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summer decor tutorials

Sweet Sweater Succulents


long-sleeved sweaters (adult size) in green tones
[ribbed sweaters work best for the 'cactus' texture effect +
natural fibers with tightly knit textures - no open crochet stitches]

twine or string in brown or green tones
sharp scissors
LOTS of heavy rubber bands (2 per pumpkin)
polyfill stuffing

small faux flower blossoms
regular toothpicks
hot glue gun OR Tacky glue
*Cut the arms of a sweater to create the cylinders - longer sections create more elongated/tall cactus shapes, and shorter sections for smaller, rounder cactus.
*Turn the cut pieces inside out, and set aside.

*Take the twine or yarn, and wrap it eight to ten times around your elbow & thumb to make big loops.
*When done, cut it in half at the top, where you are holding the twine with your thumb, so that you have one big long hank. It should be approximately 15 inches long. Set aside. Make one hank of twine for EACH cactus.

Step by Step

1. Place one hank of twine inside of one cut sweater piece. Let about an inch poke out on the LARGE end of the sweater arm - the rest of the twine will hang out the narrow end.

2. Fold that inch of twine over the edge of the sweater, then gather the end up and fasten it REALLY tightly with a rubber band.

3. Flip the whole thing right-side out, using the hank of twine to help.
4. Stuff the open end with polyfill. Remember that lots of stuffing will make your cactus rounder, and less stuffing will result in a flatter, 'squashed' look. Fill it as full as you can.

5. Separate the hank of twine into eight to ten single strands. Spread these out equidistantly around the rounded top. Evenly distribute the strands as you stretch them to the other end of the form, tucking them into the ribbed areas of the sweater weave as you go - this will give you a more realistic texture in the finished cactus.

6. Grasp the strands and the bottom edge of the sweater, twist them together, and wrap a rubber band around them several times - tightly.
7. Separate the strings into strands again, and then begin gently pulling each separate strand in a clockwise pattern. You'll have to pull each one twice or more to create enough tension to pouf out the sweater and form the raised ribs of the cactus. (If you find that the strands don't stay when you pull them, then tighten up the rubber band so it has enough tension to hold the strands.)

As you go, pull the sweater fabric out a bit at the top & bottom edges, so that the ribs/ridges are more defined. Once the ridges are even, tie the strands together around the stem in pairs, two at a time, to hold them in place. A simple knot is enough to keep the strands from slipping in the future. 

8. Then tie the twine strands together in two knots - one on each side of the extra sweater fabric - right up tight next to the rubber band, covering it. Cut off long ends of twine.

9. Cut off the extra sweater fabric at the top, leaving about an inch. [ This is where we vary my original sweater pumpkin tutorial, as these cacti have no stems ]
10. Fold that inch over and down onto the top of the cactus, further covering the rubber band and twine knots. Use a hot glue gun OR Tacky glue to glue the edges of the sweater fabric in place. 

11. Pull one small bloom off of a faux flower bunch, or lei, or garland, and insert a toothpick into the base of the bloom (where the stem was). Push the toothpick into the tiny hole that is in the center of the sweater fabric you just folded and glued on the top of the cacti. Glue in place if you wish.
12. Poke toothpicks into the raised 'ribs' of the cacti in a regularly-spaced pattern. On smaller cacti, push them in further for a smaller appearance - keep them longer for larger cacti.

13. For a kid-safe version, forget the toothpicks. 

Use a Sharpie marker to draw sweet or funny little faces and 'x' marks for spines on the sweater surface!
i displayed these by filling containers with a scrap of burlap fabric, then sitting the cacti on top of it. 
(extra toothpicks can be pushed through the base of the cactus and into the burlap to give the cactus stability.)

'Sweet Sweater Succulents' product name protected by creative copyright 2019 - 2020 
and may not be used by any other entity.

