Making Pom-Pom Cushions

Anyone who has been following my blog will know that I’m fairly new to DIY/upcycling in general and tend to stick to painting. I’ve never been particularly artistic so crafts scare me a little but last week a friend of mine organised for a group of us to do a workshop making pom-pom cushions. It sounded fun, I knew there would be help at hand if it all went wrong (yes that help was needed!) and Prosecco would also be on offer (yay!) so I jumped at the chance. The company who runs the workshop is called Me Time and you can check out their Facebook page here.

Instead of the traditional ‘2 circles of cardboard’ we used proper pom-pom makers, and I will definitely be ordering some of these as they are fab. I wanted the cushion to match the colours of my new craft table as it will eventually live in the playroom so I chose dark blue for the cushion itself and made one large pom-pom for each corner: 2 in teal, 2 in neon pink. The pom-pom making was fairly straightforward but believe it or not I managed to completely mess one of mine up (it was declared unsalvageable!) Fortunately the lovely ladies of Me Time helped me out (at one point one of them was untangling my wool while the other remade my pom-pom) so I ended up with a gorgeous cushion that I’m very happy with. Here is the finished article…

Pom-poms will definitely be featuring again in a future project (once I’ve worked out how to make them without help!)

Lego Decoupage: chest of drawers

I’ve been keen on trying a bit of decoupage for a while now and saved many a pin on Pinterest to repeatedly browse through. For those of you who don’t have a clue what decoupage is (like me until recently) it’s basically a technique where you use paper or fabric to cover/decorate your furniture or other items, e.g. vases, glasses etc. I’ve saved some of my favourites on my Pinterest ‘decoupage’ board if anyone fancies a look (see below for general link to my Pinterest). At first I was a bit put off by the fact that it sounds really complicated and professional, but I gradually realised that in essence it’s gluing stuff onto other stuff.

A couple of weeks ago I took the next step by ordering some ‘Mod Podge’ on a whim from Amazon…

img_1652

This product can be used for both the bottom and top coat layers for decoupage which got the thumbs up from me. I then came across a great blog all about using Mod Podge, aptly named Mod Podge rocks. I would definitely recommend a look and especially watching the videos she has done for beginners. Then it was time to have a think about what to do for my first attempt.

A couple of months ago I found some fab Lego wrapping paper in Tesco and bought a load in preparation for Alex’s 5th birthday (my boy is Lego obsessed!) What better for a first project than to use the paper to decoupage something Lego-themed for my son? I hoped this would also slightly improve his room which currently contains hideous flowery wallpaper, hideous flowery carpets and hideous flowery curtains (that have all been there since the 70’s.) Poor boy! Also on a bit of a whim, I decided I would cover the front of some of his drawers rather than opt for something smaller and safer. It was a bit of a risk but actually the whole thing went very smoothly and this is what I ended up with…

Here’s the technique I used:

  1. Measure and cut out wrapping paper to fit drawer front.
  2. Lightly sand the drawer front to create a slightly rough surface.

img_1503

3. Paint the Mod Podge on to the drawer front (a medium-think layer using a standard paint brush.)

4. Paint the Mod Podge onto the back of the wrapping paper.

5. Carefully place the paper onto the drawer front and smooth out, making sure there are no air bubbles. The Mod Podge blog recommends using a ‘Brayer’ for this but as it was sitting in my Amazon wishlist not yet ordered I used a foam roller and my hands instead. It turned out well but I will definitely be ordering the Brayer soon for a really smooth finish now that I have got the decoupaging bug!

img_1504-1

6.Leave to dry for 15-20 minutes.

7. Apply the first top coat of Mod Podge. I did this by painting it on to the paper then using a foam roller to smooth it out as I don’t like to see brush strokes. It goes on white but dries clear and glossy (though you can buy other finishes, e.g. matt.)

 

img_1506
can you tell I was working late?!

