Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sewing Reveal: Hand Cut Chenille Blanket for Baby Boy Reid

I can't get enough of these hand cut chenille baby blankets! This is the third one I've made and every time I gift one away, I think I need to make one to keep for myself.

This is the first blanket I've made for a boy, this time I went with a geometric patterned fabric.  Have to say, it was pretty awesome to not have to mark the rows out for stitching and just use the fabric itself as my guide.  My lines were super straight this time!

And I actually made my own bias tape binding this go round too! Whoot whoot!

I used the same red fabric for the binding as I used as the "backer" fabric that I place behind my cut chenille rows (but I leave it un-cut, so you can see hints of red peeking through).

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Free Printables - Step by step instructions to use & customize

For my homemade sugar scrub jars (the post making scrub and jars is here), I created these printables for my jars and am happy to share with you.   A pink version of the labels has also been added. 

You are able to edit all text to use these for your own party!


I used Avery's "Print to the Edge Round 2.5" diameter labels, 41462" on the jars so it will open with this sticker size layout as the default, but Avery's website will help you automatically update the layout so you can use any size Avery label.  How cool is that?

Because it must be said:
Feel free to use these files & layout for your personal use, but not for anything you might sell.


For the chevron label that I used on my jar's lid, 
click here for the blue version or here for the pink version and then follow the instructions below.

For the giraffe background ingredient label with the elephant, 
use this link for blue or click here for pink, and then follow the instructions (you will be able to remove and/or replace the elephant with the Avery web based software if you want).

A new web page that looks like this will open.

Click the download icon (circled in pink).

Note: Since this is an Avery file, you will not be able to open this file yet (and why a file preview will NOT show), this is all perfectly normal.


Save the file to your computer - be sure to make a mental note of the location you pick.  Surely I'm not the only one that can't find things right after I save them.  Which explains why my computer desktop is so cluttered.


Click the green button labeled "Open Project


Click the gray "Choose File" button.
And select the file we downloaded to your computer earlier.


The background graphics are included in the file you downloaded, but you can edit the text elements using the Avery program.

And when you're ready, just click the green "preview & print" button.  

To check your label alignment, Avery recommends printing on regular paper first, then holding behind your sheet of labels and holding up to the light to see if they line up.  You can actually make minor alignment adjustments on the "Preview & Print" section, just look for the gray button labeled "Printer Adjustments"

Viola! You are ready to pass out your very own jars with pretty labels.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sewing: Bias Yardage Calculator

Calculating the amount of fabric needed for your bias binding can be tedious.

I always have to look up sewing formulas and work out the math, usually while sitting in the car outside the fabric store.  By having a little excel worksheet here online, hopefully it'll make it that much faster next time.

Just enter the appropriate numbers in the 3 highlighted fields.

Calculations are based on the "Magical Math Formula" tutorial found at Sew4Home.  The math is the same as above, but a lady can go cross eyed trying to read through that and do the math on a small phone screen while sitting in the car. ;)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Winning at Craig's List - New Dresser & Nightstand

I finally have my own Craig's List success story! This pair of blue beauties are scheduled to be delivered this Sunday. I hope I'm not jinxing it, but I'm too excited to contain myself. 

The plan is for both to go in the guest room. The dresser will go on the wall opposite the bed. 

My friend K recently bought a steal of a baby change table that was still in stores for $200 more than what she paid. It served as a good reminder not to give up on CL. 

When searching for dressers, I was actually looking for a quality piece I could paint myself to use in the guest room. 
And when I stumbled across this one (already painted in a coordinating color!) I was so giddy I sent a text to the number right then and there. 

No response. For days! That's an eternity  to walk around with your fingers crossed. 

Just as I decided it wasn't meant to be,  I get a text that it IS still available. Yay! Turns out the seller does this as a weekend hobby, so she was just waiting to have free time. 
We chatted on the phone and she was absolutely super nice and friendly. She was even willing to wait for me to return from a scheduled trip out of town. I admit, it even crossed my mind to look into changing my flight if the seller couldn't wait.

