I did some more playing around this weekend with my new embroidery machine. None of my projects are perfect yet; if you look with a practiced eye you can see that I’m still learning about which stabilizers to use in which situations, etc., but I’m still pleased with my beginner results. I made this table topper for my dining room table. It is hard to find tablecloths (or little table runners, which I prefer for everyday use since we frequently use our dining table in the evening) to match the vibrant colors in my vintage-fabric dining room curtains. I was able to choose embroidery thread colors for this design that match my curtains very well.
Here is a close up of one of the corner designs on the table topper. This was a design pre-loaded on my machine, though I changed around the colors. I did the embroidery on a piece cut from a white thrift-store sheet, then sewed it to the back once the design was done.
And I finally made the first project for my new baby! A terrific Etsy seller, Sweet as Lemon and Honey, created an embroidery file for me based on my graphic and a photograph of my Yellowstone travel trailer. The file looks just beautiful, and I’ll make other projects with it to show it off better–I didn’t use the right stabilizers or maybe the best method for getting the front of the onesie situated on the hoop and it crinkled up a bit, but it’s my fault, not hers. Her file is non-crinkly and perfect. Still, I love love love this onesie! Even wrinkled up the trailer design is totally adorable, and this was such a fun first project to finish for the baby. It feels like now s/he is really ours, branded by our family trailer insignia. I’m a total hormonal fool, carrying this little shirt around with me so I can keep looking at how tiny and cute it is, trying to imagine the wee little person that will fit into it this fall!
Last fall I hit some nice clearance sales and picked up some off-season summer clothes for my kids to grow into. This spring I pulled them out and, all new and with tags and exciting, except that during the intervening six months my son Worth apparently decided he will no longer wear plain pocket t-shirts. They are “plain” and “babyish.” Because, you know, all really big boys go around with gigantic lizards or tractors on their shirts, right? Hmmmm. But instead of just giving up on these perfectly nice shirts I decided to try and liven them up a bit to suit my boy’s taste. I made freezer paper stencils and painted little “friends” coming out of the pockets. Now he likes them and wears them quite happily. I’m a little horrified that I ruined perfectly nice shirts with my bad freehand “art,” but am just going to focus on the positive. I told him this one was a little buddy–but he calls it a pocket monster.
This one is a shark that looks sort of like a blue banana too. But Worth loves it.
And finally…I realize this is probably going to end up on one of those websites where mean women make fun of other people’s blogs, but whatever. In retrospect I should have printed images on the paper to make my stencils, but I felt all self-empowered to do my own bad art, so I did. This one was supposed to be a dog, but Dorothy thinks it is a giraffe, Rob says llama, and Worth calls it a wolf. Really, I don’t care, I’m just glad it is shirt #3 that my son will now quite happily put on and wear.
Dorothy and I made lacy heart t-shirts for ourselves to wear today. I’m pretty sure I read this idea in Family Fun magazine, but when I went to their website to search all it would show me was an ovulation calculator (let me talk about the Top Ten things I am not interested in right now…an ovulation calculator is waaaay up there!) link over and over and a bunch of stuff I was not interested in. Were they always owned by horrid Parents magazine? Maybe that is the problem. But now I’m rambling and showing no love…on Valentine’s Day even.
Since I can’t find a link to the article I got this idea from, I’ll just explain. We took paper heart-shaped doilies and adhered them to our shirts with low-tac adhesive. We dabbed fabric paint in the doily cut-out areas, let them dry, then peeled off the doilies themselves, revealing the pretty designs. Dorothy had trouble picturing what we were doing, which is why she began dabbing paint all around her heart on the first one, but then she caught onto the vision. We’re doing to enjoy wearing these today.
I said I wasn’t going to do anything else with this bathroom I hate, but I guess I caved. The peach tile and the icky tub still don’t do it for me, but at least I have a new shower curtain and bath mat. Since I’d made myself a shirt out of the fabric that had been destined to trim up the rest of the bathroom after I’d finished the window treatments (see link) I had to order more. This is Amy Butler’s Midwest Modern and it works remarkably well with peach tile. I can love the fabric even if the tile does give me hives.
