Pillow Refresh


I spent the better part of this past week's sewing time making new pillow covers for this little window seat nook on our front stair landing. It's been on my mental to-do list for the better part of a year and I have looked at home dec fabric from time to time with this project in mind. I wasn't sure how I was going to combine the soft blues and greens that I love with the yellow in our stained glass until I saw that bird fabric. The colors are just what I wanted, the aqua and teal, soft green and the gold and bonus points for raspberry!


I had the cushion recovered by my upholsterer. She did it so quickly - about a week! - that I wasn't really ready to jump into the pillows, but I did anyways. Smartest move ever. If you follow me on Instagram, you saw the progression: fussy cutting the birds, making the aqua welt, moving on to the aqua pillows, layering and sewing down the flat trims, putting the brush fringe on the polka dots. What you didn't see was the good 40 minutes I fussed with an invisible zipper on the first pillow that just would not work. After a ton of wrestling and some swearing, I ripped that sucker out, threw it in the trash and decided to sew the pillow shut by hand. And I kept on hand stitching them shut as I realized that I had never once removed the covers on the previous pillows in 10+ years.

The result makes me happy, happy, happy! I smile every time I walk by. It was such a simple project - I am not sure what took me so long to get to it. But now that I have started, I may not stop. The family room pillows are looking a little worse for the wear....

(My tutorials on how to add a lapped zipper to your pillow and how to make piping for a pillow can be found here and here. I swear the zipper thing is easy - I just had a bum zip! Happy sewing!)


I am completely overwhelmed by the amazing comments and response you all had to my book news. I read each and every comment as it came in and want to thank you all for your enthusiasm. After working quietly behind the scenes and keeping the project under wraps for so long, it was wonderful to be able to blab about it. I am super excited to share even more about the book over the coming months.


We started ripping out the carpet on our third floor at the end of last week. This space is one larger room which doubles as a guest room and play room with a large walk-in closet, which has been my little sewing studio. At first glance, the pine subfloor looked like it was in great condition. I was very hopeful that we'd be able to sand it and paint it.

May 15

Of course, it didn't work out as planned. As more carpet and particle board was removed, we found all sorts of old holes patched with random boards and plywood. On to Plan B.

Floor 2

Floor 3

New pine floors were laid and have been sanded. For about a minute I thought about putting hardwood in, but I really don't want to worry about that floor. I want to be able to baste quilts on it and work on paintings without worrying. I also want the girls to feel like they can get messy and be creative without me freaking out about the floor. So the new floor will be painted by me. The walls and the woodwork are getting a fresh coat, too. I know this is going to eat up a lot of my energy and time over the next weeks, but I am determined to get it done as quickly as possible so I can start using that space.

So to wrap it up, I'm floored - by your sweet comments about my book (thank you, thank you, thank you) and this crazy project I've gotten myself into.

And today I turned 42. I have a very good feeling about this year. Very good, indeed.

A cushion for our chair


When we redid our kitchen in the spring of 2010, we also redid the mudroom which is down the stairs from our eating area. We put in wainscotting, a new tile floor, cubbies for jackets and shoes, and new treads for the stairs. To make it all work the way we wanted, we had to give up a small built-in bench. I wasn't really sad about that as the bench really was used more for throwing random stuff on and no one ever sat on it. But I also knew that it would be nice to have a place to sit and put on shoes so I started searching craigslist for a schoolhouse or windsor chair. I hit the jackpot towards the end of our project and scooped this one up for $15. A few coats of spray paint later, I had a cheery, red chair.

One of the household projects on my to-do list for 2012 was sewing a cushion for this chair. Sure, it was cute and bright, but it wasn't the most comfortable chair. I had a hard time deciding on what I wanted the cushion to look like. One of the major concerns was that we have an outdoor rug in this space that doesn't have any red in it. While searching the sewing room for something else entirely, I came across this fabric that I bought a few years ago with the family room or kitchen in mind. When I realized it had green, brown, blue and red, I knew this was the fabric for my chair!

