Friday, May 23, 2014

The Great Secretary Makeover

Friday, May 23, 2014
*I was provided the paint and wax used in this project free of charge in exchange for a post demonstrating their use.  The project and opinions are my own.*

My Great-grandmother was an amazing woman.  She was full of spirit and fun.  I didn't get to know her very well, as she passed away when I was only 8 years old, but I have memories of going to the zoo with her and spending time with her at my Grandmother's house.

The older I get, the more I cherish the connections I can maintain with those who have gone before.  I appreciate their sacrifices on my behalf a little better, and I try to keep their memories and stories alive.  That's why, when my Aunt offered to let me have this secretary of my Great-grandmother's, I was thrilled.  It's a beautiful piece and a tangible way for me to keep her memory close.
 However, the wood stain was not my favorite.  It's a bit dated- the picture doesn't do justice to the greenish 70's hue of the wood.   And the whole piece was a bit too dark for my home.  I have been wanting to paint it for years, but because it has so much sentimental value, I was afraid of ruining it.  When I was contacted by Annie Sloan Unfolded to try their Chalk Paint® Decorative Paint by Annie Sloan, I knew it was finally time to tackle this special piece.

I thought about going with a bold color, but since I already have a pretty bright piece in this room, I decided to stick with something a bit more neutral.  I used Old White as the main color for the secretary, but I couldn't resist adding a bit of oomph with a bright yellow- in this case English Yellow.

 I only wanted a bit of the yellow to show through, so instead of painting the entire piece yellow, I just painted the places I wanted the accent color to show through.  Once the yellow was dried, I painted the entire piece with the Old White.  I followed the advice of a friend with much more experience than I and while the white was still wet, wiped off the areas I wanted the yellow to show with a wet baby wipe.  I used A LOT of wipes, but I love that it allowed much more of the yellow to show through than would have if I had allowed it to dry and sanded the white off.  
I ended up painting two coats of the white because the green cast of the original stain was still peeking through the first coat.

I had a hard time deciding how to treat the inside of the main cabinet.  I decided to paint just the back yellow and the sides and top and bottom white.  I love the bold statement of all that yellow in the back.
Once the entire piece was painted and dry, I took a very fine grit sand paper and lightly sanded the edges.  I wanted just a bit of the wood to show through, but not a ton.  Then I used the soft clear wax and did one coat over the whole piece.  I wanted this piece so have a little softer feel, so I followed up the first coat of wax with a light coat of the soft dark wax, focusing on the edges, corners and inside the detail work on the cabinet doors.  I didn't want it too dark, just a bit of an aged patina.  I followed that with one last coat of clear wax over the whole piece to knock down the dark wax a hair and seal it really well.  The first time I painted furniture I was worried about the waxing part, but it's really one of my favorite steps of the whole process.  I'm amazed every time at the beautiful, soft finish it gives the piece.
I'm so grateful to finally give this piece the makeover it deserved! :)  It is bright and happy and lightens up my front room.  I love the hints of yellow throughout.  The Chalk Paint ® was so easy to use and apply.  I love that I didn't have to prep the piece other than cleaning it well before starting.  I'm a big fan of the soft, lovely finish the paint and soft wax combination gives the furniture.
The writing desk has to be one of my favorite parts.  I love those three yellow drawers.  I kept all the original hardware on the secretary.  I think the aged bronze finish works perfectly with the colors I chose.
Who knew furniture painting could solve so many problems all at once?  I lightened up my living room, conquered my fear of painting and waxing furniture, and kept the memory of my great-grandmother alive all in one fell swoop!  So, now that you know how easy it is to use Chalk Paint® Decorative Paint by Annie Sloan, what are you going to paint first?  I have a table downstairs that's just begging for some color...or the kitchen chairs...or the bar stools...  I guess I better get busy! :)


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Scalloped border Doll Quilt

Thursday, May 15, 2014
This post originally appeared as a guest post for The Ribbon Retreat.  I was provided the materials but the project and opinions are my own.
I think doll quilts are so fun to make.  They are a small canvas where you can try out new techniques or designs without investing a ton of time.
And who doesn't have some teddy bears who could use a lovely place to have a tea party?

