zero waste

Salvaged DIY Craft Room Organizer (Or Plant Stand!)

diy salvaged organizer stand

I love decorating, and I especially love salvaging old furniture and “junk” and transforming them into new pieces for my home. While it can be fun to buy new ready-made things, it is so satisfying (as well as zero waste!) to save something old or broken from the trash and turn it into something completely new. While this post is a little bit out of my usual blog niche, I am really happy with how this latest DIY craft room organizer project turned out, so I wanted to share it here, in case it can provide you with some inspiration.

salvaged organizer before

At the shop I used to work at, we had these carousel stand organizers, but they were poorly made, and over time the bases broke. They got put in the back storage room until we were clearing out the store, and my boss decided that she didn’t want them anymore. I couldn’t bear to put them in the dumpster, so I called my mom and asked if she thought we could do something with them. At the time, I wasn’t actually thinking that I would use them as a spinning organizer- I was thinking more along the lines of turning them into plant stands, or hanging them as outdoor planters. My mom said we should definitely save them, so we brought them home and put them in the workshop…where they have been sitting ever since! Then, a few weeks ago when my dad was cleaning out the shop, I was reminded of them again, and started thinking that perhaps an organizer for my sewing and art supplies would be a good idea after all. I was trying to think of some way I could make a new base, or fix the old one, when my dad mentioned that he had seen an old umbrella stand at the dump. “Aha!”- that was the perfect solution!

I was just going to use the original rod, paint it and call it a day, but my dad came up with a much better method of building the pole/ stand. Even though you probably won’t have baskets exactly like these, this method could still be used to easily create a stand with trays, or other baskets.

vintage vertical plant stand and illustration

I also saw this picture online of a vintage pole plant stand, which I think would be so cool to make with this method (especially since the only other versions I can find online are ugly plastic ones!)  If you offset the trays, or used small wooden shelves you could easily make a really cool space saving plant stand!

OK, so here’s how to make this DIY shelf/organizer. My dad did all of the work with the pipe, and I basically just did the painting! Firstly, I took all of the basket pieces apart and cleaned them with some soap and water and then rinsed them with the hose, because they were very dirty!

baskets and umbrella stand before

We used 3/4″ copper pipe and couplings to create the pole. I know that new pipe can be expensive, but we had a bunch of old used copper pipe lying around from past renovations, so it worked perfectly for me. You could also salvage pipe, use black steel pipe (which has all sorts of threadable pipe fittings available) or even use an extendable metal curtain rod.

diagram for stand assembly

We cut the pipe with a tube cutter into the lengths needed. The bottom two pipes are 17″ and the top one is 10″. We then used 3/4″ pipe couplings to create the connections for the baskets to sit on top of (so they don’t slide down the pipe). The bottom basket sits directly on top of the umbrella stand, and then the pipe threads through the middle, and so on until the top.

umbrella stand salvage organizer

Because the umbrella stand’s diameter was much wider than the pipe, my dad made a wooden spacer with a 3/4″ hole drilled through put inside the tube for the copper pipe to slide through. There is a coupling flush with the top of the stand and then a washer on top as a spacer for the basket so it doesn’t sit directly on the stand.

assembling the stand bottom baskets

We didn’t solder the couplings to the pipe, but you could solder one side, leaving the other loose so it can be dismantled. Or if you don’t need to it to be able to be taken apart, you can place your shelves and then solder both sides of the couplings to create a more rigid and sturdy pole. Because I had that original pole, I didn’t solder the pipe, but slid it straight through the copper pipe to make the entire stand sturdier, since it was a bit wobbly.

If you aren’t using pipe, but are instead using an extendable curtain rod, I would make it by cutting the thinner pipe the height that you want it to be (my stand is 54″ tall, by the way). Then, instead of using small couplings, cut the outer rod into “spacers” the height you want the shelves to be placed at. So, instead of having just a small coupling, the entire inner rod will be covered with the outer rod and you can assemble it by threading “stand, basket, spacer, basket, spacer…etc.” until you reach the top. Using a curtain rod will work perfectly too, because then you can use your finial to finish off the top!

salvaged organizer diagram

After my stand was assembled, it was time to paint it!. I debated about polishing up the copper and have it metallic with black baskets, but then decided that I don’t really have copper as an accent in my home, so I painted it. (Of course after I decided that, I remembered that my fan is antiqued copper so I could have….)

