Monday, October 11, 2010

Dress Up

I think I started planning Maddie's 3rd birthday this year sometime in the summer. Like I mentioned back in August, I totally ripped off the idea from my craftalicious friend, Vone. Invitations went out sometime in the middle of September, and even though I know it's totally gauche to mention gifts on an invite, I did anyways (because I'm classy like that) and suggested that dress up items would be a fabulous gift idea...

And so the Princess Party was taking shape (because let's face it - 90% of dress up clothes seem to involve princess items of some kind - and since Disney makes it so easy with all their branded crap everywhere, who am I to buck the trend?)... and again, like I mentioned earlier - I was OBSESSED with making an adorable little catchall where Maddie could store all her dress up clothes.

So I did...

I cannot explain just how happy I am with the result - I just love love love this little storage/dress up chest/wardrobe thingy. The inspiration came from this post on the blog, Craftiness is not optional.


How I built my version:
I used pine boards that I bought in 72-inch lengths in 12-inch widths. I had two of the boards sawed in half (you can do this right at the Home Depot store) so I had four 36-inch lengths. The third board I had sawed down to give me two boards at 34-inches and a bit left over. Add a one-inch dowel and I think the total came to under $20 for all the wood.

For the two ends I used a large tupperware bowl as my "curve guide" (yep, I'm all kinds of professional in my carpentry skills) - and then used a jigsaw to make the cuts and a belt sander to even everything up (because my jigsaw skills are jittery at best). The two sides of the bottom box were the 34-inch pieces, the other 2 inches are allowance for the 1-inch thickness of the end panels. Bottom of the box is 36-inches long. I then drilled 1-inch holes in both end panels for the dowel, glued the inside and fitted the dowel in (this part was tricky as one end was a bit loose, while the other was very tight - why? I have no flippin' idea). Screw it all together, sand and paint. Voila - you are done.

For the letters, I used a stencil package I found at Michaels - letters are 3-inches high. I wanted something a bit larger, but selection was not really what I was looking for and to be honest, I was too lazy to make my own. To paint the entire piece, I used the same paint I used for Maddie's furniture in her "big girl" room makeover (Benjamin Moore Aura Satin finish in Cloud White) - even on plain pine I only needed to do two coats - have I mentioned how much I love BM paints? The letters were done with plain ol' craft paint from the Dollar store I had on hand.

I will be adding hooks to either side for hats/scarves/boas etc - definitely a good option for adding more storage abilities.

Things I Would Do Differently Next Time (a.k.a. Learn From My Mistakes!):
The pine boards I used were rough cuts - there were more expensive "project" boards available, but I'm cheap and didn't want to spend the money. Next time, I'd probably just use MDF and have it cut down in the store. At least it'd be straight, and not have a million rough parts that needed heavy sanding or knotty holes in it.

Using MDF would also allow a bit more flexiblity on the measurements. Length-wise the piece is pretty perfect (it will fit her closet well) and height-wise I don't think you need it any taller for a 3-year-old. However the bottom box sides could probably be shorter (say 8-10 inches instead of 12) without losing much capacity, and I'd make the box/sides wider - like 14 inches at minimum.

The sides could use a bit more interest - like adding another curve (like an S-curve instead of the C-curve I used) - without losing actual integrity in the strength of the piece. This was my original plan, but my jigsaw skills were beginner at best so I wasn't risking it.

Lastly - next time I will NOT be stenciling my letters. I hated this part - it was such a pain in the ass. Because of the size of the stencil pages, I had to wait for letters to dry before doing the next one - or did the letters out of order (which was risky on spacing, but ended up working okay). And since the edges looked quite rough, I ended up free-handing the entire letter all over again to smooth everything out and fill in - so yeah, next time I would just free hand or trace with a pencil and then free hand. Something different from what I did anyways.


So that's that. I'm not sure Maddie really understands how magnificently cool this thing really is (don't you totally wish you had one as a kid??) - but the parents at the birthday party were impressed enough with it that I was able to satisfy my ridiculous ego. ;-)

And Maddie? Well, she just keeps going up to it and marveling at all the amazing dress-up clothes she now has - thank you again to all our wonderful friends and family!


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