 

8. Using a sanding block I sanded the edges to remove any remaining bits of overhanging paper and create a clean line. See this pin I saved for an example of how this works. I found it worked well but needs a bit of practice to perfect. The other option is to cut the paper to the perfect size in the first place (not generally the way I roll!)

img_1508

9. Wait again and add a couple more layers if you like. I did 3 in total then added a spray of Valspar’s clear sealer as added insurance against knocks/scrapes but this is probably overkill!

Alex loves the drawers and I am pleased as well. I’m also considering adding some proper 3D Lego bits into the mix or maybe painting the wood or papering more so this may feature in a future update. Decoupage is definitely a fun, straightforward technique which takes relatively little time and has endless possibilities so I would highly recommend it.

Thanks for reading and for anyone who doesn’t want to miss any posts please follow as they don’t all go on my Facebook. I still have my eye on painting the old chair outside now that the weather has improved so that may be my next post (but who knows, the sofa is still a possibility despite some setbacks in the testing phase!) I forgot to take a before picture this time but since I kept one drawer of each colour the same I hope I get away with it 🙂

DI-WHY?? (chalk paint gone wrong)

You may remember me briefly mentioning in my last post that I had some trouble with the second blue chair on my craft table project. ‘Some trouble’ unfortunately turned into another DI-WHY disaster.

I first noticed a problem when I went to do the first layer of wax and realised that the brush was still wet. Paint started smearing and looking funny and the wax went cloudy so I ended up doing another coat of paint then more wax then sealer (and maybe even more, I just kept going with various brushes!) hoping it would all be o.k. Unfortunately within 5 minutes of my son Alex flopping all over it it looked like this…

 


Oh dear!

I ended up having to scrape all the paint/wax/sealer off and trying to work out what went wrong. The wet wax was definately one issue but I also suspected I had forgotten to spray down the chair with water before putting on the paint. I’ve read that if you don’t do this when painting fabric, leather etc. the paint can sit on top rather than absorb in and then crack.

So I did it all over again, with the water this time and everything seems fine now. The only problem is I haven’t got the smooth shiny finish of the other chair as all the scraping ruined the leather slightly in places. Anyway, lesson learned! The rest of the chairs are still doing well, except one which needs slight retouching after my daughter Annabel decided to bite the back of it. Furniture and teeth don’t mix! It is great having all the paint and tools at my disposal for the retouching though, something that you don’t usually have when furniture gets scratched or damaged.

I’m being very cautious about the sofa now so am doing several test runs on the backs of sofa cushions before I commit. I’m honing my technique and the kids loved being told to jump on and throw my first test cushion to their hearts’ content yesterday. It’s still a work in progress but I’m still fairly sure I’ll be giving it a go in the next few weeks.

Another thing I’m trying for the first time at the moment is decoupage (with Lego wrapping paper!) so I will hopefully be posting about that very soon. It may turn into a new obsession as it’s quick, easy and has endless possibilities. I love it!!

 

 

Children’s Craft Table and Chairs: Part 2

It’s been a really busy couple of weeks as work has gone crazy and I’ve also been trying to train for the Nuclear Races, a very muddy, obstacle-filled run that I’m slightly dreading (by slightly I mean majorly!) This has meant I’ve been covered more in mud than paint but somehow by doing a little bit here and there I’ve finally finished the table and chairs. Here is the reveal…

I’m very happy with it and can’t wait for the kids to be able to use it whenever they want. I’m especially pleased with the first two chairs: my messy two have been sitting on them at every meal for several days now and they still have no chips or other damage. All food gunk, spills and stains have rubbed off so far. I’m not even shouting ‘WATCH MY CHAIRS!’ as many times per day as I was! The layers of wax and primer paid off.

I let the children try out the table for the first time today, in between meals, and they had so much fun. It was lovely to see them enjoying something I had made for them and getting so much out of it. Here’s some of their amazing artwork (and the odd bit of mine if you can spot the difference!)…

There’s not much more to say about how I got it all done. For the table I used 2 coats of primer and ended up using 3 coats of chalkboard paint. This was because I used a roller for a smooth finish which also means very thin coats.