Coincidently, my mom and step-dad arrive for a long weekend visit tomorrow, so while I wish they could use & enjoy the new furniture over the weekend, I'm glad they'll at least get to see what's in store for them on their next visit since it'll arrive the morning of their departure. 

And hubs? He's the best ever. He was driving while I chatted with the seller for the first time, only hearing half the call. When I hung up, it didn't even phase him. He just had this look with a grin that said, "what are you up to now?"  I shared what I had found on CL and how it was a great deal for furniture that was already painted the perfect color. I don't think he even asked what it looked like. Such a guy!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Pillow Shams for Guest Room

Finally stuffed the navy Schumacher Betwixt pillow shams and added them to the bed!  They've been sitting empty in the guest room patiently waiting for some attention, so I feel like I owe it to them. 

I love the shams, but not sure that I love how the bed is made. Thinking the pillows make too much of a triangle. Now that I look at it, I know why I don't like it... it reminds me of the pin set-up at a bowling alley. Argh! Not good. I will have to play with it more. Lots more! 

Walking into the guest room reminded me how much is still needed in there. It's so easy to forget until you have company coming!

Seriously haven't even started looking for something to hang above the bed, but when I see the room in a photo, I can see the glaring empty spot that is so easy to overlook in person. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Painting the Townhouse Gray

Eeeny meeeny miney mo! 
The colors look very different in the photo but it just shows how you can have five fabulous recommended colors and it's still a tough decision.


Since we've moved cities a few times, our first home has since became a rental.  The townhouse was originally painted in beige/cream color (called Ceyon) but we wanted to update it with a neutral gray to give it a more contemporary look.  Paint color and carpets would need to be picked out in person, so I flew down to check it out.  Eventually picked Sherwin Williams Amazing Gray paint (SW 7044)!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Guest Favor for Baby Shower ~ Homemade Sugar Scrub

A few weeks ago, I co-hosted a baby shower for a university friend who is due this August with an adorable baby boy!  The other hostess and I decided to give guests a sugar scrub because it was something we would want to take home ourselves.

Update for printable files and instructions: Click here to use this free printable for your event.  You can customize your text and label size to fit any Avery brand printer label.   Graphics are available in pink or blue.

Here's how I made these adorable little jars.

Grabbed the Ball 8 oz wide mouth mason jars at Target.

Filled the jars with Shaina's Ginger & Coconut Oil Sugar Scrub recipe.  As you can see from my photos, I extended the recipe a bit for the amount of baby shower guests. Plus, I could only find coconut oil in a tiny jar or a big jar, so I made the recipe to match the amount of coconut oil.  Where the recipe calls for essesial oil, I picked lemongrass.  And opted for non-comedogenic almond oil.  Organic ingredients were used whenever possible.
When I make this again, I would use more ginger than the recipe asks for because I love ginger and can never get enough.  It was fun to make, especially with a bottle of wine. Total Breaking Bad moment while "cooking" the scrub.

I've used the scrub myself and I really liked it.  My skin felt like it was naturally moisturized after it, not super oily - but the results were even more amazing in the winter when it can be difficult to moisturize enough.

Printed the jar labels using Avery's 2.5" round glossy labels.  I created the graphics and then uploaded them to Avery's Design & Print Online system.  While it was super easy to use and print from the Avery online layout (even allowing me to save a .pdf version), the graphics in their software were quite basic and disappointing.  The nursery has an animal theme, which is what we used as a basis for the baby shower, hence the elephant and giraffe print on the back ingredients label.  Awe!

EDIT TO ADD LABELS TEMPLATE (click here for more detailed instructions):  It's the first time I've made something like this,  so I'd love to hear any feedback!

Last step was to use the 3/8" ribbon to tie the bows.  I used about 22"-23" of ribbon on each jar (if that helps anyone calculate how much ribbon to buy) and the sheer ribbon I tried first, did not look nearly as nice as the grosgrain ribbon.
Tying a bow seems easy, but my first tries had them looking like my shoelaces, messy and not so precious.  Google-fu lead me to this super helpful tutorial on tying the perfect bow. Silly, but necessary.  And a quick flame to seal the ribbon's cut edges and viola, all done!
If you wanted to really get detailed, you might consider using a glue dot behind the bow to keep the ribbon attached to the lid.  It was easy to pop off which made tying the bows slight more time consuming because you have to be careful.

