Weekend DIY: Repurposed Jam Jars into Cute Vases and Organizers

For a fun DIY project this weekend, try sprucing empty jam jars into a cute, repurposed vase or organizer. The best part of this project is you can entirely personalize the jar to fit your style. And because most jars are small, it’s a great project to reuse scraps leftover from previous projects.

 I chose to use music paper against a simple black and white palate, to seamlessly fit in with my decor (or my mom's, because she's totally going to steal these!). 

I chose to use music paper against a simple black and white palate, to seamlessly fit in with my decor (or my mom’s, because she’s totally going to steal these!).

The Supplies

  • Clean, empty jar (with or without lid)
  • Tacky Glue (for fabrics and other materials)
  • Modge Podge (for papers and adding gloss)
  • Foam Brush
  • Newspaper or other protective surface (keep your kitchen table clean!)
  • Paper plate (for drying the jar on)
  • Embellishments
A sample of items you'll need, not featured Tacky Glue

A sample of items you’ll need, not featured Tacky Glue

For the embellishments, use items that personalize the jar to you. Almost anything will work, here are a few ideas:

  • Burlap
  • Ribbon (can be layered, and use multiple colors and styles)
  • Beads
  • Buttons
  • Music Sheets
  • Cards, notes, or other decorative paper

Getting Started – Prep the Jar

It’s important before you begin that your jar is completely clean. Remove any labels or wrapping; soaking the jar in warm soapy water can help loosen the label. Use a pot-scraping tool to get the gunk off, just be careful not to send that down the sink. Alternatively, glass cleaner is also useful for removing remaining adhesive.

Wash the jar thoroughly after removing the label and be sure it’s completely dry before you start. Use the time waiting for the jar to dry to set up your work station. Lay out newspaper or other coverings to protect the table’s surface. Keep a paper plate handy, I like to use it to hold the glue and as a spot for my jar to dry on.

Music paper, from a worn lesson book salvaged from a library book sale, cut into heart shapes

Music paper, from a worn lesson book salvaged from a library book sale, cut into heart shapes

Prepare your embellishments. I cut old music sheets into different sized hearts to make the set featured here. The music sheets came from a worn book salvaged from a library book sale.

Layout and Begin

Before any glue touches that jar, layout your design. It’s much easier to cut pieces and loosely arrange while everything is dry and not sticky. It helps to think of your jar’s design in layers. Start with the bottom layer first, oftentimes this will be the largest embellishment. Use the type of glue most suited for your project. If applying a paper base, Modge Podge will work just fine.

Always layout the design before using glue.

Always layout the design before using glue.

When you’ve got an idea of how you want it to come together in mind, apply the glue onto the jar using the foam brush. A thin line is sufficient, and will dry more easily.

Apply  a stripe of modge podge directly to the jar when gluing paper.

Apply a stripe of Modge Podge directly to the jar when gluing paper.

Next, place the embellishment on the jar, and then using the foam brush paint the modge podge onto the surface. Take care to smooth out any bumps and ridges. Don’t worry about extending past the paper, that’s what you need to do to create a good seal.

Place the paper onto the stripe of glue and use the foam brush to coat it with more modge podge

Place the paper onto the stripe of glue and use the foam brush to coat it with more Modge Podge

If applying a heavier material, such as burlap or ribbon, follow the same steps using Tacky Glue – it’s a stronger adhesive. Again, tailor your glues to your project, most times the packing material of the glue will indicate it’s best uses.

Once applied, take a damp paper towel or cloth and wipe the excess glue off the jar. This will create a clear surface, and make your design look more smooth. Most glues dry clear, so don’t go crazy, just tidy it up a bit.

Wipe carefully around the edges so as not to mar your embellishment.

Wipe carefully around the edges so as not to mar your embellishment.

Add Detail

With the main layout set, it’s time to add the more creative details that will really make your piece stand out. For these jars, I chose to ribbon as my detail element. Similar to before, layout the detail elements before cutting and glueing.

Measure first, and give yourself a little extra, you can always trim more off later.

Measure first, and give yourself a little extra, you can always trim more off later.

Then using the same process as before, but with Tacky Glue this time, apply a stripe of glue along the rim of the jar using the foam brush. It’s okay if the brush still has Modge Podge on it from before.  Wrap the ribbon along the jar and carefully smooth out edges and bumps as you go. When using Tacky Glue on materials such as ribbon, you likely won’t want to paint the glue on top of the surface like we did with paper, so smooth these out with your fingers.

Occasionally ribbon will fray when painting the glue down to hold the edges together. Try to go slowly to prevent this.

Occasionally ribbon will fray when painting the glue down to hold the edges together. Try to go slowly to prevent this.

I like to layer ribbons for a more dynamic effect. Follow the same processes of layout, size and cut, and then apply a stripe of Tacky Glue over the ribbon you want to cover.

When adding the second ribbon, take care not to move the first because its glue will still be wet

When adding the second ribbon, take care not to move the first because its glue will still be wet

I chose to finish this jar with a cute bow, but you can also add beads, rhinestones, buttons, and any other small items that strike your fancy.

