DIY Yarn Swift!

Today I’ve got another DIY for you – how to make your own yarn swift from things you can pick up at Goodwill!

DIY Yarn Swift with green yarn on it

I’ve needed a swift for a long time, but it never seems to make it to the top of the supply list, so I thought for quite a while about how I could just make one with stuff I had on hand or could pick up used. My first idea was an upside down umbrella, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to make the yarn stay where I wanted. My next thought was an expandable wine rack, which is actually what I went to find at Goodwill, but they didn’t have one, so I ended up with the coat rack instead, and I think it actually worked better. If you’d like to make one, please read on!

To make this project, you will need:

1 Expandable Coat Rack,

4 Large Pegs (I used these Shaker Pegs that we found at Home Depot, but any pegs that are about 3 inches or longer will work)

1 Lazy Susan (Mine is a 15 inch from Ikea. I wouldn’t go any larger than that but smaller would be fine.)

6 screws (The thickness will depend on how thick your shoe rack and Lazy Susan are; you will be screwing two of them into both pieces to hold them together, so you’ll want the screws to be long enough to get through both. Mine were about two inches.)

A drill (While this project could be done with just a screwdriver, it would take a lot of arm power and time. I don’t recommend it!)

I found my pieces in my own hoard of junk, and Goodwill. You could certainly buy each piece new, but I’m not sure it would save you a significant amount. My swift ended up costing about $14, as I already had a Lazy Susan, the drill, and the screws. I bought a coat rack (that was originally $30 at World Market) for $8 at Goodwill, and the pegs were about $6 new at Home Depot.

So, on to making your swift! Start with your coat rack and pegs.

Expandable shoe rack and four wooden pegs (start of DIY yarn swift)

You’re going to be replacing the short peg on each corner with a longer one. Take your drill and make a pilot hole in each peg, like so:

Putting a pilot hole in a wooden peg

Then, take the short pegs off of the corners and replace them with long pegs:

Shoe rack with two pegs replaced with longer ones (part of a DIY yarn swift)

You may be able to reuse the screws that you already took out, but in my case, the short pegs were held on with flat ended screws (rather than the more usual pointed end), so I had to use different ones. Now, see that lone short peg on the very end of the coat rack up there? Go ahead and just turn it around – it might catch the yarn when you’re winding. There’s no need to cut anything or get fancy with it (unless you want to), so just switch the peg to the back. When you’re done, it should look like this on the back:

Back of shoe rack (part of DIY yarn swift)And like this on the front:

Shoe rack with 4 long wooden pegs (part of a DIY yarn swift)

You’re halfway there! Now take your coat rack and center it on top of the Lazy Susan; it doesn’t have to be exact, so I just eyeballed mine, but you could measure if you’d like.

Making a DIY yarn swift with a lazy susan and expandable shoe rack

Then clamp it down so there’s no sliding around while you’re trying to drill.

Making a DIY yarn swift with a lazy susan and expandable shoe rack

Take your drill and put two more pilot holes on the bottom middle rungs, where the pink arrows are pointing in the above picture. You want to put them as far from the very middle as you can, so that you don’t drill into the base. Then drill your screw into each hole; if you find that the pointy end reaches down far enough to touch whatever surface you’ve got your swift on, it’s too long! You want it to go through the coat rack and the Lazy Susan with only a little of the pointy end poking through on the bottom. It should look like this when you’re done:

Making a DIY yarn swift with a lazy susan and expandable shoe rack

And you’re finished! The coat rack part of your swift should still contract in and out, so it should be able to accommodate most skeins of yarn. I tried it out with some Hawthorne Fingering from Knit Picks, and it looked great!

DIY yarn swift made from an expandable shoe rack and a lazy susan

I don’t have a ball winder either, so I use an old medicine bottle, and to show you how to do it, we made a video! It’s my first one, and we accidentally filmed in portrait (not knowing that all editing software turns it into landscape – oops!), but I think it’s got some good info and will teach you how to wind yarn, starting from the very beginning; most of you knitting veterans won’t need it, but I thought it would be a good brush up, or a place to start for newbies!