I had everything else I needed on hand. I covered plain cording with the navy polka dot fabric (tutorial here) and used 2" high density foam covered with a layer of low-loft polyester batting. The cushion has a lapped zipper in back (tutorial here) and ties to the chair.


Now that this is finished, only one of my five household sewing projects for 2012 remains. Dang. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't surprised by this. It may appear as if I have given up my procrastinating ways, but I don't think that is the case. For me, just saying that I was going to do these things gave me a clear path as to what to tackle project-wise. I've pretty much just put my head down and made them happen. Bonus: I saved the easiest one for last.

Household sewing project #3

Never did I think I would be taking photos of my laundry room and posting them on my blog.

But I am.

Laundry 3

Across from our washer and dryer is a countertop with upper cabinets. I think it was probably intended to be used as a folding station with room for laundry baskets or the like underneath. For us, though, it works best as a desktop/command central.

Laundry 2

I keep the calendar here along with all pens, pencils and markers that the girls and I use frequently. There is also a huge stack of looseleaf paper and other office essentials like a stapler, pencil sharpener and paper shredder. We each have our own clipboard for keeping important papers and invitations. It's not always this neat and tidy, and often a lot of what should be here is on the kitchen counter, but I'm trying to be more organized this year and so it recently got a good cleaning.


Here's where the sewing part comes into play.

Underneath the counter is the litter box and the cat food. No one wants to look at that so I have made it all disappear with a little slight of hand. Oh, okay, not really. A curtain does the trick. Scout, the cat, can slide right behind that fabric to do her business and no one is the wiser. I used home dec weight fabric - 2 yards cut into 1 yard lengths, pre-washed and sewn together. A quick hem at the bottom and casing at the top was all it took to neaten and soften up this utilitarian space. Bonus: I can easily take it off and throw it in the wash if need be. Also, I love that this stripe has green and blue in it because it's directly across the hall from our powder room and off of our family room - it all looks so good together.

Boring? Probably. But it's checked off the list. Two more household projects left to complete and I will have sewn all the household projects I intended to make in 2012. Not too shabby, huh?

Happy weekend, folks. I hope you have a great one.

Household project #2 - done and dusted


Bad puns aside, I am thrilled that this bed skirt for Jane's room is finished. It has been a long time coming. I've had the fabric for at least 8 months, but couldn't motivate myself to get sewing it. I guess that is what the New Year is good for - getting those lagging projects completed. Well, at least, that's the way it works for me.


While this project isn't for beginners, it is pretty straightforward if you have some experience gathering and sewing waistbands (like on a skirt or an apron). Instead of making a fabric deck to cover the entire box spring, I attached the gathered fabric to a strip of cotton. This makes maneuvering all that fabric much easier and less swear-inducing. It's also super easy to attach to the box spring. The secret? Twisted upholstery pins.


Brilliant, right? I think so.

I'm so happy with how this room is coming together. It's been a work in progress for about two years now. I wanted to make sure that what she (and I) chose would carry through her teenage years and maybe even beyond. I think we are on the right track. The furniture needs painting, but one thing at a time.


The lowdown:

Jane's bed is a full. I used 8 widths of fabric (54" wide), each 21" tall before hemming. That's slightly over two times the linear measurement of the box spring.

It has a 3.5" hem (1.5" pressed and then another 2" pressed) that I sewed with the blind hem foot and stitch on my machine. I gathered it in sections - two widths of fabric to each quarter measurement of decking - to make the sewing less cumbersome. I highly recommend this approach.

The finished deck is about 4" tall - I cut 10" strips and pieced them until I had the right length. I sewed the deck to the skirt using a 1/2" seam allowance and then finished it just like you would a skirt waistband (folded in the middle and topstitched down to enclose the raw, gathered edges).

