Own Your Initial: DIY Framed Button Artwork

After 21 non-stop years of school, I’m used to being busy. So, it’s no surprise that my graduated and unemployed state this summer has left me a little bored. The problem with this is that I a) don’t handle boredom very well and b) discovered over those 21 years of school that the busier I am, the more I get accomplished. And I have a lot to get accomplished — namely job applications.

I’ve been doing pretty good on that front though. Unfortunately, however, you can only fill out so many job applications in one sitting, so I have to find other things to do with my time. Not to mention that any down time I do have leaves me feeling guilty and depressed about not having a job in the first place.

So, I’ve taken to other pursuits, like scouring Pinterest for ideas. One of my favorites on the site are the various examples of Button Artwork that are constantly floating around.

I tried this particular project out once already when I made one in the Spring for my cousin’s daughter. I was supposed to make one for her son — I had all the supplies and everything — but life (namely my Master’s thesis) got in the way and I never made it. Lucky for you though, I finally got around to finishing it and remembered to document the process!

What You’ll Need:

  • Buttons (color of your choice)
  • White cardstock
  • Hot glue gun (and hot glue sticks)
  • Ruler
  • Pencil (with eraser)
  • Photo frame — NOTE: Since the button art is not completely flat, you will need to choose a deeper frame that allows for more than a flat piece of paper to be placed inside.

Instructions:

Step 1:  Assemble your supplies. For this project, I used lime green buttons that I bought at Pat Catan’s. They were less than $5 and I have more than enough left over for another button-related project. I also used regular white cardstock as the backing. Finally, I bought a plain white 8″x10″ frame from IKEA.

Pat Catan’s sells assorted bags of buttons in various colors. In addition to green, they have pink, blue, teal, white/pearl, and more depending on availability.

Because this button art is for a child, I decided to use a white frame and white background.

Step 2: Plan out your artwork ahead of time — you don’t want to start gluing and have to start over because your artwork is crooked or doesn’t fit on the paper. Using a ruler and pencil, draw out the letter you are creating on the cardstock. Make sure it’s centered and looks even. Tip: place the cardstock in the frame for a second to make sure the letter looks okay.

I traced the letter P on the cardstock lightly in pencil. Later, I erased it slightly so that that pencil marks wouldn’t show through on the finished product.

Step 3: Spread out your buttons on the table and plug in the glue gun.

Step 4: Start arranging buttons on the letter you traced. Try to vary the sizes of the buttons as you go so that you have both bigger and smaller buttons next to each other. Since my buttons were not all the exact same shad of green, I also tried to avoid putting too many dark or light green buttons next to each other.

Before you start gluing, lay some of the buttons out to get an idea of how they look and fit next to one another.

Step 5: Start gluing! The letter that you traced on the paper is meant to be a general guide — don’t worry about going outside the lines slightly. Also, don’t worry about the gaps that will show through between the buttons. Later, you can go back and add a smaller second layer of buttons to cover some of the holes.

CAUTION: You will be handling a hot glue gun to secure the buttons to the cardstock. Be very careful as the glue is extremely hot and can burn you if it comes in contact with your skin. Please use extra caution when applying the hot glue to the buttons as they have a very small surface area.

Just have fun selecting and gluing the buttons — don’t worry about perfection!

Step 6: Once the letter is completely filled in, go back and place a few additional buttons in a “second layer” to cover any gaps that exist.  Don’t worry about covering all the gaps — the second layer can cover up any mistakes, globs of glue, or pencil marks as well. It also gives the project additional depth.

Here’s what the art work looks like after both the first and second button layers have been completed.

Step 7: After the artwork has dried and cooled completely, place it in the frame.

And you’re done!

The finished product!

Another, close up view, in the frame.

From start to finish, this project only took me about an hour and a half. Some letters may take longer than others.

I’d love to see your button artwork! Let me know if you attempt your own (or someone else’s) initial and definitely feel free to contact me with any questions!

