Thursday, June 02, 2011

Sewing Room Wall Decor

I completed a fast little project for my sewing room earlier this week. 

I chose this project because I have boxes and boxes of fabric scraps that I hope to use in future projects.  Because I already had all of the fabric, this project was under $10 to complete thanks to some 40% off coupons for JoAnn Fabrics.

My supplies included:
10 embroidery hoops in different sizes (these were all priced at between $1.29 and $1.89 originally, I used coupons to knock that down just a little bit more.)
Hot glue and hot glue gun
Nails to hang them up (Completed, these weigh almost nothing.  I just used little finishing nails that we had laying around.)

I started by inserting the fabric into the embroidery hoop.  I pulled it taught and tightened the hoops as I went.  Then, I trimmed the excess fabric, leaving just enough to fold over the inside frame.  After applying a thin line of hot glue around the edge of the frame, I folded the excess fabric in and laid it upside-down while the hot glue dried.  Here is a pic after the fabric has been pulled nice and tight, the excess was trimmed down, and the hot glue was applied:

After the glue dried, I was ready to hang the finished hoops up.  Here is what they look like all glued and finished:

This fabric might look like a hot mess, but it holds a very special place in my heart.  It was used to make costumes for the inhabitants of Hades' underworld for a show I worked on last year and I spent hours and hours and called in a lot of favors to have dancers, my husband, and my in-laws help me cut, dye, and sew hundreds of strips of fabric together (here's the original rendering and a pair of the pants on one of the dancers before they were completely fitted):

Anyways, back to the project that this post was supposed to be about.  After I had filled each of the hoops with fabric that I have used in the past and love to look at and reminisce about, I played around with the arrangement on our coffee table before I started nailing holes in the wall.  Here's an arrangement that I liked and kind of loosely based my final set up on:

After I had figured out what I liked and didn't like in an arrangement, I got to hanging the hoops up on the wall.  Here's what I ended up with:

I still have a few empty hoops that will fill the space out even more, but I think of this project as one that will evolve and grow over time.

And since I called this post "Sewing Room Wall Decor", I can't help but sneak in a shot of my other arrangement in this room, my rendering "photo" wall.

And some close-ups:

Throw Pillow Thursday

I LOVE making throw pillows from placemats.  Half of the work is done for you.  I made this week's throw pillow from two IKEA MARIT Placemats.  They cost me about a dollar each and measure 14" by 18".  I used IKEA's 16" by 20" pillow form, which runs $2.99.  It's the same kind of pillow form that I used for this pillow a few weeks back.  These placemats are only one piece of fabric and don't have a ready-made pillow back like some that I use (and added a few extra steps to my pillow-making process).   

To make my pillowcase, I lined my two placemats up on top of each other and sewed a white zipper down one side.  As always, I sewed a zipper into this pillow case to make for easy cover removal and cleaning down the line.  I then sewed the remaining three sides closed.  Usually, I would do this by lining my two placemats up with their right sides together (meaning that the pretty fabric that will eventually show is inside and what will ultimately live inside of the pillow is facing out).  But, these placemats kind of have a woven, rustic, scalloped edge on the two long sides that I really liked and didn't want to lose.  You can kind of see it along the top here: 

In order to keep that little edge in tact, I lined the placemats up (after inserting the zipper) with their right sides facing out.  I pinned all along the edge of the placemats and used a straight stitch and sewed along the long sides as close to the edge as I could.  My pillow is actually different colors on each side (one blue placemat and one white placemat), so I loaded my sewing machine's bobbin with blue thread and the top part of the machine with white thread and sewed with the white side facing up.

I hand sewed the final side using a slip stitch and blue thread.  The stitching is blends into the fabric in the completed pillow.  The only reason that I sewed it by hand was because I could do it on the train and I knew that it would be a little bit more hidden than if I sewed it by machine.

And here is the front and back of my completed pillow:

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Shelving Unit - Part II

I've put some more decorative items on the shelving unit that Matt built.  Since we have a lot of books (think boxes and boxes of books) and nowhere else to put them (...yet), this shelving unit became home to a lot of books. 

Also on there are (from the top shelf down):
IKEA candleholders, picture frame; Target mix and match lamp and shade, books;
books, metal grasshoppers that Matt's mom gave us as a housewarming present, even more books;
picture frame, bud vase that my bestie Lauren gave me when we were 16 (it is nothing short of a miracle that it has survived since then), hurricane vase thing filled with pinecones (for now);
our paper organization solution (more on that in a coming post).

