Wool Blanket Christmas Tree Skirt DIY

Well, here I am, four days out from Christmas, and writing a blog on the easy Christmas sewing project I mentioned in my last post.  Guess that pretty much tells you things didn’t go as quickly as I thought they would.  

There’s been an old, soft, wool army blanket floating around here since forever.  It’s actually two pieces of wool blankets sewn together.  It’s been used under our tree many times and has been packed away with the Christmas stuff for the last 30+ years.  One Christmas, when my kids were young, I said I was going to make a real tree skirt out of it someday, and it’s kind of been a running joke every year when we pull it out. Well, this is the year, I did it!

I love fabric and textures, but sewing has never really been my thing, I don’t know why.  Not having a concrete plan for this project, I decided to approach it like I did most others, use what I have on hand, and visualize as I go. 

I was able to fold and cut a 60” circle out of the darkest end of the blanket.  There’s all kinds of easy instructions for folding fabric to cut large circles on the internet. 

I traced the corner of a cup to cut a small hole in the center of the circle.

My first idea was to cut small holly pieces from the leftover end of the blanket and stitch them along the outer edge of the circle. But then, with such a big circle, I thought a larger pattern would look much better. 

I drew a large holly leaf pattern about 20”L and 12”W, then cut eight holly pieces out of newspaper to arrange on the circle and give them a look.  Sorry, the picture is a little fuzzy, but I liked the design. 

Then, there was a hitch. I laid the holly pattern every which way and there was not enough leftover blanket to get the eight pieces out of.  I could have made the pattern smaller, but I liked the big holly.

Just playing around, I cut the holly pattern in half lengthwise. Using two colors on the holly could add more interest.  Half of the leaf could be cut from the leftover blanket, and something else could be used for the other half.  

After two days of trying to find something to use, it finally dawned on me that I had the perfect thing all along, a faded pair of green army fatigues.  As a saver of buttons, I always have a bag of old clothes waiting to have their buttons removed before they’re tossed, and that’s where I found them.  The legs alone offered enough material and I could use the buttons too.

I didn’t have interfacing for the green cotton material.  With plenty of the dark wool left, I cut eight pieces of that and adhered it to the back of the green cotton with a spray adhesive. I trimmed a few edges where they didn’t match neatly.

The design was laid out on the floor again and the pieces arranged where I wanted them.  A slit opening was cut up through the center of one of the holly pieces. The pieces were adhered to the circle with spray adhesive.   After the adhesive was dry, each piece of holly was surrounded with a six strand, dark brown blanket stitch.  This step took me over a week to complete, there’s a lot of stitches.  I’m sure my lack of experience in this area and only working evenings, slowed the process too.

More was needed, so I chose yo-yos. I cut eight 4” circles from the scrap green cotton material.  After stitching them closed, they were painted with red fabric paint, giving them a deep rich red color.  The buttons from the fatigues were sewn in the center of each yo-yo, then the yo-yos were sewn to the circle between the holly.  I love the little yo-yos.

A zig-zag stitch was run around the outer edge of the skirt, and a strip of wool cut to fold over the raw edge of the small inner circle.  My daughter, she’s a quilter, peeked in on me as I was pinning the wool strip into place, and offered me her binding clips to use.  They’re the neatest little things.  I stitched some knots to attach the strip, then ran a blanket stitch along the edge of it on both sides.

I found some tie strips in a craft drawer.  I don’t know what they were off of, and they didn’t match, but that’s okay.  They were stitched into place on the backside of the circle, along the edge of the slit opening.

And, finally, done.  After all this time it feels pretty good to have this one particular project completed. I’m very happy with it. 

I moved presents from under the tree to get a picture, then replaced them, covering my new creation.  It’s a little wrinkly now, but it can make it’s grand debut Christmas morning after everyone has opened their gifts and Santa’s surprises.

Merry Christmas everyone, and many wishes for a bright, shiny New Year!

My Sunflower Garden Gate DIY Tutorial

A garden gate was nowhere in my radar this fall. But, after pulling some beautiful rusty sunflowers from a pile of junk someone dropped off at our house, I had to use them. Having a husband in the salvage business does have its rewards. Anyway, they were on tall stems and looked like they had held a candle or solar light of some sort.

I laid them on a rusty gate, along with a faded, metal flower. The materials looked good together, but the sunflowers were too small to use.  The yellow flower would be the perfect size, but I only had one.  What to do? 