The fabric is Annie Selke Links in pink. It coordinates with the headboard fabric, Annie Selke Shalini Ivory Raspberry. The duvet and white shams are from PBTeen. Monogramming was done locally. The aqua check fabric is unknown. Details on the quilt can be found here and the throw pillow here. Upholstery pins were bought at JoAnn's.

Still here

September 10

I've been feeling rather quiet lately. Everything is fine. I just need a little break from all the noise.

In other news, the headboard for Jane's room was delivered on Saturday. It's better than I could have imagined. She loves it, too.

I finally settled on a backing for her quilt. Yesterday I sandwiched it and started quilting. It's slow-going, but looking good.

I've been watching The Good Wife - season 2. And after that I am going to take one of the many fantastic suggestions you all gave me so I can finish this quilt. There are so many good options! Thank you.

Once this quilt is finished, it'll be time to paint some furniture and make a bed skirt. Time to get the paint deck out to find the perfect shade. Big surprise - we're going with green.

I feel like there's something else I wanted to say, but I can't remember what it was. I'll be back as soon as I think of it.

Summer Sewing

July 24

I finished stitching my Daisychain Sampler this past weekend. I enjoyed every last stitch! This project was a great reminder of how much I love handwork. I am on the search for my next take and go embroidery or crewel work. I also might just design my own!

July 26

The sampler will be framed and hung in Jane's room which is undergoing a bit of a makeover. Two summers ago, I painted it and made her new curtains and then moved onto other things. I'm back to finishing her room - we've added a bookcase, sent fabric out for an upholstered headboard and bought new bedding. There is a bedskirt to make and furniture to paint. Still, I couldn't resist starting a quilt for her. I hope to finish cutting it tonight and start sewing tomorrow.

I promise to show and tell when it's all finished. I'm also sprucing up some other corners in the house. More on those later.

Spring cleaning


I spent the majority of yesterday (more than 6 hours) trashing out the girls' rooms. They helped. They also whined quite a bit about it. And I just stood my ground and got it done.  In the end, everyone was happy.  There are bags and bags of clothes and toys to donate and another four laundry baskets of clothes that can be handed down or maybe sold on ebay. I on the fence about that as I haven't done it before and am not sure it's worth the time. Anyone have experience - good, bad or otherwise - selling on ebay? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Both of the girls' rooms are in a state of flux. Kate is waiting on her quilts (I cannot, absolutely can't, figure out how to quilt them) and I'd like to reupholster her headboards and make new bedskirts. We rearranged some of her furniture, but I'm not sure it's the right solution. We'll see. Jane has the furniture that I had growing up. My parents bought it - four poster full size bed, two nightstands, dresser, dressing table, large mirror - at an estate sale when I was in second grade for $200. It's solid cherry and quite lovely, but the bed is on its last legs. I got a repair estimate and for the same price, I could have an upholstered headboard made for her. I'm leaning in that direction as the repair would likely not stay for more than a couple of years.  I'd like to paint the rest of the furniture and update the hardware. I realize that this is a whole boat load of work which will take a great deal of time, but I'm going to try to do it all before the fall. That's the goal, anyhow.

In the meantime, it was nice to freshen things up a bit. I pulled a quilt out of the linen closet that Fatty's grandmother made and put it on Jane's bed. It's a lovely yellow double wedding ring that immediately cheered up her rather dark room. It wasn't doing anyone any good in the closet so I'm happy that it has a new home for now.

March 5

All of this has got me thinking even more about using the stuff we have, making more quilts and decorating on budget.  And spring cleaning because almost every room in this house could use this kind of overhaul. I just wish there were a few more hours in the day.

Back here with the auction info soon - I think I'm going to just cover everything in a bare bones kind of way. I hope that's ok. Enjoy your Sunday.

Heart Garland

January 29

Inspired by Tif, I sat down Saturday morning with a pile of card stock and started cutting hearts.  I used a little patterned paper and a lot of off white.  I tried to stick to three sizes and I cut them all free form.  I sewed them together with the sewing machine and hung them with some masking tape.  Easy.  Cutting took the longest amount of time and I still have a good number of hearts left over for more garland.  I love that they are festive but not over the top Valentine's decorations.  And seeing them makes me smile - especially good on a rainy February day.


