living handmade


DIY – Dip dyed curtains



We just moved. Although it was a pretty stressful move, with me being very, VERY pregnant, it’s always inspiring with a new home: all the things you can take the chance to get rid of to live free from old clutter, all the new rooms to decorate, new ways to present art on the walls and new studios to decorate however we want! The best part of the house is the garden I think, it’s in full sun from morning to night and for a growing vegetable freak like me, this is heaven! But I’ll get back to that in a later post. Now, let’s talk about curtains! Dip dyed curtains 🙂

I’ve seen this pin of a soft dip dyed pink curtain circulating on Pinterest for a while and as I was decorating the kids’s room last week, I knew that was exactly what was missing from their Cherry Blossom inspired room. So I decided to make them curtains to match the pink paper umbrellas I put up as lamp shades (to cover a naked lamp socket on the wall) and I’m very happy with the result. What do you think? Here is a tutorial on how to dip dye things…





What you will need:


– Curtains in white natural fibre fabric (linen, cotton, viscose or with a small percentage of synthetics, but natural is best!)

– Dylon Fabric Dye (1 sachet is good for about 250 grams of fabric, I used 2 sachets for these curtains). I got the sachet for hand dying, not the big pack for machine dye. You can find it on Amazon.

– Big bucket for the dye (a baby tub will work fine)

– Big pot for carrying hot water

– Litre measurement

– Wooden spatula, spoon or stick, something you don’t care much about, to stir the dye with.

– Normal household/kitchen salt

– Tablespoon measurement

– Rubber gloves will be handy, but not necessary.

– A small towel or kitchen paper

– A bigger towel or beach towel (again, one that you don’t care much about)

– Chair, clothes pins and some string.



How to do it:


The instructions for dying fabric are on the Dylon package, but dip dying is slightly different… The preparations are just the same though.


1. Before you start mixing the dye, make sure your curtains are folded nicely together and that you know how far up on them you will dip dye! Make a little marking with a pencil or a pin maybe? It’s important if you want “the dip” to be on the same level for both curtains. Just lay them together edge to edge, fold them lengthwise until the curtain package is in a good width to fit into the bucket. Hang them on a chair like the picture, attach them with safety pins and string until the dye is ready to be used.




2. To make the dye: Mix one sachet in 500 ml warm water (about 40°C). That’s what you use the litter measurement for. I added both sachets in 1 litre of 40°C water and stirred until dissolved. Put aside.




3. Fill the big bucket with 6 litres of 40°C warm water for one sachet (that makes it 12 litres for both sachets). Add 5 tablespoons salt per sachet (so, 10 tablespoons for this batch). Pour in the dye mix and stir with your stick, spoon or spatula. Make sure the mixture is well-mixed.


4. Move your chair just next to the bath and carefully lay the folded curtains in there. Stir and press on top of the fabric under the dyed water, to make sure that the dye will penetrate all layers of fabric. Be careful not to splash on anything else. Leave for about 20-30 min.




5. To make the dye gradient, I pulled out half on the dip dyed fabric after 20 min and left the bottom remains to dye even darker. But as you can see, the contrast between white and pink is still pretty strong, so if you want that first gradient to be lighter, you could experiment and maybe pull out the fabric after 10 min already. In my case, I left the last dip for another 20-30 min before pulling it out.

To pull out the dyed fabric without touching anything else, I took off the clothes pins and string from the chair, pulled very carefully upwards and re-pinned the clothes pins and strings straight away.




6. The next step (drying) is the hardest and you might need a few extra hands to do it: Start by laying out a huge piece of bath towel or (clean) scrap fabric. Using your rubber gloves, open up your folded curtains if necessary and lay down on towel to do a quick first drying from wet to damp.


7. Once damp, get those extra hands back to help you and carry the fabric away to a door or a laundry drying rack for a final dry.


