Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Vintage Ruler-Look Growth Chart {Tutorial}

Everyone loves the sentimentality of watching their children grow and change over the years. I didn’t want to commit to using a paper growth chart, I was worried about it getting ripped, wet or ruined some other way. Apparently this idea was originally a Potty Barn knock-off, but I don’t ever shop there anyway. I stumbled across it on Pinterest (of course).

Supply List:
- 1 board 8” wide by 6’ long purchased from any home improvement store (mine is poplar from Lowe’s and cost about $9)
- Number Stencil (I ordered mine from Etsy, specifically here)
- Acrylic Paint (I used black craft paint)
- Foam Paint Brush
- Painter’s Tape (3/4” wide is best)
- Ruler
- Wood Stain (optional)

Step 1:
Stain your board if you choose to, I used Minwax in “Early American 230” it cost me under $7, and barely used any from the smallest available can (236mL). You can do a test swatch on the back of the board first to decide how much to use, I only did one coat. Make sure to do all the edges and ends, I even stained the back of the board in case you could see behind it, and I didn’t know where it might move to later on. Allow the stain to dry out of direct sunlight for as long as directed on the can, I left mine overnight. The grain might look different after staining, so you might want to pick which is front/back & top/bottom after everything is stained and dry.
Before staining...

Step 2:
Distress the board, if you choose to. I hit mine a few times randomly with a gardening trowel, a small crowbar, the can of stain, and I then I even threw it face down on the cement sidewalk once. Go easy on it; you can always add more distressing marks later on. You may want to touch up any spots where the stained wood chipped off and looks like light new wood.

Step 3:
Figure out how you want your measurements, it may be more common to use the metric system where you live. I chose to start my lines at 1 foot (not zero), so that I could hang it off the floor and didn’t have to worry about cleaning under/behind it or clearance for the baseboards. I could have started it at 6” but decided against it so it wouldn’t look like the bottom/top got broken or cut off somehow. Our family has a few resources of “tall genes”, including Lorne being 6’3” and the kids already being quite tall for their ages. I wanted to be able to have their final adult heights recorded on the chart, so it needed to go to at least 6’6”.
I'm going to touch up that light spot that chipped off.

Step 4:
Tape off each foot mark, making sure to use a hard surface (like a bone folder, butter knife or your finger nail) to rub the edge of the tape down that will be painted, if you don’t your paint will leak under and your line won’t be crisp. I decided to make these lines 6” long, and I eyeballed how thick – it's about 1/8". A quilting ruler works really great for this!

Step 5:
Using a sponge brush or stencilling paint applicator, pick up some paint, dab a little off and gently stamp in an up & down motion for each line. Don’t drag the sponge, otherwise it ends up taking the paint off and can leave streaks or encourage it to bleed under the tape.

Step 6:
Remove the tape, always pull at a 90 degree angle otherwise your paint could peel off with it. You can remove the tape when the paint is still wet, or wait until it has dried; the only thing that matters is that you’ll get paint on your hands from the tape. You can also reuse your tape, I had to near the end (ran out of tape around the house) just make sure to really rub the edge down.

Step 7:
Continue to measure out and tape off your lines. I did the 6” mark lines next, and they’re 4” long. If you are using 3/4” wide tape (you’re smart!), you could tape everything off at once, if not you’ll have to do every other line. I stopped after the 3” marks because I wasn’t sure if I wanted every inch marked out.
P.S. I decided to do every inch (obviously) for accurate measuring purposes, they are 1.5” long and I made them skinnier then the others (about 1mm) so it didn’t look like too much. I ran a piece of tape down the length of the board to mark the length of each inch mark, it saved time and tape.

Step 8:
Decide which side of the line you’d like your numbers on, and line up your stencil (mine are 1.5” from the edge of the board, and is about 1cm from the line). You don’t need to tape or use spray adhesive to hold the stencil in place as long as you can hold it still, but you can if you want. If you mess this up, you’ll probably have to sand it down and touch up the stain. This was the part I was most nervous about. I also started with the number 2, because I wasn’t sure where I would like the 1, if I used it at all.

Step 9:
Apply the paint as you did in step 5, but go slowly - you may even want to practice on paper first. If the stencil lifts up when you’re dabbing, paint can leak under, but you also don’t want to hold the brush down in one spot for too long. It helps to dab some paint off on your tray/plate before you take it to the stencil.

Step 10:
Continue with the numbers in sequence. If you don’t want to wash the stencil after every number, you can place a piece of tape on the back of the dirty numbers to make sure the paint doesn’t leak onto your board when you’re doing the next number. I washed and dried the stencil after every other number.

Step 11:
Once all your lines and numbers are on, you could distress it more or leave it as is. A small part of me wants to throw it on the sidewalk again, but I’m worried about scratching the black paint off, but maybe that would look good since right now it looks like an old board with new paint... We’ll see? You may also want to seal it with polyurethane, but I didn’t – the more worn and scuffed it gets, the better.

Step 12:
Hang it however you’d like, I screwed right through each end into a stud in the wall. I don’t want my surrounding walls (or kids) to get dented if this falls off the wall, it’s in a high traffic area and I know Ella will be leaning against it at least once a day… So a wimpy little picture frame holder won’t suffice.