If my math is accurate, each jar cost about $5.65 each to make (but this includes the left over ribbon and extra labels, so maybe cheaper depending how many you make).  This project would make an excellent gift for Christmas.  Maybe made with a peppermint scrub?  Could use white sugar and dye a portion red for a candy cane stripped look in the jar?  Endless possibilities!

This was so fun to make, hope I remember the next time I need gift ideas!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Chinese Chippendale Chair Before & After

Found it! A Chinese Chippendale (bamboo) style chair has been added to the guest bedroom's desk this week.  Yay!
After searching and searching, style chair was either only sold in sets or was quite expensive (Jonathon Adler's version starts at $500).
One night, a forum poster on also suggested the Chinese Chippendale style for my Natura desk, so I thought I'd try looking just one more time. This time my google-fu stumbled on this chair being offered by One Kings Lane.  It was not the right color and I had been hoping to find a $10 Craig's List chair, BUT since it was the first reasonably priced chair I had seen that was not sold in pairs, I jumped on it.

Lessons Learned

  • Customizing the chair is as easy as "they" say!
    A little paint and fabric and the chair was my own style.  While it took time, the level of skill required was minimal.  I could see this chair being many different colors long into the future!
  • Painting with a brush works too.
    Since I am in a high-rise building, spray painting is not an option (sad face!).  If I hadn't already painted my dining chair legs, I would have been nervous about streaks and brush strokes, but those turned out really smooth.  And the chair looks great too!  No brush strokes at all.
  • Work fast with latex paint!
    The white high gloss paint dried so fast that I had to be extra careful not to go over recently painted sections. Attention had be taken to smooth out paint bumps or drips right away, since it might be too tacky to smooth out later.  With other paint types, I never had the hurry and do it right feeling like I did with this.  =)  One tip given to always keep a wet edge of paint when using latex.  Good advice.
  • Be strategic about the order you paint sections.
    The chair back took a lot of time to paint because of all the small nooks and angles, and a lot more touch up was necessary because it was really hard to get good paint coverage in certain spots.
    I found it worked best to start by painting a thin layer of paint on those difficult spots first, then paint the remainder of the chair and then go back to the difficult spots again.  By the time I worked my way to the trouble areas, the were dry enough for me to paint again. 

Materials Used for Chair Re-Vamp

  • White gloss latex paint (dried super fast, just needs 2 hrs between coats)
  • fine grit sand paper
  • 1 1/2" synthetic paint brush (had at home)
  • this chair needed 3 coats (minimum).  I bought an 8 oz paint can, and used less than half the can.  Since white isn't a saturated color, I would have been find with a sample size 4 oz container. 
  • About 3/4 of the yard of fabric I purchased at a local fabric store
  • Staple gun to secure fabric to seat (had at home)
  • Drop cloth to protect floors and collect dust from sanding
As I'm typing this list, I realized I only sanded my chair and didn't get paint with primer mix it (my usual method).  Ugh.  Fingers crossed it doesn't start to bubble or crack.  Regardless, I love my chair!

Guest bedroom 
The room is still a work in progress, still looking for
  • artwork for above the bed
  • navy euro shams (scheduled to ship this week)
  • nightstand or small chest of drawers for the side opposite the desk
  • large scale artwork for the wall opposite the bed.  Or maybe a dresser?
    Obviously a guest room doesn't really need a dresser, but I was thinking I could use 1/2 to stash some sewing goodies.  Ha!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Love a bag of rice!

It's all true - a bag zip lock bag of rice can save a phone! 

While showing my hubs an adorable video of my 2 year old cousin, the phone slipped out of my hand... and right into the glass of water below. It was a comedy of errors! I tried to shake out all the water. Immediately I knew the speaker had stopped working. Unfortunately I didn't know you are supposed to power off right away. I was still using it and "testing" to see how much had died. Then I googled what to do and followed directions to power off and seal the phone in a bag if rice. 
I could only stand to leave it for 36 hours, but it works perfectly now!!! Whew!!!

