How to make an Upholstered Bedframe

Upholstered Bedframe

My bedroom makeover project has been finished for a while now, but with all of the horrors of the last couple of years, I couldn’t do the work to share it. There’s a tremendous amount of work to pull together a decent tutorial with video, and seeing how I’ve been pingponging between fertility procedures driving me to the mental hospital to surgeries for my baby and then more fertility procedures that ended badly and more surgeries for my baby, there has been no brainspace available for things like describing furniture builds. But now that I’m feeling like I’ve got my feet back underneath me (BRB gotta find some wood to knock), I can finally commit to sharing the big bedroom makeover I’ve been wanting to get to for over a year. I have A LOT of projects to share for this bedroom makeover, and I am THRILLED with the result. So buckle up, because I have tons and tons of ideas for you. Starting today with the centerpieces of any bedroom, the bedframe.

I wanted this room to be a kind of masculine take on a feminine bedroom. An androgynous bedroom. Something peaceful and restful and beautiful, that actually looked like it didn’t just belong to one or the other of us. I wanted to blend our styles. So if I was going to do something as soft as an upholstered bedframe, I wanted to do it in a fabric that would read masculine. So I bought myself 100 yards of suiting material and decided to make myself a pinstripe wingback bed.

 

Step 1

Because we have a California King bed, I needed to make a giant bedframe. Beds can be surprisingly non-standard in their measurements, so since you’re building yours from scratch, the first thing you should do is measure your bed. I’ll give you the measurements I used, but unless you also have a giant bed, you’re going to need to customize them.

You’ll start by building yourself a great big box. Measure the length and width of your bed. I added an inch on each side to give myself room to maneuver. That extra inch means 1/2″ on each side so you don’t have to squish your bed into position. My bed measured 72″ x 83″, so the finished size I was shooting for was 73″ x 84″, except I made a bunch of mistakes with my measurements so learn from my example and measure everything three times and double check your math. Luckily as long as your mistakes are consistent, this project is pretty forgiving.

You need 2 2×4’s to make the top and bottom of your box, and those should be the finished width of your bed. I cut mine 74″ long, which was a mistake but one that was no biggie. Then you need 3 2 x 4’s to make the sides and middle of your box. These should be the finished length of your bed, minus the width of the 2×4’s you’re using for the top and bottom pieces. Those top and bottom pieces sandwich all the vertical pieces, so you need to take their width into account to get your finished length. 2×4’s usually measure about 1 1/2″ wide, so if you subtract 3″ from your finished size, you’ll know how long to cut your side and middle pieces. I cut mine 81″ long.

Set the pieces up together and drill pilot holes where they’ll be joined. Screw them all together with 2 1/2″ wood screws.

Those other pieces of wood you see outside the box are the pieces that you’ll be upholstering. Given how loosey goosey I was being with my measurements I had to make sure they’d be cut the right size so I laid them right up next to my 2×4 box to make certain. I cut 2 1×8’s 84″ long for the sides, and then one more 76″ long for the bottom. The side pieces should be the same size as the finished 2×4 box, and the bottom piece should be the same length of  the 2×4 box plus the width of the 1×8’s which is about 3/4″ each. If I was being careful I would have cut it 1/2″ shorter, but I think I’ve already shown I was not being careful.

 

Step 3

Set up your 1×8’s next to where you’ll be installing them on the box. They should be standing upright so that the wide sides of both pieces of wood are touching. Once they’re lined up, drill a hole from the inside of the box, through the 2×4, and into the 1×8. This pilot hole will tell you where you’ll need to keep the upholstery out of the way so you can screw the pieces together without ripping through your fabric. Fabric and drills are not friends.

 

Step 2

Wrap batting around the entire 1×8 piece, securing it with staples.

