Thursday, April 30, 2015

Project Redecorate: Master Bedroom

Our master bedroom is finally complete! We started this room last summer, and it was definitely worth the wait and work.

The Paint
It started with paint and caulk: Benjamin Moore White Chocolate for the walls and Valspar Ultra White for the trim and doors. (We buy paint from Home Depot, Lowe's, and our local Ace Hardware, depending on who's having a sale.)

The color is a creamy vanilla for the walls. It went on beautifully over the original taupe and took about a gallon and a half. The trim, on the other hand, took three or four coats - even with a primer. 

I also painted the doors. They turned out more matte than I thought a semi-gloss would, especially after I'd primed them, but painting doors is something I'll need to experiment with more. And considering there are about a dozen or two left to paint, I'll have lots of opportunity to try again.
We left the door hardware as is. It's just not feasible for us to change them all right now.

The Bedding
The headboard was first. Once I'd bought all the fabric (it's Waverly from Joann's), mom and I made a headboard using this tutorial. We decided to turn the fabric sideways to mimic the shape of the headboard and to keep from having to seam the fabric.

I stitched up the red pillow shams from a standard bed sheet, the floral shams from Waverly fabric, the green accent pillow from a placemat, and the bolster pillow from more Waverly. The orange pillow is store-bought (TJ Maxx).

The bedspread, which I LOVE, is a Cynthia Rowley bedspread from Marshall's. The bedskirt is a simple white box skirt from Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
All of the the nightstand accessories were things we already had or bought at Kirkland's and Michael's. (Did I mention that we didn't buy any furniture? Just accessories and fabric.)

My in-laws gave us the water color painting of Black Mountain when we moved there in 2010. I bought a ready-made frame and had it custom matted and mounting hardware installed at Hobby Lobby during a big sale. (I highly recommend that route if you can't afford custom framing. All told it cost $60 and looks fabulous.)
See the "Black Mountain" on the train depot sign? Love that place so much. Sigh.
The black wicker chair was on the back porch, and I just sewed up a couple of pillows for it in the Waverly and added one ready-made pillow -- a hand-me-down from Grandma Jean.

My nightstand has the angel painting my in-laws gave me when my grandmother died and Ryan's tin box, together with a Kirkland's lamp and a few accessories.
I'll take this opportunity to say my mother did every single bit of this arranging last weekend when they visited. While I was shopping for all this stuff over the past year, she helped advise and guide me via FaceTime and texting, but I had no idea what to do with the things once I got them home.

The reading nook beside my nightstand has our old glider we've rocked all three babies in. It's become one of my favorite spots in the house arranged like this.

Mom pulled things I'd gathered and things from other rooms to do this. I mean, I could write something, but really there's nothing I can say here.

The woman's a genius. And we're glad to have her. And if she lived closer, life would be even better.

The curtains are lined. They're hung with quilt binding I've sewn to the back. Once I actually made them, they went pretty quickly. This much fabric is cumbersome.

But I love the way they turned out, and they're fully functional, so that's good.

This painting came from Kirkland's, and it's so perfect I bought two -- one for the den, too. I pulled the orange out and painted our lamps.

That made it sound so easy, didn't it? It wasn't. I tried using a sprayer, but that failed. In the end I just used a paintbrush and 549 coats. High gloss.

Sometimes I just sit and look at them because they make me happy.

this is what they looked like before

That's it! We've really enjoyed this space. It makes us happy to wake up in brightness, and it's the most cheerful spot in the house.

Next up is Eliza's room! We're hoping to finish it and the boys' room this summer and fall.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Kids Clothes Week: Two Little Geraniums & a Motorcycle

Another Kids Clothes Week just wrapped up! Most of my sewing lately has been home decorating -- pillows and curtains for our master bedroom (which is finished! and will be photographed this week!).

I've been itching to sew clothes, and needed to make something for our new niece and nephew (twins) born a couple of months ago. Sewing an hour a day for a week was a perfect palate cleanser after last weekend's marathon.

Here are the finished projects!

Pattern: MADE "the perfect Diaper Cover" (free!). RTW onesie with appliqué.
Fabric: Honestly, this fabric had been in my stash for a decade, and I've since gotten rid of it. The little motorcycle was from a fabric I've used to make two pairs of pants. Michael Miller, maybe? It's old, too.
Size: 0-3 month, and the fit seems pretty average with these diaper covers.
Thoughts: I made this diaper cover a couple of years ago (and just kept it for a gift someday) and added the coordinating onesie this week. I followed Dana's directions exactly for this one and found the casings around the legs and waist cumbersome. I used a much easier (to me) method in the polka dotted ones below.

