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DIY Owl Tote

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Last year, I made this advent calendar counting down until Christmas. Always one to cram extra projects into an already exhaustingly busy month, on day nine I had written, “Make a Christmas present for your teacher.” Blah.

I have a few friends who are teachers and I know they often receive the same gifts. So, I wracked my tired brain for an idea that might be somewhat original, cheap, and also something the girls could make, preferably having to do with owls since their teacher has a fondness for them.

I came up with nothing. HOWEVER, while I was browsing the aisles of Walmart in search of other last minute craft supplies, I stumbled across canvas totes, all under $3. Score. I snatched one up and scurried home, giddy with anticipation and self-congratulations of being so thrifty and clever.

This bag took less than an hour, and if we’re being honest here, it could have taken half that time had I not enlisted the girls to help me out with this. Ah! I love them. They are precious, but heaven help me! Let me get this out of the way because if you read any of my posts you know I like to keep it real, lest you think this was some Hallmark, Kodak moment so when you try this out with your kids you are cursing me and my family for generations to come because I made it seem like this project was sunshine and kittens and lollipops. Sugar and spice and everything nice it was not.

First, I had the girls help me cut out pieces for the wings (I don’t have a pattern, but it was pretty easy to freehand them) and was trying to make sure we all had ten digits on each hand by the time it was all said and done because Ev couldn’t keep her eyes on what she was doing and the dogs were wrestling and bumping into us. I asked Nora to keep an eye on the pieces to give her a “special job” while I was trying to sew pieces on. She lost them. Twice. Poor girl tries so hard, but is slightly absentminded like her Mama. Then I had the girls take turns helping me by pressing down the pedal while I guided the bag through the machine. StrEEEEEEssful!! The dogs kept looping around my legs and under the table, digging in my garbage and stepping on the pedal. Again, fingers were counted after that fiasco. I discovered also, much to my great annoyance, that I had to rip out one side of the bag so I could fit it into my machine, then I stitched it back up when all was said and done.

So, that out of the way, I will tell you how we pulled this together. Let’s start with the supply list, shall we??

-canvas tote

-scrap fabrics for eyes and wings

-large buttons for eyes

-sharpie paint marker

-fabric markers

-glue gun

-sewing machine

We started out by making a wing pattern out of paper and making two, cutting them out along a fold so you have two mirror images. Then I traced something round for the eyes and drew large circles in the middle of large buttons (also found in the craft section at Walmart). I pinned the fabric pieces to the bag (after opening up one side so, as aforementioned it fit better through my machine) and went to work sewing the pieces on. I chose to do a straight stitch because I like the raw edge look, but you might prefer an applique stitch. Once the fabric pieces were on, I stitched the open side back up and hot glued the button eyes on. Once all of that was done, the girls wrote on the back of the tote. Pretty easy peasey, my friends. I think they turned out cute, don’t you? Oh. Yeah. The bag is pretty cute, too. 😉

norawriting girlswithbag eviewriting backbag

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There’s No Place Like Home (A Home Tour)

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I just saw this quote on Pinterest today by Jane Austen; “There’s nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” Being a homebody myself and a desperate Jane Austen fan, I fell in love and decided to make a print of it myself.

Today, as Spring days often are, is dreary, rainy, and romantically cozy. I find that my house is sprinkled with comfort and all things romantic as I walk through it. I wanted you to take a walk through it with me. DSCF1880

As I walked up the steps toward my attic office, I caught a glimpse of our cat, Picky-Picky sprawled out lazily upon our guestroom bed. I picked up this bedspread at an antique shop tucked away in a quaint little town while on vacation. The curtains draped haphazardly over this antique bed (found for a steal for $75 at a local flea market just down the street) were made from sheets found at Salvation Army.

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Next door is our girls’ room, papered with scrapbook sheets with paper stars dangling above the bed. Sometimes, when I tuck the girls away into bed at night, we pretend they are real stars and the ceiling is a night sky full of wonder and shooting stars.

