Foyer Curtains

In August 2011 I made some magnetic curtains to hang on either side of our front door. A year and half later, they’re looking pretty rough:

Old CurtainsOld Curtain Close-UpThe curtains are slightly too narrow, letting light creep in along the edges. At the top the backing has pulled free, due to the strong magnets. We want curtains covering these windows for a few reasons, mainly: to protect the bamboo floor from concentrated sunlight and prevent fading; and privacy from people looking into our house. I originally chose this fabric because it tied in the blue of the living room walls, and the wood tones of the floor and furniture in the living room. Now I’ve lost interest in the fabric, and the curtains’ poor performance gives me reason to replace them.

Disassembling the Old CurtainsJeremy found me these super strong magnets to hang the curtains (since the door frame is magnetic). The magnets are so strong though that many pulled free from the glue that was holding them to the curtains. The back of the curtains is a light vinyl, chosen because it blocks out the light, and offers a little insulation. Also, it’s white, so form the outside you see white instead of patterned curtain (just like with our blinds). I picked up exactly the amount I needed from a JoAnn’s remnant bin (an excellent score). So, I disassembled the curtains so I could reuse the backing.

New Curtain ConstructionThis time I approached the construction differently. I decided to employ my quilting skills and my binding tool to attach the new fabric to the backing. I cut the fabric an inch wider than the backing, making the binding 1/2″ wide. Then I stitched along with edge of the binding with a zig-zag stitch.

New CurtainsBy attaching the backing this way the curtains will lie flatter than the old curtains. I was also able to maximize the area, making the curtains wider and longer than before. Oh, and I love the new fabric! Jeremy was unsure at first, but I think it is growing on him. The colors are rich and bold, and still tie everything together. Blue, brown, tan, greens and off white – these colors are found in the foyer, living room and media room.

Attach the MagnetsThis time I traded the super strong magnets for the adhesive magnets – from the fireplace vent covers project. I cut inch-wide strips and stuck them to the top and bottom of each curtain. I don’t trust the adhesive, so I also stitched the magnets on each end.

New CurtainsNew CurtainsMuch better! The wider curtains, with magnets on top and bottom, stay in place better and are not letting the light creep through. I was worried about the strength of the magnets, but the curtains have not fallen since we hung (stuck?) them a week ago. With the larger curtains I wondered, would it be even better to make long panels to fill the entire space on either side of the door? I think that would look really cool, and be an easy way to make a big impact in a foyer. Alas, I will not pursue this plan because we’d rather get a new door(s) without windows.

Matching PillowWith some extra fabric I made a throw pillow for the couch. Now you can better see how the colors all work together. The brown and blue birds are a match for the couch and blue throw pillows. My only regret is that I didn’t have enough leftover to make two pillows! Oh well, I love the fresh green mingling with the darker hues upstairs.

Have you reworked any projects lately? What did you modify? What did you learn the second (or third) time around?
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Fleece Flower Pillow

I cannot resist Jo Ann’s remnants bin. I found this .778 yd dark grey fleece remnant for $5.92 (after my 20% discount). I thought it would coordinate nicely with the dark grey stripes in our guest room comforter.I decided to make a throw pillow (surprise!) with a flower detail. I traced out a flower design with chalk on a test piece of the fleece.

I then tried to trace over the chalk with the sewing machine. I wanted the flower design to tie in with these throw pillows.

I wasn’t having too much luck stitching a flower. I’ve never worked with fleece before and it wasn’t as easy to twist and turn through the machine as cotton. I was also trying not to pull too hard, because that would stretch and distort the fabric.

I decided to try a new idea – making a flower appliqué. I turned to my scraps bin, where I found some light grey knit. This fabric came from the bottom of a sweater dress that I shortened. The fabric is worn in and super soft, almost a fleece.

I folded the fabric and cut out petal shapes along the fold, one at a time.

I then played around with the petals, making different flower shapes. In then end, Jeremy and I liked this design the best:

Now that I had my flower detail, it was time to make the pillow. I cut two 13″ by x 27.25″ rectangles of the dark grey fleece. I then attached the petals, one at a time, by hand on one of the rectangles.

I pinned each petal in place and attached with a stitch at the center of the flower, and a stitch on the edge of the petal. I made sure to place my stitches where they would be covered by the next overlapping petal. As I placed the petals, I tried to keep the angles between their tips consistent.

I ended up using 15 petals. After they were all attached, I went back and added extra stitches to keep the petals in place. I didn’t want the flower to collapse when the pillow was vertical. This was tedious because I did not want any of the stitches to show.