Pattern: Little Geranium by Made by Rae (free!) Lollypop Leggings by Peekaboo Patterns.
Fabric: gifted by Emily and Ashley. It reminds me of my favorite feed sack fabric. The shorts are made from a pair of women's leggings I cut apart.
Size: 0-3 months, and it fit just right. I made the tunic, and it hit just where I would expect a tunic to hit. The leggings are the shorts version, and I chose to do a yoga waistband instead of a casing. They seemed to fit well, too.
Thoughts: I want to have more baby girls just to sew a hundred of these.

The baby piping is a nice touch around the bottom of the bodice, especially with a busy fabric like this one.

This was the first time I've used snaps and oh my goodness these would have been lovely, say, when I was sewing for baby Eliza! So much easier than buttons to insert and to use!

I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend three rows of gathering stitches for even, pretty gathers. One inside the SA, one close to or right at the SA, and one outside the SA. It has made such a difference in my gathered skirts.

Also, I'd recommend topstitching around the armholes and neckline for a nicely finished look.

Pattern: Little Geranium by Made by Rae (free!) and MADE perfect diaper cover (free!)
Fabric: Alexander Henry ca. a long, long time ago. Polka dotted fabric from my sister's wedding. (I've got a whole bolt! Woohoo!)
Size: 0-3 months. Norah hasn't tried this one on, but it'll fit the same. With the band, it's about the same length as the floral one -- a tunic length. For little babies, this is a good length. The leg holes may be a little big, but without measuring her little thighs, I just went with the pattern's recommended length for the elastic.
Thoughts: I didn't get a good photo of the back, but if I did, you'd see I ran out of silver snaps and had to use one black one. Oops. She's a little baby, so her back is usually hidden by a seat or someone's body who's holding her. Also, the placket doesn't fold in like it should, but the gathers make it really difficult to see that unless you're looking for it. Overall I was still pleased with how it turned out.

For this diaper cover, I inserted the elastic like you would for a bathing suit. I sewed the elastic together first in a loop, and then stretched it and sewed it directly to the (serged) raw edges of the wrong side of the fabric. Then I turned the elastic to the inside and sewed around again on the right side of the fabric, sewing the elastic down. It was soooo much easier and neater to me.

That's all for now! I'm in the process of planning out capsule wardrobes for me and Eliza. Do you have any big sewing plans for the spring? Did you have fun sewing during KCW?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

On Living WITHOUT Spider-Man

August 2013

Last week when we got ready for the library, Eliza came downstairs in Daniel's outgrown Spiderman costume. It's the same one he wore every day for a year when he was three.

"Can I wear this, Mom?" Eliza asked.

"Absolutely," I replied.

Then Lee put on his Spiderman costume. It was too short in the legs and was (ahem) constricting in other areas.

"Can I wear mine, too?" he asked.

"Absolutely," I replied.

When we got to the library, I noticed he didn't take his coat off despite the thermostat's high setting. "You okay, buddy?" I asked. He assured me he was, but I noticed the way he kept his coat closed and kept glancing around him.

"I want to take this off," he said, gesturing toward the costume. "I've got clothes under it."

So sitting at the kid tables in the kid section in the library, I worked to help him remove his Spiderman costume. "Can you hold it?" he asked.

"Sure," I said, rolling it up and putting it into the book bag. Then we went back to his Math workbook.

I knew. It was probably the last time he'd wear a costume out in public except on Halloween. Costumes have been a BIG part of our lives for the past five years, and Lee kept squeezing into them even as the elastic groaned and the hems came closer to his knees than his ankles.

He'll still dress up, but now it'll be trying on new skills and new identities -- Big Cousin, Trusted Friend, Bike Rider, Shoe Tier, Trash Emptier, Reader, and Young Entrepreneur.

He'll visit Spiderman's world in movies and books, but chances are good he won't believe he is Spiderman or expect others to believe simply because he's wearing Spiderman's outfit.

We are moving very, very quickly through this thing called Parenting Young Ones. As someone obsessed with newborns and infants and toddlers and young pre-schoolers, I thought my heart would break daily when I realized our baby days were finished.

Instead, though, I've got more time to notice things. Instead of running from here to there, wiping bottoms and noses and spills and tears, I get to slow down and notice. I notice the lasts.

The truly awesome thing is that we get to notice the new firsts, too. They're not those familiar milestones like smiling, crawling, walking, and talking. There aren't blank spaces in baby books for these firsts.

The first time the boys came up with their own business plan and earned money, the first time Eliza climbed up in her bed without a stool, the first time they all sat at the table and conversed for an entire meal. Politely. In public.

We've entered into a new season of parenting: one where everyone is potty trained and temper tantrums aren't as frequent. They can dress themselves and buckle/unbuckle their own car seats. We have family discussions. We can go out to eat at a restaurant where the entrees cost more than $4. I get to sit down.

