free up your wardrobe space!

I don’t have vintage looking hangers nor do I sort my clothes by colours so…bear with my wardrobe on this one!

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Does your clothes wardrobe (assuming that you’re a girl, of course) look something like the above? I have lots of skirts since Singapore is pretty warm and humid and hence, I wear skirts to work everyday. Since most of them are work skirts, they have to be hung up after they’re ironed and so…

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as you’ve probably already guessed, lots of wasted space! Because my family is large, wardrobe space is generally really limited and each of us are restricted to a pretty tiny wardrobe which also means that…there’s not enough space! In this tutorial, I’ll be sharing a simple little thing you could do do maximise the space you have by utilising that wasted space right there! After you’re done, your wardrobe will look something like this…

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Wasted space utilised and…much more space to put even more skirts! :) Trust me, if you have the right tools, it won’t take you more than 15 minutes to get from raw materials to final product.

So, here goes…

Supplies:
– wood dowel (you should measure what will work well for your cupboard. Mine is 40 cm with a 3cm diameter)
– saw and sand paper (only if your wood dowels are not already to size)
– pencil
– drill
– brown twine (or any sturdy string you would like to use)
– tape

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Every cupboard is different so it’s always good to measure what will work best for you. If your dowel isn’t to size, trim it down using a saw and sand the rough edges down.

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Using a pencil, mark the position, on both sides of the dowel, where you would drill your hole. Mine was about 0.5cm from the edge. Using a power drill and with a bit that is just large enough so that you can fit your string of choice, drill through approximately three-quarters through on one side, turn the dowel around and drill through the other side. This method will drastically reduce the amount of splinters. Sand down if necessary and do the same for the other side.

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Using your choice of string, measure approximately the length of string required. Cut 2 lengths of the string, bearing in mind to cut longer than you need. Thread your choice of string through the hole. If you find it difficult to thread it through like I did, wrap the tips with tape and string it through. It acts like a mini needle. Tie many dead knots at the bottom to ensure that string stays in position. Do this for the other side as well.

Bring your dowel to your wardrobe and secure one side first by tying a dead knot at the top. Secure the other side, ensuring that the dowels are even on both sides and you’re done!

Have a fun weekend ahead :)

polaroid frame for the polaroid lover!

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For my younger sister’s birthday present a while ago, I bought her a polaroid camera, back when polaroid cameras had just gotten really popular and since then, her polaroid camera has been extremely well utilised and she has accumulated a pretty huge stack of them so far. Polaroids, on it’s own, have their own wow factor and what better way to display them by using some simple materials! 

Supplies:
– 4 wood planks (mine were 2 x 50cm and 2 x 60cm)
– pencil
– drill with drill bit
– sandpaper
staple gun
(I’m guessing that you can use wood glue as well)
– paint + paint brush
wire (i used 22 gauge wire)
mini pegs

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1. Put the 2 wood planks that will be the height of your polaroid frame side by side. I wanted my polaroid frame to be rectangular so the height of the frame is the 50cm wood planks. I just realised that the picture isn’t so accurate as I was making 2 frames at once and hence drilling 4 wood planks as shown in the picture so if you’re only making 1, you should just have 2 at this point. Putting the 2 wood planks side by side, use a pencil to mark out the areas where you’ll be drilling, i.e. where the wires will be strung through. For the 8.5cm x 5.5cm polaroids, 10cm between the wires is a good height. After marking both wood planks on one side, do this for the other side too.

2. Using a drill and a small drill bit (I used the smallest one since the wires are really thin) drill through the areas you’ve marked. I find that it is better to drill approximately three quarters through on one side, turn the plank around and drill through from the other side. It reduces the amount of splinters as compared to drilling right through.

3. Sand all 4 planks smooth.

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4. Align one of the wood planks you’ve drilled holes through with another that you didn’t. Putting this on a flat surface, use your staple gun and punch in 2 staples to join the wood together, ensuring that the holes you’ve drilled through is facing inward. Do this on the other side as well. Aligning the rest of the wood pieces, do this for all 4 sides (back and front) to form the frame.