I left everything laying out, pondering over them as I piddled around with other things.  I really wanted to use those rusty flowers, I just wished they were bigger.  Could I do something to them to make them look bigger? Put something behind them, and make them the centers? That was it!  Once I began looking at them as the centers of flowers, things started coming together.  

The plan – cut two new flowers from scrap aluminum, using the yellow flower and its leaves as a pattern, then give each a rusty flower center to pull them together. 

First, the sunflowers had to be taken apart.  With my husband’s help, the welded hinges and other small pieces were removed carefully with a low temp torch.  I slowly pulled them off with pliers as he controlled the heat.  The stems were saved for later.

Flower pieces and leaves were cut from thin aluminum.

I taped the flower head pieces together and wired them to the gate to determine their placing. The leftover stem pieces were held up to the flowers and cut to the lengths needed, making sure they were long enough to go behind and be glued to the back of the flower.  The placing of the leaves was determined the same way.  Shorter leftover stem pieces were curved slightly and cut for the leaf stems.

File the sharp edges of the aluminum pieces.  Buff them with steel wool before priming and painting.

Glue the rusty sunflower centers to the front of the flowers.  NOTE – Always when gluing, the paint must be scraped from the surfaces to be glued – both surfaces must be clean and paint free. Let dry. 

The short curved stems were glued to the backs of the leaves.  Let dry.

The flower was placed face down and propped level to glue the stem to the back of the flower. Let dry.  Touch up paint, over the glue.

Glue leaves to the stem. Let dry.  After the leaves were dry, the flower was turned over and glued on the front of the leaf stems too. Let dry.  The stems and leaves were painted.

The gate was scrubbed clean and sprayed with clear sealer.

The flowers were wired to the gate in several places along the main stem and behind the flower.  Because they were glued on, I avoided putting any pressure on the leaf stems.   I painted a little green paint over wires that were showing.  A small amount of white paint was lightly sponged on the rusty centers. The thin aluminum petals and leaves were curved and shaped to add dimension.

The little dragon fly from the yellow flower was wired on after it was brightened up with some glass wings and a nugget.  I don’t know what I’d do without my squeeze clamps.  🙂 

And there you have it!  Now, let’s just hope winter doesn’t get here before Thanksgiving.

I’m stepping clear out of my comfort zone with my next post and will be attempting an easy Christmas sewing project.  We’ll have to see how that goes …

Please, mask up, wash those hands, and stay healthy and safe my friends, I’ll be back soon.

Rustic Sunflower Fall Wreath DIY and A Bit More

Oh, how I love spending long, fun filled Fall days full of junk jaunts and tag sales with my daughters and sisters.  With all the virus concerns, we’ve not been out to any all summer, but are hoping to get masked up and maybe squeeze one in next month.  While poking around in my overloaded garage, sorting and tossing, I’m discovering a lot of treasures from our past outings, recalling the plans for them, and remembering some of the crazy times we had. 

One such past find was a pair of metal sunflower candleholders; perfect for Fall decor.  It really makes my day when I find a treasure like this to bring home, repurpose, and play with. When I found them, I knew right away I’d be filling the center with something.

The small round legs popped off easily with pliers.  The leaves were removed with bolt cutters, and saved. To build up height in the centers, a small circle of ½” plywood was glued into each one.  I wanted some shine to show through the translucent glass nuggets I would be using, so I cut circles from a discarded piece of antiqued mirror to glue over the plywood. Small circles of thin metal could also be used in place of the mirror. Different sizes of amber, brown, and clear glass nuggets were glued to the mirror, leaving a small space around each one. After letting the glue dry 24 hours, the nuggets were grouted with sanded grout.  I mixed a small amount of brown paint with my black grout to get the color I wanted.  Let grout dry overnight before sealing.

Searching through my stashes, I found an awesome piece of rusted steel wire and some beautiful green and gold blown glass grape bunches.  The wire,  I pulled from a salvage pile last year, and the grapes were found in an antique mall in Texas several years ago. They had broken leaves, and I paid a bit more than I would usually do, but they were so darned pretty.  And now, I’m really glad I did.

Not being one for flowery, frilly things, the wire piece worked perfectly for my taste; I could use the twisted wire knot to take the place of a bow.  

With 22ga, thin black wire, the flower was wired on first, then the leaves, and grapes.  I added some rusty springs to give it just a little bit more. 

