Sunday, July 31, 2011

A New Marine!

We've been in South Carolina for our nephew's graduation from boot camp, and I know y'all (they really do say that in the south) want to see one of the newest marines, right?    First I will warn you that my knowledge of military terminology is abysmal, so here is his "group."

Rusty is the one in the center of the next photo with a stripe on his arm.  Only a few of them earned the stripe, so you can see that he's already working hard earning his keep.
Here he is, one of the newest U. S. Marines, Rusty J. Wojcik!!  Way to go, buddy!  Great job!

I think it helps to have the lovely Beth waiting for you at the end of training.  

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sewing Room is Finished

Finally.  I can't believe this room is finished.  Lots of work, but here it is.

That high chair is for use at the cutting table when I get tired of standing.  I have one desk chair that I slide between this sewing table with the serger and embroidery machine to the other sewing table shown below with the two sewing machines.  Yes, I know four machines is a bit over the top, but both the machines I use for straight sewing were purchased used and really inexpensive. One is always set with light thread and the other dark so that I can mend things quickly.

I love Craigslist.  That sewing machine on the right was a brand new, still-in-the box Brother Project Runway.  For the $200 I paid for it, I also got a Lutterloh pattern-making system complete with the dressmaker curved rulers, large ruled ironing pad, and yards of heavy denim fabric.   I have a Brookstone back massager on the chair. The cord gets tangled on occasion, but it is worth it.  My new thread storage is in the corner.  I blogged about it here if you want to see what I did with that.

The armoire is filled with sewing/crafting supplies,  Both sides of it have pegboard inserts for hanging things that I use often.   You can read more about making the inserts here.   The big stereo on top is for my books on CD.  I dearly love to listen to them while sewing or crafting.

This furniture set was also a great buy from Craigslist although the rest of the family doesn't agree with me on that. Every last one of them has politely told me it is ugly!   I find it to be attractive in a rustic kind of way and comfortable and cheap at $250 and so much better than nothing.  The tan ottoman was from the Habitat ReStore.  It only needed casters AND it has storage space inside.

My cutting table is next to the chair when not being used.  I blogged about the vinyl closet door decals here.  The large expanse of plain white closet doors just didn't work for me.  The hubster and I made the button wall plaque which I love.  I did a post with a tutorial last week if you want to see it.  Last, a second-hand flat screen television just in case I don't have any good books on CD.

Now I have to put that cutting table back in the center of the room and get to work.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Button Wall Plaque for Sewing Room with Tutorial

I'm loving this new wall hanging my husband and I put together for the sewing room!

  • Wood wall plaques - 2 five-inch and 3 seven-inch.  
  • Jute
  • Old paint brush handle about 12 inches
  • wood glue
  • drill for the holes
The plaques were $1.47 and 99 cents at Hobby Lobby.
Next, find the center and measure out evenly to mark the four places for holes in the buttons and drill. The holes need to be large enough to accommodate the jute you will be using and, well, to look like buttons.  

Paint the buttons absolutely any color you want!  I mixed some small bottles of craft store acrylics to get the hues I wanted.

In the center above, you can see the "needle" my husband made with an old paint brush.  He took the brush portion off, sanded the top to round it and the bottom to get more of a point.  After drilling an eye hole at the top, I painted it metallic silver.

I threaded the jute though each button to make an x and tied them off in back.  Put some tape on the end of the jute to make it easier to thread it through.

You could put these up individually or stack and glue them as I did.  Once I decided on the placement, I used some wood glue where the pieces meet and clamped them together. You could stack books on them if you don't have clamps.  Don't use too much glue!  It will just ooze out the side when you press the pieces together.  My wood glue (Titebond) dried clear, but wipe off any excess as you go along to be sure.
Last, I tied off the ends of the needle jute, looped it to the back, and tucked it into the jute of one of the buttons.  Best part is that you can hang this (or these if you are putting them up individually) by the jute--no need to buy hangers.  And, you are finished!

Shed Redo

I should entitle this, "How I Won a Sweet Little Giveaway and Had to Paint My Shed."  Here are before and after pics of the shed.

This before picture is of the "good" side of the shed, but you can still see the wood rotting out on the lower right.
So, how did winning a giveaway require redoing the shed?   You can see the answer  between the windows on the "after" photo.  Part of the prize from the A Creative Princess giveaway was a gift card to Michael's.   I found this beautiful enameled metal piece there that I just KNEW would look great between the windows of my shed.

Unfortunately the shed was in terrible shape.   The door was rotted at the bottom.  The metal roof edging was peeling and rusting in spots.  Wood in the back needing  replacement as you can see here.

Redoing the shed was not anywhere near the top of my to-do list for the summer.  In fact, I thought we would have to tear it down and rebuild.  After I found that enameled metal piece, the shed was not looking so bad after all and had miraculously worked its way to the top of the to-do list.  As it turned out, the shed was a pretty easy and inexpensive fix.  We needed a new door, one large piece of wood to replace the one holding the back gutter, lots of wood filler, and paint.