I hope this helps at least a few of you, and if you end up making one, I’d love to see it on Instagram or Facebook!

Spring Wreath Tutorial

We have been graced with a very early spring here in Seattle, and it’s put me in the mood for all things bright and sunny, so when I saw these ready-to-make paper flowers at Daiso, I picked up a few packages. You just never know when you’ll need some bright tissue flowers, people!

Tissue paper flowers, pink, white, and yellowI finally sat down this week to figure out what to make with them, and remembered that I had an extra wreath form (these are obviously easier to get around the holidays, but it looks like they’re available on Amazon and at most big craft stores) that I’d saved from a Christmas wreath. A cute door decoration sounded just perfect, so I tied a ribbon around the top…

Empty wreath form with pink ribbon tied to it…and then started to put my flowers together. These things are crazy easy to make, so this would be a great craft to do with kids; I got some that came pre-folded with a twist tie in the middle (makes affixing them a snap) from Daiso, but they’re also really simple to make from scratch (this is a good tutorial, and you could use different colors in the same flower). You start by fanning out each side:

White tissue paper flower Then gently pulling up each layer, alternating sides:

Half finished white tissue paper flowerOnce you’ve pulled up all the layers, you end up with a pretty tissue flower that kind of looks like a peony (one of my favorites!).

Pink tissue flower White tissue flowerThen, I just used the twist ties to tie them to the wreath form:

Back of spring wreath, flower held on with twist tieI didn’t really have a plan, so I just put flowers on until it looked full enough, and ended up with a pretty cute spring wreath for the door!

Yellow, white, and pink tissue paper wreathI’m not sure how this will hold up when it rains (although it is under a covered porch), so I may move it to an inside door if it seems to be getting too wilty out there, but it will look cute either way!

Yellow, white, and pink tissue paper spring wreath

Bottle Hummingbird Feeder

We went to the Northwest Flower and Garden show a couple of weeks ago and picked up a very cool little stopper:

stopper for hummingbird feeder

This was one of those things I didn’t know I’d been looking for, as I had the perfect bottle to turn into a hummingbird feeder just hanging out at home – reinforcing my belief that I should save all things for later repurposing!

How to hang the bottle was a bit of a challenge, but I thought wrapping wire around would be the best, and prettiest, way. I ordered some 16 gauge copper, got out some pliers and wire cutters (we have giant ones but smaller jewelry cutters would definitely work if you decided to try this) and got to work.

Empty glass bottle, copper wire, pliers, wire cutters

I first tried just winding the copper wire around the bottle, but the wire kept stretching and letting the bottle fall out, so I eventually decided on kind of hybrid braiding/wrapping method, very similar to how I made the hanging planter from a while ago. I just used the bottle as my form, and then wrapped all the loose wires together at the top to form a handle. I ended up with a very pretty holder that can be slipped off when it’s time to refill or clean:

Copper Hummingbird feeder holder for a bottle

When I hung it outside, I bent the top handle a bit to give the bottle an angle (a suggestion from my husband to make it a little easier for the birds to get the food). Our house came with little hooks under the eaves, but it could easily be hung with a hook screw.

Copper wrapped bottle hummingbird feeder

In a happy accident, it matches the copper roof on our regular bird feeder (currently filled with black sunflower seeds and very popular with our local finches), and I think it will still be really pretty when it starts to weather and oxidize. We haven’t had any visitors yet, but I’m hoping the warmer weather will encourage some little hummers to investigate!

Copper wrapped hummingbird feeder

Wine Cork Bulletin Board

A while ago my friend Destiny gave me a bunch of wine corks, which she had been saving but didn’t have a reason to keep. I looked around for things to make from them, and we both really liked the idea of a bulletin board. You’ll see about a thousand of these if you type it into Pinterest; I didn’t use any particular tutorial as it’s easy enough to wing on your own, but if decide to do this and you want some concrete steps, that’s where I’d look!

