Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I Have a Confession...

I'm ashamed to admit it, but I already have my apartment decorated for Christmas! I broke my own rule of "no Christmas before Thanksgiving" because I was just too excited. I have nothing new since last year -- for now at least -- but did have a whole new space to decorate. I’d been planning out where I wanted things to go and once I settled on my plan I couldn’t get the thought of putting up the tree out of my head! Not to mention, I had Christmas presents purchased and wrapped with no place to go -- I HAD to put up my tree :)

After a lot of thought, I decided to put my tree to the left of my TV. My other thought was to put it in the solarium (aka my sewing nook) so it could be proudly displayed in the floor to ceiling window, but that would require a bit of furniture rearranging and I realized I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it while I was relaxing on the couch.

I made two large bows layered with red and a sheer gold, glittery ribbon to rest at the top of my tree. The rest of the ornaments I purchased from various places. Maybe one year I’ll get creative and try to make a couple to add to it. The tree skirt is simply a red oval table cloth that I wrapped around the bottom. The Mitz and I had plans to make our own this year, but time has already started slipping away and I’m thinking it may just have to wait until next year. Although I didn’t get to use my sewing machine for a tree skirt this year, I did use it to help add some color to my bar.

I made two of these placemats in just a couple hours on Sunday. I just needed a yard of shimmery red fabric and a spool of gold ribbon. Before I sewed them closed, I realized they would make perfect Christmas pillows if I just stuffed them. Luckily, I have some left over fabric and ribbon, so over the Thanksgiving holiday, I plan to add a little Christmas cheer to my couch as well.

For my centerpiece, I used a hurricane I normally display in the bedroom, and added some cranberries for extra Christmas charm.

My next dilemma was where to hang my stockings this year. In the past, I had a fireplace to hang them from, but this new apartment must not trust its tenants. I absolutely love my apartment, but do wish I had a fireplace for the winter -- a place to hang my stockings, a place to curl up next to on a cold day, and to make my favorite thing in the world -- SMORES! For now, I survive without one and get to be a little more creative when deciding where my stockings should be displayed. I recently finished an art project inspired my one of my favorite blogs, Jones Design Company -- more about the project another day. The color of my paintings was the perfect background to compliment my stockings, and I’d been hoping to find something to add to them. For the holidays, I thought stockings would be perfect!

I found my stockings at Target -- maybe one day I will also attempt to make some of my own -- and spruced them up with a gold leaf pick and more homemade bows. To hang them over the canvases, I simply looped ribbon through the stocking loop and pinned it on the underside to hold into place.

I may not be able to fill them with anything too heavy while they hang, but until I get a fireplace again, I have found them a home.

I am missing some Christmas charm in my entry way, bathroom and bedroom, but here a few other nooks of my apartment that got a little makeover.

More cranberries complete with flameless candles -- perfect for under the cabinet and they come on at 6 and turn off at 11 without my help!

I’ve been told by someone -- I won’t mention names -- that they much prefer this coffee table set up to the one I normally have, so after the holidays, I may be doing some accessory rearranging :)

Yes, even my TV stand got a Christmas makeover. These cabinet doors store lots of books and movies, which I did not find particularly attractive, so I’ve always disguised them with some sort of fabric. My latest cabinet face-lift used a festive blue and brown paisley pattern fabric to hide the mess behind. After seeing it next to my tree for a couple days, I decided it needed to be temporarily removed and I’ve lined the glass with the same wrapping paper I’m using to wrap presents this year. For an extra touch, I tied two tulle bows around the top -- looks so much better sitting next to the Christmas tree without the blue paisley.

I’m still searching for some creative wreath ideas -- one to go above the kitchen sink and another in the entry way -- so I may have more pictures and hopefully more Christmas projects coming soon!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Birthday Apron

My cousin’s daughter has a birthday coming up in December. To keep her birthday from being over-shadowed by Christmas, we try to have presents ready by Thanksgiving. This year we learned she is showng an interest in cooking and baking -- which I love! My sister and I decided to get her an easy bake oven -- can't believe I actually bought one -- and wanted something to go along with it. I’ve been curious about sewing aprons for a while now and decided this would be the perfect time to attempt one. First, she’s turning 9 so any glaring mistakes I made would not be super obvious to her and second, if I failed miserably, we still had the easy bake oven to give.

