Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Legend of the Ruffled Christmas Tree Skirt

Hey everybody. I should probably tell you, there is no "legend."  But there is a story!

Who all was with me last year when I could TAKE no more and went on a (blogging) hiatus?  Anyone? Buehler...Buehler?

Well there's something I didn't show you that I really, really wanted to post about.  But I didn't, because I felt like, I shouldn't be doing things just "for the blog."  I wanted to start doing things for my family - just for my family - again.  And I have been.  And it's been really fun!

Anyway, now that I've been sufficiently de-toxed from the feeling of servitude to my blog (more accurately, let's be honest, now that ALL MY READERS HAVE ABANDONED ME FOR GOOD, except Uncle Bob - thanks Uncle Bob!  Love ya!  And Wendy and Molly too, so that makes 3 - and after this past weekend, a few more family members...), I may as well just spill it.

Last Christmas, I decided I wanted to really do something special for my family.  On our budget, though.  Which is usually, like, super-slim.  Unlike me, ever since I canceled my gym membership.  But as I was saying, I spent a whopping $0.00 on this.  I went through my fabric stash and scraps, and used what I could find.  I even dismantled a tote bag, cut it into strips and ruffled it.  No joke! Not too shabby, right?  (Although, if "time is money," then I probably could have paid off the house with how much time I spent doing this thing!)

I spent a week - every free moment I had, for a solid week - making our family a Christmas tree skirt.  You could say I was kicking it old school, because I didn't have my ruffling foot back then...(it reminds me of the days before we had ELECTRICITY.  Seriously, how did I ever tolerate ruffling everything by hand???)  

Anyway, the tree skirt!  I followed no tutorial, no pattern...I just did it.  I rarely "just do it."  I should do that more often because I love our tree skirt and I cannot wait to get it out again this year!

Immediately after finishing the skirt, in Scarlett O'Hara style, I vowed to never do a ruffle again.  It was a very dramatic moment.

Months later, I bought a ruffling foot for my sewing machine, and my whole quality of life improved. ;)

Fast-forward to today!

I want this one.
 I'm selling my "Tree Skirt 2.0" on Etsy - a few months ago, I worked on the design & construction to make it prettier, higher quality, and less time consuming to create.  Each one still takes a good bit of time, but nothing like the original one. 

I want this one, too.

There are SO MANY different color combos!  Every time I finish a new one, I think, "awww...I want this one!" 

And this one!

Lots of custom orders rolling in this weekend, the most blessed of all shopping weekends. Can you guess what I'll be doing tomorrow and Monday? 

Love that fruit!  I want this one too!
Linking up this week!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Big Huge Mounted Color Photos...

...for next to nothing.  

I did these for our house a few months ago.  I love them, they look great.  And EVERY TIME people come over to my house, they always say:

1. I can't imagine how much those canvases must have cost!
2. Where did you get these done?

or, if they KNOW me...

3. There's no way you paid for this.  How did you do that???


Well, partly to help those wanting to know, and partly to save myself from ever having to explain how to do this we go!

OK, #1.  I know what many of you might be thinking - contractor prints from Staples, right?  No.  I tried that, and they came out terrible!  Or, terribly.  Anyway.  They did not look good.  I was so glad I only spent $4.99.

So here's what you do.

1. Order "rolled poster prints" from  *They did not pay me to say that!  Winkflash just has the best prices I could find, and the quality is really, really good.  Highly recommend!*
Cost of the prints I ordered:
30"x40"...$15.57  (no joke!)
(2) 16"x20"...$6.57 each = $13.00 total (or so)
Total prints = $40 approximately.  I used my rounding off powers to figure that out.
2. Carefully unroll and put heavy things on the prints to flatten them out a little.  I put a towel on top of each print so they wouldn't get boogered up.

3. Go to Home Depot and get a big 8'x10' sheet of home insulation board.  I know this cost me less than $10.  Take some helpers if you want!

