Giveaway: Area rug from Flor

This just in: a set of Flor modular carpet squares is looking for a good home. Flor squares come in a huge variety of textures and colors that you can mix and match to fit any space—do a whole room, an area rug, or a runner. The squares are held together with adhesive stickers that let you pull them up later and move them to a new room or your neighbor's house while they're on vacation. And if you trip over your dog and spill your Coke, just grab the dirty square, wash it off in the sink, let it dry, and put it back.

Flor would like to give away a 5'x7' area rug to... you, perhaps? One winner will receive a set of carpet squares in your favorite color. Choose from three styles: the trim and textured Feelin' Groovy, the soft and plush Rake Me Over, or the hip and patterned Haute Stuff.

To enter the giveaway, check out the styles and leave a comment with the rug you think would look most fetching in your home. Be sure to include a link, email address, or other way of contacting you. The giveaway closes Friday, Feb. 4 at midnight CT. A winner will be randomly drawn and notified the next day.

Update: Giveaway is now closed. The random number generator chose Linda, comment #436, to win a new rug!
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A visit to our living room

We changed a few things in the living room this year, the most obvious being our new, humongous TV. This Christmas we upgraded our 20-something-inch box to a 47-inch flat screen. I must confess that all huge TVs look pretty much the same to me. 38, 45, 52, 69, whatever. But the point is that now we can watch actors whose heads appear four times larger than life, which is super important.

The new TV created a problem for us, though. It wouldn't fit in the cheap, ugly cabinet that housed our old TV along with a metric ton of board games and movies. Our requirements for a new entertainment center were: has storage, can stand in a corner, preferably no wider than the TV, looks at least somewhat modern, and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. And that, my friends, is a challenge. After visiting four or five furniture stores with a tape measure and looking at every TV console on the internet, we ended up at trusty IKEA where we bought two pieces of furniture and stacked them: the Besta Boas and the Besta Adal. And then we attached a mounting bracket and slid the TV in with a shoehorn. I share all this in case you, too, are looking for entertainment center options. We love how this worked out.

Our other newish items include:

The Avenue Six Wall Street Coffee Table. Don't ever buy this. It took three tries to get a table shipped to us that didn't have damaged corners. And within weeks, the veneer started peeling off like a bad sunburn—whether you touched the table or not.

The Array bookcase in red from CB2, my favorite thing in the room when Alex is not present.

The Milliken Modern Times Uptown rug. Huge carpets usually cost a million dollars, give or take a few thousand, but we found this 8' x 11' rug when it was on sale for around $200. It comes in other colors, too.

Other cost-saving rug tips: Check out other styles by Milliken, including some solid options. Or stitch a few smaller rugs together like this. Or, enter a new giveaway I'm posting on Monday. Stay tuned!

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Asterisk heart garland template

Who says Valentine's Day has to be pink? I vote for orange.

To make your own Valentine garland, download the heart template PDF right here. You can print it on a sheet of cardstock* and cut out the inner shapes with a craft knife. I cheated and cut these directly from Adobe Illustrator using my Silhouette cutter, which took just a couple minutes.

*This template only works with orange** paper. If you use another color, your project will fail.

**I am kidding, of course. As soon as I typed that, I realized from past experience that I would get a handful of emails from concerned crafters wondering if this is actually true. It's not.
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I gave my computer a facelift

Yesterday I grabbed a couple new computer wallpaper freebies from Simple Desktops. Both with a bit of orange, of course. I love these for their flat fields of color that A) don't hurt my eyeballs and B) enable me to find my files. I chose Vinyl Record by Daniel Waldron and Orange Pencil by Jake Dugard.
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Make a 3D paper owl

Do you like owls? Do you like paper? Do you have a stack of extra ink cartridges for your printer? Make yourself an owl army in thirteen different colors with printable templates from 3EyedBear.
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Fun graphic mugs

Awhile back I jumped on a deal that Groupon was offering for pay $25 for $50 of credit toward any customized items at Zazzle. And it seemed imperative that I spend this on mugs. Because I like mugs. So I dusted off some designs I'd made ages ago and uploaded them to the site. I was concerned that the big white border Zazzle leaves around the print area might look goofy if I chose a rectangular design, so I kept these flower and city shapes on a white background. The cups arrived last week. Happiness!

