Sunday, September 30, 2012

House Renovations!

Ok, this isn't so much me being crafty, but there are PROJECTS that have been ACCOMPLISHED, some with at least my input and most completed while I was wrangling the kids and keeping out of the way, and even a few coats of paint that I applied myself.  I have been waiting and waiting to share pictures until everything is finished and perfect (not to mention tidy and organized) and I have realized that that day may not come for a long, long while (I refuse to say never).  So, I have pictures to show of what we have done to our house!  These pics go waaaaay back--some of this is stuff we did before we even moved in two and a half years ago, but the big deal is the upstairs renovation that we have been working on for the last year and have finally gotten to a point where we can live with it, and the contractor is no longer coming to our house, and the rest of the projects are finishing work that we can (when we get the time and energy) do ourselves (and with the free labor of those who love us and want the best for us--yes, I mean YOU!)

So, without further ado, OUR HOUSE!

The paint job happened after we'd lived here for about a year.

I'll do a quick tour of the main floor-that's where we did most of the work before we moved in--before moving on to the monster project that was our upstairs renovation.

Paint:  Sherwin Williams Compatible Cream (top) and Butternut (below)

Most of the "before" pictures were taken before the previous owners moved out.  We ended up buying it before it went on the market, so these are just some shots their realtor had snapped to show her colleagues.  So sometimes I don't have great angles for comparisons, but I did my best!  In the living and dining rooms, we pretty much just painted.

Paint:  Sherwin Williams Compatible Cream

The kitchen was our biggest pre-move project--floors, counters, some new appliances, backsplash.

We painted our kitchen the same color green as the outside of the house.  (Clary Sage from Sherwin Williams, if you're curious).

We've still got some more work to do in the bathroom--intending to install crown molding and need to replace the floors.

That text hidden behind my watermark says that we also enclosed the tub.
Paint:  Benjamin Moore Dartsmouth Green
A quick peek at the basement--we painted, and eventually took out the carpet and painted the concrete floor.  The basement is the site of our next major project, which the husband speaks of as though it will be happening sometime before my children are in high school.  I am not so sure.

Paint:  Sherwin Williams Nomadic Desert

There is a play area in the basement too, as well as my sewing area.  I'm not showing it to you.  It's served as extra storage and staging area during the renovation, and it's still just embarrassing.  Just imagine a lovely open area with a train table and perfectly organized toy bins, and a sparkling sewing machine with labeled bins and folded color coded fabrics, and that's pretty much what's over there.  You'll just have to take my word for it.

Moving back to upstairs--the stairs themselves were a huge portion of this most recent project.

I am LOVING all the space to hang family photos!  Sure, I could have hung some before, but it was a bit awkward with the divided wall, and we also pushed back the wall over the end of the stairs so you don't hit your head coming up, which opened up the area and made the pictures easier to look at.

We put a hallway through the original master bedroom, allowing us to open up the landing/upstairs.  It feels so much brighter and more open up there now!

Not done hanging more pictures upstairs yet!
Paint:  Sherwin Williams Compatible Cream

We stole some of the square footage from this room in order to give the master suite a good sized walk-in closet.  MUAH HA HA HA HA.  The funny thing is, it actually looks bigger now.

Paint:  Sherwin Williams Resolute Blue and Great Green (the boy's picks)

The original master suite became Little Sister's new room.  We put a new wall in this room in order to create the open hallway you saw before.

Paint: Sherwin Williams Sole (that should have an accent over the e--"so-LE!"

Previously, you had to walk through the master suite to get to a sitting area, which had doors to a small master closet and a bathroom.  The sitting room was being used as a master closet extension.

When we moved into the house, I was 8 months pregnant with Little Sister.  The sitting room made a perfect little nursery for her.

Also Sherwin Williams so-LE!  With custom-mixed colors for the mural.

But even then we knew that it was not a long-term solution.  Having to walk through mom and dad's room to get to the stairs is great for a baby--not so great when she gets older.  So the main part of the project was figuring out how to maximize the space in the sitting room to turn it into a master suite.  We talked to a few people about doing a dormer, but it was not in the budget.  So we got creative with our contractor, and were able to turn an 8x10 sitting room into a 12 x 14 master bedroom!

Next up:  buy grown  up bedroom furniture.
Paint:  Behr Rich Taupe
The footprint of the bathroom stayed the same, but it's probably one of the most impactful changes in the space.

I love the color in here.  It's a little hard to see in the pictures, but it's Behr Rocky Mountain Sky, kind of a grey-blue.  Very peaceful.