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DIY Braided Strap Tank Top

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a DIY tutorial on this blog. The last one was how to revamp a pair of plain Jane high heels into something a little more fabulous. This time, I’ll show you how to make an item from your t-shirt surplus a little cuter and much more suitable for hot summer days. (In Ohio, that’s all we’ve had lately.) If you’re anything like me, you have drawers full of “free” t-shirts from college or high school. I’m pretty sure that t-shirts were the currency of the realm during my undergrad, getting a new shirt for every major event in which I participated. Many of those t-shirts are being transformed into a quilt as a sort of souvenir for my years at YSU. I’d be further along in the project, but I didn’t realize how tedious it was to iron on interfacing to the backs of each of the quilt squares. I went through half of them and quit to start on a new craft project. It will be finished this summer, though, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

I also have a lot of t-shirts that I’ve picked up along the way from different things. Concerts, travel, or even a random wandering through Goodwill… I’ve found some pretty cool shirts. I really only wear t-shirts to work out, but lately, it’s been too hot to wear a t-shirt with sleeves, and it gets annoying to have to push them up every twenty steps or so. Sometimes, I like the graphic on the shirt, but wish I could wear it under a cardigan (the basic staple of my wardrobe) without the bulk of sleeves. Taking those t-shirts and making them into cute tank tops easily takes care of both of those problems.

This step-by-step tutorial should take about an hour or less, with very little sewing involved. You’ll want to use a baggy shirt in your size or a shirt one size larger than what you normally wear.

Step 1.

Lay the shirt out on a flat surface. Cut the sleeves off just outside of the seam. Measure about 2 inches down from the bottom of the collar, and make a small mark. Starting at the sides of the collar, cut down to the mark in a “V” shape through both sides of the t-shirt.

Step 2.

On the front of the t-shirt, use the bottom of the “V” as a guide. Draw a horizontal line straight across the bottom of the “V” from sleeve to sleeve. Flip the shirt over and cut each shoulder section into thirds. Stop when you reach the same level as the bottom of the “V” on this side (the back) of the shirt.

Step 3.

Pull on each of the strips to stretch it out. The edges will roll in a bit, but that’s ok. Braid one set of three strips and sew the strips together at the end to secure them. Repeat on the other side. At this point, I stretched the braids out a bit too, just to keep the length.

Step 4.

To do this step, I put on a tank top I already like and put this shirt on over that one so I could find where I like the straps to fall. On me, that’s about 10-11 inches apart. Pin the straps where you want them to be. Sew one strap securely onto the inside of the t-shirt towards the top. Repeat on the other side. It should look fairly tank-top-y by now.

Step 5.

Using scrap material from the “V”s you cut out or from the sleeves, cut a strip about an inch and a half wide by four inches long. Wrap this strip tightly around the area where you connected the strap to the t-shirt to cover it and make it look a bit neater. Sew the strip to itself on the back of the braid so it’s on the inside of the tank top and not easily visible. Do the same thing on the other braid. You’re done!

This is my sister, Carmen. Thanks, Carmen!

The top may roll a bit, and you can feel free to fold it over and hem it, but it’s not necessary. That’s the great thing about t-shirt material. The tank top does a cool drape-fold type thing in the back where the braids start.

Give this refashion a try and let me know how it goes for you! I’d love to see a picture of your refashion!

The Best DIY Makeover You Can Give Your Wardrobe This Winter

This could have easily become another non-buyer’s regret post, and it almost did. That is, until I got a little crafty. I wanted to do at least one more awesome craft project before the semester started. Actually, today is my last “first day of school” for probably a few years. Considering I’ve been in school for 21 years straight, pre-school to grad school, adjusting to life outside of the classroom will probably be a challenge for me. But I digress.

I found these ahhh-maazing shoes at Old Navy, and instantly fell head over heels, if you’ll pardon the bad pun. They were perfect. Except they don’t carry half sizes in stores (just like their short-inseam jeans… I can never win in stores). I debated back and forth about just going ahead and ordering them, since I’d tried on a pair of 8s and a pair of 9s in the stores, finding that 8.5 would be the right fit. The only thing was, Christmas was quickly approaching, and I couldn’t justify plopping down $35 (+ $7 in S&H) for these shoes. I would take Brian into the store to find jeans and ended up looking at the shoes for a few minutes. Finally, just before Christmas, he offered to buy them for me. After having seen all the presents he had wrapped up for me, I couldn’t ask him for more. I told him that I didn’t really need them right now and I’d just wait for the price to drop and buy them on sale.