I started out with some thrifted frames (there are two of them because I’m making another one for a different friend of ours, but ran out of corks, so you’ll only see one!), and some paint.

Thrift store picture frames before being painted

Now, I’m going to recommend that if you do this step, you spray paint it. I used regular craft paint and a paint brush, and while they turned out okay in the end, it was a lot more work than I’d been intending and took forever to dry. They also turned out a bit brighter than I wanted, but I think it still works.

Thrift store picture frames after being painted, one red, one yellow

Now, on to the corks! I knew starting out that I wanted to cut the them in half lengthwise, but it turns out that’s a lot more difficult to do than I had assumed. After some false starts and a round of Googling, I decided to steam them to soften them up, so I filled a pot with a few inches of boiling water and set a strainer on top, with the lid over it (the lid is off for the purposes of the picture, but you’ll need it, trust me).

Wine corks being steamed

I found that about 5 minutes was long enough to soften them; you should be able to cut them with a regular old kitchen knife at this point. Be careful, though! They’ll be slippery after this step and you’ll want to watch where your fingers are in relation to the knife. This pile was just enough for one cork board.

Wine corks cut in half

You’ll also want to try to weed out the corks that are too short or too tall, since they’ll make spacing more difficult. You can use the discarded ones to fill in any gaps at the end.

After all the corks were cut, I glued the back of the picture frame back on the front, arranged the corks in a pattern I liked, and glued them down with my hot glue gun. I’d advise arranging the pattern before you glue anything down, both for the sake of spacing and making sure you have enough corks. My pattern was really simple – I tried a bunch of fancier ones but they didn’t fit as well, so I ended up just doing single lines all the way across. They didn’t quite fit with whole corks all the way across, so I filled those gaps in with ones I’d cut in half (they should be very easy to cut with scissors after they’ve already been cut lengthwise). I think it turned out pretty well!

Finished wine cork bulletin board, frame painted yellow

I tried to make sure all the corks were facing the same direction, because it bothers me otherwise, but it doesn’t particularly matter. It will be seen from a distance most of the time, and hopefully will have things pinned to it anyway. I would watch the amount of glue you squeeze out though – too much and you’ll have a bunch of visible spots between the corks. This one will be going to it’s new home this weekend, but I think I might just have to make another one for me!

Close up of wine cork bulletin board, frame painted yellow

Side Table Update

We have a very small living room. Like, can’t comfortably fit a couch small (we’ve tried). Our house is old, and the space we’re using for a living room was meant to be a sort of parlor, as far as we can tell. In any case, we decided a while ago to just have two chairs with a table in between, and I’ve been searching for the perfect side table since. Turns out, tables are crazy expensive, and none of them were exactly what I was looking for, so I decided I’d just have to redo an existing one. You can see where this is going, right? Off to Goodwill, where we found this lovely Ethan Allen table for $10:

Hexagon shaped side table from thrift store, before painting

It was pretty dirty and kind of beat up, and those pulls are just icky, but I had plans! I shanghaied my lovely husband into taking off the handles and the hinges holding on the doors, and then got to painting.

Thrift store side table being painted blue

I used Rustoleum 2x spray paint in color Satin Lagoon. It has the primer and paint all in one, so no sanding or separate primer required. This picture is after the first coat, so you can see it provides pretty good cover right off, but I did three coats just to be sure everything was even and bright. I would definitely recommend waiting 24 hours between each coat; I only waited a few hours in between and while it mostly turned out okay, I had some crackling on the back. It was easy enough to fix by sanding it down and repainting, but it was a pain. I also sprayed a layer of clear acrylic on top to protect the paint…it probably would have been totally fine without it, but I wanted something between the paint and all the things that could ruin it!

We couldn’t just stick those old handles back on my beautiful new paint job, so I found some adorable brass owls (at World Market) to use instead.

Brass door pull shaped like an owl

Our house has closets in the living room that have brass pulls with different animals on them, so I was pretty thrilled to find some that matched the style almost exactly (this is the little bee; there’s also a turtle, a dragonfly, and a frog).

