January 28, 2013

Sweaters For Your Vases

I had saved this great idea on a Pinterest board that
Debi Ward Kennedy shared on her blog "Homeward Found":
(if you use the above photo for any reason, be sure to link it back to Debi's blog

As, I was reading more closely exactly how to copy her idea,
I realized that Debi had gotten the idea for the vases in 2007
from Danny Seo.  Danny is a green-living expert.  He wrote about
using the cuffs of sweaters to cover candles in an article in
"Country Home" magazine.  Here is a picture from his website
of the candles he shared about:
Both Debi and Danny emphsize that if you use sweaters to make "cozies" for your candles,
be sure to keep the sweaters away from the flames.

Not just a "home-made" look, retailers have also done
ceramic versions of the sweater vases, Anthropolgoie
and World Market just to name a couple. 
Neither of these products are still currently available

So, my version of Debi's vases are a copy cat of a copy cat.
 Debi writes that this project is fast, cheap and easy and it is. 
 No sewing at all! She also says that she has used
different color sweaters to put around the vases but that the
white/beige sweaters are her favorites to use in this project.

You might have some sweaters that you can recycle for this
project but I needed to find some sweaters at the thrift store.
Here are the arms (still attached) of the sweaters I'm using:

...and here they are cut away from the main part of the sweater:

These are the various vases/jars that are possible
 candidates for the sweater vase project:

Debi used cylindrical vases so that's the first ones I attemped.
They are about the size of an adult's arm and the sweater slid
on easily.  Debi says that you can keep the sweater smooth or
scrunch it up like leg warmers for another look.  I was trying to
get as many vases covered as possible so I kept them smooth.

I left a little extra to turn up a hem but cut away the
excess to use it on another vase.

When I first read about cutting up sweaters for vases
(and I have seen them used for pillows too), I worried that the
 knit stitches would unravel immediately but that did not happen.

Here is the bottom cut edge just turned under at the base:

The leftover arm part was put on a shorter vase.

To add some interest to the plain stitches, I turned a cuff
up showing the wrong or "purled" side of the sweater.

For most of  each of the arms, I was able to get a tall vase
  and a short vase covered with it.  The pretty diamond weave
 sleeves were only 3/4 long so they only covered one vase each.

There was not enough material to turn a hem so I put some
craft glue on the bottom to keep it from unraveling.  I think
it could be covered with a ribbon to hide the raw edge.

Pulling the sweater arms over the vases reminded me of
dressing Barbie dolls when I was little.  I can remember when
the first Barbies came out on the market.

 It was fun "dressing" these various shapes of vases.  
Because the knit of the sleeves is stretchy, 
you can also pull it over curvy vases, within reason. 

If you are having trouble squeezing a vase into a sweater arm,
start with the cut edge and not the cuff edge of the sleeve.
The cut edge is not as constricting and sometimes you can
sneak up from the backside of a cuff and get the vase in after all.

Another suggestion that Debi gave for getting a sleeve around
a larger vase is to simply wrap the sleeve around the vase and
then tuck the cut edge into the sleeve's cuff.  

You can simply pin the cut sleeve edge into the cuff
on the backside (against the vase) and no one will see the pin.
I decided to use a winter brooch as the pin for this vase.

Just like last year when the daffodils bloomed in January in
 Alabama, we have spring flowers peeking their heads out here
already.  Some nights and early mornings are cold but in the
daytime, the temperatures can be in the 70's.   I've carried 
this idea into the sweatered-vases (winter) holding flowers
that normally bloom in the Spring.  

 Those of you who can sew even just a little bit could make
tubes out of the leftover sweaters that you cut the arms off
of to make even more sweater covers for your vases.

January 26, 2013

Make A Deco Mesh Valentine Wreath

About this time last year, I attempted one of my first
 deco mesh wreaths which was also a heart shaped one.

It was a more tradition wreath that went around
the edge of the form.  This new wreath takes the mesh
back and forth vertically across the middle of the form.

Here are the supplies that you will need to make this
large striking Valentine decoration for your home:

8 feet of aluminum wire
(the kind on the floral aisle at Michael's and Jo Ann's works well...
sometimes you can even find it in red!)
red craft paint
a pack of red chenille stems
floral wire
 36" wooden dowel rod (about 1/2" diameter)
a roll of 20" x 30' of red deco mesh
a sheet of black or red craft foam
foam glue
craft glue
(If you already have the glue, I think the other costs would be about $20)

I looked for a large heart-shaped pre-made wire wreath
form but did not find any in my home town.  They are 
not that common even on the internet.  

To make your own frame for the wreath, use aluminum
 wire to form a heart shape.  I used a purchased 24" 
round wreath (that was used to make a similar wreath for
  Christmas) as a size guideline so I wouldn't make it too large.
I knew that this size only required one roll of deco mesh.
(The picture shows the back side of the Christmas wreath.)
As a decorative element that also adds necessary stability,
use floral wire to attach a dowel rod to the heart.
This will become an arrow later on.

