Tag Archives: craft

Rope Scratching Post

DSC_0582We went a little overboard shopping for Oliver when we found out we’d be adopting him. I’m beginning to understand why parents go so crazy buying things for their kids. I spent 30 minutes just trying to decide which cat food was the best option for our little 4-month-old kitten. In the midst of our shopping, I decided that buying a $25 scratching post was just not for me. Instead, I decided to make one.

Because we have carpet in the bedrooms, I decided to go with a rope scratching post. You’re supposed to choose a type of material that isn’t in your house. For example, if you have carpet and have a carpet scratching post, your cat might think that scratching carpet is okay. We didn’t want that, but rope posts are a tad more expensive, especially for a good one.

Let me start off with a disclaimer – this is not as easy as it looks. What I expected to take me an hour took me three days to complete. Seriously. But it was worth it.

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To make this rope scratching post, you’ll need:

  • Square, tall piece of wood, approx. 2 feet tall and 4 inches thick
  • Square, thin piece of wood, approx. 1 foot across and 1 inch thick
  • Sandpaper
  • Sisal rope (medium thickness and several feet long)
  • Non-toxic wood glue (I suggest Gorilla Glue)
  • Drill
  • 4 long screws

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First, sand down the post and base with sandpaper if not already smooth. My post was pretty beat up (got it for FREE at Home Depot), so it needed quite a bit of sanding, especially around the newly cut area.

Then start gluing the end of the sisal rope at the top of the wooden post. You will slowly continue to glue down rope on each side of the post, wrapping it tightly around the pole. The reason this takes so long, particularly if you use Gorilla Glue, is because it does not dry instantly, and you have to hold it down until it’s sticky enough to stay, which can take a long time. The rope is thick and doesn’t bend and hold easily, so it needs the glue to keep it in place or it will instantly break away from the wood. Gorilla Glue is meant to set permanently after about 30 minutes. Once you have the first row glued down at the very top of the post, it gets a lot easier but is still rather time consuming. This top row will act as an anchor, making the following rows much easier to glue.

I found that doing three sides at a time was the best approach if I laid the post on its side, pushing down one side while the glue dried and gluing two more sides, laying a heavy book on top to hold down the rope while the glue dried enough to hold it in place. I’d let it set for a few minutes and do a few more sides.

It’s a lot of work, but I promise it’s worth it. The glue you choose can make all the difference, but you want to make sure it’s a non-toxic, wood-safe glue so that it won’t harm your cat if they lick the post, which is pretty likely. It also needs to be tough enough to handle constant scratching and pulling. After you have glued down the length of the post (I stopped about 4 inches short of the bottom of the post), you can begin fastening it to the base.

In order to ensure the post is sturdy, I’d recommend using four long screws to attach the post to the base – one in each corner. Position it in the middle of the square base, marking with a pencil and gluing with additional Gorilla Glue if necessary, and drill four holes into the bottom. Use the drill to screw the pieces together. They should feel very secure at this point.

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That’s all it takes. Only a few easy steps, but it can be a long project. Do it a little at a time while you work on other things, and it’ll be done in no time! So far, Oliver prefers scratching my couch, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he warms up to it. Overall this project only cost me about $13, and I get to say it was homemade, which is really the reason I do all of this in the first place!

DIY Travel Laundry Bag

DSC_0231DSC_0217 I’m traveling this week, making stops in Omaha and Chicago for work. Knowing that I’d  be living out of a suitcase for a few days, I thought I’d take a shot at creating a travel bag for my lingerie. Ladies (and gentlemen), you know how it is. When traveling, you have to consciously sort the underwear you’ve worn and haven’t worn on separate sides of your suitcase or in plastic bags to make sure you can keep track. Same goes for socks.

Instead, here’s a solution to, what I shall dub, the “panty problem.” You can create this little zipper pouch with separate compartments for your worn and unworn items. Of course, you could make this on a larger scale for more clothing, but I think the small size is part of its appeal.

DSC_0204You’ll need:

  • Light canvas fabric (approx. one yard)
  • 2 zippers, 7 inches each
  • Matching thread
  • Pins
  • Fabric paint (2 colors)
  • Small paintbrush
  • Pencil
  • Iron
  • Seam ripper (if you have one)

First, you may need some basic sewing knowledge for this project, something that I have little of. I enlisted my mom’s help for the sewing portion. She’s the expert. Cut two pieces of your canvas, about 8 inches by 16 inches.