painting the diy craft room organizer

I painted it black to give it a more industrial look to match the style of the punched metal. I started with satin finish paint, then realized that I should have gone with matte since the shine highlights all of the imperfections of the metal! Oh well; it is a salvage project, after all. I used Rust-Oleum 2x Ultra Cover Satin Canyon Black, (and noticed that I took the picture of the French side-haha) since I already had 1/2 a can on hand. I did three coats and I guess that I used about 1 1/2 or 1 3/4 cans of paint for the entire project. I still have almost an entire can of paint left over, so I can use that for a future project!

finished diy craft room organizer

Once the paint cured, the organizer was done and ready to use! As I brought it inside, I realized just how heavy that umbrella stand is when you need to move it around. I am keeping my eye out for the base of an old metal rolling desk chair to swap out the stand for. That would make it so easier to move around when required!

finished metal diy craft room organizer

I haven’t filled all of the compartments yet, but this is going to work perfectly for ribbons and laces and zippers and other sewing notions. They were previously in drawers, which made it hard to find anything. I usually like closed storage solutions, but for some things, open storage just works better. And sewing and crafts, is one of those things that works better when I can see things and find them easily.

This method worked so well to create this craft room organizer stand that I am considering whether I should make another with offset shelves using the curtain rod method in order to create a plant stand. (I have a lot of plants!) The curtain rod I have is already black metal and I could use wood for the shelves, so it wouldn’t require any painting. Maybe a good project for over the Winter?

Do you like to DIY furniture or other home projects? What’s the best “salvage” piece you’ve ever saved and transformed? And do you prefer open or closed storage solutions? 

diy salvaged craft room organizer

 

Turn a Shrunken Sweater Into a Retro Wool Beret

turn a shrunken sweater into a felted beret

While we’ve been pleasantly surprised with a very warm winter this year, the weather has turned cold lately, and it is definitely feeling like winter in Alberta again. Since it is only February (which means we’ve still got a ways to go before Spring) this is the perfect time to share one of my latest projects- a felted wool beret. Berets are not necessarily the warmest of headwear, but they do add a great vintage element to your winter ensemble, so I definitely consider them to be a fall and winter outfit staple.

While berets have risen in popularity the past few years, I have yet to come across one in brown. So, if you can’t find one at the store and you can’t knit or crochet one for yourself, what can you do? You can easily turn a shrunken sweater castoff into a felted beret!

I would not recommend that you take a perfectly good wool sweater and felt it, because wool sweaters can be expensive and it always seems like a waste to cut up something in good shape that someone could actually wear the way it is. However, there are so many wool sweaters in thrift shops that are no longer in good condition. Whether it’s due to the previous owner accidentally shrinking them, or that they are full of moth holes or runs, or even that they have stretched out of shape due to improper care, the thrift shops are full of them. This project is a perfect way to recycle and refashion those sweaters that are completely ruined and useless into something new!

shrunken wool sweater perfect for felting

I found this chocolate brown sweater years ago, but hadn’t yet figured out what to make. Since brown berets have proven difficult to find, I thought that this would be the perfect way to get the colour I wanted.

To Make Your Own, You Will Need:

  • A 100% old wool sweater. Make sure it is real wool content, so it will felt for you. I know you can also use blends that have a high wool content, but I’ve never done that myself, so am not sure whether they felt differently or not.
  • Needle & thread/ sewing machine
  • Beret pattern- I used Tanith Rowan’s Grevillea Beret. (Tanith gifted me that pattern several years ago. You can see the first one I made here). Edited to add: Another free beret option is this style from Brittani of Untitled Thoughts. She has a free pattern download, as well a sewing tutorial. 
  • Button to cover, or a decorative button of your choice 
  • Elastic to make the hat fit tighter, optional

To Make the Hat:

My wool was already partially felted, so I cut the pieces out of the sweater and went from there, felting the final hat a little more at the end. After making this one, I was wondering whether you could also make it by cutting your pattern pieces out a bit larger and then felting the wool after you already have the hat sewn up. This might make the seam lines disappear a bit, and make the hat easier to form, but I haven’t tried it yet to know for sure.

But, in order to make the hat exactly as I have here, you are first going to need to felt your sweater, if it isn’t already shrunken. You can do this by putting the sweater into the washing machine with a little bit of laundry soap and washing it in hot water. It works better if you have a few sweaters in at the same time, so they can bump into each other and cause friction. You can also add a foam ball or flip-flop to help it felt even faster. Once you have washed your wool, take a look at it and see whether it has felted enough. If you want it to shrink a bit more, you can put it through the dryer, removing it before it is completely dry. Once the wool is good, let it dry.

wool sweater and sewing supplies

Once your sweater is dry, it is time to figure out your pattern. There are several different ways to make a sewn beret; I chose to use Tanith Rowan’s Grevillea Beret, since I already had the pattern. This hat is made up of segments, giving it an octagonal shape. Her pattern has a more vertical shape to it and doesn’t lie flat, but since I wanted the hat to have a similar flat shape and fit to a traditional round wool beret, I made a couple of changes.