4. Cut it up into pieces a little larger than each print.  Go outside on the deck.

5. Spray a board with Elmer's Spray Adhesive, then lay the print down.  Smooth it out with a hand towel.  *It doesn't matter if you get the print on straight or not!  Don't worry about that.*

6. Here's where you get to make them look all nice & straight: get a cutting mat & ruler, and an EXTREMELY SHARP utility knife.  Like, a brand-new blade, sharp.  Line up the ruler along the edge of the photo, and cut!  Don't worry about the knife going all the way through.
Once you've made a nice straight cut, even if the knife did not cut all the way through the can just "pop" the edge open, like this:
Can you see that?  It just pops open and gives you a beautiful clean edge.  THEN, turn the board over and, using your straight edge, cut the other side. 

7. Rinse & Repeat for as many photos as you have.
8. Find some creative & ingenious way to hang these on your wall.  Pat yourself on the back!  Invite friends over. Let them think you paid the big bucks.  Or not!  They will ask where you got them.  :)

There you have it!  That's how I did four nice-sized mounted poster prints for a little under $50.  

Sharing with...
Sumo's Sweet Stuff
Sew Chatty
Sew Can Do
Making the World Cuter


Friday, November 16, 2012

Some Recent Custom Embroidery

Hey, my Etsy Shop has been open for a little over 2 months now!  Overall I'm happy with how it's been going.  I've had a handful of sales, and I think I have a really great product - my ruffled Christmas tree skirts! - for this holiday season, which I hope to sell a lot of this month.  :)

And then on the other side of my shop, is the hand embroidery.  I started out just embroidering whatever I thought was pretty, and then narrowed it down to Scripture verses.  I am very open to custom orders in this category, and am starting to get some interest!

Listen to THIS crazy story!

Two days after I opened my shop - TWO DAYS AFTER - I got an email.  From Danielle Burkleo.  She blogs at a blog called Take Heart.  In her email, she said that she liked my shop, and asked if I'd be willing to make a custom embroidery piece for a fundraiser she was hosting for the organization LOVE 146.  LOVE 146's mission is to abolish child trafficking & exploitation.  How could I not get behind that?  She gave me a few general guidelines - basically, she wanted the 4 phrases that LOVE 146 embraces...

I finished the piece and sent the picture to my sister.  She thought the safety pin was weird.  I showed it to my husband.  He thought the safety pin was weird.  You, looking at this now!  You probably think the safety pin is weird.  Go read the story of how LOVE 146 got its name.  Heartbreaking.  It makes sense now, right?

So, I'm just really honored to have been asked to contribute something to this cause.  

Here is another custom piece I created, a few weeks ago:

It was fun to work on.  Love those colors! "Thessalonians" was kind of a pain to spell out, but what can you do.  ;)

Linking to:
Tatertots & Jello
Six Sisters' Stuff
It's Overflowing
DIY Showoff
Twigg Studios

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Foray into Quilting

Hey, I made a quilt top - my first one!

When people ask me about my sewing, I always tell them that I sew, but I do not quilt.  Quilting has always seemed like it would be so tedious and involved - like, too much time spent on too-small details.  Like scrapbooking (to me!).  But lately, I've been having a change of heart!

It all happened like this:  I was messing around, wasting time on Pinterest one day.  (So MANY of my stories start out this way, really.)  I was checking out Sara Lawson's boards and just couldn't stop looking at her quilt links.  Such gorgeous-ness!  Such awesome colors!  The designs!  I was totally hooked.  Well, it snowballed from there.  I spent about a week just looking at quilting blogs, flickr groups, Pinterest boards...and I knew what one of my 2013 new years resolutions was going to be: to learn to quilt. 

I'd finish up my UFO's, and then I'd learn to quilt.  

That's what I'd do.


Oh, screw the UFO's, I couldn't wait that long!

I wasn't feeling quite ready to dive into a queen-size Moda Bake Shop advanced level quilt or anything (tempting though it may be), but I remembered that I'd won this pattern from a sewalong a while ago.  So I dug it out of my pattern stash, and decided that it looked fairly easy...and it was!

