Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Throw Pillow Covers

Another project I've waited a year to do.  With good reason: I didn't have a sewing machine.  But I got this one for Christmas, so pillows were at the top of my list!

We've been using two throw pillows, one of which was purple and didn't go with anything in the room.  The other was the quilted turquoise one in the photos below, which I got from one of those fair trade things from Africa during the Southern Christmas Show years ago (and I still love it).

We have opened shelving in the kitchen, and italian pottery dishes that are muted green and yellow.  

So, those colors had to fit into the whole room's color scheme.  But since I like bright blues, greens, and grays I added pops of aqua/turquoise to the mix, so our living room color scheme is more like this.

Yellow, green, aqua, charcoal, and white.

It helps that our hand-me-down rug is blue.  There are worse colors.

It was surprisingly hard to find a patterned fabric that had some arrangement of those colors in it that wasn't old fashioned looking or didn't have a white background.  I didn't want a light background because it would look washed out on the tan slipcover.  

I finally found a fabric that had charcoal and green with a little blue in it.  But $16/yard was a little steep.  Luckily I only needed 5/8th of a yard, so I went for it.  I also found yellow duck cloth (canvas-like) that was $8/yard.

One was for a 20 inch pillow, the other for 18 inch.  Pillow forms themselves are very expensive, in my opinion.  Usually $12 for 16in, and $15 or more for a 20in.  I have several bags full of old pillow forms that are still in great shape(many never used).  The larger pillow form is actually from Ikea.  It was a 24 x 20 inch pillow with an ugly royal blue cover on it.  And it was on clearance for $7.  Yes, please!  I got two.

But the rectangular size made them look like bed pillows.  I remedied that by ripping it opened and pulling out a good bit of stuffing and then taking it in 4 inches on one side and restuffing and sewing it back up. 

I followed a blog tutorial for a envelope pillow cover.  It really was as super easy as they say.  You cut one long piece of fabric and fold it around the back, instead of cutting two pieces.  I wasn't ready to try my hand at zippers. 

Here is the back side with the opening.

Applique pillows are all over Pinterest.  Animal appliques are all the rage and I almost did a rabbit or fox.  After browsing I found some naturey shapes like branches and leaves that I liked.  All I did was free hand a design just by looking at the picture.  I drew it straight onto leftover drop cloth fabric.

Cut it out and pinned it to my already hemmed, but not folded around envelope pillow.  Then sewing in a contrasting thread (gray).  This was the time consuming part.  I haven't yet washed it to let it fray completely, but I did try and fray it with my fingers.

This was my inspiration photo.

The last pillow actually wasn't planned out like the others.  I just wanted to make a t-shirt pillow because they are so soft.  And I had a stack of t-shirts that were going to goodwill.

I used this blog as a reference, but also just winged it.

Seriously SOOOO soft and cuddly.  I really need to make more!

Finally a Bookshelf!

Do you ever have one of those projects that you put off for months or years, and when it's finally done you think "Why on earth did we not do this sooner?"  This was definitely one of those.  

If we are friends on Facebook, then you already saw some of these pictures, but here is a more detailed play by play.  No, it's not a tutorial on how to build a bookshelf because I don't know how to build a bookshelf!  My job was to document (and not very well I was told), and then putty, paint, and style.

Matt told me I didn't get close ups of how the pieces fit together so perfectly.  He was proud.  As he should be.

I don't have a close up of the craziness going on in the corner before, but here's a shot of that side of the room taken last year.  If you look close, you can see that the corner does not meet at a 90 degree angle.  Because of a support post holding up the roof, the drywall is actually at a 45 degree angle.

To build a bookshelf behind the TV meant we need to create a 90 degree corner so the bookshelf would have a side.  A bookshelf needs to side pieces to attach the shelves to, right?

 Since we were already having to box in the corner, we both had the thought that we could put a door on it and shove the modem and other cords into.  And since the bottom shelf was going to be raised off the floor 4 inches, why not make it removable and run cords under there as well!

These are the kind of pictures Matt wished I took more of.  Perfect joints.  Most people do their best and caulk the rest (is that the saying?).  But Matt's an engineer, so it had to be perfect.  My dad asked how he knows how to build like this. Matt said, it's just geometry.  It's so easy to him (not so much me).  I don't even think he writes any of this down.  It's all in his head.

The shelves are just screwed in from the outside, so no underneath supports needed.

This is Matt's technique for attaching shelves or even mounting cabinets.  Stack things under it until you reach the desired height.  Keeps things still and level.  Great for those of us who don't have 3 or 4 arms.

Matt's job is done.  He(along with co-workers who saw this photo) really wanted to leave it this natural two-tone color.  It's interesting, but SO doesn't go with the rest of our house.  It would have stood out in not a good way since all our trim is white.

 I should also note that the reason the boards are so dark is because they are 20 or 30 yrs old.  Matt's parents were saving them for the perfect project, which never came up, so they gave them to us to use.  Some of them have knotty holes straight through, which really add a lot of character and make it look like a built in piece from an old house.