This scalloped border adds just a bit of decorative fun to an otherwise simple quilt.  A great opportunity to have fun with curves.  Want all the details on how to make one?  Here they are:

Scalloped Border Doll Quilt

This pattern makes an 18 1/2" X 27" doll quilt.  It perfectly fits this little bed I got from Ikea for my daughter.  You may want to adjust the measurements to fit your bed.  Read through the entire tutorial before you begin, it will help things go much smoother.

90- 2 1/2" squares  *I used precuts from Moda.  The line I used is Baby Jane
3/4 yard backing and scallop fabric
1/2 yard border and binding fabric
19" X 27" piece of batting
sewing machine and assorted tools
Scallop template printed onto cardstock or heavy paper 

If you aren't purchasing precut squares, you will need to cut your 90- 2 1/2" squares.
2- 3 3/4" X 18 1/2" from border fabric
4- 2 1/2" X 18 1/2" from scallop fabric
2- 2 1/2" X WOF for binding
1- 18 1/2" X 27" backing fabric

Time to start sewing.

To create the body of the quilt you will start by making 10 rows of 9 squares each.  I wanted mine to be a scrappy patchwork so I just put all the squares in the clear plastic box and then pulled them out one at a time.  If they were the exact same fabric, I put it back and drew again, but I really tried to just go with what came up.
I waited to press all the seams until all the rows were completed.  Then, I took them all to my ironing board.  Again, I was just trying to let it be scrappy, but I did flip some rows over to make sure there weren't three of the same prints in a row.  Once I was happy with the arrangement I started pressing my seams.  I alternated the direction of the seams with each row, the first row to the left, the next to the right and so on.  This will help tremendously with the next step.

The next step is to sew all the rows together. With seams pressed in opposite directions, they will "nest" together as shown in the picture.  This helps keep everything lined up and sort of locks the squares together.  I lined up each seam and pinned.  Now, I'm not going to lie and tell you mine were all perfect.  Here's where you learn two things about me.  First, I'm not a highly experienced quilter.  I spend more of my sewing time on accessories and home decor; but I LOVE the look of quilts, so I'm slowly gaining steam as a quilter; which is why I was so happy to do a doll quilt, some much needed experience without a huge investment of time or money.  The second thing you need to know is that I am NOT a perfectionist.  I am a huge believer in sanity over everything, and that sometimes getting something done well enough is better than getting so caught up in the details that nothing ever gets accomplished.  That being said, the more time you take in the first step- sewing all the squares together- lining them up well, pinning, and checking your seam allowance, the better things will come out in the end.  So enjoy the process and slow down just a bit.
Back to sewing.
Once all your rows are sewn together, press the seams.  It doesn't matter which direction.  And your main body of the quilt is done.
Now we're going to add the fun scalloped border to the sides/ends of the quilt.
Take one of your 2 1/4" strips and mark a line 1/4" away from the long edge as shown.  Line up your scallop template so the curves of the scallops are lined up with your marked line.  Trace your scallops.
Continue marking your scallops along the length of the piece.  I find it's easiest to overlap the template to make sure they are lining up correctly.  When you get one piece marked, repeat on one more piece.
Take one marked piece and one unmarked piece and line them up right sides together.  Pin along the side opposite the scallops.  Sew along the marked line.  This is another place where going slow will yield much better results.  Take the time to pivot your piece every few stitches so your curve is nice and smooth.
Now we're going to clip our curves.  You can use your scissors to notch into the seam allowance on all of your curves, but, if you have pinking shears- I find it's faster to use them to do the bulk of your trimming.  Be very careful to NOT clip your stitch lines.  One last thing before we turn our scallops out, the valleys between the scallops are very steep.  You will want to go in with some sharp scissors and remove as much of the bulk as you can- get as close as you can to your stitch line without clipping it.  Now turn and press your scallops.  Use a flat blunt tool to carefully push the seams out and press as you move around the curve.  A craft stick is great for this.  Repeat for the second scallop piece.
Place your scallop pieces on the remaining border pieces.  Pin well and top stitch along the scallops.  The last step to complete our quilt top is to attach the border pieces to each end.  Quilt and bind using your favorite method.  I decided it was a great time to work on my free motion quilting skills.  You can use your scraps of fabric to make a pillow as well.
And if you don't have a doll to sew for?  I think this would make a darling table runner as well, although Teddy seems pretty happy with it as a quilt.

