Archive for May, 2011


Project 21: Mirror inspiration

May 31, 2011

Starburst closeup

Starburst mirrors are everywhere on the internet these days. I hadn’t really thought I wanted one in my home (I don’t have much free wall space) until I saw some of the great materials people are using to make them. In addition to the shiny one above I found these:

One made of poster board

One using clothespins

One using bamboo skewers and rulers

And this fun one using a plate and cutlery

Don’t these make you want to find some fun kind of material and make your own? They did for me. Come back tomorrow to see what I bought to make my mirror.

Photo by stick-leggedgirl on Flickr



Project 21: Starburst Mirror

May 30, 2011

Many thanks to Amanda for sharing her great leather project with us while I was on vacation! I’m back renewed, refreshed and ready to tackle my next project.

This week I’m going to make a starburst mirror using reclaimed materials. I’ll take you shopping with me and show you how you can support a local nonprofit, then I’ll figure out how to put my materials together to make a starburst mirror. At the moment I have no idea where I’ll hang it. Maybe you can help!

Photo by Centsational Girl


Li Sashay on Kickstarter

May 29, 2011


Remember Dara from Li Sashay? She has a new Kickstarter project to promote her custom clothing and jewelry designs. Check out her project page and consider making a donation to help this local designer realize her dreams.

Many thanks to Dara for helping me with my roman shades! She’s a talented lady.


Guest Week: Lessons learned

May 27, 2011

Almost finished purse

Here’s the almost finished project!  While working on finishing up, I managed to spill a bunch of my dye (beware doing this!  You can use nail polish remover to get it up, but this will damage many surfaces). I had to order more dye, so I’ll send Amber more pictures of the bag when it is totally complete.

The finished project has a bit of a shine to it, which I really love.  If shiny is not your thing, Angelus makes a paint duller that will make the bag more matte.

I learned a bunch of things doing this project!

1.        Dramatic shifts in color should be done with non penetrating dye.
2.       Acetone (nail polish remover) can be used to fix some mistakes, but may damage your bag.
3.       Your base bag color and dye color should complement each other.  It is hard to find a bag where no element of the original color will be somewhat visible. You can’t dye zippers; if they are visible on your bag you need to pick a complementary dye color.
4.       Simpler bags with less stitching will look best after being dyed.
5.       This project can get expensive!  Between the dye kit(s?) and the bag, you might spend as much it would cost to get a new purse in the color you like.  It is best if you can start with a old bag you own but don’t like or a very cheap thrift store find.
6.       Every purse is a possibility, and dyeing can be just a starting point.  You can add all sorts of details and stitching to you new bag. Also, think beyond bag, since you can dye shoes too.  This is a great way to recycle bags or shoes you would have otherwise thrown out. The possibilities are endless!
7.       Writing up craft blog posts is much harder than I’d have imagined.  Major props to Amber for doing this for 20 weeks now!

Many thanks to Amanda for filling in this week. Your bag is awesome! – A


Guest Week: Doing the work

May 26, 2011

Tarrago dye

Dyeing the purse was incredibly easy.  The Tarrago kit I got included a preparer, the paint to dye the purse, and a sponge and brush to apply the paint.

The first thing I did was apply the preparer  with a soft rag. This conditions and cleans the surface to get it ready for the dye. The instructions for preparer use vary depending on the material of the bag; for my faux leather purse, I just needed to clean the purse with it, but for some materials you need to make sure you remove a finish on the outside of the bag.

Dye in process

After this, I used both the brush and sponge to apply layers of paint to the purse. The brush was good at getting paint into crevasses, while the sponge applied a thin, even coat over the bag. I repeated this process several time (I lost count) until I had nice even cover of the dye over the purse.  Since my bag was transitioning from a darker color to a light color, I had to use a fair amount of dye (2 kits worth).  It took several days to achieve the coverage I wanted!

