve been doing this thing on Fridays that I call “a craft + a craft”, where I do a craft while drinking a craft beer. As evidenced here: a cuff bracelet + a Dogfishhead 60 Minute IPA.

a craft + a craft

It’s a nice little way to unwind from the work week.  Recently it inspired a friend of mine to post a craft + a craft of her own: string art and a Goose Island Bourbon County stout.  Which in turn inspired me to do some string art of my own.  Ah the circle of life.  Or something like that.

Anyway if you’re on pinterest you’ve seen, like, a fazillon string art pins.  I feel like maybe its a diy blogger hazing technique right of passage to make one of these bad boys.  So here’s the story of the first (and likely last) time I made string art.

diy string art

Supplies

  • scrap pine wood
  • wood stain (I used Varathane American Walnut)
  • cloth to apply stain (old, clean socks work wonders)
  • paint (I used latex, but acrylic would work too)
  • sponge craft paint brush
  • hammer
  • like, three 2 oz boxes of wire nails (I used size 1 x 17 which refers to the length in inches x gauge)
  • embroidery floss
  • Alene’s fabric fusion glue

Oh, I know I say this a lot, but one thing you really need for this project is patience.  I am super happy with my string art, but it took several days to finish.  I really didn’t consider how long it would take to hammer 321 (yeah, that many) nails into a board, close together, in a specific design.  It’s tedious work and can be really tiring on the eyes.  And I happened to make a grand total of seven tiny-huge mistakes while making this dern thing.

huge mistake

That being said, if you wanna know how it’s done, read on friend.

First, I took a scrap piece of wood I had and stained it.  Incorrectly (mistake number one).  You know how the can says shake well?  Do that.  Or you’ll end up with this.

diy string art

diy string art

I tightend the lid back on the stain and shook the heck out of it.  Then opened her back up and stained the board correctly.

diy string art

If you’ve never stained wood before, trust me, it’s easy.  Make sure you read and follow all instructions (including the ones for safety) but the gist of it is that you liberally apply stain to your wood, let it sit for a few minutes to penetrate and then wipe off the excess.

diy string art

The next thing I did was to paint the sides so they didn’t look sloppy with stain.

diy string art

diy string art

I also painted the back.  I know no one is going to see it, but if it were left unfinished, I would know and it would undoubtedly drive me nuts.

diy string art

I used latex paint leftover from my stripey art (Valspar Delightful Moon if you’re curious) and did it standing in my living room (mistake number two).  When it dropped onto my couch and got wet paint on two of the cushions, naturally I started spewing four letter words and skittering around my kitchen in a panic.  The fella hooked me up with a wet rag and I think we got all the paint up.  The fella is pretty cool under pressure.

diy string art

A couple of days later, the paint was dried and I was emotionally prepared to come back to this project – or so I thought.  I used regular computer paper as my template and a yard stick as a guide to be sure everything was level.

diy string art

I chose the phrase “BE BOLD” because evidently, I like my wall art to be bossy…

dream BIG

Media Stand Entertainment Center DIY

SI. OUI. YES.

diy rustic wood sign

carpe diem

DIY Floating Glass Frames and Smart Phone Art

I taped the template to the board and got to work with my nails.  I worked from each letter’s corners inward so I could be sure everything was spaced evenly.  Did that even make sense?  Here, look at this picture.

diy string art

I did that for like an hour plus.  Until I got to this point and ran out of nails.  Always make sure you have enough nails (mistake number three).  It looked like I had so mannnny when they were in the box, y’all.

diy string art

I went to the hardware store to get more, without bringing one of them with me to compare (mistake number four).  I grabbed a few boxes of 1 x 17 wire brads and made my way home.  But I didn’t need wire brads.  I needed wire nails.  And the difference between the brads and the nails is that the head of the brad is much smaller than that of the nail, meaning what I bought didn’t match what I had already used.  More four letter words.