It really helped that I already know how to sew.  And that I already had a bunch of fabric!  The only thing I actually had to go out and buy was the batting.  I know everyone out there seems to like Warm n Natural, but not knowing how this was going to turn out and all, I went with a slightly less expensive one...something like 80/20 something?  (You can always count on me for accuracy and specifics, right!)  Oh and I got basting spray because there is no way I'm messing with all those pins. 

These owl appliques...they look really cute.  They weren't my favorite thing to do, though.  I thought the applique part was a little bit tedious, especially the smaller pieces.

Did I make it hard on myself?  I sewed around the edges, and had to "pivot" every time I wanted to go around a corner.  I'm assuming there's an easier way...?

But I did enjoy the "sketch" technique; it was nice to not have to be too precise, and I love the way it looks! It'll be neat when I wash the quilt and the edges fray.  I think that will look really cool.

After the quilting is done, I'll sew button eyes onto the owls.  So cute!

The pieced blocks were really easy; they were just large strips of fabric sewn together.  That I can do.

Oh and check out the mitered corners!  :) 

So the top is done.  I was shocked at how not long it took to do.  Just two evenings.  Now it's ready to get quilted, and I'm not sure what to do!

Those of you who quilt:  How should I do this?  

I could do all vertical lines.  That seems like it would be easy. 

Or I could dive into the deep end and try the free-motion thing.  That does not seem easy.  But it's totally in my nature to get in over my head like that. 

Or I could do something else.  What, I don't know! 


I think this will be a Christmas gift for my daughter, since the dog has since commandeered the last blanket I made for her.  :)

Linking to Freshly Pieced

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Please Don't Drink and Sew

This is a public service announcement.

Friends, don't do what I did.  I'm not even sure what I did, actually.  I don't remember consuming alcohol at 9 am Saturday morning.  But from the looks of things, I must have been drinking.  Heavily.

Here are the pajama pants I made for Abby this weekend.  I didn't have quite enough fabric to make them as long as they needed to be, so in all my clever-ness, I thought I'd sew a little, um, let's call it "contrasting" fabric on to elongate the legs.

I was even feeling a little confident.  I thought, "hey!  I could do a tutorial on this!"  Can you tell what is wrong with this picture?  I think when I learned to sew, one of the first things I learned was, you sew the fabric with RIGHT sides together.

I mean, come on!  And it didn't even hit me that I'd done it wrong until I opened it up and saw the backside of the fabric, just laughing at me. 

So at this point, the tutorial is out the window.  I'm just trying to salvage these pj's.  I had Abby try them on, and they were just barely long enough, but I knew that after one washing, they'd be too short.  My girl gets about an inch taller each week - that doesn't help!

So I thought, OK, I'll make cute little ruffles and sew them onto the legs.  That should be cute.  Well, you know when you KNOW something, but you can't, like, access it from your brain?  Like someone's name?  Or a bit of Seinfeld trivia?  I mean, I KNEW that I knew how to sew a ruffle on, but I just...couldn't...quite...remember how.  I did one leg.  And then I remembered how, and did it the RIGHT way on the second leg.  Let's compare!

So after marveling for a while over the "Tale of Two Pant Legs," I set my frankenstein-y creation aside.  I needed time to think about what the heck I was going to do to salvage them.

Later that night, Abby came leaping downstairs, all aglow, in her new pj pants.  She'd found them, put them on, and was LOVING THEM!!! 

picture taken on my phone - don't judge!
She said the ruffles made them "extra swishy."  :)

You just never know!

P.S. I wasn't drinking, even though all evidence points to the contrary.  I don't usually start hitting the bottle till around 10 am, and these pants were made at least an hour before that. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Let them dress up!

Well, now that we're halfway into November, I thought it would be a great time to show my kids' Halloween costumes this year!   In my defense, trick-or-treat night was postponed a few days, thanks to the hurricane.  And the weather wasn't much better - it was freezing out there!

They both wanted to be characters from Mario World - and they chose Toad & Toadette.  For those of you whose homes have not been infiltrated by the likes of Mario & Luigi, DK, Peach, Yoshi and friends, this is what Toad & Toadette look like:

They have no purpose that I can see in Mario World, they're just kind of there.  But the kids love them.