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5. Using a paint brush with soft bristles to reduce paint streaks, paint the whole frame. Depending on the colour of your wood, you might have to paint 2 coats of paint.

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6. Approximately measure how much wire you’ll need to go around and string it through the frame. For both ends, wrap the wire round to the end and use a staple gun to secure it to the frame. Working your way through the frame, string the wire through the frame. Ensure that you pull the wire taut on the frame and to do this, pull the wire as hard as possible and quickly bend it. Once you’ve bent the wire, it’ll stay taut.

7. Hang up your polaroids using mini pegs. 

And lastly, get the seal of approval from your resident cat :) 

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A dummy’s guide to carving rubber stamps and fabric printing

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If you haven’t read the last post, “A dummy’s guide to using a speedball linoleum cutter”, do read it as it forms the basis for this post on how to carve rubber stamps.

After completing the “house” series of tea towels, I must say that I absolutely can’t stop carving more rubber stamps! The process is really addictive and therapeutic and I now have way more rubber stamps than blank tea towels to stamp on. Carving rubber stamps requires just a gentle learning curve so here’s a quick tutorial on how I’ve done my rubber stamps so that you don’t commit the mistakes I made while figuring it out on my own :)

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Draw your design on paper. To start, you’ll want to draw a relatively simple design like the above. Here are some suggestions to help you start to brainstorm. I’ve also found it nice to make a few related stamps (3-4) which you can stamp alternately.

– Shapes: chevron, herringbone, triangles, rectangles, geometric shapes, abstract shapes, stripes, polka dots, leaves, feathers
– Themes: houses, kitchen utensils, teapots, animals

If you’re not confident of drawing (like me :P), it helps to search on sites like pinterest, google images or stock photo sites like getty images and add the word “illustration” behind what you’re searching for and it’ll generate cartoon-like pictures (example: “kitchen utensils illustration” on google images) that are much easier to gain inspiration from.

After drawing a test design on a piece of paper, replicate it on your rubber carving block using a pencil.

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Once you’re happy with your design, outline your pencil marks with a ballpoint or gel pen. Don’t use an ink pen as it’ll smudge easily.

Next, imagine how you would want your stamp to look like. Specifically, think about which parts of your stamp you would like to print ink and which you want to be blank (i.e. negative space). Color in the parts of your stamp that you’ll want to print ink. Compare the picture of my colored-in stamp to the final product in the first picture and you’ll see that the colored-in stamp is essentially how your printed stamp will look like. This is important so that you don’t carve off the parts you want to leave on. After you’re done, use an x-acto knife or pen knife to cut out your design from the carving block, keeping in mind to leave ample space on all sides of your design.

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Using your speedball linoleum cutter, start carving the details of the rubber stamp. If you’re not sure how to use your speedball linoleum cutter, read this guide! I would usually start by using tip 2 to outline the portions I want to cut out so that the shape has a nice edge (I’ll come back to this again) but for this design I’ve drawn, I just had to do a straight carve on each of the small rectangles.

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After carving the details in your design, start carving the remaining portions of the rubber stamp. If you look at the picture closely, you’ll notice that I’ve cut out the outline of the design. I find it best to do this using tip 2 as it creates a nice edge for your stamp. After which, you can start to remove the rest of the rubber stamp. To do this efficiently, I use tip 5 and if you look at the picture closely, I’ve held it at an angle to cover a wider area.

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You’ll want to take special care to cave out the 4 edges of the rubber stamp. I find that those areas tend to get on the fabric paint. The above picture is my completed rubber stamp! The areas which have been carved off is not neat and it doesn’t need to be. You just need to ensure that it is carved deep enough so that the only thing you’re printing is your design and not other parts of your rubber stamp. A good way to test it is to face the stamp down on a table and look to see if there’s anything else still touching the table.

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Next you’ll want to test out the stamp. There are quite a few brands of fabric paint out there and I’ve tried 2 brands so far – Speedball’s oil-based fabric paint which I used for this post and Dylon’s fabric paint for the “house” series and while they’re both fabric paints, the consistency is really different.