 

Step 4

Wrap your upholstery fabric around your 1×8 pieces, continuing to secure it with staples. I wanted to keep the staples as hidden as possible, so I wrapped the wood like a present, keeping all my seams where they would be hidden by being attached to the 2×4 box. Fold your corners neatly and tuck raw edges under before stapling. Feel through the fabric for where those pilot holes are and cut the fabric away neatly to leave yourself room to attach it. Use 2″ wood screws to attach the 1×8’s to the 2×4 box, screwing through those pilot holes you drilled. Make sure you use wood screws that aren’t too long or you’ll go all the way through your 1×8 and have a screw poking through your fabric. I attached the 1×8’s in six different spots to make sure they’d be attached super strong and stand up to kids and pets climbing all over them.

 

Step 5

Now you need to add slats across the bed. Nobody likes sleeping on a saggy mattress, so you need to make a nice firm foundation. I used 1×3’s and cut them 74″ long so they’d fit nice and snug on top of my 2×4 box.

 

Step 6

I attached six slats total, spread out across the length of the bed.

 

Step 7

Now we need to get this thing up off the floor and add the legs. There’s many ways to do this, but the way I went with was to use this straight plate. I screwed it into three corners but if you add a little block of wood into the corner of the 2×4 box you can attach all four sides. I didn’t think it was necessary because I’ve got some extra steps coming, but if these legs are all you’re using to hold up all the weight of the bed and the people and jumping kids and pets in them, you probably should.

 

Step 8

I found these great midcentury inspired legs online. These just screw into the straight plates.

 

Step 9

Now, a California King is heavy. Two tall grown adults are heavy. Wrestling kids who jump on the bed are heavy. And a California King is wide, so without a middle support, you’re going to end up eaten by a sagging bed. But a middle support is also hidden under the bed and doesn’t have to be pretty. So I took the scrap pieces of 2×4 and made two middle legs that will keep this thing so stable that a parade could march through and the bed would be rock solid at the end of it. The middle piece should be the height of the legs, including the straight plate. Basically the distance from the floor to the 2×4 box. Then the two outside pieces should be 2 1/2 – 3″ taller so that it can fit onto the middle beam and leave you room for screws. Use wood screws to stick those pieces together, making sure they’re flush on the bottom.

 

Step 10

Slide those legs around the middle beam and use wood screws to attach it from both sides.

 

bedframe

If you aren’t making a headboard, you’d probably want to finish the top of this bedframe with another upholstered piece at the top, but I didn’t want it to get in the way of the giant headboard I’ll be building. And that I’ll be showing you how to build next week.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Make a windchime from dollar store supplies

Windchime In my quest to outfit this superstar backyard of mine, as is my duty as Park Ranger of this place, I’ve been searching for a windchime that was both 1) not obnoxious and 2) not so outrageously expensive I would resent it every time I heard it’s gentle chime. So as usual, I knew I had to make what I was looking for. I love the sound of bamboo windchimes because they’re so light and subtle and not glaringly high pitched, so when I found bamboo windchimes at the dollar store I knew they were exactly what I needed. Now I just needed to make them grand enough to fit into my very grand backyard. I bought five of the windchimes, a bowl, and used some rope I had on hand, so for $6 plus tax I’m making something that would have cost me a fortune otherwise.

 

Step 1 If you are a regular blog follower, by now you are a pro at drilling through glass and pottery. But in case you’re coming to this tutorial fresh I’ll give you a nutshell version of how to drill through a bowl. 1) Get yourself a drill bit made for the job. It will say so on the packaging. I like the ones that come in a spade shape because they’re easier to control as you drill. 2) Set up a drilling station. I have here a plastic tub, an old towel, and some cool water. You really just need the cool water and a way to keep your bowl from sliding around. The towel gives you a nice non-slip surface and the tub keeps the water where you need it, but there are a million variations on this. 3) Make sure you’ve got water on both sides of what you’re drilling, then go steady and slow without a lot of pressure. If you push on the drill you could crack the bowl. If it gets too hot you could crack the bowl, and if you create too much friction through heat or non lubrication (which the water also takes care of) you could crack the bowl.