I couldn't decide on a color for the city scene, so I did two: girly pink and allover orange.

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Quiz: What's your interior design style?

Click on the pictures in this design quiz at Stylish Home to determine your decorating style. Brace yourself— the quiz promises to "delve into your design soul." The quiz "suspected" me to be Modern Eclectic, which apparently makes me soulmates with Andy Warhol, Scarlett Johannson, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Okay.
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How to make a fabric rose

It's the last stiffened fabric project and then I'm moving on! I wanted to try an oversized, realistic fabric rose just for fun.

Make a template with six petals. I traced around a dinner plate and a small bowl on the back of some ugly wrapping paper. (Tip: if the paper is too curly, iron it flat and your life will be better.) I've included my feet so you can admire my cute socks.

Prepare some stiffened fabric. See here for how I did this. My fabric pieces were too big to lay flat in my microwave this time, so I draped each piece over a couple drinking glasses and nuked them one by one. The fabric came out stiffened in a odd shape, of course, but ironed flat easily.

Using the template, cut three flower shapes from the prepared fabric. Grab a shape and fold it in half to make a crease between petals. Open, rotate the flower, and repeat twice more until six creases radiate from the center.

In the first flower, cut a slit along one of the fold lines to the center. In the second flower, cut out one petal segment. In the third flower, cut out a piece with two petal segments. Save these cutouts; they'll form the center of the rose.

On each flower, overlap the two petals adjacent to the slit and secure with a little glue. (I used Aleene's OK To Wash-It Fabric Glue.)

While they're drying, curl the double-petal and single-petal cutouts. Heat each petal with an iron and roll the rounded edge back with your fingers. When it cools, heat the triangular point of the petal and roll it into a cone shape that's rose-like. This part is tricky! I had to iron the petals flat and start over a few times until I had something reasonable. The one-petal piece should be able to fit inside the two-petal piece when you're done.

Heat the remaining flower petals one at a time with your iron and curl the edges back.

At this point I stacked the pieces to see if they looked nice. Yes! But I decided a flat bottom for this flower might be more useful.

So I cut off the point. (If you're going to do this, I'd suggest trimming when the pieces are still flat: fold them into a cone shape and snip off the points before you glue.)

I hot glued the petals together at the base, then added a felt circle to hide the trimmed ends. I could see these as DIY wedding decorations, attached to curtain tie backs, used in romantic centerpieces, or gathering dust in my box of finished projects I have no idea what to do with.
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Fabric Valentine hearts garland

I have a big aversion to heart-shaped jewelry, but I don't mind me some Valentine decorations! Using some pieces of stiffened fabric, I made these easy folded fabric hearts. Once the fabric is treated (see here for the how to), it folds beautifully and doesn't fray.

Start by making a set of paper templates. I layered and cut four identical heart shapes, then progressively shaved more off the sides of each one.

Trace the four heart shapes onto the back side of a piece of stiffened fabric and cut them out. Fold all but the largest piece in half, then layer them onto the largest heart. Stitch a seam up the center to create a "book" and tie off each end. Press the folds with an iron if desired. Once the ironed fabric cools, it will hold its shape nicely.

Use these as Valentine package decorations or string them into a garland by running a thread through the bottom-most heart shape.

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DIY fabric wall decals

More fun with fabric stiffener. Here's how to make some easy fabric picture frames for your wall. Or cut out anything your heart desires: silhouettes of your family, animal shapes for the nursery, lettering, ornate designs, party decorations... the world is your oyster. Hey, maybe consider doing an oyster.

I'd heard of people ironing starched fabric to walls and wanted to try it out. Sure enough, I was able to stick my stiffened fabric to the wall with an iron and remove it without harming my paint job. This is super for renters, indecisive decorators, or easily bored people. Note that if your wall is really rough, you'll probably have a hard time making these stick. Also for what it's worth, my walls are painted with flat latex paint.

What to do:
Prepare a piece of fabric with fabric stiffener. See this post where I used Stiffen Stuff in a spray bottle.

Measure your photo and determine the size of the opening needed in the picture frame. I used 5x7 photos, so I wanted to overlap the photo by 1/4" inch on every side. Thus the hole in my fabric needed to be 4 1/2" x 6 1/2".

