Ladies Sundress to Girls Smocked Jumper (Tutorial)

If you're looking for a girls dress, sometimes it pays off to shop in the women's section.  I bought a sundress (women's one size fits all) for $6 at Ross, added some straps, and in only minutes turned it into a girls smocked jumper--perfect for Hawaiian day at school!

 I think that a lot of times the most difficult part of altering clothing is matching the fabric, do you agree?  I really lucked out this time and found a piece of fabric with a near perfect match in a remnant bin. 

How to Add Straps to a Sundress

1.  Measure for the length of the straps by first putting the dress on whoever will be wearing it (if possible). 

2.  Measure the length from the front to the back of the sundress over the shoulder and add 1" to that length to allow for 1/2" seam allowances.  Measure the distance from the side seams to where the straps need to be to allow enough room for the arm.

3.  Decide how wide you want the strap.  Multiply that number by two and add 1" for seam allowances.

4.  Cut two strips of fabric using your measurements, fold them in half lengthwise (right sides together).  Stitch along the length of the straps using  1/2" seam allowances.  Turn the fabric right sides out and press.  Finish the raw edges with a serger or a zig-zag stitch.

5.  Line up the ends of the straps, measuring from the sideseams of the dress and 1/2 inch down from the top of the dress and pin in place.  Use matching thread and stitch along one of smocking lines to hide the stitch. 

The first time I sewed on the straps (at 11pm the night before Hawaiian day when my daughter was asleep) I forgot to measure the distance the straps should be sewn in from the sides so I guessed.  She put it on the next morning and could barely get her arms in!  Well I sure guessed wrong!  I had 10 minutes to scramble to unpick the seams and resew them before she had to catch the bus, sheesh, when will I ever learn to not put these things off?  Please tell me that I'm not the only one that does this. :)

Today's Fabulous Find...
Turning A Ladies Sundress into a Girls Jumper 

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Featuring: Asparagus and Tater Toss Recipe

When I was a young girl I loved to pick asparagus.  I grew up in the country where it grew along the fencelines (on the outer edges of the fields) near our home.  Some days my siblings and I picked enough to fill an entire grocery sack, which we took home to our mom to cook for dinner.  It was so good!   I don't know if it would have tasted as delicious to me though if I hadn't picked it myself.

Kristyn just posted this recipe for Asparagus & Tater Toss over at Lil' Luna and I can not wait to try it!  It's going on the menu this week for sure.  If you like asparagus you've got to go check out this recipe--it has bacon! 

My thanks to Kristyn for permission to use this photo.  Please pin it from the original post.

Today's Fabulous Find:  Asparagus & Tator Toss Recipe

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A Diva Dilemma: Before and After

The other day I was browsing through the frames at the dollar store and saw these lovelies.

They had been marked down to .50 because nobody wanted them.  Huh? Wonder why. ;)  Well I wanted them so I bought the last three and couldn't wait to get home to my spray paint! 

Side note:  Do you ever feel bad for the people who don't know what a little paint can do?  I wish I'd known when I was first married and living in an apartment full of freebies and mismatches.  I could have done so much! 

Okay, onto the after.........

The flowers are from my yard (they are a little sparse this year).  You can read how to paint a Mason jar hereIf you put water in the painted jar, it will need a liner of some kind (plastic cup) or the paint will bubble and peel).  The tray got a new coat of Rust-oleum's Heirloom White spray paint.  I painted it black here, and before that it looked like this!

I flipped the mirror around and painted chalkboard paint on the back of it so if I ever want to use the mirror I still can.  The paint color is Rust-oleum's satin sage and is somewhat deceiving depending on the lighting and what you put it next to, sometimes it seems more blue. 


1.  Sand the top down if there are any uneven lines from the previous paint or they will still show when you paint it.
2.  Spray with primer.  (I used 1 coat of gray and 1 coat of white just to make sure it was covered well.)
3.  Spray on 1 to 2 coats of paint  (I used Rust-oleums satin Sage).  Let dry.
4.  Run an ink pad around the edges to give it a distressed look.  Smear it some with your finger if needed.
5.  Finish it with a coat of matte or gloss clear acrylic finishing spray.
6.  Paint chalkboard paint on the back side of the mirror (so it can still be used). 

I cut the leaves out of burlap and added some Fray Check to the edges to help prevent fraying.  The rosette was made from a strip of osnaburg fabric.  I only glued it onto the jute (which is tied in the back) in case I want to take it off at any point.

I'm still deciding what I want to do with the other two frames, small gifts maybe?

