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Homestead: First Curtains

23 Jan

Early last year, I took out my new sewing machine and made some curtain panels. It was really fun! I pretty much followed this tutorial found on Design*Sponge, and made small adjustments where needed: designsponge.com/2010/02/sewing-101-curtains.html.

I started out with this little set for the front door. I wanted something that gave us some privacy, but also let in some light. And this cute cotton fabric did the trick! I’m just having issues photographing the finished panels. This angle looks awkward.

This angle’s also awkward, and the window is being especially reflective.

I tried closing the door to get a shot of the curtains, but now it just looks like I live in a dark hovel. Well, hopefully the combination of these three photos will help give you some idea on how the curtains came out.

The second panel I made was for our workspace. Tim and I have so much stuff that we needed to remove the closet door, so we could actually get in to and utilize the closet. To cover up the mess of art supplies piling up in the closet, I made this curtain panel. Mess, be gone!

Close-up of the adorable fabric.

And finally, I made a curtain panel for our back door. Same deal as the from door: I wanted something that would give us a little privacy, but also let light in (we get great sun coming in from the back yard in the afternoons!). I tied a light green ribbon around the middle. I’m happy that my math and planning skills came together on this one, I really like how it came out.

I wanted to find a fabric design that was nature-inspired without being too flower-y or frill-y. This fits the bill, and also pulls in the pops of green that we have going on in the kitchen color palette. (Not that we have a preconceived or purposeful color palette going on in our house; it’s more like this fabric just happens to jive well with what ended up going on with our kitchen “decor”.)

I really enjoyed making these! And I have lots of future plans for my sewing machine and me. Though I haven’t used it since making these… It’s partly because I’ve been busy with my Etsy shop, but it’s mostly because we got ViVi mid last year, and if she attacks/tries to play with the vacuum cleaner, I can only imagine what it’s going to be like when I try to run a large swath of fabric through the sewing machine… We’re working on teaching her that not everything in the world can be a toy or friend to play with, so I’m hoping to be able to pick up machine sewing again soon!

Homestead: Christmas Ornament Wreath

11 Dec

I wasn’t sure what to do for a Christmas-y door wreath this year, so I searched around online for some ideas. I found this DIY Christmas Wreath idea from Shelterness.com, and I thought I’d give it a try! In the past, I had been put off by making an ornament wreath because using hot glue to affix all the ornaments felt too permanent; I knew I wasn’t going to get it right the first time, so I wanted to find a way to do it that was adjustable. And what I like about the Shelterness wreath is that the ornaments go on a rounded-out coat hanger, so you can move them around.

This is what I started out with: some colorful, round, cheap ornaments from the store as well as some smaller, colorful ornaments I already had laying around the house. (I ended up not needing to use them all.)

One of the first things you’re supposed to do is secure the metal caps of the ornaments with a little hot glue. Well, it seemed like the caps were on there pretty tightly, and trying to pry them off just to glue them back on felt a little pointless. So at first I just added a little bit of hot glue around where the caps met the ornaments, but that was eating up so much time. So, I stopped the gluing and started adding the ornaments.

This was actually pretty difficult! At least it was for me. After some experimenting, I finally figured out a decent process of mixing up the sizes to minimize gaps (and unsightly glimpses of coat hanger). It took about three hours! And when I was finished and started to re-twist the to ends of the coat hanger together…

A few ornaments popped off. Nards! So if you ever want to try this out, I highly recommend not skipping the hot gluing step at the beginning.

After all that work, I went to hang it on the door…

And it wouldn’t lay flat against the door. Argh! (At least it looks very festive.)

Well, so what if it doesn’t lay flat against the door, right? That’s easy enough to fix by changing the way the hanger’s set up…

…Except, there’s a bigger issue: The wreath is so big that the front door doesn’t close. Double Argh!

But Tim came up with a great idea:

Instead of a door wreath, it’s now a window wreath!

So I have one pretty festive window, and one pretty stark-looking door.

Homestead ViVi: Viva ViVi!

15 Aug

Hey there! Long time, no see! Usually I come up with some excuse after a long hiatus. Summer’s been crazy per usual, and I have a bunch of stuff that I’m working on, should be working on, and tell myself that I’m working on when I really haven’t touched it in months (a “Two Hour Sweater” shouldn’t take four months to knit…). But I have a lovely reason for my current lack of productivity:

Three months ago, WE GOT A DOGGIE!!!! Timbo and I had been talking about getting a dog for yearrrrrrrrrs, and we finally decided to take the plunge.

Our little bundle of joy’s name is ViVi (“Vee-Vee”), and she’s the coolest, most adorable pup with the biggest, cutest underbite. She was found wandering the streets before Animal Control picked her up, and since nobody claimed her, she was moved to the Animal Rescue League in Dedham, MA. Where we promptly fell in love with her, and gave her a new name and a new start.

Vivian “ViVi” Garpeski

Because of her mysterious origins, we don’t really know anything about her. We think she’s a “Chug”: part Pug, part Chihuahua. She’s pretty small at only 10 lbs., and we think she’s around 1 years old because her coat’s still changing and she still has crazy puppy bursts (Though her dental suggests she’s about 2-3, and an eye test suggested she’s 4-5… But we think she just has terrible teeth and eyes, just like her new parents!).

