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Curtains usually aren’t fun to make, but these are!

Walking past my open window in my towel was not my idea of privacy. I needed a curtain! Thankfully, I had seen some trendy-chic curtains in the boutiques in downtown Takamatsu recently, and whipped up this super-quick curtain to hide myself from the world!

Just measure your window and add a few inches before cutting out a rectangle of fabric. If you want to make a casing at the top to thread the dowel rod through, you can, but I like the look of shower-curtain rings, and they are easier to move.

You can throw another strip of fabric in to offset your work. I suggest one plain fabric and one high-pattern for ultimate juxtaposition. Add ribbons, embroidery, iron-ons, lace,or whatever, and you’re set! Add clip-on shower rings, a dowel, hardware, hang and VIOLA! Trendy curtain finished!

If you make a half-curtain like I did, it lets lots more light in, and it leaves room for flower vases ala old salad dressing and spice containers! Fabulous! Try it!

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There is a type of person who spends their walking time looking down at the ground, searching for small things that fit in the pocket. I am one of these people. Be it cities or beaches, I watch my feet for springs, seashells, glass, rusty gears, or anything shiny. When you begin to collect too much of something, you realize you’d better do something with them before your friends question you. This is one of my solutions:

Mosaic Stepping Stones

My brother came to visit me in Japan and we made these one night after a day at the beach collecting rocks and glass.  Here are the supplies:

Old Cardboard boxes (or a mold)

WD-40

Dry Cement (Can be found in bags at hardware stores)

Disposable stir-stick

Measuring cup (and water)

Gloves, newspaper, bags

Rocks, seashells, glass, ceramic… broken stuff!

Step One:

Carefully read the directions on your cement. Every mix is different. Generally speaking, you need to mix the cement with a specific amount of water listed (start with less and add more as needed because you can’t take the water back out!)

Step Two:

Make your cardboard molds. (see cement-reading image) I made some simple squares with old boxes and duct tape, but you could make circles, hexagons, or whatever floats your boat. Make sure they are deep enough to make the height of stone you need (Don’t go under 2 inches) and makes sure there are no holes for the cement to get out, especially the corners!

Step Three:

Spray the inside of your molds REALLY well with WD-40. This will make sure you can get the cardboard off your stepping stone in the end. I suggest this be done outside.

Step Four:

Mix cement with a disposable stir stick (we used an old umbrella handle). Just mix in 75% of the water first, then add more as needed. Be sure to wear gloves because cement is not exactly a healthy medium to get on your skin and it will dry your skin harshly. We did this outside to minimize mess.

Step Five

Put your WD-40’d molds on a protected surface (newspaper or garbage bags) and pour the cement into the molds you’ve prepared. Be sure to pick up and drop your molds from a height of 1 or 2 inches a few times to settle the cement and prevent air bubbles. You can use a piece of scrap cardboard to scrape the top to make it as flat as possible. Test your cement to see how wet it is. If you press your stir stick into it and the hole fills with water after you remove it- it’s too wet. Wait a while for it to set. 5 minutes or so usually does it, though you can wait 15 or 20.

Step Six:

Now for the fun part. Get out your boxes of junk. Some people actually have a pre-drawn designs in mind, but I prefer random. Press pieces into the cement. Make sure to press them in far enough that they are almost flat with the cement. This will minimize the chances of them falling out after they dry. Remember to push them straight down and do not wiggle them as that will create a gap between the cement and the piece. Keep a paper towel nearby to wipe off cement or water from the tops of your pieces as you go. Try to work from one corner of your mold to the opposite side to avoid unplanned gaps.

Step Seven:

Now that your cement is looking beautiful, put it in a safe place where it will not be disturbed for a few days. Closets are nice because the temperature does not fluctuate. Keeping them outside risks serious cracking as temperatures shift. Make sure your pieces remain absolutely FLAT as they dry or else your stepping stones will be warped and crack when you step on them. Also, cover your stones with a grocery bag to keep air flow to a minimum and slow down the drying process.

Step Eight:

The usually curing time is 48 hours for cement, but there are always variants. I wait 3 days to be absolutely certain. When the time of unveiling comes, remove the cardboard from your mold (it usually has to be torn, but you could wet it as well), and admire your work. Some people like to spray the surface with clear acrylic spray as it will keep the porous holes of the cement from absorbing dirt and water, but if you don’t use it you’ll survive.

At this point, especially if it’s your first time, you may find some of your pieces (especially round objects like rocks) are wobbling or have plainly fallen out. These can be affixed back into their holes with some epoxy or gorilla glue. Every Chinese garden I’ve been to with cement, rock walkways has the same problem, so I don’t feel too bad about it.

I hope you have fun making your own stepping stones. If you do, please upload and post pictures of your projects and any tips you want to share. Now go use up those boxes of miscellanea!

In case accordion books aren’t your style, here are some tutorials that I can’t beat:

~A cute, fast, small book that ties with ribbon. OLW’s Tips and Techniques (If you have time, check out their One Little Word scrap-book challenge, but beware because they’re seriously addicting.)

~A secret compartment book! Bre Pettis makes great YouTube videos. Get ready to cut it up!

~A bigger book from paper and glue- no sewing or making holes! A really great step-by step video from Photojojo: I love this one! I admit I haven’t tried it, but I’m in love with the idea of trying it. Someday it’ll happen.

If you have some great links about making books, let me know and I’ll add them to to list.

I am a fabric-aholic.  I know I’m not alone.  I buy fabric whenever I see something I like, and it’s rarely in small quantities.  Sometimes I get the feeling that the fabric is too pretty to waste on a project.  That’s when I started thinking about this book.   Taking a corner of your favorite pieces of fabric and putting them in a book not only preserves them for you to look at later without rifling through folded flats, but it frees you from feeling like you have to save the fabric.  It’s also a great book to make for small children who love textures, colors, and accordion books.

 1.   Decide on a shape that you want your fabric to be seen- a square is probably the smartest, but you aren’t limited to that.  Here, I’m making a book with kimono scraps, so I’m using a kimono shape.

2.  Draw that image with a thick marker and photo copy it as many times are you have pages in your book.   (I used MS paint to make my lines straight)  Remember to make an even-number since the book will be back-to-front pages.

3.  Glue this piece of paper onto a piece of sturdy paper, poster board, or cardboard.  I always save that white stiff board that comes in packaging when you buy things that need to be kept flat.  That makes this project a little more environmentally friendly.  By the time you glue them all, the first one should be dry.

4.  Using an exacto-knife, cut out the design from inside the black line, leaving the outline on the paper, but creating a window in your cardboard page.

5.  Now, cut a swatch from your desired fabric.  Using glue on a paint brush (or your finger), on the BACK side of the page, apply glue to the area around your cardboard window.  Lay the fabric over the window so that the right side of the fabric is facing out through the window.  Straighten and smooth out creased.  Repeat until all pages are done.

6.  Lay your pages out on the floor.  Decide what order they will go in.  Lay half of your pages face down.   Pick some string, lace, yarn, or ribbon to hold your book together.  Measure and cut them to be the length of your book as it is laid out on the floor.

 

 6.  With that gluey paint brush, glue the ribbon, lace, etc, to the BACK of one half of the cards.   Try not to get glue on the fabric as it will seep through and be seen from the other side.  Make sure the ribbon lies flat, and try to keep the distance between the page constant.

7.   Without waiting for the ribbon to dry, coat the surface of the cardboard (don’t get glue on the fabric) with a thin layer of glue, and press the wrong side of another page to the face-down page, making a ribbon sandwich.   Repeat until all pages are glued down.  You may want to put some heavy books on the pages so they dry flat.

 

8.  If you want a tie to close your book, don’t forget to sandwich that in between the layers before you glue the first and last pages together.

Wa-la!   Here is your book.   Now you can decorate the pages, write on the margins explaining why you like that fabric, where you got it, how much it cost… it makes a great memory book.

Good luck!