Brass door pull shaped like a bee

We had to put wood putty in the holes for the old handles and drill new holes for the owls, but after painting you can barely tell.

Close up of brass door pulls shaped like an owl

It turned out the perfect color (we have a large painting on the wall that is my loose inspiration for decorating), and fits in great with our chairs!

Side table painted blue with Rustoleum paint

I love that it has some storage in the bottom, as my crafting supplies inevitably make their way out to the living room, and this way I can hide them and pretend I’m not a total mess.

Side table painted blue with Rustoleum paint, side view

It’s just the right size to hold drinks, my bowls of yet more supplies, and whatever else ends up on it. I’m quite happy with it, especially since all the supplies, including the table itself, ended up being less than $30!

Before and after of repainted thrift store side table

Now, on to fixing that chair…

Sewing Box Makeover

I scored several great finds on our last Goodwill trip, so you’ll be seeing makeover projects a lot around here in the next few weeks – hope you don’t mind! This week, a sewing box. We were cruising around the furniture section and this fantastic box was just hanging out above the sofas:

Old wooden circular sewing box before update

I was drawn by those amazing hinges, and then I opened it up…

Old wooden circular sewing box before update

…and saw the spool holders! I think you’ll agree that it had to be mine. I loved the wood, but it was really beat up and the wood was splintering a bit, so I decided it would need to be painted. Luckily, I just acquired a bunch of Martha Stewart craft paint, so I had lots of colors to choose from (these are just a few).

Martha Stewart satin craft paint

I decided on blue and got to work. I have to tell you, this might be my new favorite crafting item. The paint is nice and thick, so it covers really well, and the coats dry quickly. One coat provided enough coverage that it probably would have been enough, but two gives it a really solid color. It doesn’t smell, and washes easily off of brushes and hands. It comes in a huge range of really nice colors, and the color on the label is pretty true to what’s in the bottle. I would highly recommend them – I’m now actively looking for things to paint :P.

Once I got the color on, though, I decided that it just wasn’t enough (not the paint’s fault at all, just me being picky), so I broke out the Modge Podge and covered it in some leftover Birch fabric. This is what I ended up with:

Thrift store wooden circular sewing box after update, modge podged with fabric

The underside of the lid is painted white, and I ended up mixing red and blue to get a dark purple for the inside and the handle.

Thrift store wooden circular sewing box after update, modge podged with fabric

The hinges definitely look old and a bit tarnished, but they’re so pretty that they had to stay.

Close up of hinges on thrift store wooden circular sewing box

I left those spool holders (obviously!) and it is perfect for my current hexie project. I think I may add a little box or maybe a pocket at some point, to have a place to store extra needles and my thimble and other odds and ends, but I’m pretty happy with it for now!

Inside of thrift store wooden circular sewing box, with spools of thread and paper pieced hexagons

The final tally was $6 for the box, maybe $1 for the Modge Podge, and about $1.50 for the paint (the fabric was in my stash). Well worth it, in my opinion!

Before and after of thrift store wooden sewing box

Dog Bed

Our new house has a washer and dryer in the living room closet, which is great for convenience, but both units are slightly smaller than a normal appliance. I’ve been having a lot of trouble washing the dog bed in our new, tinier washer, and it got pretty gross. I could have taken it to a laundromat, but decided to just fix the problem, using a crib mattress and some outdoor fabric. I was searching for foam on Amazon, and a bunch of mattresses came up, so I started thinking about how I could cut a foam topper. Then inspiration struck, and I realized that a crib mattress would be exactly the right size, with the added benefit of being waterproof. I’ll never have to wash it! So, a click and a couple of days later, the mattress arrived on our doorstep:

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I could have ordered a cover to go on it as well, but they tend to be made of fairly thin fabric, and they’re kind of expensive. So I just went and got a yard and a half of blue outdoor fabric for $8 at Joann’s and made my own.