While we were out and about I realized how much I rely on my favorite apps. Last night I jumped into a taxi without even knowing the address of where I was going because I was just so used to always having it on my phone. Luckily the guy was in a good mood and let me wing it, "Um, drop me 4 blocks south of the X sculpture." What a mess!

And while hubs was sweet to oblige my "can I use your phone, real quick?" requests... His apps were different than mine and so unorganized. It made me miss my phone even more. He hasn't complained about the rearranging & organizing I did on his phone, so he must like it!  

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Swatches arrived. Change of Plans.

Good thing for swatches!  The plan for the guest bedroom has done an about face. 

The swatches showed me the room has too much cream and really doesn't need more. I really started to favor the two white based fabrics on the left. 

I still like the fabrics below, but not for this room. 

Then I fell for these gorgeous coordinating pink fabrics from Duralee (I think from the Fuchsia set). Aren't they great? Best price I saw was $35 a yard. Not good when I'd want at least 15 yards for the duvet & pillows. 

Then my friend J and myself fell in love with Schumacher fabrics (she was working on her master at the same time).  Of course Schumacher is "to the trade" only.  But I found a way to keep the orange & blue look that I liked by using Schumacher's Chiang Mai fabric (in the aquamarine color way). And since we lived in Shanghai, I thought the dragon would be a cheeky addition to our home. 

The look for the new bedding for the guest bed... Ta da!

I'm waiting for the Euro shams to arrive - I ordered in Schumacher's Betwixt in Navy with Ivory. It's an amazing woven. I The swatch works well against the new Cuddledown duvet I ordered in Sapphire.

And also waiting on these summer weight 600 thread count sheets with a navy stripe. 

Almost coming together into something real!!!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Next Project: Sewing a Duvet Cover

Haven't really liked the bedding in the guest bedroom ever since it returned from the storage time capsule - nearly TWO years ago. Gah.  That's a long time to keep something you really don't like, so one day I donated the bed set to Salvation Army to properly motivate me to take action.  I searched high and low for a duvet cover I loved with little results.
Then I found a duvet cover who's name we must not say, Volder-JonathonAdler-mort, that I lost on eBay at the very last minute.  I mean, I was already calling it mine and sent a photo to show off to a friend, then BAM blindsided by a new bidder when the clock was counting down with just SECONDS left.  Of course I tried to find the same one, but nada.  Sigh.  

And when you can't find what you want at the stores, the only answer is of course... CUSTOM.  

Right now I'm scheming a plan to make a queen size duvet cover for the guest bed.  Sometimes DIY makes my wheels spin too much because now the options are nearly limitless.  But still - I've been looking at fabrics for the duvet cover off and on for about 2 months.  Now it's April 25 and I have guests coming on May 16 and no duvet cover.  If I don't finish, it's okay, I have a quilt in the closet as my back-up plan.

The Premier Prints' Mandarin collection has some fabrics that I'm considering... #10 is from a different collection, so I ordered a sample of it and a few of the others.  Since most are light weight and a few are medium weight, I wanted to see the difference.  And check to see if #10 will coordinate with the others.

Duvet front: #10 if the teal matches the teal in the PP fabrics.  #11 as second choice.
duvet back: #7 if I can find the fabric (back ordered) or maybe dots on #9?? Or the chevron?
euro shams (2): Really like #2 chevron as for shams.  It's a medium weight fabric, so that might work.
accent pillow:  depends on everything else.  Ha! But #5 & #6 & #9 are top favorites for accent pillow.

In a perfect world, the chevron would come in teal, but their teal material has a white background instead of natural like the others.  No go.  Frustrating.  I see why people shop on Spoonflower.  

It's times like this that I wish I knew a store that carried trendy decor fabrics.  I ventured out to a HUGE fabric warehouse (3 stories!) earlier this week and was severely disappointed.  Their variety of notions were tempting, but after price checking on my phone (don't you love that technology can do that?!) I decided to pass.  

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sewing Reveal: Hand Cut Chenille Blanket

Ta da! Just finished this hand-cut chenille blanket for Baby D last weekend and it was a big hit with the parents-to-be at their baby shower.  Surprisingly, it only took about 3 and a half days to make.  I just adore the blanket's bright colors!

