DIY Pillow Cover (from Something Unexpected)

DIY Pillow Cover (from Something Unexpected)

Welcome! Some of my goals for this blog are to encourage you to furnish your home creatively, try new things, and keep moving forward when you get stuck.

So in the next few posts, I am going to focus on some creative uses for fabric around the home. I hope these posts encourage you to think outside the box and maybe use things you already have in unexpected ways!

First up, I've got this for you.

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question: what do you do when one of your favorite cardigans gets a hole in it?

Old Cardigan for DIY Project
DIY Fabric Flower from Old Sweater

answer: stick it in your scrap fabric pile until inspiration strikes. and when inspiration strikes, cut it up and make a flower for your daughter's easter ensemble.

well she's obviously very excited about it!

this project was super easy. just cut a pile of rough circles (i just eyeballed them) and then pinch each one, sew up the end, and stitch together until you end up with a flower. you can't go wrong. (if you need better instructions, i kind of used these, but i kind of didn't.)

Old Sweater Cut Up for DIY Project
DIY Fabric Flower Pin From Old Sweater

but there was more to easter than silly flowers! we spent the morning worshiping our risen, death-conquering King Jesus at church and then headed over to the family gathering with ben's side.

the Lord is risen! the Lord is risen, indeed!



have you been to the dollar store lately? that place is a gold mine!

i picked up a few goodies there the other day and saw a lot of easter decorations. i've never done much to decorate for holidays other than Christmas, but i think starting our family has made me want to do more seasonal decorating to start traditions and memories. and easter is an incredible celebration. Jesus rose from the dead! i saw these easter egg ornaments at the dollar store and was inspired to make a little easter tree.

i already had a white planter, and i trudged through the knee-deep snow to cut a branch from a tree in our front yard (this was by far the hardest part!). i scrounged for some styrofoam and used that as a base to stick the branch through and keep it upright.

Sparkly Easter Eggs for DIY Easter Tree
Styrofoam Base for DIY Easter Tree

i covered the styrofoam with some shredded paper i had saved from a gift (i knew right where to get it since i organized my wrapping supplies!). then i just had to hang my sparkly eggs.

Sparkly Easter Eggs on DIY Easter Tree

yes, the branches are bare outside, but inside they carry glittery eggs! for one dollar this little tree sure brings some brightness into our home.

have you found anything awesome at the dollar store recently? do tell! and are you putting up any decorations in your home to celebrate easter?

DIY Wall Art from Paint Chips

when life hands you paint chips…make art.

or at least that is what someone with borderline hoarding tendencies would say. and that person would be me.

i made this from paint samples, because apparently i can't bear to throw them away. kind of the same reasons for this project. hmmm.

but making this diy paint chip art was a motivating factor for finishing the art wall in our living room because it filled an odd gap in my design. i finished the art wall last year, i think? i can't remember. i had the frames assembled on the floor upstairs for a months before i finally went for it and put some nails in the wall.

this art wall was super fun to assemble, in part because it is a collection of found items with a few fun pieces i've purchased over the years. and most of the frames i already owned, i think. here are some close-ups from left to right, and then i'll tell you stories/sources for each piece.

ok. sources.

1. from the cover of a catalog. // 2. a freebie that came with a print ordered from blancucha on etsy. // 3. lemon yellow citrus birds print from sugarloop on etsy. // 4. love candy print in bubblegum from madebygirl. // 5. a pair of toy spy sunglasses (ben's!) mounted on premier prints chipper slub yellow fabric. // 6. a ribbon from the handle of an anne taylor loft bag. // 7. translucent blue birds print from sugarloop on etsy. // 8. diy paint chip art by me. // 9. a freebie notecard that came with prints ordered from sugarloop on etsy. i wrote in "for freedom Christ has set us free!" which is part of galatians 5:1, a favorite verse.

i guess the point of this story is that frame-able stuff is all around. only three of the nine things on that wall are actual art prints i bought. the rest were freebies that came with those prints or found items. so think outside the box and get creative with all the wonderful bits and bobs around the house!

***i must give credit to emily henderson for her ideas and motivational power. do you watch secrets from a stylist on hgtv? i catch episodes online from time to time, and seeing the composition of art in this episode definitely motivated me to stop procrastinating and just put these pictures up in a freeform, sprawling way. love that show!


hello, friday! and hello, friends!

i'm here to share possibly my favorite diy project from last year. okay, i say that a lot, but this one really is a doozy. along with a much better layout, this is the project that truly transformed our living room: bookshelves we built ourselves!

our friend bert is quite the woodworker. he's the one who made our new tabletop for us. five out of five stars. and bert graciously signed on when i asked him if he'd be up for another project. "gracious" because i get these crazy ideas in my head and he helps me translate them into reality.

he and i put our heads together and spent some time on ana white's site. we kicked around a few ideas, but in the end we modified this plan for the favorite bookshelf. we made two units, both of them wider and with taller legs so that the bookshelves wouldn't block some huge air vents we have at the baseboards.

