In Defense of Crocs

So, Crocs (the lightweight plastic clog-type shoe, not the animal) had their hey-day (quite?) a few years ago, and I’ve always been someone who thought they were ugly and couldn’t imagine wearing them no matter how comfortable they were.

Yea. So this past summer I was huge and pregnant and hot with swollen feet (and an aching back) that desired a little more support than what my beloved flip-flops could provide. And then I saw a pair of light pink Crocs in my size at a favorite thrift store for $1.50 and thought well – maybe I should give them a try…..just while I’m pregnant, of course, because it’s not like I was putting a ton of effort into anything else I wore at that point (or, who am I kidding? ever) and when I slipped them on in the store they were oh so comfy….

And I basically lived in them for….months. Let me tell you, there’s a reason these shoes were/are popular, and I think we can all agree it’s not because they’re stunningly stylish. My feet have never felt so supported yet free!

Fast forward to a month ago. Baby is born (um, she’s 4 months old) and I’m still spending a good portion of time in my light pink Crocs (I’d started wearing socks underneath them. Because it’s winter. Wow, I just realized how ugly/ridiculous this sounds/is).

Then one goes missing. (Only in this house can a shoe just up and go missing).

So when I just HAPPENED to come across a bright pink, Mary-Jane style pair, in my size, at that same thrift shop, well…..

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Let’s just pretend I’m wearing them ironically, mmkay?

Felting Fun

I realize the timing of this post is a little off, since most of us (myself included!) are thinking Spring (and not wool sweaters) but I’ve had it half-written for a while, so here goes.

This past winter I decided to try out felting (after seeing an awesome patchwork throw blanket in a magazine) and found it to be a really fun, easy, and versatile craft. For anyone who’s unfamiliar with this form of felting, you basically machine wash and dry wool sweaters, which (as you’d expect) shrinks them up, creating a thick, dense wool material that’s easily cut and doesn’t unravel, making it ideal for all kinds of projects. Both of my daughters’ teachers got felted wool projects as (part of) their Christmas gifts this year –

Felted wool wreath –

wreath

Felted wool business card/gift card holder –

card holder

(I also made myself one)

felt

Although I’m far from an expert on felting wool, I’ve been having fun with it for a few months now. Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way 🙂

Be picky when choosing sweaters. Stick to those that are at least 80% wool. Still, I’ve had, by far, the best luck using 100% wool sweaters. While I’ve heard that other animal fibers will also felt well, that wasn’t true in my experience (I also had minimal luck getting merino wool to shrink up to the consistency I prefer). Keep an eye out for bright fun prints & patterns, but be aware that knits with “things” (animals, letters, etc.) may be rendered undecipherable by the felting process. I got my sweaters at thrift stores, almost all of them on “half-off” day (for $3.50 or so).

Don’t over-shrink. It’s fine to run a sweater through another cycle if it didn’t shrink as much as you’d like the first-time around. But do this with a bit of caution – I had a couple sweaters shrink too much, making the material too rough and almost wavy in texture.

Use very sharp scissors (or rotary cutter blade) These are kind of obvious, but since you don’t hem felted wool, it’s important to cut with a nice sharp blade for a clean edge.

Take advantagcupe of sweater parts. For example, in probably the quickest project I’ve ever done, I made this pencil cup by cutting off part of a  sleeve and sliding it over a tin can.

 

 

 

Hand vs. Machine Sewing felted wool. You can sew felted wood either by hand or using your sewing machine. I tried it both ways and strongly preferred to do it by hand. It’s very easy to work with, and I liked the flexibility of using colorful crewel wool or embroidery floss and various stitches to create different looks. If you do choose to machine sew your felted wool, in most cases you can just “smush” the edges of the pieces you’re sewing together, and use a zig-zag stitch to sew across the both pieces (use a ball-point needle for knits).

I got great info about working with felted wool, as well as neat project ideas, from the book The Sweater Chop Shop by Crispina Ffrench (totally genuine, non-affiliate, non-sponsored recommendation).

Hand-carved candlestand

Stopping by to share a quick rehab I just finished 🙂

I got this hand-carved candle stand at a thrift store for $3.50. It had a crack in the base, and the finish was pretty bad with lots of water stains and scuffs. It’s such a unique & pretty piece though – I didn’t get a picture, but if you look at the bottom you can see the rings from the tree – it was most likely carved right out of the trunk.

I really hesitated about painting it, because it had such a beautiful natural color and characteristics, but after patching the crack with wood filler and using some Restore-a-Finish on the top, I still wasn’t thrilled with how it looked (and the wood filler didn’t exactly match.) So I went ahead and spray painted it marigold yellow and chipped it up a bit. Something like this just didn’t look right with a flawless glossy finish!