I didn’t bother covering area of the purse I did not want dyed with tape.  Instead I just was careful while applying the paint and used nail polish remover (acetone) to clean off out-of-place paint.  Nail polish remover should be used with care, since it can damage the purse (especially if you are dyeing a synthetic purse, like me!)

Come back tomorrow to see the finished project!


Guest Week: Supplies

May 25, 2011

Purse before

Choosing the purse

Given my busy schedule, I turned to Ebay to find a purse to dye rather than hunting one down at Goodwill or a vintage store. I really had no idea what shape or color I was looking for when I started hunting, so I started by looking at bags under $10, hoping to get an idea. After looking at a bunch of options, I decided I wanted something that looked like a smaller tote bag and that I wanted to make it bright yellow. When I saw this faux leather bag, I knew it was the right one for me!

Choosing the dye

There are several dye options available. Turns out that the leather dye Lucky featured was not real dye; the leather “dye” they use is really an acrylic paint that just covers the leather surface. Traditional penetrating dyes are available, but they are not capable doing dramatic changes. For example, you can’t dye a dark colored purse to a light color. For my purse, I wanted to make a more dramatic shift (medium brown bright yellow), so I decided to use an acrylic paint “dye.” I decided to use this Tarrago leather dye kit from Manhattan Wardrobe Supplies in lemon yellow. Tarrago is the dye featured in the Lucky article; however, there are several other brands of dye available. Search the Manhattan Wardrobe Supply site under shoe care to see several other options.


Guest Week: Inspiration

May 24, 2011

Photo by Annie at ModCloth

Back in February, Lucky magazine did a DIY article on dyeing. I’d heard of dyeing clothes before, but I’d never considered dyeing a purse. I got pretty fascinated by the idea of doing this, and started to hunt around the internet for
other people who’d dyed purses.

After studying their attempts I decided to give it a try myself!

Photo by ModCloth


Guest Week: Dyeing Leather

May 23, 2011

Meet Amanda. She is going to fill in for me this week while I take some time off. You can look forward to her posts every day as she takes you through her fun project. I hope you all enjoy it!
Small Lime Green Blue Bird Wallet

Hello all! This is Amanda, a friend of Amber’s. This week I’ll be filling in for Amber while she is on vacation. I’m really excited to share with you a project I’ve been working on: dyeing a leather purse.

Photo by sew.zinski


Project 20: Finished lamps

May 22, 2011

Finished room

This photo officially ends bedroom month. This evening I finished wiring my lights and got them hung up over our nightstands. Just three projects have completely transformed my master bedroom. None of them were too difficult, either, especially with help from my friends. Along the way I learned all sorts of things about paneling, painting, sewing, and electrical work. I tried techniques I’d wanted to try for years and bought some useful new equipment. I spent more than my budget, but less than you’d think on a transformation of this kind. All in all I’m pleased with how it turned out.

Bedroom before

Remember where we started?

I’m taking next week off from the blog to celebrate my anniversary, but I’ve lined up a fun guest project. Check back tomorrow to see what we have in store for you!


Project 20: First lamp

May 21, 2011

First lamp

This is my brave husband plugging in the lamp I’d just finished wiring amidst fears of electrocution and/or fire. It worked, and no husbands were harmed in the making of this photo.

Have you ever seen someone do something on tv and are amazed by how easy they made it look? That’s me and these lamps. Back when Trading Spaces was still on (the internet tells me it may still be on tv. Weird) there was a designer who specialized in custom lamps. She built them out of random things, wired them up, and presto! had lamps. Ever since then I have had a vague idea that this was possible for me, but I’d never tried it… until now.

Last night I removed the old fabric-wrapped wiring from my beautiful sconces, replaced it with the wire from the extra set of sconces I bought, and spliced it all together with a regular extension cord. It’s a Frankenstein’s monster held together with electrical tape, but, as you can see in the photo, it has the audacity to work. I am amazed.

I need to run to the hardware store for another extension cord and to Target for lampshades, but sometime tonight I should have two functional lights hung next to my bed and bedroom month will be complete. Stay tuned.