i made quite a few trips to menards and home depot to buy lumber and supplies. on build day, bert brought over his chop saw, nail gun, and kreg jig (such a great tool!). beki and gwen came, too, and we ate dinner together right in the middle. i can't believe we hammered out two bookshelves in one afternoon/evening. it was amazing.

i stole this picture from ben's twitter——i forgot to take any "during" pictures. this is proof that i was involved in the construction!

but after the shelves were built, they sat in the garage for a long, long time while i procrastinated adding the adjustable shelving, filling holes, and sanding. (some of the lumber was less expensive to buy pre-primed, so parts of it are white and parts are unfinished——all pine though.)

once that was done, ben helped me bring them into the basement and paint. painting took a long time. can you guess what color they are? ha! you know me well.

but instead of all white, i decided to paint the plywood backing a color: my favorite aqua. like i said, this room needs color!

i arranged some books, vases, and other goodies, and we just love love love the shelves. (our books are a curious mixture of theology, investing, and literature. and yes, they are arranged by color. dewey decimal, be gone! ben is very patient with my ridiculousness.)

the crown detail was very simple to add, and i think it helps these bad boys look a lot less generic.

the bright colors look nice with the pillows and curtains on the other side.

cost-wise, these units were pretty reasonable. using pine kept the costs down, but you could go crazy with fancier woods and nicer trim up top. the cost was more than the ikea billy, which is what i originally considered for the space, but i think these look a million times better. plus, the billys would have covered the air vent, and we couldn't have that! so custom (and custom cost) is worth it in this case. and with such a sturdy build and solid wood, i'm hoping these bookshelves can stay with us for a long time.

much thanks to bert, without whom i could not have made these (i was thinking of going it alone, and i'm so glad i didn't). and much thanks to ben, who kindly parked outside for a long time while i turned our garage into amy's woodshop, etc.

operation color and home-sewn pillows

happy wednesday! i'm back to share another living room project. this time it is pillows.

we've been "moved in" to the living room for almost two years, but it has been very bare. when we chose carpet, fireplace tile, and wall color, i didn't have a good vision for the room's color scheme so we played it safe with beigey neutrals on the warm side. add the brown couch and chair and it was total dullsville. the room needed color and life!

this was right after we had carpet installed in november 2009. you can call it boring. i won't be mad.

the lovely curtains were the "jumping-off point" (sarah richardson, anyone?) for the color scheme: aqua and yellow in addition to greige, white, and brown. so for pillows, i wanted aqua and yellow for sure, and i also decided to add a little pink to make things interesting. i'm so glad ben likes pink!

first, i happened upon a great aqua lumbar pillow at home goods. then i ponied up some credit card points for a few (free!) yards of these two fabrics. i used two old pillows for pillow forms and bought two more down forms from ikea, so my costs were really minimal.





i used

this tutorial

to sew zippered pillow covers so i can take them off and wash them. (this is also where

i sewed the zippers on inside out

. oops.)

here's what we ended up with.

i am excited to show you the next project. it was very time consuming, but it is definitely one of my all-time favorites.


hola! it's been a long time since i've shared a project, no? this was a fun one i completed in july. keep reading and i'll show you how i made pinch-pleat curtains from tablecloths!

first things first. i relied very heavily on this tutorial from prudent baby. and because there is no need to reinvent the wheel, i'll do a fly-over version and if you want more details on how to do this, go there. the instructions are really clear.

so . . . curtains. yes. we have a huge window in our living room——i think about ten feet wide. our contractor mentioned that in new construction, he doesn't like to put in such big windows because large treatments are difficult to find or super expensive. he was right. i got an estimate for roman shades and i might have choked a little bit when i saw the number. eek.

the temporary fix was to find an extra-long double rod (from bb&b) and some blackout shades. this room faces full west and the sun gets really glaring in the evenings. plus, it's where we watch tv, so it is nice to be able to get the room really dark. we lived with these polyester curtains only for a long time.

i started to think about fabrics for this room, but i was really not looking forward to spending tons of money for all the yardage to make curtains so large. then, lightning struck.

we had been using this tablecloth to cover a folding table we were using as a desk, and i just love love love the pattern and colors and i knew i liked it in this room. i had bought it at target for like five bucks. my sister-in-law lauren had also bought it too but wasn't going to use it, so she gave me hers. and luckily enough, they were still available on and amazon. i used an amazon giftcard to buy a few more. (i used four total of the 60" x 84" size, which happened to be both the perfect length and width. so cool. my original one was bigger and i didn't end up using it.)

it was so great to buy tablecloths, because they were relatively inexpensive and already nicely hemmed! it was just a matter of sewing them together (two for each side). the patterns didn't line up perfectly, but that is the tricky part about using such a large-scale pattern. i'm okay with it.


i already had some curtain rings i wanted to use so that the curtains would slide nicely (we open and close them all the time). once i had them sewed up, i hung them and . . . they looked terrible. because i needed so much fabric to cover the window and still have them look nice and billowy, they were all gapped and you could see the blackout liner behind. not pretty.

so i gathered up a bunch of joann's coupons and bought the materials needed to make pinch pleats.

the pleat tape has little pockets that you stick the hooks through. let me show you.