To make the shower curtain I sewed three panels of fabric together to match the width of my ready-made shower curtain liner, then sewed a folded-over band of fabric along the top and made buttonholes in all the same spots as the holes in the top of the liner. Making so many buttonholes got a little tedious but it was a simple project.
I ordered a new bathtub mat but then dressed it up by crocheting a border along the edges out of KnitPicks’ cotton Dishie yarn in Heat Wave. I thought the yarn I got had a truer red than the yarn in their product photo, but it still looks okay in my bathroom. I sewed loose stitches of yarn all the way around the edge and then made a simple scalloped border using a J size hook. The mat seems much more special now and it didn’t take long to do. Now I have one fewer thing to hate about my bathroom! And the mat is big, so it covers up a good amount of the tile…
Two unrelated projects, two different kinds of paint, but one color scheme. Here we go:
Folding chairs, rescued from my basement. They came with the house. First I spray painted them…
…then made fabric covers for the back and a nice padded foam one for the seat. I’m keeping these in my garage to pull out when I need comfy seating for child-watching in my back yard and swing-set area. Love making something cute out of old forgotten items left in my basement!
And the new camper. Unfortunately I haven’t finished this job because of threat of rain, but I have one coat on most of three sides. It looks sweet. Here’s the door side before (can you find me in this photo?)…
…and after. Check out my rims! It’s hard to tell exactly what the original blue shade was on here, but I think I probably went just one notch brighter. I love it so much that the first night I had to keep peeking at it our my bedroom window, just to take one more little look at the awesome aqua stripe. My husband has started teasing me about it, which I totally deserve. I can’t wait to finish up the exterior paint job and really make some progress on the inside. It’s going to be so cute! I’ve been watching (and winning) some online auctions for vintage Pyrex dinnerware, with turquoise and flamingo (reddish pink) bands. It’s going to look perfect in this little camper. You know me and dishes, right? I can’t pass up the opportunity.
We recently took Little Red on a very fun camping trip with some friends. In preparation for our weekend I took one of our camper windows, which had cracked over the winter, to a local glass place to have it replaced. I was a little worried about removing the window but it unscrewed easily. I hung cardboard in the empty spot and hoped for no rain during the time the window was out. Fortunately, the glass was replaced very quickly and without great expense. I felt so DIY-empowered. Until I went to rehang the window…
at which point I apparently over-tightened the screws and cracked the new window in two places. Ouch. And it really wasn’t in the time or money budget to try it again, so I duct-taped the broken window and went camping with it like that. Given the amount of foot traffic our camper generates in a campground I have to admit it was a little embarrassing to have so many eyes on my paint job and duct taped window, but what’s a girl to do? At least the tape job seems to be watertight; our camping trip involved heavy storms (followed by lots of mud for the children to play in–lucky kids!) but the window and tape held up. One of our camping friends snapped this photo of all of us in front of our petite camp residence du rouge.
We met up with three other families on this trip and had an excellent time. All the kids banded together to form their own little tricycle gang and I’m not sure my own kids will ever be happy camping with just our family again. One of my favorite parts of the trip was when a nearby camper stopped by to chat and told me she’d snapped a photo of my camper and put it on Facebook. Funny! Maybe her photo will get back to me somehow.
I took a crochet project with me to keep my hands busy around the campfire. I’d seen this cotton yarn in the “cottage” colorway recently on Knitpicks and thought they must have made it just to go in my kitchen. The reds and blues and yellows look just right with my Pop Garden Paisley Ice curtains. I bought some inexpensive white cotton bar mops and am crocheting borders on them in the bright yarn. I’m currently working on my third in the four-pack. I’ve done two borders from this book and improvised the other. I was a little worried that the color of the yarn would fade as soon as I washed these in hot water with my other dishcloths but I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far. The yarn seems to be holding its color really well after the first couple washes.
If you are wondering why my stove knobs are missing then a) you are very perceptive, and b) you must not have a two-year-old. They are in a basket on the counter at a height only reachable by grown-ups.