It ended up not being quite enough to cover the whole thing, so for the middle part of the cover I used some stash fabric in a coordinating color (also from Joann’s, according to the selvedge). I was going to put in a zipper, but I couldn’t find one large enough and didn’t feel like waiting to get one, so I just whip stitched it closed. It turned out pretty nicely, I think!

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Zoey wasted no time trying it out (we were outside for the purposes of better lighting…I’m not crazy enough to make a bed just for outside. Yet.)

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It’s the exact right size to fit at the end of our couch (which is where her bed has to be so she doesn’t guard the cat :P). I think if I were to buy another mattress, I might get one that’s slightly thicker, but overall it works well. The waterproof fabric does make a slight rustling noise when she lays on it or rolls around, but it’s not bad at all and totally worth not having to wash it! If you decide to try this, just for comparison, Zoey is about 70 lbs and pretty stocky. The mattress we got is 24 X 38 X 2.5 (link here) and would probably fit a dog that was even a bit bigger than her.

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Couch Pillow from a button down shirt

Sorry for the lack of postings last week; my husband and I both came down with a slight plague and not much got done around here. I’m still recovering, but I did get a project done that’s been on my table for a while:

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This pillow started out life as a men’s button down shirt:

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The shirt is basically synthetic fabric, so I wasn’t wild about making it into something to wear, but I really loved the color. We also recently upgraded our bedroom pillows, so we have a bunch of extra pillows hanging out, and I decided to turn one of them and the shirt it into another couch pillow.

For some reason I always think it’s easier to not measure anything (this inevitably leads to having to redo stuff, but I always manage to forget that), so I just traced the pillow I was using with some tailor’s chalk, keeping the buttons in the middle (I had previously removed the pocket, since I thought it would look weird sideways).

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This pillow is slightly smaller and more dense than a regular head pillow; since it was being repurposed from the bedroom to the couch, I packed the feathers a little more tightly and re-sewed one end. Once I had it marked, I just sewed four straight seams and cut away the rest of the shirt.

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Now, you may notice that the corners bow out quite a bit; after trying it on the pillow, it made the corners too pointy, so I ended up going back and making the lines more straight. I could have avoided this by measuring or following a pattern, but it didn’t end up taking too long to fix, so I can’t really complain that much. The nice thing about keeping the buttons is that it’s a built in place to insert the pillow, so no envelope opening or zippers needed.

It was an easy, quick update, matches the decor in our living room, and looks great with the existing pillows (I am obsessed with the purple and teal color combo, as my husband will attest). If you’ve got old clothes you’ve been saving, this is a great way to use them up!

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Lamp Shade Update

First off, I apologize for the light postings lately. I started a medication recently that has me feeling under the weather, so my posts will probably be more like once a week than twice a week for a little bit while my body adjusts. Thanks for the patience!

So, onto today’s post! As you know, we moved recently, and my poor bedside lamp did not make it through all that well:

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Sad, right? I’ve been meaning to get to fixing it, but hadn’t had the time until this last weekend (hey, three months is better than my average to get to things lately :P). To start out, I took out the metal tops and bottom that keep the shade in shape, and set those aside. The torn up fabric outer layer came right off, leaving just the plastic lining.

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To replace said lining, I just used a piece of fabric that was leftover from our quilt (the polka dots, since more green would have been overwhelming).

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I cut it so that it was about a half inch wider than the plastic lining, thinking that I would hot glue it.

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And then, folks, I lost my marbles a little bit, and decided to actually sew the fabric to the liner. I know.

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The good news is that my machine (and I) survived, and it actually worked pretty well.

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Once that was done, I whip stitched the back seam to close the circle. The top ring was a little bit of a challenge, so I ended up putting in what amounted to some basting stitches to keep it in place, then hot glueing all the way around to make sure it stayed. I left the bottom ring out; it keeps it’s shape without it, and I’m planning to reuse it for a future project :P.

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It turned out really nice, and looks great on my nightstand (please ignore the masking tape; we have a weird second door in this room and it was letting in drafts, so we improvised).

