Aug 4, 2014

Homemade Sage Syrup

Sage (or Salvia Officinnalis)  is one of the most healing plants, well known and used since the ancient times.
This recipe is so simple and the result is amazing - tasteful, refreshing and healing   sage syrup.


30 dag of sage leaves ( I have huge sage in my garden and used it for the recipe)
2 kg sugar
7 - 10 dag citric acid
2 l water

Take pot (pressure cooker is good choice as it has lid that could be firmly closed), cover the bottom with leaves and sprinkle them with citric acid. Continue with layers of leaves, each one sprinkle with the citric acid. 

In another pot put 30 dag of sugar and heat it until crystals dissolve, then put 2 l of water, add the rest of sugar and cook about 20 minutes. Stir the sage leaves with this mixture, close the lid and leave 24 hours. 
Filtrate the liquid and pour in bottles.

Use undiluted for sore throats or thickly coughs, even asthma or diluted as a refreshing drink.
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Jul 18, 2014

Cheerful Summer Bag

Finally finished this cheerful summmer bag. Birds you can see are brooches so I will be able to wear them in the winter, too, to make my day. Tut for brooches find in this post.

Just to give you a short input how I made it: 

Original fabric is upholstery fabric I bought in Ikea. 

Decided to painted it - used acrylic paints for fabric I already had.

I like to have pockets in the bag, so I made a lining with zipper pocket on one side and plain pockets on the other.

After the bag was finished, just put my birds on it.

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Jul 1, 2014

Felted birds brooch - multipurpose

felted birds brooch

Birds are singing all day long in my garden and i can't help it but make few felted birds brooches to put them on my purse or wear them as brooches. Read this tutorial below to see how it is easy to make them.

Tutorial how to make felted birds brooch



Besides felt and fabric scraps, I used small buttons for eyes, double-sided iron-on vlieseline tape (to fasten scraps), filling and brooch pin.

felted birds brooch pattern

felted birds brooch patterns

First I draw the shape on the paper and cut it out - used it to cut two pieces from felt. Then cut 'wing' shape from fabric scrap, fasten it using double-sided iron-on vlieseline tape and sew it afterwards on the felt. Sew the button for the eye.

felted birds brooch layers

felted birds brooch layers

felted birds brooch layers

Now it is time to form the bird - put first back, then yellow piece for the beak, fillling, string for legs and front felt. Fasten it with the pin.

To make final stiching easier, I basted pieces first and then hand stiched it.

felted birds brooch pin

Finally sew the brooch pin at the back - I experimented a little bit  and found out that the best result is achieved with the pin put in the middle of the bird. 

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Jun 22, 2014

DIY Hermes paper bags to download

Hemes bags - dreams, dreams. But, if you can't buy the leather bag, you can make paper one. Hermes offered the pattern of their famous Kelly bag. They removed the pattern from their site, but download it here.

Fortunatelly, the Jige clasp is still available on their site - here is the link to pdf file.

Just in case Hermes update their site and  remove patterns, here is the file (pdf).
Have fun!
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Jun 10, 2014

Macerate sage (and other plants)

I have small garden around my house, mostly flowers and smaller bushes. One part is reserved for vegetables. Have to say, not very successful -still didn't win the war against snails who are devouring everything green. Among few plants resistant to snails is sage (Salvia Officinalis) and I am proud to say the sage bush in my garden is more than meter and half wide and I was challenged to use sage in some other way than for tea or as a spice.

So, I decided to macerate the sage and use it afterwards for aromatherapy.

How to macerate sage (and other plants)

Macerating is rather simple process. I collected sage leaves (in the morning),  put them in the jar and pour virgin olive oil over the leaves (some other vegetable oil could be used as well). I will put the jar on sunny place, leave it for 4 weeks ( shake it daily). After that period, I will remove leaves and filter the oil. I am very curious about the result. At least, i will learn something new.

