Fab Finds: Yard Sale Style

I love yard sales but I don't go to them very often.  For one, I don't like going alone and two, I feel bad walking away without buying anything.  However, a few weeks ago I laid aside my petty issues and walked from house to house during a neighborhood yard sale near our house.  
I had my heart set on finding some used throw pillows that were clean, cheap, and in good condition.  Once found, the plan was to make new pillow covers out of outdoor material and adorn our porch-side wicker furniture with them.
A few days before I had scoured a few thrift stores around my house for pillows but they were all either too much (and by too much I mean over $4 for an old, used pillow) or too gross to feel comfortable about leaning against.  But back to my yard sale excursion.  I did find my pillows and almost jumped five feet in the air when I looked at the price tag and found them to be $1 each!  They looked like they were brand new, were nice and cushy, and fit the backs of my chairs to a 't' (which I found out later) too!  
   Since then I've been searching for fabric to recover them with but to no avail.  This is where decorating on a budget collides with needing to have lots of patience.  I'll only need a little over a yard of fabric for these two but I really don't want to spend over $15...and I'm picky.  I've already found lots of great patterns but none in my price point.  But, my experience tells me something will pop up and I'll be happy I waited.  :)  Plus, shouldn't outdoor fabrics be clearancing out about this time of year?  I guess we'll see!

So I've found what I've set out to find but I make one last stop before I get back home.  Leaning against other unwanted items at this last attempt of deal-finding is an interesting structure I'm not sure what to classify as.  It is a grid-like, frame thing but there's no glass...so maybe it's just a decorative object to adorn or lean against an empty wall? 

 After she notices this crazy person, me, staring into space at this piece the owner comes over and soothes my wandering imagination to tell me it used to be a multi-photo, picture frame but that the glass had been broken...ohhhhh...I see said the blind man!  There was a little sticker in the corner that said $2 so, after asking her if was sure she only wanted $2 for it (it was so big and cool that I felt like I was ripping her off), I excitedly handed her two dollar bills and made off with my new find.  I had an idea for what I wanted to do with it but wouldn't find out until I got home with it if it would actually work.

The Happy Ending:
Our guest room bed has a new headboard and it only cost $2!  I originally wanted to make my own upholstered headboard for this room but this works for now (plus $2 sounds better than $30+).  Who knows, it might stay there forever or it might grace another space in our abode someday!  What color it will be, if it even changes, is the question.  :)

So in the words of MasterCard:
Two pillows to be recovered:  $2
A make-shift headboard:  $2
Getting over my fear of "yard sale-ing" by myself:  priceless  

Playing Florist for a Day

That's right, we acted like we were florists and put together hydrangea bouquets just like the pros...only it was our night-before-the-wedding-girls-only party. 

Farrah and Patrick ordered hydrangeas in bulk from Costco, saving lots of money. 
 Actually, they spent only a quarter of what we spent on our flowers, and we thought we got a good deal AND were on a budget!  Wowsers!  

When the time came to work floral wonders, we went with a simple look using bunches of the hydrangeas to create small bouquets for the bridesmaids, a larger one for Farrah, some simple boutonnieres, and cute corsages for the women in the family.  The best thing about making your own floral creations in a wedding or other event is that you can totally customize anything by ordering different kinds of flowers and any color you want...all for a price that will make your bank account smile.

First up:  The bouquets.  Each bouquet was comprised of three stems of hydrangeas, except the flower girl's, whose had one stem.  We arranged the stems so that they'd form a round bouquet and added some leaves around the edges, then we secured them with green floral tape.  Ribbon, beads, more leaves, twine, excess fabric, or anything else you can think up can be wrapped around the stems over the tape to add even more detail.

For Farrah's bouquet, we used five stems and added pieces of a vine that grew outside of her apartment (her idea and FREE).
 Farrah securing a rosary to her bouquet.  Mama Mary, pray for us.

Next:  Boutonnieres.  Our great friend, Megan, was a boutonniere-making machine.  She whipped those babies up in no time, and considering we had about 15 of them to make, time was of the essence.  While she formed boutonniere art, we searched among the leftover hydrangeas to find small bits of flowers and leaves that would work for her.  We also added some of the vine to them to snazzy them up a little.  Patrick's boutonniere stood out against the others when we used a white rose instead of a hydrangea to adorn him.  (A boutonniere tip:  Place the finished boutonnieres in a cool place close to an air conditioning register rather than in the refrigerator.  The first five boutonnieres we made wilted within 20 minutes after we placed them on a cookie sheet in the fridge.  Oops!  Placed next to a cool air flow, they survived the night and looked great for the wedding.)

The corsages were made with pieces of a bouquet of pink alstromeria that Farrah already had along with more hydrangea, vine, and back by a hydrangea leaf.