So, after replacing the wood, digging out soft spots and putting in wood filler, lots of scraping and painting, it is done!

A quick note on my experience with wood filler.  The Minwax filler was a disaster.  It requires mixing with a hardener,  is hard to work with, and smells awful.  In the end, I scraped off all the Minwax filler and used the much less expensive and easy-to-use Elmer's wood filler.  Elmer's even worked great on large holes such as this one.
Elmer's dried to a hard finish, sanded easily, and took the paint beautifully  Just in case you're wondering, Elmer's is not paying me to review their product.  You surely know that Minwax isn't;-)

The gutters that looked so bad I thought I'd have to replace them actually only needed to be washed with dish detergent and a little bleach.  Last, my lovely husband took on replacing the door.

So here it is again!  The finished product.
Thanks to Terri of A Creative Princess for getting me motivated.  I think all the neighbors are also thanking you.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Another Sewing Room Project Completed: Hanging Space

I hate not being able to find or get at my sewing stuff.  This project turned out to be a great way to get more hanging space for over-sized and often-used things.  My ancient armoire has some nice overhangs at the top and mid section as you can see here.

I decided to cut pegboard to fit in that space.  My lovely husband cut the pegboard to fit  and put small slats of wood on each side to give space behind for the hooks to fit in.  There are four screws--one in each corner--holding the pegboard to the armoire.  You could still do this on the sides of a furniture piece without the overhangs, though. In fact, doing one the whole length of an armoire would be great!  This is the back of one prior to painting.

I painted them brown to sort of blend in.
Here they are all loaded with things that I can easily see.  First one side--
And the other!
You'll note that one lonely pair of scissors on this side.  That's  'cuz this side is closest to the door.  While my children SWEAR they never use my sewing room scissors for paper and other non-cloth things, I suddenly end up with dull scissors.  My hope is that they will grab these already ruined scissors instead of ruining another pair.  We shall see.

My First Blog Button!!!

I got a button!  I'm excited.  My first button.  It's over there on the side gently flashing a welcome right now.

 It was done by Connie of Measured by the Heart.    If you need some blog work done, from buttons to a whole new blog design, go visit Connie.  She's great to work with and the prices are so affordable.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Frugal and Convenient Thread Storage

I've been working away on the sewing room which IS almost finished, but I thought I'd show what I did with my thread.  My thread storage started out on one of those hanging things with dowels-- pretty, but the thread got dusty.  When the collection outgrew that rack, I upgraded to plastic boxes that would keep the dust out.  When the boxes increased five boxes requiring a constant and frustrating shifting of the stacked boxes to find what I wanted, I knew it was time to make another change.

 Until I can afford one of those incredible wood cabinets, here is my frugal but convenient thread storage solution.

 It's a Sterlite and I paid $14.  The four shallow drawers work well for all the smallish spools and the tall bottom drawer has my large cones of thread.  My old boxes had inserts with dowels for the thread which I was able to reuse in the drawers.   Otherwise I was going to line the drawers with that rubbery shelf liner to keep things in place.  I have so many spools they pretty much hold one another up.

I even marked the colors on the outside!!  See those nice little rectangles of color?

The first label on the top drawer is metallic for my metallic thread, but it doesn't show as metallic in the photo.  The last one is stripes to designate all my strange threads-- plastic, button, upholstery, that kind of thing.  The rest signify the colors in the drawers and the sides they are on.

So much easier to find what I'm looking for now.

I used my ever-helpful Xyron Magic Sticker Maker and EK Success Photo Labels paper punch along with scrap paper in the appropriate color.
Just slide labels into the back of the sticker maker:

And twist the knob to turn them into stickers:
The paper punch has 3 different size labels which will be nice for labeling the rest of the sewing room, too.  The sewing room is almost done--really.  I'd say I will have it up next week, but I remember how that worked out with the master bath.  MAYBE next week.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Baker's Apron Tutorial

I made this baker-style apron as a birthday gift  for my son's fiance.  She loves to cook and often uses my apron for her culinary ventures. It's made of white denim from Joann's.  Decorative cotton is pretty, but I wanted the denim which is more likely to keep the spills from going through the fabric.  My old natural bull denim apron is a workhorse that has lasted for years.

In addition to the small pocket in the top bib portion, there is a large pocket divided into two section just below the waist.

I found the embroidery design from  The hardest part about the apron was choosing the design for embroidery.  There are so many fun ones!  Some of the other designs I bought said, "Is Carrot Cake a Vegetable?", "I Have a Knive and I Know How to Use It", and, my favorite, "Spooning Leads to Forking."  All will be going on some Huck toweling fabric soon.