Does it get easier?  I wish the answer were yes.  Once the brads had been exchanged for nails I kept hammering away.  I hammered in the mornin’.  I hammered in the evenin’.  All over thi… sorry I’m getting off track and realize that my Mom is probably the only person reading this who will appreciate those last few sentences.

After all the words were nailed in I carefully ripped my paper template away from the nails.

diy string art

diy string art

There were still a few scraps stuck to the nails, but they came up easily with tweezers.

diy string art

It was at this point that I realized that I hadn’t yet attached my saw-tooth hanging brackets to the back (yes, mistake number five).  So I clenched my teeth, flipped the board over in my lap and hammered in the brackets while the words BE BOLD dug into my thighs.

diy string art

I used two brackets, one for each corner, since I noticed way too late (mistake number six) that my board was slightly bowed in the center.

I flipped it back over and got started on the border nails.  I used washi tape as a guide to make sure my line was straight.  I again used the technique of starting in the corners and moving to the center.

diy string art

Then the labor was over!!!  Lies.  But this last part goes fast, I promise.

I used five different colors of embroidery floss and decided to go in rainbow order.  I tried to keep a sunburst pattern going the whole time and each time I finished with a color, I tied the string off and then dabbed fabric fusion glue on it to make it extra secure.

diy string art

diy string art

diy string art

diy string art

diy string art

diy string art

Oh and the seventh and final mistake?  I missed a spot and had to tie an extra bit of orange on.

diy string art

All in all, I LOVE my string art.  It looks super cute.  But will I be trying it again any time soon?  Hell no, that’s what Etsy is for.

diy string art

Did I convince you never to make your own string art?  Or maybe you’re ready to take it on and prove me useless in this avenue of crafting?  Do tell…

DIY Coasters and Rent House Hunt Musings

It’s been a minute since I’ve posted…  All kinds of interesting (to me) things happening at jhbhq.

My efforts last week were focused on the fella, who had a little visit to the hospital after suffering severe dehydration on a particularly tough day at work.

He spent a few days there, and as soon as he got well enough to be out and about, we were on the search for a rent house.  So far, not so great.  We’ve seen some really cute houses but there’s always some sort of deal breaker… Like this house, a 3 / 2 at an affordable price (with a pool!!!) that had updates and was super cute… with a great little breakfast nook…

rent house breakfast nook

lots of natural light… and no stove top…  yeah, seriously.

sans stove

See that vent hood with a counter underneath it?  Weird, right?  So… No go.

Then there was this really cute house with foundation issues and horrendous carpet.  Also a 3 / 2.  I didn’t get pictures of anything here except for the chandelier in the outdoor workshop.  Maybe a fancy meth lab?

workshop chandy

We saw one that was pretty promising (designer paint colors, tile flooring throughout etc).  But it’s a 2 bedroom, the second of which is 10 x 10.  Yeah.  I don’t think we fit in there.  Sad face.

All of the others that we have seen have had various benefits and drawbacks but we just haven’t found “the one” yet.  No matter.  There’s time yet.  For now I’m in with a fun little craft.

After I made our headboard I was on a pattern kick in the bedroom and decided to make some coasters.  This little lady needs a cool glass of water at her bedside, and she shant be getting water spots on the nightstands she worked so diligently to make.

diy ceramic tile coasters

Supplies:

  • Ceramic tile
  • Felt
  • Hot glue gun and accompanying glue sticks
  • Sharpie
  • Acrylic spray (I used this)
  • Liquid gold leaf

diy ceramic tile coasters diy ceramic tile coasters

I’ve actually used pretty much this same method several times before – Shannon even wrote about some that I made on her blog a couple of years ago before I started my little corner of the internets.

diy ceramic tile coasters

Here’s the quick and dirty…

I started by cutting felt slightly smaller than my tile to protect my tables from being scratched.  I used hot glue to stick ‘em to the underside of the tiles.