When measuring, it’s best to use a straight stick like a ruler or paint stir-stick to get the measurement from the top of the head. I plan on reserving a very fine permanent marker specifically for this growth chart, because I don’t think I will like how it will look if a different colour or thickness is used throughout the years. I may even create a pen holder on the top/side of the chart for it.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Book Pocket {Tutorial}

I wish I could say this was my own genius, but alas, I stole it from this genius: Megan at Penny Carnival.
I absolutely fell in love with the idea as soon as I came across it on Pinterest, and starting imagining all the neat things I could use it for. I thought about stitching columns into it to make pockets for things like keys, cell phones, mail and the like for hanging at an entrance way. Or even tubes and bottles of paint and brushes, crayons, markers and papers in a craft space. I also thought about how I could make it deeper to fit stuffed animals and dolls. You could even hang it in the kitchen to hold pot lids, utensils, spice pouches or recipe books. But before all those things, my children come first (such a SAP).
Here's how I made Ella's "Book Pocket" as we're calling it.

Approximate Dimensions:
Width: 45"
Height: 6.5"
Depth from Wall:  4" (depends on bracket)

Supply List:
- 1 meter of a nice quality quilting cotton. You could also buy 1/2 of a meter of two separate fabrics and make it reversible. If you're concerned about making mistakes or the person not cutting your fabric accurately, just ask for 1/4 of a meter more.
- 1 set (of 2) double curtain rod brackets. I got mine from Lowe's, they also come in black and were about $7 each.
- 2 wooden dowels. Mine were 48" long and the bracket accommodates one dowel 3/4" in diameter, and another 5/8" in diameter.
- Sewing machine & general supplies (thread, iron, pins, scissors etc).
- Screwdriver or drill etc.

Step 1:
I measured out where the studs in the wall were, so that everything was the perfect length to fit securely. You could use anchors if you don't like where the studs end up in relation to the rest of the furniture in the room, but I suggest those giant screw-looking ones rather then those tiny slim plugs. You never know how many books or kids are going to be hanging off of it. The wall I chose used to be a doorway, so the studs were all over the place but ended up working that I could use the full width of my fabric, which was 45" (a common width).

Step 2:
I didn't bother to pre-wash my fabric, as I don't see this needing to be washed often. I ironed out the fabric and trimmed the edges so everything was nice a square and straight. Using an iron, fold in the salvage edges once (the factory made edge, not the cut edge) on both sides. Some fabrics may have writing or a white stripe, so make sure that is all hidden inside. Then, fold the fabric in half, lining up the cut edges and pin together on the ironed edge. This seam is going to be about 20" long (or more).

Step 3:
Sew once or twice to make a nice edge, I used one short stitch-length for strength, and one long stitch-length for esthetics.

Step 4:
Use a soft tape measure to find how much you'll need to fold over to create the channel for your dowel. It's best to make them the same size so that it doesn't matter which dowel goes in which, I used 3.5" on each end. Mark the distance from the folded edge (not sewn or cut) and fold the edge to the mark, iron & pin along evenly. Sew, this seam will be about 44" long, depending on the hem you did on each end. Make sure to back-stitch on each end so it doesn't unravel. This seam needs to be strong!

Step 5:
3 out of 4 sides are done now, so the last one I left for adjustments. Now it's time to figure out how deep you want your pocket to be. Go through your book collection and find a pocket size that is not too deep that you cant see the tops of some shorter books, but not too shallow that some taller books will tip out of. In my case, I wanted my pocket 6.5" deep. Add half of your dowel-channel measurement (1.75") plus 1/4" for the cut edge to be hidden.
I personally prefer to iron everything over before I cut, that way I can change my mind.

Step 6:
Fold, iron and pin the 1/4" over to hide the cut edge, then fold everything over like you did for the other channel. Make sure they're both folded on the same side of the fabric.
Step 7:
Repeat the sewing from step 4.
Iron all the kinks out, cut off all the threads and there you have it!

Step 8:
Once you know how long you'll need the dowels, mark and trim off any excess length on the dowel. I used a chop/miter saw.
Alternatively, if it's close but they're not quite close enough together, you could always leave some dowel showing.

Step: 9
You could leave them bare wood, paint them with a brush and craft paint or stain, or I actually sprayed these with some "Watermelon" pink paint I had from another project. You're only ever going to see the end and possibly 3"-4" down the rod, so don't worry about the rest.

Step 10:
I used an electronic stud finder, then a pencil to mark where I needed to screw my brackets to. Also, it helps if you have the child (or whoever is using the book pocket most) there, to make sure they can see the books well and it's at a good height. Again, if you can't find studs where you want them, use good anchors.
Use a level, or measure from a level object (in my case, I measured down from the ceiling and stood at a distance to make sure). Screw the brackets in, mine came with nice long screws. If it doesn't get harder to turn about half way through, you didn't hit the stud and you should either move over or use an anchor. I didn't tighten the top screws until both sides were on and I thread the dowels through to make sure everything was square, then I put the bottom screws in each side.

Step 11:
Slip your channels onto the dowels, put the dowels in the brackets, tighten any screws, fill with books, and admire!

I chose this green, blue, pink and red plaid because it went well with the rainbow of colours in Ella's room, and I figured it wasn't too young of a print if I wanted to change the scheme of her room one day. AND it only cost me $7!