Tin Can Luminaries

I’ve had my eye on these tin can luminaries for a while. I love an upcycling project that doesn’t look like it would have been better off left in the recycling bin 🙂

I started off by collecting some cans, washing them, and filling them with water to freeze. This helps the can keep its shape while you punch the design. I found a lot of patterns online and printed my favorites. I then used rubber bands to hold the pattern in place while I made the pattern with hammer and nail.

I finished them off with some spray paint and put some LED candles inside. I made mine for Christmas, but the designs are neutral enough for any occasion (well, maybe not the snowflake…)

I love creating things from stuff around the house. I can’t look at my pantry the same way anymore.

“Jewels”

Advertisements

Easy DIY Faux Marble Planters 

The climate in San Francisco is definitely unpredictable. We have our stunning sunny days, but we’re also known for the chilling fog that makes it hard to establish an outdoor garden. Luckily, our kitchen faces west, so we get some strong sun shining on this little ledge where I’m starting an herb garden.

I was looking for some easy ways to make containers for our plants, and these large yogurt containers are the perfect size and shape. Their looks, however, leave a little to be desired, so the grey marble contact paperI used on our fireplace came in handy again! I also found some grey granite contact paperthat worked well.

Easy DIY Faux Marble Planters  | Jewels at HomeMixed in with some other pots I have collected or painted, and with the way our three boys go through food, we’ll have our garden filled up in no time!

“Jewels”

Keepsake Baby Quilt – The Next Generation

I keep every little scrap of paper, fabric, or ribbon that might possibly be used again… and I know that I got this habit from my mom. When I was going through her fabric stash a few years ago, I found some fabric leftover from my baby blanket. The remnant looked surprisingly bright next to the worn and faded blanket I am familiar with, but there was no mistaking those happy tigers and vibrant flowers.

When I was pregnant with our first baby, I decided to make a new blanket out of this fabric, and now all three boys have their own quilts with a little piece of this special fabric.

I LOVE this idea. Use scraps from an old baby blanket to make special quilts for your children and grandchildren! Keepsake Baby Quilt - the Next Generation | Jewels at Home

Since the piece of fabric I found was small, I knew the blanket had to be a patchwork, so I found other scraps of yellows, greens, and whites from my mom’s stash and improvised a design to feature this special nostalgic print. I made it with just the pieced front and a solid back – no batting – so it would be lightweight and versatile.

I LOVE this idea. Use scraps from an old baby blanket to make special quilts for your children and grandchildren! Keepsake Baby Quilt - the Next Generation | Jewels at Home

A few years later, we were expecting our second child, and with the few squares I had left, I again pieced a blanket for our new baby.

I LOVE this idea. Use scraps from an old baby blanket to make special quilts for your children and grandchildren! Keepsake Baby Quilt - the Next Generation | Jewels at Home

I joked for a while that since I had used up that small piece of fabric, we couldn’t have any more kids… But as the years went by, we did want to add to our family, and I didn’t let the lack of tiger print fabric stop me!

When I planned this new baby’s blanket, I decided I had to cut into my old blanket to get the fabric. It wasn’t that hard a decision, as I hadn’t used my blanket in ages, and the tiger print was extra special in this case, since our youngest was born in the year if the tiger.

I LOVE this idea. Use scraps from an old baby blanket to make special quilts for your children and grandchildren! Keepsake Baby Quilt - the Next Generation | Jewels at Home

I love seeing how this whimsical print is now woven through all our childhoods.

I LOVE this idea. Use scraps from an old baby blanket to make special quilts for your children and grandchildren! Keepsake Baby Quilt - the Next Generation | Jewels at Home

I LOVE this idea. Use scraps from an old baby blanket to make special quilts for your children and grandchildren! Keepsake Baby Quilt - the Next Generation | Jewels at Home

I LOVE this idea. Use scraps from an old baby blanket to make special quilts for your children and grandchildren! Keepsake Baby Quilt - the Next Generation | Jewels at Home

I LOVE this idea. Use scraps from an old baby blanket to make special quilts for your children and grandchildren! Keepsake Baby Quilt - the Next Generation | Jewels at Home

The boys’ special blankets have been useful and treasured over the years, and I love how they are all connected but each unique… Just like the boys themselves!

