Monday, July 14, 2014

A Birthday Crown

Daisy is into princesses right now. She loves castles, crowns, and anything princess-related. I didn't push her in this direction, but I like that she came to it on her own, because I was always into princess stuff too. When we drive through downtown, she points to the buildings and says, "Castles!"

The only downside is my tendency to over-analyze Disney princess movies due to too-frequent viewing. I constantly have new things to say to Zane about Frozen and Little Mermaid. Bless that man for listening.

So for her second birthday I decided to make her a princess crown. It was kind of a go-with-the-flow project. I drew up a few plans prior to starting, but most of it developed along the way. That's the nature of arts and crafts, at least when I'm doing them. 

I started with some extra-stiff/firm interfuse. I bought this to make Christmas ornaments and ended up with a LOT left over. As you can see, I drew a basic crown shape on it with chalk. 

Then I cut purple and pink fabric to the same rectangular size, 18.5'' long and 9'' wide. This was actually a little big on her. I made it with ribbon ties, so we could adjust the size. All the way tight is just right on her head. I didn't realize how big it would be until after I was most of the way through the project. I guess I should have measured the circumference of her head before starting!

I wanted to make it reversible, so I designed each side differently. The purple side would have a fleur de lis, which I sketched out a few times on paper, then on the fabric with chalk before cutting. I used light-weight interfuse behind the blue fabric to give it a little weight.

I needed something for the other points of the crown, and Zane suggested diamonds! I laid out what I wanted it to look like on the chalk-outlined interfuse. My plan was to get the fleur de lis and diamonds as close to that same location as possible when I sewed it onto the purple fabric. 

I carefully pinned each piece to the purple fabric and stitched around the edges with a close, wide, zig zag stitch. Then I added a rick rack border to the bottom, so that I could hand sew on the on the pink fabric side and hide my stitches in the rick rack. Plus, it's a cute addition to the purple side. 

Next, I sandwiched the interfuse between the two rectangular panels and ironed it down. 

The next part was re-drawing my crown points and cutting off the top. 

I finished the edges with a wide, close, zig-zag stitch like I use to sew down my appliques. 

Pink side is still blank. 

I used an entire spool of purple ribbon, cutting it into four equal parts. I sewed them into the two remaining sides like pictured below, so the crown can adjust with age and head size. This also allows it to be worn as either purple or pink. 

The last step was hot-gluing heart-shaped gems (or buttons) to the pink side. I also added a little organza to the bottom edge and hand-sewed it in puffs at each of the crown points. 

I actually tried it on Daisy throughout the process to make sure it would fit her, so it wasn't a surprise per se (but toddlers sometimes forget these things when not in sight). She wanted to play with it, but I said, "I'm going to give it to you later." On her birthday, I gave it to her, and she loved it. She wore the pink side the morning and the purple side in the afternoon. 

She's playing with my other gift to her: a fisher price castle ($10 craigslist score).

She tends to prefer the pink side, probably due to the gemstones. She also only likes to wear it for about 10 minutes at a time. Then she puts it away. I think she'll like it better when her head gets a little bigger, and it fits more snugly.

Overall, the crown was a success! If you're interested in making one and have questions, please ask away! I'm not an expert at sewing, but I can try to help you find the answer!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sewing Projects Galore!

That second-trimester energy really came in handy during our move. I unpacked the entire house in a matter of days. After that, I jumped into some home projects to help make our little, temporary apartment feel more cozy and comfortable. Here's a few of the things I've been up to.

Throw Pillows for the Couch

We didn't have a couch when we moved, so we acquired one pretty quickly after moving. We got one from Craigslist for $40, which is comfortable but hideous, so we got an off-white slip cover for $60.

Since throw pillows are kind of what I do (, I decided to make some pretty pillows for our couch. I have a bunch of ugly pillows in different sizes that are just begging to be covered and used. 

The floral fabric is the same fabric I used on Daisy's play kitchen, which currently resides in our living room, directly across from the couch. I wanted to bring the bright colors of the room together. When Daisy saw the smaller pillow, she ran over, hugged it, and said, "I love this pillow!" 

