Friday, September 28, 2012

If At First You Don't Succeed - Throw It Away and Start Over!!

Little Journey LOVES dinosaurs.  She knows the names of many of them.  Her favorite:  Brachiosaurus.  She attends a pre-school a couple days a week and they had show and tell featuring items starting with the letter "B".  She has a three foot long blow up Brachiosaurus that she was going to bring.  Coincidentally I made her a little play set with a dinosaur print fabric and an embroidered Brachiosaurus on it which she was able to wear that day.

When I saw this dinosaur print fabric I knew I had to make something out of it for Journey.  I used a turquoise linen blend for the capri pants, which does not require ironing.  I found some cute buttons to match.  You can find these button sets everywhere - JoAnn's, Wal-Mart, etc.  They come in little packets and they also have coordinated sets of buttons.  I have about 10 sets. 

This little outfit seemed simple enough, but once I got into it, it turned out to be more work than I wanted to spend on play clothes.  The sleeves and neck were finished with bias binding and there was a placket and buttons on the back. 

I already had the dinosaur applique design and had used it on something else and knew that it would stitch out nicely.  I used a 4 x 4 size and decided it was too small.  I tried to do the larger size over it but of course it didn't completely cover the 4x4.  Thankfully I had enough fabric to cut another front and start over.  The dinosaur turned out perfect this time.  I was busily sewing along and realized that I had managed to get a fold caught up in the serger knife and had cut into the fabric, front and back, at the top sleeve area.  What to do?  I SHOULD have thrown it out and started over, again, since I did have more print fabric, but I didn't want to go to the trouble of cutting, pressing, fusing stabilizer and interfacing, re-doing the applique, etc.  So I created more trouble for myself in the long run. 

I applied interfacing to the cut area, then fabric glue.  It was still noticeable.  I then decided to create a yoke to cover the cut.  That looked cute.  I added ric rac trim at the bottom of the raw edge of the yoke instead of seaming together the new yoke and the bottom of the top front (this came back to haunt me later).   I added some decorative stitches using embroidery thread. 

Next came the placket.  For whatever reason (operator error??) the placket didn't line up right, which of course I didn't realize until I was completely done and ready for buttonholes.  Oh well, no one would know unless they turn it inside out and examine it closely.

Auditioning Buttons
When I was ready to sew on the decorative buttons to the front yoke I realized in horror that a smidgen of the raw edge of the yoke was visible.  AHHHHHH!!!!  It was too late to throw it away now.  More decorative stitches and I was done.  I told Stephanie to wash it on delicate and use fabric glue if the thing doesn't hold up in the wash.

I absolutely HATE to scrap a project.  I will hold onto it until I get it done, even if it takes years.  I have a couple of not-quite-completed projects on the shelf right now.  My problem is I get so many things in the queue that I'm bored with them by the time I get around to working on them.  One of them - the oldest in the pile -  WILL be a Christmas present if it kills me this year.  Another is a project I was to complete for my sister, almost a  year ago.  She's probably either forgotten it or figures I will never get it done and has bought a replacement.  I need to work on my procrastination issues . . . maybe tomorrow.

This little outfit turned out cute, just don't look too close!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

My Drop Cloth Dining Room Curtains

I should change my blog name to "My Pinterest Inspired Life".  I absolutely LOVE pinterest.  It's like an on-line free magazine, with pictures and no ads.  I finally broke down and joined so I could keep up with all the pics and links I'm in love with.

If you search Drop Cloth on Pinterest you'll find scads of ideas, including curtains, upholstered headboards, upholstered furniture, pillows, and much more. 

The ceiling height in my dining room is 10 feet and the window is about 8 feet at the top so I needed long curtains.  After pricing the ones I liked, I realized it would cost a fortune to buy curtains/drapes.  I thought about buying fabric using a coupon, but that still would have been expensive, as I would have to buy the curtain fabric as well as a liner.  I found my solution on Pinterest - Drop Cloth Curtains!

I went to Harbor Freight and looked at their drop clothes first, but they were a funky color that I didn't like.  I then went to Lowes and they were perfect!  A light muslin color that works perfectly with my paint color (Sherwin Williams Relaxed Khaki).  They are 100% cotton, come hemmed on all sides, and cost about $10 each.  They're very heavy weight so they didn't need to be lined.  Since they did have a slight industrial (kerosene type) smell, I washed them first, then ironed them while damp.  They do have more than one size, but I got the 6x9, which was perfect for my window.