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May 14, 2014

How to erase or remove background from your photo - part two

This post is actually update of the previous post on the same topic. In the meantime I learned something new. First, the Clippingmagic is not absolutely free of charge any more - you can try it, but can't download photo without subscription: the lowest one is still very cheap - 2.99 $ for a one month usage and 15 downloads (15 photos edited, you can download as many intermediate results as you wish - this is quite sufficient for me) or 7.99 $ for 100 downloads per month.

How to improve the final result

Second, I would  like to show you how to improve the final result. Using Clippingmagic you can't achieve sometimes the result you expect - it depends on the background contrast and probably some other things. For the furniture pieces I couldn't get the straight edges everywhere. So, I used another (free) tool - PhotoScape to make corrections. Silly me, in the first place, used Clone stamps tool and Paint brush, but there is no possibility to draw the line with this tools. And, out of desperation, found easy and fast method - just used lines objects - this tool is present in the majority of photo editing software.

Photo above is related to the PhotoScape, but steps are the same in other software.

Step 1: Choose the 'line' shape

Step 2: Choose the white color of the the line (or the color of the background)

Step 3: Choose the thickness of the line (the very thin line probably won't work good enough)

Step 4: Draw the line just next to the edge you want to correct
Read more "How to erase or remove background from your photo - part two"

May 12, 2014

Side table remake tutorial

side table after makeover

side table after makeover

This side table is now living new life in my kitchen. I always need more space for the kitchen tools - thing left in the pantry are forgotten forever. Recently we made some refurbishment in the kitchen and i found a right place for the small side table. Remembered I have one old in the garage and decided to paint it. This is the result.
And short tutorial follows.

Tutorial how to remake an old side table

side table before makeover

This is the photo of the table before the remake, just to get the picture.


- usual suspects for this type of project: acrylic paints (including black school board paint), napkin and decoupage glue (for the black dots), primer, sanding paper, filler, brushes and roller, protective tape, stencils, transparent varnish for the final coat.

table with filler

Table came with the holes on the upper side - I decided to keep those in the middle and fill the ones on edges - used acrylic filler for wood. As the holes were cca 5 mm deep, put the filler in few steps. After each step, left few hours to dry. In the meantime, put the coat of primer on the table legs.

Once I was happy with the 'filler' work, sanded the table and painted it using cream white for the legs,  black paint for the upper side (school board black), red for the shelf.

Now, the best part of the work started  (at least for me). Used protective tape to get the stripes and then painted them with red color. 


For the stenciling and stripes used little sponge (you can see it on photo). What is important here is to dry the sponge before you use it for stenciling (or stripes) - meaning, put the sponge in color and then on the paper to get rid of the excess paint. With this approach you avoid leakages under stencil or tape and get the neat work.

For the black dotes I used such napkin and decoupaged it on the table sides.
Finally, put the two coats of transparent varnish, for the protection (not on the upper side of the table painted with the school board paint).

I had to put the photo of my trivet - I regularly use it when working on projects, it really helps to save the back.

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Apr 23, 2014

Wood stains - secrets, tips, how to apply

      Paint or wood stain  - what to use on the piece we are working on? And what is the difference?

     Wood stains are liquid pigments that dye wood, yet allow the grain of the wood to show through - in my opinion, that's the most important fact regarding the wood stain. They   bring out the work of the crafter. Paint, on the other hand,  covers up blemishes or less than ideal woods on a project. As a general rule, it takes more efforts and time when preparing the piece of furniture for stain then it is for paint, but I love to use it over paint whenever I can.

Types of wood stain

Wood stains can be water based, oil based or alcohol based, mixed with finely ground pigments. As for the paint, I prefer water based stain - it is much easier to clean the tools, and the dry faster. But,which type of wood stain to use depends also on the type of wood - for the most porous wood (almond tree, birch, poplar) any type of stain is OK. For other, less porous, alcohol-based ones are better. 

Regarding opacity, there are basically two different types:
- low-build wood stains allowing enhanced wood structure appearance
- medium or high-build stains that are rather opaque (something between stain and paint, not my favorite)

Stains are designed to soak into the wood, but those marked as outdoor form a thin film on the surface in order to protect the wood.


