When I first moved into this house I made actual lined drapes with the pleats for my family room.  They were necessary because once upon a time the family room was the TV room of the house, and the afternoon/evening sun blazed in and disturbing viewing.  But the windows were short, because the family room is in the basement.  I made short lined blue drapes, crisp with pleats and curtain hooks.  When I think back about them, I am kind of amazed at myself that I got them made as well as I did.  No pictures, it was far too long ago.  The curtains eventually succumbed to sun fade and cats.  It was kind of a sad day when they came down for the last time.

The lesson I learned was that I could make curtains.  Now mind you, just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you WANT to.

20160120_184905Six years ago, during a real, honest-to-goodness blizzard when work was cancelled and I was trapped at home, I made a project of making made lined, tab topped curtains for my large new replacement sliding glass door in the dining room. The new door had replaced French doors that I had made lace panels to fit top and bottom inside the frame for the glass.  They were not “private”, but very pretty.  The door had to be replaced eventually though and I opted for a sliding glass door.

This door is huge, and it takes a lot of fabric to adequately cover it.  As luck would have had it, I had a giant piece of lightweight wheat upholstery fabric that was given to me some time ago, and that I found was suddenly begging to become a new curtain.  Applying measurements and math, I found was just short enough that I was not going to have enough to make curtains with adequate fullness — unless I got creative.  With nothing but snow and time on my hands, I found some brown fabric that I added to the top and bottom, and tabs making my curtain a perfect fit.

The lesson I learned from these curtains is I certainly can make them, but I don’t really like making them.  Curtains this size are usually big, bulky, hard to measure in small spaces without using the floor, and really difficult to press on a standard ironing board.  I have a short memory.

20160130_150727Four or five years later, and having forgotten lessons, I decided I must finally re-cover the window formerly covered by the crisp blue pleated curtains.  An inexpensive upholstery remnant from Pottery Barn, some white fabric for lining and they turned out pretty nicely.  This particular window may be wide, but nice and short, so there’s not a lot of bulk required.  It helped that the fabric was exactly wide top to bottom to not require much cutting at all.

In December, I stained my bathroom cabinets.  Turns out gel stain is apparently communicable.  Note the lovely stain spot on the above large curtain.  That stain isn’t coming out.  At all.  Ever.  I also noticed that after six years of use, the curtain was pretty worn on the lower right corner too — lots of rubbing by dogs going in and out of the door.  The brown fabric had faded, and there was no amount of starch that was going to make them look crisp again.

I also had a big bolt of light beige upholstery fabric that was screaming at me, “make me curtains.”  I used the prior curtains for measurements, found a nice coordinating upholstery fabric for the top and bottom, and set out to make curtains.

Now I remember as I’m crawling on the floor — I don’t like making huge curtains.  At all.  But I’m committed, and here they are.  I see errors — this fabric was wider than the original fabric and I didn’t account for that, so they’re pretty full.  I also measured the lining without taking the top stripe in account, so the lining is a bit too short.  But they’re done and I’ve decided I’m my own worst critic.  They don’t have a spot on them so I’m happy.

On to the next project.  And it won’t be curtains.

A Little Catching Up

I have a new toy.  I bought a Singer XL-400 sewing/embroidery machine.  It replaces my starter embroidery machine, a Singer CE-100, which I hated.  Or it hated me.  I’m not sure which.  Fortunately, things are working out better with the new relationship.  I use the XL-400 for embroidery, and I still sew on my old metal Universal, or my Brother electronic.

I’m finding myself somewhat ambivalent about the whole machine embroidery thing.  On the one hand, there’s a science to it, and getting the embroidery to come out looking neat and professional is definitely something that requires practice.  On the other hand, unless you are your own digitizer, you’re really just applying designs someone else has created to your stuff.  It’s nice to personalize things, like the coin purses below, and even the kitchen set had a little bit of personalization on it, but it’s not like I actually made the artwork I’m using myself, I’m just interpreting someone else’s work.  I’ll come to terms eventually I suppose.

