Monday, July 30, 2012

Thrifting, Michigan style

This morning I asked the kids if they wanted to go "treasure hunting" with me, and of course they were game. So we gleefully embarked on our first thrifting adventure since moving to Ann Arbor. People kept telling me that I'd love the thrift, antique and consignment stores around here, but I hadn't been able to get out to any until now.

 I had 4 stores that I planned to visit today, starting with The Salvation Army. I knew before even walking in that we weren't going to make it to all 4 stores. That place was HUGE! I was almost hyperventilating just looking at the expanse of thrifty goodness before me!

I remained as calm as I could as I made my way through the store. The furniture section was calling my name and did not disappoint! Dresser after beautiful antique dresser sat there taunting me. I hate that I can't paint furniture right now! I contemplated buying one of the smaller, less expensive ones, but I soon realized that I couldn't get it home with my car full of kids, and I couldn't get it up the stairs to the apartment without a husband home to help me.

I had to walk away and search for smaller, more portable treasures.

The next store we visited was the PTO Thrift Store. It was huge, too! I wandered into their craft supply section and had to get my phone out to take a few photos. (Sorry I didn't think of it at the S.A. You would've died over some of the furniture there!)

These little cubbies were stuffed with cloth napkins and hankies.

Doilies seemed to be super scarce in California, but here they had at least 2 drawers FULL of them!

And check out this unit of drawers.  Each one is neatly organized with things like modeling clay, floral supplies, tools, and other random stuff.  Next time I'm coming alone so I can spend as long as I want sifting through them all!


On the other side of the long drawer unit was ANOTHER length of drawers with sewing supplies!  Spools of thread, zippers, bias tape, ric rac, various closures, appliques, elastic, Velcro, quilting supplies... the list goes on and on!

I didn't count how many drawers of trim there were, but I wanted to just dive right in after opening just one.  Vintage lace and ribbon?  Anybody have a fan I could borrow?  I feel faint.

I know where to go for buttons from now on!

Their furniture selection was a little underwhelming.  But that's good.  I'd rather find nothing I want than EVERYTHING I want right now. 

Check out this crazy pair of chairs.  Just 40 bucks apiece, folks.  Get 'em before they're gone!  ;)

The one thing I really, really, really did want, though, was this awesome upright piano.  It's just gorgeous, if you ask me.  And only $150??  Uh, YES PLEASE!

Check out that fantastic texture that the finish has developed!

Someday we will have a piano again, but not today.

Unfortunately during our visit to the PTO store, my darling 3-year-old progressively wore through his last bit of good behavior (and my patience), so by the time we were done we were most definitely DONE.  Those two other mystery stores and all of their undiscovered treasures would just have to wait.

I did come home with a pretty good haul, though.  Wanna see what I got?

Adding to my art collection with these 3 pieces: a signed art print, a cheap botanical illustration and an original painting on canvas

I probably paid more for the print than I should have, but I thought it was neat that it was titled and signed, and the sticker on the back gives information about the artist, who is a Michigander.

Found a few good albums in a giant bin of CDs and VHS tapes.

This little guy got some cool yellow rain boots that he's NUTS about!

Adding to my collection of pitchers, these being of the smaller variety (would that make them creamers?).  I have every intention of scrubbing that yucky brown paint off of the milk glass one.

Found an old hanger, a cute little pewter vessel, some white cloth napkins and a BUNCH of silver utensils.  Tarnished silverware makes me happy.  :)

Oh man, I couldn't believe I found an little wooden shoe form AND a cool old hand mirror at the same time!  I'm gathering hand mirrors to hang on a wall together... someday.

 Cute little metal plaque on the back

I also found this wool hooded & belted sweater coat with an adorable pleated sash around the waist.  (Phew, that was a mouthful!)

Summertime requires cotton skirts.  Love the print on this one.

This peasant top is a lovely watermelon color (though it reads more fuchsia here) and I love the lace on top.  Cute, yeah?

My girl got this sweet little jacket for school...

