Dreamy DIY Ombré Paper Backdrop

DIY Ombré Paper Backdrop // Boots & Cats

It should be no secret by now that I love backdrops. I’ve had a love affair with them since the moment I joined Pinterest. I made my first one from metallic fringe for New Years Eve in 2013 and haven’t looked back since. Give me any occasion and I’ll try to whip one up. Luckily I have a large swath of empty wall space in my living room that just begs for a backdrop wall installation year round! I’ve shared some of these with you before, including this geometric autumn garland and last year’s spring floral set up, as well I’m sure you’ve seen peeks of the golden medallions, and strings of stars making an appearance in the background of other projects. It’s gotten to the point where the wall looks sad and naked without anything there.

Ideally I’d like to change up the artwork with the seasons, but sometimes it’ll only get changed twice a year. Last spring, I was so eager to leave winter behind, I built up the florals in early April as my foray into spring. My warm-weather dreams were kinda destroyed though when it continued to snow for a few more weeks. To avoid the soul-crushing, I decided to wait a little while longer before getting the spring backdrop ready this year.

Then life somehow took over and what was supposed to be ‘holding-out-for-a-few-more-weeks-until-the-snow-is-gone’ became ‘holy-crap-how-is-it-already-July?!’. But here it is, in it’s bold, ombre and super pink glory.

DIY Ombré Paper Backdrop // Boots & Cats

I’d been inspired by this post on Style Me Pretty for a long time, having ‘pinned’ it years ago and just waiting for the moment I could deploy it. I love its dreamy softness, yet geometric, 3D, sculptural-ness. I also knew that I wanted to inject a pop of colour to the mix, and a little bit of ombré is never a bad idea.

I followed Erin’s instructions pretty closely, except that I used coffee filters instead of wax-paper so it would take the dye. This also had the handy bonus that they were already circles, so I got to skip a step! Yay for efficiency.

It was a little meticulous and time consuming to put it all together, but there aren’t too many materials needed and the process was so much fun. I’ve never had as much Instagram fodder as when I was making this. It was just so visually bold I wanted to take photos with the materials non-stop along the way (which is also probably why it took so long…)

DIY Ombré Paper Backdrop // Boots & Cats

Let’s get to it. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Coffee filters (I used a full pack of 100)
  • Food colouring or fabric dye (I used Wilton gel icing colours)
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • String or twine
  • Large sewing needle (a knitting one works great)

DIY Ombré Paper Backdrop // Boots & Cats

1. The first step is dyeing your coffee filters to the colour of your choice. It’s actually a very easy process, you just need a little bit of space to make a mess and let them dry. I used this tutorial, but it’s pretty self-explanatory. To get the ombré effect, I mixed my darkest tone (mixing Christmas Red and Pink icing colours) and began dyeing about a fifth of my filters. I then diluted my dye bath with water and dyed the next fifth and so on. For the lightest tone of pink I just added a few drops of the pink to a new bath of clean water just to get it ever-so-slightly pinked. I also dunked the plain white ones in clean water and dried them out so they would have the same texture as the rest.

2. Lay them out to dry and Instagram as much as possible.

DIY Ombré Paper Backdrop // Boots & Cats

To make them into the cone shapes, you need to cut the circles in half. As I was doing this, surrounded by piles of paper, I made a discovery. It’s pretty ground-breaking and I am so excited to share with you. Ready? Two words. GIANT. CONFETTI. They flutter around in the air when tossed and it is pretty much the most fun EVER. Like playing in an autumn pile of leaves without fear or spiders hiding underneath. I’m definitely keeping this idea in my back pocket for my next party. It would be so fun to dye a few different colours and toss them about with friends. Plus, since they are large, they are WAY easier to tidy up.

You’re welcome world.

DIY Ombré Paper Backdrop // Boots & Cats

3. Once you feel you’ve frolicked enough, take your half circles and turn them into cones. I found white glue worked the best as the filters just soaked it up and held strongly. Apply glue in a strip along half the edge, starting in the center.

4. Bring both ends together, overlap them a little bit, and hold for about 5 seconds. Set to dry, and repeat.

5. Take many photos of your tiny mountain range. (If I could figure out how to adhere them to the wall like this I SO would have. Pink spikes? Yes please.)

6. Once dry, decide on the layout of your design. Do you want the colour gradient from left to right? Top down? Bottom up? Should the strands all be the same length or should they be staggered? You’ll also need to measure the size of your display space so the strands aren’t too long, too short or too wide. I arranged all my rows on the floor to get an idea of the size and colour design before I started assembling.

7. Next, you’ll need your string, sewing needle and knot tying skills. Cut a string about 20 cm longer than your intended length of the strand. Starting from the bottom up, you’ll tie a knot in your string, then sew it through the tiny hole at the top of your cone. I found I usually needed a double knot so it would be thick enough stay in place, but a dot of glue also helps keep it there if the cone wants to slide past the knot. Once it’s secure, tie the next knot above it and work your way up adding the cones. For spacing between the knots I just sort of eyeballed it, but you could definitely measure each one to be more precise and even.

8. Once you have all your strands complete, cut another piece of string about 30 cm longer than your intended width. Tie the strands to this string using basic knots. They’ll be secure in place, but still have the ability to slide along so you can adjust your spacing once it’s on the wall.