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Run a very wide stitch on the long side of your fabric, leaving about a half inch seam. Then iron the seam open and pin your two zippers side-by-side, zipper sides facing down into your fabric and zipper heads facing inward towards each other. You will use a small stitch to sew them into place, going around the ends in a square, pulling the pins out at you go. I know it seems weird – sewing your zipper down into stitched fabric, but once the zippers are sewn, use a seam ripper or small scissors to cut and remove the original, wide stitch. This will give your zipper the proper look. At this point, open both zippers.

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Then, stitch down the sides and bottom, going around the corners in a square. Once done, pull the bag right-side-out through one of the open zippers. Your seams should now be hidden inside of the bag. Run one more stitch down the middle of the bag, between the two zippers, and then iron out any leftover wrinkles. Not too bad, right?

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The sewing portion of your bag is now complete! Use your pencil to draw what you would like to have on your bag, such as “wash” and “wear” with small pictures like I did. Carefully trace over or fill in with a small paintbrush and let dry, and then you have a travel laundry bag to take with you wherever you go.

I’ve only been traveling for a day, but I love it already! As I’m sitting here in my Omaha hotel, I’m thankful I made it when I did. Plus, it’s washable (assuming you’ve used fabric-safe paint), so you can clean it with your laundry when you get home.

Happy crafting!

Terracotta Pots: 3 Ways

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I’m not really allowed to own plants – they tend to live short lives under my care. To compromise my desire for plants and my lack of adequate plant care, I’ve taken on succulents. They’re small, which allows for easy placement, and they’re relatively inexpensive, which my small budget appreciates. The plants only cost a few dollars, and small terracotta pots with their corresponding trays are even less.

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Here, you see three ways to dress up terracotta pots with only a couple shades of paint, making it an easy weeknight project that you can finish in less than an hour.

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I gave the pink and gold one to my mom for Mother’s Day a while back, but the other two still sit on my dining room table. Amazingly enough, the plants are still alive and well. Let’s hope I can keep them that way!

DIY Personalized Gift Wrap

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IMG_5105I don’t know about you, but I find good wrapping paper expensive and hard to come by. Target (my go-to store for everything) generally has a pretty limited selection, and the good stuff can be pricey. Plus, I don’t always need an entire roll for small items.

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IMG_5088 Enter scrapbook paper and leftover scraps – you can wrap gifts with cheap, patterned scrapbook paper or dress up boring old wrapping paper with personal touches. If you’ve ever tried to nicely wrap something for an adult male’s birthday, you may notice that it’s really hard to find paper that is both not girly and not boyish. Using $.50 scrapbook paper, you can wrap small items with so much more variety than your average grocery or department store has to offer.

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For slightly larger items, take some plain colored paper, or perhaps even the white side of patterned paper, and use paint and a stencil to add the first letter of their name or even their full name. Similarly, dress up plain paper with stamps, watercolors and other embellishments!

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For an added touch, add ribbons and bows (I like to believe that even boys appreciate these things). Even though wrapping paper gets ripped off, people usually appreciate a nicely wrapped gift. Well, I do at least.

With Andrew’s birthday and my aunt’s falling on the same day, we planned a trip to Arizona on the river. Not only did I personalize my wrapping, I made Andrew go on a scavenger hunt around my aunt’s house to find his gifts. We had a wonderful weekend away full of lots and lots of celebrating. His actual birthday is tomorrow, so the celebrations don’t end here!

Ombre Paint Chip Calendar

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You may have seen in my Inspiration Around the Web post from a while back that I’ve been wanting to make a paint chip calendar. Well, here it is!

This is definitely one of the easier projects you can make if you are gutsy enough to take like 50 paint chips from your local hardware store. I had to get up the courage, but I managed to get out of Lowe’s without any really awkward looks from the employees.

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For this project, you’ll need:

  • Large frame, preferably with glass rather than plastic
  • 7 paint chips in 6 colors (42 total)
  • Glue
  • Thin poster board
  • Paper cutter and/or scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil

First, cut your poster board to the size of your frame. Based on the size of your frame and poster board, measure how large to cut your paint chips. I did this by dividing the length (12 in) by 6, which suggested that I cut my paint chips to 2 inches long. Then I used a pencil to mark every two inches, plus a little extra space between the squares to assure myself this would be accurate. I did the same for the width (18 in), diving by 7, which told me to cut them approximately 2.5 inches wide.

Set aside one color of paint chips – these will be your days of the week. On a 12 x 18 inch poster, I cut the remaining 5 colors down to 2 x 2.5 inches, and arranged them from dark to light with about 1/4 inch space in between.