And I still have enough of that baby blanket left over to make something for my grandkids some day. You can bet I am going to keep it!

“Jewels”

New Style for an Old Boiled Wool Coat (Version 1)

It has been a while since I found my mom’s old boiled wool jackets and brought them home. I’m so happy I finally got around to reworking the first one into something more tailored and contemporary, so I can wear this sentimental coat every day.

Do you have an old coat you can’t bear to part with? Depending on your coat’s original design, you can alter it using these ideas, from simple to intricate:

  • Take in the side seams
  • Take in the back seam
  • add a gather or dart at the back waist
  • Take in the sleeve seams
  • Add darts or seaming in back and/ or front
  • Take apart and rework individual pieces

My original jackets are made by Geiger from Austria, bought about 20 years ago, and they’re very big and boxy. I have no idea how my mom carried off this look, as she was very petite, but in any case, the coats were ready for major alterations. I used a whole arsenal of tricks to create a new style on this first project, as you’ll see.

How to take in the sides of a boxy coat:

If you want to make a subtle change, you can take in the side seams without touching the sleeves, but for a radical change like mine, you’ll need to take off the sleeves, so you can take in the sides all the way from top to bottom. After prepping your coat by removing the sleeves or lining as needed, turn it inside out and put it on. Use pins or safety pins to shape the side seams the way you want them. You can flip it back right side out to see how it looks and adjust as needed (pictured below on left).

After pinning a shape you like, use some tailor’s chalk and a ruler to mark a new seam line and see along that line. (pictured below on right)

Try it on to check the fit and when you’re satisfied, trim the excess fabric.

Steps to altering a boxy old coat: taking in the side seams.  {Jewels at Home}

Steps to altering a boxy old coat: taking in the side seams.

How to take in the back of a boxy coat:

Similar to taking in the sides, prepare your coat by removing the lining if needed, turn it inside out and put it on. Use pins or safety pins to shape the back seam the way you like. You can flip it back right side out to see how it looks and adjust as needed (pictured below on left).

After pinning a shape you like, use some tailor’s chalk and a ruler to mark a new seam line and see along that line. (pictured below on right)

Try it on to check the fit and when you’re satisfied, trim the excess fabric.

How to alter an oversized jacket: taking in the back seam. {Jewels at Home}

How to alter an oversized jacket: taking in the back seam.

Adding a dart or gather to an oversized coat:

If you just need to add a little shape to the back of your coat, you can add a simple dart or gather. Because my original coat was so boxy, I did this in addition to taking in the back seam. Looking at the back seam, fold in a small amount from each side. Use pins or safety pins to hold down the fold and try it on. Adjust as needed and then sew in place. I sewed this part by hand, so the stitches wouldn’t show.

Steps to updating a boxy old jacket: adding a gather to the back. {Jewels at Home}

Steps to updating a boxy old jacket: adding a gather to the back.

How to take slim the sleeves of a boxy coat:

After I had already removed the sleeves of my coat and taken in the side seams, I measured the new sleeve holes by marking the top of the sleeve (top left picture below) and pinning it to the shoulder of the jacket and pinning the entire sleeve in place, so I could see how much needed to be removed from the bottom seam (top right picture below).  Using that measurement, I trimmed the sleeves at the bottom seam to match the new smaller arm holes. I used tailor’s chalk and a ruler to slim the sleeves an even amount all the way down (bottom picture below).

Updating an oversized jacket: taking in the sleeves. {Jewels at Home}

Updating an oversized jacket: taking in the sleeves.

After these steps, I had a jacket with a much better fit.

Step by step tutorial to altering an oversized and boxy jacket.  {Jewels at Home}

Results of altering an oversized and boxy jacket.