The "organized" mess we made.  :)

So that's that for our florist experience.  All credit for this post and inspiration to play florist goes to my good friend, Lizzie.  For her wedding a couple of years ago, all of the bridesmaids sat down and whipped up bouquets while praying a rosary.  I wouldn't have known making bouquets was so easy and fun if it wasn't for her inspiration!  She used bunches of red roses and wrapped the stems with black ribbon to match the bridesmaid's dresses and they looked fabulous!

Any other faux-florists out there?  Show and do tell!

Please Take a Number

My sister and her hubby had assigned tables at their wedding so another "loose end" we had to tie was printing off table numbers to be placed on each table.  Farrah had the idea of somehow using the extra invitations her and Patrick had made and printed out themselves.  So after some brain-storming and googling table numbers, we came up with our idea.  (Note:  We found the basic idea online but tweaked it a little.  So thank you to the online source, that I can't remember, that gave us the inspiration for her numbers!) 

So, first we printed out large numbers on the left-over invitations in a font that they had used on their invitations.
Sometimes it took a few times to get the placement right but it took us about 10 minutes from start to finish.
We used a section of the invitations that had a printed design to add a little character to the number cards instead of just leaving them plain...because there is nothing "plain" about Farrah and Patrick.  :)

Farrah had some used wine corks lying around, some with sweet memories attached to them and others just existing.  So, we used them as 'stands' to hold up the numbers.  We simply cut small slit in one side of the cork (the other side being the flattest which would stand straight when placed on a table).  The number cards were slid in and wala...FREE, trendy table numbers in less than 15 minutes!
Some guests even sat a tables where their 'corks' held special meaning to them.  For example, our grandparent's and family signed the cork that came from the champagne bottle they used to toast Farrah and Patrick during their engagement.  We made sure that cork held their number.  :)

Adding to the delight of having free, cute numbers, the rest of what made up their centerpieces (candles, pieces of round tree stumps, small ferns, lanterns, and some other small details) were borrowed to them..some by a bride married the previous weekend, some by the reception hall owners, and the rest by a local plant nursery.  They looked great even though the best centerpieces of all were Farrah and Patrick themselves!  :) 

Tulle, Lace, and Two Sisters

My Irish twin sister (we were born in the same year, 10 months apart) got hitched to her main man, Patrick, a few weeks ago.  It was a grand 'ole time, even with the rain that just poured out more blessings from above.  It's funny to me that one day can encompass a whole year's worth (in this case) of planning.  I flew in a week early to help Farrah tie up some loose ends and boy were there lots of them.  Following in the footsteps of her smart, older sister...that's me...Peach and Pat, as they're loving known, went the D.I.Y. route which saved them lots of moolah and still surrounded their day with personalized beauty.  My next few posts will be on their wedding, sharing some of their money-saving tips with other money-saving fiends like us out there.

First things first - the veil.  Farrah had her heart set on a gorgeous, cathedral length mantilla veil...until she saw the $750 price tag.  Seriously?!  It's that much for a bunch of tulle and some lace?!  Well, after showing me the beauty and being the "think outside of the box" girls we are, we couldn't help but try to make it ourselves.  We have basic sewing skills so it should be pretty easy, right?  Well...read on.

So off we went to work searching for the lace.  Mantilla veils are edged with lace, alencon lace being very popular but expensive because it's so intricate and detailed. 
  I scoured fabric stores all around me but there was no alencon lace to be found. I was told numerous times it's hard to find but very expensive when it is found.  Then Farrah hit the jackpot while she was searching for a bridal bolero jacket when she ran across the Rohm etsy shop, where the owner specialized in alencon lace bridal ensembles.  She excitedly ordered her custom, alencon lace jacket and the owner kindly sold her around 5 yards of extra lace so she could make her veil.

So onto the day I arrived in the blushing, to-be bride's presence.  Our first priority was getting this veil made and the minute we sat down with the yards of tulle and lace, the task looked a little daunting.
First we had to cut the tulle.  Farrah's inquiries to the seamstress at a bridal shop provided us with a step-by-complicated-step process on cutting out a veil.  Fold here, cut here, make sure this is a rounded, not squared edge, and it should 'cascade' down the front filled our thoughts and words.  Who knew you couldn't just trace and cut?  Not us!
Update:  I finally wrote a post on that 'step-by-complicated-step' cutting process.  Click here to read!
But we did it...halfway done with the veil...nope, not even close.  Next we attached two combs to the top of the veil using clear thread.  We used two combs because the combs we had weren't very wide so we overlapped them about an inch or so, creating one larger comb that would hold the veil in place better. 

Next up:  the lace.  Before we could start sewing it to the veil, we had to 'cut it out'.  This part required a good bit of patience and detail.  We had to cut as close to the detailing on the lace as we could without cutting too much.

