USS America

Here’s a fun  Summer project to go with a beachy or lakeside decor.
 I saw this in an issue of
 Country Living magazine

 I thought …
“gee, that would make a cute door decoration for summer”.
I’m nothing if not crazy ambitious!

I’ve seen antique liferings, ring buoys, or kisby rings in antique stores before.

I never bought one because there were usually too many dishes, linens, old spools,
antique books and many other things claiming my attention.
OK game on!

After mulling it over for a day…I finally figured out my plan of attack.
 This is not a difficult project but there is lots of glue drying time needed
go to the beach, have a glass of iced tea, swim in the pool, or swing in a hammock
in between gluing sessions…see, perfect for summer!

I started with a 16″ flat foam ring…
Now, you’re not saving anything but a munchkin with this thing 
but it’s only a decoration.
I mean I can barely get one thigh through the opening…
too much blogging I guess
If you want to get all literal on me, go get a bigger one.

Here’s the deal….. I was in WalMart, it was 8 am
(because I had just dropped a kid off for camp at 7:30)
I didn’t feel like waiting until Michael’s opened 16″ it was
The round one won’t look right so try and find this flat foam type.

While I was in WalMart, I picked up some fleece stuff
because I wanted to wrap strips around this ring to soften the edges and make it look all
” life-ringy “
I just used scotch tape to hold all the ends together. The strips were about 3-4″ wide.

Then, I cut a circle from a drop cloth. 
Trace the ring onto the circle…you won’t see it and then add about 6-8″to that. 

Cut it out. Center the ring on the cloth and cut a small hole in the center…about 1″ is all.
 Then cut pie wedges all along the small circle….
keep the ring on the circle so you don’t cut too far…
but don’t get all paranoid because we’ll cover it later.

I used a  real drop cloth…like I mean it has paint on it and stuff….
so this is the time to use one if you have it 
and save your nice drop cloth for cute pillows and drapes.

Get the modpodge out and pull up and glue the pointy things to the ring…
pull taut and hold them in place with pins.
try and get the inside of the ring nice and smooth.
Then, start gluing the sides. Use a generous amount of glue just along the sides 
and just over the edge of the ring. 

You want the glue to seep into the fabric a bit because it makes it easier to smooth out the wrinkles. 
Hmmm….I’m thinking I’ll use modpodge on my face tonight…I’ll let you know how it works…
Pull up the sides in sections, trying to get them as smooth as possible. 
Don’t worry about what is now the back of your ring…we’ll handle that later.
Once you have it all glued in place and held with pins, 
slap on more modpodge over the sides and front. 
This will stiffen the fabric, shrink it just a bit and let you smooth out wrinkles.
Let it dry completely….I left mine for a few hours.

After you’ve had your iced tea, check if it’s secure, remove the pins 
and trim off the excess. See the points showing?

This next part isn’t hard to do, just hard to visualize maybe.
We need to cover the area that isn’t covered where we cut the 
pointy things and smoothly cover the inner part of the ring.
Cut a wide strip of canvas which is long enough to 
curve around the inside of the ring.
Cut it wide enough to cover the gaps left on the front where you cut the 
pointy things 
and go through the center hole and wrap to the back and cover the trimmed edge.
You’re trying to create a smooth look from the front, through the hole and to the back.
I know it’s hard. Look at the pics and think hard.

We’re looking at the front of the ring now. 
The excess part of the long strip is just bunched in the center 
and the important edge is glued around the ring to cover the part left exposed by cutting the 
pointy things
Let that dry really well while you’re at the beach
Now, once again 
because covering a curved round thing 
is not easy with non stretchy fabric,
you have to clip the excess edge of the strip so that it can stretch through the hole 
and around to the back smoothly.
More gluing and pinning
Fill in the gaps with canvas bits
Once it’s all secured with pins….slap on more modpodge and smooth 
all the edges with your fingers.
Real life-rings were made of canvas covered cork 
so we’re trying for an authentic look here!
I’m guessing they were sewn by machine as well as hand 
and then shrunk tightly against the cork.
The modpodge will tighten the fabric as it dries so we’ll get a similar look.
This takes awhile to dry but don’t use less modpodge, it’s important to get a smooth look.
Go have a cookout……
Now comes the fun decorative part!
Pick a color and spray the ring. Two coats.
Add your choice of name
Sand the ring to distress
Make some canvas strips to hold the rope
3″ wide when finished and long enough to go around generously…
you can always cut off the excess.
I used the edge of the drop cloth for one end 
so I didn’t have to hem it. 
I left the other end unfinished and just trimmed it off when I was done.
I folded the long sides over and did a double row of stitching.
Put the strips around the ring and hot glue them together. 
Sandwich the rope in between the two ends and then trim off the unfinished one.
Adjust the rope how you want it around the edge as you go along.
Hide the two cut ends inside one of the strips.
I used some spray walnut ink to make it look old.
And stuck some flags in for good measure!!
Happy 4th of July (almost)
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  1. Okay, this is beyond cool!
    I like your lazy ways, girl!
    Maybe I’ll have time to join up…
    I’ll have to get moving. 🙂