If you're looking for more small quilt project inspiration, you can see another idea here.


Linked up to The Creative Exchange at The Happy Scraps.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Fabric covered notebooks

Thursday, May 8, 2014
  This post was previously published on The Ribbon Retreat blog.  The fabric was provided by The Ribbon Retreat but the tutorial, pictures and opinions are all mine.
  Today I'm here to share a project that is a quick sew and would make a great Teacher Appreciation gift or a perfect summer journal for you or your children.  This darling covered notebook comes all decked out with a ribbon bookmark, elastic closure and a pocket for your pencils or pens.

Fabric Covered Notebook Tutorial

Fabric- will depend on the size of your notebook, but you can easily cover one notebook with one fat quarter.  However, if you want to incorporate accent fabrics, as I did, you will need 2-3 fat quarters.  For this tutorial I used a Hexi Print from Riley Blake as well as their tone on tone dots.
Decorative Elastic
Fusible fleece interfacing, or plain felt
Basic sewing supplies


**I am going to show you how to calculate the fabric measurements you will need for your notebook.  If you have a notebook that measures 5" X 7" like mine does, you can just skip to the final summary of the measurements.**

Before we can cut into our fabric, we need to measure our notebook.

You need to measure how wide, how tall and how deep your notebook is.  To sew our cover, we will be using a 1/2" seam allowance, so we need to add some extra fabric to account for that.  In my example the notebook I found was 5" wide, 7" tall and 1/2" deep.  The first calculation will be the height of the fabric pieces I'll be cutting.  My book is 7" tall.  I need to add 1/2" to both the top and bottom to account for the seam allowance.  I'm also going to add 1/4" to compensate for the thickness of the front and back cover- if you're using a composition notebook, or one with a thin cover, you won't need to do this.  So my total will be: 7" + 1/2" + 1/2" + 1/4"= 8 1/4"

The next measurement we need is the length of the cover.  My book is 5" wide.  I need to add another 5" for the back.  Next I'll add my seam allowances: 1/2" for the front cover and 1/2" for the back cover.  Then I will add 1/2" for the depth of the book and finally the extra 1/4" for the thickness of the cover.
 5" + 5"+ 1/2"+ 1/2"+ 1/2" + 1/4"= 11 3/4" total width for the front.

I will also need two sleeves for my covers to slide into- they will need to be 8 1/4" tall, and we will fold them over to create the sleeve, so they will be 8" wide so the final sleeve will be 4" deep.  The final measurement for my sleeve pieces: 2- 8" X 8 1/4" pieces

The final measurements we need to calculate are for the pocket on the front of our notebook.  Mine is going to be 2" wide, but we need to add in fabric for the seam allowances, which in this case will be 1/4".  The back piece for the pocket will be 2" + 1/4" + 1/4"= 2 1/2" X 8 1/4".  The front pocket piece will also be 2 1/2" wide, but I want it a little taller, so I'm adding a couple inches so the pocket goes higher than half-way up the book.  The front pocket piece will be 2 1/2" X 10 1/2". 
Now, we need to add more pieces of fabric so our final front cover piece will again measure 11 3/4".  I want the pocket to be near the front, so the fabric on the right will be small.  I only want about 1/2" of the main fabric to show on the edge, so I will take the 1/2" I want to show, add the 1/2" seam allowance for the cover pieces and the 1/4" seam allowance for the pocket pieces- 1/2" + 1/2" + 1/4"= 1 1/4" X 8 1/4". 
The last piece we need is where it gets a bit tricky.  We know we need a total of 11 3/4", but we need to think about how much of that we already have covered.  The pocket will be 2" wide (I'm going to ignore the 1/2" we added to our cut pieces because that will already be sewn into the piece) and the front edge piece will be 1/2" + 1/2" seam allowance- so 1" (again we leave out the 1/4" seam allowance because it will already be sewn in).  If we add those together 2" + 1"= 3" already covered in our first two pieces.  So we subtract that from our final measurement 11 3/4"-3"= 8 3/4"- then we need to add in 1/4" seam allowance for the pocket side 8 3/4" + 1/4"= 9".  The final piece needs to measure 9" X 8 1/4".