Marc installed the curtain rod and I used clip rings to attach the curtains.  Instead of hemming the excess length, I simply folded over the excess at the top and clipped it and it was done!  I used a scrap of the kitchen window fabric to make tie backs. 

This was the quickest and possibly cheapest project I think I've ever completed. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Burlap - It's Not for Everyone

I've seen lots of cute burlap projects on Pinterest but the truth is, who wants to recline on a scratchy burlap pillow?? Or eat dinner on a burlap table runner that smells like kerosene??

I made a fitted burlap table cloth for a work table that we used at farmers markets, and it served its purpose and looked homespun, but I certainly wouldn't want it in my house. I've tried washing it, and while that does get rid of the smell, it loses its body and ravels. 

Now that I have a round table all the table runners I made don't really work, so I wanted to make something new. I really like the look of burlap but just can't live with it.  Maybe there's a source of non-stinky, non ravelling burlap I haven't yet found, if so, somebody please let me know before the burlap craze ends so I can get in on it. 

Meanwhile, I found a table runner on Pinterest that had the homespun look that burlap gave, but was made with some other fabric.  It was a simple rectangle with a ruffle at each end. I duplicated this look using Osnaburg fabric, which really works for the home spun feel. I made two runners to cross in the center.  Osnaburg, according to Wikipedia, is "a kind of coarse, heavy linen or cotton used for such items as furnishings and sacks".  I've used it for kitchen towels also.  It's found in the muslin or utility fabric section at JoAnn's.  This picture shows just one runner.  Two seems like too much.  

I made this centerpiece using mostly stuff I already had. The rest of it came from Goodwill. All of the stuff I bought was brand new, still in the package, for a fraction of the price of new. I got a fall garland ($2.99), some fake pumpkins ($2.99), the wrought iron candle holder ($2.99) and the little LED votive candles ($1 each). This centerpiece idea came from YouTube. I wish I could remember the source - she had a lot of really great decorating ideas. In this case she recommended using a tray or platter so that you can easily pick up and move the whole centerpiece if you need the space for meals. I used the turkey platter that Liz made for me and started adding stuff from there.  I started by coiling up the garland to fit the platter, then put the large pumpkin on an inverted bowl covered with a scrap of fabric to raise it up just a little, added the candle holder, LED candles and tucked in pumpkins, large acorns, and extra leaves here and there.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Chevron Pumpkin Play Clothes

Chevron print and Peasant Dresses are "in" right now.  I made a Peasant style tunic top and capri pants for Journey and a pillowcase dress for Willow.  The applique pattern has ric-rac included in the design. While it turned out ok, I haven't included a link and wouldn't recommend this particular design, as it didn't stitch out perfectly.  The one on the left is 6x10 size and the one on the right is 4x4 size. I added the bow after the applique was complete.  

The pattern for the peasant top called for casings with elastic inserted at the neck, sleeves, and waist.  I used elastic thread and shirred the sleeves and waist.  It looks and works so much better for a child.  The casing and elastic just added too much bulk.  Also, the pattern did not call for a "ruffle" at the sleeves and neck.  I used a rolled hem on the serger on the raw edge.  At the neck instead of folding over the seam allowance to form a casing I used bias tape stitched on the fold line.  This left the seam allowance to hem to produce the ruffle, which I really like better. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Happy Fall Y'all!

I decorated for Fall a couple of weeks ago.  There was a "cold front" that blew in that inspired me.  It dropped the temps below 100 deg.... While it may officially be fall, it still feels like summer here.

I wanted a fall wreath for my front door and after looking at the prices of ready made wreaths, I decided I could make one for less than the $75 or so price tags I was seeing.  I'd never made a wreath before so I watched some videos on YouTube.  It was ridiculously simple, but it seemed like a daunting task at the outset.  I set up a work table in the garage and was glad I did cause it was pretty messy.

