It's entirely possible that I have too much time on my hands, and that perhaps I can get a little over the top. I've already admitted to being completely OCD when it comes to organization, so it shouldn't shock any of you that I decided to take on a project shortly before my son was born.
I read all the horror stories about moms finding unworn clothes - tags still on them!! hanging in the closet long after their child had outgrown them and was determined that wasn't going to happen in OUR house. But what to do? What to do? If there was only a simple solution that I could take way too far......
BABY CLOSET DIVIDERS!!
I could have taken the easy way out and purchased some, like these blue ones from Sugar Booger. Or ordered some custom made ones from this Etsy seller, Potatopatch. Viable options, sure. But it was just weeks before my son was born - the perfect time to take on a craft project, because really, as a first time mom with plenty of stuff to do already, it made perfect sense.
So I scoured the internet for tutorials, and found these super cute foam hangers here at Armelle and Spearmint Baby. However, they weren't really my style as I'm not much for the colorful, cartoon-y kid stuff (we'll see how well this goes over with my son in the future). And then I found THESE at Blissfully Domestic and I thought, "I can totally make them!" Naturally, I could not find the thicker wooden doorhangers, and ended up buying the thinner ones at Michael's, but they worked out fine.
My best advice for working with that thin, balsa like wood used for these hangers, and all kinds of boxes and other things in the "wood craft" aisles at the local craft store is "Sandpaper is your friend". A light sand on these pieces before painting goes a long way towards making a much nicer finished products, especially around the edges. I've even sanded the wooden embroidery hoops I've used for making ornaments, and the end result is a smoother, more refined wood nearly free of blemishes and ragged edges. I would also recommend a coat of primer (available with the acrylic paints) on these softer woods as they tend to suck up the paint pretty quickly.
Another thing I learned was to shell out a couple more pennies and buy the better acrylic paint. I used the Joann's brand acrylic paint because I liked the color names (Sailboat and Baby Blue), but will know better next time and will buy the Plaid or other name brand paint because it works much better. I had to use several coats of the Joann's paint to compensate for the streaky coverage.
Knowing that I had limited artistic talent and would not be able to freehand something I'd be happy with, I searched high and low for nautical themed scrapbook paper and stickers that would work with a decoupage technique. I looked everywhere, in every store, including discount outlets like The Christmas Tree Shop and Ollies.
I couldn't find a nautical / boat themed paper for a background, and every sticker was either cartoony or textured or raised or otherwise not at all what I was looking for, which is how the whole painting process came about. So I painted my six dividers - three in one color, three in the other - after sanding and priming of course. And then a genius idea struck - if I could not find stickers or decoupage things I liked, surely I could find CLIPART that would work. And it helps I am a font freak and have hundreds of them on my computer, so the lettering was no problem. Getting it onto the painted wooden hangers? Yeah, that was a problem, until another stroke of genius took hold. I designed the hangers on my computer because I'm good with layout and design (it's just the execution that gives me problems) and in no time, I had six lovely, nautical themed hangers designed on paper, just waiting to be transfered to the wooden ones.
I had originally intended to trace the design onto the hanger using a nail or something as a stylus, creating an impression in the soft wood that could be filled in with paint. Yeah, not so much. Back to the drawing board. Then I remembered pattern transfer paper that I had used in home ec class in high school, so back to the craft store we went. (Mind you, I was 8 months pregnant at the time) Transfer paper in hand, I gave it my best to transfer the designs to the hangers, and this time, it worked out. The filling in with paint, however, did not go as intended, but this is where my brilliant (and artistically talented) husband stepped in and saved the day.
Seeing as how he's much more patient than I am, I turned the project over to him, and he completed the painting, complete with shading and blending of various paint colors. Impressive! He also came up with the idea of some simple outlining that really made things look nice. So may I present....... Little Dude's Closet Dividers!!!
And yes, Little Dude's oh so clever Mommy has his hangers doing double duty. Once we get through the "infant" sized clothes, the reverse sides of the hangers are painted up with toddler sizes. All I need to do is flip them over. He'll be tired of them long before they outgrow their usefulness.
As a final step, which I did not photograph, I tied a wide, dark blue satin ribbon to the top of each hanger so it could be hung in the closet (we have closet organizers instead of the long wooden pole)