Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Create Your Own Vintage Bottle Brush Trees

I have always loved the look of tiny bottle brush trees, circa 1940's. I ran across a very nice blog called Hazelruthes and realized I could make them myself. It turned out to be one of my most favorite Christmas projects ever. I think it's because the transformation is so dramatic and the result is so magical.

I started with a large bag of these little trees. I got this bag of 21 trees at Michaels. With a 50% off coupon, they were $9.99. I have seen and used these trees for years and never realized they were actually bottle brush trees.

They are a kind of ugly dark green with snow-covered tips. Not too special.

You simply fill your sink or a bowl with clorox and leave them to soak.

They start bleaching out fairly quickly. The longer you leave them in, the whiter they become. You can pull the snow off at this point if you want to.

Soak in a solution of vinegar and water for a few minutes to neutralize the clorox smell. This is how they look when they are wet.

They look like this once they are dry.

Zac and Alex helped me.

We mixed different colors of liquid Rit Dye with water and dipped the trees into it. The longer we left the trees in, the more intense the color became.

One of my favorites is the pretty blue tree that Alex dyed.

Some of them looked rusty and a couple of them broke. I simply glued them back and dyed them extra dark colors. They turned out just fine.

To decorate, I lightly applied glue to the tips of the branches with a paintbrush, then poured pretty glitter onto them. (Shake off the excess, of course). I added small pearls to some of them.

I decorated my dining room table with them. Details coming in my next post.

Who would have thought that a simple bottle brush could be so pretty?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Garland from Fabric Strips

This is a great way to use scrap fabric. This idea came from Homemade Simple. It makes a cute Christmas garland, but would also be nice in a nursery or a child's room.

I bought all new fabric for mine. I got 1/2 yd of 4 different fabrics. My garland ended up being about 2- 1/2 yards long.

You will need:
rope or twine, cut to the desired length of the garland (or a strand of twinkle lights)
strips of fabric (mine were about 3- 1/2" wide and 8" long)
ribbon, yarn, tulle, etc
lots of time

Cut your rope or twine to the desired length. I tied mine off at each end like a cowboy lariat.

Tear your strips of fabric and line them up assembly line fashion.

Simply tie them onto the rope one by one. I added ribbon, yarn, and tulle for interest and texture.

I cut the ends of the fabric with pinking shears once it was finished, but you don't have to.

I made it to drape onto the end of my guest bed.

The lariat loops on the ends were perfect for attaching it.

It adds a nice, cheerful, homespun touch. (Double-click the photo to see it more closely if you would like)

This project is somewhat time consuming, but is a perfect craft to work on while you are watching TV. It took me about 4 nights to complete it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas...Tree!

I love white Christmas trees. They are so clean and beautiful. We have a traditional green tree in our den, but I began a quest last year for a white tree to go in our foyer. I actually found almost all the ornaments before I found the tree. The balls came from Target and I bought them after Christmas last year at 75% off. I really liked the colors: turquoise, purple, hot pink, gold, and bright green. Amby was with me and we were so distracted by Target's cool bargains that we lost track of time and almost missed a movie we were going to see. (We made it, though. Sherlock Holmes - really good) 50% off is great, but I truly love anything that is 75% off. It is then practically free, and very hard to pass up.

After a long and diligent search, I found this beautiful tree at Garden Ridge. It was originally $300. I paid $100 for it on Black Friday (are you supposed to capitalize black?). It was the last one, too. I absolutely love it. It turned out to be more beautiful that I had imagined.

Gil fashioned the continuous scarf up the stair rail.

An aerial view.
We decorated it with really fun ornaments, with our tiny Roman in mind. I wanted it to be magical. I LOVE this nostalgic Santa. I found him at Smith's Variety last year at 75% off.

Smith's also had these fun Dr. Seuss-esque ornaments... well as these cute mittens.
Another whimsical ornament from Smith's.

A cute gingerbread man Zac picked out from Garden Ridge.

And, of course, sock monkeys!
This is a Martha Stewart kitty cat from Kmart last year. Her products are at Macy's now. I liked it better when they were at Kmart.

I still had these little mantel decorations from when I was little, circa 1960.

This Santa was part of the mantel scenario. My dad thought he needed a bag of toys, so he used one of his socks and filled it with kleenex. I'm so glad I still have it.

Sometimes it's fun to break with tradition and do something different for Christmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Printable Christmas List

I am busy getting ready for Christmas and have several projects going. Since none are ready to post yet, I thought I would post a cute download I found on one of my favorite blogs, All Sorts. It is a cheery printable Christmas list to help you keep up with upcoming tasks in an organized manner. And I, for one, will take as much organizational assistance as I can right now. I printed mine on card stock and I am using one for each stocking I am filling, which is a total of 5. You can find it here. This is how it looks. You print three at a time.

Here are a few previews of upcoming posts:

A garland made of fabric strips and twine.

A stocking for my little Roman! It's getting monogrammed this week and I will put it together this weekend.

Bleached bottle brush trees. Hopefully I will have these done today!

I have at least two other projects I am going to try to finish. Stay tuned for more crazy Christmas fun.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Diaper Burp Cloths

This is a fun and easy way to make really cute burp cloths out of cloth diapers. I found this adorable idea at Chickpea Sewing Studio. All you need are cloth diapers and scraps of cute fabric. If you want to buy new fabric just for the burp cloths, 1/4 yd is more than enough to make two of them.

Wash the diapers and then press out nice and flat with a steamy iron:

I really don't measure. I cut the fabric strips wide enough to turn down a nice edge on the sides and the ends. Then I press it down.

Pin and sew around all the edges. I used a simple zigzag stitch for these, but you can use something more decorative if you want to.

This cute way to present the burp cloths also came from Chickpea Sewing Studio.

And for a related craft, the burp cloths I made for Amby went into this basket (from Michael's), along with other gifts I had for her. I made the tag from scrapbook paper. You can buy the baby alphabet beads at Michael's, too.

These burp cloths are really fun to make and are great to go along with another gift, or just by themselves.