I mean.  It feels so luxurious now.  I LOVE it.

We didn't have room for two sinks in there, so...

Paint:  Sherwin Williams Nomadic Desert
Oh, and look!  I finally have a place to hang the awesome jewelry display my lovely friend Jill made for my birthday almost a year ago!  It's been tucked into a closet, waiting for its moment to shine.  And I must say--now that my jewelry is out where I can see it, I have been actually wearing it!  I'd pretty much been wearing the same necklace (maybe two) and pair of earrings for the last year, but now that I have all of my choices at my fingertips when I'm getting ready in the morning, I have been making good use of them.

The rest of the closet isn't finished yet (it's just an empty room with a dresser, and my clothes in a bunch of suitcases.  But man, you guys!  We are getting there!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Boys Upcycled Back to School Shirt!

I had this idea to make a shirt for Liam that was sort of like a henley.  I was researching methods for making the tab opening, when it came to me to use a men's button-down shirt for the top, and attach a t-shirt bottom to keep it casual.

The results are...hmmmm.  I'm not sure.  I mean, there are things I like about it, especially about the method I used to create it, but I think something is just off about it.  The proportions, maybe.  Too much yoke.  Or too much contrast between the two fabrics.  My husband said it looked like he was wearing a dishcloth over his shirt.  But the IDEA, I think, could be a good one.  I think if I do this again, I'd choose colors that were closer together, and maybe make the yoke almost like a western-style shirt, where it starts higher up and dips down at the center of each side?  Or just make the yoke shorter and leave the tab opening cutting down into the body of the t-shirt?  What would your suggestions be?

Anyway, this is how I did it.

I started by carefully removing the collar from the button-down shirt.  The neckline is made from two strips of fabric with the collar sandwiched inbetween, so I removed stray threads so that I could just sew those two strips closed again later to make it a collarless shirt.

Next I cut the front of the shirt off right at the top of the pocket, because I didn't want to worry about what to do with pocket parts.  I also separated the front of the shirt from the back by carefully using the seam ripper to open up that panel in the back.  It's also two pieces of fabric, and the front piece of the shirt was sandwiched in between at the shoulders.  I separated it so that I could adjust the fit when I narrowed the collar to fit a four year old.  I also opened that back panel up at the bottom to remove the rest of the back of the shirt.  It wasn't necessarily my plan to use such a small piece of the back of the shirt, but it made sense because that's where the existing seam was.

Then I was able to separate the front and the back of the shirt from each other by snipping the collar right where the front and back met on the two sides.  After the pieces were separate, I used a pattern piece that I had made by tracing a shirt of my son's that fit him well to figure out how big to make my pieces.

Front panel cut to fit the pattern

I did the same for the back piece.  When you cut the back piece, leave the collar pieces extra long.  You will need to fold them under when you reattach the front panel so that you will have nice finished edges. Both the picture above and the one below show the front and back pieces once they were already cut.

Back panel cut to fit the pattern
Once this was done I set the button down shirt aside and grabbed my t-shirt.  I started by cutting out a panel for the back of the shirt, folding my pattern piece over at the point where the t-shirt would meet the button down.  Be sure to fold the t-shirt in half and lay the pattern to cut on the fold, and don't forget to utilize the original hem of the t-shirt!  That allows you to skip hemming it later :)

Once that back t-shirt panel is cut, sandwich it inbetween the two layers of the button-down back panel.

Sew it carefully shut, making sure to get all three layers with the sewing machine.  Now you have the back piece of the shirt!

It's a little tricky to get all the layers when you're sewing blind on one side, so make sure to pin carefully and give yourself enough room by sewing a little further away from the edge of the fabric than I did.

For the front piece, I cut my t-shirt fabric the same way (on the fold, using original hem, pattern folded down at the top to fit together with the button-down piece).

I then pinned the two pieces together at the raw edge, right-sides together.

Before sewing, I pinned my button placket up and out of the way.
Don't sew that button placket down yet!
 Then I was able to sew the raw edges together.  After that, I folded the end of the button placket under and sewed it down in a small rectangle.  I then pressed the front of the shirt flat and did a row of topstitching along the button-down fabric. It's pretty much impossible to see in this picture, but this at least shows you how nice and flat it lays now.

Sewn together and topstitched
Oh, I almost forgot about cutting the sleeves!  You can cut these now, or earlier when you're cutting everything else.  I used the sleeve of a shirt that fits as my guide.  Yes, I used a t-shirt, but I knew that woven shirtsleeves are wider than t-shirt sleeves usually so I just cut it a little wider than my guide.  If you want to be more exact, you should probably use a woven shirt to get the right sleeve width.  