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Then there is my room, painted a delicious, buttery yellow, complete with three windows that stream the sun through it. Even on a dreary day like today, it is bathed in luxurious light. The four post bed was crafted by my grandfather a quarter of a century ago and makes me feel ridiculously spoiled. It is high and soft and romantic. It is accented with bird pillows and a throw quilt, both crafted by yours truly, and is piled high with quilts acquired from different places, but my favorite being the one on top that was tucked away in my grandmother’s antique chest made by a relative long ago. As you can see, we, too, have stars above our bed. I am quite obsessed with paper stars.

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This vintage tray is one of my proudest finds, picked up at an estate sale for a few cents that sits on a shelf in our bathroom, topped with lotions and potions.

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When we first took a tour of our house when we were looking to buy, I nearly melted on the floor when I caught sight out this fireplace. It’s flanked by fluted pillars and has a built-in mirror that gives the room depth.  Do you see them? I told you I was obsessed with paper stars!

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This is our little breakfast nook, tucked into a corner of our kitchen. Can you tell I like vintage style? We got this table (that has two sides that pop out) and chairs all for $30 at an estate sale. Estate sales are my absolute favorites for the best finds!

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Seriously? Is there anything more romantic on a cold or dreary day than a hot cup of tea in a pretty tea cup? Most of these were my great grandmother’s. Aren’t they lovely?

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Along with paper stars, I am obsessed with birds (did you notice them on the pillows on my bed?). My dear, sweet mother knows this. This is Vivian, as I have fondly named her, given to me by my mom.

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….as was this one, which dangles nicely from the china cabinet in our dining room.

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Our reading nook, tucked between our stairs and living room, is papered with wallpaper I found for a dollar a roll at Micheal’s. I am quite fond of it.

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Aren’t they handsome? Perhaps one of the coziest of coziness on a dreary day are my two pals, Burton and Henry, that keep my company while the girls and Sam are away. Look at those faces!

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Lastly, this is the hope of things to come! This was taken in our backyard at the end of summer last year. This picture doesn’t do anything in it justice. Those zinnias and forget-me-nots brought me such joy! They were absolutely breath-taking. And that cute little girl in rubber boots watering flowers? Words cannot describe how cozy she is to cuddle!

So that is a glimpse into my cozy home! More to come later…….

xo

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Christmas Crafts Day 3: DIY Band T-shirt

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So I know this is an odd choice for a Christmas craft, but if you are anything like me, I like to make a lot of my gifts. It makes them more personal and I can often make them cheaper than buying them. Hence, this project.

This is the cover to my brother’s band CD. As of yet, though they have a rockin’ CD, they don’t have any accessories.  So for Christmas, I decided to make my brother a t-shirt to wear to his gigs. Thankfully, though his cover looks complicated, because of it’s haphazard nature I figured if I didn’t get the design exactly duplicated it would still resemble the CD cover moderately.

I confess I am not entirely done with the shirt yet. I wanted to be able to keep up with my “24 day” commitment, but I figured you would get the idea anyway!

So to start, here’s what I used:

*Fabric paints as well as silkscreen paint picked up from any craft store

*Plain t-shirt (I got this one for $3 at Hobby Lobby)

*hair dryer

*Alphabet stencils

*Contact Paper

To start, I cut little strips of contact paper in jagged strips to mimic the pattern on the cover. Like most of my projects, it wasn’t too scientific. I just taped the strips down and painted in between the lines.ImageImage

After I had painted in the lines, I used a hairdryer to dry the paint to make the process go a lot quicker. It took an average of ten minutes to dry between each application when using the dryer.

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Aaaand, that’s about it! I know, I know….super complicated! I just kept doing layer after layer until I got a pattern that looked like the one on the CD cover. I still have yet to stencil the letters on, but this project pretty much took me an hour or two to do. Not too bad! I hope he likes it!

Merry (almost) Christmas!

