Creative ideas for fabrics in your home — bedrooms

Filed Under: Crafts, Do it yourself, Redecorating, Remodeling    by: ITC

One of the cheapest ways to redecorate a bedroom is to change the pillowcases or bedcover, which can revive a room quite surprisingly. The choice of bedcovers and pillowcases in bedding departments often makes one forget the opportunities for making them at home. Some pillowcases are made with a different pattern on each side so you can ring the changes by mixing and matching them. This is another idea that would be easy and cheap to do yourself.

Two Indian bedspreads can become an unusual duvet cover and there are many other interesting fabrics to use, perhaps to get away from the idea that bedrooms should be flowery and feminine. The important thing is to choose cotton which is fine and soft; you don’t want anything scratchy in bed.

Quilted comforters, which are not as bulky as duvets or eiderdowns, add extra warmth in winter without adding much weight. They fold away into next to nothing for storage and if the fabric is chosen carefully, will provide a different winter color for the room.

Traditional patchwork quilts were made of old pieces of fabric and clothes so that nothing was ever wasted. Modern quilts may be in traditional designs or very carefully chosen fabrics in modern designs. They are often works of art which are better hung on the wall than spread over a bed.

A canopy over the bed can be in almost any fabric because it will not suffer from wear and tear. Lace, voile, muslin, sprigged cotton or Indonesian batik will create a summery effect and brocade, velvet or woven fabrics will make you feel warm in winter.

Creative ideas for fabrics at home — cushions

Filed Under: Crafts, Do it yourself, Redecorating, Remodeling    by: ITC

Cushions are another quick and simple way to bring a jaded interior to life or to introduce a touch of the exotic. They can also transform a newly designed interior which seems a little too tasteful or bland.

In many homes cushions become a feature in their own right, providing comfortable support on shabby chairs and sofas or used as floor seating, specially for children. It is usually best to buy the cushions from a cheap supplier and to buy the fabric or made-up covers separately; buying cushions and covers together is an expensive way of doing things.

If you are grouping cushions, choose colors and fabrics which either match each other or complement the existing furnishings in the room. If it is a fairly formal room and you have chosen pale colors and sophisti¬cated curtain treatments, such as ruched curtains with large pelmets, then the cushions should be carefully made with frills and piping in toning colors. Pale golds and greens would not be flattered by scarlet but would be better with deep greens and golds. A room with an ethnic look, with kilims on the floor and curtains in Indian-printed cotton, would look better with a group of cushions in ethnic embroideries and deep-colored prints, with no need for frills or piping. Very feminine rooms look pretty with smaller cushions than normal in lace or broderie anglicize covers, perhaps even with small bows.

Floor cushions were at one time very fashionable but if you are not actually using them they are liable to get in the way and are difficult to store. Instead, two pillows can be fitted into one large square cushion cover so that you have pillows for the spare bed or sofa-bed when visitors stay, but can conceal the spare bed with big and small cushions as a divan when they leave.

If you buy or make cushion covers the same shape as pillowcases, you can use pillows inside them so that when you have guests all you have to do is substitute pillowcases for the cushion covers.

Fabrics which drape well can be slightly gathered as though they were curtains, implying there might be a window behind them. This is a good trick for covering a bad piece of plastering or some other eyesore you are stuck with.

Torn wall coverings

Filed Under: Crafts, Do it yourself, Home repair, Redecorating    by: ITC

Torn wallpaper in the home can usually be patched fairly simply. With other wall coverings like hessian, vinyl or grass cloths you should match the pattern with care. Placing a spare piece over the tear and checking the design.

Cut a piece slightly largely than the damaged area, and then place it over the hole, again making sure that the pattern matches. Cut through both layers with a sharp knife to a square or oblong shape (unless there is a definite motif in the pattern, in which case you should follow the shape of this). Peel away the old wall covering, and using a suitable adhesive stick the new piece carefully in place. Roll the patch lightly with a steam roller and leave it to dry.

Many vinyl wall coverings have a paper backing. You should not leave the backing of the old wall covering in place; cut right through it and strip it back to the wall surface before fixing the new piece.

If your walls are coming apart at the seams this sometimes happens because of condensation. Or it may be that the wall coverings have been overlapped instead of butt-joined you can easily stick them back down again. It the wall covering is vinyl you will have to use a latex adhesive to secure it.

