Making Our House More "Ours"

  Something has shifted lately.  I’m not sure what exactly caused the change, but for whatever reason, the Mr and I finally got to a point where it clicked that, hey, this is our house, we can do whatever we want with it.  We aren’t going to have to repaint the walls back to rental-white or worry about a security deposit…we aren’t going anywhere.

  …so lets have some fun, huh?

  Our first project was putting up a canopy in our bedroom.

  Before we lived in this house we had always had a four poster bed.  We both loved the look of it, and were rather dismayed to find upon moving in that there was absolutely no way to get it up to our bedroom.  Apparently in the 1920s when our house was built, they weren’t much worried about getting box springs any bigger than a twin upstairs.  So, a platform bed became our best option, and while upgrading from the 4-poster’s full-size to a queen has definitely been the way to go, we both felt like our room was missing something.

  I wish I could get slightly better/wider pictures of the end result, but unfortunately, anywhere further back, I wind up with walls in my way.

  G loooooooves the new canopy.  At least twice a week since we’ve put it up he has begged to be allowed to pull all the curtains shut and play in our “fort”.  We both love it too.  It has completely changed the feel of our bedroom.  I wound up moving several pieces of furniture out to account for the visual space the canopy takes up, and the end result is fabulous.  It feels airy and luxurious…and we’ve stopped smacking our knees on the corner of the bed that blended into the floor just a little too well.

  To make the canopy, my Mr. drilled holes in our ceiling and affixed rings.  They’re, uhm, rather more robust than we needed in the end, but our plans for the canopy changed several times during the process.  We had originally planned on some sort of piping to fit through the eyes, but realized that we already had a cable system we had bought for G’s bedroom (that didn’t work in there) which would present far fewer logistical problems and used that instead.  A metal cable got threaded through (no worrying about how to turn the corners!) and I hung some Ikea curtains from it using small clips.

  I was very pleased to find the curtains I did.  I was fairly certain I was going to have to head to Haberman’s and, needing 16 yards of fabric, sell them (at least) one of my children to get something I didn’t hate.  I did the math and to beat the price of these I’d have had to have found fabric that was less than $4 a yard or something ridiculous like that.  Seeing as most of the stuff I like tends to be more like $20 a yard…  I do need to do some sewing work to get these exactly where I want them.  There are two curtains on each “post” at the foot of the bed and I want to french seam them together so there’s not a weird opening at the corner.  I also want to remove the tabs at the top (since I’m not using them) and hem the whole thing to a better length.  Not a high priority though, so it’ll probably wait for a good long time before I get to it.  We also have to redo lighting in the room to make it less awkward in relation to the new curtains…but that will probably be an even longer time.

  Our second project is rather more eccentric.

  If you follow me on Facebook you already know I’ve been doing aerial for the last few months.

  It’s incredibly fun, and a crazy hard workout, and I’m a little addicted.  I dragged the Mr. to a conditioning class back in November, and he got hooked too and has been doing trapeze classes.

  I had joked with the Mr. after I’d started that I was going to make him set up a climbing gym for me at home, and after he got into it himself…well…he started thinking about it seriously.  Now, we’re not completely insane, so it’s not like we’re going to be practicing tricks like I’m doing in the pictures above at home, but a big part of hitting a wall and not being able to learn new tricks at the gym is that my hands and arms just get so fatigued I can’t hold myself up on the silks by the end of my class.  Enter this:

  Yup.  What’s up climbing rope in my stairwell.  …told you we’d decided it was time for fun.
  So before you start giving me too much side eye thinking I’ve gone entirely batty, this isn’t in the middle of my house.  Again, our house being so old, it has some unusual features.  Most houses have the stairs to the basement nested underneath the stairs to the upstairs, so there really isn’t all that much height in the stairwell unless it’s leading to your upper story.  …I didn’t really want a giant, rainbow-colored, rope-climbing gym hanging out where it was highly visible from my dining room.  But, our house must have originally only had external access to the basement, because our basement stairwell is entirely separate from the rest of the house…tacked on to the back, nice and out of view.  That means we have a crazy high ceiling just begging for a rope to climb.
  Now, I didn’t know this, but according to the Mr, ceilings aren’t really designed to support much weight.  I had it in my head we could just find a cross beam, drill an eyelet into it and start climbing.  Apparently I’d have pulled the ceiling down on my head.  What he did instead, was to attach 2x4s across our walls into the studs (which not only support the walls, but also the ceiling) and then brace a beam across those.  … he then tested it up to something ridiculous like 600 lbs to make sure it was safe.  …there’s a reason I don’t do these projects without him.
  So now we’re just in the process of figuring out what to do for fall padding.  Like I said, neither of us is interested in doing anything much more complex than climbing and strengthening our hands and arms, but it is a cement floored set of stairs we’d be falling onto if something went wrong.  In the meantime, we’re sticking to low-height exercises.
  …so does your treadmill look really boring yet or what?

