Thursday, August 21, 2014

$3 Personalized Classroom Stool Makeover

School is almost here!! We go back Monday and I've been busy putting things together in my classroom this week. You can follow along with my 'back to school' adventures on Instagram! Although I'm usually walking around during my daily lessons, I sometimes like to sit down in front of my classes, particularly when we are reading or when I'm observing a class discussion. I like to sit slightly higher than my students so I can easily make eye contact with them. Enter the counter stool...
personalized classroom stool

All summer I searched yard sales for an inexpensive stool that I could give a little makeover for use in my classroom. I found a basic oak wood stool for $3 (I didn't take a 'before' picture so the picture above left is basically what it looked like before it was painted)! After two coats of aqua blue spray paint, I decided I wanted to make the stool a bit more personalized by adding an initial stencil!

Silhouette stencil ideas

I used Silhouette Stencil Material and my Portrait cutting machine to cut out the stencil pattern (the pattern is 'circle scalloped' by Lori Whitlock which can be found in the Silhouette Online Store layered with a letter 'R'). After painting the stencil with white acrylic craft paint, I sprayed a couple layers of Mod Podge clear acrylic sealer on top to ensure my design stays put!

personalized classroom stool

I love how it turned out and the fact that it is both functional and will add some whimsy and color to my classroom space! This would be an awesome and inexpensive gift that any teacher would LOVE!


Silhouette is offering some awesome back to school deals for the month of August! I've used my Portrait cutting machine for the stool and MANY other projects including putting together my bulletin boards...





My next post will be a tour of my classroom with lots of inexpensive and easy ideas for classroom decor (secondary teachers can spice up their classrooms, too)!  Have a great week!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Sewing A First Day Teacher Dress

Summer vacation is about recharging my batteries and taking time to do things I love to do...mainly enjoying the beaches here in Maine (my biggest decision each day is whether to go to the lake or the ocean, ha!) and crafting up a storm! I only have two weeks left of break and since the weather this week was a bit unsettled, I decided it was the perfect time to tackle a challenging sewing pattern:
Teacher Outfit Idea
I saw this darling dress pattern and thought it would be perfect for the first day of school! I actually stood in Jo-Ann Fabrics with pattern in hand for quite some time debating whether or not I was skilled enough to sew this dress. I was intimidated mostly by the zipper and the 'Peter Pan' collar but also by the darts, pleats, and gathering at the sleeves! I decided that I would never improve my sewing skills if I didn't at least try a more complicated pattern so home with me the pattern came!

Simplicity Lisette Round Trip Dress Pattern

I chose a hot pink/light blue damask cotton fabric with a contrasting white collar. I opted to add sleeves since I'm more comfortable wearing a dress with at least a cap sleeve to school (I think sleeveless is a bit too casual for the workplace, but that's just personal preference)! I'm pretty much in love with the result...


I did have to adjust the size to get a perfect (or near perfect) fit as I'm short but curvy! I took in the sides and moved the waist up a bit in addition to taking up the hemline! 


The collar is probably my favorite part of this dress...I LOVE me a 'Peter Pan' collar!
 I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to create clean curves but I took my time when sewing and am pleased with how the collar turned out...


My classroom is usually on the chilly side as we have AC throughout our school so topping the dress with a cardi is another option! I also added a silver metallic belt (from Old Navy) for a polished look in addition to my silver strappy sandals (not pictured).

Teacher First Day Dress

It's silly to say but I feel really proud of myself for tackling this challenging pattern. I could have easily chosen a simpler dress to make and faced the uncertainty of not knowing how it would turn out (would I be wasting my time/money if I messed up?). There was a day not so long ago when all I could sew was a straight line (pillow covers were my specialty) but slowly, over time, I've increased my skills one pattern at a time! I can't wait to wear this dress as I greet my new classes of students in only a couple short weeks!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Awesome DIY Pallet Sign

I've been enjoying every second of summer vacation and have been crafting up a storm! I've seen rustic style pallet signs around the 'interweb' for a while and decided that with my trusty Silhouette Portrait machine, along with some wood from shipping pallets found in my mom's warehouse (she owns a wholesale yarn company), creating one of my own was feasible!

DIY Rustic Palllet Sign

After I had pried apart the slats from the pallets using a crowbar, I started by laying out the wood (I used 7 pieces) to see how they would best fit together. Then I flipped the pieces over so I could secure them together using $.98 yard sticks found at Home Depot. I cut each yard stick in half and used really short nails to secure 4 pieces of ruler across the backs of the slats.

How to build pallet sign

After my 'ruler braces' were secure, I used a handsaw to cut the boards on both ends to even things out. The sign can be as large or small as you'd like...the number of boards you use and length you cut your boards is totally customizable!


In order to hang the sign, I used small 'eye rings' (that's not a technical term at all, ha!) to screw into the back of the pallet and threaded picture hanging wire through each ring. I did use a small drill bit to create tiny starter holes.


Once the sign is constructed, next comes the fun part: designing your wording! I decided to use one of my favorite paraphrased quotes of Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother...


Cutting the letters was SUPER easy using my Silhouette machine! I used Silhouette vinyl for the letter templates (font is Arial Bold). To ensure my letter placement was correct, I used painters tape to act as guides. Then I used the scraper tool that comes with the Silhouette machine to ensure that each letter was FIRMLY pressed down. Because I was sticking the letters on bare wood, they tended to not want to stick...so press firmly! Then, take your sign outside and mist with a light coating of spray paint.  Gently peel each letter away and your left with a fun, rustic, one of a kind sign!


I was actually intending for this sign to go in my classroom but I loved the finished product so much that I decided it had to hang on my wall at home! Perhaps before summer's end, I will make a second sign to take to school!