So some recent things I’ve been doing.  Coin purses.  Lots and lots of them.  I made them for Christmas gifts for friends and family.  Did I mention I made a lot of them?  I based my little pouches this year on instructions  at sewmehappyblog, and personalizing them with my handy-dandy embroidery machine.


Coin Purses

In the midst of making coin purses, I realized my fabric stash was a mess.  If I can distract myself from the project at hand, I certainly will.  I found the organizing project very liberating though and am glad I made time for it.

I started the gift-giving season with a gathering apron for my cousin, who raises chickens.  This apron was made from scratch, using the instructions found Sew4Home,, and then I embroidered it.


Gathering Apron

A few other gifts:


Dollar Tree Holiday Placemats with embroidered monogram.  The dreaded metallic thread conquered.  (Adorn monogram from Designs by JuJu)


Dollar Tree kitchen set – required disassembly to embroider.


Jewelry travel pouch from Instructables for a friend who makes her own beaded jewelry.

A giant foam finger required a custom Chiefs cuff and optional costume change cuff.  My hubby carried it to the Chiefs v. Raiders game (we won, advancing to the AFC playoffs) on January 2nd.  I created this cuff from scratch and it attaches with a velcro closure in the back.  The Chiefs logos came from a licensed flag we bought specifically to cannibalize and add with Heat ‘N Bond.

A couple of pre-made cheapo aprons that I embroidered.  The green one was for a friend that does ceramics, and the red one I did for myself and used on Thanksgiving Day.

This apron is a crafting tool belt apron I made several years ago.  I’m not sure I remember where I got this idea from, but I’m thinking with a little modification, I could make this a little more user friendly and a cute addition to my project lineup.

20150102_213257 (1)

Crafting tool belt.

I also made a purse that I love, started on a base for a costume my husband is making for Comicon, and I worked very hard on an awesome RenFest dress for me.  I’ll add pics of those to another article.

And lastly, today’s project, which is the prototype for a craft show item I’m contemplating.  This heart coin pouch is an “in the hoop” design from Five Star Fonts. My friend that does ceramics wants to combine talents and have a mixed media craft show display sometime in 2016, where we both sell our wares, so I’m pondering what is unique enough, cute enough, and quick enough to make in quantity to do that.  And the back of this cute purse is a lovely blank space just begging for some sort of embroidered saying or appliqued initials.  I’m still pondering.


Heart Coin Pouch with zipper

The next project I have planned is a sewing only project.  I stained my bathroom vanity and medicine cabinet over the holidays using General Finishes Java gel stain.  Gel stain somehow migrates all over everywhere if you’re not careful, and apparently I was not.  I somehow managed to stain, and ruin in my estimation, my sliding glass door curtain (also made by me) while letting the dogs out.  The good news is this project is all serging straight lines, the fabric I have was a gift, and I don’t have even measure that much, because I can use the current curtain as a guide.  Hopefully I can get it done quickly.

20160120_184905See the spot?  The curtain is six years old and definitely showing wear so it’s time for a new one.

But the bathroom looks amazing.



It’s been a while ….


It’s been a while, and I’ve been busy.  I have a new embroidery machine, and made tons of cute personalized coin purses at Christmas.  I’m working on aprons.

And then there’s my latest project, pillows.  The pillows were created from an unwanted king sized dust ruffle for a bed. The biggest constraint was the fabric was only 16″ wide, challenging the size of pillows I could make.  I wound up with four 16″x12″ rectangular pillows, two 14″ bolsters, and a cute round sunburst pillow.  I’ll post more later, but here’s pics of the pillows. These are for a friend, and a project I held off doing much too long.







I was blessed to be sent a picture of the pillows on the owner’s bed.


Directions for the round pillow are from Sew4Home, and found here.

Projects in the Works

Ironing table made from a $10 tray table from WalMart, and 100% cotton upholstery fabric and natural fiber batting.