 

Step 2 Here’s my bowl with the hole drilled through, and  you can see that it is off center. Really not a big deal. I’m showing this as proof that perfection is not worth the stress.

 

Step 3 Run your rope through the hole you’ve made. Ropes fray, so wrapping the end with some tape will save you some major frustration.

 

Step 4 Now it’s time to deal with your bamboo windchimes. Lay them out to make you’re new configuration. At first I thought I was going to cut them all apart and start from scratch, and then I decided it would be enough just to attach them all together. Do some experimenting and see what works for you. I ended up stringing three sets across the top, and then two more hanging down from the middle. It makes a kind of inverted pyramid shape. Remember to leave enough room between the pieces for them to move around and make that lovely noise.

 

Step 5 With all your decisions made, drill holes where you need to attach them together.

 

Step 6 Tie them together with rope or string. Remember the tape trick, this can get frustrating.

 

Step 7 Tie the top of your newly assembled wooden pieces onto the rope and make a big giant secure knot. Remember, this is going to stand up to wind, so triple knot that baby.

 

Step 8 Pull the rope all the way through the bowl so the knot catches. Then tie the rest of the rope into a loop you can hang the whole operation from.

 

Windchime hanging I made my windchime super long, so I hung it from a high point on my roofline. I wanted the look and the sound, but I also didn’t want anyone to get wrapped up in it as they walked around the yard. Fittingly enough, the day I hang this up it was super crazy windy, which you’ll hear on the video, but you’ll also hear how great this sounds. Even better, each time I hear it I am reminded that it only cost me $6.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Mosaic Birdhouses for Fancy Birds

Mosaic Birdhouses Every time I go to a craft store, from March until September, they feature a giant bin full of wooden birdhouses right outside the front door. They call to me every year and every year I think, eh, I don’t have anything to do with them. And I leave them in their bin as I walk on by. But since I’ve been so fixated on outdoor crafts this year, I knew it was finally time to listen to that siren song and make something adorable with those cute wee little bird houses.

Step 1 I wanted a selection of different shapes, but it does make mosaicing a little tricky. That octagonal roof in particular. So keep that in mind when you buy them. If you don’t also want to buy a tile snipper, stick to the roofs that don’t ask you to trim anything.

step 2 Paint your birdhouses, or at least the parts that won’t be covered in tile. I used spray paint to put on a solid color, and then contrasting colors of spray paint to mist over the top and create a mottled effect.

Step 3 Since this will be outside, we have to use glue and grout that can stand up to the elements, particularly changing temperatures. Heat and cold are notorious glue busters, so instead of using a traditional tile adhesive, I used a silicone caulk like you would use to seal a tub or a window. It works great as a glue, but also has the flexible rubbery consistency to expand and contract without breaking.

Step 4 Glue your tile all over the roof and around the bottom, leaving a fraction of an inch between each tile. You can buy mosaic tiles at the craft store, but I find it way cheaper to buy it at the hardware store. In the tile section you can find 12 x 12 tiles of smaller tiles glued to a piece of mesh so it’s ready to adhere to a backsplash or something, and you can pop those smaller tiles right off to use for a smaller project like this.

Step 5 Once the caulk is good and dry, you need to grout your tile. Make sure you buy grout that is ready to go outside, or buy a sealer to put over the top of it. Mix it up according to the instructions on the package. A good consistency is like thick cake batter. Spread it all over the tile, making sure you get deep into the nooks and crannies. Use your finger to smooth the edges where the sides of the tiles are visible. Scrape off the extra and let it dry for a couple hours, then use a barely damp sponge to remove the extra.