Table after 1 coat

 

img_1206
Table after 3 coats

For the chairs I did exactly the same as in Part 1 although this time I waxed the seat covers before putting the backs back on just to ensure complete protection at the back. For some reason the blue seat caused me a bit of trouble this time (husband look away now) as the paint kept rubbing off when I was trying to wax it. This means I’m taking a little longer to think about painting the sofa!

The last week or so has been quite eventful as our planning permission came through for the extension we want which resulted in lots of happy-dancing and prosecco-drinking. My Uncle, who is a fantastic architect and has done all our plans, visited us last weekend to finalise a few things and I think we are almost almost ready to book our builder (hooray!). Excitement is starting to build and the carpets are looking a bit worried that their days are numbered!

Another thing my Uncle brought with him was a bag of goodies including some furniture painting books and some amazing antique drawer pulls and handles…

I can’t wait to hopefully use some of these in a future project. If anyone has an old chest of drawers or similar they want to donate I’ll happily take it!

For my next project I’m still considering painting the faux-leather sofa. I also have a very old Jack and Jill chair left in the garden by the previous owner which I think will look amazing once painted. Hopefully I’ll be posting again soon. Once again, if anyone wants to ensure they keep up to date by receiving email alerts please sign up at the bottom of this post. Here’s a final before and after picture…

…and what I used for the project.

Children’s Craft Table and Chairs: Part 1

I’m almost half way through my latest project: converting a table and chairs into a craft table using lots of colourful paint, so I thought it was a good time to share how I’ve been getting on.

Thank you to everyone who’s been reading along and a reminder to all who want to keep up to date that you can sign up for email alerts at the bottom of this page.

My 2 children have been sitting at this IKEA table for years and use it to eat at/play games on/generally make a mess. It’s been the scene of many arguments over who gets the green plate, who poked who etc. and looks very well used. I still like the table as it’s a good height for them and all the chairs tuck right under the table to save space. However, it’s also a very dull dark brown colour and generally covered in food stains and crumbs which I’ve given up trying to clean off…

 

  

Eventually we will get a new big family dining table so I thought this would be great in the new playroom (once done) as a craft table. It was probably very foolish of me to start the project too soon as they will still be eating at the table for a few months, but I had lots of ideas and was desperate to try them out. I justified it to myself by saying that it would be a good test of how well the table and chairs stand up to a LOT of wear and tear and decided to go for it.

After spending a fair bit of time in Homebase deciding on colours (in between telling off the children/trying to keep track of the children/taking the children to the toilet/wishing I was patient enough to wait until the children weren’t around), I got started on the first chair. The first job was to clean it and I made the children help to teach them valuable life lessons (they in fact thought it was the best game ever.) Then I lightly sanded it down and painted the whole thing, apart from the legs, using 2 coats of Dulux multi surfaces primer and undercoat.


Note the drop cloth, a shower curtain I bought from Poundland after seeing a tip on Pinterest. It’s much stronger than cheap drop cloths sold in shops and doesn’t bunch up like an old sheet so works perfectly.

When my husband came home he told me straight away I should have taken the chair apart first. This seemed like hard work and it was also a bit too late so I decided to ignore him (what does he know?!), did some taping up and painted everything but the seat pad in Rust-oleum satin finish furniture paint in ‘Teal’ (2 coats). I used a mini roller for this and it went on really smoothly. However,  it was at this stage that I started to regret not taking the chair apart. Yes, my husband was right and I did allow him a tiny bit of smugness (this is an extremely rare occurrence for him after all).

I left an area at the back which I taped up and painted with blackboard paint so the children can draw on it or write their names.