I've updated the blog design - long, long overdue! A great huge thanks to Rachel and Tracy for their help.  I couldn't have done it without you! Some photos on the tutorial page are missing - those will be here by week's end. In the meantime, the links should all work. If you find an error, please let me know so I can fix it right away. Thanks!

More pillow talk

During pillow week, I cut three pillows that I didn't get around to making.  The week before Christmas, I found myself with a free hour and got around to finishing them.


This is one half of a pair of small lumbar pillows for the ticking stripe chairs.  I love this fabric, but I did not love fussy cutting it.  I wish the pillows were a little longer (these arer 14" x 18"), but I was intent on using pillow forms I had on hand.  The piping is a solid khaki color from scraps of the pillow below.

Velvet ribbon

Velvet detail

I needed something a little plainer with all the prints going on in the room, so I used this slubby khaki cotton for this 22" square pillow.  I rooted around the studio to find a trim and the only one that was the right color and I had enough of was this green velvet.  I edge stitched it onto the pillow front before I sewed it together.  I am really happy with the way it turned out.  The textural differences make the pillow more interesting.  A wider ribbon would have been perfect, but this one does the job nicely.


Here's the couch in the family room with all the pillows.  I didn't fluff or plump or straighten up for this, but you get the idea.  To the left of the photo are the two ticking chairs with the red pillows.  The dresden plate floor pillows sit on a shelf below the coffee table.  The pillows on the couch get moved around a lot and look good together in any combination.  I think it is all coming together nicely, but the room still needs some work, namely a rug, lamps and a big edit of some built in bookcases.  Also, I'd love a new coffee table, but I am not sure that is in the budget right now.  I do have an idea to hack the one I have -  I just need to put that plan into action.

Spiffing up the family room made me realize just how easy and fast it is to revamp the house with things I already have.  For the cost of a few yards of fabric, I have a much more pulled together room.  I want to keep moving in this direction. I'd love 2011 to be the year I focus on my home.  There are quite a few projects on my to-do list and I plan on knocking them off one-by-one.  I'll keep you updated as I go along.

I never thought I'd get this excited about a bathroom


The painters just finished hanging wallpaper in our powder room.  I love it!  It's Lacework in ocean by Amy Butler.  Did you know she designed wallpaper?  I stumbled upon it and cannot believe how great it works with the green ceiling that was already there.  Plus, our family room has a large navy sofa and green walls so it all flows nicely.  Yay!

Now to just paint the vent to match the ceiling....

The girls are home and I'm soaking them in.  Happy weekend to you all.

A question for you

April 27

Remodeling our kitchen has me itching to revamp a lot of our home.  I wonder why that happens.  To be fair, we have lived here 5 years and not one single room is what I would call finished.  At the end of this project, the kitchen will be complete and the family room will be close to getting finished too.  I know what I want to do in my dining room and will probably tackle that in the fall.  I'm still looking for inspiration and I know that there are all kinds of resources out there of which I am unaware.  So readers, do you have favorite home decorating/d.i.y./design blogs and what are they?

Thanks in advance.  I'm checking out for the weekend.  Back here next week.

Yellow - day four (or the story of the plates)

I find it funny how my mind works.  On Monday, I saw Emily's photo of teacups and it reminded me of some yellow plates that I have.  And thinking of those plates took me back to my last two houses, my former boss and a very special little girl.

Feb 17 001a

When Fatty and I got married, we moved from Telluride, Colorado to suburban Chicago.  I took the summer off from working to do wedding stuff.  When we returned from our honeymoon, I was offered a part-time job at the darling stationery store where we had purchased our invitations.  It was a wonderful fit - five minutes from home, retail hours and selling a product that I really love.  To top it off, I was working for an incredible woman.  Susan is genuine, kind, generous, supportive and smart.  She had started the business a little more than a year before and needed help.  I happily jumped in for a few days a week which quickly turned into full-time and then into managing the store.  It really was a perfect match.