Paint the wires and the dowel with red craft paint.
The deco mesh has an open weave so the wreath frame
sometimes shows through the mesh.  Painting the frame
and the arrow makes these structures less noticeable.

Some of the paint may get knocked off during the construction
 phase but you can go back and touch it up if needed.

When the paint is dry, add the chenille stems
 to the wire frame. (We used to call them "pipe cleaners").

 The pattern you will use for placing the
14 stems along the frame looks like this:

The above photo also shows the order in which you
will attach the mesh to the frame. 

Wrap each stem around the wire...

...then twist the two parts of the stem together. 

You can repeat the "wrap then twist" for each attachment
stem for extra holding especially if you don't have time for glue.
Whether you "wrap then twist" once or twice, make sure the  
arms are open to the top side of the wreath to accept the mesh.

Hopefully you do have time to glue the chenille stems to the
wire frame with craft glue.  It keeps them from moving around. 

While you have the glue out, put some glue on the wire
 and dowel rod attachment point. If you get tired of waiting
for the craft glue to dry, you could add some hot glue also.

 The only place in my city that carries deco mesh at reasonable
prices is Hobby Lobby.  They have a limited color
selection but they did get some red back in after Christmas.

Leave about a 12" (at least) "tail" before your first gather of mesh.
You will be tucking this in to the back of the wreath later.

Gather the mesh (I find that making little accordian-type pleats
works well) and attach your gather to the wreath form with the
chenille stem at the far right top side of the wreath. 
(Number 1 in the picture that shows chenille
stem placement above.)

Use the "arms" of the chenille stems to hold the gathered mesh
 onto the frame by twisting the arms tightly on top of the mesh.

Next, gather the mesh further down the roll.  You want to gather
at a point that will give you a little "pouf" to the mesh when
you attach the second gather to the wire frame directly below
your first point of attachment.

Make sure that the side of your pouf has enough mesh
that it can cover that side of the wire frame.

Your next gather point will be further down the roll at a point
 that allows the mesh to reach across the wreath back up to the
 top at point 3 and also has some "slack" to make a pouf.

At each attachment point, before you twist the chenille stems to
hold the mesh, fluff/pull/arrange the mesh to make sure you are
leaving enough mesh to cover the edge of the frame.  Don't
leave too much mesh on the edge...it will hide the heart shape.

Keep going top to bottom and back with the mesh.
Here's how it will look half way through:

Don't skip any attachments points...you need them all.

Well, at the end, I had seven feet of mesh left.   I didn't make this
wreath as puffy as the similar-in-technique wreaths of the
pumpkin or the Santa belly so the heart shape would be evident.

Instead of cutting the extra mesh off, I pulled it to the back
and added it on the back side with the same chenille stems
that were used on the front.  This made the wreath look
visually fuller without affecting the shape of the heart.

Tuck the beginning and the end of the mesh roll into a 
pouf on the back side of the wreath.  The cut edges cling to
the other mesh and usually stay in place easily. 

After tucking the ends, I turned the wreath
 back around  to look at the front.

Yours might look better than this after adding the mesh to the
wire form, but I wanted a little more defined heart shape.

By using the chenille stem arms already on the wreath form
and by adding more stems where needed, I could push the ends
of the stems through the loose weave of the mesh and kind of
"sew" the mesh closer to the wire frame.

I know both sides of the heart are not the same but it
makes the wreath a little quirky and whimsical.

I worked out a pattern for the ends of the Cupid's arrow
for the wreath.  You could make yours however you like but
here are the measurements that I came up with if you want
to try them.  I don't know how to make a PDF .

The shaft on the arrow for both pieces is 1 3/4" wide.
Both the point of the arrow and the feather end start
out as a 5" tall and 4" wide piece of paper.
The feathers are 3/4" wide with a 1/4" space between.
The red lines represent the shaft so I didn't want to
cut into the width of the shaft.
Here's what the pattern pieces looked like:

They were traced onto the black sheet of foam and cut out.
After being placed on the ends of the dowel rod, they were
glued on with foam glue. 

They foam pieces were temporarily tied onto the dowel
rod while the glue dried.

The wreath is really lightweight.  All you need is a ribbon
tied between the rounded tops of the heart to hang it.
If you want more excitement on the wreath, you could add
curly decorative ribbons at the attachment points.

The deco mesh wreath turned out to be 28" across at the 
widest point.  The total width with the arrow was 32".  
My door is only 35" wide so it was about as big as it 
could possibly be for my house. 

I'm disappointed that the black arrow blends into the brown 
door visually.  I might change it to red or try glittering it.
Whatever I do (if anything) needs to be weather resistant..
any ideas?

It shows up much better against the mortar-washed brick. 

After seeing these pictures, I decided that maybe I should make 
the heart shape a little more symmetrical.  It was easy to bend
the main aluminum wire frame to make the sides match better...
but not perfectly...it still has personality. 

I'm sharing this post at
Throwback Thursday party @ Glitter Paint & Glue blog
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