That’s it! In my case, my fabric was now finished and I could sew my curtains from it, but if you dip dye ready made curtains, you could now go and hang them up! This dip dying technique is so easy and fun: you could do it on t-shirts , towels, table cloths and dresses… It’s good to plan a little in advance as one big batch of dye like this can be used for some many different items. It’s a bit of a waste to just throw it away…

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DIY – The Solar system in papier-maché




This week we decided to start a little science project with our kids: we created the solar system in papier maché.

We wanted it to be as accurate as possible for them to understand the immense depth of space, but with a 7 meter wide living room ceiling the sun itself wouldn’t have been bigger than 1 mm (!!) so we had to do a compromise: we marked out the correct position of the planets against each other, but cheated on the actual size of the planets instead. And now we have a very interesting decoration in our living room on which we can look up in wonder! Below are some calculation doodles.




You’ll need: 


* party balloons
* christmas tree balls
* any kind of paper
* scissors
* (acrylic) paint
* water
* flour
* a bowl
* measuring tape
* string
* transparent thumbtacks and transparent string
* pins and needles
* tape





Step [one] – make the papier maché :


1. Mix together one part water and one part flour to a smooth paste. Boil one more part water and add to the paste. Whisk smooth and the paste is ready.


2. Tear lots and lots of paper strips from catalogues, supermarket advertising, newspapers and other kinds of junk paper you might want to get rid of. Store in a bag for easy access.






Step [two] – let’s shape some planets: 


1. Start by studying the sizes and distances, we used these awesome 3D images we found online for details and inspiration.


2. Once you’ve decide on your shapes, start dippin’ ! We used christmas tree decorations for Venus and the Earth, rolled small paper balls for Mercury and Mars, blew up balloons for Uranus, Neptune, Saturn and Jupiter.


Dip a strip of paper in the papier maché paste and glue it onto your mould/shape. Continue dipping paper, smoothing out possible creases with your fingers, dip and paste more paper until you feel like you have a well shaped planet in your hand. 2-3 layers should do it. Leave the planets to dry for at least 24 hours until you paint them. You will feel when they are hard and dry, that will be the time to paint!






Step [three] – paint the planets:


1. If you’ve used colourful catalogues as paper, it might be a good idea to do a primer, a plain white paint to cover up ugly underwear advertisements. Let dry for a few hours if you’re using acrylic paint. Again, you’ll know to the touch when the paint is dry and ready to be re-painted.


2. Once the primer paint is dry it’s time to do the fun part! Paint the planets in their characteristic colours and with their typical details and leave them to completely dry. Oh, and if you’re wondering: that orange planet ball was actually suppose to be the sun, although certainly not to scale. We decided not to use it in the end, so it will be re-painted for the Christmas tree next year instead 🙂






Step [four] – installation:




1. Attach a string between the first and last of your planets with thumbtack. Mark out the position of the planets with transparent thumbtacks.


2. Cut away any ugly thread that might have been hanging on the Christmas decorations and replace it with a nice transparent thread instead (a fishing line will do fine!) Attach the tread to the planets by sewing it on through the paper with a needle or use tape. Hang the planet on the correct thumbtack. We painted a piece of cardboard for the rings of Saturn and taped and sewed it in place.








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Apan’s new school bag


My son loves his monkey, Apan. He takes him along absolutely everywhere. We’ve already lost him so many times, but somehow we always find him back. Actually, it’s quite funny to watch them together: my son only uses one hand. The other one is always busy holding Apan. Sometimes he needs both his hands, but he never puts Apan away, instead he keeps him neatly under his arm until his hand is free again.

This has been fine until now: he refuses to let go of a red race car which is now occupying the only free hand he has. This was also ok, but as he has to put one of his beloved friends away, lately, it is often the race car that disappears.

Today I came up with a clever idea to keep them both together and to give my son back his free hand: I made Apan a little blue school bag! Now Apan will be the one carrying around the little race car instead and hopefully we can have peace at home again. (If you don’t have kids this might not seem like such a big deal, but trust me: bedtime, food time, toilet time, any time without these beloved items is impossible and leads to a lot of sadness… Luckily kids change and this chasing after favourites will be over one day, but I know from older siblings that I will miss the chasing.)