Category Archives: Budget

DIY Baby Snuggler Swaddle Wrap

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Part II of the recent baby shower gift I put together. These snuggler swaddle wraps seem to be popping up on all the registries lately and so I thought perhaps I would make a pattern so my lovely friends could have them in patterns of their choice (instead of the limited styles they have at the store). I made this one as part of the most recent baby shower gift I put together and in doing so I was able to make it out of really cute flannel monster fabric…and I was able to save $20.00 over the cost of the swaddler at Target. The way I see it…that’s win/win. After all If I can make it for less….my friends get more ūüôā

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First I started by googling snuggle swaddlers so I could break down the pieces needed to create one of my own. There are a surprising number of free patterns from sewing to knitting. I took the opportunity to really assess a few for sewing and then drew out my own. Above is the pattern I made by taping together a few pieces of paper (I used some from the last presentation I went to at work so as not to waist fresh printer paper but do as you like. News paper works well for patterns as well and allows for less taping on small projects like this) and then drawing and cutting out the basic pattern. The straight areas of these patterns line up with the center fold of the fabric you are using. Next iron fabric and cut out both pieces twice (once for the outer shell and once for the liner)

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Next sew together pleats where all of the triangle cut outs appear in the pattern above -2 sets at the feet and one set at the shoulders (as you can see I added two pleats to the bottom of the main piece so it would line up with and match the front pocket piece). Then line up your outer shell and your liner (with the outer patterns facing in and sew from foot pleat to foot pleat leaving an opening between the pleats. Turn both pieces right side out and iron.

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With the outer shell patterns facing in again line up the bottom foot pleats of the main body and the front pouch and sew from armpit to armpit. I used my surger to finish off the fabric at the toes to remove all raw edges. Then flip right side out for an almost completed project. At this point you can happily hold up your very recognizable swaddler and parade around the room proudly showing what you have accomplished.

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Finally attach Velcro as your securing method. I placed a strip of Velcro on the top of the front pouch for the first fold. I placed two pieces horizontally and one piece vertically for the second fold (this allows the front piece to be adjustable based on the size of the baby).

**Update…the swaddle and sleep sack were a great success. Another successful baby shower gift complete.

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DIY Baby Sleepsack

20141117_124520¬†Baby sleepsacks are all the rage throughout the winter months as they keep new babies nice and warm without new parents having to worry about bulky blankets which are a risk for smothering and infant death. Sleepsacks can be purchased at just about every baby store and online registry these days…but many are expensive¬†and there are limited prints and styles. Here is one I made as a baby shower gift for a friend – the total cost was (hopefully my friend doesn’t see this post) about $5.00. There are many variations (zippers in the front instead of snaps, or Velcro along the sides, or even kimono style wrap front designs), no matter which style you choose these are always sure to be a big hit.

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I started by picking a fabric I knew my friends would enjoy (they had registered for other fun monster print items) and then I mapped out a pattern. If you already have a sleepsack handy you can literally just trace the one you have. If you don’t you can make a paper pattern by looking up different styles as I did here. (I also used a baby onesie (3-6months) when creating the pattern to ensure the neck and arm holes would be big enough for baby to fit into them comfortably.)

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Next cut out the pattern  x 4- front and back of the outside and front and back of the liner. I used a crushed velvet material for the liner and a flannel for the outer shell. Then sew from armpit to armpit leaving about 3 inches of space on one side (this will allow the sleepsack to open so the baby can be placed inside). You can see my opening where I have left pins in the liner.

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Flip the two pieces inside out and stuff the outer shell into the liner and sew together the arm pit holes and the yolk of the neck. You can close the top of 3 shoulders but leave one open so you can turn the sack right side out.

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Open the whole you have left at the top of the shoulder and proceed to stuff the sack through it turning the whole thing right side out.

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Now you only need to close up one hole and get ready to add buttons or snaps. I used a blind hem to  close the top of the shoulder so it would match the other three however you can use a straight stitch over the top after you tuck in all the raw unfinished edges.

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Finally add buttons to the top for a clean finished look and snaps to the insides of one shoulder and the open side. I used the button on the left to secure the left shoulder (it doesn’t open). The button on the right is just for decoration as safety snaps are what the parents actually use to close the garment up. Vowalla one happy custom sleepsack ready for a new baby.

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Bat-Themed Kids Group Costumes

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When it comes to costumes I have a couple of rules. Fun, Warm, and durable.

