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.
I made and hung brazen, bold and beautiful family room curtains about five years ago. You can see them in this photo from 2011. They were from Robert Allen’s Kiki Pinata fabric and they set the stage for my family room, which was bold and cozy at the same time. Here are some other pictures of the room as it was, in an old post. I loved it, but I was getting tired of it. For one thing, it’s just a really bold fabric, and one nice thing about homemade curtains is that it’s okay to change them in five years if you’re a little tired of the print. For another, I thought I would like the coziness that the bright yet dark colors would bring to the room, but instead it was starting to feel too dark. In the winters it gets dark so early; lighting a fire at 3:30 and settling into our family room was so great, but sometimes by 9:00 I just wanted a break. So this summer I gave my family room a lightening-up. I’m not posting pictures of the whole room yet because the final touch is going to be a makeover of our fireplace and that requires my brother’s DIY skills instead of mine, but here’s what I’ve got so far, before he comes and finishes the job for me. I made a sign for our homeschool, complete with our new logo (read more here). I designed the sign on the computer and had it printed on canvas.
Then I picked out new, white things for my mantle. I spray-painted branches for a tall vase, then crocheted and stiffened medallions out of cotton thread to make colorful ornaments. Instead of making new curtains, I ended up buying some ready-made ones that were such a good deal they were cheaper than sewing new ones myself. The white lets in so much light, and really brightens up this room.
My sewing area got a little lift too, with new dust covers for my machines and some new white storage containers for supplies.
Of course Belle was not left out; her new bed fits the new scheme!
And new coasters from the dog bed scraps!
And I have been using a cart next to our sofa to coral some of the school things we need close at hand. I made it a tablecloth to keep it from getting beat up (it was my Grandma’s) while tying in all the green stuff I’ve added to the room. I’ve also painted some furniture and I’m gathering up the courage (and funds!) to buy a rug, but I’ll save all that for the post after the fireplace is done. I’m really enjoying the room’s new vibe. It’s still cozy and lively, but now the daylight seems to go much farther in here.
I hope my sister-in-law doesn’t mind her gift sharing a post with a dog collar! Both of today’s items go around necks that are dear to me. Giggle. This is a crocheted necklace I made as a birthday gift. I got this idea from Pinterest, and it originated on Craftsy. I used Gloss lace-weight yarn from Knitpicks because I already had some, then put it on a black metal chain. I felt like it needed to hold its shape so I soaked it in some Stiffy (why oh why is it called that?) that was a little watered down, and now it’s just right. It holds its shape without looking…stiff. Now that I’ve made this and given it away, I sort of feel like making another one for myself. I could just make sure not to wear it where Molly is, right?
I got some new embroidery software for my birthday. My embroidery machine is a simple, inexpensive model (the Brother PE 500), but it does basically all I think I’d want in an embroidery machine. I’ve considered upgrading to a bigger or more complicated model, but I like things that are simple and straightfoward, and I really appreciate owning things I can afford to replace if a rowdy child “accidentally” knocks it across the room. One thing I wished my machine had was more fonts, and the ability to lay out more than one line of text at a time. So for my birthday I got this Letter It! software. It’s great, and it makes me feel like I can now get even more out of my little machine. It works basically like a word processing program. It comes with a nice variety of fonts, and you can purchase and import more if you want. Then you lay out your text just the way you want it to look on your final product–with multiple lines, mixed fonts, and distortions like curves if you wish–and then just save it as a file that you send over to your machine. I tried it out on this collar for my dog Belle. I liked being able to line up her name and my phone number just the way I wanted it, and she likes not having a dangling metal tag.
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!
Once a week my kids and I meet a group of homeschool friends at a local park. It is the highlight of everyone’s week. The kids pick up their imaginative games where they left them the week before; the grown-ups sit and drink coffee, knit, and care for babies under the shade of trees. Playgroup itself is a joy, but I was feeling a little frazzled getting us all ready for playgroup every week as we were getting back into our warm-weather routine. Did I have the sunscreen? Snacks? Water bottles? Revolutionary War trading cards? (Don’t ask.) I decided I should make myself a bag just for playgroup, with pockets for all the things I need and keep it loaded all week, so all I had to do was pop in the refilled water bottles, hot coffee, and off I’d go. I used a medium-weight canvas to make the bag and designed it to be most useful as an object that is sitting in the middle of the picnic table, though it’s comfortable to carry as well. I put outside pockets for our water and inside pockets for sunscreen and my keys. A wide, spacious interior has been reinforced on the bottom with davey board (removable for laundering) and holds all our other necessary sundry. I bought more cute arrow embroidery from DesignsbySugarBean on Etsy and love the way it looks on this project.
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!