To summarize:
Main fabric:
[1.] 9" X 8 1/4" (main front piece)
[4.] 1 1/4" X 8 1/4" (front edge)
[6.] (2) 8" X 8 1/4" (sleeves)

Accent Fabric(s):
[2.] 2 1/2" X 8 1/4" (pocket back)
[3.] 2 1/2" X 10 1/2"
11 3/4" X 8 1/4" (inside of notebook- not shown in picture)

Fusible Fleece or felt
[5.] 10 3/4' X 7 1/4" if using fusible fleece, 11 3/4" X 8 1/4" if using felt


We will start with our front cover. 

Fold the front pocket piece in half, wrong sides together, and press.  Top stitch the folded seam if desired.  Line up the front pocket piece with the bottom of the pocket back, all edges should be raw, the folded edge should be in the center.  Line up the small edge piece with the right side of the pocket piece, right sides together (RST).  Sew using a 1/4" seam allowance.  Repeat for the large cover piece, lining it up with the left side of the pocket (RST).  Sew (1/4" s.a.).

Press the pocket seams toward the main cover pieces as shown.  If desired top stitch along the side seams.  (see picture)

Center the fusible fleece on the back side of the front cover with the fusible side down.  Turn over and fuse to the cover.  (If using felt, just line it up with the inside cover piece before sewing around the whole cover)  Press the sleeve pieces in half to create two pieces that are 4" X 8 1/4".

Cut your elastic to the height of your notebook, in my case 8 1/4".  Cut your ribbon the height of your notebook + a few inches- in my case approx. 12".  Line up the elastic 2" from the left edge, pin in place right side down.  Center the ribbon on the top edge of the cover piece.  Pin in place.
Line up the sleeves with the short edges of the cover, raw edges out (the folds should be in the center).  Place the inside of the cover (the white fabric in my sample) on top, (RST) lining up all edges.  Pin around the whole cover leaving the bottom between the two sleeves open for turning. (marked with arrows)
Sew around with 1/2" seam allowance, back stitch at beginning and end.  Clip corners and turn right side out.  Press all seams, folding under the edges left open for turning.  Sew the opening shut with a scant top stitch.
Slide in your notebook and you're done!  Once you have your measurements figured out, the hardest part of making these is choosing which darling fabrics to get from The Ribbon Retreat to use!

Linked up to Categorically Crafting: Summer at Someday Crafts and The Creative Exchange hosted at The Happy Scraps

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A bit of my Heart

Sunday, May 4, 2014
You can find the tutorial for this heart ruffle pillow here.

Today I just wanted to share a bit of my heart with you.  It has to do with being a woman and what I think of it.

As women we are so good at comparing and putting ourselves down.  It is easy to put up barriers based on our perceived differences, to protect ourselves.  We judge first to avoid being judged.

But when we do, we miss out on so much that is wonderful in the glorious relationships women can have with each other.  We miss having shoulders to cry on, we miss the help when faced with challenges we have never had to conquer before, we miss the make up tips.  :)

A wise woman once said,

Mass media would have us believe that the Mommy Wars are necessary, that competing and outdoing each other is part of life, that anonymous or catty open letters on social media are the norm.

I am here to tell you that all of that is a lie.  In every place I have lived, in every woman I have met, there is beauty and tenderness and love.  If we will put aside our own fears and perceptions, we will realize that standing before us is someone who, though different in appearance, is so much like us we can't believe it.  In each woman we meet, regardless of differences in age, upbringing, social standing or clothing size, there is a potential friend.  Someone who wants to be accepted, appreciated and needed. 

My challenge to you this week:  Go make a new friend.  Look around your neighborhood, your church, your work, your community- and find someone you can get to know better.  Share a bit of yourself with her.  Open up.  Don't be afraid and don't make the assumption that she doesn't need or want to know you.  Just give it a shot and let me know how it goes.

We as women need each other and we can create amazing things when we work together.  Let's go change the world.

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