And one with the light on.  I love it. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Shelving Unit

I am so proud of my husband!  He finished this beautiful shelving unit for our living room.  I am just thrilled with how it looks. 

And, here's how he did it:

The piece was designed to specifically fit into a little nook by our (never-used) front door.  He used pine to build it.  The bottom portion is a drawer and one of the spaces was left larger than the others so we could fit a small lamp there.  Here's Matt making some last minute adjustments to the shelves before we started prepping the shelf for paint:

After it was built, Matt filled in all of the screw holes and edges in with wood filler.  When the wood filler was dry, we sanded it down for a nice, smooth surface. 

After sanding and wiping the entire unit with a tack cloth to make sure there was no lingering sawdust to muck up our paint.  We primed the shelf (propped up on old paint cans):

After a coat of primer, we lightly sanded and tack cloth'ed the entire piece again before applying two coats of Sherwin Williams' Pure White in a semi-gloss finish.  It haven't really decorated it yet.  But I stole some picture frames from other spots around the living room just to see how it'll look. 

I love how it looks.  And I love it even more because it was built by my husband's own two hands.  This weekend, I'm planning to style it a little more with a lamp and some books.  Once it's all done, I'll take another picture to share.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Throw Pillow Thursday

A Story of Pillow Love

Years ago, while I was in college, I bought a long, gold-striped table runner on clearance at Gordmans for a few bucks.  It was the table runner of my dreams.  And I got it for a steal.  Life was good.

Unfortunately, after about a year of living with my dream table runner, a couple of inches of it got ruined during a tragic pumpkin carving incident. 

Not wanting to be wasteful, I used the remaining tablerunner to make three placemats.  This worked out great because we had our kitchen table in our little college rental pushed up against a wall and only used three chairs at it.

Unfortunately, three month after I made those placemats, my college roommate set a hot pan on one of the placemats and melted a hole in it.  Left with two placemats, we continued to use them for two of the spots at our table.  The third spot just remained naked for the final year+ that we lived in the apartment

Three years after buying my table runner, I graduated college with two placemats still intact. 

After graduation, Matt and I moved into an apartment in the city and set to decorating it.  The two placemats weren't doing me much good as I now had a large 6 seat table in our apartment.  They lived in a box in our office for almost a year.  While cleaning out the office closet, I found them tucked in a box with my graduation gown and some other college memorabilia.  I still couldn't use them on our table, but, again, I didn't want to be wasteful.  I opted to turn my placemats into throw pillows for our bed. 

And that is where they remain today.
(My bed is centered on the window, I don't know if I was at a weird angle or what happened.  Also, the center pillow was a gift from a family friend for our wedding shower a few years ago.  I would guess it's either from Crate and Barrel or Target, circa 2008.)

 I love them.  I hope that they last forever and live out their days on my bed. 

These are the only pillows in my house that do not have a zipper.  I spot clean them if and when they get dirty.  I've thought a lot about slipping a zipper in though.  Maybe I'll do that eventually.  The lack of a zipper in no way slows my love for them. 

Here's the back.  It was the back to the original table runner.  I love it too.

The End.

Monday, May 02, 2011


Hello Blogland.  I missed you.  I got to spend the better part of last week in Omaha, NE.  While there, I got to shop a lot!  Mostly for furniture and jewelry.  I'll have a post soon about the magic of Nebraska Furniture Mart.  In the mean time, I thought I would share a little about what I've been working on for our yard.

Our yard was in a bad state when we bought our house.  Only about a third of of yard had grass, the rest was dirt.  There were about a dozen dead trees on our property (some hanging right over our house!).  And the shrubbery left something to be desired.  As we didn't have a long term solution in place yet, last year, we just worked on maintenance.  Matt removed brush from a huga aree of our yard.  We removed 14 trees that were either dead or located too close to our house for comfort.  We also added grass to a huge section of our yard.  Beyond that, last summer was spent enjoying our new house and making plans for turning our existing yard into our dream yard.

This year, I have big plans.  We've already progressed on our grass mission.  We started putting more seed down in late March.  I will post pictures if the rain stops long enough to let me take some.

We have a huge challenge in growning any plants in our yard.  We get very limited sun thanks to the insane number of trees in our yard.  This is the google satellite image of our house.  No joke.  Our garage is actually under that little A tag, our house is just to the right of the garage...

We have a lot of trees. 