To make a template for your frame, fold a piece of scrap paper into quarters. You can design one quadrant of the frame and cut through the layers to make a symmetrical border. Mark off one quarter of your frame opening (in my case, 2 1/4" x 3 1/4"). Then sketch a decorative border for the frame.

Cut out the paper frame and unfold to see if you like it, confirming the opening fits over your photo. If you're happy, fold the stiffened fabric into quarters and trace your design onto the back side with a pencil.

Cut out the fabric frame and iron it flat to get rid of the fold marks.

Then iron the fabric frame to the wall. I tried to be quick about it, not leaving the iron pressed against the wall for very long. I'm pleased to report that this didn't harm my paint at all. Some outer bits of the frame weren't sticking at first, so I used the point of the iron to go over those again until everything was adhered well.

After the frame is ironed to the wall, loosen the edges around the picture opening with your fingernail until you've pulled enough loose to insert your photo. If too much comes loose, put the photo in and iron around it to stick the loose parts of the frame back to the wall.

Later I tried peeling these frames off the wall and they didn't leave a mark. Lovely!
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Fabric flower tutorial

A few people asked how to make the flower on yesterday's fabric origami box. This is an easy craft project that's a good way to use up scraps. Use these flowers to make hair pins and boutonnieres, top gifts, decorate napkin rings, tote bags, wedding aisles, you name it.

You'll need some stiffened fabric pieces (see this post for the how to), a pencil, paper, scissors, needle, thread, buttons, and an iron.

With a pencil, sketch flower shapes on the back of your fabric pieces. You'll need three sizes of flowers, so make each one progressively larger. If you plan to make zillions of flowers, it might be good to draw yourself some paper templates to make your life easier. Don't worry about making perfect petals. This is a forgiving project.

Cut out each flower piece. Then pinch little creases between the petals, overlapping them very slightly to add dimension.

Press the creases with an iron. While each petal is still warm, roll the edges back to make a pretty petal shape. The fabric is very soft and pliable when it's warm, but after it cools a couple seconds, it's crisp again. If you're unsatisfied with a petal, just iron it again and reshape it.

Layer three flower shapes in graduated sizes, staggering the petals. Stitch them together with a button in the center.

I love how sturdy these are—crisp and flexible, all at the same time. They won't tear like paper, and they have a fabric texture. Nifty!
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Fabric origami box tutorial

An origami box seemed like an easy project for testing yesterday's stiffened fabric. The material folded nicely, and pressing the creases with an iron as I went along made even sharper edges. In case elementary school was eons ago and you've forgotten how to make a simple origami box, here's a refresher.

Begin with two squares of stiffened fabric, one for the bottom and one for the lid. (Mine were 6" x 6.")

1. Mark the center of the square by folding the fabric into quarters or measuring. Bring each corner of the fabric to the center point and press the creases.

2. Bring one edge of the resulting square inward until it touches the center point and make a crease. Repeat with the other three sides.

You'll end up with four creases running through the square.

3. Open up the top and bottom triangular flaps, leaving the side flaps folded in. Then pinch the sides of the top flap inward.

4. Bring the point of the top flap over the "wall" you just made and press it down to the bottom of the box.

5. Repeat with the opposite flap. My box stayed folded all by itself, but you could add a couple dots of glue to secure the flaps if needed.

Make a lid for the box using the other piece of fabric. The lid will need to be slightly larger than the bottom, so when you get to step 2, don't fold all the way to the center point. Fold each side to a point a quarter inch short of the center.

Stitch a decoration to the lid if you're feeling fancy.
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How to stiffen fabric

I've always wanted to experiment with stiffened fabric, so I picked up a bottle of the aptly named Stiffen Stuff at Michaels.

I sprayed both sides of a piece of quilting weight fabric until it was thoroughly wet. And then, because I'm an impatient girl who gets fed up with air drying, I laid the fabric on a paper towel and microwaved it for 30 seconds. It came out crisp like a sheet of paper! I pressed it for a couple seconds with an iron to smooth out any bumps, and voila.

Stay tuned for projects with stiffened fabric!

Updated project list:
Fabric origami box
Fabric flowers
Valentine heart garland
Fabric wall decals
Origami business card case
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