Saying Goodbye to November

My herbal wreaths have faded, and I’m sitting in a world of fog. I guess that means November is gone and winter is here in earnest.

We had five days without rain last month, so when the sun comes out That Golden Glow is greatly appreciated. I came down with a cold the week before Thanksgiving–just in time for Dad’s Weekend. But me and the MR still enjoyed seeing the girls and spending time together.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with my brother and his family and are learning to be gracious and share Sweet Miss with the Fella and his family. Baby Girl was home, and we binge watched Stranger Things rather than get our tree. We’re saving that for this weekend when finals are over and Baby Girl is home for a whole month.

Besides going through lots of kleenex, I did A Little Kitchen Organization and managed to redo some chairs for Sweet Miss with The Power of Fabric.

Speaking of fabric, I’ve been anxiously waiting for some Christmas PJ flannel I ordered over Thanksgiving weekend. It’s nice to get the sale price, but it’s hard to stay patient especially on a deadline.

Another bonus of not bringing out all the Christmas decorations on Thanksgiving weekend is being able to decorate in more manageable bits. Sometimes, it’s hard to stay festive when you’re surrounded by tons of boxes.

Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving with family and friends and looking forward to sharing the Christmas spirit with you.

 

 

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Pillow Talk

So once upon a time, ages ago, I recovered some pillows for our outide seating area, and then I promised you a tutorial. I bought some fabric and was totally ready to do it. And then I didn’t. Sweet Miss graduated from college, a year came and went, and I fell down on the job.

So thank you for waiting, and here’s a basic pillow tutorial.

First measure the pillow you’d like to cover. If it’s a down pillow form, you can use that exact measurement, if it’s fiberfill, add an inch.

Now you have to ask yourself permanent or seasonal? Do I want to shake things up on a regular basis or is this something I want to see forever (or at least for a good bit)?

If you want to change it up often, buttons are your friend. Zippers can also be quite useful, but we’re going to focus on buttons for today.

The pillows I wanted to cover were 20 inches square. So I grabbed my fabric, gave it a quick iron and cut out a 21-inch square in the diamond material.

For the polka-dotted gray, I cut a 21 x 27-inch rectangle. I know that doesn’t add up at all. Hold your horses. Now, you need to decide what you want. Are the buttons going to be a design element? Do you want it totally symmetrical, or do you want a band off to the side?

I wanted the buttons off to the side but looking intentional so not too far off to the side. After thinking it through, I cut a 7-inch piece off of one length. These two pieces would make up the back.

In home dec projects, the iron is your friend. This isn’t rocket science. I eyeballed about an inch, folded it under and pressed. Then folded again and pressed. I did this on both pieces of fabric making sure to use the adjacent ends.

Let’s move on to the sewing machine. Simply stitch the folded sides down close to the turned edge. Add a couple buttonholes or as many as the number of buttons you’d like to use on the smaller piece of fabric.

Over lap and stitch the top and bottom edges together being certain that the buttonholes are on the outer side.

Now if you’ve been doing your math along the way, you may have noticed that I added and extra 6 inches, but only folded under 2 on each side. If 2+2=4, that means I have an extra 2 inches. Yes you do, but let’s say you’re really bad at guestimating an inch and folded under 1 1/2-inches on each side, you’d have exactly the right amount. Now, if you turned under 1 5/8-inches on each side, suddenly you’d be scurrying around without enough fabric. This way you have a fudge factor. And in my imprecise world, it has come in handy more than once.

We’re almost there. Just face right sides together, and sew around the edge. Sew on your buttons and get ready for a quick and easy update.

Whether I feel like winter or summer, I’m set.

I didn’t use pillow forms, I just recoverd some old green feather pillows that the pin feathers kept poking out of.  I bought the fabric when Hancock’s was going out of business, so it was quite reasonable. For around $20, I added a little style and color to our couch.

How you do you like to update your sofa? Any sewing tips to share?

 

Magic Powder

Last week, I spent Friday morning at the Sewing Expo in Puyallup.  Me and a friend of mine have been attending for years. In the past we’ve been very organized, signed up for classes, and knew exactly what we wanted to see.  This was more of a wander and explore kind of day.

We were inspired by some very creative spring fashion shows and spent plenty of time checking out all the vendors.  We cut our day a little short so I could meet up with the MR and head on down to visit the girls.  Six dark, rainy, traffic-filled hours later, we were at our hotel, picking up the kids, and heading off for a late dinner.

