Monday, February 22, 2010

A little weekend quilting

Made a runner for my kitchen buffet...

...and began a quilt for Finnley.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dressing the bedroom

I have a lot of infatuations. Polka dots, birds, boxes, embroidery, baskets, leather, vintage stuff, furniture... the list could go on and on. But one infatuation that's stayed with me for quite some time is this color. I don't know what to call it. It's blue, but with some gray and green in it, and I've loved it since before it became a fad.

After slip covering my headboard I decided the bed needed some color. The whole room, in fact, was really very plain with lots of brown and cream and white. Some throw pillows were in order.

So I went back to Joann and bought another couple of yards of that nice flax-colored cotton fabric. I'd also scored a brand new 84" embroidered curtain panel at my local Goodwill for $5, which gave me TONS of lovely blue fabric with some cream embroidery down one side. About a year ago I'd found another brand new curtain panel there, made of the same fabric but in a different style, which ended up in our guest room (shown below). Weird, huh?

Anyway, over the past couple of days I've sewn up some pillows.

This one I used a basic applique technique to put our monogram in flax on the blue background, with some crocheted trim from a scarf I'd already started to cut up.

A bird silhouette (of course) using that lovely blue and, again, a basic applique technique.

I had to make a pillow form for this one because I wanted a rectangle shaped pillow. I love that embroidery so, so much!

Not sure what to call this technique- "sloppy applique" maybe? (Click the image for a closer look.) It was pretty simple. I drew the letters onto a rectangle of white linen with a disappearing ink pen, then pinned the whole piece to the flax background. I stitched around each letter with a regular straight machine stitch, then cut a scant 1/4" away from the stitching to remove the excess fabric. That 1/4" frayed nicely in the wash, but I think if I were to do it again I'd make my letters thinner. They seem a little too chunky to me.

But I couldn't just stop with the bed. I had to redo a few other things around the room. I replaced the embroidered cream sheers with my favorite blue, tan and brown striped curtains...

...and removed the big, framed tulip print that had hung above our dresser since we moved in with something smaller.

These lovely tin bird pictures were found at our local Dollar Tree a few months ago. I stained some old wooden drawer pulls, used Liquid Nails to put small penny nails into the screw hole in each one, then used them like giant thumb tacks to hold my twine-strung pictures.

Last night I found two white fabric lamp shades on clearance at Target, so now the only remaining green in the room is on our bedside tables, which doesn't bother me at all.
I'm still planning to use this treatment above our bed and am working on collecting photos and old botanical prints and other images to hang. I bought some vintage clothes pins on Etsy and am sooo excited to get that wall decorated- at last!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Headboard & footboard slipcover

It's not often that I get this excited about a project. But all I can say is, dudes- I'm stoked!

Today I slip covered my bed and I am THRILLED with the results.

Here's the "before".

We bought our leather upholstered bed when we moved here almost 2 years ago, and I do still really like it. But recently I've been toying with the idea of changing it up and making it less dark and heavy looking. We've got all this dark furniture in our bedroom- the bed, the night tables, the rocking chair, and this behemoth dresser.

I finally decided that with a wide-open afternoon I'd try tackling this daunting project at last. The boys and I headed to Joann where I'd seen this cotton fabric for $3.99/yd. in the "Utility Fabrics" section (I'm not even sure what it's called), and purchased 6 yards with my 40% off coupon. I liked the color and texture because it reminded me of linen, but without costing $15 per yard. Seriously. 15 freaking dollars! I also bought 3 packages of cream colored piping.

After laying the kids down for naps I went to work. I didn't even bother taking photos during the process because I was really just flying by the seat of my pants the entire time and had no idea whether it was actually going to work or not.

But here's how it turned out.

Like a GLOVE! (You have to say this like Jim Carrey as Ace Ventura.)

It's certainly not perfect, but there's nothing terribly wrong with it that's visible even up close. You should've seen me doing the final tugs and smoothing on the headboard with this big, stupid grin on my face. I was so tickled that it fit!

When I finished I ran downstairs to show my husband my handiwork. The best remark he made was, "For a slipcover it actually looks good." This is quite a compliment coming from a man who LOATHES any and all slipcovers of every shape, size and style. I can tell he likes the leather better, but he won't fuss. He knows how much I like change, and how proud I am of my new slipcover.

But, dang it, now I want to buy new bedding and lampshades!

Looking at this photo it shames me to see that big blank wall above our bed. Two years and nothing on that wall.

