I’ve been a busy elf. Not the cute kind with the ears and the pointy shoes, but the kind with dark circles under her eyes who knits after everyone else goes to sleep and occasionally skips real meals in favor of bourbon and cookies. But a happy one! I love this time of year and try to relax my standards for everything else instead of aspiring to holiday and household perfection.
I bought a set of dishtowels to use as hostess and similar gifts this year. They seem to be a nice weight for both actually drying dishes or hands but not obscuring the embroidery. I like to actually use my towels–not just hang them up for show–and I assume my recipients do too. I put the embroidery design directly onto some of them, and then one I did like an applique and sewed it onto the towel. I like how both turned out. I’ve blanked out the names in some of the pictures so I don’t spoil my own surprises.
The pillowcases are for the throw pillows in my living room. I was down to just scraps of fabric that match this room, so I made what I had left go pretty far on these. The embroidery files on the pillows and one towel include the adorable deer file which is free on Emblibrary this month, and a set of vintage-inspired designs I bought. I colored in the Santa with permanent marker to make him stand out a bit more. Don’t want Santa to fade into the background!
Last year I made boo-boo ice packs for my kids. This is an old photo of Worth using his. They are just little 7-inch square pillowcases made out of flannel. When one of my kids needs first aid for some physical pain they believe they have suffered, supplying then with an ice pack stops the crying. I put some ice cubes in a quart-size zipper-lock bag then slip the baggie inside the pillowcase. When the pack has worked its magic I dump out the ice and dry out the zipper lock bag over my knife rack so I can reuse it next time. Worth’s pack is made out of monkey fabric and Dorothy’s is made from Hello Kitty, thus we call the packs “boo-boo monkey” and “boo-boo kitty.” They work miracles. Whether or not they are medically indicated is not really the point.
For Mother’s Day this year my family bought me a starter embroidery machine. I’m still playing with it and learning to use it right now. It’s an inexpensive and simple setup as far as embroidery machines go, but I think I will really enjoy it. One of my first projects to try out the new machine was to make a boo-boo ice pack for a little friend of ours. I got the caterpillar embroidery file free from Brother’s website. My kids, of course, call this project the “boo-boo caterpillar.” I don’t always think embroidered kids’ things are cute, partly because they are often done in a style I don’t care for, and also because personalizing something really cuts down on its ability to be reused, but I have no qualms about turning a 7-inch square of flannel into something that will be destined to serve an important purpose for only one small little person. If Kenny gets as many ice-worthy injuries as my kids (or at least believes he does), he will wear this little item out.
And I made more new pillows, again. I feel like I blog about pillows a lot! But I love to change out the slips on my sofa pillows seasonally. I’d made these green and white ikat slips last spring, but added the smaller ones this year. We just replaced our sofa (don’t laugh, I know it looks very similar to the old one, but I loved the old one and it was getting holes all over it!) and I thought with this new configuration we’d need more throw pillows to really get comfy. I love these fluffy, soft down pillow forms from fabric.com. They aren’t the firm, perky kind you’d buy to always look perfect–they are squishy and soft and wonderful for molding just the right way when you’re reading on the sofa. Now that I’ve added the new ones I get to indulge in a whole year’s worth of new pillow-slip-making to keep them covered and seasonal! This is the fabric on the green pillows, and this is what’s on the new ones.
This is our basement playroom. This is also the room with the old fireplace insert and all my fabric on shelves. We bought an IKEA futon when we moved in and I would haphazardly cover it with quilts to try and combat our cat hair issue, since our cranky old cats have staked out this room as their particular habitat. I had a cheap butterfly chair in the corner and we tossed toys into plastic bins. It was fine, blah, a basement playroom. Last year we did most of our homeschool lessons down there, but this year we’re more likely to camp out with our stack of books and manipulatives in whichever part of the house seems most appealing on a given morning, so this room is really used exclusively for playing and crafting. Unfortunately this room also used to flood in heavy rains, which meant that our train table (not pictured) had yogurt cups around the legs, we couldn’t have a rug, and all the storage and furniture had to be made of water-resistant materials. Ugh. This fall, however, we had our basement waterproofed and I decided to improve on our newly dried-out space. I found a sweet vintage toy box to store the dress-up things, an old comfy rocking chair, and an inexpensive rug. I recovered the seat on the rocker and I sewed a new cover and pillows for the futon out of sturdy indoor/outdoor fabric that stands up nicely to the cat wear. A set of old wooden shelves became easy toy storage.
The pillow covers have overlapping back panels so they stay on well but also come off easily for washing.
The old rocker now beckons you to the basement to “reboot” and relax. (Freezer paper stencil and fabric paint.)
I dressed up more old kitty litter tubs with scrapbook paper covered with contact paper to store small toys such as balls, matchbox cars, and little people. Now the whole family gets more (and more pleasant) use of our playroom space. It has a cozy cabin feel with the fireplace and the old pine walls. We appreciated it fully earlier this week when we spent part of the night down there, listening to tornado sirens howl outside!
Our family room has been late to get the love that some of our other rooms got months ago. I’ve had the fabric (Kiki Pinata) picked out to make the curtains for months but could never find the time to start them. I finally got fed up with not having curtains one night recently and stayed up until 2:00 a.m. sewing, but my sleepy brain screwed them up and I spent most of that time trying to fix my own dumb mistakes. Curtains are pretty easy–mostly straight seams–but for some reason that night I couldn’t hack it. I did finally did finish the set for this one window and I really love the print, even though it is not the most appropriate backdrop for the Christmas tree we just set up in front of it. Now one down, one regular and two double windows to go. Yikes. But this room is really shaping up. Here we were right after move-in last year, with the unlit last-minute Christmas tree thrown in the corner next to a pile of boxes. I’m thankful every day that we are not moving this year! This year we set the tree up on a table to keep precious ornaments out of reach of kids and puppies, and my crafty Grandma’s memory is honored by the use of her handmade felt tree skirt and complete felt nativity. A much more peaceful scene than moving boxes.
After enjoying the seasonal pillow cases I made for my sofa a few weeks ago I decided I needed new ones for Christmas. I used wide strips of Christmas fabric (which accidentally found it’s way into my Fabric.com shopping cart when I was buying the curtain fabric) of varying widths to make intentionally non-matching pillows for each side of the sofa. The kids keep taking all the cushions off to make a mouse house with them and some blankets so I was unable to photograph them on the sofa, but here is one on the floor in its more natural habitat. I did some decorative machine stitches where the strips are joined and it looks cute. The final product looks cheerful and seasonal and kid-friendly both on the sofa and off.
My other recent holiday project was to make Rob a new stocking. His previous stocking was small, and Dorothy noticed this year that it seemed a bit plain next to the others. (This year we’ve also added an Etsy-purchased personalized stocking for Belle the dog.) I was under the impression that Rob’s old stocking was one of those emotion-infused items that came with my husband and Must Not Be Changed, but it turns out he didn’t even remember who made it for him so I was able to stick it in his Thou Shalt Not Throw Away box downstairs (we have issues with him being a keeper and me being a tosser–but that’s another story) and upgrade his stocking by the fireplace. I wanted to make it myself since I love him better than the dog. I used a rather manly green and gold stripe print I had left over from a project a couple years ago and lined it with some green corduroy, also from my stash. I stitched his name in gold thread and then sewed on some red jingle bells for color. My favorite part of this project was the way Dorothy fussed over unveiling it for him when he came home from work–she’s so glad Santa can now treat him with adequate generosity!