***DISCLAIMER: If my instructions on anything don’t make sense sometimes, it’s usually because I am being bombarded with a barrage of questions at any given moment; anything from: “what time is dinner” to “MOOOOOM, why doesn’t this Barbie have underwear”

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Easy Mitten Quilt and Tea Staining Fabric

ImageQuilting as you go is a really popular way to quilt it seems these days, which absolutely thrills my soul! With two businesses to try to keep afloat, two girls to keep after, errands to run, a house to keep in order, murals to finish painting, custom orders to keep up with, youth group activities, church functions, upcoming showers and parties, Christmas presents to be made…..(you get the idea) I am so happy when I see something that helps me to shave off some time on my projects. I have sold my quilts in shops in the past (real storefront stores, not online) so I have to have an inventory of quilts on hand ready to be shipped out. Fall is just around the corner, and Christmas and snow shortly to follow, so lots of stores are already carrying winter items (which is terribly depressing to me, but that is for another day).  Anyway, I came up with this mitten quilt that is an applique quilt-as-you-go quilt that literally took me just a little over three hours to make, start to finish (minus tea staining the fabric). 

Here are the supplies you will need:

* 2 pieces of fabric measuring 48″x36″

*Batting measuring 48″x36″

*Fabric scraps of your choice for the mittens and binding (I found this adorable cotton fabric that looks like it’s knit, but I think using real salvaged sweaters would be cute, too)

*Rickrack

*Fusible webbing

*Thread

*Tea bags (if you intend to tea stain the fabric first)

Pretty simple list, right? 

First, I tea stained the fabric by boiling some water on the stove with a few tea bags, then I turned the stove off and let the fabric soak in it for a good hour, then rinsed and rung it out and hung it out to dry.  Don’t toss the water or bags yet because they will come in handy later.

102_2205After it had dried, I dipped it in the water a few times, then rinsed it out and rung it out really well, the put it in my dryer to really set the stain. DO NOT PUT IT IN WITH OTHER ITEMS!! It will stain other clothes, so I don’t recommend it and you might want to run a rag over the barrel once you are all done with this process. It has never left residue on future cycles for me before, but it probably doesn’t hurt to use this precaution.  You can always hang it up to dry again if you want to.  After it was dry again, I took just the tea bags and would put them in the fabric and squeeze for a very highly concentrated staining.  I have found that it’s always better to make sure the fabric is completely dry when you do this. 

102_2206Then I toss it in the dryer once more for good measure, pull it out and it’s good to go!

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I love anything vintage or antique, so I love this method because it makes your fabrics look “aged” quickly.

Once the fabric was tea-stained, I went to work cutting out mittens. I traced around my own hand for a pattern (very scientific 🙂 ) and then cut out two pairs of mittens out of each of the fabrics and webbing I had, totaling six pairs of mittens. Then, I sandwiched my three layers together (backing, batting and front fabric) and pinned it all together nicely as you would any other quilt.  Then I went about pinning and ironing the mittens in place. This part was fun to me, because I liked putting them around a little haphazardly like mittens strewn about after a morning sled riding and building snowman, discarded in the haste of warming hands on a mug of hot chocolate.  

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After I had the mittens where I wanted them, I pinned on some matching red and green rickrack to connect four out of my six pairs of mittens. I love rickrack! It adds a vintage touch to any project.

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*Note: I know one if dark brown and not red, but I was going to use the brown until I found I had some red after I took this picture. 

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Starting from the middle of the quilt outward, I went about quilting the three layers using a free-motion stitch, and sewing around each of the mittens and across the rickrack. 

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Once it was completely quilted (which took only about an hour total time) I cut out 1/2″ strips for the binding from different fabrics, just to keep things interesting. 

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Last but not least I attached the binding by machine. I know, I know…..that’s the lazy method. But, doing it this way is the difference between 30 minutes and three hours. So, I will take the easy method, please.