Adding contemporary style to an old coat:

I could have stopped at this point and had a comfortable fitted coat, but it felt so plain, and I wanted this to be a piece of clothing I’d love, so I decided to remove the old notched collar and use the lining material from the coat to make a larger collar. Finally, I added some more buttons, and I had a look that is completely new and I’d be happy to wear every day.

Complete steps to tailoring a boxy oversized coat. {Jewels at Home}

Complete steps to tailoring a boxy oversized coat. {Jewels at Home}

 

I’m so pleased with my “new” coat, that is filled with memories of my mom, and I’m looking forward to tinkering with the next one to create another cozy memory to wear.

“Jewels”

Folding Cardboard Play House

The kids love a playhouse, and so do I! I don’t like to perpetuate gender stereotypes, but there are some of the boys’ games that I simply can’t get excited about, so I’m glad we can all agree that play houses and play kitchens are great fun.

When I saw this collapsible playhouse by Jennifer Kirk at She Knows Parenting I was in love with the idea and just waiting for a way to use it. With baby J’s birthday coming up, I decided to make him a play fire station. The folding house was a perfect foundation for a fire station. I used the concept from She Knows Parenting but built my house differently, so here’s the tutorial.

I started with two big and sturdy boxes I had saved from some living room chairs I bought. I had deemed them TGTR (Too Good To Recycle) and they were taking up a lot of space, so this was a perfect use. They are very similar to the “dish pack” boxes used for moving, if you want to try to recreate this project more exactly.

Materials
Besides the boxes, you’ll also need

  • duct tape. I used two complete rolls.
  • box cutter or craft knife
  • long straight edge ruler or other tool
  • glue. I used tacky glue.
  • scissors are also handy for cleaning up the edges

Building Tutorial
Here’s a sketch of the basic design. You can assemble it in more than one way, depending on what pieces you have. As a general tip, I think the house will fold more smoothly of you leave a gap between the panels you tape together, so the joints have more flexibility.

DIY folding cardboard house tutorial.  From Jewels at Home.

“Plans” for a DIY folding cardboard house.

Since I had already broken down my boxes, I started with two pieces with two panels each. You could use a single whole box, opened flat. The two center panels will be the front of the house, and the side panels will form the side walls of the house. (shown below, top left)

Since the floor only connects to the sides of the house, I cut the bottom panels off the center panels. (shown below, top right)

I then taped together the center seam. This isn’t necessary if you are using a single piece, though you might still want to reinforce the seam. (shown below, bottom left)

For the front of the house, I cut a peaked roof and an opening for the door. My door is wide, because I am going to make it a fire station, but you could do a smaller and maybe add some small windows for a regular house. (shown below, bottom right)

DIY folding cardboard house tutorial.  From Jewels at Home.

DIY folding cardboard house tutorial. Forming the walls.

Next, I made jointed panels for the floor and roof. I spread glue on the bottom flaps of the house and attached the floor. I put some heavy objects on the floor of the house to make sure it was glued securely. After the glue dried, I reinforced the joints with tape. (shown below, left)

I attached the roof by spreading glue on the top flaps of the sides of the house and clamping the roof in place with binder clips, while the glue dried. (shown below, right)

DIY folding cardboard house tutorial.  From Jewels at Home.

DIY folding cardboard house tutorial. Adding the floor and roof.

I finished the house by gluing some cardboard to reinforce the front of the house above the door and then taping all the joints and raw edges.

Here are some pictures of the finished house. My floor doesn’t fold upwards very smoothly, and I didn’t want to force it, so it’s quite large when folded, but it is completely flat. I think it would fold more compactly if I had left bigger gaps between the pieces of cardboard, but then again, that could make the house less stable. Overall, it works well.

DIY folding cardboard house tutorial.  From Jewels at Home.

DIY folding cardboard house tutorial. Front view.

DIY folding cardboard house tutorial.  From Jewels at Home.

DIY folding cardboard house tutorial. Inside view.

DIY folding cardboard house tutorial.  From Jewels at Home.