Blisters sometimes occur if wallpaper is incorrectly pasted or if heavy paper is hung too soon, before it has absorbed enough paste; they can also be caused by a poor wall surface of condensation. One method of dealing with this is to half-fill a syringe with a suitable paste and injects the paste into the centre of the blister.

Allow the paste to penetrate the back of the paper (it should take about five minutes) and then flatten the blister firmly with your fingers. Wipe away any surplus paste and then go over the area lightly with a roller until the paper lies completely flat. If you cannot get hold of a syringe, make a cross-shaped cut and peel back the tongues before using an artist’s brush to push paste underneath them.

Blisters, or cracks and chips in paintwork can be repaired. Knots in wood can sometimes cause very bad discoloration on woodwork, appearing as a brown stain under the paint film. You can sand or scrape away the paint, seal the knot with proprietary knotting and allow it to dry before you prime, sand, fill as necessary and repaint.

You can remove and replace a damaged wall tile. If you don’t have a spare tile and cannot obtain one, you could either replace a panel of tiles with new ones so as to create a definite design, or replace just a few tiles with random patterned ones. It’s also possible to tile on top of cracked or crazed tiles, using new slim universal.

Building a birdhouse to attract birds

Filed Under: Crafts, DIY Outdoor, Do it yourself, Gardens    by: ITC

Building a birdhouse in your area for the wild birds helps replace part of the natural habitat lost due to the environmental problems caused by development around most industrial cities, where pollution has reached alarming proportions. People that love the companionship of birds will also find this activity fun and rewarding. While constructing a birdhouse can be as simple as four walls, a roof and a floor, there are many things you would need to consider.

These things come down to size, materials, holes and placement. Wood should be regarded as the best building material (pin, cedar and fir), with aluminum coming close. No other metals are a good option since they would become extremely hot when exposed to the sun. Birdhouses can be made from a mixture of concrete and wood called “woodcrete.” Blue Tits, Great Tits and Tree Sparrows prefer these woodcrete bird houses. Birds nesting in these houses have a shorter incubation period and higher rate of reproductive success, possibly because these synthetic nests were warmer than the wooden bird houses.

The size of the bird house and that of the entrance hole should be related to the types of birds you would want to attract. Entrance holes should be near the top of the box and according to the size of the bird which will use the house. The hole dimension is a critical part in birdhouse building, because if it’s too small the bird species you chose to build the house for will not be able to get inside it. If it’s too large it would allow bigger, more aggressive birds to nest in it. Bird houses should have the interior walls roughened or have ladders to help the young birds in climbing to the opening.

Make it easier to clean after the nesting season by leaving one side of the birdhouse open. The roof is best to be slanted with an overhang of five to six inches, keeping predators from getting inside the birdhouse. It also protects the birds from driving rain. A good option would be to place the birdhouses at locations inaccessible to natural predators. You can make some adjustments to the birdhouses called “predator guards,” which would make it more difficult for a predator to reach inside of the nest. One such adjustment would be a simple additional piece of wood at the entrance hole adding “depth,” and making it harder for a predator to reach inside.

Birdhouses should be placed within 1/4 an acre, because some birds insist on territorial rights, and you could end up with empty birdhouses if they are built too close. Another thing to keep in mind is to paint the birdhouses in natural colors to attract more birds. Especially avoid dark paint as it absorbs heat.

Building a birdhouse is rewarding when you can sit and watch, as birds fill their newly made homes. Just remember to keep the birds’ lives in perspective when building their homes.

The benefits of birdhouses in your garden

Filed Under: Crafts, DIY Outdoor, Do it yourself, Gardens    by: ITC

Creating a small sanctuary for birds in your back garden, can help to bring nature just a little bit closer to home. Sitting in the garden and watching the feathered friends visit your bird house can be soothing, but also rewarding as you can feel secure in the knowledge that you will be providing them with elements they need to survive.

Birds are very fragile creatures by nature, and they need to find shelter from the weather, food and water, somewhere safe and comfortable, to nest and raise their families. By erecting a birdhouse in the garden, you will be able to provide them with all their requirements.