Having four girls is rough business for dressing alike. ¬†I tried to do it a lot when they were younger and then thought they’d hate it later and so it wasn’t worth the effort to find that much of one thing. ¬†My girls find their own way of matching anyway. Weeping Angels last year and this year they wanted to do Batman Characters. ¬†They were inspired by these pics on Pinterest. ¬†(I can’t find the original source of these and they are just awesome, so if you know, tell me so I can add the right credit)

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The Cosplayer part of me wanted to take these and make them a little less poofy and more comic booky or kid appropriate gritty. ¬†I started brainstorming. ¬†Batman and Robin for the little girls wasn’t a big deal. ¬†Joker with a tutu was going to e interesting, and Poison Ivy… well my Poison Ivy is 12. ¬†I wanted her covered and still looking like a pre-teen. ¬†A Challenge!

Confession time, unlike my wonderful counterpart Lexivsblog, I do not sew. ¬†Machines drive me batty. Last year’s angel dresses were like a Grandma sweat shop. ¬†My mom is a wonderful and giving woman. ¬†Anything for her grandkids. ¬†This year, I wanted to close down the sweat shop and give mom a break. I needed something that avoided the sewing machine. ¬†These pins the girls picked out looked promising and I decided to use what I could from them with what we had around the house as much as possible. ¬†The only times I make costumes is when it is cheaper than buying. ¬†I wanted it done on the cheap.

The first thing I needed was the crocheted top.  I found these 10 inch tutu tops at The Hair Bow Company, and I was super happy to see that they are lined with a soft fabric.  At $4.25/each this was the most expensive part of their costumes.  Next I found Net instead of tulle for a grittier, gauzy look at 1.25/yrd.  I got four yards for each girl, not knowing how much I would need.

I used this fantastic cutter, cutting 4 in strips of the net.

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Then I tied the net through the crocheted top.

One half knot worked just fine. ¬†It doesn’t come out easy.

Also… ¬†word to the wise, netting rips really easily. ¬†Be gentile.

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The skirt with cutting and tying, took about 30 minutes and for Robin’s fluffier, shorter costume, only used two yards. The others were equal to or less than two yards. ¬†I have a TON left over.

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Not too shabby for about $7 and 30 minutes

but it needed more,,, and I was really worried about warmth and wardrobe malfunctions.

I poured through the girls’ closets for black long sleeved shirts and black leggings.

I also went through the dress-up bin and found an old Batman costume that was really worse for wear, dating all the way back to 2008.  All that was left was the mask and main piece.

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I cut out the Bat symbol from the old costume, and used the mask, and cut off the cape.  The sweat shop did open for making the bottom part of this costume into a skirt for Poison Ivy.

Robin’s R is a paper print out of the Teen Titans’ Robin Logo sewed onto a black felt circle.

Next came Poison Ivy’s Bodice. ¬†The greenery I had was from an artificial grape vine. I stuffed the top with phone books and hot glued the leaves on, leaving the sides for stretchiness. ¬†As it was, it was STILL hard to get her into it after. ¬†If you do this, REALLY STRETCH the crocheted top before gluing.

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I wasn’t loving the plain-ness of the top so I added some tool which turned out to be very glittery.

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I used the same loops in the top to add some color to the top. I also hot glued a flower of the red tool and some Christmas holly berried to the center.

For the Joker’s costume I made a tulle tie and flower, but it just didn’t have the umph that I wanted.

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I poured through Joker costumes and comic book pics and realized that there are many versions of the Joker.

But What is consistent was that the Joker always has a sense of style and flair. ¬†That’s what I was missing. ¬†If the Joker were a girl and the kind of Dame to wear a tutu, what would she need? ¬†I freaking fascinator, that’s what.

I cut a sort of pointy oval shape out of felt, hot glued some net for over the face, and tied a few shorter strips of the colored netting I had into a knot and hot glued that onto the felt and face netting.  Then I added a $.25 purple Christmas bobble to the top, twisting the stem through the knot.  It seriously took 5 minutes.

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I wasn’t sure how it would look bobby pinned on, but it turned out well!

I also added, from our button bin, a Card Fan tie clip and Cuff links.

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The costumes wear really well.

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So, I spent about 4-5 hours, and somewhere between $25-$30 total for four costumes… not too shabby!