DIY folding cardboard house tutorial. Tada!

The next step is decorating the house to look like a fire station. I hope I can pull it off this week!

“Jewels”

DIY Custom Gift Bags

Here’s another easy idea to make a gift that is unique and meaningful from things you might already around the house. We just celebrated my twin nieces’ first birthday, and I wanted to make them cute gift bags. They were born in the year of the rabbit, so this paper that hubby bought for me in Japan years ago was perfect.

I almost always make my own gift bags by reusing paper shopping bags or party treat bags. I add decoration (and cover up the writing) with wrapping paper, scrapbook paper, or art paper. I finish off the packaging with coordinating tissue paper and ribbon. It’s easy to make matching cards with the same paper, too.

DIY gift bags by Jewels at Home

Custom gift bags for my nieces’ first birthday.

DIY gift bags by Jewels at Home

Custom gift bags

While I started making these bag to make good use out of paper bags I already had, I’ve also done it by buying a group of plain bags from the craft store. Not only are you conserving resources, the handmade result will be one-of-a-kind and beautiful!

“Jewels”

“Eco-chic” – The Evolution of Pants

When you think of decorating and crafts blogs, you usually think of cute DIY projects like painting and reupholstering Queen Anne chairs or adding fabric borders to towels. But sometimes, even the most ardent DIYer has to do something more mundane, like fix the bottom of a sagging drawer or, in this case, patch boys’ pants.

Although I occasionally question whether it’s worth the time and energy, I like to patch my boys’ pants with torn knees, rather than donate or trash them. If you have little boys – and we have three – you will know that those knees can wear through while the rest of the pants are still in perfect condition. And with three brothers, I know that each pair could get a lot of use, if I just patch up those knees.

This is a job I always save up until I have a pile, so it’s rather impressive-looking when done. One time, I took a picture of a pile of patched pants and posted it on Facebook. One of my friends commented that the result was “eco-chic,” and it inspired me to keep going. I started out using plain iron-on patches, but there are many with great patterns, too, like these camouflage patches or these bandana-patterned patches. I’m also planning on making some myself with fun heavy-duty fabrics and some iron-on adhesive like Heat’n Bond Ultra Hold.

Patch your kids' pants with fun fabrics for an eco-friendly fashion statement.  By Jewels at Home.

Patch your kids’ pants with fun fabrics for an eco-friendly fashion statement.

How to patch pants

This is not at all complicated to do, but it does take a little patience. Although the instructions say that you can just iron on the patches, ours did not hold up that way, so I sew around the border.

Cut the patch about an inch larger than your hole.

Iron it over the hole according to the instructions.

Here’s the sewing part – gather the bottom of the pant leg until you reach the patch. Slip the patched area under the sewing machine foot. Sew a zig-zag stitch with short stitch length around the edge of the patch.

It takes some practice, but I’ve got the hang of it now. I have trouble with anything smaller than 3T or with skinny pants, as it’s too hard to gather up the leg and sew just the patch without catching other parts of the fabric.

 

How to patch kids' pants.  From Jewels at Home.

To sew around the patch, start by gathering up the pant leg.

 

How to patch kids' pants.  From Jewels at Home.

After gathering up the pant leg, pull the gathers to one side, so the patched area is exposed, without any other parts of the pants under it, and slip it under the foot of your sewing machine.

 

From pants to shorts

The final step in the evolution of our boys’ pants happens when the knees are ripped all the way across or there are just too many patches on a knee. Then, I just cut the pants across at the knee, fold up a hem, and sew them to make shorts!

Turn worn-out pants into short for an eco-friendly solution for kids.  By Jewels at Home.

Turn worn-out pants into short for an eco-friendly solution for kids.

Got Girls?

As usual when it comes to clothing, it seems like the options for girls are even greater and better. Think heart-shaped patches, stars, ruffles, and more. Here’s an example from SFEnvironment, where there are many more great ideas for kids and adults.

patched pants

Fun patched pants from SF Environment.

