Thursday, June 30, 2011

Paint Your Wagon

Here in Utah there seems to be a small window of opportunity to do DIY outdoor projects, like painting furniture or building furniture—it has to be warm enough outdoors that your knuckles don’t freeze (done that), but not so hot you hate being outside. It has to be light enough that you have  sunshine at 6am to paint your first coat so  that your third coat at 9pm also goes on in still-necessary daylight. Maybe you don’t really need all these factors, but I say you do.

The month of June is the perfect time to tackle such projects. Last May 2010 (too cold) I made this headboard with my dad.

This year he helped me re-paint lots of my furniture in my house. He may never come visit me again with all the work I ‘make’ him do when he’s here!

But before my parents came, I tackled this room with a coat of  ‘Lunar Stone” by Millenium. (I had it mixed at Lowes so that’s all you need to tell them as their super magical computer can look up any paint color from any fan deck.)

front room

And I absolutely adore how my fabric lamp shade turned out? I bought that awesome geometric fabric here. The embroidered pillows are old though—those are my damask monogram and bird on branch designs.

Once my Dad arrived we started on my TV cabinet the very next day. It was once black and I do love black furniture, but nowadays TVs themselves are so large and black. This corner just seemed too dark. I called it the black hole.

So on went a coat of this chartreuse green paint. I used the exact same finishing technique as I did on my headboard—paint, sand, paint, brown wood stain, sand, 2-3 coats of polyurethane. This time my dad converted me to water-based polyurethane as it dries much quicker. Hee haw! Still, it took 2-3 full days.



But “The Black Whole” is gone now! Giddyup.

tv cabinet

We had a whole gallon of the “Spring Sprout” by Millenium so next we painted this very-abused kids’ book cabinet. It sits in the hallway upstairs and for once I love it. I need to buy another one from Four Chairs and paint it the exact same way so that I can get rid of the crap-ola white bookcases next to them. (No offense Target.)


Next we tackled my pine computer desk which I also bought from Four Chairs. It’s about 7 years old. We bought it unpainted. I painted it a boring cream color but I did a terrible job back then as I had tiny children and a baby and I didn’t have the time to spend on it. Yea, yea, excuses.

Then I painted it a greenish-brown about 3 years ago to match the double x-back chair. Well, I loved my headboard color so much that on went a coat of, you guessed it, “Turquoise Mosaic” by Millenium. No more brown desk, no more brown chair!

Love it against my cream walls in the office!

computer desk

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Here I am glazing it with “Early American” stain by Minwax. You don’t have to glaze it. But I don’t like the “Romper Room” look. (Please tell me you are old enough to know what Romper Room is?) I like bright, but I also like sophisticated. Just do what Mr. Miyagi did—wax on, wax off. Okay, not really. Brush on with a sponge-y brush, wipe off with old, lint-free sheets.

turquoise desk (6)

See how the glaze warms it up? I hate faux finishes, this is soooo not that. It’s just adding some…well…character and warmth.

turquoise desk (9)


Finally, we tackled this blanket chest. I actually made this blanket chest in a community carpentry class 8 years ago. It’s a long story, but I never finished it the way I really wanted too, which of course, meant I would’ve painted it. By the end of the class I was so tired and worn out (newborn baby) I had the teacher just shellac it. I didn’t even care that I didn’t stick to my mantra of “knotty-wood-is-evil” and must be shunned. I gave in and used mostly knotty alder because that’s what the teacher had available in the shop and I was too tired to keep going to a very testosterone-filled lumber yard just to buy clear alder.

blanket chest

But now it is kind of a 1930s glam look with gray paint and crystal knobs. Yum! And all those awful knots are now filled!



It really was a blast! Now if I could just get some energy to clean up my garage and put all the supplies away.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Simplicity 3510

Have you seen the Project Runway patterns from Simplicity? They are adorable—simple designs with a little extra style to them. And since I adore the show (when does the new season start, I miss it!) I figured, why not try one of the patterns? So I tried Simplicity 3510. Isn’t is darling? Super cute variations.

simplicity 3510

I decided to eliminate the front tie as I am lazy. I let Hallie pick the style she wanted and she said that she wanted the ruffled sleeve. With lace. I found this crochet lace trim in my stash that I literally have no memory of ever purchasing. Such is the stash.

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I think the lace adds quite a feminine flare. And those little tucks on the bodice are sure cute as well. They even have the tucks in the back:

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All in all, a super cute design that I hope to get 2 years out of for Hallie. That’s what I love about these tunics—extra long to last an extra long time.

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After making the above I decided I love the bodice portion so much that I would use it for this dress:

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I’ve been diein’ to make a sherbet dress for Hallie after seeing a little girl at church wearing one. And then last week I saw this blog post with a tutorial to make it even more tempting. Love it in the blues as well!