adjusting the pattern to make a flat style beret

To adjust the pattern, I made a sharper angle on the bottom segments so they would be narrower at the bottom edge. This way the hat would lay flat back on itself.  I measured the inner circumference of a beret that I already had and made the opening of my pattern add up to 20″ circumference. I actually should have made the opening a little bit smaller, since the hat ended up stretching quite a bit, so I would recommend that you go at least an inch or two smaller than you want it to be, to account for stretch. The other change I made to the pattern was using a facing, rather than a hat band. (More on that in a minute)

Once you’ve chosen your pattern, it’s time to cut it out. Watch out for where the seams are in the sweater, you don’t want to accidentally cut across them, or you’ll end up with a bulky piece. Also, look for any areas that may have holes or other flaws, since they won’t have closed up during felting. I cut my pieces out of the sleeve and around the neckline to maximize the amount of fabric I would have left over to use for future projects. I also saved the bottom of the sleeve pieces including the cuffs, since I might make a pair of matching mittens in the future using this method here.

Once you’ve got your pieces cut out, it is time to sew them. Since the wool is felted, you won’t need to worry about it fraying, so you don’t need to finish the edges in any way. Sew together your pieces of the hat, excluding the hat band, following the instructions of your pattern.

sewing the felted pieces of the hat

Make sure to use a zig-zag rather than a straight stitch when sewing, since this is a stretch fabric.

Instead of making a flat hat band, I decided to made a round facing. The advantage of a facing, rather than a hat band is that it flips to the inside, so it is completely hidden. This is just a style preference, you could also use a flat hat band if you prefer. To make my facing, I measured the diameter across of the opening of my hat, then measured out 2″ and cut out the circle pattern piece. My sweater had a large enough section left to cut the facing in one piece, but you might need to cut it in 2 pieces and sew them together. If so, remember to leave seam allowances!

making the hat facing

With right sides together, sew the facing to the hat.

Once you’ve got the hat sewn, it is time to form the shape of the hat. To make a form, cut a piece of cardboard into a circle the size you want your finished hat to be. I measured the beret I already had, to figure out what size I wanted. Since your hat will be wet, you need to waterproof the form, so place the cardboard piece inside a bag. I was originally going to use a dinner plate as a form (it was the exact size needed!) but then I wasn’t sure I would be able to get it out after the hat had dried without having to stretch the hat completely out of shape…or smash the plate! The cardboard turned out to be flexible enough to remove easily and it worked well.

hat all sewn up and ready to form

Now, fill a basin or sink with hot water. Submerge the hat so it is completely wet, and then slightly agitate the wool. Once it is fully soaked, take the hat out and gently press the water out. Don’t wring it, or it will stretch too much- the wool will be quite floppy! Roll the wool in a towel to pull out most of the water.

soaking the wool hat to felt

Take your cardboard form and place it inside the hat. Smooth the seams flat and shape the hat around the form. The hat will shrink as it dries, so in order to keep the opening of the hat from pulling back too wide, sew a stitch around the inner edge and slightly gather it in. Once you’ve finished, it’s time to let it dry. I placed my hat directly onto my drying rack, which ended up leaving some marks from the rods on the wool that I had to steam out, so I would recommend either letting the hat dry on a fabric mesh sweater drying rack, or placing a towel across the bars of a drying rack for the beret to sit on top of.

putting the wool beret onto the cardboard form

Once the hat is dry, you can snip the gathering stitch from the edge and then take the hat off of the form!

Not all of my seams dried completely flat, so to help shape it a little bit more, I used a tailor’s ham (actually a towel wadded inside an old t-shirt) to steam press the hat into a smoother shape. Then I pressed it flat. Make sure to use a wet press cloth, dampen the wool and lightly go over with your iron while it’s on full steam, so you don’t scorch your wool and make it go shiny.

steaming and shaping the beret once dry

Once you’ve pressed the hat into shape, it is time to tack the facing edge down, sewing through the seams to hide the stitches. After I finished the hat and tried it on, I discovered that the wool was a lot stretchier than my other berets and was quite loose. One of my other berets has a soft elastic around the edge which works well to keep the hat in place, so I added a piece of elastic along the edge of this hat. Place the elastic between the facing and the top of the hat and stitch in place by tacking it through the seams in order to hide the stitches.