Step 6 No matter how carefully you sponge the grout off, you will leave a film behind. In the sponging the goal is just to remove the clumps of grout, not make it clean. You can wipe and wipe until you remove all your grout and you won’t get it clean at this stage, so resist the temptation. Instead, let it dry again for a few more hours, and then it’s time to buff. The best tool for this job is this little foam piece, which is a piece from a pool noodle. This has a great texture to buff the grout film off the tiles without harming the rest of the grout that needs to stay. Rub it over the dry tile until the film is gone, then let it dry for at least 24 hours.

Birdhouses I now have these scattered all around the yard and I’ve already seen squirrels playing with them. It’s so fun to see these sweet little spots of color throughout the yard and making a home for my little outdoor neighbors. So far I haven’t seen any birds around them, but I suppose squirrels need a home too.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Make an Outdoor Chandelier

Outdoor ChandelierOnce you start drilling through glass, it apparently gets pretty addictive. Because here I am back at it again. I spent so much time in thrift stores looking for glass dishes for the flowers, that I couldn’t stop collecting when I found a deal I couldn’t pass up. So I wound up with a whole bunch of these tealights I knew I had to do something with. Tealights and drilling, it had to end up with a chandelier.

Step 1First you’ll need to drill a hole through all your dishes so you can hang them together. We’ve covered this a whole bunch lately, so I’m going to be brief. You need a drill bit made for glass, a tub of cool water to reduce friction and prevent cracking, and a towel to hold the dish in place. Drill with slow and steady pressure.

Step 2Maybe you have better aim than I do and will put a hole through the dead center, but if you don’t, it’s far from the end of the world. It will just make your dishes hang quirkily and give your chandelier some character.

Step 3To hang the dishes together, you need some chain and some wire. I got both at the hardware store because you’ll need it to be strong enough to carry the weight of the dishes. The best wire I’ve found for this is the kind they use for fencing, which you can find in spools next to the rolls of chain link. Cut a piece of wire around 2 inches long and use pliers to roll one end into a loop. Connect that loop to a piece of the chain.

Step 4Feed the straight side of the wire through the dish and then roll that end into another loop. Depending on how you want your chandelier to look this loop can be the end point that holds the dish in place, or you can attach another piece of chain onto that loop and keep it going.

Step 5You’ll also need something to hang the chains from. I found this piece at my thrift store. It started as a decorative candle holder, but I snipped off the candle parts and it became just a decorative piece of wrought iron. I used the same wire with eye loops to connect the chain on to it, and then added three more chains arranged in a triangle to hang the whole piece from. Loop one end to the iron piece, and one end to the chain, just like all the others. If you don’t luck into an iron piece, you can use just about anything. I’ve seen fancy shops use auto parts, baskets, pieces of fence, anything you can hang up and wrap a wire around.

Chandelier FinishObviously this chandelier doesn’t produce light, but I don’t need it to. I need it to provide some glamour to my outdoor life. I’ve developed an appreciation for the outdoors, but everything is better with a little glamour.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Make a Glass Flower Garden

Flower Garden Decor
One of my favorite ways to spend a day is combing through thrift stores and junky old antique shops. Around here, because I live in a touristy area, there are lots of stores featuring random collections of cool stuff, combined in new and interesting ways. Lots of vintage tractor seats turned into stools, old doors turned into potting tables, barn wood turned into wall art. In one of those stores I saw a bunch of glass plates mounted together to look like a flower. That version was really simple and made to hang on a wall, but as soon as I saw it I knew I could do a version that would stay in the garden and keep things looking beautiful even when the real flowers weren’t blooming.

Step 1
First you’ll need a collection of glass plates. The more variety you have in colors, sizes, and shapes, the more amazing these flowers will look. To attach them together and to the stem we’ll need a screw right through the center. Drilling through glass might seem intimidating, but it’s just a matter of having the right tools for the job. I get real specific about that in my birdfeeder post, but really you just need a drill bit made to drill through glass, a tub of water to keep things cool, and a towel in the tub to keep things from moving around and to absorb the drill once you make it to the other side of the plate.