They should also be spaced out so that there is enough space at the top to write the name of the month. Take the color you set aside (in my case, this was the darkest color) and cut it  .5 x 2.5 inches. I wrote the days of the week in Sharpie, but I would certainly recommend using stickers or a stencil to spell out the days. I went for the cheap option.

When you’re satisfied with the layout, begin gluing the pieces to the poster board using either sticky squares or liquid glue. I chose sticky squares because it’s my go-to choice for any paper projects. I don’t like the potential residue or outlines left by liquid glue, especially when I’m gluing so many pieces. Plus, by using sticky squares, it’s easier to pick up and adjust the squares if you mess up.

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Once everything is glued down, carefully pop the poster board into your frame and start writing! Another suggestion (for a larger canvas), use a lever punch to create a circular hole in the upper corner of each square to serve as a placeholder for your days of the month. I couldn’t sacrifice the writing space, but on a larger canvas you can.

Now it looks great on my desk at work! After almost three months on the job, my desk still looks pretty empty, so it’s nice to have something taking up space.

DIY Crate Cat Bed

IMG_4854IMG_4723Can we all agree that pet projects are the best projects? As soon as we knew we’d be adopting Oliver, I immediately knew he needed a bed (even though he’d probably prefer a cardboard box). I also took this as a great opportunity to try my hand at sewing with my new sewing machine!

My grandma passed her old sewing machine on to me a while back, but until recently I never had room for it. Now that I have an actual office space, I have room to sew – something I haven’t done since I was a kid. That’s how you know this is an easy project. Sewing the pillow for Oliver’s bed was the first time I’ve used a sewing machine since I was probably ten years old, so I promise anyone can do this.

I painted a crate, adding his name and sewed an envelop pillow case to add the pillow inside of his bed. Overall, this project can take as little as an hour.

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To make this crate cat bed (or small dog bed), you’ll need:

  • A crate (mine is x x x from Michael’s)
  • At least two different colors of paint
  • Small chipboard letters
  • Clear acrylic spray paint
  • Fabric
  • Pillow insert (mine is 16 x 20 in from IKEA)

Other supplies:

  • A sewing machine
  • Thread that matches your fabric
  • Fabric measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Paint brushes
  • Pencil

First, stand your crate right side up, with handles on each side. Using your hands, a crowbar or a hammer, pry off the top two slats of the crate. This lowers the front of the crate so your pet can step inside easier.

Then paint the entire crate one color – I chose grey for a mellow but still “manly” look that will blend in well with the apartment. A second coat made a huge difference because the first coat left it a bit streaky.

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Once dry, lay down chipboard letters on the front, top slate of the crate, spelling out your pet’s name. You could glue down chipboard letters instead of painting them, but I preferred the look of paint and decided to forgo the glittery letters because I was concerned they’d fall off too quickly and wouldn’t suit the boyish look I was going for. Use a pencil to trace the letters, and fill them in with your second paint color – I chose light blue. Then take it outside to spray it with a light coat of clear acrylic spray paint to give it a nice, finished shine.

Then go into that pile of scrap fabric we all have and dig out a large pieces of fabric to match your bed – I chose light yellow. For my 16 x 20 inch pillow insert, which I pulled out of one of my old IKEA pillows, I cut one piece that was 17 x 21 inches, leaving an extra inch around for the seam. Then, cut two more pieces that will create the envelope. Mine were 17 x 11 inches and 17 x 13 inches, allowing for a few inches of overlap. If using a different size pillow, make sure to allow for at least 2-4 inches of overlap, and one of your pieces will be smaller than the other.

Then iron them out as best you can. Take the edges of your envelop pieces that will be the envelop and fold over about 1/4 inch, then fold another 1/4 of an inch. Iron in place to hold the fold together.

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Place the full piece on the bottom, outside facing up. Place your smallest piece, outside facing down, on top of the larger pieces. Then place your medium-sized piece, outside facing down, on top of the other.

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First, sew across the folded area of your envelop pieces, reversing along the ends to hold your stitch. Lay them back down and pin around your pieces to hold them in place. Sew a 1/2 inch seam around the length of the pillow, reversing your seam at each end to hold. As you go around, turn your fabric, so you have a consistent seam going all the way around, pulling the pins out as your go. Once done, cut the corners off and trim your extra strings.

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Then pull the pillow outisde-out and iron down the edges. Put your pillow insert inside and ta-da! Then squeeze it inside the crate. It should be a somewhat tight fit.

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Now you have a comfy little bed for your little sidekick!

