Kids Room Project: Decorate Part 1

Since we are actively trying to sell our house a challenge I’ve had in anticipation of this baby is how to do a fun decoration project. Nothing ruins the re-sale neutrality of a house than a heavily painted-custom room. And I wanted to make a super fun individualized room for the kiddos. Second part of my problem was $$. At this point in our lives we have very little and usually nothing in the home decoration part of the budget.

So, the Challenge was, make the kids room of my dreams on next to nothing of a budget. Not only create a kids room with enough color, fun and imagination to be the perfect play area but make it to where it can be dismantled with very little effort.

Enter the *inspiration* I read about using fabric as wallpaper for apartment dwellers who are not allowed to use paint or real wallpaper. It seemed like pure genius. Fabric starched to the walls. I had lots of odds and ends of fabric that could be used. That was doable. Then a recipe for homemade cornstarch was discovered using the cheapest cornstarch available at my local store.

$3 container of powdered Cornstarch = enough cornstarch to make gallons worth of fabric starch.

This is the recipe I used.

Homemade Fabric Starch

Mix 1/4 c.  corn starch into 1/2 c. cold water
Stir in 4 c. of boiling water
Mix and cool. Stir or shake well before use.

This starch mixture goes much further than one might think it would. Even when dealing with large sections of fabric. Speaking of fabric phase two was locating fabric cheap enough to meet the second part of my criteria. A trip to Goodwill yielded some amazing finds in the form of old sheets, sections of fabric donated and tableclothes all at 50% off of the already quite reasonable Goodwill prices.

Here are some of the selections I made. All of the pieces were obtained for $1 or less.

Fabric destined for "girl" side of room as a wall border

Fabric destined for "girl" side of room as a wall border

Old faded sheet with beautiful butterflies

Old faded sheet with beautiful butterflies

Brown tablecloth destined for tree creation

Brown tablecloth destined for tree creation

So, before I show what I did you need to see the room in it’s “before” state. The room was previously the Doodlebugs exlusively so part of what needed to happen was to make it a gender neutral play area.

Doodlebugs bedroom before Transformation into Kids Playroom

Doodlebugs bedroom before Transformation into Kids Playroom

The pink alcove had to go. So the Doodlebug and I decided to transform it into a sky-blue and also paint the sloping ceiling parts the matching blue for the sky.

Doodlebug helping to paint the alcove sky blue

Doodlebug helping to paint the alcove sky blue

Finished "Sky" areas in the room

Finished "Sky" areas in the room

I bought a couple of containers of sample sized brown paint from Lowe’s on clearance for $0.50 apiece. Although I was nervous I decided to free hand a couple of trees on the far end of the room. I figured if it was a total failure I could re-paint over it with the leftover green paint we had from when the room was originally painted.

Not having any experience painting murals free handed or otherwise I just went with it and was thankful that the trees came together well. The idea for these trees was that they would be “name” trees for both kids.

Start of Caleb's Tree

Start of Caleb's Tree

Start of Doodlebugs Tree

Start of Doodlebugs Tree

Skeleton of two Name trees

Skeleton of two Name trees

I bought plain wooden letters for the kids names from Hobby Lobby and painted them with cheap craft paint.

Noelle's painted letters

Noelle's painted letters

Caleb's Wooden letters

Caleb's Wooden letters

Noelle's finished name tree

Noelle's finished name tree

Caleb's name tree

Caleb's name tree

Next phase was alllll about the fabric. I didn’t want to risk custom painting any other parts of the room since it would be too much work to have to paint over it. One wall is easy enough to re-paint but the whole room just seemed overwhelming.

See part 2 to find out how amazingly creative and awesome fabric decorations can be. 🙂

No pattern, No problem! Part 1

Allow me to preface this post by saying that I am not a seamstress. I only remember ever successfully sewing one item of clothing in my life and that was a dress in my teens. A project closely aided by my Mom who happens to be an incredible seamstress. Sewing machines intimidate me and although the idea and creativity of sewing have always appealed to me the actual hair pulling frustrating logistics of it have made me keep it at arms length. Instead crocheting became my creative outlet of choice.