Speedball’s oil-based paint is thick, and because of its consistency, it is a necessity to use a rubber brayer to smoothen out the paint and to apply the paint on the stamp by rolling the rubber brayer over the stamp. The paint is pretty sticky and will stick to the rubber stamp well, giving you a nice clean print. On the other hand, it can get messy if it gets all over your hands. Dylon’s fabric paint, on the other hand, is much more watery and if you didn’t own a rubber brayer, you could use a paint brush to smoothen out the paint and dab your stamp directly onto the fabric paint. The paint is easier to handle but does not stick to the rubber stamp as well and you’ll have to constantly check to ensure that you have an adequate about of fabric paint on your stamp. But, no matter what you choose, testing is the most important and with adequate testing, your prints will come out equally nice :)

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Using a scrap piece of cloth, on top of scrap paper, but using the same material as that of the cloth you want to print on, attempt printing! Don’t worry too much about having to succeed the first time. Depending on the consistency of your fabric paint, you might have to adjust the way you apply the fabric paint onto your stamp but trust me, it’s not that difficult! 

After applying the fabric paint onto the stamp, look at the stamp closely to see if there’s fabric paint everywhere before printing. To print, carefully lay your stamp onto the cloth and press firmly. Leave on for a couple of seconds and lift up carefully. Apply fabric paint before every print. I like printing my designs in a somewhat orderly fashion but you can print randomly if you like. If you’re particular about wanting the designs to be perfectly placed, tear off a long piece of tape and use that as an alignment guide. When you’re done, leave to dry and iron on over your design to set the colour.

Looking at the picture above, I would consider the print on the left to be a good and neat print while the one on the right has definitely too little fabric paint and if you look at the stamp, you’ll notice some blue fabric paint on the right side of the stamp. This means that those areas are not deep enough. You can either use your linoleum cutter to shave those off, or clean it off after every print. 

Wash off your rubber stamps and rubber brayer with soap and water. The rubber stamps may be a little sticky when dry so wrap between cling wrap or foil to keep.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this tutorial and if you’ve tried fabric printing yourself, I would love to see your designs! :) 

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A dummy’s guide to using a speedball linoleum cutter (to carve rubber stamps)

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While I was making the “house” series fabric block printing tea towels I shared in my last post, I struggled a little, trying to figure out how to use the Speedball Linoleum Cutter I had to carve the rubber stamps. I googled and watched youtube videos and still I was pretty much clueless. The resources I found online seems to only focus on how to carve the rubber stamps and not how to use the cutter itself. Hence, I’m hoping that for all of you who are still trying to figure out the basics like I was, here’s a quick tutorial to show you the ins and outs of the speedball linoleum cutter.

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When you first remove the cutter out of the package, the first thing you’ll probably notice is the metal-on-metal clanking sounds. That’s because the handle of the tool is hollow inside, allowing you to store all the different tips. Unscrew the base of the tool (you’ll see grooves) anti-clockwise and the base will loosen. Carefully pour out all of your tips.

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If you look on the other side, you’ll notice a large metal screw. That is where you’ll attach the tips. When you look right inside, you’ll notice a metal ball in the middle with a U shaped piece of metal, followed by a smaller U shaped piece of metal hugging the metal ball. The tip will slot in between the metal ball and the shorter U shaped metal piece.

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To attach the tip, unscrew anti-clockwise. You don’t have to unscrew all the way, but just enough to slot the tip inside. Facing the side of the tip which says “Speedball Cutter” downwards, push the tip all the way in. Screw it clockwise to tighten. Everything should fit perfectly with the tip tightly secured to the handle.

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If you’ve unscrewed too much and the metal pieces have fallen out, don’t panic! You can easily put them back by aligning the two metal pieces together and screwing it back on.

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To carve on the rubber stamp, hold the speedball cutter such that the cutter resembles a spade and drag it across the carving block. I find that the Speedball Speedy-Carve Block works really well! It is effortless to glide the cutter through, is adequately thick to hold the rubber stamp easily while stamping and the smooth surface allows the fabric paint to stick on easily as well. 