The next morning, Baby Girl saw the giant, bright red shopping bag they’d handed out at the show and asked me what I was making; she knows her mother well.  Rummaging through the bag, she admired my summer top pattern—I’m going to try my hand at mixing prints—and wondered about the rest of the stuff.

That’s when I told her about the “Magic Powder”.  It fixes rips and tears; you can use it for hems, basting, applique, and much more.  The lady demoing it made gashes in beautiful fabric simply disappear.  I knew Baby Girl had a pair of jeans in need of some help, but I’d forgotten about Sweet Miss’ horrible day when her favorite jeans ripped and the zipper broke on a matching pair (cause if you actually find a pair of jeans that fits and looks good, you have to buy another).

Before we left for home on Sunday, Sweet Miss ran out with her jeans ready for fixing.  So yesterday, I gave it a try.

Since I bought my  magic powder at the show, I got a special deal: a jumbo size bottle, a large silicone pressing sheet, vinyl repair goo, and a DVD for just $25.  So did I watch the DVD so I’d know exactly what I was doing?  Uhh, no; that might have been the smartest thing, but who cares about directions?

I started with Sweet Miss jeans, since the tears were in less obvious places.

MP SM Jeans before

It was simply a matter of sprinkling the areas with powder, applying patches, covering them with the silicone mat, and ironing on high.

MP Repair Collage

And how did it all turn out you ask?  Not perfect, but much better.

MP SW Jeans After

Perhaps trimming the frayed denim would have made the patch less obvious.  I tried sprinkling a little of the powder on the outside to get a smoother surface, but that made the area a little shiny and a slightly different color.

Unphased, I moved on to Baby Girl’s jeans with a large tear near the zipper.  I trimmed away the white frayed threads, cut up some denim threads in a matching color, mixed them with powder, and placed them in the ripped area.  Then it was a matter of repeating the process I used for the first pair of jeans.  I sprinkled, covered with a patch and then the protective sheet, and then ironed on high.

MP BG Jean Collage

Here’s the finished product.

IMG_2548

Again, not perfect; the lady at the show isn’t going to lose her job any time soon.  But neither of these jeans were wearable before, and now they’ll pass.  I’m tempted to add a little zig-zig to smooth them down; we’ll wait and see.

Of course my two biggest critics are still at school for a couple more weeks.  Good luck with finals girls; I hope I’ve passed the test.

Have you had luck with any special deals from the fair or festivals? Are you intrigued by those late night tv deals?

(Contrary to popular belief, this really isn’t magic powder it’s Bo-Nash Fuse It Powder.  It’s a mouthful, and I think my name is more catchy while less descriptive.  Fusible Powder is available online, at Walmart, Joann’s, Amazon, but it’s more fun to buy it at the Sewing Expo with your buddy.)

 

 

A Pop of Color

For a place we spend countless hours, we’ve neglected the deck horribly. Me and the MR can be found most afternoons watching the sun set and catching up on our days.

With such a lovely view, I haven’t bothered with adding much of anything. OK, let’s be real, the deck has required crazy amounts of time, money, work, and energy, but that’s all just been maintenance. The MR spent hours power washing it a few weeks ago, we’ve had the lower deck rebuilt, and Papa Larry spent endless hours sanding the railings before the MR could paint them that first summer. Last fall, the MR added an outside heater so we could spend more time on the deck during the cold months. So yes, we’ve worked on them (mostly the MR), but we haven’t done anything to make them look pretty.

We set up some old faux wicker chairs and a weathered table next to the outside heater and called it good. But the table was too small for wine glasses and a cheese plate and the top was peeling off–not the most attractive look. I figured this area needed some TLC.

So last month when we were on vacation, I took time to check out all those emails from online stores and came across a couple things I thought would be perfect for the deck. I bought an herb garden in lime green–one of our accent colors for spring and summer.

Herb Garden

Somehow, I didn’t think things through. Perhaps green, on green, on green isn’t the most visually stimulating. Some white stripes or polka-dots would break up the color, but I should have thought of that before I planted the herbs. Oh well, there’s always next year. I was hoping that the two-tier rack would keep the plants from being blown away. The tin pots were also a bonus in that if they do get knocked around in the wind, they won’t break.

But that wasn’t my only find. I also ordered a funky, curvy table and some outdoor fabric to recover the chair cushions. They were getting quite faded after years of sunshine.

Deck Chairs

 

Yes, yes, I know. I only have one cushion done. Well, the MR came home from work, and rather than neglecting him, I joined him on the deck. I think he appreciates those kinds of gestures.