Burlap and Owls are really hot right now, and I think they look cute in my wreath.  The Owl came from Hobby Lobby and was half off.  The "welcome" sign is actually part of the owl.  The burlap ribbon was from Michael's.  It wasn't on sale, but was only $5.99 and I only used part of the roll.  Everything else came from JoAnn's.  The berry picks, acorn picks and sunflowers were about $1.20 each. The grapevine wreath which I used as the base was left over from Willow's newborn photo session, so there was no cost there.

I started by attaching the burlap ribbon.  I used florists wire to attach it to the grapevine wreath, creating "poufs".  Next came the owl.  Then I started adding in the picks here and there, using hot glue, and then the sunflowers.  Finally I added a burlap bow. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Willow's Coming Home Daygown and Bonnet

Willow Gray

Here's sweet little Willow getting ready to come home from the hospital.  She looks like a little china doll.  She's wearing a daygown and bonnet made by Grandma.  In my usual form, I waited till the last minute (I put the "PRO" in procrastination) to make this outfit, so there's no hand embroidery. I made a simple white receiving blanket but it got left at home.

I used Jeannie's daygown pattern "Priscilla's Layette".  It's a very easy pattern and quick to sew, due to the raglan sleeves.  The one thing that does take time of course is gathering and hand sewing on all that lace. It's no secret that I am not too fond of hand sewing.  I didn't follow a pattern to make the bonnet.  It is lined with flannel.  I used lace insertion and beading, along with white satin ribbons and some (machine) featherstitching on the bonnet.

For the slip, which is white, I embroidered a flower and ribbon wreath (free embroidery pattern from Martha Pullen's website) in white with Willow's monogram in a delicate font in pink in the center. 

The fabric and laces were given to me by Dana.  While some people wouldn't think of blue for a newborn baby girl, blue is my favorite color and since Journey had a pink dress, Willow needed something completely different. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sweet & Shabby Chic Nursery Bedding

I love the way this nursery bedding I made for my great-nice, Claire, turned out.  I LOVE the fabric colors and prints.  The whole nursery is "shabby chic", with the white Jenny Lind bed, aqua walls, and flea market finds.

One thing I've learned is that you absolutely have to measure the bed before cutting the fabric.  In this case, the mattress was a little higher off the floor than what the pattern allowed for, so I had to add several inches AFTER I'd constructed the dust ruffle.  I wanted the ruffles to cascade on the floor, not hang a couple inches off the floor.   Making a custom sheet to match the bedding is easy and really pretty cost effective.  It really helps pull the whole look together. 

The quilt, again, was made according to the actual measurements of the crib and not according to a pattern.  The top is made of squares (I think they're 4") in two of the coordinates and the back is soft pink minkee type fabric, with the baby's name embroidered in a dainty font in the corner.  A ruffle (left over from the dust ruffle) ties it together. 

Because the back of the quilt is minkee type fabric, I didn't "quilt" it.  I took a few machine stitches in each corner where the blocks met.  I didn't want to see any stitching on the back.  I didn't tack in the area of the embroidered name.  The batting I used will stay in place during use and washing with just those stitches.

Waste Not, Want Not

Now that we've moved to The City, I find that I'm at the grocery store more, not necessarily spending more, but now I don't have to make a big day of it and can stop in whenever I want.  I was in HEB and buying some fruit.  The produce guy was picking fruit and throwing it in a trash can.  I stopped to look and had to ask what in the world he was doing.  He said it was over-ripe and no one would buy it so they threw it away.  Most of that fruit was perfectly good and if there were any bad spots, you could easily have pared it off and made jam out of it.  I'm talking about a couple bushels of fruit.  Marc was along and gave me that "look" so I left without asking the manager if I could have it (which is of course what I wanted to do), but it stayed on my mind. 

During the move we accumulated some stuff that had to go to the dump.  In The City you have trash pickup, and recycling pickup, which is nice, but they don't allow you much trash in that little can.  Anyways, I went to the dump a time or two to get rid of some stuff that wouldn't fit in the trash can.  The commercial trucks wind around a hill and dump their loads out of site.  The casual users like me (for lack of a better term) back up to huge dumpsters that are on a lower level, which makes it easy to unload. It's always interesting to see what folks are dumping.  It's never household trash.  Once I saw a guy using a garden weeding tool to fish out some "finds" and load them into his truck.  Since this is a college town, there are always students coming and going and they just throw stuff out at the end of the semester, perfectly good stuff.  It looks like there are some pretty cool treasures in those dumpsters.  So this last time I was unloading some stuff and the guy next to me began throwing out full, unopened boxes of ceramic tile, along with unopened bags of grout.  His pickup bed was FULL.  I asked him why he was doing that. He said he owned a tile store and this was stuff that had been sitting around and he wasn't able to sell or give away.  He said he tried to give it to Habitat for Humanity and they wouldn't take it.  I told him about the ads we placed on Craigslist when we had stuff to give away (more on that later) but at that point he just needed it gone.  I SO wanted to get that tile, but of course I had no need for it.  What a waste!