Step 2
Aim for the center, but it’s really not crucial that your aim is true. The center of your flower will be a drawer pull, so make sure you use a drill bit the same size as the screw that fits that.

Step 3
Depending on the thickness and number of your plates, you might need to buy a longer screw. You’ll need the screw to be long enough to go through each plate, plus the pipe, and have enough left over to screw into the drawer pull that will be the center of your flower. Stack your plates up on top of that screw and use silicone caulk to glue the plates together. Don’t glue the screw, you’ll need to take that back out so you can attach your pipe, but using it at this stage means all your holes will line up the way they’re supposed to. The silicone caulk will glue the plates together but also provide a little cushion so you can’t overtighten the screw and break anything, but they also won’t rattle around every time the wind blows.

Step 4
Cut your copper pipe the length you want for your flowers to stand up, plus enough to bury in the ground. Drill a hole all the way through the pipe a few inches from the top.

Step 5
Cap your pipes so they look finished and pretty.

Step 6
Now you can insert the screw for real. Thread it through the pipe and through your stack of glued plates, then screw the drawer pull onto the front and tighten until it’s secure. Use a mallet to pound your flower into the ground, making sure to hit the pipe and not the plate.

Step 7

Step 8

Yard Flowers

I love the sparkle and color these add to my yard. And as we’re still recovering from a drought, it’s great to have a way to add a little beauty to my yard that doesn’t require any water. I might have to let my yard die for the sake of the environment, but these flowers will still stand tall and beautiful.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Metal Flowers for Outdoor Festivities

Make Metal Flowers
You know how, from June to September, you can’t open a magazine or watch a commercial or scroll through Pinterest without seeing incredibly gorgeous outdoor living spaces? Twinkly lights and flowing fabric and beautiful table settings that all make you long for that way of life, dining under the stars and sitting on a couch in the middle of a field? I always look at those pictures and think, “Lovely, but who’s putting all that away before the rain comes?” I want to have incredible outdoor living spaces, but I also need it to happen in a way that doesn’t require a moving truck every time the weather changes. Which means that if I’m going to hang up some decorations, it’s going to be done in a material that won’t melt with the dew. Today, that’s metal.

Step 1
Craft metal is thin enough to cut with scissors, so you don’t need any special tools. Just the metal and then a way to color them that will stick. I love using these alcohol ink markers because they don’t need to be absorbed to dry so they’ll color up the metal and then won’t wipe away afterwards.

Step 2
I cut four shapes per flower, going from a big flower to a little blob for the inside. You can see that I was not worried about making these shapes pristine. I basically cut blobby gingerbread men.

Step 3
Use your alcohol markers to color the flowers. I loved experimenting to get patterns and textures, just based on how I used the markers.

Step 4
Punch a hole in the center of each flower. I used an old-fashioned eyelet setter kit to do this.

Step 5
Layer the flowers on top of each other and line up the center holes. Set an eyelet in the center to attach all the layers together.

Step 6
Roll the petals around a pencil or other tool to give them dimension.

Step 7
Arrange the petals and even give the whole thing a little crunch to make it look like a spectacularly blooming flower.

Metal Flowers
I made a bunch of these in different colors and it was a big success. I want to pin these to trees or string them together to make a bunting or even attach them to a stake for a permanent flower garden. A permanent garden that doesn’t need watering, and doesn’t need to be brought in when the party’s over.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Kitchen Chalkboard for Hungry Kids

Hungry Chalkboard
Summer vacation has started and I’m already losing my mind. Atti is so much more active and attentive than he was this time last year and for the first time in my parenting life I’m understanding all the lamentations of my mom friends during summer vacation. He is constantly asking for entertainment! He’s up in my grill all day long! He wants to be fed three times a day!

The attention I’m trying to relish. I feel the clock ticking on that one big time and I’m trying to soak it up while it lasts. The food, however, I came up with a solution for.

