Red and Blue Make Purple

The cradle is finished and will be going home later today with my grand-daughter.  I thought I would show you the process and the experimentation that went into this.  Everything for the cradle was made with things I already had on hand so the cost was zero dollars.

Here’s the cradle as it was delivered to me. It was missing slats to support a mattress for starters.


The one end was used for practicing writing by a little one, and you can see the screw holes were exposed. I’m not sure if they ever had plugs in them.  The cradle itself was sturdy so I filled the holes with wood putty, with some help. After dry the entire cradle was sanded.


To replace the slats I pulled out some shims I had leftover.  I first tried to staple them in, but my staples weren’t long enough, instead I used gorilla glue to hold them secure and added a couple finishing nails.


I had a couple shorter shims and used two to give support underneath.


When I asked if I should restore the finish, I would have done a quick sanding and then sealed the entire piece with polycrylic, I was told no she wanted it painted.  But then I was informed it needed to be purple.  Strange choice since this isn’t one of her favorite colors (she likes pink and green).

I had no purple paint on hand, but little one informed me that blue and red make purple and I have food drops in the pantry (food coloring is what she meant).  I gave this some thought and decided to give this a try.

I used half a small bottle of each color (all I had left) and came up with a very pale lavender, but it wasn’t purple enough for her.  I have to admit it looked more white than purple at this point.

I wasn’t sure what to do, until I remembered the fabric paint I had. I used a good part of the red making over the trashed lamp, but hoping there was still enough I got to work, and kept blending until I was given the go ahead that this was the color she wanted.


I gave you a sneak peek of the little quilt my grand-daughter arranged for me to sew a few days ago.  I wanted it to appear to be a quilt, but being for her dolls I didn’t want to put a lot of time into it.


I had a fleece blanket that was worn in an off white.  I’d set it aside to use as the batting in a blanket I will be making for myself, but there was plenty extra…so it became the bedding for the cradle.


We made a mattress and pillow from the blanket, stuffed them with filling from the old loveseat cushion, then pulled out some fabric scraps, (she wanted flowers) and found this fabric for a pillow case.

That done it was time to assemble the quilt.  Using more of the fleece blanket for the backing of the quilt (no batting used this time) here is how the quilt turned out.


And for the front, you can see I simply folded over some of the fleece backing for the binding around the edges. Please no criticism on my quilting skills, I know this is something I struggle to improve :-)


After three coats of paint it was time to add some details.  I remembered there were foam shapes left in the kids craft drawer and went to get the flowers.  Unfortunately, I was all out of flowers.  I did have frogs and remembered the Princess and the Frog bookcase I made over for her. Mom gave the go ahead for frogs.


I attached the frogs to the end of the cradle with the aid of a hot glue gun.  Of course the colors weren’t what I was going for, but a little paint solved that.


The color was a soft lavender, until I added a coat of polycrylic.  I had allowed the paint to dry for several hours, it was completely dry in other words.  But when I applied the polycrylic to seal the finish, it took on a completely different color.

The only thing I can come up with to explain the change in the color would be the food coloring.  I’ve used fabric paint before, on metal, and had no change in color when sealing it with the polycrylic, so it has to be the food coloring which may not have dried completely in the wet paint?  Anyway, it’s now really purple and streaky.  I had to be very careful about brush strokes as each one left a distinctive marking on the finish.


And here is the finished cradle all ready for her dolls to enjoy. I actually love the personality the finish gave, but now that I see it I would have to say I didn’t need as much food coloring as I thought.  If you want to try tinting with food coloring I’d say give it a try, just be open for a surprise ending.



Remember it’s always the thought that counts and a little imagination can make anything possible.


41 thoughts on “Red and Blue Make Purple

  1. The finish on the cradle has a heavenly look. Quite stunning I’d say. As for quilting skills, I’ll tell you about mine. As a beginner I was feeling quite unqualified, then my husband (now ex) took me through our neighborhood quilt store where I took my classes. He picked up every quilt on display, made by the pro’s in the store. All had unmatched corners and plenty of flaws. He pointed them out quite loudly everyone in earshot, including those that made them. I felt better, but they were happy to see him go. Anything made with love is PERFECT! Keep up the great work.


    • Marlene, you made my day. While he may be your es-husband now he did that one thing right. I’m going to remember this when I try my next quilting project. The Amish purposely put a mistake/flaw somewhere in their quilts because to them only God is perfect. The problem with their quilts is I can never find a flaw anywhere, they are that perfect.