My plan was to whip up the other cushion lickety-split this morning. But have you seen what kind of day it is? Gorgeous! Me and my buddy took our dogs walking on the trail down in the valley.

On a clear day, this is my view as I’m making Baby Girl’s lunch.

Kitchen View

With a view like that, it’s amazing that I get anything done. I know the mountain seems far away (it is almost 100 miles), but I feel like it’s right in my backyard putting on a show just for me.

Mt Rainer Zoom

I grew up south of Seattle, and I do love Mount Rainier.

Now back to sewing; recovering the cushions was a very simple task.

  1. Removed the old cushion cover and trace the foam insert on the outdoor fabric.
  2. Cut out two of these for each cushion
  3. Cut a strip of fabric the depth of your cushion and the length of the diameter leaving a little extra length for leeway. (For my cushion I cut a 3-inch-wide strip the length of my fabric.)
  4. Press under 1/2-inch on one of the short ends–this is the end you will start with when sewing to the cushion top or bottom.
  5. Use a disappearing fabric pen to mark corners on cushion top and bottom and both sides of strip.
  6. Sew strip to one side easing the fabric in place.
  7. Sew strip to other side aligning markings and leaving a generous opening in the back.
  8. Stuff in your form, and sew up the opening.

I decided not to use welting, since the fabric has a large botanical print and might become overly busy. With outdoor fabric, I’m hoping these will wear well and not fade. I guess we’ll wait and see.

 

 

How are you adding color to your outdoor spaces? Sewing anything lately?

April In Review

Happy May Day! OK, so I’m a day late, but with the way time is flying by, I’m sure you’ll forgive me.

I took the first week of April off; I told you it was Time for a Break what with heading to Spokane for volleyball and trying to keep up with my girls. I didn’t mention that I was also headed to Hawaii–the MR doesn’t like for me to advertise when we’re off on our adventures. I showed you an amazing stage coach we saw on our way home.

Wild Horses

I saw a bunch of giant, metal roosters at an antique shop last weekend, but neither of these seem quite right for the meadow. I do believe it’s crying out for some kind of statement piece. We just have to discover what that is.

Home Again from eight days on Kauai, we found the feel of spring all around us.

Plumeria

That’s when I received an email from our contractor. Not only did he want to redo all of our floors the next week rather than breaking up the project, but he was ready to show up on Monday instead of Tuesday. When your facing jet lag, laundry, being gone for 12 days, and getting everything off the tile floors,Chaos Reigns. I wasn’t the only one losing it with our house in total disorder.

My PosseI was so naive. The house got so much worse before it got better. Let’s just say blogging takes a hit when your computer looks like this.Where I writeOh, but it was all worth it. I was a little hesitant at first. I loved the new floors, but… There’s something so peaceful in getting rid of all those ugly grout lines and hideous mauve tile. I am happy and at peace.

Kitchen B&A Collage

We still have one issue with the floors. The edges don’t quite make a clean line. The MR thinks gray caulk along the baseboards could be the answer. I’ll have to let you know on that one.

And what was I doing while I needed to be on hand to approve colors, texture, and movement? I was in the sewing room with the space heater on full blast getting my stuff together. I was amazed at the number of half-done projects I came across.

It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask for help now and then. Asking a few questions led to a new peg board to organize my things in an oh-so pretty and cheery fashion.

New Decorated Peg BoardAll that organizing got me motivated. I made dog beds in Getting Comfortable and some sweet pillows in Bringing Spring Indoors. I also found half a baby blanket that’s looking a lot more whole these days. I don’t know anyone who’s expecting at the moment, but people just keep having babies–it’s just a matter of time.

 

Finished Bird Pillow closerWhile we’ve had a lot of rain–after all it is April–we’ve also enjoyed some beautiful, sunny days. That means it’s time to head outside. In Spring Clearing and Planting, the MR took down a big clump of trees on the drain field, and we planted the kitchen garden. A few weeks later, in Blossoms and Bluster, I was able to show success in the garden. The spinach, and beets were up. Today when I was checking progress, the potatoes were beginning to pop up. I’m hoping this will be a better year than last.

I was so caught up in the beauty of the apple blossoms, that I started writing all sorts of flowery stuff.

Blossoms & Sky

 

Maybe that’s why I forgot to share the bluster part of the post. Two weeks ago, the MR slept in and didn’t leave till after I was up. As he was kissing me goodbye, I worriedly asked what that dripping sound was. He assured me it was the coffee, but I said it was coming from the other direction. With a little investigation, we found that my favorite chair was sopping wet and the ceiling had sprung a leak next to the exhaust fan.