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Aaaaaaand (drum roll please) there you have it! A cozy quilt for the upcoming winter chill.

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Now all that is missing is a hot cup of cocoa, a crackling fire, Dean Martin singing “Baby it’s Cold Outside”, and snow sticking to the window outside. 

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Time to reevaluate…

I have had my Etsy shop on “vacation mode” for about a month now trying to catch up on orders I have in. I specialize in custom quilts, and though ten orders might not really sound like a lot, when they take about three months to make, it takes up a lot of time….and time is money. I am really no business woman. It’s all very overwhelming and confusing to me sometimes. So, I have been pondering whether I should cut back on taking customs orders in general, or just offer simpler patterns and quilts of a much smaller size, like baby quilts or throw size quilts, or if I should do away with quilts in general! I do a lot of custom guest book quilts for baby showers or weddings, and have done family tree quilts as well. So, here are some pictures of what I have made and some things I have currently for sale. I could use some serious feedback or any advice anyone might have in making a more profitable business, and if any of my items stands out to them! Thanks!

Superman Baby Tag Blanket1. Superman sensory blanket.2.Guest book tree quilt 3.Patriotic quilt4. Baby pinwheel quilt 5.Custom baby shower quest book quilt 6.Charlotte’s Web book purse 7. Custom team quilt
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Silhouettes Pillows

Silhouettes are so trendy right now, and I have totally caught the bug! I love silhouettes and have them displayed all over my house. I have them of my children, my husband and I, my dog, off birds on my wallpaper,  I even have some of people I don’t know hanging in my dining room. So when I was considering recovering some shabby pillows that we have had for ten years, full of holes, a little outdated, and stained, I thought I would like to incorporate more silhouettes!

To do this project you will need:

*Old pillows or pillow forms

*Profile pictures of your subjects

*A computer with printer

*Fusible webbing (I used this kind from Walmart which was less than $3)

*Thread for hand and machine stitching

*Two different fabrics-one for the background and main part of the pillow, and one darker for the silhouette. For Henry’s pillow, I used burlap, which I do not recommend for this project. I found out belatedly that the fusible web doesn’t stick to it, so I had to go the extra mile and applique it on by machine.

To start, I picked my favorite subjects: the kids, and my dog, Henry, who is like one of our kids.I made the kids stand against the wall (as you can see I came up with this brilliant idea right after dinner, hence the bibs). With Henry, it was a little trickier making him sit still while I took this shot…a treat being held a few inches from his nose might have been involved…

Next, I uploaded the images on my computer, and used a program to edit them, playing with the shadows and exposure so that their faces stood out against the background.I printed their images to use as a stencil, and traced their images on the back of the fusible webbing. As a note, if you want your picture to appear in the same direction as you took the picture, print it as a mirror image.

After I traced the picture, I cut them out and ironed them on the back of my accent fabrics. Then, I cut out around the fabric and ironed it on to the front of my background fabric. If you really want to ensure that your silhouettes won’t come off, you can applique them by hand or machine. I opted not to, except for with Henry’s because the webbing didn’t stick to the burlap.I then started the demolition process on my pillows. Since I bought these, I wasn’t sure what I would find inside, whether it would be an actual pillow form or just stuffing. Since it was just stuffing in all three pillows, it gave me a little more freedom to make sizes I wanted. However, for one of the pillows, I did use the fabric as a sort of template when I was cutting out my fabric. You can either use a ripper or a good old fashioned pair of scissors. Never one to turn down the opportunity to take a short cut, I opted for the scissors.Cut out the shape of the pillow you want, and sew around the edges, wrong sides together, and leave a small opened so you can turn the fabric right side out.After you turn the pillows right side out, stuff them, and stitch the opening with a hand stitch. If you are feeling more creative, you can make your own pillow form, then just make a cover that you can take on and off using a zipper or make envelope sham. As I said, with two kids at home, full-time ministry, and an online business, for my home projects, I like to take shortcuts when I can.:)