A funny aside – I noticed that it is almost always the left knee that gets worn out before the right on my boys’ pants. I think it has to do with being right-side dominant and dragging your left knee when you get up from the ground, but it is still rather remarkable!

Patch your kids' pants in fun fabrics for a "green" fashion statement.  By Jewels at Home.

Making a “green” fashion statement.

Hope to get back to something more glamorous soon!

“Jewels”

 

 

Updating Old Boiled Wool Jackets

I will freely admit that we have done a terrible job clearing out any of my mom’s things since she passed away over 14 years ago. It’s all just sitting in closets and boxes all over the place. Some of this is certainly sentimental, and some of it is logistical – my sister and I lived on the west coast for many years and were seldom back home to go through things. Now, we both have kids running around, and there is rarely a spare moment to sort through the piles. Since my dad sold his house, the piles have just gotten more intense and scattered, so we did do our best to make a little dent in everything this past week.

One of the finds were several boiled wool jackets. I remember my mom wearing these often, and I love boiled wool myself. Unfortunately, the jackets we found are all oversized and boxy – not at all current-looking. I am brainstorming how I might be able to alter these to make them wearable again. I’m not sure how to do it, so ideas are welcome! Here’s what I am starting with:

Classic Geiger boiled wool jacket

These classic Geiger jackets are great, but they are all oversized and boxy.

Classic Geiger boiled wool jackets

Classic Geiger boiled wool jackets

And here are some the more contemporary boiled-wool jackets that are my inspiration. It would be so great to have something that is both fashionable and makes me feel like I’m wrapped up in a little piece of my mom.

teal ruffle collar jacket

teal ruffle collar jacket

red wrap jacket

red wrap jacket from As We Change.

Go to As We Change

Boden Boiled Wool Coat

Boden Boiled Wool Coat

red boiled wool jacket

red boiled wool jacket from North Style. I think the seaming in front and gathers in back could help bring in the boxy style of my mom’s old jackets.

Go to North Style

oatmeal boiled wool jacket

oatmeal boiled wool jacket from Plush Pony

Go to Plush Pony

I’m wondering if I can get away with just adding some darts and seams to these jackets? I think more likely I have to pretty much take each jacket apart and use a new jacket pattern to cut pieces and re-sew. Any other ideas?

Thanks,

“Jewels”

Update: Here’s the post on altering the big navy coat, complete with step-by-step tutorial!

Shoebox Makeovers – Mani-Pedi Kit and Decorative Box

I’m lucky to have a sister for so many reasons – she’s the one person with whom I can be completely myself and share all the funniest and saddest moments. As a fun bonus, little sis loves designer shoes, and I get the beautiful boxes!

Today is definitely TGIF. Work was busy this week, and I’m ready to shift gears for the weekend. Tomorrow is our school’s annual dinner, and I love the chance to get dressed up and enjoy some time with friends. I don’t get fancied up often, but I decided to paint my nails tonight and was reminded of how easy and fun it was to decorate this shoebox to organize my nail polish and accessories.

Easy mani-pedi kit made from an old shoebox.

Easy mani-pedi kit made from an old shoebox.

Mani-pedi kit inside

There’s enough room for nail polish and accessories. I love the damask lining of this box. You could add your own to a sturdy plain box.

This box was already lined in that pretty metallic damask, but you could glue in a paper or fabric liner to any sturdy box. I used a ribbon and some stickers on the outside to cover up the printing, and now practical little me gets to feel girly and pink once in a while.

shoebox decorated for display.

This beautiful shoebox has a ribbon closure. I added scrapbook paper to the outside.

Another of my sis’ shoeboxes is in our living room. This time, I glued some scrapbook paper over the printing, and it’s ready for display. (Yes, putting photos in frames is on my to-do list!). The style of this box, with the attached lid and ribbon closure gave me the idea to cover some extra test kit boxes from work. Hope to show you that soon.

Okay, now go raid your (sister’s) shoe closet and create your next project!

“Jewels”