But I did mine in oranges/pinks with two yellow prints and hot pink ribbon. Reminds me of sorbet or Rainbow Sherbet—minus the green. Thank heaven I own the Bernina Ruffler Foot that does all the gathering for me. I would never gather that much by hand. Never. Gathering is evil. I made the bodice a size 8 and then cut 7-8” tall layers for the rest of the skirt portions—hot pink, orange, dark yellow, and then the light yellow print. The solids are just ‘country classic’ 100% solids from Joann. I spent $12 and have enough to make another for my 10 year old. But I think she thinks she’s too old for such a dress. “Woe Mom, that is bright!” Her exact words.

project runway pattern (8) copy

Summer sewing is so much fun.

project runway pattern (1) copy

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Simplicity 4077

I started using this pattern 4 years ago. It is Simplicity 4077 but I couldn’t find a link to it on the Simplicity website, but I don’t think it is out of print…. yet. Could be wrong. See this previous blog post from 2008 about this same pattern.


I’ve made it twice with the mandarin collar but I just don’t love how it fits on my body. The collar sits way to high, nearly up to my chin don’t you think, unlike the pattern photos?  And I’m too lazy (so far) to alter the collar. Ok, really, I don’t know how to alter the collar. It would entail cutting the front and back pieces lower and then lengthening the collar I guess to fit the now-wider neckline? Dunno.

simplicity blouse 4077

So then I made the regular collar but look how wide it is? The collar looks like wings reaching nearly to my arms! But I love this blouse and wear it because, well, I love dots.

simplicity blouse 4077 dots

So today I decided to make it again. This time I cut the collar a bit narrower. In fact, I cut off a good one inch from the -pattern. My newly-traced collar sits on top of the original.


Two and a half hours later I had another new blouse.  And I completely love the smaller collar. It’s been 3 years since I’ve used this pattern but I’m determined to make more this summer. (I’m determined to sew a lot more clothing this summer actually. I’m burnt out on just sewing for my etsy shop.)

Can you believe I found this fabric at Walmart? Could it be more Cynthia? Lime green with dots? Loooove it. I need to go back and get more to make tops for the girls. (No, not so we can match you cheesy person you.) I figured since it was $5 a yard that meant it would be a better quality than their usually crappy cottons that are $2.

green dot blouse (5)copy 

This is one of the few woven shirt patterns that I own that is fitted but still allows lots of movement throughout my arms and upper back. The only other change I make is I don’t cut open the front darts. Lame. You’ll know what I mean if you buy the pattern.

I don’t look happy, but I am! Here’s to more cotton woven shirts and less sloppy t-shirts that cling to my body and show my love of chocolate cake too much. You know what I’m talkin’ about ladies.

green dot blouse (1) copy

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

June Newsletter & Discount

Today is Wednesday June 7th and i just sent out my newsletter to all those subscribed.

I apologize if you got the newsletter in pieces, got a blank email as well, or just got mumbo-jumbo.

Clearly I need to go back to using my old way of sending newsletters.

Here is the PDF version. Unfortunately, none of the links work in this form.

click here for newsletter

Embroidered Headbands

There are a million tutorials out there to make these awesome headbands. But I haven’t seen any to make embroidered headbands. The sewing process is the same, but here’s a way to avoid lots of waste. The below design is my “Twists” design.

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Make sure you use a border design—the longer the better. But you want to keep it around 1 1/2 inches wide—for kid or adult headbands. Your finished headband will be between 2 and 2 1/2 inches wide. don’t go wider, but of course you could go skinnier.

Take a piece stabilizer to fit your hoop. I use the crappy Pellon Stitch and Tear. It stabilizes and it is ‘heavy’ enough to use as an interfacing so I am doing two steps at once.

Cut a 3 inch wide piece of dupioni silk, or any other light-to-midweight fabric. For girls and women I cut it 18 long.  Sew the silk to the stabilizer. Yes, you could just spray it down with glue spray but I find that sewing it directly to the stabilizer  prevents any puckering on such a narrow piece of fabric. But hey, try it with the glue spray if you want.

headbans 0

Hoop and embroider! You’ll notice a pucker (above photo) in the silk where it is sewn to the stabilizer. No problem my friends! That will get cut off. I am not a perfectionist—life is too short for that nonsense.

After the embroidery is finished, remove from the hoop trim off the excess fabric, tapering the ends a bit.

headbands (7) copy

Using your finished and tapered piece of silk, cut another piece using the embroidered one as a pattern. Place right sides together and pin, leaving a 4-6 inch opening on one side.