A few days later, I made the bigger pillow, which didn't get as much attention, but required a lot more work! I love it more, because I took more time with it. 

I had a tiny strip of scrap fabric leftover from the smaller pillow. I ironed on interfacing, cut out the only shapes that were left, and arranged them in the corners of the larger, navy pillow. Then I appliqu├ęd each of them individually with different color threads. 

I love the way it turned out. It was extra time and more detailed work, but that makes it more special. I had to point out my work to Zane for him to really appreciate it. I smile every time I look at it. 

Rufio's Bed

Rufio has this old comforter that he loves to sit on. It's big and bulky, and we put up with it in our other house, but this apartment just doesn't have the room for it.

I had been saying for months that I would cut it up and make a little bed for him. Now I finally had the chance to do it! I just cut a strip off of the large comforter, doubled it, and sewed the edges with blanket edging. This edging stuff is something that I inherited from my grandma's sewing supplies, so I don't even know what its proper name is or if they sell it anymore. 

This was a quick, afternoon project. Rufio loves it! Plus, Daisy can easily move it into our bathroom when we leave the house. One of her "leaving the house" chores is getting Rufio a treat and putting the treat and his bed in our bathroom (where he dwells when alone at home). This smaller size is easy to wash too. 

Curtains for master bedroom

Covering the windows was the first project that I tackled after unpacking. Our apartment windows face WEST! All the rooms were sweltering in the afternoon. Our living room window spans the length of the exterior wall, so I can't cover it without buying a super long curtain rod. I ended up buying two smaller, thermal panels and covering the sides. It actually has helped a lot with the heat, especially keeping the hot sun off our TV. I love the natural light, but hate the heat.

For the bedrooms, I bought a two-pack of white, thermal panels and hung one in Daisy's room and one in ours.

Unfortunately, the panel is just a few inches shorter than the window is wide. I added this sheer drape that I've had for years (one of the only window coverings I brought with us in the move) and bought cute, thick fabric for the sides. Our room is the coolest in any time of day, and the streetlights can't be seen at night anymore.

Our quilt is yellow. I made shams a while ago in teal, gray, and yellow, so I chose this light blue/teal color for the windows. I love it. 

We took the folding closet door off, so we could fit both nightstands and our bed in that space. So, don't mind my hanging clothes...and my sombrero. 

Daisy's bedroom has her green valance from our other house and the thermal panel. It looks pretty bad, since the panel doesn't cover the entire window. I have ideas on what to do in there, but haven't gotten around to starting anything. We'll be changing that room when baby #2 comes in a few months, because the girls will be sharing. 

There's actually more projects I've been working on. I'll be posting on them soon. Not working outside the home has given me more time to sew, which is great! 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Date Night: German Food and Painting

After about a month in our new town in our new schedule, Zane and I set aside time for a date night. This month has been full of adjustments for us, and we desperately needed designated time together.

One adjustment is Zane's school schedule. He's in a very intense, accelerated program, which means studying every night. I'm at home all day with Daisy, which means long days of toddler conversation and potty training. At night, I'm happy to have quiet time to sew or read or whatever, while Zane studies. There's so much to say about all of those things, but this post is about our date night.

We dropped off Daisy at grandma's house at 4pm, and went grocery shopping. Ha, not very date-like, but I hate doing it by myself. Two people make it go so much faster (especially if one person waits at the deli, while the other gets the rest of the food).

After a quick stop at home, we set out to find a local restaurant in our new area, Brandon, Florida. We stopped into Dellas After Dark, and it was SUPER nice - way too nice and expensive for us. We're not opposed to steak dinners, but we prefer to plan that kind of special evening in advance.

So we went across the street to Taste of Berlin (FB page). I have never had German food before, and was a little wary, but I was feeling adventurous, so we sat down.

It was AMAZING! I had the Koenigsberger Klopse, which is meatballs in a caper sauce with mashed potatoes. Zane had Schnitzel "Jaegar Art," which was a pan fried pork with spaetzle and mushroom gravy. Also delicious. They had great service and atmosphere. It was a little more than we like to spend, but not unreasonable. We definitely want to go back and try other things on the menu!