diy ceramic tile coasters

Then, a little liquid leaf on the edges.  Fancy.

diy ceramic tile coasters

The original plan was for me to paint the design on top of the tile but evidently the liquid variety of gold leaf doesn’t like to adhere to glossy, non-porous ceramic tile.  Meh.  Metallic gold Sharpie to the rescue!  I just free handed a chevron / herringbone esque design.

diy ceramic tile coasters

Then, two coats of my acrylic water resistant spray and these bad boys were ready to protect my nightstands from their nemesis – condensation.

diy ceramic tile coasters

diy ceramic tile coasters

Since you’re wondering, I totally never ALWAYS drink water from stemless wine glasses.  Pure class.

Anyone else making crafty creations?  Or maybe you’ve got some strange house hunt stories of your own?  Do tell…

How to Sew a Pillow Cover

There are all kinds of tutorials available in multiple media on how to sew pillow covers.  I know I’m not re-inventing the wheel here but if this tutorial helps just one person I’ll be satisfied.  This is how I sew pillow covers.

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

Alternate title for this post:  That time I made a west elm knock off.

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

As I mentioned in my post about my fancy-pants new headboard, I ended up having enough leftover material to make a toss pillow.  And I just so happened to have an INNER 16″ x 26″ insert from IKEA that was desperate to be opened and swaddled in canvas.  What, too dramatic?

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

Recently I pinned this pillow from my beloved west elm with the caption “Probably pretty easy to diy this one!”…  I was right.

First off, when you make a pillow cover for an insert (not just plain stuffing), always measure your pillow seam to seam.  This pillow was not 16″ x 26″ as advertised, but actually 15″ x 25″.  I would have been super disappointed if I made my pillow cover based on incorrect measurements!

The type of cover I make is generally referred to as an envelope pillow sham or envelope closure.  This method calls for zero zippers, which means I don’t have to switch out feet on my sewing machine, which makes for a fast, easy process and a happy Jamie.  Basically, the back folds onto itself like an envelope.

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

The fabric for your front piece should be 1″ longer and wider than your pillow, so I went with 16″ x 26″ (remember my pillow was smaller than advertised – silly IKEA).

The back is made of two pieces, and one overlaps the other.  For this to work, they each need to be 1″ wider than your width (again 16″ in my case) half of the length of your front piece plus five inches.  Let me explain as it relates to my pillow.  My pillow was 25″ long and 15″ wide so my front piece was 26″ and 16″ wide.  26″ long divided in half is 13″.  Plus five inches is 18″.  So each of my back pieces were each 16″ wide and 18″ long.

Here’s a not at all to scale rendering of what I’m trying to say.

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

To hem the edges that make up the envelope fold, I use my tried and true method of using a hem ruler to measure a 1″ fold, iron, and fold it within itself to result in a 1/2″ fold.  Then one quick stitch down the center of each fold.

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

 

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

For my front, to recreate the look of this pillow, I used my Valspar Perfect Storm paint sample (also used on my headboard and some wall art) and a small watercolor brush.  I used a ruler for the middle row of dots to line everything up but after that I just free handed 16 rows on either side of the middle row.  It didn’t take long at all to dry, maybe 10 minutes after the last row was dotted, it was dried.

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

So I laid the back pieces on the front piece, right sides in, with my hems in the center, one overlapping the other.  I don’t think you’re allowed to put that many commas in a sentence but it just happened.

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

I sewed all the way around my fabric pieces, the stitch 3/4″ from the edge of the fabric.

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

Then I flipped the pillow cover right-sides out, stuffed my insert in there and it was done.

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

Cute, right?