The plan was to put the stereo and printer on the shelves and run the cords through holes drilled into the side of the bookshelf.  You can see one of the holes in the photo below.  The bottom shelf is removable by drilling a similar hole into the far right side to stick your finger into to lift out.  Under the shelf are all the cords for the TV, printer, stereo, and the cord thingy that connects a laptop to the TV (since we watch nearly all of our tv either on hulu or netflix).

And inside the door is the DSL line and modem.

And here it is finished and styled.  We have plenty of room to grow and change it up as our needs change.  

I'm completely in love with it.  It's amazing how it's really replaced 3 pieces of furniture(bookshelf in other room, tv tray with stereo, small bookshelf with printer and books).  And does it a million times better than those other 3 pieces ever did!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Put a Pin In It

You know those tomato pincushions that all the stores sell, and everyone has, and are just plain ugly.

I couldn't have that.

I needed a cute one.

Enter Pinterest.

After seeing so many wonderful inspirations, I narrowed it down to this one.

It looked simple enough and I had tons of fabric scraps from years past.  I just needed a clear tutorial to stitch it together.

This was a great tutorial for the log cabin quilt pattern.

Starting with a square center, sew one piece at a time to the center square, stopping to iron it flat after every added piece.

The picture in the link shows this better than I'm explaining.

I didn't take pictures during.  Ain't nobody got time for that.

Here's my final piece.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

First Sewing Project

One of my big Christmas gifts this year was a sewing machine.  I've known the basics since I was a teenager, but my skills haven't progress much past a simple throw pillow.  With Pinterest flaunting wonderful projects in my face everyday, temptation wore me down.  It's time to teach myself some new skills.  

I did very little research when picking out a machine.  Just that most experienced sewers still recommend Singer.  They've really stood the test of time.  I didn't want a SUPER fancy one, but I didn't want a bare bones machine either.  I didn't want to out grow it if I get really into this new hobby.

In the end I went with the Singer 7258 Stylist with 100 stitches.  You can find it at Amazon here.

For my first project, I started simple.  Two beige rectangles.  Super exciting, I know.

Our bedroom has this ledge at the top of one 12 ft tall wall.  It's there to create a 9 ft ceiling in the other bedroom.  Without that ceiling "cap", the ceiling in the other room would become a narrow wedge, which would just look weird.  So we capped it also with the thought that we could use it as storage in the future.  With only 800 sq ft, and 12 ft ceilings, we are utilizing every bit of vertical storage space.

Decorative containers would be one solution, but that would require something with a lid to keep out the dust.  And they would have to be attractive, which means EXPENSIVE.

Then, I thought of a curtain on a cable line.  Any ugly plastic container could go behind it.

We found this wire curtain rod at Ikea for $13, and clips for $3.  

I wanted to find some thick fabric that would blend into the wall color instead of a contrasting color/pattern.  While at the fabric store, I found the perfect fabric made out of duck cloth(which is basically canvas) in an array of color choices.  Off white was a perfect match, but it was $8/yard and I was guessing I needed at least 2, maybe 3 yards.  Starting to get expensive.

So, I left the store empty handed and headed over to Lowes to buy a 9x6 inexpensive painters drop cloth.

Lots of people have been using the cheap painters drop clothes to make cheap curtain panels and all sorts of other things(just take a look at this blog post for ideas).  Once it's washed, it's actually quite soft.  But it only comes in one color(darker than my walls).  I decided it was close enough and worth the money savings to not have a perfect match.

Let's speed this story up.

I did not take photos of my cutting and sewing the panels, but it's pretty straight forward.  Once I washed and ironed the fabric, I layed it out flat and made measurements based on what I had measured after Matt installed the wire curtain rod.  

I went with two panels instead of one long one because I thought it would be easier to manage getting things in and out.

The ledge is 10 ft long so I made two 7 ft long panels for a total of 14 ft (room for gather).  That looked too full, so I cut them down to 6 ft.

There were many trips up and down the ladder to get the "fluff" right.  I'm using the space to store out of season clothes.  Since it requires a ladder from outside, it's really the best thing to store in there since I only need to get to it twice a year.

We realized after that the big plastic boxes we already had, were too big to fit because of the angled wall.  A trip to Walmart was needed and we searched for boxes that would still fit a lot of clothing, but were a little narrower than the others.  

We found some that almost fit the bill.  So close in fact, it was just the rim that made it not fit, and flare the curtain out a bit.  We just flipped the boxes upside down and it was fine!  There's nothing breakable in them.

And a photo during daylight.

Four bins fit up there, but I only needed two, which means I have two to grown on!  Here's a peak at what the bins look like and, of course, the OCD in me labeled them all (upside down so it's readable in the upside down bin). 

When summer clothes are in them we can face this side out, and when winter clothes are in them, we can turn it around and have a different label face out.

I'd say my first adult sewing project was a success, although not terribly exciting.  Next will probably be some FUN throw pillows!  With zippers!  Maybe.


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