Today's Fabulous Find...50 Cent Frames

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Organizing a Project Gallery/Menu

When I first started my blog, the first thing I should have done was to start a project menu/gallery, but I didn't.  When you only have a handful of posts it doesn't seem like it's really that important.  As time passed, and I posted more projects, I put it off until it got to the point where it was overwhelming to think of sizing, uploading, labeling, and linking nearly 150 images.  I tried several different ways of doing it, but none of them really worked for me.  What I needed was a way to organize my posts that was easy to keep up, took very little of my time, looked clean and neat, and didn't cost me anything--enter Inlinkz.  Just realized this sounds an awful lot like an infomercial, promise it's not! :)

Over a year ago I entertained the thought of starting a linky party and signed up for Inlinkz, but I never did anything with it. The other day I remembered that when you join Inlinkz they give you one free Thumbnail collection and unlimited text collections.   I realized that I could use the one free thumbnail collection to link up my projects in a page and set the closing date for the link as far into the future as possible (saving me from paying a $1.99 monthly fee for the next 622 days).   It took hours to link up all of my projects to date, but I'm caught up now and from here on out it will be a breeze to quickly link up a project when I post it. 

I set it up so the most recent projects will be posted at the top of the page.  This will make it easier for readers to check in and see if there is a project that they might have missed and will give new visitors a clear picture of what they can expect to find at Today's Fabulous Finds.  Also, if I have any spammers try to link up I'm sure to see it there at the top and can quickly delete the links. (I hope this doesn't happen, we'll see.)

One more perk--if you login to your Inlinkz account and open the collection, you can view how many clicks each of your projects has to quickly see which ones are getting the most traffic--fun, right?

I'm sharing all of this because I know that the majority of you that read my blog have a blog yourself and possibly some of you are just as cheap frugal as I am and might not want to pay a monthly fee just to open one thumbnail collection for a project gallery.

 If you are viewing this post in a reader or through e-mail

I'm so grateful to each of you, that you take the time to drop by and read about what I've been working on.  I went through each of my past posts one by one to decide which ones to link to my gallery and was touched by the tremendous support that I've been given along the way.   Thank you for your support and for your friendship--you are fabulous! 

Today's Fabulous Find...Free Inlinkz Thumbnail Collection

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Personalized Teacher Subway Art

Teacher Appreciation Week this year is May 7th-11th. 

Last year I made up a subway art print that can be personalized for each individual teacher, I thought I'd share it again this year.  The prints have a blank space where you can add the teacher's name and several have a blank square in the center to add an image of your choice-- it could be the school mascot, a character that the teacher loves, a picture, whatever you like. 

What to Do With It

You can print the subway art and frame it, use it as a card or tag, attach it to a square box of Kleenex's for their desk, put it inside a bottle of anti-bacterial soap, use it as the cover of a keepsake book....

Before I gave the subway art to my kid's teachers last year, I cut out pictures of all of the kids in the class in a circle about the size of a quarter (I scanned and enlarged their class picture and then printed it on photo paper.), and added the pictures around the outside edge of the print between the glass.  

Several Prints to Choose From

How to Personalize the Subway Art with a Teacher's Name

I think the easiest way to add the names would be to first save the print to your computer and then upload it into Picnik (while it's available), PicMonkey, or another online photo editing program.  Once it's uploaded select to add text, choose the font you like, type in the teachers name.  Drag the name to the blank box and size it to fit the space.  Save it to your computer and then select to continue editing the photo.  Now you can select the name, type in a new teachers name if you'd like, and resave it. 

If you want to cover the apple, select 'shapes' and then add a white square over the apple.

 Click Here to download the Teacher Subway Art Prints 
and for more information on the framed print pictured above.

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Featuring: Charger to Decorative Mirror

See those gorgeous mirrors?  Would you believe that they began as chargers?  It's true!   Kim at Sand and Sisal has come up with a genius idea on how to take an ordinary dinner plate charger and turn it into a beautiful piece of art.  You have to see the before pictures!

My thanks to Kim for her permission to use this photo.  Please pin this image from the original post.

Today's Fabulous Find...How to Turn a Charger into a Mirror

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An Easter Mantel for the Kids

Earlier this week, my little guy helped me make a few quick changes to our Spring mantel.  It only took us a few minutes to convert it into something that he could actually get excited about!

Here's a reminder of what we started with and will revert back to again after Easter.

I don't have a lot of storage space for seasonal decor, so I used the same base items and tweaked them just a little to change the theme to Easter. 