Easy 5 Step Weathered Paint Finish

wood object to paint . paint color 1 . paint color 2 . sand paper . paint brushes
Step 1.
Paint a clean, dry item with paint color 1. Flat or satin finish is best.
Here, the item is an old wood bench and paint color 1 is aqua.
Step 2.
Use a piece of coarse grade sandpaper to sand the piece,
wearing away paint color 1 at the edges and along joints.
Sand in long strokes, not in circles or swirls, so it looks like authentic wear & tear.
Step 3.
The next coat of paint will be applied with a 'dry brush' technique:

Dip the tips of a paint brush in paint color 2. Here, that color is white.
Then stroke the brush against a dropcloth, rag, or cardboard box to remove most of the paint.
Step 4.
Drag the almost-dry paint brush bristles across the item, depositing a small amount of paint color 2.
Do not press hard, just drag the brush over the item's surface to highlight the texture.
Use long strokes across the length of the item - with the grain.
Step 5.
Use coarse-grade sandpaper again to rough up the edges of the item again,
wearing through the white drybrush coat into the base coat.

The effect will approximate that of being left out to weather naturally over time,
instead of looking like an overworked 'faux' finish.

It will weather more on its own if left outdoors, 
or you can add a sixth step: add a coat of clear matte-finish varnish to protect it.

This technique works very well on benches, chairs, tables, 
crates, wood planters, shutters, doors, bed frames, cabinets,
birdhouses, fences & gates, even decks.

tropical gift bag wall art

art, art class, boho style, color, crafting, DIY, diy decorating, dollar store crafts, gift wrapping, paper crafts, re-purposing, summer, tiki style, tropical style, up-cycling, wall art, tropical leaf wall art
for this project, i used one plastic-y gift / tote bag with a tropical leaf print - from Dollar Tree.
the canvases i used are @ 8" square - also from Dollar Tree.
art, art class, boho style, color, crafting, DIY, diy decorating, dollar store crafts, gift wrapping, paper crafts, re-purposing, summer, tiki style, tropical style, up-cycling, wall art, tropical leaf wall art
i placed the bags' leaf artwork on the canvas
in a way that the signature of the artist - which was on the bag! - is in the lower corner.
that makes this look much more like a piece of art.

art, art class, boho style, color, crafting, DIY, diy decorating, dollar store crafts, gift wrapping, paper crafts, re-purposing, summer, tiki style, tropical style, up-cycling, wall art, tropical leaf wall art
measure, cut, staple. doneseriously - it's THAT easy.

art, art class, boho style, color, crafting, DIY, diy decorating, dollar store crafts, gift wrapping, paper crafts, re-purposing, summer, tiki style, tropical style, up-cycling, wall art, tropical leaf wall art
i used both sides of the shopping bag, and mounted them differently on two canvases -
the bag had this great geometric border that now appears on the top and bottom of either piece.
this gave me two companion pieces that aren't exactly the same.


Simple Seashell Candles
* Grab yourself a bunch of clamshell halves (butter, littleneck, whatever) and clean them. Let dry.
*Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
*Sit them on a cookie sheet with their 'open' side facing up. 
Nestle them into a damp dishcloth/kitchen towel so that they all sit level.

*Get some plain white tealights (the kind that come from IKEA in silver metal cups are perfect).
*Remove the silver cup from the tealights, and sit one candle inside each shell half. 
Make sure the wicks are standing straight up.

*Slide the cookie sheet into your oven. 
It should take @ five minutes for the candles to melt,  filling the whole inside of the clamshell half with wax.  
Keep a close eye on the process.
DO NOT MICROWAVE! The moisture in the shells makes them EXPLODE!

*Pull the cookie sheet out of the oven very slowly and keeping it level 
so that you don't spill the liquid wax. 

*Sit the sheet on a flat surface to allow the wax to re-harden in the shells. 
If any of the wicks are bent or covered in wax, 
use a wood skewer to lift them out of the wax and stand them straight up.

*When the wax has hardened and the shells have cooled (about an hour), 
remove them from the cookie sheet and store them in a cool, dry place. 
If you'd like, you can place them in the fridge to REALLY harden the wax at this point.

*When burning these candles, place the shell inside a saucer or small bowl, 
to keep the melting wax from pouring out of the shell and making a mess. 
Always be cautious when burning any kind of candle.


Custom Water Bottle Labels

All you need are your water bottles
and latex balloons in a color and theme that matches your party decor.

Cut off the top round part and the lower round part & neck of the balloon
as shown in the image above
then slide the MIDDLE section of the balloon over the water bottle.
[remove the paper label from the bottle if it will show]

... and just like that, you've got customized labels!


Find all of my summer home decor posts here