Friday, August 29, 2014

How to Make a Large Vintage Sign with Clip Art

Have you ever seen a piece of clip art and wanted to put it on your wall? Since clip art is raster–based, you can’t scale it up without losing a lot of detail. The blocky pixels that make up raster clip art simply become bigger blocks.

A few years ago, I found this toilet water label on the Graphics Fairy site and pinned it to my Pinterest along with my intentions.

SC Inspiration Pin

So how do you make a little clip art label into a 3–ft tall sign without losing a lot of clarity? You make your graphics program upsize a little at a time. This is the process I used:

1. Open your clip art in a graphics program that gives you control over the file size, like Photoshop or PaintShop Pro. I use Photoshop.

2. Most clip art is 72 dpi. Change the resolution to 300 dpi while restraining the file size.

3. Start enlarging the image 0.5 inches at a time without restraining the file size. The image will begin to look terrible on screen, but keep going until the image is the size you need to print out.

4. Print out the image using the tiling setting. I set a generous overlap of 1 in.  using legal–sized paper. You need overlap to accurately match your pages. Print at actual size. The result may still be slightly pixelated, but we’ll fix that.

SC Tiled

5. The best way to align and attach a tiled print is to tape the first page on a large window and align the next pages in the sequence, matching the images. Use a glue stick to attach each page.

SC Gluing process

Optional: After the sign was together, I covered the whole paper with a layer of matte medium while it was still on the window. I didn’t want to worry about the paper buckling when I decoupaged it onto its base as can happen when the paper is unsealed. I sealed both back and front with a layer of matte medium.

SC Gluing

6. If the image is not quite as crisp as you want it, you can use thinned paint and add back the missing details. Since this sign is vintage looking, the hand–painted details make it look more authentic.

SC Depixel details

You can really see the difference between the unpainted pixelated letters and the painted letters. I didn’t worry about being super precise with the painting. You’ll get a better result with a looser style. I did thin the paint with thinner made for craft paint. It keeps the paint from getting too watery but allows it to flow easier.

SC In process painting

7. Cut out the paper sign and place it on a piece of insulation foam. The foam is lightweight but rigid. Trace around the sign with a craft blade, just scoring the surface. Snap the foam at the score to produce a clean break. Trying to cut it all the way through will result in a raggedy edge.

SC Mount paper

8. Paint the edges of the foam to match the background of the print and let dry. Glue the print to the foam using ModPodge or decoupage glue.

9. A large pop–top ring from a can works well as hanger when hot–glued to the back. You also can hot glue a saw tooth hanger to the foam.

SC Easy hanger

Here she is, in the tall skinny area above the toilet, just as I envisioned her.

SC Tall Vintage Sign

You can see the seams where I glued the tiles together only if you look very closely and you catch the angle just right.

SC overlap

The sign is 16–in. x 37–in. The whole project took about a day and a half because I was kind of making it up as I went along. Plus, you need drying time. No use rushing.

SC Sign Size b

The vintage sign is now mounted in the same bathroom as the vintage plates I made with other antique labels.

SC Sign in place

If you make a vintage sign, please post a link in the comments. I would love to see your results using this enlarging method. Let me know if you find a better and more accurate enlarging method, too. I found these instructions a million years ago, and Photoshop has had a few revisions since then.



Friday, August 22, 2014

Shopping the Stash: New Pillows

I am afraid of welting. It’s fiddly to sew, and you have to use the dreaded zipper foot, which always looks easy until I try it. So for two years I have lived with brown and orange accent pillows that came with my couch when I have none of those colors in my living room.

Leaky pillow that is the wrong, wrong, wrong.

Recently, however, the great molt started. The pillows were leaking feathers everywhere. It was time to tackle the welts.

Pillow molt

I’m not going to cover how to sew welting to pillows. It really is an easy process, and my fears are completely unfounded. I’m a terrible perfectionist with my sewing, and that usually is the cause of my sewing trepidation.

Instead, let’s talk about shopping the stash. As crafters, we all have a stash of possibilities: fabrics, glues, markers, papers, sequins, etc.

 Suzy Cucumber's fabric stash

This pile is but a mere fraction of my decorator fabric stash. Turns out I’ve been hoarding a perfect fabric in my stash. I found it at the craft thrift store for $4 for 2 yards. I had plenty to fussy cut a medallion motif for each pillow.

To solve the molting problem, I used fabric glue and strips of white cotton (again from the stash) to seal the leaky seams of the pillows. No way was I going wrestle feather pillows under the presser foot!

Sealing a leaky feather pillow with glue.

I used the old pillow cover for a pattern and cannibalized the zipper and welting to use in the new pillow.

Yes, I had to sew the welting in the second pillow twice.

New matching pillow

I’m so happy with the end result. No more crappy pillows for me! I’m going do a bit more shopping in my stash and see what else I can come up with to redo my accent pillows.

Have you forgotten about any treasures in your stash? Do tell in the comments.



Friday, June 13, 2014

Quick Fix for Wrong Color Thread

You know how you’re happily sewing along on purple fabric with purple thread and you completely forget your bobbin is white thread because it hasn’t mattered until now?

SC Sewing Mishap

Yeah, me too. I even zigzagged it so it would really show.

Since this purple cotton is the lining of a purse, I just colored over the white thread with a violet Prismacolor pencil. Anything to avoid the seam ripper!

SC Sewing Mishap Fixed


I also broke four needles up to this point, and I can’t blame it on machine error. Rushing usually is my enemy and led directly to the white thread debacle.

What are your worst sewing disasters? This is one of my minor booboos.



Monday, June 9, 2014

Wildflowers on the Back Roads

Sometimes you just have to go for a drive to see what’s in your own backyard.

My husband and I took a Saturday drive south toward Lubbock and the South Plains just to see what we could see. I wanted to see wildflowers.

The Texas Department of Transportation actively seeds and encourages wildflower and native grasses along Texas roadways. The practice started in 1932, even along the back roads.

I found a wealth of wildflowers along the farm to market roads. At 75 mph, they all look the same. I was amazed at how many varieties I found in a short time. With the help of the Wildflower Center and an index of Texas Wildflowers, I was able to identify most of the wildflowers.

Englemann Daisy

Engelmann Daisy


False Garlic

False Garlic



Lone Sunflower


Red Prairie Coneflower

Red Prairie Coneflower


Yellow Prairie Coneflower

Yellow Prairie Coneflower


Scarlet Guara

Scarlet Guara

Scarlet Guara aka Scarlet Beeblossom


White Prairie Clover

White Prairie Clover


Yellow Spiny Daisy

Yellow Spiny Daisy

Also hidden along the back roads are unique examples of roadside attractions. So many little towns were well–traveled before the interstate highway system bypassed them and their dreamers. We found Bob’s Oil Well service station in Matador, Texas.

Matador, Texas Roadside Attraction

Bob's gas pump, Matador, Texas

Widespread thunderstorms ended our trip, but even the sky was beautiful.

Looking up at the Storm