Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fun Alternative Christmas Trees

Folded book page Christmas tree

During the holidays, I love to have a few alternative Christmas trees around the house. Of course you can buy a small artificial tree, but it's so much more fun to be creative and make your own. Here is a folded book page Christmas tree that I spotted in a shop last year. The tiered cut pages offer such a nice form that they need no added ornaments.
Folded book page Christmas tree

Last  year, we made several of these fold book page Christmas trees out of old Reader's Digest magazines. The one on the left was made of a book that I found in a garbage can (well, actually on top of someone's recycle can). Since it was so plain, I spray painted it gold and added a gold sprayed, dried flower head on top. Instructions for making this one can be found here.

Stuffed fabric Christmas tree

For the crafter or someone who sews, you know that you always have fabric scraps. Here are some stuffed Christmas trees made out of fabric, lace, and some trim. I love the soft white look. These little trees are such pretty shabby chic and make use of some of those hoarded pieces of fabric piled up in the sewing room. 

Stuffed fabric Christmas tree

Here is another example of a stuffed fabric Christmas tree. This one features some vintage style fabric and tea dyed ornaments. You can make them in several sizes to create a group. Here one is set beside some osage oranges. You can find out how to make these simple trees here.

Record album Christmas tree

What to do with all those old record albums? Use them to create a crazy Christmas tree on the front lawn. While some vinyl aficionados may cringe, I thought that the look was awesome. I saw this one on the front lawn on 36th Street in Hampden in Baltimore, Maryland, a place famous for its beautiful outdoor Christmas decorations.

Tomato Cage Christmas Tree
The little Christmas tree that shines just below the porch is made of a tomato cage. We simply wrapped  the cage with outdoor lights. It looked rather cheesy during the day but at night it added a nice touch.                  

Friday, June 27, 2014

Baltimore's Biggest Salvage Warehouse - 2nd Chance

Second Chance is Baltimore's biggest salvage yard. Located at 1700 Ridgely St, Baltimore, Maryland 21230 near the Raven's Stadium, 2nd Chance is a series of warehouses filled with industrial salvage, antique furniture, used hotel furniture, antique hardware, used restaurant equipment, old appliances, office chairs, patio furniture, salvaged kitchen cabinets, and granite counter top material. 

Vintage Stoves
Look at these beautiful vintage stoves! Here is an old Chambers stove all polished up and ready to go. Many of the gas stoves feature an insert where you can place a pot of soup, an early slow cooker! There are some old electric stoves as well.

Old Tin Ceiling Tiles

2nd Chance is a great place to find flooring and other old building materials including tin ceiling panels. This wall is covered with old tin ceiling squares - isn't it awesome? Several rooms have been set up to display just what you can do with salvaged materials.

Large sections of old flooring have been used to create this unique wall.  The old salvaged wood makes for a very modern look!

Visiting 2nd Chance is like going to a museum of cool stuff. I love to shop there and recently found an old wicker sofa for $10.00! I've bought ceiling tin which I used to create a wall hanging. Several years ago, I found a metal relief of Lenin's head from a building in the old Soviet Union for my husband's collection of the heads of famous men. (I started that collection for him)

Architectural Salvage in Baltimore - Housewerks

I love salvage shopping and Housewerks is one of my favorite spots in Baltimore. A visit to Housewerks is worth it even if you just want to look at the 1885 building. Here is architectural salvage at work; the owners have restored a 129 year old building, the old Gas Valve Building, once involved in the manufacture of coke gas, a fuel used before natural gas. In 1904, the Baltimore Gas Appliance Manufacturing Corporation used the space to produce the old Oriole Stove.

Vintage Commercial Coca Cola Cooler

Outside, the salvage yard is filled with old tubs used for candy making at Hershey's; vintage metal patio furniture; disassembled
fountains; pieces taken from the front of an old church, and interesting things you don't know what they are. I love this old commercial Coke cooler. It reminds me of stopping by a country grocery store on a hot summer day.

The steps that lead indoors are lined with buckets filled with chunks of colored glass from an old glass works. Inside, find religious statues; industrial lighting; old signs; beautiful antique saints' industrial clocks and much more.  I love the high ceiling with its white supports and huge windows. Head down to the wonderfully spooky basement for more odds and ends.

Housewerks is located at 1415 Bayard St. in Baltimore, Maryland 21230.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Make a Linen Pillow Case For Next to Nothing

Linen Pillow Case

Linen pillow cases are wonderful. With its, dare I say, magical properties, linen keeps you cool and promotes restful and peaceful sleep. I've wanted a linen pillow case for some time but prices run from $15.00 a piece on Etsy (one wonders if it is 100% linen) to $40.00 a piece at Restoration Hardware; $50.00 a piece on Amazon; and $25.00 a piece at Pottery Barn.

While shopping at a thrift store, I found a nice 100% white linen skirt with a nicely done hem. It looked to be a perfect size for a pillow case so I bought the $5.25 skirt. (If I'd gone on half price day, I could have had it for $2.63!)

Here is how I made the pillow case. It's an easy project.

  • First, cut out the lining.

  • Soak in hot water.

  • Place in dryer. You want to shrink that dry clean only fabric.

  • Next, use a standard pillow case as a template. Place the pillow case on top of the fabric. Measure and cut fabric 1/2 inch or so beyond the edge of the pillow case. 

  • Place wrong sides together. That's right - you are sewing the seam up on the right side! This will create hidden seams.

  • Iron

  • Trim away excess fabric as close to the stitch line as possible.

  • Turn your linen pillow case inside out and sew another seam making sure to enclose the already sewn seam. You don't want your luxurious linen pillow case to have raggedy seams. 

You can see in the picture below that the edging is embellished and oh so pretty. Thanks to the pretty skirt hem, the decorative edging was no work at all. I am so thrilled with my pillow case. Now I must look for a skirt for my husband! I'm sure that he would like a linen pillow case too!

Linen Pillow Case With Embellished Edge

Monday, February 10, 2014

Baltimore's Best Thrift Stores - 2nd Ave. Essex

Second Avenue located in the store formerly known as 
Village Thrift offers a huge selection of clothing, textiles, 
shoes, toys, and books. Although it is a chain, the size
of the place and their wide variety of goods, keep
me coming back. 

As in any thrift store, the best way to shop is by following 
sale days, which seem to change often. I like to stop in with an open mind; that seems to be the way  to find the best as well as unique items. If something is dropped off and set out, if it is totally fabulous, it won't last long. 

My favorite purchase at 2nd Avenue is the coat pictured on the right. The long robe like coat has a label that says "Sofia New York." It is made of cotton with a beautiful vintage style lining. The black decorations are actually long zippers. There are no fasteners. It is so soft, I am wondering if it was originally a robe. I can find no information on it online. This was not picked up on a sale day, so the beautiful coat cost me a whopping $12.00. I have heard people complain about the prices here, but you can't beat finding something this special for that price. 

My husband always find clothing here and I have found everything I need for my cheapo wardrobe.

Against my own best advice, I have found brand name shoes with no wear at all. I once found vintage plastic curtains, hideous yes, but they were like new.

Second Avenue displays flatware and kitchen utensils in baggies hung above the shelves. While I used to enjoy pawing through the boxes of mixed flatware in my search for vintage silver plate, the new display allows for a very quick search. Learning to master the art of the quick search is an essential here. The store is so big that it would take forever to look at everything. I scan the clothing racks with certain fabrics in mind. It's easy to spot linen, or a favorite pattern if you just skim along the tops of the hangers.

Second Avenue is located at 10 Stemmers Run Road, Essex Maryland 21211. There is a convenient drop-off truck stationed in the parking lot.