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If you look closely on the back of each tip, there is a number. The larger the number, the larger the tip and the tips are used in combination to carve out different parts of the rubber stamp, depending on how much you want to carve out. The different tips also differ in terms of width and depth. You’ll notice that I don’t have a number 4 tip – honestly, I’m not sure if it was missed out in my package or if I’ve misplaced it but oh wells, these 4 tips are more than sufficient to carve out any rubber stamp.

Tip 1 – for very fine details. So far, I find this tip unnecessary. It doesn’t shave a lot of rubber out and doesn’t cut deeply either.

Tip 2 – I use this tip for the finer details as well as carving the outline of my stamp. It gives a really nice deep cut with a relatively small width.

Tip 3 – I use this tip for carving out larger areas.

Tip 5 – I use this tip most when carving out the larger areas. i.e. areas outside the design of the stamp. It is able to cut deeply but I find myself tilting the cutter and using one side of the cutter instead so that it cuts a lot at once.

Tip 6 – You’ll see tip 6 in the first picture of this post. It resembles a spade-looking cutter. I’ve not used this tip at all but I’m guessing it’ll do the job of an x-acto knife.

If you’re interesting in carving out rubber stamps, I strongly suggest the speedball linoleum cutter. It is easy to use, relatively inexpensive and is durable. The only thing you’ll need to do is to go slow and practice! Start with a relatively easy design followed by more complex ones when you’ve gained confidence :)

Good luck! Stay tuned for my next post on a guide to carve rubber stamps! :) 

diy fabric block printing tea towels

IMG_8496I spent a good part of last saturday at a housewarming party for one of my closest friends. Since we were all on the topic of houses, I thought it fitting to gift her a set of “house” themed tea towels :)

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I must say that these tea towels were much easier to make than I thought.

I had purchased a fabric block printing Darby Smart DIY set a while ago which came with ready made cotton tea towels, fabric paint, a speedball rubber stamp carving tool and a carving block. I had procrastinated for a long time because…I am not that good at drawing and was just a little afraid to start! I am still surprised that when I finally decided to give this a go, I went full steam into sewing the cloth and designing and carving my own stamps. And, by the time I was done with the 3 tea towels, I was officially addicted to fabric block printing and already have a few sketched ideas on what to do next :)

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to do fabric block printing and for those who require more instruction, I intend to do a more detailed tutorial on how to carve rubber stamps in my next post!


Carving Rubber Stamps

Supplies to carve rubber stamps:
Rubber carving block/ large eraser
– pen knife/ x-acto knife
– linoleum cutter
– ballpoint pen
– pencil
– paper

Instructions for carving rubber stamps:
1. Sketch your designs on paper, bearing in mind that details and sharp edges are harder to cut out. I previously wanted the windows in my houses to look like a grid but found it too difficult to carve those small little squares out.
2. On the rubber carving block, using a pencil, re-sketch your design on the carving block. If you’ve sketched more than 1 design on your carving block, use a pen knife or x-acto knife to cut out rectangular blocks such that each design is on one block, ensuring ample space on all sides of your design.
3. With a ballpoint pen, trace out the pencil marks. At this point, imagine how you want your stamp to look like. Specifically, imagine which spaces you would like the stamp to be blank (i.e. negative space) and which spaces you would like the stamp to print ink. In general, I find that stamps with little negative space (i.e. the first stamp from the left in the picture below) and a wider printing surface are more difficult to print evenly, while stamps with a somewhat equal area of negative space and printing surface looks the nicest and is easiest to print. On areas that you would like the stamp to print ink, color/ shade those areas. It’ll serve as a good guide as you carve out the negative space.
4. Using your carving tool, carve out the negative space i.e. spaces that you’ve not colored in. I use a speedball tool and I tend to use the deeper cutter (i.e. no. 3) to cut around the edges first, followed by using the wider or narrower cutter (i.e. no. 2, 3 or 4) to remove the negative space. Pay careful attention to the edges of the stamp – they tend to get ink on them easily – and carve them deeper.