...and check out that wild paisley lining!

When I saw this tattered old quilt I put it in my cart before I even looked for a price tag.  $10- SOLD!

I inspected it closer when I got home and found that it was in pretty bad shape in a lot of spots.  I knew when I bought it that it was pretty ratty, and it even looked like someone had tried to tea/coffee stain the whole thing intentionally.

Every few sections there's a space that's completely worn away and the cotton batting shows through.

But those sweet old fabrics called to me.

And the hand stitching deserved some acknowledgement, too.  I plan on soaking it in some BIZ to (hopefully) restore some of its whiteness. 

This quilt has potential, my friends.  Maybe not as a quilt, but this will be a perfect cutter quilt.  I see hot pads, pot holders, place mats, nursery bunting, Christmas stockings, pin cushions...  It will be useful again!

Find anything good at the thrift store lately??

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Basic tee upgrade ~ bleach pen

Time for another plain tee shirt upgrade! 

You'll need:
  • plain cotton t-shirt in any color
  • Clorox bleach pen (found in the laundry aisle or an off-brand one found at Dollar Tree)
  • white towel or newspaper
  • inspiration image (optional)
Before we get started, I want to state up front that I'm not trying to pass these ideas off as my own, because this is by no means an original idea or project. It's been done and done and done some more. But if YOU haven't seen it done yet, maybe this might just inspire you to give it a try! It's easy, my friend. EASY.

First, pick out your shirt.  Mine is yet another fabulous Target tee in my favorite 'boyfriend' style like last time, only this one's gray.

Next, choose an image you want to recreate, or come up with one of your own.  Here's my inspiration image that I found online.


I laid my plain ol' boring shirt out flat and placed a white towel inside the tee. (Any kind of protective layer will work, just make sure it's not something you'll be really sad about ruining. We're working with bleach, ya know.)   I knew I wanted my design to go up one side of my shirt and maybe wrap around a little, so I laid it with the seam and a little of the back showing.

Next, grab your Clorox bleach pen, SHAKE IT GOOD and go to town!  (I only shook mine a little bit because I didn't want tons of bubbles, but I think you really do need to shake it well. I wonder if I were to shake it better if maybe the bleach wouldn't have bled and I would've gotten a sharper design?)
 The bleach pens have two tips, wide and a fine, and obviously you'll want to use the fine tip for a design like this. 

Move quickly so your design is somewhat uniform in color by the time you get done, but if you intend to let your lines turn completely white then no need to hurry.



 There will be bubbles that come out as you draw, but don't worry too much about it.  Pop 'em, blend in the blobs with a toothpick or pencil and move on.  Accept that your finished product won't be perfect and that the imperfections are what make it unique!

 Allow the bleach gel to sit for a couple of minutes to pull some of the color out of your shirt, but DON'T WALK AWAY FROM IT!  Keep a close eye on the shirt so as soon as the bleach has done its job you can rinse it off.  Again, if you're going for white lines then no need to fret about how long it sits.  In theory, you could let the gel dry completely.  (In my two attempts at doing this, though, the longer I let my bleach sit the more it bled.  Again, maybe because I didn't shake very well.)
When it's ready, CAREFULLY carry your shirt to the tub and turn on the shower.  Rinse off all of the bleach gel, using your hands to help it come off. 
If you can, throw your shirt into the laundry to finish getting the bleach out.  We were still in the hotel when I did this project so I just used some baby shampoo to wash out the bleach and then laid it out to dry.

 I really love that the gray turns sort of a peachy color when it's bleached.  Cool, huh??

Check out these other bleach pen projects I found online.  You could go with a really complex doodle design like this one~

or a pretty henna design like this~

or even write words or lyrics on your project, like this one!  I love that she even added some embroidered detail to it!  See the red?

How about using a bleach pen to jazz up some plain SHOES?  WHAT A GREAT IDEA!

I'm totally doing this to a baby onesie.  Watch me.

