Today I’m sharing a couple gifts I made before Christmas. These were mitts I knitted (knooked) for my mother. They were for her birthday in November, but as is occasionally the case with handmade gifts they were a couple weeks late. (Because nothing says, “I love you Mom!” like exactly one knitted glove, right? Oops.) Mom was gracious about the wait. I made these out of sock yarn though the pattern called for heavier. I find that my gauge in knooking is often a little large when the pattern calls for ribbing or something with a lot of stretch. But these worked up quite nicely in the sock yarn, and they’ll be warm and washable. I used the Vineyard Lace Fingerless Gloves pattern and thought it was a good one, but wasn’t sure my choice of yarn showed off the design to its best advantage.
This is a long sleeve shirt I painted. I did one for each of my two nieces, personalized with their initials. I sketched the laurel wreath design on freezer paper, then cut it out to make a stencil. To make the letters I just printed off the lettering I wanted and traced them in good light. As always, I used Martha Stewart craft paint, which works very well and knit shirts and washes quite nicely.
I made printed napkins this year as holiday hostess gifts and gifts for friends. I bought several dozen cloth napkins from an eBay seller because I could not have made such nice napkins so affordably myself. I carved several simple Christmas tree and star shapes out of carving rubber, used a brayer to apply fabric paint to the stamps, and then transferred the stamps to the napkins. Stamping the napkins took a little longer than I’d envisioned, in part because I had to find space all over my house for several dozen painted napkins to dry and in part because the paint was messy business and I frequently had to stop to wash the stamps and the brayer, but I was pleased with the results. They are uneven and blotchy and very homemade looking, but I kind of like that about them. I kept a set for myself too!
I also helped the kids make reindeer napkins for their grandparents. The reindeer face is made by the side of my son’s fist, the eyes are Dorothy’s fingerprints, and red nose is Daphne’s thumbprint. I carved the date and the antlers out of carving rubber. Actually, because I’m an idiot, I first carved the date exactly as I wanted it to appear on the napkin, which of course makes it appear backwards when printed. Oops! But the second time I got it right. These napkins were a big hit and I will enjoy using them at my in-laws’ home during Christmas celebrations of the future.
This is Daphne’s birthday gift. I bought a collection of pretty bows for her from an Etsy seller, but decided to make her a holder for them myself. I painted a piece of canvas board, using a cork to make the white dots. Then I glued ribbon on it for hanging it and for clipping the bows when they come in. Daphne has the greatest hair ever (I’m not biased!) and doesn’t mind wearing things in it, so I think this will make a fun and useful gift for her.
Now that my family room has a new color scheme I needed to change up some of my seasonal accents too. My old fall pillows weren’t going to look right in the new space with all the bright green. Actually, I wasn’t sure what kind of autumn fabric was going to look right so I decided to improvise. I bought bright orange home dec fabric of a similar intensity to the green in my curtains and I cut a tree and leaves out of freezer paper. I free-handed the cutting with my X-acto knife, but was using several images I’d printed from the internet as inspiration. I just searched for “fall tree graphic” to get ideas.
If you’ve not used freezer paper stencils, it’s very easy. You cut out the image you want, press one sheet of uncut freezer paper (always shiny side down) to the BACK of your fabric with a hot iron to stabilize it, then press your stencil to the front. Then just dab Martha Stewart Craft Paint (or some other fabric paint) into the cut areas of your design and let it dry.
This is the mess you will have after all the cutting.
Then after the paint has dried, carefully peel off the freezer paper. Usually the stencil can be reused a couple times.
This is what my new pillows look like on the sofa. The stencil turned out well and the colors are perfect, bringing in fall without trying to overthrow my punchy bright green.
I also cut leaves out of scrapbook paper and made a leaf bunting for windows on each side of the room and one to go over the fireplace.
To cut the leaves I just printed some leaf templates off the internet and used them as cutting guides. It didn’t take long.
After I got my pillows and my leaf swags done I lit a pumpkin pie candle and then felt sort of pissed off that the weather was still very summery! I’m not one to rush the seasons, but my shorts just weren’t working for me after I cut out all those leaves. Fortunately, Mother Nature seems to be cooperating with my seasonal decorating scheme now and has cooled things off a bit. Then I dug out my pie spice from the back of the cabinet and made spiced applesauce muffins and everything felt just fine.