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Printing on Tea Towels

Supplies to hem tea towels:
– sewing machine with thread and a narrow hem foot (or hem manually)
– cloth (I used a 100% cotton cloth)

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IMG_8466 Instructions to hem tea towels:

1. Cut the tea towels to size. I cut the tea towels 47cm by 67cm including a 1cm seam allowance all around.
2. Using the sewing machine and a hem foot, hem all 4 sides of the tea towel. Alternatively, fold the hems manually and sew a straight stitch through.

Supplies to block print on tea towels
– hemmed tea towels
– spare fabric (for testing)
– carved rubber stamps
– aluminimum foil (or any material that fabric paint won’t seep through)
– fabric paint
rubber brayer (or anything round to spread the fabric ink)
– scrap paper
– tape (optional)

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Instructions to block print on tea towels:
1. Lay the scrap paper on a flat surface to absorb residual paint from the fabric and lay your fabric on top, ensuring that your hems are on the right side up.
2. On aluminium foil, or any material that fabric paint won’t seep through, pour a generous amount of fabric paint. Using a soft rubber brayer or anything around your house, spread the fabric paint all over the aluminium foil.
3. If you intend to print your design straight, like how I did with the houses, use tape to create a straight line. This will help guide you when you’re stamping.
4. With your rubber stamp face side down, dab it on the foil of fabric paint. You can also use the soft rubber brayer to roll on your stamp but I find the best way to dab my stamp on the fabric paint and looking to ensure that there’s paint on the rubber stamp. If any paint falls on the edges of the rubber stamp, wipe it away with a cloth or tissue paper or it might get on the fabric.
5. Carefully turn your rubber stamp downwards, aim and stamp carefully. Lift up after 2-3 seconds or so. Don’t be too worried that your stamp doesn’t print perfectly every time – sometimes that’s what makes them handmade! But if you feel that there’s too little paint on the fabric, you can try stamping over it again, making sure that you’ve aligned the stamps
6. Put aside until dry. They dry pretty quickly but it’ll be safer to let it sit on its own for about 15 minutes.

diy teepee – learn to create a teepee of any size

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Teepee diys have been roaming around the internet for quite a long time now and after seeing how cute they look, I’ve always told myself that when I have a kid in the future, I’ll definitely make one for him/ her. But, I really couldn’t resist my itchy fingers and decided that I had to make one now! And so, I decided that I would make one for Joy!

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diy “JUST <3 MARRIED" burlap sign

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I wake up every morning telling myself… It’s X days to the U.S. trip! That’s right…I’m FINALLY going to the U.S. again but this time, not for a holiday but for my elder sister, Jessica’s wedding! We’ve all been very excited and I must say, time did pass in a blink of an eye. I still recall vividly the time when my mom announced that Donny had proposed, when we were visiting the different hotel venues in Singapore, and when she told me that she would like me to be her maid of honor.

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diy photobooth

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When I suggested to Jane about going all out with the planning for her birthday, the one concept that immediately came rushing to our minds was none other than… the photobooth!

I’ve participated in all kinds of photobooths but I personally think that the most fun type of photobooths are those that use paper props on a stick. They add another kind of cuteness and fun to the photobooth that real props really cannot do justice to. And since the props are mostly made out of paper, ideas are practically endless, and it is so much more cost effective too.

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diy granola movie snacks

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My mom has been making batches of awesome granola. Really…it’s hands down the best granola ever. I carry a mason jar cup of plain yogurt, fruits and granola to work everyday and eat it at Starbucks while waiting for my friends. The number of stares I get from eating this awesome breakfast is just testimony to how delicious and wholesome it looks! It’s quite funny cuz people usually stare at me eating my granola, then look at the Starbucks display cabinet trying to search where I “bought” my breakfast.

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pretty up your cake boxes! (for storing cupcakes)

I love baking. But what I do love equally is packaging them. I always think that it is such a pity when great homemade goods are put in boring cake boxes and plain favor bags because such homemade goods do deserve equal attention to the commercial (and not so tasty) counterparts.