Now you just need to put it up! I used a few pieces of trusty washi tape to adhere to my walls since the filters are quite lightweight. I also love the look of Erin’s where it is tied to the rafters. If you have that option, I’d say go for it!

DIY Ombré Paper Backdrop // Boots & Cats

I am super happy to have finally finished this project (better late than never, amirite?). The living room is so bright and cheery, which is just how I want to feel in the summer. Though there is now a definite hot pink theme happening in the space, which I find keeps happening, even though I still tell myself it’s not my favourite colour.

This project was just the creative change of pace I needed to take a small break from sewing. Like a crisp breath of fresh air I am ready to jump in and try more new things and get new projects done. If only these sweltering temperatures didn’t make me feel so lazy…

Adventures with Plants

adventures with plants // Boots & CatsGuys. I bought plants. You have no idea how excited I am that I have some green things in my vicinity.

Growing up, we always had a garden. Spring meant going to the greenhouse in search of the right bedding plants in the prettiest colors, finding cool and unique flowers, not to mention all the fresh veggies that we’d wait for in the summer. Yum.

As pretty as it all was, I hated going through and weeding the garden and I didn’t like the fact that I could find a worm or spider unexpectedly at any time.

shopping

When I moved into my apartment, plants weren’t really first thing on my mind. I didn’t plan it into my decor, plus, I immediately ruled out a garden since we have a high-rise cement balcony. Not really garden material.

Last summer, we were kindly gifted some potted floral arrangements which were beautiful, but they were quite large so we kept them on the balcony. But because I had written off the cement wasteland, we never really went outside…or watered the flowers. So after about 3 months of solid effort by the flowers to stay alive, they bit the dust. “I don’t think I can have plants” I said to myself.

Cue this year. In February we had our first glimpse of what could be spring (spoiler: it wasn’t), but it made me feel like I really reeally wanted some green things. How would I be able to keep things alive this year.

flowers

Here is my three-fold plan:

  • Keep most of the plants INSIDE. The downfall of last years’ flowers was that they were often out of sight-out of mind.
  • Get lots of succulents and desert plants – they don’t care as much if you forget to water them.
  • The plants that are too large to be inside have to be yummy vegetable producing so I have more of a reason to go check on them. If I want fresh noms I better water my plants. This year I am starting with tomatoes. Because they are the best.

Point three also coincides with my new outlook for the previously known cement-wasteland. I love being outside and it would be nice to create a little atmostphere out there. A place to eat, read and relax. Something dreamy.

I am also attempting to grow a little herb-garden for my kitchen. I am starting from seeds though and, yes third-grade me could successfully grow plants, I still have doubts whether I will be successful. This may or may not be in part to the fact the weather turned grey the moment I planted them and I am incubating them under my overhead stove light because there is no sun right now.

variety

I will be sure to update on the progress of my greenery later this summer. What will live? What will die? Stay tuned…

Also just a quick shout-out to all the amazing people participating in Me Made May ’14! It is so inspiring to see so many seamstresses and the beautiful things they have made. One of my biggest challenges as a seamstress is to actually wear the garments I make more than once, so it is cool to see this challenge. I didn’t make my pledge this year, mostly due to the fact that my selection of me-mades is small and mostly dresses (which doesn’t bode well for this SNOW!), but I am keeping it top of mind and am trying to make an effort to wear more of my handmades as much as I can.

May the fourth be with you 😉

Gallery Wall

Gallery wall// Boots & Cats

Here it is! Finally, after all those peeks… the gallery wall is up in my living space. I am quite pleased with it if I do say so myself.

mapping // Boots & Cats

It was an interesting process for me, as I am a perfectionist until the end, taking that step to put nails in the wall was a tough one. At the beginning I was worried I’d have put hundreds of holes in the wall before I got my result. To make sure that didn’t happen I traced the size and shape of each print and frame I wanted to hang  onto brown packing paper (newsprint would also work well). I taped them to the wall with washi tape. With this I could play with the arrangement and spacing of my frames to make sure it worked well on the wall space and had even balance.

measure

Then to make sure I was 100% precise, I measured the distance (height and width) of the frame hook and marked it on the paper.

mark

This probably could have been done before placing them on the wall, but I hadn’t thought that far ahead.

rrrrrip // Boots & Cats

From there I could just plunk the nails where I marked my X, and rip the paper away.

wall

I then hung all my frames and voila! It was a lot easier than I had initially expected, and I am happy I took the steps to make sure everything was as perfect as I could get.

because cats //Boots & Cats

I really wanted to make sure my wall looked curated and not totally thrown together. I arranged my prints on the floor before taping the paper to the wall to get a general idea of what looked good together. I wanted an even distribution of color, size and frame weight. (I also unintentionally discovered the combo “You can do anything, but not everything…because cats”. Amazing)

thread-rainbow

I was also happy to incorporate my thread rack into the visual mix, since this wall is a part of my creative space.

rainbow

In summary, my tips for a successful gallery wall:

  • Choose artwork or photos with a general theme or color palette. Most of my images relate to cats, but the ones that don’t have similar artistic styles, or are photos with similar colors. It is an eclectic mix, but still cohesive.
  • Make sure there is visual balance between light and heavy pieces, as well as spacing.
  • Map out the placement beforehand to see how the shapes work in your space.
  • Just go for it! You can always change it up, or even just change a few pieces as time goes on. (Patching holes in drywall isn’t all that bad, right?)