Chalkboard Clipboard

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Now that Andrew and I officially share a grocery list, among other things, I wanted an easy way for us to keep track of what we needed for our next trip to the store. I have a million of those notepads that stick to the fridge, but the need for a pen always deters me from actually using them. Instead, I found a way to keep track that also hides easily – a chalkboard clipboard.

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To make a chalkboard clipboard, you’ll need:

  • A clipboard (duh)
  • Chalkboard paint (duh)
  • Chalk (duh)
  • Masking or painters tape
  • Medium-sized paint brush
  • String
  • Liquid glue

Start off by taping a line across the top of the clipboard. I did this because trying to paint underneath/behind the clip would have been an unnecessary hassle. Start painting the bottom part with well-mixed chalkboard paint, including the sides. I find that chalkboard paint can be a little streaky, so take that into consideration when choosing a paint brush. Paint a couple coats until the bottom portion of the clipboard is covered. Once dry, remove the tape.

Before you start using your clipboard, you’re supposed to slate it. Run the side of a piece of chalk down the entirety of your chalkboard and then use a damp paper towel to wipe it clean. This acts as a setting for the paint.

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Next,  cut a piece of string about 12 inches long and use a small amount of glue to wrap the string around the end of a piece of chalk. Once wrapped, tie around and in a knot to hold it. Then tie the opposite end to the top of the clipboard and set your chalk on the clip as you would a pen – this way, you’ll never lose the chalk.

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You can also add a piece of patterned washi tape at the top and write on it with Sharpie for your title. I dubbed mine “the list,” so that whenever we say we need something, we can just say, “Put it on the list!”

Use a nail or, in my case, push pin to hang the clipboard inside a cupboard or on your wall. I love having it inside the cupboard so it’s mostly out of sight but comes in handy when I need it. In a matter of minutes, I turned a ratty old clipboard I never used into a very useful chalkboard.

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Painted Bottle Cap Tray

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IMG_4421I originally saw this great idea a while back on Sweet Something Designs, and I’ve wanted to try it ever since. It was quite a few months in the making because I had to gather all of my materials and find solutions to a few problems. This included drinking enough beer to gather all of these bottle caps. I thought I was drinking a lot but apparently not enough. It took a lot longer than I expected to gather enough bottle caps, so I enlisted some help from my boyfriend’s fraternity, which sped up the process A LOT.

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Can you tell what my favorite beers are?

For my version of this project, you’ll need:

  • A tray with handles high enough to allow for bottle caps
  • Lots of bottle caps (so start drinking!)
  • Two colors of spray paint suitable for metal (I like Rust-Oleum)
  • Clear acrylic sealant spray
  • Acrylic water (I used Quick Water)
  • Disposable mixing container and stick
  • Thin piece of glass or PlexiGlass cut to size of tray

If you plan to create a design like I did, lay out your bottle caps in the tray – stagger them appropriately so that they fit somewhat tightly. Then pick out the caps that will have the first color. I created a chevron pattern. Spray paint these caps with your first color – yellow, in my case. They’ll probably need at least two coats.

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Once dry, you can lay them back down into the already planned pattern. Then pick up the remaining caps and spray paint them your second color – white, in my case. After two coats and time to dry, lay these back down into the preset pattern. The reason I think it helps to do it this way is that removing all of the caps after you’ve planned a pattern could make it difficult to perfectly replicate the pattern afterwards. Do whatever is easiest for you!

Next, you’ll have to mix the acrylic water. This is a two-part mixture that is used to create flower arrangements, so once it dries it has the appearance of water but hardens to hold the flowers in place (or bottle caps, in this case). You can use acrylic water to capture a lot of things, including photos and other trinkets. I used a brand called Quick Water, which I found at Michael’s for a reasonable price. Depending on the brand, follow the instructions on the box carefully. Most likely, it will require that you have a disposable clear plastic mixing container and disposable stirrer.

Once mixed well, pour over the bottle caps carefully, starting in the middle of the tray to avoid splashing against the sides. Try to distribute evenly throughout the tray, using your stirrer to move the liquid around carefully. You’ll have some time before it begins to harden, so take your time making sure you’re happy with how it looks. Your bottle caps may begin to float. Watch it closely for a while, pushing down the floating caps and popping any large air bubbles. To release the smaller air bubbles, you can also carefully tap the tray on the table a few times.

Let this site overnight. Quick Water required at least 8 hours without any disturbance and the more time you give it, the better. I found that the spaces between the caps hardened perfectly, but the substance left on top of the bottle caps was tacky. I sprayed the caps with sealant after taping off the sides of the tray. This helped a little, but it was still too tacky.