And here are my own little Toad & Toadette, all ready for some door-to-door candy collecting:

So CUTE!  I can't help it.  They are.  Did you see those missing teeth?

And how about my girl - we just realized she'll be a TEENAGER the next time we have a presidential election.  (Someone get me a paper bag, I'm going to hyperventilate!)

The only other costumes I saw that night that were even CLOSE to being as cool, were a couple of inflated sumo wrestlers.  So funny.  But I'm probably biased.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

I have lived and I have learned.

Ugggghhhhh.  I really hate "live and learn" moments. 

Here we go: and any of you more experienced Etsy sellers out there, feel free to give me a little advice!

So in my Etsy shop, among other things, I feature embroidery hoop art.  Mostly Scripture verses and things like that.  I design the layout myself, because as I found out early on, finding embroidery designs WITH permission to sell the finished product, is like finding a needle in a haystack!  Here's one of mine:

And another...

And in every one of these listings, I let people know that if they want a custom piece made, they can do that, too.  They can pick their own verse/color scheme/etc.  I've done one custom piece so far (pics to come!) and it was, you know, a nice transaction and all. 

So I got an Etsy message about a week ago from a perfectly legit-sounding person, wanting a custom piece.  We went back and forth about what verse she wanted, and she asked if she could see a sketch before she ordered.  I thought that sounded fair, so I worked up a design, watermarked it, and emailed it to her. 

Have not heard from her since.  

Ugh.  Did I fall for something?  What just happened???

The thing is, if it were me, I would also want to see a preview before I ordered.  So her request didn't send up any red flags. don't know what to make of this. 

Opinions?  Speculations?  Advice?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Highs & Lows: Bunco Night Edition

Hi guys!  I was in such a mood to do highs & lows today...and just to give a little update on life here we go!

As usual, starting with the lows first so I can end on a positive note.  :)

1. Ugh, I'm right on the verge of being sick.  It's a bronchial/cough thing.  Could be worse.  I have not thrown up (sorry that's gross) since I was last pregnant, which was like 7+ years ago.  But I had morning sickness so bad with both of my pregnancies, that every time someone in the house gets sick like that, I pray to God and tell Him that since I threw up (sorry again) so much when I was pregnant, surely He could spare me from having to do it any more.  I think He understands & agrees, because it's been 7 years...thank you Lord!  :)  But anyway, not feeling well, I slept till 9 this morning, which some people might see as a good thing, but even on a lazy Sunday, I do not like to sleep so late.  (Wow, that was just one huge run-on sentence.  Terrible!  Sorry, Mrs. Bell.)

2. My Dog Has Fleas.  And so do the cats.  And it's been Rachel vs. The Pestilence for a month now.  I can see an end in sight, but let me tell you, I will NEVER blow off "preventative treatment" again.  Ever, ever, ever, ever, ever again.  A few tips I've learned:
- Dawn dish soap is actually very effective as a flea shampoo. 
- Sprinkle Borax on the carpet, leave it sit overnight, and vacuum it up in the morning.  Kills any little buggers that may be (gasp!) in the carpet. 
- Our animal shelter gives prescription flea meds for only $9 a dose.
- The people at Petco are beyond clueless.  I have no idea how they get jobs there, but it's not for their knowledge of anything related to pets, I'll tell you that!

1. Since I've last posted, my kids had their birthdays - I'm now the mom of a 7 and 9 year old!  And they are the funnest kids ever!  They decided that they wanted to have a birthday party together.  So each one invited 5 friends, and we had a big party in the backyard.  It did rain a little that day, but after about 15 minutes of total anarchy in my house, we decided to take it outside (it was just a drizzle) anyway.

 2. I play Bunco, and October was my month to host.  What. A. BLAST!  One extra nice thing about our group is, we do "food teams."  Instead of the hostess having to do ALL the food herself, or having everyone bring something EVERY TIME, we have teams of 3 who rotate doing the food.  My team totally rocks, by the way.  We have done the food now two months in a row and if I may say, have set the bar pretty high.  :)  I chose "80's night" as our theme and I mean, needless to say...

how about the pac man cookies??? 

That's it for me, I'm all partied out...for now.