But I have this really cute three year old daughter. And there are sooo many wonderful ideas out there. Between cute patterns that can be made from scratch (personally rather intimidating to me, anything that requires a huge quadruple fold set of instructions with diagrams is enough to put me into a mild state of panic). The concept of recycling clothes into new clothes is a whole lot more appealing to me. It’s free styling. A lot of the seams and difficult structural aspects are already done. And, well, the whole frugal-responsible stewardship side of me really loves the idea of getting a second wear or two out of clothes that would otherwise be destined for the trash or Good-Will box.

Last night I had a huge rush of inspiration. I saw an old denim jumper hanging in my closet. I’ve had this jumper since I was in my teens. Not sure why I’ve held onto it. It is not likely to ever fit me again. Pulling it off the hanger I held it up…and visions of possibilities danced before my eyes. I did mention that I am not a seamstress before, right? Well, along with not being a seamstress I also do not really possess even the basic requirements needed to take on a Re-Purposing project like the one that floated through my head.

My available tools were as follows:

1 Pair very dull large scissors

1 Spool Each of White, Black, Tan and Pink thread

1 Package of multi sized Needles

1 Box of Pins

Measuring Tape

Iron and Ironing Board

I started the project off by measuring my wee subject. Good thing I did because when sewing clothes with no pattern you end up relying heavily on measurements. Note to self: Take more measurements next time.

Next the Denim Jumper was spread across the floor and measured to confirm that it was indeed within the realm of possibility to get 3 dresses out of it.

Denim Jumper

Denim Jumper

Feeling assured that as long as I did not mess something up really badly  there should be enough denim convert into the desired 3 dresses.

That in mind I proceeded to make the first cuts with fear and trepidation.

Top Part of jumper cut from bottom

Top Part of jumper cut from bottom

The bottom part left, destined to become two separate dresses. Note the two small slits

The bottom part left, destined to become two separate dresses. Note the two small slits

Since the bottom of the skirt had two small slits I figured I could re-purpose them into being individual slits on a sheath style toddler dresses and cut the bottom in half.

First Piece of Fabric ready for Conversion

First Piece of Fabric ready for Conversion

I saw a clever idea on another re-purposing focused blog where she took an appropriate sized tupper-ware or Pyrex glass round lid and used it to cut arm holes. Since my live model had crashed out for the night already I decided to take a chance and picked out what looked to be an appropriate lid size and cut out two arm-holes.

Once that was done I started combing through my pile of fabric and found some left-over pieces from a new-dress project (cut out and waiting to be assembled when I get a chance to borrow a friends sewing machine) Inspired I made two bands that went across the top of the dress forming tie-able sleeves/straps. Hope you noticed that a sewing machine was *not* on my list of available tools at my disposal. So, Netflix Instant Play Streaming on my laptop and a hot cup of Orange Black Tea for reinforcement I whip stitched the dress/shoulders etc. together by hand. It literally took all night but the thought of my wee girlies face to see her “Special dress” when she woke up in the morning and my own personal curiosity to see if I had actually managed to pull off the transition of what was in my head into something wearable in reality drove me on.

Once I got the structure of the dress finished it seemed like it was missing something so instead of going to grab a couple of hours sleep I instead grabbed another piece of scrap fabric and my crochet hooks and remnant pieces of bamboo yarn from other projects to put the final touches on the project.

All in all I am pleased and more than a little amazed. The fit was more snug than I had hoped for (due to having to take it in an extra 1.5 unexpected inches) but it fits her well and the shoulder ties gave us some lee-way we wouldn’t have had with fitted sleeves or straps.

The Doodlebugs was thrilled with her “Special dress!” when she woke up and happily showed it off.

Doodles Modeling her new-old Dress

Doodles Modeling her new-old Dress

Another shot of dress

Another shot of dress

Details of Flowers and functional Pocket

Details of Flowers and functional Pocket

Since the Doodles loves pockets I was really thrilled to be able to figure out a way to get her a pocket on the dress.

This has inspired me to tackle the next two dresses out of this same project. Hoping to use a friends sewing machine for the next one though and swap the hands on experience for a few hours shut-eye.

Anybody else re-purposed/recycled clothes? Had great ideas for re-purposing clothes? Tell me about it!