This year my boy Worth started kindergarten. Somehow going from homeschooling one child while I had two littles at home, to homeschooling two children while I have one little at home felt like a real shift. Now that I’m lesson planning for and teaching two children the job of “homeschool teacher” feels more like a vocation than it ever did. I feel very satisfied in this roll, and I wanted to do something special to signal our shift to being a household where two of the children are officially learning at home, and their mother isn’t likely to see a paycheck in this era. So I enlisted a designer on Etsy to create a homeschool logo for us. We call ourselves DeWees Academy. We sent the designer some ideas (like including our beloved blue sofa, where all the action happens!) and she sent back her ideas, which she patiently revised until our family reached consensus on this nice design. Then I had the logo digitized for my embroidery machine, and I stitched up sturdy canvas school supplies for all my kids. Though not-quite-2-year-old Daphne is still a long way from needing a school bag herself I didn’t think she’d appreciate being left out. Each kid got their supplies in a different color for ease of sorting, and each got a canvas tote for taking work in the car when necessary, a pencil case, and a composition book cover.
On the first day of school I posed Worth in this big t-shirt, which (inspired by Pinterest) I fabric-painted with the year he will graduate. If I’m really organized, I will take a picture of him in it every year on the first day of school. Or maybe I’ll just have this cute picture of him in a big shirt. We’ll see…
Then we took our own version of the “first day back” picture, of our bare feet propped up on our chalkboard sofa table, where all the magic (and the work, and the crying, and the success, and the complaining) happens. Here we go!
I needed a cute outdoor-friendly salt and pepper set for our new patio area. I bought an inexpensive set and personalized it.
Whoa! Bad head-cut-off selfie! Maybe it was better before I had the phone, when I could only post about projects for myself that warranted enlisting husband’s help. Anyway, I used fabric paint and more freezer paper stencils on a t-shirt. I felt really brave doing this one because it was a shirt I kind of liked as it was, but thought would be improved with a design. Painting on a nice Eddie Bauer shirt requires a lot more fearlessness than painting on the cheapy Costco tee, but it turned out well once I braved it.
And I was just experimenting at this point. I sleep in this old pink shirt, and now I’ll sleep in it more often!And my husband bought a new (to him) car, and to surprise him I quickly painted shirts for all three kids so they could wear them when we went to pick it up. Fabric paint dries quickly and freezer paper stencils are reusable, so I got them done! It’s fun to make a big fuss out of a little family deal. This is what they’ll remember when they are grown, right?
My front porch was looking a little dingy. My chairs were getting rusty and my pillows were starting to fade. I put fresh paint on the old chairs and made new pillow covers, and now my house looks much more welcoming and colorful. My flower pot contains parsley and cilantro just a few steps from my kitchen. Spring is so nice!
I think I’m reaching new lows here with the mirror selfie. Apparently if I have time to document my projects at all, the best I can do is with a cell phone selfie. But since the point of this blog is just to be a diary for myself of my projects I’m going to go with it. Project recorded! I bought a plain gray t-shirt at Costco and embellished it with a freezer paper stencil. I’ve used and loved freezer paper stencils before (t-shirts for the kids, a bat table runner, Worth’s pocket friends come to mind immediately) but never used the technique to make a shirt for myself. I was downloading some feather and arrow embroidery files for another project (check them out if you are on Pinterest) and I got to thinking that feathers and arrows are kind of like the new owls and chevrons but I like them better. Which led to me thinking that maybe I needed some cool feather and arrow stuff myself, but all the embroidery files for my machine are a little small for adult apparel, and then I thought that maybe I needed to spend $100 buying cool feather and arrow fabrics on Fabric.com (because, you know, it’s like Target–you can’t ever check out with less than $100 even if you only needed one thing), and then I decided that maybe I should just try to use fabric paint and save my $100. And so I did.
I used an Xacto knife and straight edge to make the arrows and just freehanded the rest with the knife. I’m not very artistic when it comes to two dimensional stuff but feathered arrows aren’t too complicated. I used the multi-surface Martha Stewart craft paint and the kids’ paint brushes to fill in my homemade stencil, and that was that. I’m pleased with the shirt and the stencil is still intact after peeling it off, so I think I may put my design on a tote bag next.