It’s been a couple of months, but I have been busy. In the next few weeks, I’ll be posting some blogs on a tea wallet for your purse; a tray table transformation to an ironing board; string backpacks (that I organized the pictures for and now can’t find them); and my foray into making coasters with 13 cent white tiles from Home Depot, embroidered fabric scraps, Mod Podge and pourable resin. teaoutside

I’ve learned a lot about my embroidery machine and using embroidery with resin. My first experiment has … well, let’s just say it has “character”. Learned a lot about stray threads and ironing my scraps as flat as I can get them. I’m curing a second batch of tiles now and am anxious to see the final results.

I’m also in the midst of organizing my massive recipe collection into an electronic form using Google Drive to store.  Using this method, I can get to them from anywhere and with any device, including my handy-dandy new Android tablet.  This is a project that’s turning out to be a lot bigger than I’d hoped, but I’m having fun with it and it’s already paying off in saved time hunting for recipes.

Before Christmas I finished up a “Christinaline” doll for our 10yo who loved, loved, loved the movie, “Coraline”.  This will probably be my one picture on this project, but if anyone is interested, I bought the pattern from a very talented young textile student in Australia.  She did a great job putting together a pattern and directions for what was a fairly complicated project.  I’m particularly proud of Christinaline’s rubber rain boots.Christinaline - modeled after the doll featured in the movie "Coraline".

I’m working on a really cute apron made from a pair of repurposed blue jeans.  I haven’t documented this one with pictures as well as I would have liked to, but I’m sure I’ll get some sort of blog out of it.

So hang on for some blogs.

Valentine Love

Home is home, be it ever so humble


This past year or so has become the year of the door decoration for me.  It might be because at one point in the not so distant past, I went almost an entire year with the same Christmas wreath on my front door.  As recompense, I’ve resolved to create door designs of my own this year for the important days of our lives.  This is my interpretation of a pin I saw on Pinterest recently, of a door decoration for Valentine’s day.


  • Four precut balsa letters in the 6” to 7” size.  I chose XOXO.
  • One precut wood script.  I chose “Love” for Valentine’s Day.
  • Wooden 2” craft sticks.  I don’t know what they call these in the package, but they look like short popsicle sticks.
  • 1 package 1” wood heart shapes.
  • Two rolls of complimentary ¼” wide ribbon.  I chose a roll of solid deep pink and a roll of pastel polka-dot pink.
  • Acrylic project paints.  For this project I used white, red and blue, and mixed the pink and purple myself.  I also had a small tub of red glitter paint that I used on one heart.


  • Hot glue gun
  • Exacto Knife
  • Paint brushes
  • Small bowls to mix paints

The instructions are pretty simple.  Paint the wooden letters in whatever colors and patterns you choose.  Choose darker or more distinct colors or patterns for these pieces because they form the base of your project on which the script will need to stand out.  Oh, and make sure you get your edges painted!  Then paint your script in white or a very light color, and I also lined the edges of the script with a red glitter paint to give it dimension.  (A toothpick is a handy tool to have here.  It helps clean up your outlines so they look nice and straight.)  Lastly, paint four or five of the heart shapes in varying complimentary colors to embellish with. Try some glitter paint in the same color over your painted hearts to give your project a bit of sparkle.

(I’m envisioning Modge Podge and fabric covered letters for a project as well.  This would really give a project some creative patterns to work with.)

Once the paint is dry, start assembling.  I used the crafts stick to anchor the letters together, by hot gluing them to the back of my project.  Place the sticks so they’re not visible from the front or in an area that will be covered by your embellishments.  You may need to use smaller pieces, so carefully cut those with your Exacto knife.

Once the base made of letters is dry, turn the project over and glue the painted script to the front, along with your painted hearts.  Then embellish with bows made of ribbon.  I found the cutest bow idea on Pinterest, and this is my interpretation of how to do it.  It only takes a couple of bows to dress out your project.

Finally, create your hanger.  I braided three pieces of ribbon together, long enough that after I glued each end to the back of my project, I could still tie a bow at the top.  This would be a good spot to use jute as well.  Make it your own!

Dollar Store Organization

Typical 3-bedroom, 2-1/2 bath suburban dweller that I am, space always seems to  be at a premium at my house.  Tonight I tackled a couple of simple girl’s room challenges – scarves and headbands.

