Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Quilt Cabinet

After seeing several super cute quilt display cabinets on Pinterest, I'd been keeping my out for one of my own.  I had seen a few really beautiful antique cabinets that made me swoon but I wasn't willing or able to pay several hundreds of dollars for them.  I came across this beauty at one of my favorite antique stores in Logan, Utah.  The first time I saw it I passed it up.
It was obviously a home wood-working project for someone and had been sitting outside for quiet a while.  She was a bit rough.  The top, back, and sides (on the bottom) of the cabinet were all made out of cheap pressed "board."  You know, the stuff that is more like really thick cardboard and not wood?  All of these pieces were also painted black, which I was not a big fan of.  So I shopped around a bit more but I just kept thinking about this cabinet.  What I love about it is the fact that it has several wide and short shelves and full glass on three sides.  It just seemed perfect for displaying quilts.  So I went back to the store and was able to talk the owner down to $75 from $100 and I brought that baby home...spider webs and all!

I really did not like the bottom of the cabinet.  The fake board was just hideous.  And so I came up with ingenious plan of cutting off the bottom portion and attaching new legs. 

And so my wonderful husband went to work with the circular saw...
 As soon as the bottom was off I thought, "uh oh."  Big mistake!  If I had this to do all over again I would NOT have cut the bottom off.  But alas...the deed was done.  So we headed off to Lowe's to look for legs.  This is where the project became a bit pricey.  The legs were $10 each.  Ugh.  My hubby used some screws through the bottom of the cabinet to attach them.

She was looking a bit tipsy at this point.  I'd say an apple body type.  In an attempt to make the bottom a bit more substantial, we cut down some boards to put in between the legs. And then it was time for paint.  I used Waverly chalk paint in the color ivory.  I eventually deiced to paint over all the hardware.
We also cut new shelves out of thicker wood and I painted those an aqua color.  Here she is all finished before I added the quilts.

And here she is stocked with quilts

She currently resides in the piano room, which is just off of the entry.  All the quilts are from antique stores and thrift stores.  I believe I paid $20 for each of the top two, and $10 each for the lower three.  Someone asked me if I had made all the quilts and I had to tell them no, but it got me thinking...maybe I should start making quilts!  Within a few weeks of finishing this cabinet I was off to the fabric store to start making my picks.
I didn't use a pattern of any kind.  I decided to do pinwheels, so I cut my fabrics into 6"squares.  I sewed two different patterns together around all four edges and then cut on the diagonal both directions so that they each folded out in triangles. I then sewed the triangles blocks together to form the pinwheel shape.  I will not lie, the centers for my pinwheels were quite thick because it is tricky to press out that many seams.  And not all of them meet perfectly.  Who cares?!  I ended up doing 9 pinwheel squares across by 11 down for a total of 99 squares.  I decided to hand quilt around the the patterned triangles for a total of 396 triangles.  It was a LOT of sewing and took me about six weeks longer than I hoped.  But it was something to do while I watched TV at night.
For the backing I used an old vintage sheet that I found at the DI for $3.  I loved it, and actually I picked it out before any of the other fabrics so it gave me a good starting point for colors.
The finished product!
 I think if I were doing it all over again, I would have randomized the squares rather than putting them in an order, but I love how it turned out.  I used a binding technique that I found on Pinterest called "Suzie's magic binding."  It gives a little pop of a second color, which I love.
I haven't decided whether to put the quilt in the cabinet or not.  Right now it is comfortably perched on the back of our beautiful wood choir seats in the entry.  I feel like if it stays there I need to get a more colorful rug.  Guess I'll have to go shopping.  Shucks!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Calico Critters Play Mat & Storage

When I was little, I had a rabbit family made by Sylvanian Families as well as a bear family made by Mapletown. I loved playing with them because they were miniature and I love everything small! I have been buying my girls the Lil' Woodzeez brand from Target for a few years now because their price is so much more affordable than Calico Critters, but something triggered in my brain before Christmas this year and set me off on a critter craze.  I was in bed for a couple of weeks after surgery and I went a little overboard on eBay purchases.  Now I am hooked!  They are just so darn cute.  I'm telling you, it's American Girl all over again!

Remember watching commercials when you were a kid and they had such extravagant backgrounds that the dolls and toys were playing in? Beautiful roads, trees, mountains, lakes, you name it. I wanted to create somewhere for my girls to play with their critters and set up their buildings like a little town, so I commissioned my husband to paint a play mat. Although I would love to have an elaborate play space with turf, real stone walkways, etc. it just isn't realistic.  We don't have the space for it and I probably wouldn't want to spend the money to create it.  A mat seemed like a good idea because when it is not being used, it can be rolled up and stored in the closet, and it only cost about $22 to make. 

I purchased 2-1/2 yards of canvas cloth from Wal-Mart.  The width of the fabric was about 60".  I serged all the edges and then folded under the serged edge and hemmed it.  Next, we spread the fabric out with a couple of the buildings so that we could get an idea of scale and size and I let my husband go crazy with a pencil drawing things out.  I just told him that I wanted it to be half town and half country, and he did the rest.

Over the next week we spent a couple hours each night painting the mat.  We used regular old craft paint from the bottle.  It soaks up quite a bit of paint so we used about 12 oz of green paint and 3 oz of brown, gray & blue.  The paint does leak through the canvas, so be sure to have some cardboard or something underneath while you work.  We did two coats of the green, gray and brown, but left the blue at one coat so that it was kind of streaky looking.  After we painted, my husband went around it all with a black Sharpie marker to give it definition and detail.  I heard somewhere that if you wash the fabric first it won't wrinkle up so much when painted.  I did not do that to ours.

 On our mat we included a fountain to serve as the center of town
 A cobblestone road, which is all hand drawn with the marker
 A bridge over a river
 A dirt road in the country along with a lake and pier
 A little garden plot, and several trees and bushes scattered throughout

Here it is all set up with buildings and critters:


While the mat is super cute and fun to play on, it does have one serious flaw-- it folds up like crazy when it is stepped on or sat on.  My hubby and I are trying to devise some kind of frame to hook it to to keep it nice and flat while in use.  I'll be sure to make another post if we end up doing that.

While we are on the subject of Calico Critters, I thought I'd share how we store them at our house.  They all get stacked up in the closet of our bonus room.  Of course they have to share the space with American Girl ;)

I made a Ziploc bag labeled with each building's name along with a two-sided, laminated print of what comes in the set.  This way we keep all the set pieces together and my kids can see what belongs in each set. 
As for the critters, I just recently bought this ornament storage case and it works great.

There are 32 compartments and they are big enough to stand the critters up, with the exception of my Mapletown bears which are a bit too big.  I'm hoping that storing them this way will cause a little less damage to the flocking on the critters.  Back when we just had the Lil' Woodzeez, we packed them all in one tote together and some of them were losing quite a bit of fur.
I may need to buy another one of these totes soon to support my shopping addiction!  I've already bought three other families and several more play sets that are stashed away for Easter and birthdays.
If you love Calico Critters at your house like we do, I hope this post was helpful to you.  Thanks for stopping by!