Step 1
This is really just a chalkboard project, so if you find one already made, you can skip ahead. But I got this metal frame at Michael’s and I loved that with a little spray paint it would be a magnetic chalkboard.

Step 2
Spray paint as necessary, making sure to get an even application, even if you have to be patient and use lighter coats to do it.

Step 3
Paint the frame to look great in  your kitchen.

Step 4
I used a vinyl cutter to make myself a little decal, but you could replicate this in paint if you don’t have one handy.

The hardest part of the whole project was hanging this on the fridge. The metal made it wicked heavy and a whole bunch of strategies wound up with this crashing to the floor. I finally ended up ordering a million little magnets and gluing them all around the back.

Chalk pens
The inspiration for this project began months ago when the folks at ChalkOla offered to give me a couple packs of their chalk markers. Believe it or not, I didn’t have a single chalkboard in the house to try them out on. The anti-trendster in me is powerful. I’ve also never made anything with a chevron print and my mason jars are exclusively for canning. I’m stubborn that way.

I loved the colors and variety of sizes they offered, and the pens work great. I realized after using them the first time that chalk pens are notoriously hard to erase from a chalkboard, but I followed the instructions on the back to use windex and then made sure to condition the chalkboard well with a dusting of chalk dust, and I haven’t had a problem since. And you cannot beat the staying power without making it permanent.

Label Canisters
They also sent me some of their chalkboard labels which came in super handy since I just reorganized my pantry. The chalkboard labels don’t even need the same degree of conditioning, they were just super easy to use.

hungry list
If you have kids that can fend for themselves, a list saves you from having to answer what there is to eat 20 times a day. In my case it helps answer the “what am I going to feed this kid this time” question. And makes sure that the fresh snacks I buy don’t rot in the bottom of the fridge because I forgot to eat them in time.

There’s one little angsty summer problem resolved. Now I just need to deal with the neverending boredom and heat. I can do this.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Upcycle Old Dishes Into A Backyard Birdfeeder

Birdfeeder
I’m going to be bringing you a ton of outdoor tutorials in the next few weeks. I’ve been completely obsessed with my backyard and I’ve got a million things I want to do with it. For today I thought I’d start with a simple one that will also lay the groundwork for what’s to come. I’m going to be drilling through EVERYTHING. Plates, bowls, votive holders, you name it. If it’s glass or ceramic, I will be putting a hole in it so that I can build something cool. And I’ll start by bringing the birds and squirrels to right outside my door.

Step 1
Drilling through tile, glass, or ceramic is not hard in the slightest. You just need to know the trick. Start with a tub of cool water. The water will keep things cool and lubricated so your plate won’t crack. It reduces the friction caused by all that fine dust and a drill bit. Lay an old towel or something in the tub to keep your plate stable. You don’t want anything wiggling on you.

Step 2
Drill slowly and with even pressure, using a drill bit designated for tile, glass, or ceramics. There’s a ton on the market, but the one I liked best came to a nice point which made the even pressure and not wiggling way easier. Make sure that your plate is supported while drilling, which in my case meant I had to tip it down to be surrounded by the towel.

Step 3
Drill slowly until you punch through the other side. Slow is the key here. If you try to rush things, you’ll break it. Patience. Drill two more holes evenly spaced around the rim of the plate. Make sure that you drill your hole a good 1/2 inch inside the rim so that your hole is extra stable and won’t chip open.

Step 4
Now you need to connect your two plates and hang them up. We’re going to do that with three chains on each level, but first we need a way to keep the chains in place. So I pulled out my jewelry stuff and made a couple of eyeloops. Cut a piece of wire about 2 inches long. This wire actually came from the fencing section of the hardware store, so it will face the elements well. With your pliers just bend the end around to make a loop. For the bottom plate, thread the wire up through the bottom of the hole so that one eyeloop is supporting the bottom of the plate. Thread a 12″ chain onto the wire, and finish the other end with another eyeloop.