A little forward planning before buying a birdhouse is preferable. There are considerations over size to ponder, for example, you don’t want the resulting house to look overbearing in a small space. Alternately, too small a birdhouse can get lost in a yawning back yard. Whether you tree-mount the birdhouse or have a free standing one, will dictate your choice.

Birdhouses are important for the birds and can become a little safe haven for them. Attention should be paid to which type of birds you want attracted to your garden. It may help to be aware of the particular types of birds that are native and common to your area, and target those. The type of feed that you put out on the table will be the attracting factor. It is possible to attract migratory birds which may pass overhead, but if you put out seed in the hope of attracting an exotic bird which is not native to your area, then your birdhouse could be left largely abandoned.

The pinnacle of sitting in the garden and watching birds visit, is seeing them occupy a birdhouse which you have constructed and designed yourself. There are several benefits to doing this over buying one. Not only will it unleash your creativity, but you can fine tune the designs to suit the birds, and how the building appears aesthetically in your garden.

A birdhouse of your own design can complement your own home, and even building a miniature replica of your abode to go that extra mile. Building a pitched roof with a good overhang will provide important shelter from the elements birds need. Fine tuning the garden around the house with favorable and familiar bushes, trees and shrubs will help with their nesting needs.

Watching the comings and goings of birds is more than just a relaxing distraction. Listening to their song and observing their habits, bird watching is something that can be enjoyed with the family, passing knowledge onto children. Time spent this way cannot only be calming, but can be therapeutic as a stress reliever too.

How to build homemade birdhouses

Filed Under: Crafts, DIY Outdoor, Do it yourself, Gardens    by: ITC

Building homemade birdhouses are easy once you know how many things just lying aimlessly around the house can be used to house a whole family of feathered friends. Things like plastic gallon-sized milk cartons. How many of these do we throw away in a week? When you take a look around you can find many things that can aide you in constructing a homemade birdhouse or adorning one.

The environment will also thank you for your endeavor in helping to keep unwanted items out of the landfills that are thrown away everyday. If more people would get on this bandwagon, we could eliminate a good chunk of trash and do our part in recycling as well as taking care of nature in the process. Homemade birdhouses can increase the abundance of wildlife in your very own community starting with your own yard.

Birdhouses allow for the possibility for many different and rare birds to nest and migrate to areas where before there wasn’t any or at least very little. Even people in booming cities can bring birds into the city more if they will put up birdhouses. Birdhouses are not exclusively for the country or more rural parts of an area by no means.

Homemade birdhouses are great to make anytime of the year but, will see it’s greatest use in the spring time when many birds are nesting to prepare for little ones that will arrive at the start of the warm season. You will also find that many birds will count on you to provide housing for them and will return every spring to nest and make a home for their young year after year.

Almost anyone can acquire nails, wood glue and a few pieces of wood to get the job done if you are wanting to go the more wood stable homemade route. You can find a whole world of birdhouse plans online to construct your very own birdhouse. You can keep it simple or go more extreme and construct a bird condo of sorts and you can even add a box on the side of the house built exclusively for holding nesting materials. Pretty neat, huh?

One will find that birds appreciate any efforts you make and will feel quite comfy in their new homemade birdhouse, no matter how you go about it. You may even find that you get so good at it, you may be able to profit from the homemade birdhouses that you make. So many people like to purchase things that are homemade, simply because it has more meaning and has been constructed and crafted with homemade loving care. Plus, homemade birdhouse can be one of kind and will allow you to use your imagination to add whimsy to an otherwise boring wood box.

Refinishing Furniture

Filed Under: Crafts, Do it yourself, Home repair    by: ITC

Furniture refinishing includes three basic steps:

• Removing the old finish

• Preparing the surface

• Applying the new finish

Sometimes the old furniture finish doesn’t really need to be stripped off. A good washing with TSP will get the grease off. Then roughen the surface with fine sandpaper or steel wool and coat it with varnish or clear lacquer. Do not apply lacquer over varnish, paint, or enamel. It will remove the finish just as a stripper would.

There is no way to blend a new finish with an old finish. If the furniture is badly worn, you will have to strip the finish off the entire piece. You can do this by scraping or sanding for a long time. Or you can use chemical compounds, which work much faster. Chemical strippers soften and loosen the paint quickly, and when the paint is dissolved they will begin to work on the wood and glue. For this reason, you must apply a neutralizer as soon as the last coat of paint or varnish is soft. Then rinse off both stripper and neutralizer along with the old finish.