BEFORE

AFTER

I’ve picked up some amazing roadside finds lately that I’ll be back soon to share!

Mini Makeover…Thursday? (Crate & Board Ottoman)

Well shoot, right when I started to get into a posting groove, life got crazy and I just haven’t had the time to do much of anything related to Secondhand Fancy.

Since I also dropped the ball on “Mini Makeover Mondays” (projects that took less than 30 minutes to complete,) I thought I would just share one now.

When I began working from home full-time we transitioned the kid’s playroom into my office, and it’s since morphed into my office/craft room. I think I’ve come up with some pretty unique storage solutions that allow me to fit everything I need for work and fun into a 10×10 space, but this was one of the simplest.

I found this plastic crate, along with another 2, on the side of the road.

I wanted to use it for storage, but it didn’t stack with the other two, and since space is at a premium here, I wanted an alternative to just having a crate sitting there with stuff in it. This is what I came up with.

The top was formerly the door to our old bathroom cabinet. After screwing the doors closed, I just covered it in a layer of batting and used my staple gun to cover that with a pretty pillowcase (the counterpart to the one I used on this chair).

I attached a couple brackets to the bottom that help it fit nicely on top of the crate, but it’s not attached – so you can’t sit on the edge of it or anything. But it’s fine for resting your feet on! Or even doing art projects, as K demonstrates (I placed another piece of wood on top, here,  since she had been painting.)

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I got my volunteer assignment for Crafty Supermarket today! (I’ll be helping to direct people outside from 2-4.) I’m excited to be able to participate in this super-cool event, and am looking forward to being inspired by these awesome vendors (and doing some shopping!)

Thrift store chair

This one was a Goodwill find – it’s pretty shape caught my eye, but the faded fabric  and yellowing paint had to go.

I popped the seat off and found a few other (even uglier) fabrics beneath the floral print. I had recently picked up a can of turquoise spray paint for something else, and I thought it would be a great color to brighten this beauty up. As I dug through my fabric basket, I came across a pillowcase (also from Goodwill) that I bought  because it was just so cute that I knew I had to make something out of it. And it happened to work perfectly with the turquoise spray paint!

I love how it turned out.

COST – $4.00 (chair), .50 cents (pillowcase) + spray paint that I already had. TOTAL SPENT = $4.50

A Few Randoms

I thought I would throw together a few things that don’t really need their own post.

Butterflies –

I got these at a thrift store. They were an old goldish tin(?) and piled on a shelf with ugly brass stuff, and I almost missed them. When I saw them, I knew they could be made cute in a matter of seconds.

I spray painted them pink and then “lightly” spray painted white over top to add a little texture.

COST – .50 cents (butterflies) + spray  paint that I already had. TOTAL SPENT =.50 cents

Bag Pillows

These were my very first sewing projects, if they even qualify. The big one was a laundry bag that I got when the college supply stuff went on clearance in the late fall, and the smaller one was a reusable grocery bag from Dean’s Mediterranean Imports, a great shop at one of my favorite places, Findlay Market. The stuffing is from old bed pillows – I just threw them in the washer, then tore them open and filled the bags.  Then trimmed the drawstrings off the bags and sewed the one open side closed. Easiest thing ever!

COST – $4.00 (bags) + whatever the bed pillows originally cost, & thread. TOTAL SPENT = $4.00

Embroidery Hoops

I got this idea (like so many) from Pinterest. Of course, the picture I pinned was a whole wall of these, and I only have two (well three, but I don’t have fabric in the third one yet.) I got the embroidery hoops at a thrift store and spray painted them, and the fabric is two Fat Quarters. 

(Ignore the wall holes – I’m in the midst of rearranging our bedroom walls.)

COST – $3.00 (fabric), $1.00 (hoops) + spray paint that I already had. TOTAL SPENT = $4.00

Framed quote art –

These are some of my favorite things I’ve ever made. Believe it or not, they were the front and back of a gift bag* I spotted at a discount home decor store.  The flowers and butterflies caught my eye, and when I walked closer and read the quotes,** I knew they were far too pretty to stay a gift bag!  I got the frames from the dollar store and spray painted them. The pictures really don’t do these justice – not my part in them, but the beauty of the actual prints.

"The greatest treasures are those invisible to the eye but found by the heart"

"Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yoursel to it" -Buddha

COST – $2.00 (gift bag), $2.00 (frames) + spray paint that I already had. TOTAL SPENT =$4.00

*if you look closely, you can see the grommets where the handle was attached

**I have a thing for quotes (even have a tattoo of one,) but only those that really speak to me. Which aren’t usually found on wall art or decals (there’s no  “Always Kiss Me Goodnight” above our bed or anything).