Step 5
On the top plate, you’ll have to connect two pieces of chain. With another 2 inch piece of wire, make a loop and attach an 8 inch length of chain. Thread the wire through the hole from the top and bend the end around to make another eyeloop.

Step 6
Join the chain from the bottom plate onto that wire, and squeeze your loop closed tight.

Step 7
Take all three chains hanging the top plate and thread them onto a keyring. Then your birdfeeder is ready to be hung.

Step 8
The birds and squirrels have been having full time parties in our backyard ever since I hung this up, and the cats are pissed. Which is even more fun. Now I get to sit at my desk watching the birds flutter, and then laugh and laugh as I watch the cats fume.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

3 Simple Steps to Craft Organization

Organize Craft Supplies
Keeping your supplies organized is a problem for every single creative person. And there are so many “solutions” on the market it can make your head spin. In fact, back in the day when I appeared on QVC, that’s what I was selling: a line of craft organizing tote bags. A company hired me to consult with them to develop the perfect system for organization that could go from home to crop night and back again. It was amazing, and then never ended up getting developed. But it doesn’t matter because you really don’t need all that stuff. A trip to the dollar store will work just fine.

Messy Beads
Because I craft using every possible method, I’ve got a whole lot of stuff to keep organized. And that means I have to do it in a very small space. I can only have one drawer full of jewelry supplies, because all the other drawers have to go to sewing stuff, painting supplies, glitter, all my many types of glue, polymer clay, stickers, diecuts, embellishments, fabric, yarn, blahblahblah. I have to be super strict with how much I keep around.

My beading drawer had gotten completely away from me, so it was time to take action. Anytime you organize anything, you should start with doing a purge. For me and my craft supplies, that’s tough. Crafting is all about using materials in interesting ways, so since I can do something with just about anything, it’s hard to let go of something you see potential in. My rule is just to ask: Do I even like this? If the answer is no, I donate it. If the answer is yes, or even, “yes, if…” then I keep it and find a way to use my space more efficiently. Which means we’re ready to get to my organizing steps.

Step 1
Step 1: Use your space efficiently by using containers that fit your supplies.

The wrong size bin can eat up a tremendous amount of precious space, but without bins or containers you’re left with an unsearchable mess. So the trick is to find a container that is big enough – but no more – to hold what you need it to hold. For a long time I was sorting my loose beads in embroidery floss containers, which worked great for awhile. But I was wasting a ton of vertical space because each of those cubbies was barely 1/4 full. I found the rainbow pill cases at the dollar store and they were perfect for holding beads in without any extra room. If I had more beads than could fit in one cubby, I just added a second, and each one was still small enough to fit in a much more compact space. I can stack these pill cases all the way to the top of the drawer and still access them easily without taking every other thing out.

The caddies I also got at my dollar store and these work beautifully because they solved a bunch of problems at once. When I buy beads in a tube, I like to keep them there. All the information is on them in case I need to buy more, it’s a container that fits the beads exactly, and they’re really easy to work with. But the tubes are a pain to store in a drawer because they roll everywhere and get lodged in crannies. The caddies keep them altogether, and they’re easily portable. The tube beads tend to be the ones I use when I do bead weaving, so I can just pop out that caddie and take it where I’m working without having to have a secondary organizational trick to keep them together outside the drawer.

Step 2
This bead box is one I inherited, and I decided to keep it because it was using up all the space it was taking up. You can see how each of those cubbies is stuffed full with faux pearls, and it’s great to keep them altogether in one place.

Step 3
Step 2: Divide your supplies by how you would go looking for them. 

Here’s how my organizing hierarchy works. FUNCTION -> MATERIAL -> COLOR.

First and foremost I consider what I’m using the item for. For the seed beads I mentioned above, I kept the ones I use for weaving separate from the ones I use for stringing. They have different purposes, so they shouldn’t get mixed together. This box contains all my findings. All the little pieces that aren’t for looks, but for making the jewelry funtion. Closures, earrings, jump rings, etc. They are all metal and so could go in a metal section, but if I need to find a closure, my instinct would not be to sort through metal beads, it would be to look for the closures. Function usually trumps material.