Good preparation is essential for the good results, especially in the case of wood stain. 
This means sanding, sanding, sanding - sand the piece you are working on a few times, using progressively finer grits of sandpaper (larger number  = finer grit).  For flat surfaces I am using sander - it is much easier. Usually I start with the paper grit 80 and finish with the paper grit 120. And remember, always sand with the  grit. Next step is to to get rid of all of the sanding residue. Use vacuum cleaner (with brush) first, then wet clothes (repeat the cleaning with the cloth as many times as necessary; after sanding, this is the easy part).

How to apply a stain

That depends on the type of stain. In the case of oil-based stains use  natural bristle brush, whereas a water-based stain could be  applied using a synthetic brush or a roller. Some crafters use clean cloth to apply stain, I tried this, but it didn't work well for me.
Whatever you choose, try to apply first on the part of furniture that is not visible. For closets, I am using the back side of it to test colors and patterns. For tables, i am using bottom side of the table. It is always good to test the ideas first, and then make final decision.

Protecting stain

I am usually always protecting the stained piece with the transparent varnish.
Be sure to read the instructions on the can before applying it, and  do not shake the can before applying it (as this introduces bubbles that could mar your surface).

Tips and tricks

a. In more porous parts of the wood (eg. around knots), the absorption of the tint will vary - to minimize that, if you don't like it, use pre-stain wood conditioner.

b.  Read the instructions before you apply the pre-stain conditioner or stain. In some cases,  you are advised to wipe the conditioner off after a few minutes, and then apply the stain within two hours. So you may have to plan your time accordingly. 

c. For water - based stains, before applying the first layer of stain, lightly wet the wood. This will help to produce an even spread of the stain.

Read more "Wood stains - secrets, tips, how to apply"

Apr 12, 2014

Vintage leather bag with photos

How to get affordable, vintage leather bag (and not to spend a fortune)? With this question on my mind I started to think how I could make one. And this is the result. I bought a piece of soft dark grey leather at a great price and decided to make vera simple, messanger bag but with the addition of 'quilting' like fabric on the cover - that was the most demanding part to do. Inside the bag I sew cotton fabric lining with pocketc on the both sides, front and back.

Short tutorial how I made the vintage leather bag

leather bag bottom

It was easy to sew the 'body' of the bag. The with of the bottom I achieved sewing 'triangles' - as for the jeans bag.

vintage quilting photo

I spent more time to make the fabric cover. First I planned and draw the lines and shapes on the fabric, just to have the general idea (this was changed during the work). As the photo of my family, including our pats of course, was the central point, I started with it and, piece by piece, added fabric, decoupage and stitches, and some buttons at the end.

This is the finished fabric part.

Now it was time to sew it on the leather cover. I used cloth pins to fasten two pieces together.

To sew the second piece of leather, used office clips as well to fasten them.

The final tas was to sew the cover to the body of the bag - not very easy, as I have just a plain sewing machine, but the usage of special needle for the leather was a great help.
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Mar 31, 2014

How to erase or remove background from your photo

Photos play important role for (almost all) bloggers, particularly crafters. For smaller pieces I use a large white cardboard as a background but furniture is always a problem for me, no such good place in the house to take a picture and be happy with the background. Recently I found this free software - Clippingmagic. For a long time I haven't been so thrilled with some product, and it is absolutely free. You don't even need to install it on the computer - just upload the photo and follow the instructions. It is extremely easy to use it, but if you need help, there are very detailed instructions.
Of course, there are some other products, Photoshop is one of them for sure, but it is commercial. And I couldn't get the satisfactory result using some other photo editing tools (not to mention the effort needed).

Some tips:

Take care to keep contrast between the main object and background you want to remove - it is much easier and faster to achieve the result (like on the photo above - dog is dark and the environment is light).

Update to this post find here.
Read more "How to erase or remove background from your photo"