Now for the tutorial. The amount of fabric will depend on the width of the fabric you are buying and the amount of shrinkage that can be expected.   Prewash your fabric!  You will need:
  •  one piece of fabric 34.5x 31.5" for the main part of the apron
  • one strip of denim measuring 35x3" for the neck strap and D-rings strap (You will cut off  7" of this for the D-ring strap)
  • 2 strips 35x3.5" for the waist ties (long enough to wrap around to the front for tying)
  • 1 piece of denim 8.5x5.5" for the top pocket OR, if you don't have a serger,  one 8.5x10.5" for the fold-over method
  • one piece of fabric 8.5x15" for the bottom pocket OR, if you don't have a serger, make this piece 16.5x15" 
  • 2 one-inch D-rings
Directions for getting the curved sides on the main piece of fabric:  Fold the main piece of fabric in half across the 31.5" side.  You're going to mark the curved area from the top to the waist.  Starting at what is the neck area measure from the fold out and mark using a chalk marker or disappearing marker or whatever it is that you use:
  • at the top, mark 5.5" from the fold
  • 4" down from top, 6.5 inches out from the fold
  • 6.25" down, 8 inches out from the fold
  • 7.25" down, 9 inches from the fold
  • 9" down, 11 inches from the fold
  • 11" down,  should come to the edge of the fabric
I didn't take photos of this part of the process, but here is a  picture showing the marked curve on another piece of fabric.  I have a Wright's EZ Flex Design Ruler that bends to the curve for marking, but you could use any firm but flexible strip of plastic, a piece of string, or do this freehand.
See my little dots next to the ruler?  Once you've marked out your line, cut it!

When you have all the pieces cut, here are the seam and sewing measurements.  I don't serge the main piece of fabric because I prefer the hems to be really solid. All are folded under twice.  Aprons in this house get a lot of use and spend their fair share of time in the washer and dryer.

For the main piece of fabric:
  • Hem the curved side seams first.  Press under a scant 1/4" seam.  (I use a seam gauge while pressing for this. It's easy to set the exact measure to stay on target.)  Then turn it under another 1/4" and press.  Pin and sew these curved edges in place about 1/8" from the edge of the seam.
  • Hem the straight side seams by turning under and pressing 1/4" then turning and pressing 1/2".  Sew 1/8" from the edge of the seam.
  • Hem the top, neck end by pressing under 1/2", then 3/4".  Again sew about 1/8" from the edge of the seam.
  • Hem the bottom turning and pressing first 1/2", then 1" with the same 1/8" sewing line. 
For the 36x3" neck straps:
  • Press in 1/2" on each long side.  Then fold this in half and  press.  This will leave you with a 1" wide strip. (You might be wondering why not just do the" fold in half and press each side into the center" method which is easier.  That would make the straps bulkier and stiffer since this is denim. Hence, this method.  A little more work, but the straps are more flexible and comfortable.)
  •  Now, cut 7" off the end.  Fold and press the short ends of both strips under 1/4".  Sew the long ends of each piece closed 1/8" from the edge on both pieces.  Then sew the short ends closed.    
  • Slide the two D-rings on the 7" strip.  Fold it in half and place it on what will be the right-hand side of the apron when you are wearing it.   (Look at the photo if your confused.)  With the stitching line side on the outside edge,  place this folded piece one inch down on the inside corner and sew in place using the usual square with an x inside for strength. 
  •  Now sew a line just under the D-rings to hold them in place.  Directions will be on the D-ring package if you've not used them before. 
  • Sew the other neck strap on the other side in the same way.  Remember to have the stitching line on the outside edge.
For the waist ties:
  • With both 35x 3.5" strip, Press in 1/2" on each long end, then fold in half and press.  Fold under a quarter of an inch on the short ends, and sew the long ends and both short ends closed 1/8" from the edge.
Okay! The basic apron is complete!  Now for the top pocket which you've decorated-- or not.
  • First the directions for a serger because  I do use my serger for the pockets since these seams are inside and don't get as much abuse as the outside edges of the apron.
    •  Serge around the squares and press in a 1/4 seam around all four sides.  
    • Sew the upper edge seam of the pocket across, again using 1/8 sewing line.  
    • Now place the pocket 3" down from the top, center it, and pin in place.  Sew the sides and bottom to the apron using the 1/8 line. Remember to reinforce the top corners with a few extra stitches.  Pockets get a lot of tugging there.
  • If you are not using a serger
    • Fold the pocket in half inside out (if it matters with your fabric or if you have embroidered, painted, appliqued a design) to get an 8.5x5.25" square. 
    •  Sew the two sides shut using 1/4" seam allowance.
    • Turn right side out and press the open ends in 1//4" You can sew a  line across the folded edge now if you want to.  It will give you a crisp top pocket edge.  It's not necessary, though.  
    • Place the pocket with the folded edge at the top 3 inches down from the top and centered. Pin in place.   Sew the sides and bottom to the apron using the same 1/8 sewing line.
For the bottom pocket, you will do the same as the top pocket.  If not using a serger, fold the fabric into an 8.25x15" square and follow the same instructions as for the smaller pocket.  Place this pocket 14.5" down from the top and centered.  Pin and sew it in place and you are finished!

It's actually a quick and easy project.  Give it a try.