Step 4
But if you have enough of one kind of function, then you can divide them further according to material. Like I have here. Two bins full of materials I use for stringing. Wire, elastic, threads, and more. Since I have a lot of them, I add a secondary system of organization by dedicating one bin to wire, and one to everything else.

Step 5
I used one of these little tubs to hold all my chains.

Step 6
And then these three tubs hold the beads that are already strung. I could separate them by material if I was being strict, but when I want a bead I almost never go looking for a ceramic bead or a glass bead. I look for a green bead. So these tubs are organized by color.

Step 7
Step 3: Arrange things based on how often you’ll use them.

Pride of place should be given to the items you use everyday. If you put something you reach for often in the back of the drawer, you’re going to be wrestling with that drawer a whole lot. I like to think of the space as having three levels. Everyday, I’m Working on it, and I’ll Get to it.

These tubs hold wooden pieces and metal pieces that aren’t ready to be strung. If I go looking for these it will be to transform them before making something with them, and I don’t have any immediate plans for them. I’ll get to them, so they get put in the back corner of the drawer.

Step 8
In the center section I put a bag full of my works in progress. I’m working on them. So they get to be closer to the front.

And then right up front are the beads I reach for first for my most frequent projects. They’re pretty much everyday, so they get right up front.

Step 9
But even more common than the beads are my tools. There was just enough space left on top of the beads for my tray full of tools so I stuck those right on top. I could tuck them in somewhere if I really wanted it to look neat above all else, but I was much more concerned about workflow than looks. I never make a bead project without the tools, so it makes sense to put them in a place where I’d have to remove them before I looked at anything else, which also happens to be the most convenient place to put them away. It’s way easier to keep your workspace tidy if thing are easy to put away.

Organized Drawer
Now, without getting rid of nearly anything, my bead drawer is beautifully organized and accessible, and easy to keep that way. Because it makes sense according to how I work. If you have oodles of space then everything can just be pretty, but most people don’t have the room for everything to be displayed in its own mason jar. In the real world things need to be easy to find and easy to put back. And if you organize according to your workflow, they will be.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

BB8 Sugar Cookies

BB8 Cookies
Over my Christmas break, aside from the surgery and recovery, the family time and holidays, two other important things happened. 1) While laid up in bed trying not to cough or laugh, I got totally hooked on watching Youtube videos about decorating sugar cookies with royal icing. 2) I saw Force Awakens. I think I might just have a full post in me about Force Awakens, but it blew my mind and for the next week I didn’t think about anything else. So I knew I had to combine my two obsessions if I was going to get any peace.

BB8 Cookies 1

I love BB*8 as much as I hated Jar Jar Binks. When that little goofy robot shook his sassy little head? He had me. So obviously, BB*8 had to be the one that got the sugar cookie treatment, and also because I never decorated cookies this way before and a bunch of little buttons and dials are way more approachable than a human woman like Rey. This was a fantastic first project! Even as I made a ton of mistakes and would do a bunch of things differently – like work on getting the right icing consistency and changing the order of how I applied things so it didn’t require so much drying time – I think it was still totally successful. I especially love using the decorating powder to make him all grungy like he had been spending time on a desert planet.

BB8 Cookies 2

Since this was my first ever attempt at sugar cookie decorating with royal icing, I needed a whole lot of instruction. And to get that I went to Sweet Ambs. Her videos were my favorite to watch, and on her site she offers a package where you get all her recipes and some special videos. I found it to be totally worth it, but there are a whole lot of royal icing and sugar cookie recipes out there. If you have questions about anything other than this particular design, I’d send you straight to her. I’m only a beginner myself, and an enthusiastic geek about the latest Star Wars movie.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail