Friday, April 28, 2017

Monstera Leaf Decorative Tray Made From Air-Dry Clay

Air-dry clay
Rolling pin
Utility knife
Paint brush

This tutorial is about a decorative tray made from air-dry clay using slab technique. Slab technique can be used to create strong functional or decorative forms of pottery from flexible sheets of clay, called slabs.

Here I am making a monstera leaf tray and you need a sketch of the leaf in a paper. You can either download a leaf drawing or draw one by yourself. Cut out the shape using scissors.

Prepare your workplace by layering a few old news papers on a flat surface (counter top/table etc.) so that once you are done, you can simply throw the newspapers without much cleanup.

Place a sheet of the foil/parchment paper over the newspapers. Take a big lump of clay (around 1.8 Kg / 4.1 pound) and using a rolling pin, hand roll it into a flat sheet/ slab, of at least 1 cm thickness (it will collapse if it is too thin). The slab should be a bit larger than the monstera leaf you have drawn.

Get the cut-out leaf sketch and place it over the slab of clay. Trace around it lightly using something sharp. A wooden skewer/pencil/ tooth pick etc. will do the job. After the shape has been traced onto the clay, cut the clay along the traced pattern using a knife.

Remove the excess clay that just cut off. Now make the leaf details such as midrib, stem, and vein on the clay. You can inscribe this on the clay by making small depressions using wooden skewer/pencil/ tooth pick etc.

The monstera leaf tray is almost ready, just one more step before I let my work dry. I want to make the tray more appealing by bending the edges of the leaf a bit upward. For that,  transfer the leaf along with the underlying foil/paper into a  8" wide cooking pan/bowl so that the bottom lies flat while the edges will curve a bit according to the shape of the pan. Allow it dry completely.

Once it is dried, apply two coats of acrylic paint (gloss finish). Dry the paint according to the paint package/tube/bottle instructions. For decorative purpose, a few lady bugs were also made using clay and painted. Glue the lady bugs on the leaf.

(As the leaf is very prone to cracking/breaking, handle it very carefully. If it broke, use an industrial strength adhesive to join the broken pieces)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Air-Dry Clay Succulent Planters

Air-dry clay
Acrylic paint-gloss finish
Paint brushes
Pencil/ pen or any stamps for making designs

Technique used: Pinching
To shape the clay into the desired shape of the planters shown in this tutorial, pinching method has been used. Pinching is a technique of pushing and pulling on a chunk of clay.
Take a handful of clay and roll into an orange-size ball.

Then insert the thumb halfway into it while use your other hand to cup the ball. Then, start rotating the ball while pinching the clay between your thumb and fingers. What you are actually doing here is making the opening bigger and wider at the same time thinning the clay to form walls.

Continue pinching until the thickness of the wall is uniform around the sides and at the bottom. While pinching, if you feel the wall is too thin at certain spots, place a wad of clay on it and fuse it to the wall using your fingers. The thickness of planter wall should be at least 1 cm. Adjust the height by pinching the clay upward. You can use a utility knife to cut off excess clay to make the rim perfectly round and symmetrical. If the planter is not standings straight, make the bottom straight. If required, smooth out the entire exterior surface of the planter and the rim using wet fingers.

In this project, I used a pencil with an eraser at its one end, to make texture on the exterior surface. You can any tool (kitchen tools like fork, spoon, skewers etc to inscribe patterns). I pressed the eraser side of the pencil on the outside wall of the planter to make a depression. This is repeated to make the desired design.

Dry at least for a week before applying any paint on it. Apply two coats of acrylic paint of gloss finish. Dry according to the instructions given on the paint tube/bottle. Transfer small succulent plants into the planters. (I also made and colored a few lady bugs out of clay for decorative purpose)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Terracotta Jewellery

Air-dry clay-Terracotta
Needle tool to make holes in beads (a tooth pick, or a skewer can be used instead)
Parchment paper/ aluminum foil
Paints (Acrylic/fabric paints)
Paint brushes
Thread and a hook
Utility knife
Rolling pin

Plan the style, length, shape, number, and size of the beads that are required to make the necklace. For this necklace, I used spherical and tapered beads and a pendant. If you want to make beads of similar size, use a weighing scale to get exact weight of the clay before rolling into beads. Or, you can eyeball the amounts.

Cut a sheet of parchment paper/ foil  and lay it over a flat surface. Take out a lemon-size clay and place it over the foil (seal the rest of the clay to prevent it from drying). Squeeze the clay with your hands to make a thick cylinder. Then, place the cylinder on parchment paper/foil and roll it using your palm into a long coil of around 1 cm-1.5 cm diameter. Make sure the diameter of the coil is uniform. Then cut into several small pieces. Each of these pieces are going to be beads. To make beads of equal size, be sure to cut into similar-length pieces from the long coil (or weigh the pieces)

To make spherical beads: Take a small piece that cut from the long coil in your hand and roll into a small sphere. Using needle tool or tooth pick, poke holes in the spherical bead.

To make tapered beads: Decide the length of the tapered bead and cut similar-length piece from the long coil. Using your index finger and thumb make the edges a bit curvy. Then, poke holes.

To make pendant: Take out a lemon-size clay and roll it flat (thickness should be around 1-1.5 cm) using a rolling pin. Then cut the required shape from it. Poke hole and make designs on the surface using stamps or simply by using a kitchen fork/skewer/tooth pick.

Once you made all the beads and pendant that are required to make the necklace, allow them to dry according to the package instructions. Make sure to dry at least a day before doing any painting on it. I used metallic shades of fabric paints. For painting a bead, strung it on a skewer/tooth pick/ needle tool, then apply paint. It is very easy to paint in this way than holding the beads with your fingers. Apply two coats of paint and once the paint has dried, apply spray glaze. Next, strung the beads and pendant using a thread and fix a hook.

Tips: If you feel the clay is getting dry while you working with it, you can simply wet your finger in water then work with clay.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Car Back Seat Organizer Made from an Old Jacket

A Jacket (the fabric should be thick, you can also use any upholstery fabric instead)
Bias tapes, or regular tapes (for finishing off the raw edges)
Sewing supplies

Take the measurement of the back side of the front car seat. (Height 24" and width 17")  Place the jacket on a flat surface and cut one piece that equals to the measurement of the back side of the seat. This is going to be the main panel of the organizer and you also need several medium and small pieces for making pockets. I used the backside of the jacket as the main panel. Three medium size rectangle pieces (referred to as pocket #1) and several other small size rectangle pieces (referred to as pocket #2) are cut from the same jacket fabric.

You also need regular or bias tapes to finish off the sides. See my previous tutorial if you want to make your own bias tapes.

How to make regular tapes and how to attach them?

Cut a rectangle strip anywhere from the fabric (a contrasting color printed fabric is used in the project)

I used 0.5 " wide strip for finishing off the edges. If you want to make a tape of 0.5" wide, you should start from a 2" wide strip. Decide the length of the strip depending on the requirement.
Place one 2" wide strip, with the wrong side facing up. Bring the two long raw edges of the strip to the center to make two folds and nicely iron.  Then make one more fold, length wise, along the center and iron. At this stage you can call it as a regular tape.

Attaching regular tapes: Place your fabric with right side facing up. Bring in the regular tape and sandwich the raw edge of the fabric in between the folds of the bias tape. Pin in place (you may also flip the fabric and make sure the pin has secured the back side of the bias tape). Sew along the folded edge of the tape to finish off the raw edge.

Attaching pocket #2 to pocket #1 
Get the small rectangles pieces cut for pocket #2 and and finish off their top raw edge with a regular or a bias tape. Then, place and pin pocket #2 onto pocket #1.

Sew along the remaining three edges of pocket #2. I used a straight stitch followed by zig-zag stitch to secure pocket #2 onto pocket #1.

Similarly, prepare the rest of the pocket #1.

Attaching pocket #1 to main panel
Finish off the top raw edge of all pocket #1 with regular tapes. Arrange all three pocket #1 prepared on the main panel.

Then, pin them in place.

Sew along the remaining three edges of pocket #1. I used a straight stitch followed by zig-zag stitch. You can also compartmentalize the pocket #1 to smaller pockets by making a straight stitch on the top of pocket #1. Finish off all the four edges of the main panel with regular tape or bias tape.

Attaching handle and fasteners
I am going to hang the organizer to the two rods that is in between the head rest and the car seat. Also, need two fasteners to secure the lower side of the organizer to the seat.

Decide length of the handle required and cut two strips of 1" wide from the same fabric. Attach them together by straight stitches along all four raw edges. Finish off the raw edge by regular or bias tapes. Attach the ends of the handle to the back side of the main panel.

To make the fasteners, a regular tape of 0.5" wide, is used. Sew along the folded edge to make fasteners.  Attach the fasteners to the lower backside of the main panel. 
To hang the organizer, slide out  the the head rest from the car seat and place the handle. Then, slide in and snap the the head rest. Tie the ends of the two fasteners on the lower back side of the car seat.

Organize cell phone, tablet, sticky notes, travel games, head phones, pen/pencil etc. in different pockets of the organizer.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

How to Press & Mod podge Leaves for Wall Decor


For drying leaves: 

A big heavy book
Wax paper

For preserving and sealing:
Mod podge
Paint brush
Paper clips or cloth clips

For showcasing:
Picture frames
Screws and screw driver

Several steps are involved in this tutorial. First step is to dry and press leaves. Then the dried leaves are sealed using mod podge to preserve its color and texture. Finally showcasing the leaves using picture frames.

1) Cut leaves of your choice using a scissor or sharp knife. Make sure the leaves are in perfect condition.

Drying leaves: 
2) The next step is drying the leaves. Here, I used a heavy book for this purpose. Get a sheet of wax paper and fold it in half. Place the wax paper in the middle of a heavy book. Carefully, arrange the leaf/leaves on the wax paper. You can orient the leaves in the  direction you want. Working with a big leaf is way easier than working with very small leaves.

Once you arrange the leaves, close the book, so that the leaf is sandwiched between the two layers of wax paper, and leave it for a week for drying. You may check in between and be sure the leaves are in proper orientation.

3) After a week, take the wax paper along with the leaves from the book and iron in medium setting. While ironing, place a thin cloth over the wax paper. Iron for 1-2 min. Then flip the leaves and repeat the process.

Preserving and sealing:
4) At this point, the leaves are very brittle so handle them very carefully. Using a tweezer, gently transfer the leaves to metal or glass surface ( I used a baking tray). Apply a thin coat of the mod podge to one side of the leaf and stem.

  5) Hang it for drying using a paper clip or  cloth clips.

6) After an hour or two, apply another thin coat to the other side of the leaf and stem. Make sure to apply a generous amount to the places where the stem holding the leaf. (If you break any leaves, don't worry! mod podge will work as a glue as well as a sealer. So, this is the perfect time for mending any broken leaves). Leave it for drying for an overnight. After this step, you will see the leaves are not brittle or fragile, instead they are supple and bendable. Also, there is a clear transparent seal on the mod podged leaf (see the picture below). In this way you can preserve the leaf and color for longer periods.

7) Once the leaves are dry, it is the time to showcase them as wall decor. Choose the right frame, depending on the size of the leaf. Get two picture frames and disassemble the components. To showcase a leaf, you need one frame and two glasses.

8) Place  the frame upside down and place one glass. Then keep the leaf with wrong side up (wrong side implies the side to be not seen).

9) Next, place the second glass on the top of the leaf. Now the leaf is sandwiched in between two glasses. Secure the the glasses to the frame using the clips on the frame. Hang the pictures using a several screws.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Turn a Jeans into a Cute Little Backpack !!

Scrap fabric (the one with big prints preferred)
Sewing supplies
Foam wrap
Lining fabric
Adjustable buckle strap
Velcro/ snap button

This tutorial will show how to design and sew a custom backpack using a jeans fabric.

Lay the jeans flat on a surface, cut along the broken red lines, open up, and spread out the fabric.

Cut out 5 pieces as per the figure below. These pieces are going to be the side panel (SP), front flap (FF), front (F), back (B), and pocket (P) of the backpack.

All the measurements are in inches, with 1/4" seam allowances included.

Measurements are as follows
For the side panel (SP): A 29" long and 6" wide rectangle strip is required
For front (F) and back (B): Two pieces, each measures 7.5" on the top, 8.5 " on the bottom and 11" length are required. To get the desired shape, the two corners of the bottom edge has been cut into a curved shape. 
For the pocket (P): A piece which measures 8" on the top, 8.5" on the bottom, and 6.5" length is required. The bottom corners have been curved.
For the front flap (FF): A piece which measures 7" on the top, 7.5" on the bottom, and 9" length is required. The bottom corners have been curved, just like other pieces.
Cut out similar shapes for SP, F, B and P from the lining fabric. For FF, a jeans fabric material is used as the lining.
Cut out similar shapes for F, B, FF from the foam wrap.
Hold on to the rest of the jeans fabric. We need several small strips and pieces for the backpack.

The next step is to prepare different parts of the backpack using the jeans fabric, lining material, and or with foam wrap.

Preparing front and back sides of the backpack.
Lets discuss the front side of the backpack first.
1) Get the front piece (F) and the lining material cut for the front piece.

2) Place F, with its right side facing up, over the lining fabric. (The lining fabric I used didn't had any visible difference between right or wrong sides. Otherwise, you will be placing the lining fabric, with wrong sides up, in other words, the wrong sides of F and lining should be together). Make sure the edges of F and lining fabric are lined up neatly. Trim any overhanging edge. Pin the edges in place.

3) Make a seam around 1/4" away from the raw edge, curving the stitching at the lower corners. Sew all the way around, leaving the straight edge. Here, we are making a case to insert the foam wrap.

4) Get the foam wrap cut for F and trim its edges by 1/4". Slightly fold and slide in the foam wrap between F and lining material, through the case opening along the straight edge. Spread it out and make sure its nicely sandwiched in between F and the lining material. If not, pull out and repeat trimming the edges until it fits perfect.

5) Create a couple of straight seams to secure the foam wrap in place. You can also sew the ends of the straight edges together at this stage.(The places to sew is shown in white broken lines)

6) In the same method, by following steps 1-5, make the backside of the backpack. Then place the backside of the backpack, with the right side facing up, and pin each ends of the straps onto the bottom curved corners. Sew to secure the straps (The places to sew is shown in white broken lines).

7) This step is completely optional. I made a pocket on the inside of the back piece for cell phone or pens. For this, I used a rectangular piece from the same lining fabric. Fold one edge of the rectangle and make a seam. Then, place the back piece we made in step 6, with the lining side facing up, and pin the rectangle piece with all three sides folded in. Attach the pocket by sewing along the three pinned edges. Then, sew a couple of straight lines for a pen/pencil to fit in.

Preparing side panel and front pocket
I didn't use a padding/foam wrap for the side panel and the front pocket.

8) Lay SP, with its right side facing up, over the lining fabric. Make a seam 1/4" away from all the edges. 
In the same way prepare the front pocket.

Preparing front flap
9) For the front flap, I used a floral print fabric and the same jeans material as the lining.
You can follow the steps 1-5 to prepare the front flap with a foam wrap sandwiched between the layers of floral print fabric and the lining fabric.
(Place FF, with its right side facing up, over the lining fabric. Make sure the edges of FF and lining are line up neatly. Pin in place and make a seam around 1/4" from the edge, all the way around, leaving the straight edge. Here, we are making a case to insert the foam wrap. Get the foam wrap cut for FF and trim its edges by 1/4". Slightly fold and slide in the foam wrap between FF and lining material, through the case opening along the straight edge. Spread it out and make sure its nicely sandwiched in between F and the lining material. Then sew the straight edge)

10) The next step is to finish off the raw edges of the front flap using a bias tape. Please visit my previous tutorial on bias tapes to the tape. The same fabric was used to make bias tape for the front flap. Here I used the sandwich method to attach the bias tape.

At this point, we have made all the individual parts which are required to make the backpack. The next task is to put these together to finish off the backpack.

A. Attaching the front pocket to front side
11) Get the above prepared front pocket and front side of the bag. Fold in 1/4" twice from the top straight edge of the front pocket and make a seam. (Or you can use bias tape here to finish off the top raw edge of the pocket). Place the pocket over the front side, with the right sides of both pieces facing up. Line up the bottom curved raw edges. Secure them in position using pins and create a seam 1/4" from the raw edge to attach the front pocket to the front side piece. (You may guide the needle along the previously made  seam on both pieces.)

B. Attaching the side panel to front and back pieces
12) The next step is to attach the front piece we just prepared in step 12 to the side panel, prepared in step 8. Align the edges of the front piece, except the top straight edge, with  one of the long edges of the side panel. Be sure to orient the "right sides" (means the side to be seen) towards outside. Pin all the way around and sew them together by making a 1/4" seam from the edge.

13) Next, attach this to the back side prepared over steps 1-6 to complete the body of the backpack. For that, line up the other long edge of the side panel to the backside, pin all the way around, and make a seam 1/4" away from the raw edge.

At this point the backpack will look something like this (see the figure below).
You can see three unfinished edges; the top, front, and back. For the front unfinished edge, a bias tape with the same fabric as the flap is used. For the back unfinished edge, a black color bias tape is used. Since the top edge is straight, unlike the front and back edge, you can use a regular tape. I used a regular tape made from the jeans fabric (Please see step 16 for making a tape).

14) Finish off the front and back sides with bias tapes. Trim off any excess fabric from the top edges to make all of them of the same length. Using a regular tape finish off the top straight edge.

C. Attaching front flap, handle and straps
15) Pin the front flap on the backside of the backpack around 1.5" from the finished top edge of the backpack. Keep everything with the right sides facing up. Also attach a handle and the other ends of the strap in the middle of the top raw edge of the flap. Pin all of them in place and sew the flap, handle, and the straps.

C1. How to make regular tapes for strap and handle?
Here is a very short and quick guideline to prepare the regular tapes tapes:
16) It doesn't matter from where you are cutting the tape, means, you don't need to cut the strip parallel to the bias, instead you can cut a rectangle strip anywhere from the fabric.
I used a 9" long, 0.5 " wide strip for the handle. If you want to make a handle with 0.5" wide and 9" long, you should start from a 2" wide and 9" long rectangle piece. 

Place one 2" wide strip, with the wrong side facing up. Bring the two long raw edges of the strip to the center to make two folds and nicely iron.  Then make one more fold, length wise, along the center and iron. At this stage you can call it as a regular tape. Then sew along the folded edge to prevent it from opening.

This is how all the regular tapes used in this tutorial are made.

17) To hide the raw edges of flap, strap, and handle, a rectangle piece from the jeans fabric is used. Cut the required fabric piece and lay over the raw edge of flap. Fold in all the edges of the rectangle piece and pin in place. Then, sew along the folded edges.

D. Final touch-ups
18) To fasten the opening of the bag, a set of small loops, a string stopper/slider,  and a drawstring are used. A total of 6, equally spaced hoops are used on the top finished edge, one on each side panel, two on the back side, two on the front.

Small loops: A 0.5" tape made from same jeans fabric is used to make the small loops. Please see step 16 for making a tape. The  0.5" wide regular tape is cut into 1.5" long pieces. Fold that 1.5″ piece in half to make a small loop and pin it to the inside of the top finished edge.Then sew it with several stitches. Repeat the same and attach six equally spaced loops on the top finished edge of the bag.

String: Decide the length of string. A 30-32" long strip would be suffice. Make a regular tape from the printed fabric (Please see step 16 for making a tape). Then sew along the folded edge of the tape to make the string. Feed the string through the eyelet of the loops.

String stopper/slider: A 1" wide and 2" long regular tape is used. (Please see step 16 for making a tape). Sew the folded edges together and then sew together the raw edges. Now it will look like a medium sized loop. Flip the loop inside out so that the seam will be hidden inside. Sew again in the middle using zig-zag stitches and draw each ends of the string through the small hole in the string stopper/slider. Two wide bored beads are used at the end of the string and tied a knot to prevent it from falling off the string.

Velcro: Finally, sew a 1 inch velcro square onto the top of the front pocket and and one to the inside of the front flap.

The backpack has enough room to hold 2-3 big books, ipad, phone, pen etc..

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