Fatty and I had bought a small, 1940's cottage-y house and I was decorating it one room at a time.  We shopped the local antiques fair and consignment shops, looking for everything from a dining room table to chandeliers to McCoy pottery to add to my collection.  At one of my favorite stores, there was a set of nine yellow plates that just took my breath away.  I really wanted to buy one, but they were being sold as a set and there was no way I could afford to buy them all when we needed things like a new fence.

Feb 17 007_1_1

A month or so later, for my birthday, Susan handed me a box.  Inside were three of the plates.  She bought the entire set, kept six for herself and gave me the rest.  I was amazed and so very grateful!  She knew I would love them and I do.  I hung them on the wall above the bed in our guest room.  When we moved a year later, the plates were packed up in a box and moved to our new home.

The new house was much larger than the little suburban cottage we left behind.  I was pregnant when we moved in and I was dead set on getting each room painted and the nursery ready.  Many boxes sat for a long time, including all of the ones in the guest room.  I was put on bed rest at 33 weeks and at 36 weeks, I gave birth to a beautiful, but tiny little girl.  Jane weighted 4 lbs. 13 oz. but was otherwise healthy and came home from the hospital with me two days later.  My mom came to help and unpacking boxes was one thing we tackled while Jane slept.  When we pulled the dinner sized (11 inches in diameter) yellow plates out of the box, I realized just how small my baby was.

Jane and the plate

Those plates were hung on the wall above the bed in our guest room that day.  They were moved to a different guest room when Kate came along.  Five and a half years after Jane was born, we moved into this house.  The plates sat in a box for much longer this time and then they sat longer still, forgotten in a cabinet.  They are still in the guest room, but this time they hang over a mirror.  I put them up a few months ago, after I finished the guest room quilt.  The quilt was supposed to be pinks, greens and aquas, but it just screamed for a little yellow when I was making it.  I listened to my inner voice, added the yellow and didn't think twice - I loved it.

Feb 18 017_1_1

A few months after I finished the quilt, I remember the plates.  And they are a perfect match for the quilt.  It's like I knew, but I had just forgotten, that those plates were meant to be in our guest room.  I also think of Susan and The Custom Stationery Shop.  I adored that job and still miss parts of it from time to time.  I think it was there that I tapped back into my creative side after a few years of focusing on other things and for that I am very grateful.  Of course, the plates always remind me of Jane, as a tiny baby.  I did not realize, until I saw that photo, how tiny she really was.  I chalk it up to being a first time mom, with very little baby experience.  And of course, having a sweet, good baby didn't hurt!  As I type this, I think I need a new photo with Jane and the plate.  Yes.  I really do.


I am amazed at all the yellow I've been seeing from you!  The list of participants is here and here and the flickr group here.  See you tomorrow.

Lights all aglow


Just another thing that making me feel festive:  I love twinkly lights and Christmas trees.


Help!  I'm looking for some silk charmeuse - about a half yard or so.  Does anyone have a good internet source?  Or one that I can call and mail order?  Or any on hand that they would be willing to send me?   Any shade of blue, green, pink, or red would work.  Even black or gray.  I need it kind of quick - by Monday at the latest.  I'd be happy to do a swap or pay.  Thanks.

It's Fatty's Birthday

Since I just wrote a gushy post about Fatty last week, I'll spare you all.  But my fantastic and handsome husband turns 43 today.  I'm looking forward to more cake.  Happy Birthday, Fatty!