Cake boxes with cupcake inserts are easily double the price from the normal cake boxes…at least here in Singapore. Buy one with a cupcake inserts and a window (i.e. see through from the top) and you’re paying triple a normal cake box. I’ve tried my luck with a number of these cupcake boxes but they either don’t fit my cupcakes (though using regular sized cupcake holders, I like my cupcakes big and always fill my batter up to its brim) or the inserts are too close together and the tops of the cupcakes can barely fit. Failing which, I would pay through my nose to get a branded cupcake box.

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Remember these boring ol’ cake boxes, pretty them up and make your cupcakes look that much more desirable :) I sound terribly superficial but its true ;D There are a number of ways you can make these plain cake boxes look so much better, at very little cost.

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Add a window – It just makes the experience of giving so much better when you can see what’s in the cake box. After spending so much effort on making the stuff inside, don’t hide it away! Also, it is extremely useful when you’re transporting a delicate cake in the car. I’m always so afraid that something will topple over that I either end up driving with the box open and only tying the ribbon when I’ve reached my destination, or I lift the box slightly to peep at the cake and end up bending the box a little.

Materials you’ll need:
cake box (8″ by 8″ box is good for 4 cupcakes. 10″ by 10″ is good for 9 cupcakes)
sharp pen knife (the sharper the better. cake boxes are quite thick)
cutting board
pencil
ruler
eraser
acetate plastic sheet (you can get this at many large diy supply shops. they usually sell it by length)
strong double sided tape (i use scotch’s advanced tape glider – love it!)

Directions:
1. Depending on the size of the box, cut a square/rectangular that still has quite a substantial perimeter so that the box is still stable. I’ve found that for a 8″ by 8″ box, a 2cm allowance works well. For a 10″ by 10″ box, a 2.5cm allowance works well.

2. Open up the box such that the underside of the lid is facing toward you. Working on one side at a time and using a ruler and pencil, make 2 points on each side with the allowance, measuring from the crease of the folds. Join the dots with a straight line. Once done on all sides, use your pen knife and cut along the pencil marks. Erase the pencil marks that are still left on the box (if you like)

3. Cut your acetate plastic sheet just slightly smaller than the side of the box. If it is an 8″ by 8″ box, cut a square just a couple of millimeters off of 8″ by 8″.

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4. On the lid of the box, paste double sided tape on all four sides. Be liberal with this – you won’t want a part of your lid falling off. Paste the acetate plastic sheet on top. Acetate plastic sheets collect dust easily. To clean it off, use a lint roller and gently roll it on the plastic sheet on both sides.

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Make your own cupcake inserts – its so much easier to make your own inserts because you can customize it exactly to how you would like your cupcakes to fit. However, it does require some time and patience. It is possible to cut these shapes out using a circle cutter like this one but if you have a die cut machine like a silhouette cameo, it will make your life so much easier. If you have a silhouette cameo, and would like the cutting files for the 8″ x 8″ and 10″ by 10″ box, do leave a comment with your email and I’ll send it over!

I like using crate paper/scrapbooking paper since the colors are just so beautiful! I usually choose the paper designs that are hard to make cards out of since those would usually just end up lying around anyway.

If you own a silhouette cameo, load the cutting files. Load a 12″ by 12″ crate paper/ scrapbooking paper and cut! Fold and insert into cake box.

If you do not have a silhouette cameo, here are the measurements I used to help you:

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Create tags and tie the boxes with string or ribbon. Don’t forget the washi tape! – There are tons of tutorials and free printables out there of gift tags that you could print and attach. You can get some kraft tags – they are generic, classy and can be used for any occasion. Alternatively, you can dig through the internet (and of course, pinterest) to find many many many free printables other bloggers post on their site (and maybe mine too someday :P). Some websites which I visit frequently for printables are: creature comforts blog and eat drink chic.

Lastly, don’t forget to add that pop of color with washi tape!