After the lace was prepped and all the cutting done, we started the most satisfying yet most time-consuming part of the whole process - sewing the lace around the entire edge of the veil.  We had originally planned to each start at an edge and just start sewing but with each of us having to continually thread needles while holding the lace in place we found that way wouldn't work.  So, I guided the lace and threaded Farrah's needle while she sewed on the lace...which with clear thread that's hard to see, wasn't an easy task.  We knew halfway through this process why the mantilla veil in the bridal shop was $750 bucks!  :)  Lots of time and patience is involved!
Four hours later, Farrah's mantilla veil was assembled and she stepped into her wedding day for two seconds as she tried it on for size.  Uh-oh...the tips of the scalloping in the lace needed to each be stitched onto the tulle so it didn't look like she had spikes hanging off her veil.  With a few sighs of "well, we thought we were done", we went to bed dreaming of more veil work the next day.

Next Day:

After three more hours of individually stitching scalloped edges to the tulle we had created a masterpiece...for 85 DOLLARS (including lace, tulle, combs, and clear thread) and seven hours of sisterly love and bonding time.  Was it worth it?  Every penny and minute!
Her homemade mantilla veil looked store-bought and complimented her already existing 'gorgeousness'!  It was definitely a project that tops my "Things I've Made" list and I think I can speak for both Farrah and I on that.  Not only did she look incredible under her veil but now it's a keepsake that holds sisterly memories that we'll each cherish forever.  :)

Wicker Wonderful

A few months ago Anthony came home with a pair of wicker chairs and side table he found on someone's curb, just waiting for the trash man.  Even though they were a little beat up, they still worked and he saw the potential porch perches they could be.  :)

You can see them right after they came home here...and after I scrubbed them with bleach.  Even after all my scrubbing though, they still needed some love as much of the wicker on them had unraveled and broken off. 

Well, after searching online and in stores, I couldn't seem to find any replacement rattan (the stuff wicker furniture is made of).  So, as is usual in my life, I took matters into my own, cheap hands.  Two things, duct tape and a hot glue gun, were all I needed to bring our wicker back to reality. 
I used what rattan I had from what had already unraveled or fallen off the furniture, but I didn't have enough to recover the legs.  As you can see above, some of them were in bad shape and needed to be bandaged back together.  I went back and forth from using duct tape to gift wrapping ribbon but in the end decided to go the easy way and use the duct tape since I was already planning on spray painting over it anyway.

Next it was on to spray painting these babies.  Since we're in the South, I would've loved to make them bright and bold and thought about a blue but I wasn't thrilled with any of the blues I could find.  I also toyed around with possibly painting them striped or adding a stencil to the back (things that can be done later).  We planted pink and white flowers in front of the porch so we needed a color that would play off those too.  We also played with the idea of just giving them a fresh coat of white, but decided that there was already a lot of white going on on our porch.  Hmmm...we decided to take the neutral route and either go with taupe or dark brown.  So in the end... 
...we went with keeping it lighter up on the 'ole porch with Krylon's Khaki from Wal-Mart.  Cost:  3 cans at $2.97 each.  This spray paint is my new favorite not only because it's cheap but because it sprays in a line instead of a circle, which covers better when you're spraying large items like furniture. 
Tips on painting wicker furniture: 
-two thin coats are better than one thick coat and ward off drip lines from too much paint
-spray each area at different angles (I stood on each side of the chair - front, back, and sides - when spraying to ensure even coverage)
-since the underside of the furniture isn't seen, I only sprayed a thin coat for protection.  This saves paint and time.  :)

So for around 13 green ones (including paint, a little bit of duct tape, and a hot glue stick) we've got some fine lookin' furniture for our Southern abode we longed for when we moved down here.  Now we just need to find time to have a porch date, sipping some coffee, chatting, and reading...not to mention getting to know our neighbors as they walk by.  :)

Next porch project:  pillows.  I was on the hunt for some well-stuffed pillows to adorn our 'new' chairs at Goodwill when I stumbled upon this little stand, originally silver and gold before I sprayed him white.  For a few dollars he adds a little flair as a plant stand next to the door. 

Anyway, I didn't find any pillows that day but I did find some this past weekend at a neighborhood yard sale that are in great condition and $1 each!  One's pink and one's green, which means they don't fit in to the color scheme we're going for on the porch so I'm going to recover them hopefully this week!  I'm so excited about this project so watch and see what happens!

The best thing about our wicker furniture is that we can spray paint them with the seasons if we wanted.  I've heard of people that spray paint theirs every year just to keep them fresh-looking.  Maybe next year we'll try the dark brown or maybe they'll come out with a blue I like or maybe yellow will be our new favorite color.  Who knows?!  It's fun to have options and be able to change the look of something just with a press of a spray paint can button!  Any one else have any re-vamped wicker furniture?  Do tell!