I used the full length of the original sleeve, because I was planning to roll up the sleeves and make cute little button tabs to hold them up.  But, I ran out of time for the button tabs.  I saved my scraps; I still might add them eventually!  But the long-ish sleeves still roll up just fine and haven't been falling down.  If you want a more traditional short-sleeve length, use a shirt that fits as your guide for length as well as width, and don't forget about seam allowance!  Whether you go longer or shorter, use the finished edge of the shirtsleeve so you don't have to hem yours.

I like to cut one shirtsleeve first, then unfold it, open up the other uncut sleeve, and lay my cut one on top of it to use as a pattern.  This way, my sleeves are sure to be the same width--which can be an issue if you're just using another shirt as a loose guide for how you cut your first sleeve!

The green lines mark the edges of my cut sleeve, all lined up to show me where to cut the second one.

You will have four pieces when it's time to start assembling your shirt--front, back, and two sleeves.

The front and back of your shirt will be put together at a slight angle (the same way the original shirt was constructed).  Open up the two pieces of fabric that form both the collar and the back panel of the shirt, and slip the front pieces inside.

Collar and back panel pulled open, ready to sandwich the front panels inside
Then line them up as neatly as you can, fold the raw edges of the back collar pieces in, and sandwich the front panel right inbetween.  The angle will be determined by your fabric laying fairly flat.  I suggest sandwiching and pinning one side, sewing it down, then sandwiching and pinning the other side and opening up the button placket to give yourself some extra room when sewing down the other side.

You should have a big piece that looks like this once the collar and shoulders are all joined together:

And now you can sew the collar pieces together!  Remember, they are open at the top from when we removed the original collar.  They should still be lined up pretty perfectly, so you are just going to topstitch them down right at the top edge.  It will be a little thick where you joined the front and back together, so go slowly.

And now for a public service announcement--I just learned about this trick on my sewing machine when reading about attaching bias tape to the Milkmaid Skirt in this tutorial.  I knew that turning this knob made my needle shift to the right or left when sewing, but you guys, I had no idea how much difference that would make in my ability to sew a straight line down the edge of something.  I just sewed with the needle in the middle, assuming I was lousy at sewing a straight line, but when Adrianna at Crafterhours suggested switching the needle over, I felt like a new seamstress!  I COULD sew a straight line, I just didn't know to use the proper tool!  Why does it make such a difference?  I don't know!  But it does, trust me!

This guy.  Right here.  I have it switched to the right edge position (see the oblong with the dot on the right underneath that tiny red square?)  Changed my sewing life.

Next I attached the sleeves.  I laid the body of the shirt out right-side up, then laid the sleeves on top with the raw edges lined up, right sides together.  So the hemmed ends of the sleeves were pointed towards the neckline.  Pin the raw edges together, lining up the edge of the sleeve with the armhole curve in the body panel.  Once they are sewn together, you'll have this: 

Wrong side of fabric shown.
Then, fold the shirt in half, wrong-side out, so that the bottom and edges are all lined up, and sew down the sleeves and the sides of the shirt.

 I decided I wanted to make little openings at the bottom of the shirt, so instead of sewing all the way down, I stopped about an inch and a half from the bottom.  I rolled the raw edges under and sewed them down on both sides of the seam.

Here were the kids showing off their outfits on the first day of school.  Little Sister was more unhappy about school than her dress (more about her dress here)--don't worry, she cheered up!

The Boy digs the shirt, which is I guess what matters in the end!  Even if it does look like a crop top layered over a t-shirt.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Flutter Sleeve Peasant Dress!

For Little Sister's first day of school (ever!  My baby!), I made this little dress for her from this tutorial at Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom. She has only wanted to wear "tank top dresses" lately, and I'm trying to make things that she will actually wear.  It worked out--she agreed to put it on for her first day of school, yay!  Although she has refused to wear it since.

This was a great tutorial, and I love this dress.  The elastic neckline makes it really easy to construct and really easy to put on and take off of a squirmy two year old.  She says the pattern is for 3T and up, so I made mine a tiny bit narrower in the body (about 1/4 inch)--I think it would have been fine to just leave it though.  Oh, also, the tutorial is for a top, so I used one of Little Sister's dresses to figure out how long to cut it so that it would be a dress.

Anytime I have the opportunity to use coordinating fabrics, I'm all over it--so since the flutter sleeves are cut separately, I decided to use a coordinating fabric.  