ViVi and Mumma

It’s been quite an adventure these past few months. ViVi’s the first dog I’ve ever had, so I’ve been learning lots. And I’ve also had so much fun getting to know her, playing with her, training her (she’s super smart! Though I guess it helps that she’s also very food-motivated…), and exploring new places with her.

Hangin’ with Dad

She loves people, other dogs, and pretty much everything else! She sometimes (usually) puts off some dogs because she loves to play and is crazy about it. But she likes saying hi to all the people and dogs in the ‘hood, and I’m quickly becoming known as “ViVi’s Mom”. My neighborhood has lots of dogs, but my town doesn’t have a dog park. Booooo. So when she’s not visiting at friends’ houses or trying to chase down other dogs on the sidewalk, she’s content jumping off of all the furniture and running circles around the house.

We were out in the garden one morning, and we looked up to see ViVi prancing in the living room window sill. Doesn’t she look happy with herself?

I just finished a little painting of ViVi to hang up in our house. I was inspired by all the new things we learned about her, particularly the things she feels passionately about:

10″ x 10″ (12″ x 12″ trim size, for easy framing), made with my favorite watercolor pencils and Micron pens. Her eyes came out a lot less happy-looking than in the sketch, and I seemed to have dropped the ball on the placement of the word “pinecones” with the pinecone (also, I learned that I really hate drawing pinecones). Oh well, maybe I’ll do another painting soon. I have years to do cute little drawings of my most favorite dog in the world. Viva ViVi!

Now that ViVi’s settled in to her new abode, I hope to be posting more stuff soon!

Homestead: Craft Table

15 May

Through the kindness of a thoughtful ex-coworker, I had inherited one of those little IKEA laptop tables. At first, he lent it to me because my make-shift workspace was severely lacking in table space. But on my last day on the job, he said he considered it a “permanent loan.”

I hope he meant it! Cuz a few years later, I was severely lacking in outdoor porch furnishings, and I thought it was a good idea to throw some IKEA furniture out there.

I don’t have a photo of what a summer of crazy weather did to the table…

…But here’s what it looked like when I attempted to chisel off and sand down all the weird lumps and cracks it caused.

Here’s a close-up of the heinousness.

I was attempting to smooth out the tabletop so I could try to do something fun with it. Make the little table look fun and arty-crafty, rather than “the person who lives here is a cheap lazy bum.”

Since I enjoyed my first foray in to decoupage, I figured I try it again! Over the years I’d collected lots of little squares of patterns and images I like, and I thought this would be a great way to put them to use. So after attempting to sand the table, I painted the tabletop with some acrylic paints (I mixed up whatever colors were closest to me in my art stash), then I started gluing down squares of paper using Outdoor Mod Podge. I knew that the squares were different sizes and wouldn’t perfectly line up with each other, so I decided to follow my intuition on where to place each square, and leave the gaps where they naturally form.

I quickly realized I would soon run out of squares. So I spent a week hunting down and cutting out more squares from catalogs and magazines, and I printed some out from websites. Once the table was covered, I applied four thin layers of the Outdoor Mod Podge over everything.

And here it is, the table that went from “crappy” to “colorful” in just… well, three or four weeks.

Here’s a close-up of some of the squares. The table’s still a little lumpy underneath, but I’m hoping that the flurry of color and pattern will camouflage the bumps. And the bumps aren’t so big to cause a beverage glass or something to fall over, so that’s good.

It’s nice to have a crafty-colorful table out on the front porch now, and it also doubles as a cool background for picture-taking. Here’s an excellent example: My talented friend Tess made this adorably cute ceramic juicer! And the decoupage in the background emphasizes its sassy-ness. Way more than if I took a pic of it on my dirty kitchen table.

The Outdoor Mod Podge is sure getting put to the test the past couple of weeks. It’s been raining lots, and so far the table seems waterproof. We’ll see how it holds up throughout the summer!

Though it’s accompanied out there by other cheapy IKEA furniture, so who knows… maybe I’ll have to decoupage these chairs next.

This was a fun project, but now I really wanna make a resin table top. Or get a custom-cut piece of glass to cover up a tabletop. So many project ideas, so pitifully little time.

Homestead: Cut-Paper Spring Wreath

24 Apr

Made a spring-time wreath for our front door! I was inspired by this very lovely project: Gorgeous DIY Paper Wreath.

The leaves lay flat because I used glue instead of staples. I’m fine with it (though I really do love the 3-D-ness of the wreath in that link!).

The leaves are made from really pretty paper I found at Paper Source. Some sort of shimmery ink was used to make the patterns on the paper, so there’s a nice play between natural/hand-made-looking paper and pops of shimmery-ness.

The bird design was inspired by an image from one of my fave stock image sites. I used scraps of paper that I happened to have left over from other projects. The copper paper is shimmery, which echoes the shimmery-ness of the rest of the wreath.