We replaced the 'hope' plate with a look-a-like 'hippity-hoppity' plate, temporarily covered the brown paper on the candle with a piece of Easter ribbon, and added some bright colored flowers to the wreath.

We also added a few Easter egg hunt picks to the greenery, replaced the lantern with a basket of Easter eggs, and substituted the star garland for a bright 30's reproduction print bunting.

This is how it all looked last year...

...and now this year with the addition of our new mantel shelf.

*All of the info. and tutorials on the Easter decor is in last years post if you'd like to know more about any of the items.

Also, if you need a last minute print to frame for a Sunday lesson or to use at home, both the Easter and Spring Subway Art Prints are available in several different colors and can be printed in different sizes.

Have a most wonderful Easter Weekend!

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Large Chicken Wire Frame and Barnwood Painting Technique

I'm not going to call this a tutorial because I know there are better ways of doing this, so today I'm going to show you one way to make a large chicken wire frame (not necessarily the best way). 

Valentine Mantel with Natural Elements
This project took almost a year to finish, can you believe it took me so long!?  I started it the end of May last year and didn't finish it until this last February.  Have any projects like this?   I had a grand vision of how it was all going to go together so perfectly until I got started on it and it all fell apart--literally!

Here's the story...

I started with 3- 1x3x8's (really measure 5/8" x 2 1/2 x 8).  These boards are cheap--like less than $2 each. You could also use 4- 1x3x6 boards.  They were cut into four - 4' lengths, and four- 2' lengths.  (Lowe's and Home Depot will cut them for you.)

My dad gave me an old piece of chicken wire that he didn't need, so that was free.  Sorry, I haven't priced it out so I don't know how much it would cost to buy new.

I first applied glue to the inside edges of the boards and used these little joint brackets (the metal piece in the picture below) to hold the boards together.  There were so many joints in the frame, and it was so big, that it wasn't strong at all.  The frame wobbled and moved to the point that some of the joint brackets fell right back out, it broke apart in places where it was glued, and the frame pretty much fell apart.  It was so frustrating I gave up on it and set it aside. 

The pieces of wood sat in my storage room (where I keep my unfinished projects) for 10 months  until the day I became determined to use it for my Valentine Mantel and finally figured out a way to fix my problem that didn't involve spending any more money on it--(no big surprise if you're a regular reader) I used paint sticks! 

I cut the paint sticks, pre-drilled holes into the wood frame, and then used screws I had on hand to attach the paint sticks and secure the corners of the frame.  (Make sure the screws are short enough that they won't go through to the front.) When it actually worked I was so, so happy!

The frame though is still only as strong as the paint sticks so I used a few of the metal joint pieces and glued all of the boards together as well.  I think a better solution would have been to cut a thin board out into the shape of the corner and glue and then screw it to the frame.  Our jigsaw is a cheap piece of junk though and won't cut even a straight line, so that wasn't an option for me. (A new one is on my wish list!)

I used a staple gun to attach the wire, be sure to wear safety glasses.  Staple the centers of the top, bottom, and sides, pulling the wire as tight as you can.  Position the staple over the wire so the wire doesn't slip on the staple when you let go of it.  Staple around the edges pulling it tight as you go.   It would be a good idea to wear some thin gloves to protect your fingers when you are pulling the wire tight.  I wish I had, my fingers were pretty sore by the time I was done.  It would have been nice to have someone to help with this step too.  Use wire cutters to trim off the extra wire.

The painting didn't start out any better than the frame did, but in the end was just what I was going for.  I first painted it with Heirloom White spray paint and then stained over the top of it with Minwax dark walnut stain.  It wasn't what I was hoping for, so I used a cloth rag and lightly wiped on some Alabaster white paint over it (allowing the other colors to show through in places) followed by some light sanding and more dark walnut stain.  I was going for the old weathered look and it was looking a little too brown, so I used a rag again and lightly wiped over it with a dark glaze, applying it thicker to the edges of the wood.

 I like to use a rag because it applies the paint unevenly and doesn't cover every bit of the previous colors.  I also don't wait for the paint to fully dry before I sand or add another layer of paint or stain.  I've found that if the paint is still slightly tacky when I sand, it's easier to get the worn barn wood paint look.  Keep layering paint, sanding, and glazing until you get the look you like, it's really quite fun!

You can read more about the metal accents here.

Now that it's all been figured out and I'm done, I don't know why I struggled with it so much at first.  It really wasn't that hard to finish in the end.  I guess some projects are just like that!

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