Cut a thin piece of elastic 4 1/2” long for girls and 6 1/2” long for women. I like to use black since we have darker hair. It looks better when the girls where a ponytail and a headband. But you can use any color. The only other color I’ve seen is white though. Slide the entire elastic piece  between the two layers of silk, having one raw edge of the elastic meet one raw end of the headbands end.

Stitch all the way around with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, leaving that 4-6 inch opening. Make sure you leave the one end without the elastic open as well! Turn right sides out, as seen below:

headbands (9) copy

Tuck in your side opening, and end opening, and iron really well. Slide the other raw end of the elastic into the open end 1/2” and pin in place. Topstitch all the way around the headband, backstitch a few times at the elastic ends.

Iron and done! Not bad for 10 minutes of sewing, huh? (The embroidery part obviously took longer than 10 minutes though.)

headbands collage

Here’s another version embroidered with “Kaleidescopes” on twill fabric. (Oops! I forgot to trim the threads before picture taking!)

headbands (6) copy

Happy Sewing!

cynthia logo

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Cotton Voile Blouses

Another one of my basic patterns that I love to alter in so many different ways—New Look 6754.


Using the techniques (loosely) in Design Your Clothes by Cal Patch (see previous post for details), I added a front yoke with some gathers, eliminated the back zipper (what a waste of time to begin with) and the bust darts, bound the neckline with 2” binding cut on the bias, and turned it into a button-down shirt.

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I used this gorgeous white sheer cotton voile that I bought in 2010 from Everyone needs at least one white cotton blouse for summer—preferably thin for the intense heat which I swear we are not getting any of this summer. (I thought Utah was the desert?)

I used some fun lightweight cross-stitch patterns on my 830 which can hardly be seen in these photos, but they add a bit of fun.

HUGE MISTAKE—look how far off my front gathers are? When I made the gathers I forgot to account for the placket and how many times I would be folding it over. So even though I sewed them symmetrical, once the placket (not sure that’s the right word in this case) was made the gathers are way off. I’m kind of embarrassed to have made such an amateurish mistake. Had I not serged the seams already I would unpick and redo it. Dang serger. Oh well, I’m a housewife and spend 90% of life time at home.

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Happy summer! Can’t wait to make this 10 times more. Got any good sources for cotton voile that isn’t $12 a yard? It’s getting harder and harder to find.



Last fall I used this brick-red cotton voile to make this shirt for Hallie. Pattern used was from Oliver and S. Maybe I should follow that patterns directions next time to get my gathers perfectly spaced like they turned out on Hallie’s blouse?

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oliver and s

The A-Line Skirt

circles skirt collage

For 8 years now I have had a love affair with the a-line skirt. A-line skirts flatter every body and can be made in as little as 1 hour and only require around 1 yard of 60” wide fabric. I don’t think I own a single store-bought skirt anymore. (Well, that’s not true. I can think of two store-bought skirts I own.) For years I have been using McCall’s 3341. And as you can see, it’s time to trace it onto some muslin as the pattern is literally falling apart at the darts.

circles skirt (9)

The only adjustment I make is lengthening the pattern to fit my 5 foot 10 inch frame. You can see above where I slashed the pattern and added 2” inches of length. I am a size 10 but in patterns that means a 14 which is never great for a woman’s self-esteem to have to make a skirt 2 sizes larger than she really is. What would it be like to be petite and cute and not a large amazon woman? I’ve never known. I do like being tall but in terms of sewing, it’s not so fun. I always have to buy more fabric than the pattern specifies so that I can lengthen the skirt.

Actually, one other adjustment I make is that I eliminate the back centere seam as I prefer to have a side zipper instead of a centered back one. Unless I am adding a slit, which I never do with this pattern as I only ever make the knee length version.

And I hate the facings used 99% of the time with patterns. So I usually use 2-inch binding cut on the cross grain (not bias) of the fabric to finish the waist. I will bind any edge on skirts, blouses, t-shirts, and quilts. Binding is sooo fun and lovely looking. (Cutting your binding 2" inches yields a 1/2” binding.) Tutorial for bias binding on Children’s Corner website, click here.

circles skirt (6)

And here you can see how lazy I was and used a cream-colored zipper instead of a gray one since I had no gray invisible zips on hand. But since it is invisible no one will see it, right?

circles skirt (7)

I used these luscious linens from I used the 8oz softened gray and a purple linen for the trim. The circles are from my new embroidery designs simply called “Scribbled Circles”.

circles skirt (15)

And to finish it off I used stitch number 418 on the Bernina 830 to sew the hem. I think I found a new favorite decorative stitch.  It’s not too frilly, ya know? It just adds a shot of the lovely burnt orange color.

circles skirt (5)

circles skirt (3)

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Don’t I look goofy happy in my new $10 skirt all ready for church?

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