Here's the hand cut chenille baby blanket I made previously; both are based on the fabulous tutorial found over at Aesthetic Nest.  Be sure to take a look at the Flicker Group photos for inspiration.  One blanket added tiny pom pom trim around the binding.

Based on the registry, I knew the baby girl's bedding was going to be green and blue.  Hopefully it coordinates with her room, but regardless, I imagine Baby D will use this more as a play mat or stroller cover than anything else.

On the close up photo of the faux chenille side, you can see the layers of flannel material that are cut to create the super soft rows of wavy chenille.  It really is a cozy blanket.  The hubs even asked if it were possible to make an extra large blanket for him.

Baby Chenille Blanket Shopping List
◊ 1.5 yards of each fabric x 6 layers.  My finished blanket measured around 40" x 50"
◊ Two packages of 0.875 inch double fold quilt binding that were 3 yds each. (Next time make my own!)
◊ Matching thread - the chenille channels use a ton of thread.  I used a natural color thread for the top printed fabric and pink in my bobbin for the chenille side (green would have been the norm, but I was in a playful mood and I already had pink at home).
And get this, I completely forgot about needing teal thread for the binding BUT it turns out the thread I used for my split shower curtains was a perfect match!  Sometimes it pays to be forgetful.

The blanket's fabric in order:

1) Top printed paisley
2) Hot pink broadcloth 
3) Pastel pink flannel
4) Printed pink flannel w/ green butterflies (on sale!)
5) Printed green flannel w/white print (on sale!)
6) Solid green flannel 

Then I only cut the layers of flannel into the chenille rows, leaving the print and super bright pink.  I was a little nervous about using the pink with green butterflies, wondering if it would blend into the background enough.  I think it worked out great on this blanket - and at just $3/yd - can't beat it.
The bright pink fabric on the bottom of the stack is a broadcloth cotton/poly fabric that I used as a "backing" of sorts to pop behind the chenille rows.  Since I used the solid green flannel as the top most layer to make the chenille, I knew it would appear most prominently so I thought a high contract color like candy pink would look nice.  Plus the extra layer gives the blanket a little more heft since the top fabric is just your average light weight quilter's cotton.

This blanket was so fun to make - I'm already thinking about making the next one!  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sewing Reveal: Split Shower Curtain Drapes

Super excited to show off my new shower curtain panels!  These are functional shower curtains - and hung on just one shower curtain rod.  Yippee!

It felt so good to finish them and even better to finally have something hanging up in the bathroom.  It was impossible to get a decent photo, they're over 8 feet tall and in our smallest bathroom (no room to get a wide shot).

On the right is the batik art that started it all

Deciding on a Plan of Attack
Lining ready to be pinned
After I schemed the details out of what I wanted to make, I used Midwest Magnola's tutorial on sewing lined curtain panels.  After poking around a lot of sites, hers was by far the clearest.  If you can't tell, I respond to lots of photos, and she had photos of each step.  I measured my shower and decided I wanted each panel to measure 36" x 98".

For the Borders
I wanted the corners mitered, like how the points of a photo frame come together at the perfect angle.  The tutorial at Saltwater Quilts  helped get that done.  Once the border attached was attached, I just treated the it all like one piece of fabric for Midwest Magnola's instructions.

Then followed the tutorial's instructions for attaching the lining and finishing the bottom hem.

Finishing the Top Hem
I finished the top hem differently than the tutorial since I wasn't planning to use clip rings and was using a 5" hem.  I had read another tutorial that suggested an even bigger hem (as in 10-15" extra fabric, folded over).  But it seemed a bit excessive me and I was a little short on fabric so I improvised and sort of split the difference between the tutorials. 
  • Turned down the fabric 6" and pressed.  Then open.  That crease will the the top of the curtains when it's all done, so I inserted header tape here to give it more structure - you can sort of see the white strip showing through the lining in the photos below.  I just basted by hand to be at the very top of my hem once it's finished.
  • Then turn down fabric edge 1/2" and press, then turn again and press.  So you have a nice finished edge (like the photo on the right).
  • I tucked a stripe of witch stitchery, then sewed the folded edge and witch stitch.   