And I did one other thing differently--I added bias trim to the flutter sleeves and bottom of the dress rather than folding under and hemming, and I made my bias trim on the sleeves and hem visible for a decorative addition.  The main fabric has a tiny pink outline around some of the flowers which is hard to see in photos, but I promise, the pink trim doesn't come from nowhere!  You do this by applying your single-fold bias tape backwards, basically--rather than starting by sewing the bias tape to the right side of the fabric then folding it towards the inside of the dress and sewing it down, you start by attaching the bias tape to the wrong side of the fabric then fold it over to the outside of the dress and sew it down so that it's visible.  I like the pop of color it adds (especially because I rarely have matching bias tape and I hate making it), and the pink makes it much more likely that Iris would actually choose to wear this dress.

A note about adding the bias tape to the flutter sleeves and hem--since I wasn't folding under and hemming, I didn't need any seam allowance.  I wanted my flutter sleeves to be a little longer, so I just stuck with the original sleeve pattern.  Just remember that if you're using bias tape to finish the edges, the cut piece will be exactly the length that you cut it (well, maybe a SMIDGEN smaller).

I also added a tag, since the back and front of this dress are pretty much identical.  I could have just left it out since it really doesn't matter which way it goes, except that there is a little seam in my bias trim in the back.

I wrote the size with fabric paint.  One day I will get professional about tags.

Anyway, even though Little Sister was excited enough to put on the dress, she was NOT EXCITED about her first day of school.  

Poor girl!
She did agree to come with us once I allowed her to push the stroller herself (what a big girl, right?).  She carried the lunch boxes in the stroller--very helpful.

Also a decent back view of the dress.
And I'm pleased to report that she was doing great at pickup (I snuck in a little early and spied on her for a minute), and while she cried at every drop off for the first two weeks, she is now running into school happily in the mornings.  Phew!

Couldn't you just eat those chubby knees right up?  Nom nom nom.

She was in a much better mood by the afternoon, and even agreed to pose for me without crying.  For about two seconds before she was off and running.  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Diaper Wallet Tutorial!

Ooh, guys, I loved making this one!  First of all, it's always fun to make something for a gift.  You get to imagine them using it while you're sewing!  You get to see them ooh and ahh over it (especially exciting if it's opened in front of other people)!  You get to save money since you would have wanted to BUY them a REAL gift!  And in this case, you get to figure something out that will be functional and practical, but also pretty and fun!

I had a pretty specific idea of the kind of diaper wallet I wanted to make, and I couldn't find an existing tutorial that made it this way--so I decided to document what I was doing so other people could make one.  Mine is based on the diaper wallet I've been using for years now (and I only use for spare toddler undies now, NO MORE DIAPERS YAY!)--it's from Skiphop and I bought it at Target when the boy was a baby.  I really loved the stretchy pockets on it--the diapers and wipes don't slip out, and there's extra room to tuck a few other things in there when you need to.  I wasn't sure at first what I would use to make the pockets--my old Skiphop one has stretchy mesh--but then it came to me, like a vision:  old t-shirts!  Stretch!  Lightweight!  Finished edges!  Upcycling!  It was the perfect thing to use.

I didn't design the bag pictured with the diaper wallet--it's the Wasp Bag, tutorial found here--and I'll give a few notes at the bottom of the post if you're interested in making one.  It turns out really cute!  Love the handle detail.

So!  Diaper wallet!  Here's what you'll need:

Exterior and Interior panels, 14 inches x 10.5 inches each.  I cut my exterior panel from a thick home-decor fabric; if you use regular quilting cotton you might want to use an interfacing.

2 pocket panels, 10 inches x 7.5 inches each, cut from a t-shirt, with the finished edge on one of the 7.5 inch sides.  If you are cutting from fabric, add 3/4 inch to the length so you can fold over and hem.

Exterior and Interior Flap, 3.25 inches x 3.75 inches each.  In my case, the "exterior" matched the lining of the main body of the wallet so that it would contrast.

2 4.5 inch pieces of 1/4 inch elastic

About 2 inches of velcro (I used 2 inch wide velcro so it would give more flexibility for closing the wallet more tightly or giving more room when you stuff a ton of things in there!)


I started by making the flap.  Decide which fabric you will use for the hidden side of the flap, and sew your velcro about 1/2 inch away from one of the 3.25 inch ends.

With right sides facing, sew around 3 sides of your two flap pieces.  The velcro should be opposite the side of your flap that you left open (so, at the top of the photo below).