I am also looking forward to finishing the small painting project that turned big when I tore the towel bar out of the wall and had to repair the drywall.  I spent most of the weekend with a paintbrush in hand and paint in my hair.  This is the before shot.  I laughed when I looked at the photo.  I don't often walk around carrying empty toilet paper rolls, but I am collecting them for a school project.  Nice one, Erin.  Anyhow, I have repaired the drywall, painted two ceilings (this one and the one in the butler's pantry) and put a coat of tinted primer on the bathroom walls.  Yellow is a hard color to cover.  I'm hoping to get away with one coat of the green (you knew that, right?), but it might take two.  I forgot how much cutting in there is in bathrooms.  And painting behind toilets?  That pretty much sucks.  So yeah, keep your fingers crossed - I really don't want to paint more than one more coat.

The de-stash did not happen this weekend.  I will give you all ample notice before I post anything here.  I do have a couple crafty things to post.  I'll check in while the paint is drying.  Till then, ta ta.

There goes one and a half things off the list

While I was without internet, but with electricity, I tackled some bigger sewing projects.  By big, I mean size-wise, not necessarily level of difficulty.  Both were made out of squares and rectangles - really simple once I got the measurements right.


We have lived in our house for a little over two and a half years.  When we moved in, Fatty and I upgraded to a king size bed from a queen.  Making that jump required all new linens.  Sheets were an obvious necessity that I took care of right away.  And we were lucky enough to have a wonderful king size down comforter that my parents gave us when we got engaged.  At the time I really didn't understand why they got us a king when we had a queen, but now I understand my mother's good reasoning.  It just took us longer to get that king than she thought it would.  Anyhow, I am happy to say the comforter now has its very own duvet cover and the bed finally has a skirt.


Can I just say bed skirts are hard to photograph?  They are.  I made this skirt in five pieces:  one for each of the three sides of the bed and two for the corners.  I did this just in case the math didn't work out - I figured that it would be easier to fix my mistake(s).  Thankfully, though, my math was good and it all lines up well.  There is a box pleat in the middle of each side to hide the seam where I sewed two widths of fabric together.  I also sewed each piece to a four inch band that I attached to the box spring with twist pins.  I have done it both ways and I find this much, much easier than making a big sheet to cover the box spring.  I used the blind hem on my machine for the bottoms and sides of each piece and serged the raw edges to cut down on the bulk.  Make sense?

The duvet was easy, peasy.  My mother-in-law helped me cut it out back in August so I really just needed to sew it up.  It closes with buttons, but you can't see them.  Along with their corresponding button holes, they are sewn on a flap of fabric that folds to the inside of the opening.  I know this might not make sense.  But trust me, it's cool.


I know someone is going to ask me where I got the fabric.  The chocolate brown solid came from Calico Corners, I think.  The floral for the duvet is from Les Tissus Colbert, which is outside of Chicago.  I bought it over two years ago and it's 110" wide.  It is perfect for a king sized bed - there were no patterns to match - just one cut for the top and one for the bottom.

I promise a full shot of the bed once the pillow shams are finished.  Right now, though, I am just happy that my list is getting shorter.

Lunch with the mister




We might get an earful from the kids about how they didn't get to go along and help choose this year's tree.  Or about how they didn't have a chance of getting the free candy cane and coloring book.  I am hoping the excitement of seeing it already at the house will make up for purposefully excluding them.  If not, oh well.  It'll be worth it.  It's not often I get a the ride in the old truck, a pretty tree, a tasty lunch and an hour alone in the middle of a Thursday with my man.

I have a secret stash of candy canes, just in case.

Here Kitty, Kitty

I'm a bit under the weather today so just some quick photos as promised on Friday.


I found the perfect basket - it once held fruit and more recently, a bunch of squash.  I got my copy of Bend the Rules Sewing out and started working.


I traced the bottom and added a couple inches all the way around as a pattern.  I made a pillow insert out of flannel and poly fill.  Then I took the found fabric and made a cover.  The back side opens - I used hook and loop tape for my closure.  It fit the basket well and looked comfy, but it still wasn't quite right.


A couple of coats of black spray paint later, I had a cat bed.


Much better.  It looks great in the kitchen - the green matches the walls perfectly.  Now if Scout would just use it...