sewing elastic along the edge and the facing into place

The final step is to add a button. You can either cover a button with wool, or use a decorative button. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to use a covered button because the wool was so stiff, but I actually managed to push the back/shank onto the button form. If your wool is too thick to use the shank to cover your button, you can cut a circle of felt, run a gathering stitch around the edge and gather it in around the button form. (Like making a fabric yo-yo) Since it’s not a functional button, it doesn’t need to have a shank on the back and you can just sew it on like that, with the raw edges hidden underneath.

covering the button and adding it to the top of the hat

Once the button is sewn on, your hat is done. There you have it- a vintage styled felted beret, without even having to know how to knit or crochet!

the finished upcycled wool beret

Have you ever made anything with felted wool before? It’s a lot of fun, since the wool is so easy to manipulate. We’ve got some more wool sweaters in our stash, and I am now wondering whether I should steal some of them to make some more hats….

Do you think you will try this and turn a shrunken sweater into something new?

wearing an upcycled wool Tanith Rowan Grevillea beret made out of a shrunken sweater

the finished beret

Last Minute Christmas Gifts: Homemade Body Butter

body butter gift under the tree, the artyologist

Is it really only one more week until Christmas?

I read a while ago that this year has kind of been like Rip Van Winkle and, for me, I would agree. While my daily routine has definitely slowed down, time seems to be rushing by, and it all feels a bit surreal. While we’ve already passed the halfway point for December, it still feels like this year has gone by so slowly. In some ways it does seem like I’m sleeping while the world continues spinning by…

Well, in case time has gotten away from you too, and you need some last minute gifts, today I am sharing a zero-waste inspired Christmas gift you can easily make in a few hours. The great thing is that it mostly uses items you might already have around the house! This is a bit different than the topics I usually discuss here, but I kind of like branching out into new topics, and this definitely fits into the “lifestyle’ category.

I don’t know where I found this recipe- I think from a zero waste blogger or Instagrammer, but you can easily find these sorts of recipes with a quick google search of “diy natural body butter”. This is just the one I make because I bought a huge pail of shea butter several years ago, and I am trying to work my way through it (slowly!).

Easy Homemade Natural Body Butter

1 part coconut oil

1 part sweet almond oil (or light olive oil)

2 parts shea butter

Optional: essential oil of your choice

I usually make this recipe with sweet almond oil, but since I used up all of my almond oil while making soap, I couldn’t find any more! Usually I would get it at the health food store, but they didn’t have any. After a bit of research it appears that light olive oil works as a substitute, and it seems to be working just as well. I would definitely recommend light, not regular oil, so there isn’t a strong olive smell.

Also, I used lavender essential oil, but you can definitely make it unscented.

I also saw several other recipes used cocoa butter instead of shea, so you could probably try that too. Basically the most important part is that you need to have equal parts oil to butter.

Heat your oils and butter in a double boiler until it is completely melted, then place in the refrigerator to cool. I forgot to take any photos of this process, but it is pretty straightforward. Once it has solidified (several hours depending on how much you have made), then take it out and immediately whip with a blender until it is white and fluffy. It’s like magic how quickly it beats up! Then add some essential oils, 4-5 drops, if desired and mix in completely.

I am sure there is a shelf life on homemade body butters (probably a few months?) but to be honest I haven’t had any problems with it going rancid. I keep mine in my nightstand drawer, and I have had this last batch for probably 9 months, and I’ve never had any bacteria growth or funky smells or anything. This is a very moisturizing (albeit greasy) body butter, perfect for winter dryness; I use it on my feet, or as a lip balm.

Once you’ve whipped up the butter, then you are ready to decant it into jars.

I have been collecting these face lotion jars for the past few years, because I hate throwing things out, and I was sure I could find a use for them, even if for just organizing/storage. However a few months ago, I thought of an even better use- to repurpose as gifts (a zero waste win!). I used nail polish remover to take the labels off, and then sterilized the jars by running them through the dishwasher and heating the lids with boiling water.

They worked perfectly to hold about 3 tbsp of body butter- the perfect amount to try it out, without having to commit to using for the next few years! Any small jar would work great, maybe a small spice jar? Or a tiny canning jar?

I also decided to include the recipe in with the gift. I purchased this recipe card printable in the spring from local-ish artist Jenni Haikonen, as it’s so nice to give people recipes written on a pretty card, rather than any old paper, isn’t it?

I wrapped the gift up in some brown paper bags I have had for years, tied them with some recycled ribbons and twine (I always save ribbons and string whenever I get a package etc. in order to reuse them) and added some homemade Victorian Christmas tags. And there you have a lovely little gift for friends, coworkers or anyone else you want to give a gift to this season!

Well, I hope you enjoy making this recipe, if you decide to, and also hope that you have a very Merry Christmas season!