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.

me and my "brother"

let me start by saying: my sewing machine is a brother.

and let me next say that i never intended for the photo posts to take over the blog, but that is certainly what happened, isn't it? so here's a non capture2011 post for those who want it.

i went to a baby shower on sunday, and i really wanted to give the honoree something handmade. i love making gifts for people, and since i was giving her baby shampoo, rash cream, and other necessities, i wanted her to have something soft, too.

the wheels started turning. at Christmas, my mother-in-law gave me ben's old stocking. i saw that it had this appliqued airplane on it. my first thought was, "i could totally do that!"

so i gave it the old college try. i found a plain gray onesie at target, bought some iron-on adhesive, and rummaged through my fabric scraps for something fun. i'm so happy with how it turned out.

i just freehanded the heart (using the elementary-school fold-in-half method). i like the texture of the fabric, and i asked crystal if she wouldn't mind that her daughter wears blue. :)

i was feeling extra crafty, and i love a project that allows me to use fabric scraps instead of tossing them, so i sewed up a card, too. it's a butterfly in case you can't tell.

at the actual shower, as we passed around the gifts, i kept getting more ideas for handmade, baby-related goodness. this is great, because there will be many, many showers this year!

roman shade: finished!

do you ever feel paralyzed when it comes to decorating decisions? i do. sometimes i just can't bring myself to spend the money it would take to decorate a space. sometimes i don't have the time, so a bathroom window goes without covering for months. :)

but progress has been made! here's the final result of that bathroom window decision:

a combination of menards cut-to-fit white blinds and a homemade roman shade! i love it. i used darby's tutorial to make the shade. [her blog is amazing. she loves Jesus, her husband, her kids, sewing, baking, and photography. she's an inspiration.] my shade is not perfect. if you look closely (or maybe not even that closely!) you'll see flaws. but i'm still learning, and i'm happy with it.

the fabric is from calico corners. they have beautiful, quality fabric and great prices. i ordered it back in february, sewed the shade right away, and then it sat for a month while i pondered how the make the folds. then, i brought my sewing machine and the shade over to my mom, the pro, and she helped me figure out the folds and the last few steps. then, it sat for another month before i got the itch to mount it one night! man, i'm slow. beth and i painted this bathroom last june! [having the blog helps me keep track of these things—i can know exactly how long it has been. eek.]

like darby, i mounted the shade higher than the window. it is purely decorative (it doesn't go up or down), so i hung it high to make it seem like the window was bigger than it actually is. this requires blackout lining on the back, but i think it really does make the room seem bigger!

i have art to hang in there and a shelf to install, and then this bathroom will be complete. wahoo!

story of a lonely goodwill skirt

my mom and her sister definitely know their way around a sewing machine. my mom used to teach sewing classes, and i can remember sitting next to her in the basement, watching her thread her needle and guide the fabric through the machine. my aunt sewed baby blankets for me, my brother, and my sister—and i slept with mine longer than i'd like to admit. she also made easter dresses for me and kristen. they were pretty much the same dress, but mine was purple and kristen's was pink. i'm no sewing expert, but my mom is, so that's a start. :)

i mentioned that i received a sewing machine from my parents for Christmas, and i've been having so much fun with it! the internet is such an inspiring place...google "sewing tutorial" and a million things come up. it has been a long time since i've made anything wearable (like, since seventh grade home economics), but i thought sewing a skirt would be pretty simple. so i needed some fabric.

i found this skirt at goodwill for $2.50. it grabbed my attention because the fabric was so bright and bold! i didn't even check the size. i was going to cut it to pieces and rework it anyway, so the bigger the better—more fabric!

here are a few shots of what it was like when i bought it. i should have taken a shot of me wearing it. it was huge. like i could stack both fists between my waist and the waistband. it looked like one of those crazy weight loss "look at me in my former pants" pictures. before i told him about the vision, i put it on over my clothes and showed ben. he was very confused.

it was really long, and it buttoned up the side, too:

 but check out that label: diane von furstenberg! no way!

i cut off the button-up side seams and the strange pleated waistband. there were two tiny holes near the hem, so i cut that off, too. i basically ended up with two rectangles of fabric. i mashed up no less than three skirt tutorials i saw online and improvised a waistband (i just sewed a little "pocket" and threaded 1 1/2" elastic through, then sewed it shut). oh yeah, and the fabric was totally see-through so i added a lining. here's how it came out (don't laugh at my poses! i felt awkward...)

i wore it yesterday for easter, but i cheated and wore it to work earlier in the week, too. :) it was fun to wear something handmade, something that had been old and strange and is now fun and pretty!


i don't know exactly when it started, but ben has been keeping handkerchiefs in his back pocket. it can be difficult to find gifts for him, so when i saw this design*sponge post, i wanted to do the same for ben. i planned to make them right away and give them to him for his birthday in october...but we were knee-deep in renovations and i never got the chance to make them. same thing for christmas. alas!

but there was hope! did i mention that my parents gave me a sewing machine for christmas? and did i mention that my mom showed me how to use it to make simple monograms? i was all set to make ben a late christmas present!

i started with a six-pack of white hankies from target. (i washed them before i started so the fabric wouldn't pucker when they shrunk.) i think i bought these back in september. i had high hopes to finish this project right away, but like so many other things, it just slipped away!

i practiced a bit on some old fabric.

after a few trial runs, i started to get the hang of it. in the corner of the first hankie, i freehanded a capital B in pencil.

then i set the stitch. i used a zig-zag stitch that wasn't too wide.

here we go! i took the foot off of the machine, so i was moving the fabric under the needle to make the letter. it would have been better to use an embroidery hoop to keep the fabric taut, but i couldn't get it under the arm of the machine! oh well.

stitching...i just followed the pencil line. i had to go over it two or three times to get the stitch "thick" enough.

and i had my monogram! to keep it from unraveling, i took a needle and passed the top thread underneath to the bottom...

then i hand tied each one in a square knot.


a set of six hankies for my husband: two each in red, navy, and baby blue. he uses them a lot!

it was a super fun project. there are a few things i would do differently next time, though. first, i would make the monogram more serif-y, so that the B didn't look so much like an 8! and second, i would probably just back stitch the end, and then snip the threads (instead of hand-tying each one). that would be enough to keep it from unraveling. but live and learn! maybe i'll try this on something else next...