The MR–good guy that he is–was up on the roof in the pouring rain caulking around the fan. That afternoon, during a break in the clouds, he was back home with roof-patch to fix the problem. I’m so glad that he just happened to sleep in. Otherwise, I’d have been listening to the drip, drip, drip of the rain in my living room all day long. Come to think of it, he was probably glad, too. Who wants to face a wife driven crazy by constant dripping?

And now we’re ready for a jam-packed weekend of fun. Baby Girl is hard at work at the FFA plant sale Friday and Saturday, the MR is recovering from his work trip to Iceland, and I’m headed off to Oregon State to visit Sweet Miss for Mom’s Weekend. I get to watch her sing and dance, meet her friends and roommates, visit her sorority, and experience college life for a few days. And if that isn’t enough excitement for one weekend, we’re all meeting back up on Sunday to celebrate the marriage of my niece Lilly to her fiance Scott.

Monday might be a good day to sleep in.

Hope you’re April was filled with fun excitement, joy, love, family, work, and play. There’s nothing like a wedding to make you thankful for your spouse and the love God has given you. Hope you have a great weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

Bringing Spring Indoors

It’s amazing how a little color can change the whole mood of a room. While I haven’t pulled out all my spring and summer decor, I did manage to add some color and whimsy to the pillows.

If you’ve been following along for a while, you know that I’ve been searching for fabric for the entry benches for forever. I’ve looked at greens and grays and golds, but nothing seemed quite right. I decided a trip to one of our local independent stores (Pacific Fabrics and Crafts) might be the answer.

Well, they had lots of beautiful fabrics, but the bench fabric still eluded me. But I did see some really cute, cheery fabric with birds and birdhouses, cherries and branches. It was whimsical and fun and totally wrong for the benches, so I passed it up and kept looking.

Sometimes when something speaks to your heart, you just have to get it. Sure enough, a few weeks later, I was back to buy a little fabric that wasn’t modern or sleek or big, white house-ish. But it spoke to me of spring–kind of like Baby Girl’s Easter bouquet.

Easter Bouquet

I decided to give it a little edge by adding black trim, and that’s where things sat for a few months.

Spring Fabric with Black Trim

You see the beige background had just a hint of pink and none of the material I had on hand would work. I’d bought enough fabric to use for both sides, but I was hoping for a little extra, because I had something else in mind. So like I said, it all just sat in the sewing room while I waited for inspiration.

Then it hit me. If you don’t like the right-side, maybe the wrong-side will do. I have tons of old curtains from our last house that are just waiting to become something fabulous. While gold diamonds certainly wouldn’t work, the backside was creamy, marbled, a little iridescent, and just about perfect.

Two sides of back

 

I like making pocket pillow covers, since you don’t have to pay for a zipper, they don’t require hand-sewing, and the pillow form slips in easily. I’ve been following Celebrate Creativity for a month or two. She has some really wonderful ideas and recently showcased a Jacobean pillow with gorgeous embroidery on one side and just a little something-something on the other (check it out here).

I wasn’t up for any embroidery, but I did think a thick black band on the back of the pillow would add a little pizzazz. I had some fabric leftover from Baby Girl’s Halloween costume ages ago and decided it had just the right amount of sheen.

I cut a three inch strip, sewed the right-side of the black fabric to the wrong-side of the back of the pillow, and then ironed it flat.

Creating Back Band 2

Then I flipped the freshly ironed fabric to the right-side, folded the strip of black in half on itself, ironed it, and then folded it over again and sewed it into place. I’d love to show you photos, but somehow I forgot to take any after the first step. I hope it all makes sense. Since the black fabric was lighter weight than the drapery fabric, I didn’t want it to stand on its own at the edge.

For the front of the pillow, I used a zipper foot to attach the trim to the birdy tapestry.

Applying Trim 3

 

Then you just make a sandwich with right-sides together of the front of the pillow and the two overlapping pieces of the back. After sewing around the outside, clip the corners (to give them a sharper point), and turn the whole thing right-side out.

If it looks good, stuff the pillow, and you’re good to go. I turned the smaller half of the back wrong-side out again, slipped in the pillow, and then flipped it all right-side out–easy as can be.

Stuffing the Pillow 2Now let’s just take a look of my lovely new pillow in place.