And you know what?  Who says you have to do a super intricate design?  I'm kind of loving this kids' tee with the simple, happy sunshine face.  Plus, what an awesome way to disguise a stain!
Nobody said that your project HAS to be clothes (or shoes), either!
How about:
  • cloth napkins
  • a scarf
  • a tablecloth
  • curtains
  • throw pillows
  • quilt squares
  • a baby bib
  • a baseball cap - pretty much anything!  Just remember when choosing what to draw on that bleach works best on natural fibers. 

Have fun bleaching!  ;)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Basic tee upgrade ~simple embroidery

I've developed a crush on Target's line of Mossimo tees. *sigh* They're cute, soft, nice and long, have a flattering feminine fit without being too snug, come in lovely colors and are CHEAP! Not "cheap" like, they're gonna fall apart after three washes cheap, but super inexpensive. Like, $6-$10 cheap. LOVE IT.

But, they're plain. This isn't necessarily bad, but I find myself wanting to fancify them a little. The other day I was browsing my Google Reader blog list and came upon this post by Eve over at evieivyoverstreet.

First of all, Eve and I are kindred spirits.  She's the crafty kind who loves thrifty goodness as much as I do, AND we both have 3 sons, one of which is named Finn!  We've even traded our crafts before.  Cool, girl, that Eve. 

Okay, back to the post.  Eve wrote about how she awesomeized a plain thrifted tee with a few notions that she had on hand.  While I didn't have any plain thrifted tees that needed some love, I did have a beloved Target tee or two that I felt could use some umph. 

Exhibit A.

Off to the craft store I went and picked up a skein of yellow pearlized cotton.  (You could also use embroidery floss for this, by the way.)

I plopped down in front of the TV that evening and during a few episodes of House Hunters on HGTV I added some pizazz to my previously plain pullover.  (Alliteration!  Love it when that happens.)

I stitched a couple of rows of running stitches along the neckline, some X's on the pocket...

...and some zigzags on the sleeve and hem.

Nothing too dramatic, but definitely more interesting than before!

Thank you, Eve, for the inspiration.

I have another tee shirt project coming up that was also inspired by her adorable tee, so check back soon! And be sure to pop into Eve's Etsy shop and see all the vintage cuteness she has for sale in there.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Art from a hotel room

Instead of spending this week in our little apartment in Ann Arbor, the kids and I made the drive to Manteno, Illinois to be with my husband.  That's where he's working for the time being.  The upside to this little trip is that we get to see Daddy everyday (as opposed to Thursday night to Monday morning), but the downside is having to hang out in a hotel room all week.  With four little kids.  With no car. 

Yeah.  Pretty boring.

The kids entertain themselves with TV and Xbox games (I know, I know, a lot of brain rotting is going on), coloring and drawing, doing pages in some workbooks I bought them and annoying each other, while I get to, um, ...uh .... what do I get to do?  Referee, check Facebook a dozen times a day,  read blogs, change diapers, pin to my Pinterest boards, nap.  Yep.  All of those things.  But I need stimulation!  I need a creative outlet!  I need to CREATE! 

Okay, maybe that's a tad dramatic.  But when my mister suggested that we go to the local Hobby Lobby to find something for me to do, I was all over it. 

Here's what I picked out.

A pad of watercolor paper, a set of watercolor paints and inexpensive brushes.

And here's what I did with them.

I am not an artistic painter.  I've painted before, I took a painting class or two in college (I was an art major after all) and I even took a watercolor class but dropped it before I got very far.  I've just never really felt comfortable with it. 

That said, I had a surprisingly good time with my watercolors.  Granted, my subject matter was simple.  How much simpler could you get?  But since I didn't really know what I was doing, I wanted to start off easy.  This let me truly enjoy just playing with the paints. 

I thought I'd get frustrated when my paintings didn't turn out very well, but instead I just let my mistakes happen and tried to learn from them.  The mistakes made me more excited to try again. 

It's been a really long time (too long) since I've sat down and done something artistic, just because I felt like it.  And despite the unremarkable results, I'm so very glad I did.