Then I attached the two fleece rectangles together with a 5/8″ seam. I left a 4″ gap for turning the pillow right-side out and stuffing.

I love how the flower turned out, but I thought the pillow was kind of boring. It’s just a rectangle. So, I experimented with edging.

I decided to commit to this design, and stitched around the pillow, 3/4″ from the edge. Then I stuffed the pillow and stitched close the opening.

I like the edge, it makes it stand out from all the other rectangular pillows.

I think the dark grey makes a nice addition to the guest bed. I like the mix of the soft fleece, starchy cotton and silky comforter. I look forward to cuddling up with my new fleece friend. Now I have to decide what to do with the remnants of my remnant.

How to: Standard Pillowcase

I swear I am not pillow crazy, but ever since we got our daybed I have been busting out the pillows. 

1. Start by measuring your pillow. My pillow is 20″ x  27″.

2. Cut two rectangles, leaving a seam allowance and accounting for the opening of the pillowcase. I used a 1/2″ seam allowance. On the open end of the pillow case leave yourself at least an extra 1/2″ for the hem. My rectangle dimensions were 21″ x  29″. For a fluffier pillow, give yourself more length. Then the pillowcase will appear closed (on the open side) when lying flat.

3. I sewed the two rectangles, right sides together, along the longer side. Then I did the hem on the open side. Fold over the edge 1/4″ and iron. Then fold over the edge another 1/4″, tucking in the raw edge. Sew the hem and iron.

4. I added some ribbon detailing along the open edge. The first ribbon is 1/2″ from the edge, and the spacing between ribbons is also 1/2″.

In the picture above, the bottom ribbon is already attached. I sewed the ribbons with coordinating thread, up the middle. The ribbon was the width of my sewing machine foot, so it tugged a little while I was sewing.

5. Now, sew together the two remaining sides of the pillowcase. This is a great time to learn how to turn a corner (instructions for 1/2″ seam allowance). When you come to the corner, stop stitching when there is 1/2″ of fabric left. Make sure the needle is inserted into the fabric. Lift the sewing machine foot. Turn the fabric and align the new edge with your 1/2″ marking. Lower the foot and keep sewing.

6. Once all the sewing is finished, I like to edge the seams with pinking shears, to prevent fraying. Turn the pillowcase right side out and press.

Here’s Alf all tucked in for bed. The teal of the pillowcase matches the sheets, and the ribbons detail matches the comforter. We have one standard pillow left. I am dreaming up a fancy sham.

Bolster Pillow

I wanted to try making a bolster pillow, so I picked one up at the thrift store to deconstruct and study.

The ends of the cylinder were gathered and hidden under buttons. Inspired! When I was daydreaming about a bolster pillow I was coming up with more complicated ideas.

The pillow is a cylindrical piece of foam. The buttons are attached to each other with a string of elastic. The pillow cover is easy now – just a rectangle. I measured the original cover to get the dimensions I needed, leaving a 5/8″ seam allowance. Otherwise, you would need to know the height of the cylinder plus the radii of the circular faces to determine one dimension of your rectangle (length), and the circumference for the other dimension (width).

I took the pillow case from the daybed with me to JoAnn’s, so I could attempt to match the teal.

In the background is the bamboo pillow case, and the foreground is the cotton I picked. The main difference is the sheen. I went to work cutting the rectangle I needed, adding some extra length to make pleats.

I like to use these plain pins because I can iron over them (unlike the colored ones). There is a lot of puckering in that picture. This is primarily due to the pins. I steamed the fabric and everything seems better now. Before turning my rectangle into a tube, I stitched along the edge to prevent fraying. I also basted, to help when gathering the ends.

You can see I’ve started to gather the right end. I pulled on the basting to gather the ends. I then used a needle and thread to secure the gathering tightly and attach the fabric to the buttons.

I really wanted some purple buttons to match the bed spread. In the end these won because of the flower detail. Here is the bolster pillow on the daybed with the other throw pillows.

Even Alf is happy about it. I am considering making some shams, and possibly a body pillow, out of the same teal fabric.

Thrift Store Finds

Despite not tackling any major endeavors this weekend, Jeremy and I have still been busy. Jeremy has been working on getting up and running. We have been brainstorming some ideas for site design and features. He also mowed the lawn and helped me change my oil. In addition, we sorted through the pile in the corner of the basement theater:

Do you see that big ol' pile in the back corner?

Yea, that pile thinks it can hide back there. To be fair, some of that is a stack of empty orange bins we bought on clearance after LAST Halloween.