  2. Lois it’s so lovely and I think the streaky finish makes it! Isn’t it wonderful when accidents turn out so well, it looks like you spent ages on the finish to get it just so. The quilt idea was very clever too.


    • Thanks, Dianna. My quilting skills aren’t great, and I have a real time with the cutting as it bothers my hands which aren’t very strong. As I was assembling the squares I had a neighbor visiting and was so surprised that almost all of the seams lined up, that was a first for me, she just laughed at my excitement. I’m told my grand-daughter won’t leave the cradle alone!


    • Sarah, there is no reason you would have had to know what a shim was unless you were around home improvement stores or a home builder. Shims are used to level things like kitchen cabinets when the floor is uneven. It is very thin on one end and gradually gets thicker. You put them under the cabinet or piece of furniture that needs leveling, when level you break off the remaining part that is still sticking out. Many of the homes around here are more than 100 years old, the floors aren’t level so I’ve used shims for quite a while to level a piece of furniture, this is the first time I’ve used them in making a piece of “furniture”.


  3. I’m with everyone else. I like the final finish you ended up with better that the one before. That looks like one of the most fun projects you have done because of the different skills you had use, the help from your ganddaughter, and the surprise finish.


    • Live and Learn, the surprise finish actually scared me a little at first. I worried it wouldn’t dry right, or would be tacky. All kinds of thoughts on how I just ruined it ran through my head. When I saw it was going to dry properly I relaxed. This project was fun, if not challenging (making purple paint) and yes having my grand-daughter help and share her ideas was fun. I was the facilitator in making her vision come to life this time.


  4. What a cool finish for the cradle! I like your quilt. That is exactly how my grandmother made them – a patchwork front and a re-used blanket for the back, pulled around to form an edging. I am impressed that you took the time to quilt it!


    • Thanks, Exacting life. I thought everyone added batting to the inside for warmth from old blankets (which is what the rest of the blanket will be used for). When my grand-daughter pulled out the scrap squares and arranged them for me I was going to quilt it for her.

      As for that finish, complete surprise, but she likes it which is the important point in all of it.


    • Thanks, Lucie, it really was magic. I have racked my brain trying to figure out how that happened. Since I’ve used the polycrylic on both the latex paint and the fabric paint it has to be the food coloring. It some how was pulled to the surface when I added the moistness of the poly on top.


    • Thank you, Katherine. She was so excited when she walked in today and spotted it. When not outside (it’s 82 out) she could be found playing with it. I hope she does pass it down, then it really would have a long life.


  5. forgot to say, I thought those frogs were clever add on. (and myself I like how the paint streaked out..very nice)

    also, I had a question re the polycrilic, which you use a lot. (never have myself)..Is it a sturdy finish? Will it withstand chipping?


    • Very much so. I’ve used it on everything from kitchen tables to outdoor furniture. If the surface will be used a great deal you might want to put 2-3 coats on, but it’s not a big deal because it dries in 10 minutes. I also prefer polycrylic to polyurethane as it doesn’t yellow like urethane does over time.

      The streaked paint was a total shock, but it added a lot of character I thought.:-)


    • Very much so. I’ve used it on everything from kitchen tables to outdoor furniture. If the surface will be used a great deal you might want to put 2-3 coats on, but it’s not a big deal because it dries in 10 minutes. I also prefer polycrylic to polyurethane as it doesn’t yellow like urethane does over time.

      The streaked paint was a total shock, but it added a lot of character I thought.:-)


  6. I love it too…and I too think your quilting skill “more than okay” , and better than mine.

    it is fantastic how the cradle turned out..and I think it is a great idea how you made the ‘bottom” and that you reinforced it.. I say this because, in recalling little kids, I am betting one day her or brother (she has a brother right?) will be climbing in to try it out or tease. it looks plenty strong.

    Nice going!!!


    • Thank you, Lynn. All the wonderful comments on my quilting make me believe one day I may improve enough to not cringe when someone sees my attempts.

      They better not be climbing into it, and yes she has a brother who is rough enough that I used both the nails and the glue to hold up to him :-)


  7. WOW!!! absolutely beautiful and amazing colour finish too :-) Brilliant and I am sure your granddaughter will adore it… I know I do.. Your quilting skills are more than OK,,, :-) Love the finished result… and I am certain your granddaughter will have hours of happy play time fun with her dolls rocking them to sleep! :-)


    • Thank you Sue. It was quite a surprise to see the food coloring coming out from the paint as I sealed it, but I rather like it. The grand children arrived a little bit ago, and her face lit up at the sight of the cradle.


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