It’s Not a Birdhouse Without Some Birds

I got my fabric from Sew Love Fabrics in the mail yesterday. I spent about an hour just touching it and oohing and ahhing, and then I got that Feeling. You know when you buy a yarn or a fabric you really like, and you don’t want to use it, because what if you change your mind and wish you had it for a different project, later? Yeah, that one. I’m sure other people get that too, and that it’s not just because I’m a horrible packrat who must save all the shinies. So I thought I’d make some cuts posthaste before I could talk myself out of it. But what to sew? I couldn’t decide! Instead, I covered a bulletin board (on which more in another, later post) and my pencil holder. None of this actually involved sewing, but it sure does look purty.

We were doing some decluttering before Christmas, and one of the items my husband was going to toss was this nice, solid wood container from steel punches, whatever those are. I rescued it from the trash because it already featured conveniently sized and spaced holes, apparently intended for steel punches but the perfect size for pencils, pens, and crochet hooks. So it’s been sitting on the end table, functional if slightly ugly (it had a big UPC/description sticker on it which would not be removed even with Goo Gone). Obviously it just needed to be prettied up with some lovely bird print fabric and a piece of ribbon!

Just in case you happen to have a steel punch set case thingy lying around in your house, or in case you have some other cylindrical object (a can? a cardboard tube?) that is crying out to be dressed, I present you with the following tutorial. It should take about, oh, half an hour, not including drying time.

Birdie Pencil Holder, or How to Cover a Cylinder with Fabric and Glue

Supplies:

  • One cylindrical object which can serve as a pencil holder, which is pretty much any tube-shaped thing with a bottom.
  • One scrap of fabric big enough to cover the object, with a little overlap.
  • One scrap of ribbon, long enough to go at least once around the top.
  • Mod Podge or other collage-y type glue.
  • A sponge brush.
  • Scotch tape.

What You Do

First you need to get your stuff together. If you’re going to cut a fabric scrap, make sure to cut it so that the pattern, if there is one, looks good. In this case, the birds on the fabric are quite large so I just sort of wrapped and played until I got one centered.

Tape one edge of the fabric down. You don’t have to do this, but it makes it a lot easier, because you can align it and make sure everything’s in position BEFORE the sticky glue causes you to make rushed, panicky decisions. Just tape it up like a present seam, with the tape running parallel to the edge of the fabric — so in this picture, the tape would also be horizontal.

Get out the glue and sponge brush, and flip the fabric out of the way. See how the tape holds it in place? Hurrah! Now just use the brush to apply an even layer of glue all over the cylinder. I tend to paint about half of it, then rolllllll it onto the fabric, pressing firmly while holding the fabric taut in one hand so it stays smooth. Maybe I should have taken a picture of that part. Oops. Anyway, then I paint the other half and finish rolling.

When you come to the end, fold the cut edge under and press it with a bone folder or the back of your fingernail or whatever’s handy. We don’t want to hem it, but we don’t want sloppy edges, either, right? Then just continue rolling up your gluey jelly roll. Now it should look like this:

Go over the surface again with another coat of Mod Podge, to act as a sealant. I always make extra-sure to cover that seam, so there’s little chance of it coming open. Ever.

If there’s way too much fabric at the base, trim it off so there’s only about half an inch or so. Then apply some more glue to the base and fold it in. You might do it more neatly than I did. Oops. Let it dry a bit, then add another coat of Mod Podge, again to seal it.

Let it dry a little so it doesn’t stick to the table, then flip it over and apply a scrap of ribbon to cover the rough edge of the top. Just tape it and apply it the same way you did the fabric. I didn’t tie a bow or anything because that would have been encouragement for the cats to destroy it, but you can, if you like. I think it would be pretty.

Once everything’s dry and set, you’re good to go. I’ve been using mine all day today for pencils and crochet hooks and whatnot, and it’s pretty awesome. The REST of my living room decor is not, but I plan to start making some snazzy throw pillows or something. Nothing’s going to rescue the hideous floral half-broken sofa — and don’t tell me to slipcover it. If you didn’t sink to the floor when you sat in it, I’d think about spending that kind of money.

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