Sounds silly, but until you’ve had to sort through a wad of scarves knotted up in a drawer, shoved under a bed, or otherwise situated where they aren’t easily retrieved, it’s a big deal.  Same with headbands and various other hair accessories.

First, the solution for easily accessible scarves (and belts) as it turns out is a hanger and a set of $1 shower curtain rings.  Add another $1 for the optional handy, dandy over the door hook and you’ve also got the beginnings of a cute, decorative element in the room.

I feel a fun hanger cover-up coming on …

Now headbands.  I only bought one tonight, but I see a couple more in my future.  The solution?  Expandable hat/coat rack.  Also $1 at the dollar store.

I’ve seen this idea used for jewelry also.

Simple, cheap and effective.

Not Just Another Wreath

I’ve lived in my house for 25 years.  During most of that time, I have only decorated my front door at Christmas-time — and it’s been the same wreath every single year.  This year, as I pulled out the same old wreath, taking notice of where ornaments had fallen off over time, and gingerly carrying it to the door to avoid spreading dust cleverly disguised as fake snow, I had a moment.  Why exactly was I doing this AGAIN?

So I went out and bought myself a Christmas stocking and a few sparkly decorations, and with 10 minutes, and some tissue paper for bulk, I had a brand new, non-wreath door decoration for Christmas.

A few visits to Pinterest later, I had a plan — some new door art that wasn’t a wreath.  I first came across this site,, and in particular, this sunny little basket.

Inspired, I set out to create my own decoration.  Then I became discouraged.  it’s really tough to find a basket the size I needed, which was no more than 3″ deep, because I have a storm door.

When you can’t find one, then make one.  Right?

Here’s my materials list:

  • 1 piece of scrap fabric, preferably corduory or denim — something with some substance to it.  You’ll need to be able to cut two pieces of at least 9″ x 10″, plus three sides, about 4″ wide, and 10″ long each.  Use your floral foam blocks as your pattern.
  • 4 strips of complimentary softer fabric, approximately 2 yards long each, cut to about 3″ to 3-1/2″ wide to form the handle
  • 1 ball of hardware store jute, braided, or one strip of a second color fabric, so you have a total of five fabric strips for the handle
  • 1 package of blocks of dry floral foam
  • Silk flowers
  • Beads and decorations of your choice

I pretty much made this project up as I went along, so my documentation is a bit sketchy.  I started by braiding some lengths of jute to be used as decoration.  The natural fiber string I used was a $2 ball of jute I found in the hardware section of Wally World.  It is intended to be used as bundling string to bundle branches and other yard waste so that the city will pick it up off your curb.  For the braid I used in the handle of my basket, I cut four strands, 2 yards long each, and did a four strand braid.

You can accomplish a similar look with a crochet hook and a single strand chain.  I just liked the more solid feel of the 4 strand braid.

I then took two blocks of the floral foam and laid them out on my basket fabric and used them for a size pattern.  For this project I chose a leftover scrap of brown corduroy, although any substantial fabric would do nicely.  I cut two pieces of fabric approximately 1″ wider all around than the two foam blocks.  These will be the front and back of your basket.  Then I cut three strips of the same fabric, about 4″ wide and the same length as three sides of the front and back squares.

Stitch together the three side strips into one long strip.   With right sides together and starting at what will be the top edge of your basket, sew your fabric strip to the front side of your basket, leaving the needle in the fabric at the corners and pivoting 90 degrees to create the box.  Repeat to attach the back panel to the now sewn on sides of the front panel.  Use approximately 1/2″ to 5/8″ seams.

Turn your basket right side out.

To make the handle, I took 4 strips of complimentary lightweight cotton fabric, approximately 2 yards long each, and with the right sides together, sewed down the length of the strip, then turned it right side out to form a long tube.  Don’t press your tubes flat after you turn them.

Affix your strips, along with the decorative jute braid, to a steady mount and make a loose, 5 strand braid.  Secure each end of the braid with a decorative macrame bead or other decorative tie off at each end.

Position the handle to the side panel of your box, then fold the top down on all four sides, to form a finished edge.  Topstitch all the way around, catching your handle braid on both sides.  Your handle is attached.   Insert your floral foam, shaving and trimming the foam to ensure a good fit.