I finally finished some mittens I’d started for Dorothy in the fall. I should have photographed them before she stretched them out by wearing them layered over gloves but I didn’t. Dorothy specifically requested pink mittens so I used some inexpensive but soft yarn I’d picked up at Big Lots and this vintage pattern. The pattern was a very easy one to knook. I think knooking is probably much less complicated than knitting when it comes to situations that would otherwise require multiple needles. With the knooking cord securely holding the stitches, patterns like this are very portable. I’m going to use this same pattern to make some adult mittens next.
A small friend of ours celebrated his first birthday a couple weeks ago and I monogrammed this little t-shirt for him. I selected a font I liked, printed the child’s initial in reverse on paper, traced it to fusible webbing, ironed the webbing onto my fabric (an old worn-out dress shirt of Rob’s), then cut the letter out and ironed it to the shirt. Some zigzag stitches around the monogram finished the project off. It’s in my queue to make another of these for Worth with his own initial. I liked the “menswear” look this project took on with the font selection and the dress shirt fabric.
Since I’ve been doing more knitting (knooking, actually) I’ve had more need for rulers in my project bags. I typically have five or six projects going on at once and keep my supplies for each in separate tote bags. When I was only crocheting I rarely needed a ruler because crochet projects typically specify the number of rows the crocheter should work in any given part of the pattern. Knitting patterns, by contrast, often contain sections that must be knitted to a specified number of inches instead of rows. I’ve spent much of the winter pawing through drawers and peeking into other project bags to find my ruler when I need it. Finally it occurred to me that rulers are probably something one can just print from the internet. Bingo! I printed this PDF onto cardstock, cut out the rulers, then laminated them to they won’t bend and dog-ear in my bags. A simple solution and I don’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier–but I’m sharing it just in case you didn’t either.
I never know what to hang on the front door after Christmas. Holly berries no longer seem right, but it’s definitely not time for spring flowers either. I decided to buy a cheap thrift store wreath and winterize it. The photo above is the wreath I started with, purchased for about $2.
I lightly spray-painted the whole thing white. The original colors still show through, but it looks kind of frosty. Then I added silver snowflakes (white ones from a craft store, spray-painted silver), a colorful bow, and a vintage bird I found at a yard sale last summer. I like that the blue gives a little color to my winter front porch but I still feel seasonably appropriate.This might not be the best photo of my new pillowcases but at least it shows them in action. The striped print, Robert Allen Kukula Pinata, coordinates with my new curtains (finally all finished!) in Kiki Pinata. I like that the boldness of the stripe and color anchors my sort of washed-out old sofa, but that it isn’t so matchy-matchy with the curtains that anyone is going to get seasick from all the flowers. The kids and dog obviously like them as well. It has been part of our daily homeschool routine for Dorothy to read a book or two to her brother, so that is what is going on here. I don’t actually want to talk about why my 22-month-old is sucking on a pacifier, and since this is my blog, well, I won’t.
Belle’s doggie bed was originally intended to occupy space on the second floor of our home, but it ended up being more useful in our main living space. The downside to finally finishing the curtains in this room was that the bed, covered in fabric to match my bedroom, now looked kind of clashy in the family room. I found a nice, washable fabric to make a new dog bed cover at Joann. It’s the Lisette brand but I didn’t see this print on the website. It looks like an Ikat print and is a color that should both match the room and the dog–so her hair won’t show so badly! Both the person who cut my fabric and the person who checked me out asked what I was going to do with the pretty fabric. It was kind of funny to tell them it was for my dog, but she should have pretty things too. Why not?