It never happened. So, there I was, minus these awesome glitter shoes and starting to feel non-buyer’s regret yet again. Having seen a few tutorials on Pinterest, I decided that whipping up my own DIY version would be a cinch for a seasoned craft pro like myself. With a Jo-Ann Fabrics gift card in hand, I set out to find my glitter. I had originally planned to use a very fine grain glitter by Martha Stewart, but after looking at the cost/benefit analysis (I’d have to buy probably three or four small tubes of it and end up wasting at least one), I settled on Jo-Ann Craft Essentials Glitter Glue in Silver, which was only $4 a bottle. (The link shows the variety pack, which is also $4, but I don’t think one bottle would hold enough to cover a pair of shoes in the same color.) The next step was finding a pair of heels I already owned to carry out my makeover plans. Having earned a bachelor’s degree in a field where one frequently needs to dress up a bit, I had no trouble finding a pair of black heels that would suit this project.

Nothing special. Actually, closer to Civil War widow than super cute.

I started by using masking tape to cover up the patent-esque edge and to tape the bow up so it wouldn’t be in the way. Then I started painting on the glitter glue in a thin to moderate layer, covering the entire outside of the shoe. I didn’t do the inside of the heel. It takes a while to dry, so give yourself a few days to work on this. Give them at least overnight before you start to handle them.

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Getting there. Brian now has a "no glitter products in the apartment" rule...

This is with one coat of glitter glue. It looks more interesting, but they still don’t have the “wow” factor I was going for. Be sure to clean your brush out frequently, since it’ll make it easier for you to paint on more glitter glue. For the second coat, you can be more generous with your layers. I made sure I didn’t have any large lumps of glitter anywhere by turning the shoe sideways to look at the different angles and make sure everything was still generally flat. After two coats of glitter glue (and a healthy coat of Modge Podge, every crafter’s best friend), I wound up with these babies…

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Ta da! Something special and totally awesome. Now to dress up that box. Pretty shoes deserve pretty packaging.

How much were they, you ask? Well, since I had the shoes already, it came out to $4! Four whole American dollars, which I paid with a gift card, so they were technically free. Plus, since the glitter was already mixed in glue, and I covered it with Modge Podge, it’s not coming off. I walked around all morning in them for a student leadership summit, and it didn’t look like following my trail would lead you to a pot of gold. I’m starting to wonder what else can be reasonably glitter-ized, although I think it would be best to leave it to one nice statement piece like these shoes. I plan on wearing them to my graduation, since no one will see whatever killer dress I come up with under that tent-like gown.

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What girl doesn't love a little sparkle in her life?

Buyer’s Regret

Well, another fantastic purchase has come and gone… that I didn’t make.

The first time this truly happened to me was earlier this year at a church rummage sale. I was looking for items for centerpieces at my sister’s wedding reception, and since she’s going with the vintage-antique-shabby-chic look, rummage and yard sales are generally the best places to look. A framed poster caught my eye when I walked in: it was a large, very vintage map of downtown Youngstown. It was perfect in every way, especially for someone who loves maps as much as I do. And it was $1! I was interested, but I went about my way and found several items we’ll be able to use to decorate the tables. I paid for my items, and on my way out, saw a retro armchair covered with black vinyl and upholstery nails all around the edges. It was marked $8, so I thought maybe I’d take a sit to see how it was. A woman came over and said she’d take $5 for it, which was really a steal, so I bought the chair and had someone take it out to my car, forgetting all about the map.

Big mistake. I remembered it as soon as I got home, and I called the church in the hope that maybe it was still there and they could hold it for me. No such luck; it was gone. Buyer’s regret set in. Perhaps, more accurately, it’s “non-buyer’s regret.”

It set in again this afternoon when I checked out Old Navy’s shoes page. I’ve been watching a pair of perforated peep-toe flats, because I knew the original price of $22.99 would most definitely go down. And it did. And then I had online coupons. But I didn’t buy the shoes… I went back to the website to see if they still had them in an 8.5, mais non… All they have left is a 6. What child-footed person wears a size 6 shoe? No offense to those with petite feet, my sister can still wear children’s shoes, making all of her cute flats and moccasins nearly half price.  Lucky.

So, my question for you is: Have you ever experienced non-buyer’s regret? Or even buyer’s regret? What did you buy or didn’t buy that ended up bumming you out?

I’m planning on actually taking an “Abbie” weekend this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with the exceptions of a few internship and Burn & Earn Incentive Program related activities. (I should write about that…) I have a list of awesome craft activities lined up for myself, as well as a solid Netflix Instant Que. I’ll be sure to post pictures of my progress. I’m also considering making a cheesy chicken lasagna for when my sister and her fiance get back to our apartment on Sunday to prove that I, too, can manage hospitality. Happy Wednesday!