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Filed under Budget, Children, Cosplay, Costumes, DIY, Family, parenting, Pinterest Attempts

DIY baby fairy or ballerina

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I originally made these little tutu’s as a baby gift for a friend but just love them as regular dress up box items or fun, quick and easy Halloween costumes for the little ones. Whether this costume is to play in around the house, or wear over to Grandma’s for the first Halloween Oooooo’s and Ahhhh’s, these little skirts are sure to please! Here’s how you make them…

First assemble your needed supplies… elastic for the waist band (measure a little snug or short the measurement by an inch or two on the baby or child so that it still fits once you add all the fluff), needle and thread, measuring tape, pins, scissors, and tulle/ribbon in various colors.

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Lay out the tool on a flat cutting surface – measure and mark the width you want your strips to be -and place a pin in each to hold them together? I doubled over the tulle I had, and then layered three pieces together so I could cut the whole skirt all at once. If you have a rotary cutter and sewing mat this process goes crazy quick! (Remember to make the length of the strips twice the length you want them to be for the finished skirt. Each piece will be folded over and looped around the waist band as the attachment method.)

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Once you have all of your strips of ribbon and tulle cut into equal lengths, make your waist band for them to loop around. Make sure to make the waist a little smaller than the actual child. Once you start adding the fluff the elastic will stretch a bit and the final size will actually be bigger than you start with.

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Finally Take two to three pieces of tulle at a time or a piece of tulle and a piece of ribbon and match them up one on top of the other. fold all three pieces in half and loop them around the waist band making a small knot at the waist band to hold them in place. You want to make sure to have multiple layers of tulle in each loop to ensure the skirt is nice and full. Also having multiple colors in each loop creates a nice depth and whimsy.

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Aaaaaaaand vowala you have an adorable and fun tutu or fairy skirt in no time!

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DIY Wedding Dress

Back in April I had the great privilege of making a wedding dress for a good friend of mine. I hadn’t made a wedding dress since I worked in the costume department during my college years (so needless to say I was a bit rusty), but I had a friend in need and so I set out to make the dress she had been envisioning for the last year. Truthfully, my friend had been very wise and had picked out and ordered her dress a year before the wedding. However, when the dress arrived a mere 3 weeks before the wedding it wasn’t right. From the fabric, to the design, all the way to the size the dress was wrong. Panicked and overwhelmed with the final weeks of wedding planning she had resigned herself to buying a simple cocktail dress at a department store to get married in…but for me that simply wouldn’t do! So one duct tape manikin, 6 yards of dupioni silk, and 72 pearl buttons later I was helping her into her dress for the wedding. AND I am happy to report she was happy with the final product! Here is a quick breakdown (in pictures) of how I made her dress in 3 weeks (while still working my normal job, cleaning my house, and attending pre-wedding / bachelorette functions etc ūüôā

First we bought a long night shirt and a roll of duct tape and I made a duct tape manikin of my friend. (By doing this I was able to make the dress to fit her perfectly from the start. We didn’t have time for extra alterations later.

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Next I created the general shape of the dress with a basic white satin (this will become the under slip and guide for the rest of the dress). My friend wanted a deep sweetheart neck line, low back and mermaid fit through the hips…so I pinned and created seams accordingly. (I also added corseting style boning and cups at this point so my fiend wouldn’t have to worry about an uncomfortable strapless bra. This dress was made to stay up throughout the ceremony and party without any unsightly tugging or adjusting!)

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Always make sure you look at the dress from every angle ensuring you have extra fabric for finishing seams and zippers later!Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Next I began laying the Dupioni silk over the top of the Satin under dress. Achieving the right look with ruching or folds can be difficult. If you are going to attempt this type of project take as much time as you need at this point and get the fabric to lay properly. Pin and re-pin as necessary without getting discouraged. Trust me it’s worth it in the end to do it right at this point ūüôā

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Once I had the front pinned I began working on the back. To some degree the back of the dress can be more difficult than the front as a result of the zipper. For this dress I started by creating the folds on one side of the zipper and then moved to the other side working to ensure everything would match up perfectly once the dress was zipped.

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Next I closed all of the seams (which can be tricky keeping all of your ornate folds in place properly and the only piece of advice I can give is lots of pins and lots of patience!)

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Next (and I’m sorry I don’t have pictures of this part) turn your new lovely dress inside out and sew the top of the under dress to the actual wedding dress and then turn right side out again. This will create an invisible hem at the bust line and a clean finish to the whole dress effectively hiding all of your seams (the seams of the dress face the seams of the under dress so you can’t see the seams at all). Once this is complete ensure the bust line is laying properly and make any adjustments necessary to ensure it won’t bubble or pucker.