Festive Flamingos?

  Well, I haven’t done a whole heck of a lot of sewing this week.  Most of my time has been occupied by moving everything up onto shelves in the office, cleaning to prepare for our yearly pre-Thanksgiving get together and dealing with a bit of a grumpy preschooler thanks to a bug that cut him down to size for a day.

  That being said, I did stitch this little guy up:

  I joined Aunt Peaches’ Flamingo Ornament Exchange because, well, why not?  My tree is pretty well populated with birds, so a flamingo certainly wasn’t going to be an off-the-wall addition and it seemed like a quick, fun project.
  To get the basic shape, I did a google search for flamingos, cut the body out of a pink cotton I had some scraps of and tossed in some ribbon for legs and a hang tag when I sewed it up.  I stuffed the body (easier said than done with that long skinny neck!) and stitched it shut.  The beak got wrapped in black and white felt to really pin down that “flamingo” feel and then I went nuts with the beads and sequins.
  I’m terrible about getting to the post office, so hopefully I’ll remember to do it in the next few days so this critter can be sent off to his new home!

Customizing Photographs for Artwork

  In the year and a half since I wrote this post about sewing fuzzy pillow shams for my bedroom I’ve officially done nothing in there.  I am a model of decorating diligence and dedication.  You’d think I’d gotten pregnant, moved my sewing studio and had a baby or something…
  Anyhow, you may have noticed in the original shot that I have this print hanging on the wall by our bed:
  I love that particular painting, and the colors are absolutely perfect for our room…but I somewhat hesitate to use well known pieces of art in our home for fear of ending up with the “high end dorm room” look, where everybody had their framed poster of Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss”.
  So I’ve been working to create my own piece with a similar feel.  Here’s what I’ve created so far:
  And here is the original photograph I started with:
  It’s not quite to where I’m happy with it yet.  I’m going to want it like 2’x3′ for over the head of the bed and I’m just not sure it won’t look goofy at the moment, but it’s a good start.
  To make the changes, using Photoshop, I first adjusted the color of the sky using Image/Adjustments/Selective Color and then adjusting the Cyan and Blue levels to appear more turquoise.  Next I created a new layer and applied a Diffuse Glow filter (in Filter/Distort) to crank up the whites of the flowers, clouds and the highlights on the branches and adjusted the opacity to make it a subtle glow instead of an entire washing out.
  Finally I created another layer and applied a Poster Edge (Filter/Artistic) filter, doing the same messing-with-the-opacity to get it where I wanted it.
  As I said, I haven’t quite gotten it where I want it yet, so most likely it’s going to be a situation where this is a work in progress for years as well (so dedicated), but I’m at least headed in the right direction!
  I know I sort of glossed over the exact details of how I’ve done this, so if you have any specific questions about how I’ve done this, please leave me a comment!

Ship Captain’s Duvet Cover

  Just in time for summer, I’ve finished G’s nice, warm duvet cover.  My timing is impeccable.  

  Ah well, my sweet little mariner refuses to sleep without a half dozen blankets piled on top of him regardless of the weather, and he seems quite taken with the new cover.

  There is still plenty to do in his room, but finishing the cover is a huge step towards bringing everything together visually.
  I’m not big on quilting, so I knew I didn’t want to do anything particularly complicated, but I didn’t really want to do just a single color either
  I started with a central square of blue, pin-striped linen that I cut to just a hair wider than the top of the mattress.  I wanted to make sure that the break between the top of the comforter and the parts falling down the sides wasn’t awkward.  Next I added a frame of the cream colored canvas I used to upholster the glider in his room, making the top and bottom strips somewhat wider than the side bands.  Next came a thin band of the linen.  Finally I used the slightly darker canvas from his curtains to fill out the remaining distance to the edge of the cover.  (Click here for a laid-out-flat picture of the layout)  The difference between the colors in the two cream fabrics is subtle, but the slight variation in color and texture adds a nice richness to the finished cover, and repeating the same fabrics from other parts of the room gives things a nice cohesiveness.  As always, I added ties to the inside corners to keep everything in place.
  At some point I’ll probably want to add some buttons to the bottom of the cover to keep it shut, but I ran out of time, and seeing as that end is tucked into the end of the bed anyhow, I’m not too worried about it.
  I’m quite happy with how it turned out.  It sits how I hoped it would on the bed and I think it will be something that will be able to grow with him.  Plus, the fabrics should all get softer and softer every time they’re washed.  Now I just need to find some artwork for him and keep making fish!