Finished Bird Pillow closer

If one’s good, two must be better, so I actually made two of these lovelies. Baby Girl was on the couch, so you’ll have to just take my word for it. And I know you’re dying to find out how the back of the pillow turned out.

Back Band Surprise

It reminds me of the tuxedo stripe down a pant leg; I’m rather in love. If the front-side of the pillow winds up getting rumpled, I’ll had a few snaps along the band to keep everything in place.

And since I was in the sewing mood, I decided to finish up one of my old projects. I have a green, leaf-motif scarf that I love the texture and pattern of. A few years ago, I decided to make up “mini” scarves to decorate a pillow. Once the scarves were made, the project kind of got side-tracked. Are you noticing a pattern?

I ran across the scarves when I was trapped in the sewing room with the dogs a few weeks ago. I decided it was a really great idea and that I’d finish up that pillow. I have plenty of old drapes, so I hand-sewed the mini scarves to a piece of fabric and sewed on a matching back. Unfortunately, I was off on my measurements, so the pillow wasn’t fitting nicely. I used my machine to add a band of faux-suede to the bottom and hand-sewed it closed. It’s not quite how I imagined it, but maybe it’s just a wee bit better.

Leaf Scarf Trim Pillow 2

I love the texture of that crochet pattern. A new pillow or two can add so much brightness and light and just pull a space together. Laundry baskets on the dining room table on the other hand don’t do the trick as well.

More Spring Pillows

OK, so it’s morning, Baby Girl has vacated the couch, so here’s one last look at the my sweet little bird pillows.

Pillows 005

What are you sewing up? Adding any springtime whimsy to your home?

 

 

Getting Comfortable

Pets–you gotta love ’em. Our dogs bring joy and laughter to our lives; they’re always up for a good run or a game of fetch. BUT–there’s always a but–these dogs drive me crazy.

Cocoa looks all sweet and innocent, snoozing on the chair, but that puppy likes to chew.

Cocoa

 

In order to keep our house from sustaining damage, the dogs have been relegated to the laundry room when we’re gone and at night. While fewer pillows have been chewed up, our clothes have taken a bit of a beating.

I wasn’t surprised to find chewed up socks and underwear, but Cocoa got bored with that and decided to redesign the MR jeans.

Jeans

Apparently, that Levi’s patch is overdone, and a few bite marks at the waistband are all the rage. In order to save our wardrobe, I came up with a plan. I would make dog beds and tie chew sticks to them. Our sweet little dogs would be so busy with their treats that they wouldn’t have time to bother with our clothes.

I had all the supplies, a few of the girls’ old comforters, some fabric that I bought for curtains that were never meant to be, and some rope for the trim.

Bogart approved whole-heartedly. He even deigned to test out the cushy-ness factor for me.

Bogart and blankets

I was excited since i had two rather undiscriminating clients, I figured I could try out some new techniques. I’d seen some cute napkins with mitered hems–very professional looking–so I decided to try it out on the dogs. What are they going to do if my corners are wonky? They’ve been known to eat garbage; I don’t think they’ll complain.

Well, it all went swimmingly. Celebrate Creativity has a super, simple tutorial (you can check out here). I just made my “napkins” more like dog-bed-size. When I had two finished “napkins”, I put them wrong-sides together, sewed around three sides (about an inch-and-a-half from the edge), and made some buttonholes on the fourth. Then it was just a matter of tacking the edges together every so often, running the cord through, and adding little chew treats.

So how did it turn out? I finished in the middle of the afternoon, stuck the new dog bed in the laundry room, started dinner, and realized I’d forgotten to take any photos. What was I thinking?

Torn up trim 2

I guess they enjoyed it. The chew element didn’t really work out, but at least they wound up with a cozy pair of beds to lie on. And if you run out other things to chew, there’s always the corner of your bed, the stuffing, or even your buddy’s ear–Cocoa has a problem.

Dog Beds

The dogs can usually be found sitting on their beds when I get ready to leave, so I think they like them even without treats.

One little tip in case you decide to make dog beds or napkins, I cut a piece of cardboard to one inch in width to use as a guide while I was ironing. I imagine it would also come in handy if you were making a dozen napkins.

Cardboard measure

 

And by the by, guess whose sewing machine repair shop just called? I’m thinking more projects are just around the corner.

What have you been making? How do you keep your dogs from chewing up the world?

(OK, so I’ve been messing with my theme for the blog (how it looks). After two years, it was time for something new, but the theme I used on Wednesday was just too hard to read. I hope you like the new one. It might be another two years before I get the courage to shake things up again.)