After inserting flowers, my final basket looked pretty good, albeit fairly blank.  It needed something.  I had envisioned a “welcome” applique, and I searched Hobby Lobby high and low for what I wanted, but came up empty.  As I was leaving the store though, I ran across some really cute clear, colored acrylic message ornaments.  I picked “peace” from the selection of “love”, “peace” and “hope”.

My ornament didn’t show up well against brown fabric, so I created an applique of my own.  I used the bottom of a serving bowl in my cabinet for the oval shape, then I zigzaged the outer edge of the oval to limit fraying.  Then, to tie the applique to the basket, I crocheted a single strand of jute into a chain long enough to go around the outside edge of the oval and whip stitched the jute chain in place, adding a finishing bead to anchor it.  I used fabric glue to affix the “peace” to the center of the oval (which I’ll reinforce later with some invisible nylon thread) and allowed the decoration to dry.  Once dried, I whip stitched the applique to the basket to complete the project.  Total time was about two hours from start to finish and the cost was less than $20.

A Bed for Mibbildy Bibbildy Bibbits

I got a bee in my bonnet to sew this weekend, and settled on making a new dog bed for Mibbit, our female Bichon.  I was feeling bad for her because it’s been really cold for the first time this winter and  our wood floors make for some chilly napping.  Bibbits likes to crawl into my laundry basket and make a nest on the dirty clothes to keep warm.  We used to have a dog pillow she was particularly fond of, but after she had her first litter of puppies on it, it had definitely seen better days.

It’s not all that hard to make a big, square pillow that’s sewn on all four sides, so instructions are kind of unnecessary.  I will share the basics though.  The fill is shredded foam and cedar chips.  The cedar chips are a natural flea and tick repellent that you can buy at any farm or pet store for less than $10.  They smell good and absorb odors.  The remainder of the filling was a bag of shredded foam from JoAnn’s, which I got an amazing deal on today, paying less than $2 a bag.

I chose to use scrap fabric for this project.  For the shell of the pillow, I had one large piece of white cotton eyelet that was the perfect size, about 23.5″ x 28.5″. when folded in half.  I left the fold and serged two other sides, leaving one of the short ends open, yielding a 23″ x 28″ finished size when turned right side out.  I used about a third of the brick of compressed cedar I bought, mixed with one full bag of shredded foam, to loosely stuff the shell.  Then I stitched the remaining side closed on the sewing machine.


I made a pillow cover from a remnant of fabric that I don’t remember actually acquiring.  It’s always been here, and I’m not sure where it came from.  Considering we actually built this house, it could not have been left by a prior resident.  It reminds me of kitchen curtains, and ugly ones at that, but it’s fairly heavy weight and should stand up to a bit of use.  It wasn’t quite wide enough, so I grabbed a ridiculously small scrap brown corduroy that I’ve been saving for the last 25 years and made a border for the top of the cover.  I could see I had cut a garment pattern of some sort out of the corduroy, but I can’t think of what it was, and whatever it was, it was many years and many sizes ago.  The cover is about a half an inch overall bigger than the pillow when finished.

If you want to get really fancy, you can sew a zipper into one of the seams of your cover, or overlap the back like a pillow sham, both to make the cover easy to remove and launder.  For this cover, after I inserted the pillow, I just sewed the opening closed on my sewing machine and called it a day.

Mibbit doesn’t have to be shown twice.  I put her on her new pillow and she hasn’t gotten off it yet.  Last I looked, our other Bichon, Marley, was also firmly planted on it.  Priceless.

Peeps (Not the kind you eat)


Boat Sock with Peep Lace Project


I work in a cube farm.  There is no dress code that I’m aware of, although it seems for the most part to be dress casual.  For me, I feel most professional, and comfortable, in slacks, reasonable heels, and a nice shirt.