  
Then it was time for the real fun. Neon pink paint! (again from Rust-oleum). This generally went on well, although I learnt some lessons about tape which I’ll share later.  Here is the finished result…

  

Ta-da!!! Feeling the fear about how long it would look this lovely for, I also applied a coat of Valspar clear sealer multi-surface which I spray spray painted outside (fun!) Then I applied one coat of Rust-oleum wax.

My daughter absolutely loves the chair and has been allowed to sit on it (gently.) It’s not at the table yet but I still have 2 untouched chairs there for the children to use so am prolonging this for as long as possible.

Soon after, I got started on the second chair. The only difference here is that I used Rust-oleum chalky finish furniture paint in ‘ink blue’. As this is a chalk paint I didn’t use primer on the seat cover as I’ve read that chalk paint adheres very well to all different types of fabric (in this case faux-leather). I wanted to see this for myself as I have my eye on painting our big faux-leather sofa, again for the playroom. I haven’t persuaded the husband quite yet so for those who know me any help on this would be appreciated! I also took a few minutes to take the chair apart this time, which made all the difference to how easy it was to clean and paint. Here are the finished results…

 

  
And here are the lessons I learnt about taping:

  1. Use ‘frogtape’, which is amazing as you don’t get any leaks around the edges like you do with normal masking tape.
  2. Take the tape off AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. I’d stopped using the frog tape thinking that it was too strong, as when I peeled it off paint kept coming with it. However, this also happened even with very weak masking tape (hence quite a lot of retouching needed for the first chair.) I finally caught on that if removed fairly quickly no paint comes off and you get a really clean line. Result!

And so the project is half done with not too many DIWHY?? disasters. Except…I did find a can of paint had  leaked all over the plastic box it was in  and its contents, which meant a very quick clean up of a lot of paint and going to work with ‘teal’ hands. I also can’t seem to stop picking up a paintbrush without changing first (can’t fight the laziness) so I bought this creation from Poundland…

 

I feel a bit like Dexter in it but otherwise it seems to do the job.

Here’s what I used for the project…

 

Guess which one leaked?!

Watch this space for the finished result and let me know what you think about the sofa painting!

DI-WHY?? (stencil-style)

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been trawling Pinterest for inspiration on how to make my TV cabinet repaint a bit more interesting. I came across some lovely pictures of painted units on my hunt and narrowed it down to 2 options:

1. Use wallpaper or contact paper to cover the panel in the doors or the back of the shelf section.

I really liked this idea and it seemed easy but I was a bit worried the paper might start peeling off and look awful fairly quickly.

2. Stencil!

This involved painting and I had a little pot of Rust-oleum chalk paint in ‘flint’ that was begging to be used so I decided to go with this option.

How hard could it be? In fact, I remembered helping my mum to stencil a border around the kitchen when I was a teenager (all the rage back then) so surely I already knew what to do? One fact I forgot was that my longterm memory isn’t so great.

I found a stencil online from ‘idealstencils.co.uk’ and even bought some Rust-oleum ‘quick drying low tack adhesive’ so that I could do a really professional job. Nothing could go wrong! This TV cabinet was about to be transformed…

Due to impatience (previously mentioned) I looked at lots of pretty pictures of amazing furniture but didn’t really read in detail how to actually DO stencilling. It seemed pretty straightforward. Big mistake!

Error 1 was to happily paint the adhesive directly onto the cupboard door and stick the stencil on it (thinking I was following the instructions on the back of the tin correctly). Almost straightaway I started having doubts. The areas to be stencilled felt pretty sticky (not paint-friendly) but  I optimistically assumed the adhesive would magically disappear when needed or have no effect on the paint so I carried on. Error 2: I chose a mini roller for the job, partly because it was new and cute and I wanted to try it out. Then the nightmare began. Each time I rolled the paint up and down it slipped on the adhesive and disappear in patches. I tried a brush but that was even worse so went back to the roller and just kept on waiting a bit, trying again, waiting a bit etc. until I had a vaguely even covering of paint. Surely it would all turn out ok? (sometimes I take a while to catch on). Due to all the coats of paint I didn’t dare take the stencil off straight away so left it overnight to dry.