I looked through a couple books and read some techniques before deciding that I wanted to make a reversible ruffled half apron with a pocket. I took some measurements on myself to decide what size I needed to cut my fabric, and went to work! Since this is an apron and inevitably going to get dirty, I made sure to wash, dry, and press the fabric before cutting!

I picked two coordinating pieces of fabric and started by cutting out two rectangles from both -- I made mine 28"x16". I then cut out the pocket I wanted to attach to one side. There are many ways you can attach the pocket but I chose to line mine with some ribbon I had...

Sew two pieces together -- one right side facing one wrong side so when attached, the inner pocket would have a right side showing, although I don't think this matters or is even necessary…

Invert and press!

Once I had my pocket put together, I top-stitched it onto one of the rectangles. Next time, I think I'll add a pocket to both sides so it is truly reversible.

I then sewed the two rectangles together -- right sides facing one another. Make sure to leave the top completely open!

After sewing the three sides, I turned it right side out and pressed. To get the ruffle in the apron, I had to attempt a basting stitch once again, which made me nervous. Luckily, since my first attempt, I had discovered a quick reference guide for my sewing machine complete with a basting stitch! I went to work changing the settings on my machine and did a quick basting stitch along the top of my apron panels. I then tied the thread at one end of my stitch -- to keep it from pulling out completely -- and began pulling one thread from the other end. To my surprise, it worked a million times better than my first try! From the measurements I took on myself, I knew I wanted the top of my apron to be 20 inches long, so I ruffled the panel until I was left with that amount. I then tied the other end of the thread to keep the length from changing and distributed my ruffles evenly and to my liking.

All that was left was attaching the waistband and ties! I knew one length of my fabric would not be long enough for tying a pretty bow, so I decided to make one section 20 inches long -- to incase the top -- and each side would be one full length of fabric. I wanted my waistband to be about 2 inches thick, so I cut each piece 5 inches wide -- that gave me enough to fold over and hem.

First, I attached each of the three pieces along their short sides so I'd have one lone strip -- with the 20 inch one in the middle. I then folded in the two short sides about an inch in and pressed. Next, I folded the long strip in half and pressed.

I then unfolded the strip of fabric and folded each edge inward about ½ inch and pressed again.

Next, I folded along my first middle fold and pressed once again to complete my waistband and ties.
I centered the middle section over the top of my apron, pinned in place, and attached with a normal top-stitch.

Once the top was attached, I continued to sew along the ties, closing them together.

And that was it! I now have a very cute apron for my cousin that I hope she loves and inspires her to bake! I don’t have a picture of the reverse side, but it is the polka dot pattern without a pocket -- which I will be sure to add next time.

Hopefully Reese will be baking us some delicious treats for Christmas this year!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Beware of Dog(s)

The next couple projects currently underway are taking a few days to complete. In the meantime, I wanted to share a recent project - - done pre-blog - - that was super simple. It also provides me with a good opportunity for a future blog warning. I’ve mentioned a couple times that I have two puppies that I love and adore - - sweet little Shiloh and Nolan have even been pictured in previous posts. This will probably be a common occurrence. Not only do I love taking pictures of them and think they are the cutest, I also have several projects in mind that are dog-oriented -- and now that my sister has two little ones, I get twice as many to do! I apologize now if you don’t have a dog or any interest in reading about their projects. I will do my best to mix it up and throw some non-puppy ones in there!

Now that I have provided fair warning, let’s continue with the puppy project…

Dogs can be a little messy -- especially when it comes to food. I always find food pebbles outside the bowl and water spilled all over the floor. I’ve actually caught Shiloh, on several occasions, with her head fully immersed in her water bowl blowing bubbles, like she’s teaching herself to swim. Anyway, I decided that, like people, mine needed a placemat of sorts to buffer my poor floor from their messy habits -- and since they’re dogs, what better placemat than one shaped like a bone!

Unfortunately, at the time I made my placemat, I did not have the perfectly shaped bone shown above, so I created my own template. I just used a sheet of computer paper, bowls from my kitchen to trace, and a ruler for straight lines. I drew only half of the bone for a couple reasons -- first, one sheet of computer paper with the whole bone on it would not have been large enough to fit even my tiny pups’ food and water bowls -- second, by drawing out half and tracing it onto a folded piece of fabric, I would get a symmetric dog bone. I had little faith in my abilities to make both sides even.