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

Please ‘scuse the bad lighting in the above pics…

Do you prefer envelope closures or zipper closures on your pillows?  Or do you prefer to buy pillows and not think twice about it?  Do tell…

Painting on Plastic – A How To

Painting on plastic can be an intimidating task, but let me assure you, friend, YOU CAN DO IT!  Check it…

how to paint plastic

I was commissioned for this project by one of my favorite coworkers, Big Mama.  Big Mama takes real good care of all of the fine folks at my 9-5, including yours truly.  She makes sure we all have our allergy meds and that our parties are planned and that we have lunch or snacks or sodas or whatever the heck else our little hearts desire.  So when she told me she was redoing her bathroom and couldn’t find a mirror in the right color, I was all over helping her.

I’ve actually done some curtains for her before (using this method) so she took no issue with having me customize something for her home.  We discussed a few different options online and different stores she could visit and then she returned to me with a nice, simple mirror from Martha’s line and a swatch of the color she wanted it to be.

how to paint plastic

Problem was, none of the spray paints capable of adhering to plastic were remotely close in color to what she wanted.  That’s okay though, because it gave me the perfect opportunity to show you how easy it is to paint plastic with latex!

Supplies:

  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Zinsser B-I-N oil base primer
  • Latex paint
  • Floetrol
  • Frog tape
  • High quality paint brushes (one for oil based paints and one for latex)
  • Newspaper or dropcloth
  • Mineral spirits (for primer brush cleanup)

First things first – if there is any area of the plastic item that you don’t want painted, you’ll need to tape it off.  In my case, that was the mirror.

how to paint plastic

how to paint plastic

To secure the tape edge and prevent bleed through, I used a plastic putty knife and gently pressed all the way down the length of the tape.

Then I took fine grit (220) sand paper and lightly scuffed the plastic frame.  You don’t have to go wild with it, just enough to remove that smooth sheen.  Make sure you wipe your sanding dust off with a damp cloth.

how to paint plastic

Zinsser B-I-N oil based primer is incredible.  It will stick to anything.  Just make sure you use a good brush for oil based paints (I prefer Blue Hawk).

FYI – as with all my posts thus far, this is not sponsored.  I’m just showing some love to brands that work well for me.

It was a bit of a pain to paint white primer on a white mirror, so if your plastic surface is white, you may want to consider tinting your primer.

Once your primer dries – it’s time to paint!  Cutting latex paint with Floetrol lengthens dry time and reduces brush strokes.  Sometimes I don’t mind brush strokes.  It can enhance the look of certain pieces.  But brush strokes weren’t going to do this mirror any favors.  A couple of ounces of Floetrol was enough for my paint sample.

I just poured it directly in the little pot, screwed the lid back on tight and shook it like crazy for several minutes.

When you paint a dark color over top of white, the first couple of coats are going to scare you.  They’re going to look uneven and patchy and you’re going to want to crawl in a hole.

how to paint plastic

Push through these feelings, friend.  I promise you, it gets better.

My first couple of coats look especially bad here because for some bonehead reason I painted the latex on with a brush and then went over it with a foam roller.

how to paint plastic

how to paint plastic

I was trying to flatten the brushstrokes as best I could but this method is really only suitable for flat surfaces.  Plus the Floetrol does a good job of eliminating brush marks anyway.  So after the second coat I abandoned this method and just went with my trusty paint brush.

Four coats did the trick for this mirror and I waited an entire day between each coat.

how to paint plastic how to paint plastic

I scored the crease between the tape and the frame with an X-ACTO knife to make sure the tape came up clean.  When I pulled the tape away there was a tiny bit of bleed through, but I pulled that up with a steady hand and my X-ACTO.

Four coats did the trick for this mirror and I waited an entire day between each coat.  

I don’t have an after pic in it’s permanent home in Big Mama’s bathroom (yet) but I hope to update this post with one if I can get her to take one for me.  I do have this staged pic – don’t get me started on how difficult it is to photograph a mirror in a badly lit condo.

how to paint plastic

I hope this post gave you the confidence you need to tackle a plastic painting project!  Have you painted on plastic before?  Got any insider tips or tricks?  Do tell…