Clip the corners and flip your flap right-side out.  I love the look of topstitching, so I added topstitching on the three sewn sides.  Also, that lets me skip ironing!

Set the flap aside--it's time to make the pockets.

The finished edge of your pocket fabric will go at the top.  Finish the left side on one pocket and the right side of the other with a simple folded-under hem.  That's so that when you attach your pockets to the lining fabric, the edges of the pocket towards the middle of the diaper wallet will be finished.  You don't have to worry about the outer edges at this point because they will be sewn into the outer seam.

Next, attach your elastic across the back side of the top of the pocket.  I used the seam from the finished hem as my guide.  Pin your elastic at both ends (I pinned mine in the middle too for good measure) and stretch the pocket fabric straight as you sew on the elastic.  It will be nicely gathered when you let go!

 See, all gathered up!

Now you're going to attach your pockets to the lining fabric.  I am pretty lazy, so I only sewed down the inner edges of the pockets, since I would be pinning the bottom and outside edges in when I put the whole thing together.  But I have to admit, it would have probably been easier to just sew all three sides of the pockets down so I didn't have to worry so much about catching all my layers when sewing the bag together. Just don't sew the top (gathered) edge closed!  And if you sew the outside and bottom edges, do it really close to the edge so that your seam is hidden when you put it all together.

Oh!  So I get nervous about placing my velcro panels accurately, so I rarely do it before the bag is assembled.  But it really would be easier to do it right now--you will need the other side of your velcro on the exterior of your bag.  It should go right in the middle on the short side of your exterior fabric, about 3/4 inch away from the edge of your right-side-up fabric.

If you don't do it now, you'll have to squeeze your machine inside the pocket of the bag to avoid sewing the pocket shut (it is possible, as you'll see below, but a bit of a pain in the rear).

Onward--time to put it all together!  You have three pieces to assemble--the lining piece with attached pockets, your flap, and the exterior panel.

As I mentioned, I wanted the flap to contrast the main fabric so I flipped it.  Your flap should be laying on top of the RIGHT SIDE UP lining/pocket panel, and it should be VELCRO SIDE DOWN with the raw edge lined up with the raw edges of the exterior and lining panels.  Then your exterior fabric should lay face-down on top of that.

Pin carefully, especially if you didn't sew down the outsides of your pockets yet.  Make sure to stretch out the elastic at the top of your pockets so everything lines up.  Leave a hole large enough for your hand (4-5 inches or so) at the TOP of the bag, where there are no pockets or flaps to interfere.

After sewing around, clip your corners and flip it right-side out.  You could press it if you want, but if you're topstitching, you can skip that step.

Here's where I attached my velcro after flipping the whole thing right-side-out:

I had to remove the sewing platform (no idea what that's really called, so I'm going with sewing platform) from my machine and fit the pocket over the arm.  I got it in there and it worked, but let's just say I'm lucky that the pocket is a stretchy fabric.

Anyway, once your velcro is in place and you're right-side-out, go ahead and topstitch all the way around the outside of the bag.  I love topstitching for three reasons:

1. The look is so clean and polished!
2.  You get to skip ironing!
3.  Maybe the best part--no invisible hand stitching necessary to close up the hole you left for turning--just topstitch it closed!

And there you go!  A cute diaper wallet!

And if you've got plenty of time, you could make a bag to match!

I made The Wasp Bag, which is a good size for tucking a diaper wallet inside and still being able to use it as a purse.

I love the cute handle shape on this bag!  I am still afraid of zippers (silly, I know, but it also means I never have zippers on hand for this type of project) so I just made ordinary patch pockets for the inside.  Note to self (and to you all) though--if (when) I make this bag again, I will cut pattern pieces for the interior that are slightly narrower at the top than the exterior panels.  I don't know if you can tell in my picture, but this bag has really cute little pleats where the bag body attaches to the top panels.  But for the interior of the bag, using the same pattern pieces and pleats made the inside unneccesarily bulky in my opinion, and did weird things to my pockets.  I would make the interior body pieces the same width at the top as the top rectangular panels.  This explanation will probably make sense to no one, but at least maybe now I'll remember it for next time!

Little Sister needed to try out the bag:

Although when I showed her the diaper wallet she did seem to understand that this was for the baby and it wasn't too difficult to get her to give it up.


I found a few of these left over from a gazillion years ago when there must have been a human in our house small enough to fit into one, but if that's true I don't remember it.

For comparison's sake.
I don't know if these things have an expiration date, but I thought I'd tuck them inside the diaper wallet, at least for show.