After dinner, we drove down to Valrico (next town over) to The Pottery Patch, where we painted plates.

I had been wanting to paint a "special occasion plate" for a long time to use at birthdays, etc. I convinced Zane to participate by painting a special occasion dessert plate. When I was a kid we had a birthday cup, and it was always so special to get to use it. Eventually, we'll find one of those too, but this is a good start.

I went with my typical flowers and paisleys, because that's just what I like to paint. Zane chose some fun stamps and shapes. The plates' first use will be Daisy's 2nd birthday in a couple weeks.

We stayed up entirely too late, but it was fun to relax, have grown-up conversation, and hang out for a few hours in our new city.

I recommend both of these places!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Purple Heart Display Case

Last Christmas, my dad asked me to put together a display case for his grandfather's Purple Heart from WWI. Due to a busy Christmas season and beginning of the year, I didn't get this project finished until Easter, but you know...better late than never. 

Based on my internet research, there's just very little out there on this type of project, so a lot of this was just from my own head. I worked closely with my dad to arrange everything in a way that he'd like. For instance, he prefers a linear display as opposed to a scrapbook, hodge-podge look with diagonal lines. 

I started with a 16x20'' display case that I bought from Hobby Lobby. 

I chose the dark blue canvas for the background, because I wanted a nice patriotic color, but white and red clashed with the heart. Red was too harsh. The canvas material added a nice texture that cotton doesn't provide. It was my dad's idea to have the ribbon edging, which is one of my favorite parts. 

I added the little raised matte behind the Purple Heart to make it stand out more as the centerpiece. The Purple Heart is pinned into a loop of cloth, so it can be removed if necessary. 

The papers are all high-quality, color copies of original documents, so nothing original was permanently adhered. There are newspaper clippings from his home-town paper about the Purple Heart award. The other cards are all military-related documents. The white block on the right are excerpts from letters he wrote to his wife while he was abroad, including one written from a hospital in Paris where he was being treated for getting gassed. 

The center picture at the bottom is of my great-grandfather, the one who received the Purple Heart. Next to him is my grandfather, and on the outside is my father. The left side is reserved for photos my great-grandfather's other son and grandson who were also part of the military. We didn't have those on hand. The final project will include his family lineage, who all served in the military. 

Everything is glued on with hot glue, which works well with paper and cloth. I was very careful to only use small amounts, so there would be no visible indications of glue through papers. 

There wasn't much on the internet about military award displays like this when I first started researching this project. I hope this can inspire others to pull out those family heirloom awards and display them in a sophisticated, honorable way. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

DIY: Fleece Play Eggs

I made Daisy a kitchen for Christmas. Ever since, I've been wanting to add to her food collection, particularly eggs. She eats eggs every morning for breakfast and often asks for them at other meals. I think she'll really enjoy cooking and "eating" her own eggs with her own kitchen utensils.

I think I saw this on Pinterest a while ago, so it's not really an original idea. But here's how I did it:

  • 6-12 white plastic eggs - I found a dozen pack at Hobby Lobby around Easter. I was planning on painting colored eggs white, but I lucked out with these. 
  • 1 empty egg carton - I specifically bought half a dozen eggs in a cardboard carton, so I could reuse the carton for this project. 
  • White fleece - less than 1/8 yard
  • Yellow fleece - less than 1/8 yard (scraps will do!) 
  • White chalk

1. Cut the white fleece into circular shapes. I wasn't too strict on it being an exact circle, because they're eggs! They rarely cook in a perfect circle. They're about 3-4'' in diameter.

2. Cut 2''x2'' yellow squares, one for each white circle. Place a yellow square in the middle of the circle, and draw a circle on it with chalk.

3. Sew the yellow and white fleece together using the chalk-line circle as a guide.

4. Cut the excess yellow fabric away, leaving a yellow circle. A lovely little yolk!

5. Repeat for however many eggs you want to make. Then fold each egg yolk and stuff it into a plastic shell.

That's it! It took me about 30 minutes to make six and stuff them. I can't wait to give them to Daisy on her birthday!