I'll always cherish the memories of having babies in my arms -- those nights sleeping with a baby on my chest and singing lullabies after middle-of-the-night nursing sessions; and the days holding one on my chest, one on my hip, and one by the hand. Remembering those moments will keep me warm in my rocking chair someday.

But right now I'm looking forward to big kid things. We're planning to take the kids on the AT this spring and to help them train for their first road running race. Lee is reading, and the whole world is about to open up to him.

We may not be living with Spiderman, and the boys' costume days may be over, but I can't WAIT to see what identity they try on next.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Crafting Con Guest Post: Mario

Have you heard of Crafting Con? It's a series hosted by Mae&K and Friends Stitched Together that celebrates all things nerdy. Each month there's a different theme like Star Wars or Harry Potter or Dr. Who -- and guests create tutorials and four bloggers compete with a complete outfit inspired by the theme.

This month it's my turn, and our theme was Mario Brothers! The boys got a Wii for Christmas and have been getting to know Mario and his friends. Daniel's favorite character is Mario - and he's the one who needed one more winter shirt - so, he got a Mario outfit!

Whenever I sew for Daniel, especially if it's something soft and comfortable, he is so grateful. It warms a sewing mama's heart to see him so happy. He wore these pants three days in a row until I convinced him they were stained and needed to be washed!

I wanted the outfit to be a nod to Mario - the converse shoes, slim-fitting pants reminiscent of the '80s, and pageboy hat. The appliquéd Mario silhouette is for fun!

The hat is the Newsboy Hat Sewing pattern from Butterfly Tree on Etsy. It's fully reversible and made with fabric from an upcycled robe my grandmother gave me. The pattern was super easy to follow, and I took my time and am pleased with the outcome.

The pants are the Clean Slate Pants from Blank Slate Patterns. I've made the pants a couple of times before, so they went together easily, too. I do have one recommendation: if you know yours is a slim kid and you'll be cinching the elastic quite a bit, anchor down the elastic closer to the pockets rather than the side seams. All that gathering makes the welt pockets distorted otherwise. I did widen the legs of the pants a tad for a more relaxed fit, and I'm glad. Melissa's directions for a zip fly are still my favorites.

The first time I sewed these pants was a couple of years ago (at least). I remember how difficult they were for me -- the welt pockets, the zip fly, everything. The fact that things were so much easier this time made me realize just how much all that hard work has paid off! Look -- it's even got a bar tack!

My love for the Bimaa knows no bounds! The hooded version is just as great as the others. Daniel loooooves hooded shirts. This is what? my fourth Bimaa? I won the pattern from Call Ajaire and will end up investing in the updated version that has more sizes.

That's it! There's more nerdy goodness over at Mae&K, and there are some photos I didn't share here, so go check them out if you're interested!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Free for All: A Bevy of Bows

Today I'm talking hair.

Over at Frances Suzanne the lovely sisters are sharing all kinds of free goodness. There's a link-up for sharing free patterns, a link-up for sharing things we've made from free patterns, and guests sharing some of their favorite freebies. Today it's my turn, and I'm changing up my usual M.O. to delve into accessories!

Eliza's a fan of hair bows in theory, and she loves to point out awesome hair bows on other little girls, but we have yet to find one that she actually wants to wear herself. We've tried the big, boutique style. We've tried small barrettes. We've tried headbands and fancy ponytail holders. She keeps them in for a while, and then I find them lingering behind the couch or beside her plate at the kitchen table.

Maybe if she watched me make them, she'd be more inclined to wear them, I thought.

There are a MASSIVE number of hair bow tutorials on the Internet. Most of them are for ribbon hair bows, but since this is a sewing blog, I figured I'd concentrate on those made with felt and regular old fabric.

First I used the Oliver+S free pattern and tutorial for felt bows. It was a cinch! The hardest part (for me) was finding cute felt fabric. Hobby Lobby had some neat squares of felt at a great price, so I picked up my favorites. Each square would make four bows (at least).

Oliver+S also has a free pattern for a Bow Hair Tie if you like more subtle hair accessories. I made one, but Eliza's hair is so fine (and mine's so short) that it just didn't work for us. Maybe someday.

Sew Bon also has a great tutorial for fabric hair bows that I tried. I shrank Erin's recommended measurements roughly in half to fit a small alligator clip barrette. How cute are these?

The best part is all of these bows are super easy to make. Disney from Ruffles and Stuff and Jess from Craftiness is not Optional both have felt bow tutorials that are a tad different and don't even require sewing!

This tutorial from The Ribbon Retreat shows how to cover snap barrettes with ribbon and add a bow -- so unique and adorable! The tutorial is detailed with great photos, too.

I hope this gives you a nice place to start with FREE felt and fabric hair bow tutorials and patterns! If you've got any to add, please share them in the comments. They're satisfying to make, that's for sure. Wish me luck on getting Eliza to wear one!

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