Dorothy has been living in filth. She’s a hoarder by nature, tucking baggies of rocks and shells and old toilet roll tubes away like squirrels do nuts for the winter. The difference is that squirrels eat all their nuts in the winter, but Dorothy’s room just gets more and more crowded with junk. Telling her to clean her room didn’t even help, because she wasn’t sure where to put baggies of rocks and old toilet paper tubes. I drove to IKEA right after Christmas to pick up some storage furniture to replace daintier but less useful pieces and enlisted her help getting organized. Fortunately, she got tired of helping after the first hour or so, so I got to spend all my “free” time for the better part of two weeks putting together furniture and throwing stuff away without her there to witness it. I’m sharing my after photos. She’s now one very organized 8-year-old, and my hope is that the new system will help her keep it that way. I bought 3-inch foam to make a seat on top of the shelf under her window. All her doll accessories are now tidily at hand. Don’t notice my measuring “oops” on the side of the seat cover! After spending that much time sorting through 3rd grade ephemera I apparently lost the ability to do simple math.
This chair was in her room before, but it got a coat of white paint and a new seat cover. On the wall behind her is a pouch she sewed herself to hold keepsake letters.
This IKEA shelving unit got a little dressed up with pretty glass knobs on the cabinets and drawers. She painted the ruby slipper canvas at an art camp last summer.
I found this earring tree on Amazon.com to keep all her ear candy organized. She had earrings crammed in boxes and baggies all over her room. We put some other pairs in ice cube trays in her top drawer.
I made labels with a craft punch for all her bins. We use a velcro label system for toy bins all over our house. I staple hook tape to the bin, and glue the loop tape to the back of our labels. I keep a jar of the extra labels on hand for when we want to repurpose a bin. The bins can be exchanged for others in our playroom and in Worth and Daphne’s room when they want to rotate playthings.
I bought a wall-mount lamp at IKEA and spray-painted it to match the room. Putting the lamp on the wall helped free up space on her desk and alleviated my long-standing worry that she’d knock it off and break it. Dorothy made the name banner hanging over her bed.
Here’s a final view of her new window seat. I left her doll-clothes storage system of a ribbon strung in her window intact because it’s pretty and functional. I think I’ve blogged about her quilt and curtains before. When we moved into this old house, Dorothy fell in love with the bedroom she now occupies and the specific wallpaper hanging on the walls. I removed wallpaper and repainted every other room in our house, but we’ve honored her wish to keep her vintage wallpaper. I collected old bedsheets in similar colors from thrift stores and made her quilt and curtains out of them. It’s made a sweet little-girl room, with a nice blend of old and new. I’ll probably flip out in a few weeks when she lets it get messy again, but I’m enjoying the view from the doorway in the meantime! Because of course, as soon as I was done with the job and turned the room back over to her all sparkly and clean, she shut the door and hasn’t welcomed any other family members in since. C’est la vie.
The bigger kids and I decorated canvas shoes as a school art project recently. I bought them inexpensive canvas high-tops (green, because that’s what we found cheap in their sizes), and I got white slip-ons from Amazon for myself. We decorated the shoes with Sharpie markers. I thought we might spray them with rubbing alcohol to get the fuzzy effect, but once we were done we were all too attached to our line art as it was to spray it. The kids immediately wore their shoes until the grommets fell off and one of them got a hole in the toe. I didn’t love mine; the black pen on the white shoe just wasn’t doing it for me, and the stark contrast called too much attention to my I’m-not-an-artist pen work. Then my daughter and her sleepover friend were decorating t-shirts with fabric paint, and I got the idea to give a similar treatment to my shoes. I watered down multi-surface craft paint, then sponged the color all over my shoes. Even watered down, the paint covered my pen drawings a little too much, so I ran the wet-paint shoes under the faucet, and then I thought they looked just right. The color kind of settled into patches like it’s supposed to look like that, and now I’m pleased. This was a fun project and the shoes fit comfortably and feel just like my Tom’s.
Here are Dorothy’s, before the hole in the toe. 🙂