and this is what the front looks like: a nice little triple pleat.

you sew the pleater tape to your fabric. super easy——straight lines! just make sure the pockets face the back. :) once it is attached, make your pleats (i think i skipped two pockets between each prong to make my pleats really defined) and attach the hook on each pleat to your curtain rings. i had to do some serious jimmying to get this to work (my curtain rings had clips).

and here they are! i love how tidy they look. the lines fall really well without a lot of fussing.

i used a nail and a paperclip (i'm super fancy) to attach the fabric to the wall so that the return is nice and clean and to cover the blackout shades behind the curtains. maybe i'll buy finials for the rod ends someday.

but i really like how the curtains look when they are closed. with the pleats, they are the perfect width and the pleats make nice movement. sometimes we just close the curtains, and sometimes we close both the blackouts and the curtains. i could have just attached the blackouts to the curtains, but it is kind of nice to have the option.

so there you have it, folks! as promised, i have a few more projects to share, so do stick around. see you soon!


decorating intentionally is a slow process for me. i don't usually like to put something up or add it to a room unless i love it. there have been times when we have needed a piece furniture asap and just bought something, but going slowly usually yields my favorite results. if i can make something myself (which takes time), i can save money, use what i already have, keep an eye on quality, and get something custom-made (like thisthis, or this). another example: the two windows in our master bedroom.

when we finished renovating and moved into the master bedroom late last summer, we had to do something quickly to cover the windows—especially because we are on the first floor.

yes, we had towels over the windows for a while. i got an estimate from budget blinds and was shocked at how expensive roman shades would be. i ordered some bamboo blinds from jc penney and canceled the order at the last minute. eventually, we settled on this combination of blackout shades (ben likes to sleep in a really dark room) and cheap white curtains from target, but i was never really happy with how the windows looked and i didn't know how to fix them without spending a lot of money.

don't they look sad? the curtains shrunk a lot when i washed them. i let out the hem, but they still weren't long enough. i tried using curtain rings but i just wasn't thrilled, and the bar didn't come with finials. the whole situation really, really bothered me. for months.

after brainstorming/researching for a long time, i decided i wanted cornice boxes with a little trim for color. here's the window now.

the first order of business was to fix the actual curtains. there were two problems: the blackout shades didn't really close in the middle (light seeping in) and the white curtains were too short. first, to add length to the bottom of the curtains, i made a false hem and sewed it on. (i had an extra pair of the same curtains that i used to make the hems.) i also sewed on some inexpensive ribbon in my favorite color. here's the back.

then i sewed velcro onto the blackout liners so that we can get them fully shut at night. much better!

the cornice boxes were kind of a fly by the seat of my pants situation. my father-in-law let me raid his barn for some plywood, so i actually didn't have to pay for the wood (it is paneling, which really helped with making the cuts).

i used the circular saw to cut the pieces.

then i assembled the boxes. i used some 1x2s to help attach the pieces and give the box some heft (the paneling was only 1/4" thick or so and it was a little warped from leaning against a wall). 

then i just wrapped it in batting (about four bucks with a joann's coupon) and some extra white curtains of the same variety that i already had.

i attached the ribbon with fabric glue.

and i attached the cornice boxes to the wall with some 3" l brackets i already had (score!). i gave the curtains a good steaming and here we are! this is the other window in the room. for about 25 bucks for ribbon and batting, i am so, so happy with the new window treatments. they look much more polished, but still simple.

the room is coming together slowly but surely. we don't have bedside lamps. there is no art on the walls. and the other side of the room has a fan, a tall lamp, and a table with an alarm clock. but we'll save some money and keep adding things one at a time. onward and upward!


happy rainy saturday! seems like a fitting day to share this project.

the only thing that was keeping me from checking the half bath off as "finished" was buying or making art and hanging it above the toilet. i've been clipping a bunch of fun raindrop-inspired ideas from around the webs lately, so i had my idea. i also had a bit of extra time on my hands when ben was on a business trip a few weeks ago, so i got down to it.

i started with a pile of paper and fabric scraps. i can't bear to throw away a scrap of something pretty, so i am glad i held onto these pieces! i had just enough of each type.

then i got to cutting. after an episode or two of veronica mars, i had what i needed. i bought a piece of posterboard and used some fabric glue to get everything in place.

and here she is.

again, making something new out of something old just feels so good. we'll be working around the house today and then i have a baby shower to attend tonight! what are your saturday plans?


i'm a big fan of supertarget, especially the dollar spot! it only takes a dollar to make me happy. :) i found a few fun things over the past weeks.

first, a yellow ceramic thing? i wanted to use it on our desk for pens and pencils. but it needed something. a stripe! i got out the blue painter's tape and rummaged around for a can of white spray paint.

a little paint crept under the tape, but oh well. it's "one of a kind!"

diy striped pencil cup

next up was a pinwheel for my sister-in-law, lauren. it is springy and looked cute on top of her birthday present.

hannah loves ceiling fans, and was equally interested in a spinning pinwheel! look at that mesmerization on her face.

gotta love the dollar spot!