But today I tore this photo from my newest Pottery Barn catalog, and it's got me thinking...

...maybe I could do that! I've been trying to come up with something that would fill the space but wouldn't draw attention to the fact that our bed isn't centered on the wall. This could do the trick.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tutorial: Make a thrift store sweater hot water bottle cover

Wow- that title is a mouth full. I might have to re-think that. In the meantime, here's a little tutorial to show you how I made a cozy for my hot water bottle.

Today during a blissful two hours of only having 1/3 of my kids to tote around with me, I popped into another thrift store and hunted for a great wool sweater to use for this project. I found a great sweater! Just not wool.
It was a ramie/cotton blend, but I couldn't resist that fair isle design and the lovely embroidery on the chest. It reminded me of a sweater my Dad brought back from Norway decades ago.

I ignored the fact that there was a zipper smack in the middle of the top half, and because it was 50% off I figured that it couldn't hurt to try and make it work.

Here's how I did it:

Make a template.
Start by tracing your water bottle onto a piece of paper. (Please ignore the circle punch.)

Cut about 1/4" away from your line. (I folded my template in half before I started cutting to ensure that both sides would be identical.)

Since my sweater had that zipper, I had to start by ripping it out...

...then stitching the two sides together.

Place your template on your sweater in whatever way is pleasing, incorporating the elements of the sweater that are most attractive. Try to place it as straight as possible with the "grain".
Pin the template to the sweater.

For the back piece, fold your template in half width-wise to give you a visual idea of where about halfway is.
Lay your template along the bottom edge of your sweater so that you have about 1"-1.5" between the bottom of the hem and your new halfway fold line.
Pin and cut.

Repeat the last step with the top half of your template, this time adding a little more distance between the halfway line and the hem. (Mine was about 3".)

Because I was working with a non-felted sweater, I chose to serge the edges of each piece to keep them from unravelling. If you don't have a serger you could probably just zig zag along the edges instead. This step isn't necessary if you use a sweater that's good and felted, though.

Take your shorter back piece and place it wrong side up onto your template, matching the edges.

Place the longer back piece on top of this (also wrong side up) matching the edges with the paper template.
Pin the two pieces together where they overlap.
Stitch the two pieces together on each side.

Lay your back and front pieces together with right sides facing and pin.

Stitch all the way around, pausing where the hems on the back pieces are and taking some back stitches to reinforce them.
Turn your cover right side out through the gap in the back piece and slip it onto your water bottle.

In theory, this should help to keep the water in the bottle warm longer by providing some insulation, as well as making it more comfortable by keeping the rubber off your skin.

It's also much, much cuter this way. :)

Monday, February 1, 2010

a little project brewing

Have you ever been wandering the thrift store and thought to yourself, "Hm. I wonder if they have a such-n-such...?", then turned a corner and found that very such-n-such? That happens very infrequently, but tonight I got to experience that wonderful, giddy feeling that comes when it does happen.

I've been wanting a hot water bottle but just couldn't bring myself to shell out $15 for one from the drug store. And frankly, I've been too lazy and forgetful to really hunt down a good deal. Then tonight while I was dragging my kids through our local Savers I came to that little section with random stuff hanging on the wall, like slippers and stethoscopes and massagers and shoe trees. I actually said the words out loud, "I wonder if they might have a hot water bottle...?" and then my eyes rested on this.

It's an old one, but never used!
In fact, it was still bolted to the box.
It even has the 5 year Guarantee Certificate with it. Ha!
I looked all over for a manufacture date, but all I could find to indicate its age was this handwritten price of $2.98. How long ago would a brand new hot water bottle have cost $2.98??
Anyway, I'm stoked. The rubber is still very soft and supple, not hard or cracking like I kind of thought it would be. I've been wanting to get one because my kids often ask to use our hot rice bags for their achy legs, but sometimes waiting that 3 minutes for them to warm up in the microwave feels like an eternity. Turning on the hot water is much faster. I've also thought how nice it would be to be able to put some ice water in one of these water bottles for instant cold therapy.

But to tell you the truth, the real reason I wanted one was so I can make a cozy for it. :) I'd seen some knitted covers on Etsy that were just darling, but since I'm not a knitter I thought I'd try making one from thrifted, felted sweaters instead.

Or there's this idea which I just LOVE.

Aren't those gorgeous??

I think I'll try the sweater cover first. Can't wait to show you!