G’s Duvet Cover- A Work In Progress

  Apologies for the missed post yesterday, I seem to have defied the usual logic of illness and come down with the flu in 90 degree weather.  I collapsed into bed and entirely forgot about writing up a recipe.  That being said, I don’t want to leave you without a post two days in a row!  I don’t have a finished project, but I’ve completed a substantial amount of work on the duvet cover for G’s big boy bed.

  The blue is a pin-striped washed linen (I thought I’d embrace the rumpled, wrinkled look that I’m sure my little boy’s bed will have anyhow), the inner ring of cream is the same fabric as I used to upholster his glider and the outer ring of cream (yet to be attached) and the backing will be the same canvas as I made his curtains out of.  They’re similar, but the curtain canvas is slightly darker and a lot heavier.
  If I get this done by next week is probably going to depend on how quickly this illness runs its course.  There’s not a ton left, so I certainly hope I’ll be able to show you a finished project!

How to Sew Your Own Pillowcase

  We’ve been really lucky with how G has adjusted to the new baby.  Having heard lots of horror stories of parents who can’t leave their children alone in the same room together for fear of the elder pinching or trying to smother the baby, I was prepared for the worst.  I won’t say that we haven’t seen some behavior backlash in the wake of the birth, but it has all been directed at us.  
  G loves R, to an almost comically possessive degree.
  One of the things that I think has probably helped keep G from feeling resentful towards R is that we’ve involved him in absolutely everything to do with the baby that’s possible.  He helps us give R his bath, helps change his diaper, re-covers him with his blanket in his swing if he kicks it off and almost always comes with me when it’s time for me to nurse R.
  Obviously, there’s only so exciting that can be for a little boy, so he has made up games to play while R eats.  His favorite is to make a nest of blankets and pillows on the floor and put his stuffed animals “to bed”.  This game has led to a voracious appetite for pillows, which led to some conflict over the one pillow I needed to support my back while nursing.
  Rather than have a constant turf-battle with him, I decided to make a “special” pillow for his favorite stuffed animal, Clifford.
  We happened to have a small travel pillow that had been kicking around that had seen better days.  Somebody (*cough, cough* G) had spilled hot cocoa all over it, and it had fallen out of favor.  A new pillowcase was just the answer.
  I dragged him into the office, pulled out all of my cottons that were large enough for the project and told him to pick two.
  Kudos to you if you recognize the bright green as the edging on his owl pant pockets.
  This is a super fast project, and obviously there is no reason you can’t make full sized pillow cases the same way.
  Here’s what you need:
Travel pillow sized case
1-16.5″x 25.5″ piece of fabric (body)
1-8.5″ x 25.5″ piece of fabric (edge)
coordinating thread
Bed sized pillowcase
1-27″ x 37.5″ piece of fabric (body)
1-8.5″ x 37.5″ (edge)*
coordinating thread
*notice that I gave my travel pillow a proportionally wider edge than a “professional” pillowcase.  If you want a wider, floppier edge on your big case, you’ll need to increase the 8.5″ measurement a few inches.
I’ve used 1/4″ seam allowances since that’s what my serger creates.
  Start by folding your edge piece in half (wrong sides together) to make it long and skinny.  Your 8.5″ measurement should become 4.25″.  Iron it flat to set the crease.
  Placing your right sides together, pin the unfinished edge of your now-folded edge piece along your body fabric.  Obviously at this point your edge piece is all “right” sides, so just make sure you’ve got it facing the right side of your body piece.  Stitch the two together and press the seam flat.
  Fold your now-joined pieces in half placing right sides together.  For your travel pillow this will make your 25.5″ edge 12.75″ long and your bed sized pillow’s 37.5″ edge 18.75″ long.  Sew the bottom and side edges of your pillowcase.  Flip right-side out and iron.  You’re done!
  I don’t tend to make a lot of these, since most sheet sets come with their own pillowcases, but this is a great way to make something special for a child or to accent current bedding.  It’s a wonderful project for beginning sewers.
  If you have any questions about how these go together, please let me know and I’ll be happy to help!