About this time every year people start complaining about Christmas stuff being out, about the rush of the season, about holiday music. I’m not one of them. The kids and I had the Pandora holiday music station on the day after Halloween, and although I won’t decorate our house until Thanksgiving I’m thoroughly enjoying the pre-holiday planning. Christmas is fun; why not stretch it out a bit? I’m so glad we won’t have the craziness of last year’s Christmas-week move, and it’s going to a blast to have two kids at the perfect ages to enjoy all this holiday hustle-bustle. I like to take a photo for my Christmas cards pretty early every year so that if it looks terrible I have plenty of time to bribe them more and try it again. This year I was really lusting after some Hanna Andersson matching outfits for the kids to wear in the picture, but just couldn’t bring myself (meaning, well, that I just couldn’t afford) to spend so much money on clothes they’d only wear a couple times at most. Right as I was about to buy them anyway I remembered this pretty turquoise Christmas fabric I’d purchased on clearance at a quilting store over the summer. I’d only bought a yard and had planned to make myself a tote bag out of it, but I realized I could probably stretch it to come up with homemade matching outfits for the kids.
I definitely got my money’s worth out of less than $5 of Christmas fabric. I sewed Dorothy a dress out of a winter white fabric I had in my stash, which I think I got from Wal-Mart’s $1 table a few months back. I made the dress from Simplicity 2237 and sewed her a bolero from the Christmas print from the same pattern. I’ve used that dress pattern before and found it to be a bit wide; this time I cut the pattern a little narrower and it fit perfectly. The bolero pattern wast just right. It fit adorably without any adjustments.
I used more of the turquoise fabric to make a ruffle around the bottom of her dress, which I sewed to the lining of unbleached muslin so it peeps out all around. I used gold thread and a decorative stitch on my sewing machine to add some gold embellishment along the hem of the outer skirt.
For the boy I made a bow tie out of the Christmas fabric and an oh-so-debonair vest out of the same fabric as her dress. I read this terrific tutorial on another blog, then sort of cut around a vest he’d outgrown. I used leftover curtain backing for the lining and back and buttons from my stash, which I think were torn off an old sweater that got turned in to something else a couple years ago. His bow tie is not really tied on because I’m not that brave–I sewed it to a hair clip. I ended up getting an acceptably good photo of the two of them (not pictured) and am glad to have that happy task checked off my list, and for less than $10 total.
The guest room is officially done! The neighbor girl who plays with Dorothy walked in, not having been in the room since we were using it for post-move storage, and gasped. It was so gratifying. And then she was so impressed that we had a whole room just for guests that it made me remember Anne of Green Gables and Aunt Josephine and I secretly vowed to invite her over to sleep in it sometime. It does feel sort of indulgent to have a guest room after we seemed so cramped with the four of us in our two-bedroom six months ago. I made up the bed with clean sheets today and am feeling that much more settled here. Ignore that the brass bed really needs to be polished. I augmented store-bought bedding (Target and IKEA) with homemade toss pillows and I sewed homemade bias tape along the bottom of a plain store-bought bed skirt.
In such a bright room I wanted bright photographs too. I painted old gold picture frames black, then snapped photos of the kids posing against a backdrop of the (uncut) curtain fabric. It’s not like you’d walk in and notice that the photo backdrop matches the curtains, which is just as well, but the overall effect does help tie everything together in this bright and colorful room.
I wanted to bring some of the room’s black accents onto the bed so I made one pillow using this terrific owl fabric I found online. It didn’t quite work, though. You remember that Sesame Street game from when we were kids? Which of these things doesn’t belong? It was totally this pillow. I thought that if just one owl could be orange then it would really make everything look harmonious, so I grabbed an orange Sharpie marker and colored one owl in. Let’s hope the cat doesn’t puke on this pillow because I have no idea how orange Sharpie would wash, but I love the way it turned out. Now the pillow looks like it belongs perfectly.
I also embellished the white pillowcases that go with the plain white sheets on this bed. I used more of the homemade bias tape (do I need a support group for my recent bias tape problem?) and some of the decorative stitching on my new machine.
My success in painting the hokey flowers on the thrift store rocking chair inspired me to try something similar on an old milk can. I bought this jug at a yard sale when we lived in Oak Park and kept it on our front porch at our last two houses. It was already black but was starting to look sort of pathetic and rusty, so I sprayed on some new black and painted on the flowers and our name. I may get tired of looking at my own unprofessional art work every time I enter my front door, but it shouldn’t be hard to spray on over the decoration when that time comes.