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Finally insert zipper using the invisible zipper method, attach buttons down the back of the dress covering the zipper (if desired), add any details such as rhinestones or feathers you wish to have, and hem the bottom (You will need your lovely bride to be in her wedding shoes of choice for this last measurement). Vowalla one wedding dress custom made and ready to wear.

Created with Nokia Smart Cam(I also added a bustle to the back of this dress so she could dance the night away without worrying about people stepping on the train.)

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A little coat of paint works wonders.

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With a glass chess set to finish off the look,

some charcoal paint made quite a difference in 

this antique and made it flow better with our room.

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Halloween Party on a Budget

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This year has been very busy.  I have an 8-year-old and an 11-year-old that have birthdays just about a month apart.  Like children do, they reminded me well after both birthdays had passed, that I had promised them each a party the year before and we had only done family celebrations.

I could have told them to deal, but we’ve never really had a reason to have an October party before. ¬†Fun! ¬†So, I decided to plan a party, that would entertain loads of giggling 7-12 year old girls.

The 11-year-old told me she didn’t want cake or cupcakes… ¬†She wanted Fondue. ¬†So, on the invite, we gave simple food assignments for a Bewitching Fondue Soiree. ¬†I tweaked this gorgeous invite you can find here:

http://serendipitycreative.blogspot.com/2011/10/freebie-you-are-cordially-invited-to.html

One pot of cheese Fondue, and one of chocolate.

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Every child invited was assigned Fruit, veggies, or bread to share.

Later, for the “birthday cake” we dipped angel food cake into the chocolate.

Time for games. ¬†I went to a party store and got a roll of carnival tickets for $2. ¬†For each game, I doled out tickets. ¬†the same amount for each participant and extra for the “winner”. ¬†Then, at the end of the party, they got prizes Chuck E. Cheese style.

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Some of Our Party Games:

Witchy Races. ¬†Two girls, one broom, no hands. ¬†They had to “fly” from start to finish.

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Ghost-Busting: It is a carnival game.  You get three shots to knock down the TP ghosts.  We went through a few rounds.

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courtesy of girlsvsblog

courtesy of girlsvsblog

The Making of the Mummy:  This one I was too busy helping with to take a pic.  With the TP from Ghost busting, you have a mummy wrapping contest.

Balloon-pop Charades:  Place charade ideas inside of balloons (i.e. Ghost, Ghoul, bat, vampire, etc.) and the kids take turns sitting on the balloon until it pops, and then playing charades normally.

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Paranoia Party Hats:  We had a hat making contest, using foil and scotch tape.  Let the kids be creative and do their own thing.  We gave awards to each kid.

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The Vampire Count Game: We found this at a kiosk in a mall in Denver over a decade ago.  The kids love it.  You can find the game here:

http://www.amazon.com/Daves-25-Anytime-Family-Games/dp/B000FEW3QA

It is like hide and seek and murder in the dark combined.  The kids each take a card and secretly look at it.  one of them will have the Vampire count and the rest a gravestone with a funny name on it.  Everyone, including the vampire goes and hides in the dark.  After a few seconds, the vampire gets up, starts shuffling around as silly as possible, trying to make everyone laugh so he can find them.  No one runs, they have to stay put.  once touched by the vampire count, they become one too until everyone is shuffling around acting silly. Then the lights go on.

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DIY Weeping Angel Wings

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I looked everywhere for cheap wings to spray paint gray. ¬†The cheapest I could find that weren’t fairy wings were $50.

I have four kids that need wings. ¬†There’s no way in heck I’m paying $200 for one part of a Halloween costume!

Sooooooo–I sat and stared at my Costco Milk box and took out my roll of Duct Tape:

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I drew an outline of a wing, free-handed.  Then cut it out.

I chose the handle of the box to be where it was originally so I could fashion straps easier.

I ended up taping over them anyway though.Image

I toyed for a while between having a solid piece with the handle holes for straps, or

what I actually did, which was to keep the natural bend in the box so the wings moved and

would work better through doors and such.

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Then I began with the Duct Tape.  I started with the middle.

After stabilizing the two pieces together, I began with the actual wings,

choosing which side looked the best facing out.  I really

wanted to support the middle to avoid ripping with the kids’ wear and tear.