This bow took six tries.

This bow took six tries.

Let your jar completely dry, overnight is best. Add any touchups of glue that are needed, and then your jar is ready to use.

Enjoy

Enjoy your jar’s new purpose, whether it be a vase or a pencil holder, votive or piggy bank. Display in a place that shows off your creativity, and enjoy the benefits of your hard work. The best part about handmade items, is each one is unique. There’s no better way to show off your style than with items handmade with love.

A small bouquet of peonies would look super cute in these jars.

A small bouquet of peonies would look super cute in these jars.

I hope you enjoyed this crafting project! I hope to add more DIY craft projects soon. Crafting is such a passion of mine, and being able to share it makes these crafts so much more meaningful. Have a fun weekend crafting!

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Hate your commute? Make something cute!

Say what you want about public transit; it has pros and cons (and delays) like anything else. Perhaps the biggest advantage it has over driving is it leaves your hands free and attention can wander. My daily commute for the past four years has incorporated public transit, and to pass the time I read, write, play video games, and this past year I added knitting to the mix.

Crafting on the Go!

I learned to knit in October 2014 and spent the majority of my commute practicing my stitches. I’ve gained other transit skills as well, including knitting while walking and while standing on a crowded, moving train. Now that’s progress!

Circular needles make it easier to knit on the move.

Circular needles, like the ones pictured in use above, make it easier to knit on the move.

I’ve found that using circular needles make it much easier when switching from bus to train. I don’t have to worry about accidentally dropping or forgetting a needle. Also, if I’m mid-row and my stop arrives, I can slide the knitted work down the two needles to hold the stitches in place without using rubber tips on my needles – another tiny item that I risk losing in transit.

The current piece I’m working on is a cable stitch hat. I don’t have a pattern for this one, but that’s what makes it sort of fun. I’m working it out as I go along, experimenting to see how it comes out. I’ve reached the decrease rows after about two weeks of knitting only on my commutes.

The hat starts with ribbing and then develops into a cable pattern.

The hat starts with ribbing and then develops into a cable pattern.

A Stitch in Time

Not only is knitting therapeutic for me, especially after a rough day, but it also leaves me with a feeling of accomplishment by the time I’ve arrived to my destination. Knitting involves a lot of patience, a virtue I admit I need to work on, and demonstrates small steps towards progress. A few stitches here, a completed row on the bus ride, and soon enough the piece takes shape.

These boot cuffs are fun to knit one my commute

These boot cuffs are fun to knit one my commute

Too many people dislike their commutes and let the end of the day drag them down. Don’t let this happen to you; I speak from experience because I used to let that happen to me. If you have the opportunity, take back your commute and do something you love. You’ll be home before you know it.

All the way to the top

Boot cuffs, after sweaters for baby animals and anything made for infants, are the cutest, hand-knitted accessory. A great transition piece for early fall weather, and equally wonderful to layer over three pairs of socks when it’s 10 degrees and windy outside (Hi Boston winter, oh wait, you’ll be here when? I’m not ready!!)

These boot cuffs look like a thick pair of socks peeking out of your boots.

These boot cuffs look like a thick pair of socks peeking out of your boots.

The Knitting Novice Makes a Pattern

I started knitting about a year ago, and these have been on my list to make since then. I had to learn the basics first, like the garter stitch scarf. After practicing with different stitches, cables are probably my favorite, I finally felt confident enough to try my own hand at pattern making.

The first time I tried was a complete fail.

I used a gorgeous and soft emerald green yarn and was testing out a pattern mostly of mock cables. My boot cuff was about eight inches too short in diameter. I’m not exactly sure how that one happened, but the swatch will look great in a patchwork blanket. Discouraged, I decided that I still was too novice to be creating my own patterns. I went back to following directions and knitting on the bus.

If at First You Don’t Succeed

When vacation rolled around in September, I figured why not try again? It had been a wonderfully relaxing week, and sitting on the porch sipping coffee was the perfect opportunity to work out the math before I took out my knitting needles. This time I went with the aqua colored yarn. Since I was down the Cape and the yarn was an ocean color, it felt right to give the pattern a nautical name. The Mariner Boot Cuff was born.

These boot cuffs are fun to knit one my commute

Ribbing, alternating knit and purl, with a mock cable topper.

It took a few tries to really get the pattern down straight, but at least this time I had the right diameter to fit around a leg! I kept at the pattern, knitting on the bus really does help work it out. Now, after making two pairs, I feel confident in these to share them with you. These are the first knitted items to be featured on this site, which is really exciting!

Don’t aim for perfection, aim for progress.

Soft and cozy, perfect for a crisp fall afternoon.

Soft and cozy, perfect for a crisp fall afternoon.

I’m still working at improving this pattern. The current yarn that I used to make these cuffs seems to be pulling after a few wears. The plan is to keep trying, and experimenting with new yarns until I’ve found a good match for this style.

I hope to have more fun knitted items to display soon, and as alway thanks for your encouragement.

Stay warm, friends – winter is coming!