  2. How darn cute is that!
    And in case you’re curious – not scared so it must be excited. I think that’s because everything’s better with friends.


  3. i am loveing your lifesaver ring its great i look forward to linking up to your party xxxx

  4. Veeeery cool – turned out so cute!

    PS – I really, really like your blog’s name! 🙂

  5. Wow! Looks like the real deal for a fraction of the cost. Now you’ve got me thinking.;-)

  6. Wow, this blows me away. ADORABLE! I have to make note of this. Looks like the real deal to me.

  7. Can you make me one? Oh, I’m supposed to make it myself. Love it! ~ Maureen

  8. OMG!!!! I missed this post. I love it, and it’s exactly what I need to finish a little project I have planned for my next vacation! This would also make a great gift for friends with lake cabins. Love, love, love it!!!

    *I’ll be using it for my blog anniversary giveaway in August. :@

  9. Wow! Your lifesaving wreath looks amazing!


  10. Amazing! Thank you for sharing your creativity at Potpourri Friday at 2805!

  11. Beautiful job!! Love it. Thank you for sharing. Visiting from FMFPTY. Would love it if you would share this at my Make it Pretty Monday party at The Dedicated House. Wishing you a grand week. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  12. That turned out perfect!! thanx for linking up!

  13. Your life saving ring looks awesome, and so worth all the effort. You certainly have a lot of talent and patience. 🙂 Nice job!

  14. wow, thats a terrific copy.. LOVE your version..

    I’d love one for my bedroom door..

  15. This looks wonderful, and love the color paprika. You have much more patience than I do. You clearly have more talent too!

  16. That is sooooo cool Lorraine!~ I love the step by step too. For someone like me, I need the visual. So glad you joined the party. Have fun my dear!!~ XO

  17. WOW!!! This is so awesome I think is such a cool summer decor idea.

  18. It looks great! You did a super job!

  19. Oh, this is a fabulous project! You did an awesome job! Great copy cat!

  20. Very CUTE!!!

  21. Oh how brilliant! I would have never thought that wasn’t a life raft! Great job!

  22. So cute! Very Creative! I love it!

  23. This is an adorable Copycat! 😀 I wish we had one for our lake cabin. Too cute!

    Linking from Debbiedoo’s,
    Ricki Jill

  24. So very cute! I saw that in C.L. and really liked it. However, I was not as clever as you and didn’t come up with an amazing idea like that. Also, I live no where near a beach, so what would I do in between? lol! Seriously, great job and yes it looks fab against your blue door. Visiting from Debbiedoos. Now following you.

  25. Wow! What a wonderful wreath! I love the tutorial you did on this as well. You seriously did a fantastic job on this even if you think you are lazy. Very clever and soooo attractive!

  26. As a kid in the Navy town of Vallejo, my grandfather an I explored a branch off the SF bay and I spotted a ring buoy from the USS Long Beach in the tulies so swam out and retrieved it. The ship visited Mare Island back then (1970’s). I even built a model of the ship. Today it is mounted proudly in my back yard along with my old surfboard under the shade of my palms and banana plants which overlook the very bay and old base (career local). I cherish it and really adds a maritime atmosphere to my yard, along with the sea breeze. First class job on yours BTW. Mine looks to be solid orange colored foam, 1/2 inch white nylon rope woven through it at 4 points and black glued on lettering.


  1. […] Remember Eclectically Vintage’s umbrella? LOVE! Anyway, yesterday I did show you my copycat vintage life ring which was my take on a Summer wreath….. and today I did […]

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