After a lot of research, I decided to try and grow a few hardy plants that I thought might survive in dark conditions.  I started some seeds inside and those plants are just about ready to be transplanted into containers and moved outside.  This year, I'm going to try and grow string beans, spinach, mint, and basil.  I choose string beans and spinach because various experts indicated that I could basically throw the seeds on the ground and get great results.  I was also told that both vegetables will grow well in containers.  And I've grown basil and mint before with pretty successful results. 

Two weeks ago, I planted string bean and spinach seeds in Jiffy Greenhouses.  These greenhouses were so easy to use and it took me less than 30 minutes to plant 12 sections of seeds. 

Here they are the morning after planting, still just dirt:

And, this is just two full days after planting.  Those String Beans started shooting up:

This is 5 days after planting.  The string beans are on the outside and the spinach is in the middle:

And 10 days after planting.  All of the string beans have grown and are still growing, about half of the spinach plants have started growing. 

Hopefully this weekend, I'll have some time to transplant the string beans into containers and move them out onto my deck.  With any luck, I'll be looking up recipes in no time.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Throw Pillow Thursday - Part 2

Soon after writing my earlier post, I realized that I never shared my completed button throw pillow here. 

Here's a look back at how I got to a finished product (more details and pictures can be seen here).......

Supplies used were 14" x 14" squares of fabric dyed a purple-y gray, 14" gray zipper, white paint, paintbrush, printout of the number 3, white thread (not pictured), and lots and lots of buttons.

I traced the three onto the fabric and started arranging buttons and sewing them on.  So many buttons.

 After all of the buttons were sewn on, I pinned my zipper in place and sewed it on. 

Here's the final pillow cover (as always, it's totally removable and totally machine washable): 

Throw Pillow Thursday

I'm going to start a new series of posts called Throw Pillow Thursdays.

I get my pillow forms from IKEA, Jo Ann Fabrics, and Atlanta Thread and Supply Company, depending on where the best sale is or where I have other shopping to do.  All of my throw pillows have zippered, machine washable covers.  This serves two purposes for me: 1. if it's dirty, I can wash it and 2. if I get bored, I can change the covers in and out as I please without taking up much storage on currently out-of-rotation covers.

The pillow that I completed this week started out as a $1.99 SOLBRÄND placemat from IKEA.

This beauty measures in at 14" x 18" and is 100% cotton.  While at IKEA, I also picked up a 16" x 20" pillow form for $2.99.  When buying from IKEA, I like to get pillow forms that are a little bigger than the case I'm making.  I find their pillow forms to be a little understuffed for my tastes.  With the supplies I picked up at IKEA, the grand total for this pillow, with tax, came in just over $5 (as I already had all of the other supplies).  If I had to buy the rest of my supplies (14" white zipper, white thread, and a seam ripper), the project would still have been around 8-10 bucks.

This placemat is one of my favorite kinds to use for a throw pillow because it already has a fancy printed piece of fabric and a second piece of fabric that makes up the plain white backside. 

To make my pillow, I decided which side of the pillow I wanted my zipper on and opened that seam using my seam ripper.  (Sadly, this project went so quickly that I totally forgot to take pictures of all of these steps, but I will be using this method to make another pillowcase soon and will take detailed pictures of the process then.)  Using my sewing machine's zipper foot, I attached a 14 inch white zipper to the side of the placemat that I seam ripped open. 

With my zipper in place and functional, I slide my pillow form into the case and closed 'er up.  And here is my newest pillow sitting pretty on our couch:

Have you made any throw pillows lately?  Or have you used sewing skills elsewhere in the house?  Please share!  I love looking at other people's ideas for inspiration.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I haven't blogged lately.  Probably because we've been so busy with projects around the house!  I'll have lots to share in the coming weeks, but I wanted to pop on today and show a cute little project that I finished last night. 

We got these Crate and Barrel coasters as a gift for our wedding shower:

And that is exactly how they have looked for the last three years.  Partly because I forget about them, partly because I couldn't decide what to put in them.  But still, I fully realize that three years is a ridiculous amount of time to have left those coasters alone. 

I was wrapping a gift for a friend the other day and just loved the wrapping paper I was using.  A very graphic white print on a metallic paper.  I had just enough left over to cut sections out for the coasters.  And, they look awesome in our living room now.  Here's the finished product(s): 

And, here they are all together again in their final location:

Monday, April 04, 2011

Smoke Detector (Or How I stopped worrying and learned to love the cave)

Even though it has undergone a major transformation (see the biggest changes here and here), I still call our hallway the cave.  It's not cave-like anymore.  I'll just always lovingly call it that.  Everytime I say "The Cave" I think of the early days in our house when we were still figuring out what it would end up looking like.  The early days of drywall and carpet removal and new hardwoods and popcorn ceilings and paint.  Okay, enough reminiscing.  Onto my point.