I love the versatility of projects like this.  These sunflowers can be attached to just about anything, and used indoors, or out.  I did a little playing around with some other ideas too, and thought I’d share them just for fun.  You’ll have to let me know what you think ..

Keep it simple.  Paint a couple metal leaves to add around a flower; attach it to a chalkboard, or a welcome sign.

 A wire wreath is big enough for the pair. No ribbon for a wreath bow?  Cut strips of fiberglass window screening and loop one.  There’s easy bow instructions on YouTube.

How about a mailbox cover?  A metal nail strip was stitched to wire hardware cloth and shaped in an arch.  Hold it in place underneath with mini bungee cords.  

For an open porch, I think a small arrangement with a sunflower and raffia would look great too, tied around the neck of a milk can filled with tall florals, or ornamental grasses; but I didn’t have time, a porch, or florals to get that put together. 🙂

A wide variety of small, inexpensive metal and glass pieces can usually be found at garage sales, and tag sales, so keep an eye out if you like repurposing and working with salvaged materials.  It’s good to get in the practice of looking at a piece and taking it apart in your mind to see how it’s parts can be used in other ways before carting it home.

Please feel free to comment, or share my post if you like. Take Care and Stay Healthy. 

Wine Bottle Apothecary Jar DIY Tutorial

The amount of stuff in my garage is crazy!  Something’s got to give. I used three bottles in this current project and sent about 50 to the recycle bin. No more, I’m not keeping any more unless it’s something really unique.  After all, wine bottles are not that hard to come by.  A few boxes of wire and salvaged pieces were given the boot.  But, I couldn’t part with more than a baggie full when it came to sorting through my lamp parts, small bits and pieces, and odds and ends.  They make up the brainstorming center of one of my favorite creative spaces. I could spend many happy hours playing and creating with all those wonderful little pieces.  They’ve been used in so many of my projects, including this one.  

So, here we go.  A bottle cutter or wet saw will be needed. I used the Creator’s Bottle Cutter, but have had great success with the Ephrem’s Bottle Cutter too.  Both are easy to use and have instructions included. The Ephrem’s Bottle Cutter is less expensive and needs to be attached to a board before using.

Place the bottle in the cutter.  With even pressure while turning, score the cut line on the bottle.  Rotate the score line about ¼” over a candle flame for about a minute.  Holding the bottle at the top and bottom, plunge it into a bucket of ice water to easily snap apart.  Sand the cut edges with 150 grit emery cloth to smooth and remove the sharp edges.  

I don’t often share pictures of my messy places, but here’s that brainstorming center I mentioned a little earlier.  I know, it’s a little out of hand, huh?  But, it’s so much fun having a lot of options when in a creative mood. 

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I had parted out a pair of bent candlesticks my sister found for me at a garage sale.  They were a steal at fifty cents each and chock full of some beautiful heavy glass donuts. I was able to use the top and base also. The rod was cut out, and my husband used a die grinder to remove some excess solder. A die grinder isn’t hard to use, I just don’t like the noise or the flying sparks it makes.

I liked the idea of using a glass donut on each jar to make them look like they belonged together if they were displayed as a set. I stacked and played around with pieces to fit the donuts and the jar openings until I was happy with what I had.  When making pieces like this, I like to take pictures of them laid out in the order they were stacked so I can remember how they go back together after the painting process.

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Clean the metal pieces and buff them with #0000 steel wool before painting.  Prime and paint.  I used an Oil Rubbed Bronze finish.

I was able to use a short piece of threaded rod for the two larger lids and they screwed together really slick.  E6000 was used to glue the small lid together.  It was stacked and glued in small steps, letting the glue dry in between steps, so it would stay straight. When using glue, scratch away a small area of paint on both surfaces where glue will touch.

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I noticed a flat bottomed glass globe while I was working.  What the heck, why not put a lid on it too? 

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After priming I used a Silver Hammered Metal finish on this one.  When dry, I sprayed a light coat of Silver Looking Glass Paint, and then buffed it lightly with #0000 steel wool after the paint was thoroughly dry.  It was glued together. Don’t forget to scrape paint away where the glue will touch.  Sometimes glues can soften or eat through paint and not adhere properly. 

All I have for now.  Thank You so much for visiting my blog. Please feel free to share my posts with your friends, re-purposing helps keep things out of our landfills. 

I’ve started working on some Fall Sunflower decor to share soon; hope you come back to join me.

20200827_120241 (1)Take Care and Stay Healthy!