Mobile Fish #2

  I mentioned in the comments last week…there might be a lot of these for a while.  Crafting and sewing time is rather at a premium with two little guys on my hands.  That means more posts about works in progress than finished projects for a little bit!

  I finished another fish for the mobile.
  This time I’m getting smart and keeping him hidden away so he doesn’t get co-opted into G’s growing army of stuffed animals.
  This fish’s nubby body and chubby little pot-belly are more in line with the idea I had to start with.  I’m also happier with the sequin and bead eyes I stitched on, instead of the buttons last week’s fishy had.
  The bulk of him is scraps left from my two-way stole, his face is the same as the first fish’s body and his fins and tail are pocket material from a pair of my Mr.’s jeans that had gotten worn out.
  I’m definitely missing having the time to complete bigger projects right now; the first 3 months or so of having a new baby made me totally batty last time too.  I have to admit though, these little quick projects are fun!

Fish Mobile- a work in progress

  Ever since I came across this pin on Pinterest, I’ve known I wanted to do something with similar fabric fish for G’s room.

  The long term plan is that when R is older (past the waking-in-the-night baby phase), we’ll build the boys some bunk beds and they can share a room…so I can move my sewing and office stuff into the nursery and we can once more have a guest room.  We’ll see if it works out that way or not.
  On top of the sea captain theme I was working towards in G’s room, I thought that fish would be doubly appropriate when both of them are in there, as BOTH my little boys are Pisces.  Obviously I need fish for my little fish boys!
  I’m pretty sure the fish in the picture are made out of old socks or sweaters.  I kind of love how cartoony and not at all realistic they are, but I didn’t have any old argyle socks kicking around, so I grabbed scrap material and eyeballed a pattern.
  This fish actually wound up a little too realistic for my taste, but G seems to be in love with it.  When I told him I planned to make him a mobile with lots of fish and hang it from his ceiling he looked at the fish, put his “thinking” face on and said “Well, ok, but will you make some fish that don’t go on the ceiling so I can play with them?”
  …so maybe Mr. Trout here will stay off the mobile and be kept as a stuffed animal and I’ll make the rest of the fish in more outlandishly colored fabrics.
  Like a school of lime green minnows.
  What do you think?

Decorating for fall, for essentially free

  You have to love it when Mother Nature decorates for you.  After all spring and summer working at the landscaping, it’s such a great feeling to sit back and watch the trees turn bright red, yellow and orange.  Yeah, they make a mess, but we like that “distressed” look around here.

  A great way to bring that fall feel to your home is to use the supplies that are already at your finger tips.  Leaves and sticks, acorns and pine cones are all in abundance at this time of year, so why not take advantage of them?
  I started by making a wire wreath core (I don’t know what they’re actually called) out of a wire hanger that had come home from the dry cleaner.
  Then I went out to my yard, grabbed a pile of sticks and broke them into somewhat even lengths.  I grabbed some yarn I had left over from an old project and some thin wire I had on hand and I was ready to start.
Wire cutters you need…needle nose pliers didn’t get used much
  I attached the sticks to the wire wreath by laying the end against one curve of the circle and then wrapping the small wire around both.  I found the BEST way to do it is to wrap the wire around your stick first, twist it shut (like you want to use the wire to hang the stick from the ceiling) and then wrap the remaining wire around the wreath before going around the stick again.
This takes a while.  Start with the big sticks and work to smaller
  When you’re done attaching all the sticks, it should look like this.  It’s not bad as is, but I didn’t like all the wire showing and wanted some more fall color, so I decided to wrap the portion attached to the wire in yarn.
…this takes a while too.  Not a quick project persay…
  The yarn winding is a little tricky, because it looks best if you wind it in between the branches to separate them out as you go, but I think the end result is worth it.
  Best part?  It didn’t cost me a single dime.  Even if you don’t have all the supplies, this is an incredibly low cost project.  I’m SURE you have at least one wire hanger you can sacrifice, sticks are free and yarn and jewelry wire are cheap, cheap, cheap.
  I’d love to see how it turns out if you make this!