Being no fashionista, little things throw me, like what to wear on my feet with my shoes.  Summer is easy when you’re wearing nice open shoes that don’t require socks or stockings.  Wintertime has always been a mystery to me.  “Socks, Stupid.  You wear socks,” would seem to be the obvious answer, but again, being no fashionista, sometimes socks with heels just doesn’t look right, and I don’t like bare feet in closed shoes.  If anyone thinks for one second that I might consider wearing hose or tights — oh, good lord no.  Just wrap me in rubber bands.  Several years ago I discovered trouser socks, which I really liked.  My husband, however, really didn’t, nor did my toenails, which regularly shreds anything hose-like.  There is also, of course, the footie, but I’m not 98 years old and I think footies look positively orthopedic.

I’m a new fan of Pinterest and have many projects pinned. I also get the proverbial bee in my bonnet.  A couple of days ago I ran across this single picture that went nowhere.  Absolutely no link whatsoever to where you might buy these adorable “boat” socks with the lace peep.  The solution to my winter shoe dilemma was before me and I couldn’t find them anywhere.  I want THESE.

Operating under the “If you can’t find it, make it” rule of life, brought me to today’s bee in the bonnet.

I did a lot of searching and I found a tutorial with a pattern for making your own standard lace boat socks.  Unfortunately after cutting out the first pair, it was obvious the pattern, although sized for women’s 8-9 US, was much, much too small.  Even with 20% stretch lace, there was no way this pattern was going to fit my size 7-1/2  (US) foot.  I also noticed that the shape was far too square for my liking and created corners that I thought would bunch up under my foot.  I’m certainly no princess, but I was having visions of rocks in my shoes.  With some scaling and redesign, I came up with my own PeepsPattern that I’m sharing here.

So here’s how you do it.

Download the pattern above, and buy your materials.  You’ll need some stretch lace, that has at least 20% stretch one way.  It needs to have a fairly distinct pattern to it so that your sewing machine will have something to grab on to.
You’ll need some decorative 1-1/2” lace edging for the peep, cut in 6″ segments for each sock.  You’ll also need 14″ of lightweight elastic, or lingerie elastic, for each sock.  I used 1/4″ width.  Some every day gift wrapping tissue paper would be very helpful too.
Cut two squares of fabric, 9”x9”.  Fold in half with the stretch going lengthwise.  Pin your pattern to the fabric, matching the fold.  Cut two of these pieces.
With the fabric pieces still folded, sew the heel and toe seams close to the edge using a zigzag stitch.  I used a 2.5 stitch length and here’s where the tissue comes in — my machine wanted to eat the very thin fabric, so reinforce it with some tissue to help it feed through properly as you sew.  The tissue will come right off after you’re done, but will leave some bits in the stitching.  Don’t worry about those bits, they’ll come out in the first wash.
 Whoops!  A picture is coming! Mark the center of your 14” piece of elastic.  Turn the footie right side out, start your elastic at the heel and pin the center mark at the toe seam on the right side (outside) of the footie.  Zigzag the elastic on, stretching the elastic, but not the fabric, as needed so that the elastic fits around the entire footie.  You may need to do a quick seam at the heel where the elastic ends meet, just to finish it off and make it neat.  Don’t worry about your thread showing on your elastic, because if your thread color matches, it won’t show.
Pin right side of lace edging to wrong side of center front, matching centers.  What you want to do is pin the bottom of the lace edging to the center seam and elastic, and then the slide the edging down into the footie so that by the time you get to each end, you’re pinning the top edge to the elastic.  That way your peep has a nice rounded effect to it.
Sew the lace edging on from the outside.  Sew along the elastic, then trim corners of lace off inside.  You’ll have to see the pics on this one, I don’t know how else to describe it.  (I’ll get a better picture for this step.)

Wash and you’re done!

Adjust the pattern for your foot size, and to raise or lower the location of the peep on your foot.  Don’t forget to adjust the elastic as well as you make changes.  Have fun!

Props to my hubby who helped redraw my crude hand drawn pattern using Adobe Illustrator (I’m a Corel person, I don’t have a clue howto work Illustrator).  He helped critique, and is absolutely mortified I resorted to using HTML tables to organize the instructions.  Sorry Sweetie, it’s been too long.

And next time I’ll let him take the pictures.