Always handle chemical substances such as stripper with great care. Wear rubber gloves and read all instructions carefully before you begin to work.

Apply the new finish with a brush or spray can. Practice on some old wood before you begin. Apply finish evenly. Several light coats are better than one heavy one.

After the furniture is stripped to the original wood, give it time to dry. Then sand to even off the raised grain.

If you want to change the color of the wood, add wood stain. Follow up with varnish or lacquer. Instead you may want to apply paint or enamel. Refer to Units 23, 25, and 26 for more information on painting.

Chemical strippers will remove old paint, varnish or lacquer quickly. Follow instructions carefully. If the stripper needs to be neutralized be sure to do so at the proper time. Handle chemicals with care.

Scrape off loose paint with a putty knife or spray off with a garden hose. After the wood is dry, sand down the raised grain.

Sometimes you can apply a new coat of finish without stripping the piece of furniture. Clean the surface and sand it lightly so the new finish will stick. Apply a new coat of varnish or lacquer. Do not use lacquer over varnish or paint or it will act like a stripper and cause the finish below to soften and bubble up.

Apply the new finish with a brush or spray can. Practice on some old wood before you begin. Apply finish evenly. Several light coats are better than one heavy one.

Safety Tips for Using Tools

Filed Under: Crafts, Do it yourself, Redecorating, Remodeling, Tools    by: ITC
Hammer time

Hammer time

By themselves, tools are not dangerous. Tools become dangerous only in the hands of a careless person. The best safety rules for handling tools are the simplest:

• Keep all tools in good condition

• Use the correct tool for the job

• Put away all tools when you are not using them

• Keep your working area neat and clean

• Know which end of a tool cuts, and always keep that end turned away from yourself and other people

• Use power tools that are grounded or double-insulated

• Wear eye protection when you use tools that make flying chips

• Keep power tool guards in place

People can stumble and fall on a sharp saw or chisel. They can accidentally knock a hammer off a bench on to someone’s foot. If everything is put away, all the time, accidents like these become rare.

Tools in good shape are easier and safer to work with. Dull chisels, loose hammer heads, and broken screwdrivers should be repaired or replaced.

Tools that are safely put away do not cause accidents and injury.

Everyone knows what a nail or a screw is—until a store clerk asks which kind you want. There are many to choose from. The most common fasteners are:

• Tacks, nails, and brads

• Screws

• Nuts and bolts

Tacks have large heads. Brads are small nails. Nails are sized by the “penny” (d): the bigger the penny number, the larger the nail. Some nails have extra-large heads to keep from pulling through soft material. Finish nails or casing nails have very small heads so they can be set below the surface. This is done with a nail set. The holes are then puttied over. There are even special nails to be driven into concrete.

Screws also come in many types and sizes. Their size is based on the thickness of the shank. Screw gages tell how thick the shank is. Most screws with flat heads can be driven so they are flush with the surface. This is called countersinking.

Countersinking and drilling for flathead screws. If you have to sink a large number of screws, buy a special bit that drills both size holes and countersinks all at once. A little wax rubbed on the screw thread will make it easy to drive the screw into the wood.

Nuts and bolts are also good fasteners. They come in different sizes and are used for different jobs. Nuts, bolts, and machine screws (those used for metal) have a number telling the diameter of the shank, followed by another number which tells how many threads per inch. For example a 1/4-20 bolt has a 1/4 inch shank and 20 threads per inch.

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How to Build Your Own Tiki Bar

Filed Under: Crafts, Do it yourself, Kitchen, Redecorating, Remodeling    by: ITC

Build Your Own Tiki Bar

If you are planning a luau or a tiki party, the best option would be to build your own tiki bar and transform a part of your home into a paradise. To follow the following techniques on creating a tiki bar, it doesn’t matter if you haven’t built anything in your life before. All you need to do is tag along these tips for adding a feel to your home atmosphere.

The first thing you need is a table, that is, the bar itself. Any old or sturdy table would do. Cover it with an external design such as a counter top or something. If you wish to build your own table, you can go ahead. You will find most of the requirements for this at your own place. However, always remember that the cost of the home-made table is determined by its size. So larger the size of the table, the more expensive it is.