I used a lighter-weight cardboard instead of the usual bookboard, since it’s easier to cut in to a circle. But this means that the wreath started to bow pretty soon after hanging it on the door. 😦 Maybe next year I’ll try to fix it by adding heavier-weight cardboard to the back.

You can’t really tell, but I used a semi-sheer, shimmery, copper-y ribbon to tie it to the door.

Unlike the Vintage Valentines wreath, this did not get a complement by the mailman. Ah well! It makes me happy to see it whenever I come home, so that’s what counts!

Homestead: Vintage Valentines Wreath

14 Feb

I’ve been attempting to make my house a little more festive year-round. I was hard-pressed for a winter-ish decor idea, until I saw this cute Vintage Valentines Wreath. How perfect!

I wanted a really busy wreath with lots of cute valentines. I can’t remember exactly where I found each valentine image, but if you want to try this at home, you’d be pretty okay with doing a search for “vintage valentines” or “vintage valentines free downloads”, and you’ll find some decent copyright-friendly images that are large enough to print.

I have lots of art supplies already at my house, so I stuck to making this out of materials I already have. I printed out the valentines on white cardstock and cut them out with scissors and an X-Acto knife. I cut a big circle with a hole in the middle of it out of bookbinders board (what a pain in the butt!) and painted the back of it with black gouache. I arranged the valentines into the shape I wanted. And then I glued everything in place, and went over it with lots of layers of Outdoor Mod Podge. It was my first time using Mod Podge! It came out okay, I just wish I did thinner layers so the brushstrokes weren’t as noticeable.

And there ya go:

Vintage Valentine-y goodness!

Here's a close-up of some of the adorableness.

I "needle" lot of romance.

I'm fascinated by this weird egg kid.

"It's PLANE to see I want to be your Valentine." I gotta get in to this Valentines-making business, and put my love of terrible/amazing puns to good use!

My mailman rang my doorbell last weekend to tell me how much he loved this thing. He’d been looking at it all week and wanted to find out how I made it so he could make one with his kids. This wreath makes me so happy whenever I see it, so I’m glad it could bring a little bit of joy to someone else as well.

Won't you be my Valentine?

Year-End Wrap-Up

3 Jan

December! This time of the year’s usually a-flurried with activity. On top of all the holi-daze madness during the month, I tried to do a couple of big projects, but failed. I did get to work on a couple of other fun things though (I’ll share later), and I also made a bunch of random little stuff.

Like this cute crocheted poinsettia! I chose bright-colored yarn to add to the holiday festive-ness.

I used two corsage pins and pinned it to a sweater, and wore it to a few holiday parties. Surprisingly, I don’t have any photos of me wearing it. But take my word for it, it made a lovely-sized corsage. It’s about as big as a small apple. I liked this little guy so much that I made a second one to give as a gift.

Here’s a little crocheted sushi roll I made as a gift.

The extra yarn in back was so I could attach it to something else. I was confused by the directions in the pattern, so I tried to follow the photo that was provided. I don’t think I did it quite right. But this was such a great, simple way to make a little crocheted sushi, and I have a feeling I’ll be making more of these in the future!

This crocheted frame is so darling, and simple to make!

Made this as a host/ess gift for a friends’ holiday party. I originally thought this was going to be small enough for a tree ornament, but it ended up making a pretty good-sized frame. My friends put it on their tree anyways. 🙂

I hot-glued some felt on to the back, but left an open space to slide in a photo. And I made a little loop so it can easily be hung up on the wall.

I actually made this little crocheted mistletoe last year (okay, technically, two years ago now), but it’s so cute that I have to share!

I call her Misty. Maybe I’ll make her some friends this year.

I made this gigantic glittery corsage to wear at a party. The night before, I realized I didn’t have a fun accessory to wear (this was before the crocheted poinsettia), so I rung up my neighbor and doubtfully asked, “Do you happen to have a glittery fabulous fake bouquet of poinsettias that you’re not using?” Oh Gwen, how I will never doubt you again!

There’s actually a photo of me wearing this, but despite its rather large size, you can’t really see it. It’s about the size of a large glittery orange, and I pinned it to a black dress.

Speaking of glitter, a friend threw an ugly sweater party, and I felt challenged to make this.

Front and back views. Sequins and glitter all over the place!

And trailing glitter all over my friend’s house wasn’t a very good present by itself, so I also made a matching ornament to commemorate the occasion.

Front and back views. I found this heart-shaped ornament at Target for pretty cheap, then I outfitted it with glitter and sequins.

My new year’s resolution is to take better photos. Perhaps, I dunno, upgrade to better lighting than what my window sill or living room floor can provide. To get me started, I made a little macro light tent! Found this dandy how-to from Strobist via Jen Kiaba: http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/07/how-to-diy-10-macro-photo-studio.html:

Functional, inexpensive, and using recycled materials that I already had at home. Can’t wait to try out this bad boy! Though perhaps my first goal of the new year should be to get the Christmas decorations off the dining room table and in to storage. And also to put away my laundry.

Also, check out what Santa Tim got me for Christmas:

(I’m SEW excited!!!!!!!!!)