Shortly thereafter I was buying some fabric at JoAnn's.  After measuring out my order, there was a little bit left on the roll, but apparently not enough to sell as a remnant.  Did she include it with mine or even ask me?  No, she cut my fabric and then threw away that last piece.  I was dumbfounded.

What is going on?  Are people simply too lazy to take the time to offer the stuff they're going to throw away to someone who might actually need it?  Is there too much liability involved?

When we were packing for our move, we found that there was a lot of stuff we didn't need or couldn't take with us due to downsizing.  I sold quite a bit of it on Craigslist, which was a lot of work honestly.  But in reality I had to get that stuff out of there one way or the other since the new buyer certainly didn't want all our leftover crap.  Then there was that category of stuff that really wasn't worth someone's trouble to drive all the way out to our place to buy.  I listed those items for free.  We literally had a line at the gate on the days I listed stuff for free.  And remember we lived WAY out there. 

Some of the stuff we gave away - ceramic tiles, and I don't mean full boxes, I mean a dozen, pieces of wood, metal, scraps of wire, etc. 

The ad that got the most calls was the two-year old ham hocks and an uncured side of bacon, all frozen, that I needed to get out of my freezer.  My ad did state that it was two years old.  The guy who came to get it took off work early to make sure he was the first one in line to get it.  Some of the callers sounded like they really needed it.  I felt bad having to tell them that it was gone but glad that I'd given it to someone who could use it rather than throw it in the dump.
One man's trash truly can be another man's treasure.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Catching Up

So.... since the last time I was on this blog a lot has happened. 

We have a new grand daughter - Willow Gray.  She was born perfectly healthy, very tiny, sweet and with a head full of black hair.  Journey is a great big sister.  She's taken to calling Willow "Sissy".  It's SO cute.  She didn't like being separated from her Mommy and Daddy while Mommy was in the hospital though. 

Another big change: we sold our property and moved.  A lot of reasons went into making this decision, too much to write down in this post but I'll share more in the future.  In some ways it was sad to leave the property.  It was a beautiful piece of property and very private.  We could only see two houses from our house and they were quite a ways away.  But going to a brand new home where I don't have to do any painting or trim work or anything related to the construction process was very nice.  Also, this house is completely mortgage free - that is really a blessing.  So there are trade offs.  We know that someday we'll move back to the country but for now I'm enjoying this new chapter in our lives.
The new house is, well, new and modern, nothing like the last house.  I secretly like it better (don't tell Marc...).  We had to sell a LOT of stuff in order to move and we don't have it all here yet - some of the stuff that was in the shed is temporarily stored in a warehouse.  We had a lot of farm stuff, including a tractor and a lot more furniture than we have now.  It's a completely different lifestyle. 

I was pretty busy moving, then I fell and bruised my ribs and then Willow was born, and blogging fell by the wayside.  Then it seemed like too big a chore to post anything cause I felt like I had to explain where we've gone, why we moved, and it was easier not to.  But I have lots of things I want to add, so I had to get this post out of the way before I could move on.

I have a bigger sewing room which I am having fun setting up.  Instead of built in work surfaces I bought some furniture off of Craigslist and have been painting it.  I'll post pics before too long.

Marc never wanted window treatments in the last house because we had all that expensive wood work that he wanted to see, but in this house, I have been having fun designing and sewing window treatments, along with a custom shower curtain.  OH - and an upholstered headboard! I'll post pics of those soon too.

I've decorated the house for fall and I'll post some pics of my fall projects.  I've also been busy making baby clothes and I'll post pics of those too.  And now that I'm closer to shopping, I've been able to do more "stockpiling" so I'll share about that too.

Stay tuned.