A table cloth having an attractive design is appropriate for the counter top. If your house is located in a tropical location, then using disposable table cloth can be a good idea. One of the most striking techniques is using the table cloth and party items according to the theme of your party.

There are various ways you can work on the roof part. Bamboos for the roof structure of your tiki bar are best to suit your party theme. However, if you don’t find good ones, you can also go for wooden posts. To add a touch of authenticity to your tiki bar, you can purchase well-designed, well-carved, and well-shaped tiki moldings.

Simplest method is by using straws. Many home depots as well as plant places have the straw you require for the tiki bar roof. You can also go for large palm fronds or large leaves, if you find it easier to get hold of them. Have them attached to a light piece of plywood. Another option is purchasing thatched glass panels.

It is best to fix your tiki bar all together after getting your tiki hut roof joint on the ground. Once you are done with fixing your tiki hut structure, you can start decorating it with frangipani candles, straw mats stuck on sand, spooky god statues, and other several ideas offered by your imagination.

Certain important points to remember while working on your tiki bar project:

The toughest part in building your own tiki bar is finding decent roof material. However, this is not much of a problem if you stay near a coast or in a large city. If ever there’s any such problem, you can turn to transaction sites for inexpensive and attractive roof materials.

It is not compulsory to have a countertop. Using cheap table clothes can also do, provided, they go well with the party theme.

The cost of constructing a tiki bar increases with its size.

A profitable and fun-based business is building tiki bars and then, selling them at large amounts. Ready made tiki bars usually range from $800 to thousands of dollars. There are many who have the building and selling of their tiki bars as their main source of income.

How to Build Your Own Wind Turbine

Filed Under: Crafts, Do it yourself, Electrical    by: ITC

Wind turbines can be built at home using different ways. However, all of them require the following major parts:

  1. A tower
  2. Blades
  3. An electronic control system
  4. Batteries
  5. A generator
  6. A mounting

The simplest way to start building your wind turbine is utilizing permanent magnet DC motors as power generators. Avoid going for those computer tape drive motors. The best option is the 99 volt DC motor made by Ametek. However, if you don’t get an access to it, you can go for other Ametek models which also make good generators.

Once done with fixing a decent generator, your next task is finding a hub and blades to connect to it. You can create your own blades by slicing them out of wood. However, this requires tremendous amount of effort. A more promising option is carving blades out of a PVC pipe and forming them into airfoils.

A six inch pipe that is 24 inches long is appropriate for the task. Cut the pipe lengthwise around the circumference in 4 equal pieces. Use a palm sander or a belt sander on the cut edges of the blades to give them some extra smoothing.

For the hub, select a toothed pulley that is more likely to fit easily in the motor shaft. If the pulley turns out to be smaller to bolt the blades in perfectly, you can have it fixed along with some aluminum disk after cutting it into the required size, to make a proper drilled, tapped, and bolted hub. After drilling and mounting holes in the blades, you can have them attached to your hub.

The same shop from where you purchased the PVC pipe can also provide you with vent caps that are dome shaped. These can act as the spinner to your hub. However, this is a crucial step, since some spinners are likely to spoil the effectiveness of blades.

For the mounting, connect the motor to a preferable sized piece of wood. To protect it from tough weather, make a covering out of a piece of the PVC pipe. Use a heavy aluminum piece for the tail. For free turning of the head in the wind, use 1 1/3 inch conduit for the tower and fittings of 1 inch pipe at both ends. Then, attach a 1 inch iron flange to the generator end and rivet a 10 inch iron pipe to fix into it. Pass wires from the generator through the center of the conduit unit to the tower base.

Make a U-shaped cut from a 1 inch pipe for your tower base. In its middle, assemble a Tee that is 1 ¼ inch long. Add a close nipple of 12 inch. Also add a 1 inch Tee from this nipple to the reducer.

Once you have sorted out the mechanical parts, you require fixing the electronic part of your project. This would include a couple of batteries to store the energy generated by the turbine, a secondary load where energy from turbine can be stored while batteries are full, a controller charge for running everything, and a diode that can prevent wastage of batteries while spinning the generator.