In the morning I proudly lifted off the stencil to find – Tada!! This awful mess…

Drawing (2)

Left with no other choice I used a sander (and sharp finger nail) to scrape it all off, touched up the peeled off white paint, painted another coat of white paint and was ready to try again (all this with 2 children running around.) This time I did a little research, painted the adhesive onto the stencil (correct!), left it to dry for a bit (correct!) and selected a round brush with a dab technique (correct!) A few minutes later this was revealed…

Still a lot of marks from bleeding paint!! Aggghhhh!! And then I had to deal with more bleeding from 3-year-old’s teeny tiny papercut that went everywhere (will it teach her not to snatch things from her brother? Unlikely.)

Despite having the right technique, I needed a fair bit of practise to get used to using the right amount of paint on the brush. Fortunately, I have finally had some good results so hope to post the finished result soon. I’m also waiting for the arrival of a ‘paint pen’ which I’m hoping to use to do some border work on the unit (fingers crossed for no more DI-Why?!? issues).

The take away message is that stencilling is not easy, or at least not for impatient not-very-artistic beginners like me!

Pine Chest of Drawers Makeover

The chest of drawers is finally finished – hooray! And I have to say I’m very pleased. I’ve learnt a few things from this project and had a few minor disasters along the way (of course) but this is how I did it…

The chest of drawers is made of pine, which scratches so easily that I will be tiptoeing around it very carefully now it’s finished. Because of this it had quite a lot of big scratches on it already, especially on the top, so I decided it was the perfect time to get out my husband’s electric sander. After lots of fun feeling like a DIY pro with my mask and power tools the chest looked like this…

img_0028

It was at this point that I realised I should maybe have used wood filler on the biggest cracks as I intended to varnish the top and didn’t want a patchy look. I ended up having to do quite a lot more sanding to even it out a bit more (creating a LOT of dust!)

After sanding the top I roughly sanded down the rest of the chest and filled in some cracks and dents with wood filler (see orange patches in the picture above). This project ends up involving quite a lot of sanding as you will see! Then I got started on varnishing the top with Ronseal interior varnish in ‘Satin Medium Oak.’

I ended up doing 3 coats of varnish after mistakenly painting against the grain for the first coat (faint stripes still visible in the wrong direction). In the end it wasn’t perfect but still looked pretty good so it was time to start painting.

My struggles with chalk paint are outlined in my last post How to paint without leaving brush strokes and bobbles. I have since learnt that it also helps to add a bit of water to chalk paint to make it go on more smoothly. Anyway, for a smoother finish I ended up doing a light sand in between coats (of Rust-oleum chalk paint in ‘Winter Grey’) with one of these amazing things…

IMG_0473.JPG

Two coats was enough for most of it and the chest now looked like this (minus the drawers)…

Check out the fitted wardrobes in the background – definitely a future project.

Now it was time to put the new handles on. I wanted shaker-style drawer pulls and chose some from Screwfix in ‘antique brass’ because they looked nice, weren’t too expensive and were fixed with screws through the front (I thought I might have a DI-Why?? moment if I tried to drill through the back of the drawers). Because the wood was so soft and I didn’t want to scratch the new handles I did some careful measuring and used a manual screwdriver. I then forced myself to get on and cover the whole chest with one coat of Rust-oleum furniture finishing wax for protection. Here is the finished result…

img_0420

I love it! And here’s another photo now it’s back in place in the spare room…


And a close up of the varnished top…

Unfortunately all pictures are slightly ruined by the hideous decor that is still in every room of the house (but hopefully for only a few months longer.) Here’s what I used for the project…

IMG_0474.JPG

I’m still deciding on my next project but if the weather improves I might move outside and try out spray paint for the first time (very excited about this!) Watch this space…