I choose two pieces of coordinating fabric to use so the placemat would be reversible. I laid the two pieces of fabric with right sides together and folded them in half. I placed the bottom of my bone template on the folded edge of the fabric and traced the image onto the wrong side. I then cut through both pieces about a ¼ of an inch from my traced line, unfolded the fabric and pinned them together. Tracing the image also gave me a very clear line to follow while stitching the two pieces together. I started sewing on one of the straight sides -- about an inch from the curve of the bone -- and worked my way around , leaving one straight side mostly open {think like you’re creating a bone shaped pillow -- it just won’t be stuffed!}

After stitching, I trimmed the excess fabric and inverted the bone. I folded the open edge under and pressed. Pressing is probably one of my least favorite things to do -- I hate getting out the ironing board and the iron -- but it makes SUCH a difference! Despite my dislike for it, I will ALWAYS do it. I think it makes a project look a million times better -- So don’t skip this step! After pressing, I sewed a simple topstitch along the open edge to close it. One trick I’ve learned when topstitching is to match your bobbin thread to the bottom piece of fabric and your normal thread to the top. This makes the stitch even less noticeable and keeps you from having to hand stitch -- which I avoid at all cost! And that’s it -- in about 30 minutes, the pups have a reversible bone shaped placemat to catch all their little messes!

Here is the reverse side. One thing I discovered, and will change for the next one, is the slight gather on each end. Rather than pivoting the needle at these points, I think it would be better to make a slight curve shape.

This really was a super simple project and would be so great to make for different occasions! I may just have to sew a Thanksgiving/Christmas one when I started decorating for the holidays! You could also make one out of oil cloth or vinyl and simply wipe it down every now and then to clean.

And just for fun -- look at that sweet puppy face :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

October Happenings

I can’t believe we’re already 10 days into November -- October just flew by! With the holidays around the corner, I’m sure the next two months will pass even faster. I am still getting used to this blog update thing -- I let over a month pass by with no post! This does not mean I have not been working on projects -- I have tons photographed and in the works, just not enough time in the day to talk about them. This past month was filled with family, friends, weddings, out of town trips, and I let the blogging slip right by! Here’s a quick October update -- there may be a hint of a future project blog post…

At the beginning of October, I made my way to Austin to watch these two love birds tie the knot!

The wedding was at a wonderful vineyard just South of Austin -- perfect weather, great friends, and one very happy couple! Here are the girls and I at the wedding -- minus Fun Bobby who was already living it up in London!

Congrats Katie and Mike -- Your wedding was beautiful and you both looked stunning!

A few days after the wedding, I packed my suitcase and headed up to Richmond, VA to visit someone special :) Self portraits may not be our forte...

We had such an amazing weekend -- dinners complete with lots of dessert and wine, movies, pumpkin carving, the occasional football or baseball game, fishing, and just relaxing! Here’s Adam prepping his pumpkin -- time to dig in!

Showing off our finished pumpkins -- too bad UT lost that weekend, and most weekends before and after -- now I know how you Aggies feel :)

Some of our many treats -- these were amazing cupcakes! The cream cheese icing was perfect and my chocolate one had a delicious raspberry filling!

And a picture of sweet little Simba -- he LOVES to crawl into everything! He clearly wanted to come back to Dallas with me...

After my fun trip to Virginia, my sister came to visit and brought two little surprises with her -- meet Bentley and Bella -- my niece and nephew!

The weather was amazing so we spent a lot of time outside watching all the puppies play -- or at least Bentley and Bella playing NEXT TO Shiloh and Nolan. Although mine are a mere 12 lbs. combined, I think they are a little intimidated by their size. I’ll never understand how this is fun for dogs…

We also made time for a little art project -- even the puppies wanted to help! Little Bentley actually fell asleep on my sister’s back while she painted, and Nolan was determined to find out what paint tasted like -- He is truly a curious little boy!

Well, there is the Reader's Digest/picture book version of my October and part of why the blogging fell way behind. I will try to get better about posting and am excited to share some of the projects I did in between these busy weekends!