To remedy this last problem, I went to Lowe’s and bought a thin piece of PlexiGlass that they cut down to size for me. Before you go, measure your tray from the bottom if your tray is shaped like mine, smaller at the bottom and large at the top. Lay it on top and you’re good to go!

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If you’re more comfortable, you can spray an adhesive before laying down the PlexiGlass. I didn’t think it was necessary because I don’t use the tray for a whole lot, but it may come in handy one day.

Geometric Magnets

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I’m in the process of rethinking the apartment now that Andrew will be moving in, and I’ve decided I want to have a blue and yellow theme in the kitchen. Nothing too crazy, but some small, bright accents would be nice.

So I thought, what could I add? Magnets! It was a pretty easy project, and I like how the colors look against my white fridge.

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For this project, you’ll need:

  • Sculpting clay
  • Cutting tool
  • Magnets
  • Paint
  • Glue gun or strong hold glue
  • Cup or rolling pin
  • Template or stencil

Start out by printing out the design you want to make, unless of course you are confident in your free handing. I certainly am not, so I just printed out a hexagon and cut it out.

Roll out your clay using a cup or a rolling pin until it is approximately one fourth of an inch thick. Lay the stencil on the clay and use the cutting tool to carefully cut the design.

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Cover the pieces in a few coats of paint and let them dry a little before popping them in the oven according to the package’s instructions. The brand I used suggested baking at 230 degrees for 30 minutes.

Once they’ve cooled, take the pieces outside to spray a thin coat of acrylic sealant to give them a clean shine. After they’ve dried, glue medium sized magnets to the backs using a glue gun or heavy glue. Personally, I prefer my glue gun because I rarely have a good, intense glue on-hand.

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Then it’s time to start hanging! Use them to hang photos, notes, etc. or just make cute designs on your fridge.

DIY Lamp Makeover

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One person’s trash is another’s treasure. In my life, this is always true. A friend of mine picked up this cute old fashioned lamp at a garage sale and passed it on to me. Recently, I finally got around to making it over with a new color and a new shade.

For a project like this, you’ll need:

  • Spray paint that works on multiple surfaces (I recommend Rust-Oleum)
  • Clear or sealant spray
  • Fabric
  • Wrapping paper (any)
  • Spray adhesive (I recommend Elmer’s Craft Bond)
  • Scissors
  • Pencil

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Above is the original. First, I cleaned the base of the lamp because it was pretty dusty and the paint needs something to hold on to, so the cleaner the better. I removed the shade and took the base outside to spray paint it yellow to match the new fabric I chose for the lampshade. I covered the cord and top with masking tape and spray painted a coat of sun yellow on the base. After that dried for a while, I sprayed it with a second coat. My favorite brand of spray paint in Rust-Oleum, which you can buy at Home Depot for fairly cheap. It works on just about any surface. When it’s dry, spray a coat of clear sealant over it to provide some extra shine and seal the paint.

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While the base was drying, I got started on the lampshade. You may want to iron your fabric first. I always do!

Start by tracing your lampshade onto the backside of a piece of wrapping paper. I recommend using wrapping paper because it will likely be long enough and thin enough to trace, cut and move easily. Place your lampshade at the corner of the paper and roll it upward, keeping track of where you started and using your pencil to trace one side of it. Put it back at the corner and trace along the other side. Depending on the shade, it may go straight or it may curve like mine did.

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Cut out the piece of paper. Lay it around the lampshade to make sure the size is appropriate. Then trace this shape onto the backside of your fabric. Use the scissors to cut approximately a half inch outside of the shape you made on all sides. You’ll want this extra space to fold over the top and bottom and to fold a seam at the end of the fabric. When the shape is cut, once again lay it over the lampshade to see how it will fit. Spray the piece of fabric with a thin layer of adhesive and carefully begin laying it around the lampshade. I recommend Elmer’s Craft Bond for spray adhesive because it is the only one that I have tried so far that truly works for fabric projects.  Ignore the one in the photo. I learned this was not the correct choice for this project. Go slowly, smoothing the fabric out as you go. My lampshade wasn’t flat, which made it more difficult. This project is easier with a flat lampshade.

When you get to the end, fold the fabric over and glue it down. Carefully use the adhesive glue or even a small amount fabric glue to fold the top and bottom edges down into the shade.

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Once the shade felt secure and the base was dry, I put the two together for a cute addition to my desk! Personally, I like yellow in small doses rather than large, and I love the way this lamp turned out with the grey contrast of the lampshade.

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