  • Ultimately I decided a tab backed panel was the way to go since I wanted to hide the shower rod.  Using grosgrain ribbon was the easiest, so I cut 7 "tabs" and spaced them out evenly.  I picked 7 to correlate with the number of holes on the plastic liner.  And rather than sewing them down flat, I used a spool of thread as a guide after seeing the tip here.  
  • This would be the time to sew the tabs on to the back most layer (in the right photo below, the tabs would be sewn to the section of material that is folded back).  By attaching to just the one single back layer, there won't be a ton of nasty stitches on the front.

  • Once the tabs are sewn on, just sew a straight line along the edge.  Or you can take the easy way, like me and use more witch stitchery.  Then iron accordingly.  
Viola!  All done.  Hang them up!

My hubs was super sweet and let me drag him out of bed (he was reading) to indulge me to go see them finished and hanging up.  You know that giddy feeling of finally finishing... I was bursting to show him the mess on the dining table was worth it.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Next Project: Shower Curtain Drapes

Pinterest is full of inspiration - but this time I decided to take action!   Current project is making "shower drapes" for our hall bath.  Our little batik art & towels coordinated well, but I could never find the right shower curtain.  The look of split shower curtains really caught my eye - check out the photos that inspired me below.

my existing towels and batik art

Plus, the lack of a shower curtain was really starting to bug - it was time for something to happen.

Loving the split look of extra tall "shower drapes" (the gray & white striped here).  
The style of the black & white bath with it's simple border and hidden hardware is perfect. 

my "sketch" of the shower curtain to match the towels

Planning the Layout
I toyed with a few ideas - but kept coming back to the simplicity of the edged border.  Plan was to hang the panels high enough to cover the hardware and emulate the look of ceiling mounted tracks (as in the black & white example above).  Finding just the right color of fabric available in BOTH colors became a challenge in itself, but JoAnn Fabrics online had exactly what I needed and lucky me, it was on sale.

Other layouts considered...

More Inspiration Photos...

Mid-century yellow & gray on HGTV
Atlanta Homes found on A Life's Design

Cornice Board DIY by Gus and Lula

Model home found by Beach Brights

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New Photos of Curtains Installed!

The draperies I had made in Shanghai have been up and installed since July, but am just now posting photos.  Oops!  In person they are a woven gray blend with a slight hint of blue, they take on all sorts of shades in these photos.

Installers hard at work!
Finding a Contractor
It took some shopping around to find a place that would actually follow-up on the work.  We'd sit and chat about what I needed, and they'd tell me to expect a call/email next week with the formal quote and the estimated start date.  And then - nothing!  It was sort of pathetic (and frustrating!) to see two of the more popular window treatment businesses operate like that.  

For a while I thought I might have to install them myself, but thank goodness my sanity came back and I found a terrific local company to install them.  
Freshly installed (typical: split centered on each window)

Installation Day
Due to the nature of the windows, we went with ceiling mounted aluminum tracks.  Watching the install made me appreciate the work that goes into it (and reaffirmed my decision to hire it out, ha!).  Plus I would have been way over my head with our concrete ceilings - the guys used a special drill and drill bit for the concrete.  

I was super excited they were able to install the 2 center panels to split open on the center of each window (typical) AND also be able to treat the corner windows as one; with the split at the two window's corner.  Not sure if that makes sense, but the photos show what I'm trying to say. 
Curtains opened across both windows

Mostly I was afraid the drapes would be too heavy to be in just two corners (they weigh ~75 lbs) but the installers used extra mounting brackets and spaced them closer together than a standard install to make it feasible. Big difference in my opinion and totally worth it!

Next Project...
Fabric wall on cloudy day 
It's funny to see the shelves in a photo (over by the left window), because it serves as a glaring reminder that I need to properly stage them, but I really don't like knick-knacks in general so it goes against all my instincts - hence the lack of anything being done about it.  Would love ideas on what to do with so many tiny shelves close together.  Just becomes such a low priority.
And I *really* need to find an over-sized painting for the left wall (not shown). Or maybe compose a "gallery wall" in the interim, but of course I'd rather have art. Heh heh.

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