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I think it also matches the quilt without overwhelming the space. Now I just have to convince my husband to let me update his lampshade…

Mini Ironing Board Tutorial

I’ve been doing a lot of paper piecing and scrappy blocks lately, which requires a lot of ironing. The way my sewing space is situated, there isn’t enough room to have the big ironing board next to my desk, so I have been having to get up and down to iron my blocks. This is okay when I’m doing just a little bit of piecing, but with paper piecing, that can mean getting up 12 or 15 times! My hip quickly let me know that this was not a situation that was going to last for long, so I started thinking of solutions, and what I ended up with is this:

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Originally I was going to make just a mat that could be rolled up and put away when not in use, but I really just don’t have the space on my sewing table, especially when I’m in the middle of something and there’s fabric flying everywhere. I do have set of drawers that I thought I could just set a covered board on, but my ever practical husband pointed out that it might be slightly too heavy and could be knocked over. So, I looked on all over the internet to see if I could find just a mini ironing board; exactly the same as our big one, but I wanted about 1/4 of the size. Everything was about $50 or more, and didn’t seem to exactly fit my needs. I just couldn’t talk myself into it. But, I remembered these TV trays that my grandparents had when I was a kid:

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And decided it was the perfect base for a folding mini ironing board that wouldn’t cost me tons. It sits right at my side, is very sturdy even on carpet, and cost about $20 to make. I put together a little tutorial, in case you’d like to make your own (it’s very easy, I swear!).

You will need:

-One wooden TV tray; I found mine at Target for about $9.

-A half yard of Insul-Bright, or similar heat reflecting fabric. It can be purchased by the yard at most large craft stores.

-A half yard of cotton fabric. I chose a light fabric and made sure that I pre washed; ironing can sometimes make colors bleed, so be wary of using something that might run. Cottons do well with the constant pressure of ironing – polyesters can sometimes smell a bit or shrink/warp. This isn’t to say that you couldn’t use poly, I’m just not sure how it would hold up.

-A half yard of batting. I used cotton, for the reasons above.

-Nail gun or nails and hammer. The nail gun is too hard for me to use on my own, so I also had a lovely assistant in the form of my husband :).

My TV tray came fully put together, which made it slightly more tricky to cover, so you could take yours apart if you wanted. I just moved the legs on mine back and forth.

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Lay the Insul-Brite on your working surface (I used our bed, as it’s the largest reachable surface in our house). Then lay the wooden tray top on top of it. You could be fancy and actually measure the top, then measure the batting, but I just marked a roughly 2 inch border around the tray top and cut it out. Make sure you’re laying it out with the shiny side down; you want the shiny side to be facing the iron when you’re using it.

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With the tray top in the middle of the Insul-Bright, bring one side of the fabric over the bottom of the tray:

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And staple or nail into place. Bring the opposite side over to the bottom of the tray top, making sure it’s pulled tight:

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Do the same on each end, making sure each corner is tucked and the Insul-Bright is pulled flat and tight:

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It will look like this when you’re done:

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You can trim the fabric closer to the staples at this point, if you’d like. Now, a note on the next part – I tacked down the batting and the fabric together. You could certainly to this in two separate steps, but it would require more nails and be more bulky. It’s really just about what’s easier for you.

Lay the fabric down first, right side down, then lay the batting on top of it, with the wooden table on top of that:

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Trim the batting (not the fabric!) so that it only overlaps the table by a little bit. I also trimmed the corners. I then folded the fabric that I was using before we stapled it, so that there wouldn’t be any raw edges. While this is certainly not necessary, it did make it look a bit more neat.

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Follow the same steps as with the Insul-Bright, stapling each side one at time, until all sides are tacked down:

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The most important part of this process is making sure that you have the fabric tight; this is where having a helper comes in handy! After everything is stapled down, you’re all done, and all that’s left it to enjoy your brand new mini ironing station!

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And when you’re not using it, it just folds up flat!

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Hope you find this fun and informative; as always, please let me know if you have any questions!