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After doing one long strip up and over the wing and down again, I lined up the strips and

carefully pressed them together, using my hands to get a nice groove around the curve of a “feather”.
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It continued on like this until the wings were covered.

Then I begs making small-ish strips with the ends folded over for feathers.

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Place folded end downward where you want a feather and carefully cut out the

shape of a feather.  Repeat until it looks right to you.

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Voila!  Now for the straps.

I made two strips of tape folded over itself.

Make sure it can go over their shoulders.

Adhere to the inside of the wings and stabilize the straps.

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How to: Grout Tile Flooring

How To: Grout Tile Flooring

Step 1: Pick out the type of grout you need for the space you are using (we used sanded grout for flooring). Decide on color and then mix in a large bucket per manufacturers instructions. Make sure to wear proper protective equipment while mixing as the grout dust will fly up and get into your eye’s, nose and mouth if you don’t (yuck!). Once the water is thoroughly mixed in allow the grout to set up – it should be about the consistency of¬†damp¬†beach sand when it is ready to use.

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Step 2: Begin work in the corner furthest from the exit door, and work your way out of the room. Using a tile float (looks like a tile trowel but the base is rubber or foam instead of metal) scoop up a large amount of grout and begin to work it into the seams between the tiles. If you have smaller tiles you can drag the grout all the way across the tiles in sweeping patters to push the grout into all of the seams. We are laying larger tiles here and so we focused around the seams. You do need to work the grout in using multiple directions in order to force as much grout into the joint as possible. This will help to create a strong bond and keep your floors in great condition for years to come.

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Step 3: Allow the grout to set up for approx. 30min depending on the manufacturers instructions. Once it has had the initial set up time using a damp sponge begin to remove the excess grout from the top of the tiles.

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Work in a circular motion with a lite touch to ensure you don’t pull grout out of the seams. There will still be a haze over the floor, this is okay. Allow the grout to set up another 2 hrs or so (again refer to manufacturer guidelines) and then go over the tiles again with a barely damp sponge or cloth. Wipe up the haze and then go over it with a dry cloth after. Once the tiles are clean allow the grout to cure for a few days.

Step 4: Step back and admire your newly grouted tile floor. Allow floors to cure for a few days before moving onto sealing.

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Step 5: If you have made it this far in your floor improvement project…Congratulations you are only one step away from being done! With the commercial sealer of choice in hand start once again in the back corner of the room and run a thin line of grout sealer over each joint. Do not wash over tile with sealer…stick to the grout! Allow first coat to sit for 20 minutes and then go over the¬†grout again. Then allow the sealer to sit overnight and vowalla…you are done! Clean out the tools, repaint your walls, put your floor boards back up, and start using your lovely new floor!

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DIY Big Black Frame for photo booth and decor

With an upcoming Halloween/Birthday party, I wanted a huge frame for a photo booth.  Turns out, it is a cute overall decor item too!

Simple black frame from press board

Simple black frame from press board

It started when the fall clean up for our city was taking the large garbage items. ¬†I looked a the huge piece of press board we had in the garage and wanted it re-purposed or thrown out. ¬†With the upcoming party, I thought I’d repurpose it for a photo booth.

Step one: Find a work station.  I had nothing that large, so I used to long tables.

Step two:  Measure out and trace your frame.

Measure and trace the guide for cutting

Measure and trace the guide for cutting

Step three: Use a drill to make starting your cut and making corners easier.

Step four: Use your favorite saw for the job.  I love my jigsaw.

The hole you drilled helps you start cutting lowering your chance of a snapped blade.

The hole you drilled helps you start cutting lowering your chance of a snapped blade.

Step five: Admire your handiwork.  Take a break and grab your choice of covering.

The cut out frame

Step six: Cover the baby up.  I was going for a Halloween look, so I used a Dollar Store black plastic table cloth and packing tape, as I misplaced the duct tape I wanted.  Your size and shape makes a difference in how you wrap.  Mine was really large and I made it six inches thick the entire way around the frame.  So I cut the table cloth into strips and taped it.

Duct tape would have been better, but the packing tape held.

Duct tape would have been better, but the packing tape held.

Step seven: Admire your handiwork again. ¬†It’s not too shabby and it didn’t take long.

Wrapped frame

Step eight: Add embellishments like cobwebs and other decor.

Finished Product.

Finished Product.

 

For the party, I’ll move it out and prop it up, but for now, I rather like it by the door.

 

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