The smoke detector in our hallway looked like this when we moved in:
It just didn't seem safe to me.  And it certainly didn't look good.  So, after a year of imagining my house burning in a horrible fire every time I walked through the cave, I took some action.  Better late than never, right?

I got my supplies together.  New smoke detector, step stool, awesome American flag screwdriver.

Since I was taking the old smoke detector down anyways and (unlike the one in the kitchen) the smoke alarm isn't hardwired into the ceiling, I decided to move it.  It used to be located here, right between the vent and the (broken) light fixture:

Though it was totally fine there, it didn't look as great as I knew it could.  The vent/smoke detector/light fixture sight line was a little much for me.  So, I took the smoke detector down, and was left with a small circle of popcorn ceiling that was never removed:

I removed the popcorn, patched up the ceiling, and repainted (ceiling is SW's Pure White).  The smoke detector is now tucked right on the other side of the light fixture.  Doesn't that look cleaner?

And I know that it works.  And it is super easy to test and super easy to change the batteries.  I feel safer and it looks better.  I'm going to call this project a bit WIN.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Dog Food Storage

The day before we got the dog, Matt and I went shopping for all of the supplies he would need.  Because we buy his dog food at Costco, we needed a big container to store it in.  We picked this one up at Walmart for less than $10:

While totally functional, it was a little bland for my tastes.  The dog food container sits in the corner of our pantry and we see it everytime we open the door (which is every time we cook a meal).  Taking my cue from this post over at House of Hepworths (HoH), I spent about an hour transforming my boring old dog food container into this:

In the project posted on HoH, the crafter used her silhouette machine to make the words and the paw prints.  I don't have a silhouette machine, so I just used a printout and a sharpie.  I printed my words and image, traced them onto my dog food container, and filled it in with sharpie.  Super easy and super cute.  And of course, puppy approved:

Friday, April 01, 2011


I'm all about personalizing everyday decor items.  And when I can do it with spray paint, watch out!  I first saw this project on Gorgeous Shiny Things.  She got the idea from Martha

I already had the mat.  I already had the spray paint.  I already had the painters tape.  And what's better than a quick project that you do not have to do any shopping for?

I printed out our address in Word.  So easy!  I used Rockwell Extra Bold font in size 630.  Yes, 630.  That's not a typo.  I cut out the numbers and taped my new stencil to the center of the mat.  Using painter's tape, I taped a border on my mat.  I just made it up as I went and used a straight-edged ruler to keep the tape nice and even.  Here it is all taped up and ready for paint:

I used Rustoleum's Camoflage spray paint in Deep Forest Green.  It's a little darker than my inspiration, but my original mat was darker than Martha's.  A few coats of spray paint and a coat of spray laquer later and here is the finished product:

Try to ignore those smudged-looking spots, those are just my hallway casting weird shadows.  I'll try and get a better picture in the daylight this weekend.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Painting Vanities

Our house has the same cabinets in two bathrooms, the kitchen, and extra cabinets in the same style in the basement.

Matt and I have been talking about painting our kitchen cabinets since the very first time we walked through the house.  But, we keep going back and forth on if we want dark or light cabinets in the kitchen.  Honestly, I can see it both ways and it will look beautiful no matter what we chose.  In an effort to help us make up our minds, I painted the cabinet in one bathroom white (Sherwin William's Pure White) and the cabinet in the other bathroom dark brown (Sherwin William's Turkish Coffee).  Both cabinets look much, much better than they did when we moved in and we're still no closer to making a decision for the kitchen.  So, dear readers, if you have a preference, lay it on me.

Here are the before and afters of the vanity in our small bathroom:

Much improved, no?  We ordered the new knobs in bulk and planned to use the same ones for the cabinets in the larger bathroom and for the drawers in the kitchen (coordinating handles are on the cabinets).

And here is the before of our bigger bathroom:

It's a huge vanity.  We've talked about replacing it in the future, but there are more important projects to work on right now.  For at least the next couple of years, this coat of paint will do just fine.  Here are the afters of each side of the vanity.  Note the fancy new knobs and hinges too. 

And, for referrence, here is a partial shot of those same cabinets in our kitchen.  Look at all of that wood grain!
The debate over light and dark still rages on for these cabinets.  As of right now at least, the knobs have been changed.  Someday we'll make up our minds and buckle down and paint the kitchen cabinets.