Anyways, after the sorting I was able to gather up enough “goodies” to make a trip to the thrift store. Of course, I couldn’t leave the store without checking out their pillow section (BTW this store is huge). I came home with new goodies:

My Thrift Store Purchases

I was really excited about that $5.99 blue pillow – until I got it home and it was not the right shade for the guest room. I might try removing the case and dying it to achieve a more teal color. The $1.99 bolster pillow has already been dismantled. I intend to get some more purple, teal and grey fabric so I can clothe him again. Although I don’t crochet much, the yarn was a good score ($5 total). The “grab bags” included 3 almost full skeins of homespun style yarn. That’s $20 worth of yarn right there. The colors were so bright and happy that I couldn’t resist! Maybe I’ll make some more amigurumis.

The best find was that little square vase for 69 cents. We had larger square vases (8″) left over from our wedding that I had filled with stones. I filled the smaller vase with sea shells.

The stones and shells on our fireplace mantle

We collected all the stones and shells from Topsail Island, NC. I like the stones because they compliment the grey walls of the basement. Above the mantle you might notice our in-wall speaker. More about that adventure later.

Anyone else find something awesome at the thrift store lately? Am I the only one who has trouble with matching shades of blue? I hope everyone has a great labor day!

Daybed + Throw Pillows

This summer, Jeremy (husband) and I have been working on transforming the office into a guest room. Originally, we each had a desk in the room. We then moved my smaller IKEA desk to the basement. Jeremy relocated his computer downstairs. We put the desk in the corner, so it’s kind of like a little cubicle down there with the built-in cubes. We left my computer and the other desk in the office for guests to use. Also, the office remains the center of our eBay operations.

Anyways, the next task was settling on a bed for the new guest room. We knew we wanted some sort of daybed or futon. The space is small, so something more couch like was ideal. A futon or daybed with trundle would be ideal to maximize sleeping space. We hunted the internet but were depressed by the prices. We weren’t ready to dish out hundreds or thousands of dollars for a rarely used bed. (Yet, now that we have a guest room, I hope it’s NOT rarely used) Then, we went to IKEA, and I fell in love with this. Please note that the $400 price does not include the two $100 each mattresses that you need. I couldn’t talk Jeremy into $600 (plus tax), but it was tempting, considering the other prices. The next month we scoured craigslist for daybeds. I swear, I saw over 20 listings for the same white brass daybed. It was hideous. Then miracles happened – someone was selling the IKEA bed, with mattress for $350, and she would deliver. The bed was advertised as partially assembled, so I knew it wouldn’t fit in my Dodge Caliber. I am very thankful that she could deliver to us. Voila! We now have a daybed.

The next task was bedding. Both the mattresses are twin sized, but we only had bedding for full and queen. I dragged Jeremy to IKEA to look for bedding, and another mattress. No go on both. We did check out the “as-is” to find that you can buy one piece of shelving/wood/dismantled parts for $1 or you could buy ten pieces for $1. It was difficult to fight the urge to buy 10 pieces “just because we could”. Next I dragged Jeremy to Target. We ended up purchasing a purple/grey comforter and soft turquoise sheets. The room is already bright blue, so we didn’t want too much contrasting bold-ness. The problem though is that twin-sized sheets only come with one pillowcase. To buy a set of two matching pillowcases was $23 – almost what we paid for the sheet set. I found a matching sham (just one) for $12. That’s ridiculous! We liked some of the throw pillows at Target: purple and grey . I was still upset about the cost though. So, we left with our sheets and comforter. Then when we got home the guest-office looked like this:

The comforter and sheets

When we got home, I realized I had some purple and grey twill material that I could use to make throw pillows. Even better, I already had some naked pillows lying around. I decided that I could incorporate the blue of the sheets by chopping up the satchel that they came in.

Pillow-making materials

I then sized up the two pillows that I had and cut squares for the front and back. The smaller pillow has a grey front and purple back . I cut 1/2 inch wide strips of the blue and purple and arranged them in a funky stripe pattern. The stripes pay homage to the comforter and the faux wainscoting of the bed.

Little throw pillow from scraps

With the larger pillow I wanted to mimic the bolster pillow that Jeremy and I liked at Target. I free-handed the stitching by smoothly turning the fabric while pushing it through the machine. I used grey and white thread. Here are the two sides before it was assembled.

One side has diagonals, the other verticals

I was feeling pretty pleased with myself. I put the pieces together and it fit my naked pillow like a glove.

The two throw pillows from scraps

Jeremy says he wants lots of pillows! I really want to try making a bolster pillow. So, look forward to more pillow posts!