Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sew Cute Pencil Roll...

Well I know I said that we were going to do something with our newly painted corner this weekend, but unfortunately, the worst cough I've had in 3 years has put a stop to all that for this weekend.  We're just going to have to try again another weekend :(

However - there is something I did on my holidays recently that I haven't shared yet.  I've had a sewing machine for ages, but I've never been a particularly good sewer.  I've been seeing projects in blogland that really don't look too hard... so I thought I would tackle one.  I know its small, so if you're a competent seamstress, please don't laugh!  But I'm pretty pleased with the results.

This one was a pencil roll...  Alex is starting to be invited to kids parties left and right, so I thought this would be a nice handmade type thing he could give the birthday girl/ boy (with a fun activity book or something to go with it).

Sorry I didn't take any photos of the process...  but I didn't use any tutorials for this, I just did it myself.  And if I can figure it out, trust me, anyone can!!!

But in the way of a basic explanation... 

:: I cut the two pieces of fabric for the front and back
:: On one I pinned a folded over piece of contrasting fabric (to the right side of the fabric) so it covered half
:: Then I just sewed lines (I did one down the centre and worked my way out on either side) the full length of the fabric
:: I trimmed off all the excess threads
:: I cut a piece of interfacing that was 1cm smaller than the fabric on all sides
:: I took the piece of fabric without the stitched pockets and put the interfacing on the wrong side of the fabric, then I folded 1cm seams on each side and ironed it all down
:: I also folded 1cm seams on each side of the pocket sewed fabric and ironed them down
:: I cut a small piece of elastic and made a loop
:: I pinned the two pieces of fabric together (wrong sides together) and slipped in the elastic so the loop was poking out and pinned that too
:: I sewed all the way around, reversing and sewing over the elastic part several times.
:: I rolled it up and made a mark where the button should go to fit in the loop
:: I sewed on the button
:: I put the pencils in it!

I know it sounds like a lot of steps, but it wasn't hard at all.  The first one took me ages, with very wonky lines!  But then the second time I did two at once and it was much quicker (and lines were straighter when I sewed the centre line and used that as a guide).  It seems I still have a problem cutting things out in straight lines (too impatient) which was always my problem with sewing!

Anyway, without further ado, here is the completed article:

This one actually went to a little boy this weekend... Alex attended his first McDonalds party, he was very excited.  I was all set to go and check out what Maccas parties look like in 2011 (having not experienced one since I was 8!) but unfortunately my rotten cough kept me away... I didn't think I'd be too popular in a children's restaurant with a raging cough, lol.  Fortunately my good friend Julie was taking her kids too and offered to take Alex with them, so he didn't miss out on the fun!  (I did though)...

Hope you've enjoyed my little venture into sewing.  I think I have mentioned before that one of my new years resolutions was to make as many presents as possible this year - I haven't done so well with this one so far, but I'm making a concerted effort to change that... so hopefully you'll see a few more little treasures before the year is out!

Bye for now :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Running the gauntlet...

You might recall that in my recent post about Decorating Blues, I mentioned that one of my low/ no cost projects would be to line these cupboards.

They currently sit in an unused space in our living area, housing all sorts of crap that frankly, I would rather the world couldn't see!

In my post I indicated that I could sort myself out a pretty much free solution to my problem, if only I could work up the audacity required to make the necessary trip/s to Bunnings.  Well... I did it!  I'm not particularly proud of myself actually, because even though my solution is technically free, its definitely very cheeky.  What the hell am I talking about?  Friends, here's the scoop....

Bunnings have thousands of colours in free paint chips, waiting to be taken home by punters who will hold them up against their walls and dream of rooms that don't look like the ones they have now!  But not me... I already had my wall colour... it was cupboard colour I was after!

British Paints have a wide range of paint chip colours in a very convenient 4cm x 4cm paint chip square....  so I'd identified the target, it was all down to execution from here!  I decided I'd like a bunch of different blues in mostly teal and turquoise, with a few darker moodier blues thrown in for good measure. 

So without any particular plan, I made my first Bunnings dash spontaneously when I happened to be driving past.  I grabbed a whole lot of colours, a few here, a few there....  I had what felt like an enormous wad of paint chips and brought them home... should be enough for at least two doors, surely?  I measured up the doors (I told you, I did it spontaneously, so I was all back to front) and realised I would need 28 paint chips per door.  And what was my yield from my first mad dash into Bunnings?  29!  That's right, only enough for one door!!!!  Grrrr....

So I decided that my next trip to Bunnings needed to be better planned...  For starters, I was too chicken to do it again on the same day - and I decided that my next run to Bunnings needed to be on a crowded day (my first one was on a week day, so there was far too much visibility of me having the nerve to walk out with a tonne of paint chips!) 

The second time I went was a Sunday afternoon - there were people everywhere, score!  So in I went, I took ages picking out several colours, getting a few of each and hoping I could piece them together okay with the 29 I already had.  Right, out the door I went!

I got home and put them all together, and this is what the pile looked like....

Oh my!  That is a BIG wad of paint chips people!!  I then got the roll of butcher's paper I bought for Alex on a recent Ikea run and laid it out on the bench.  I measured it out and cut 4 pieces that were the size of the cupboard door inlay.

Then I set about piecing all my colours together.  And here's where I came undone....  I have a bit of a thing for symmetry.  I'm trying to break it but on this occasion I just couldn't.  So when I laid it all down together, I found that in order for all four pieces to be the same, I needed 12 more paint chips in 8 specific colours!  It was by this time around 4.30pm on Sunday afternoon, very close to closing for Bunnings.  But I got in my car and went to the closest one to us (not the one I'd been to earlier that day!) and put together my 12 paint chips.  I didn't feel so bad this time - 12 is a much more respectable number than 90!

Then I came home and filled in my gaps and I was good to go!

After that I just got some craft glue and started sticking them all down as neatly as possible.  As it turned out, I ended up with little gaps at the bottom, but I sooooo wasn't doing this again.  I was digging all the different shades of blue, thinking how clever I was.

Then it was just a matter of putting those panels up in the cupboard door inlays.  I tucked the edges between the door and the inlay, then just sticky taped them on.  (This was never going to be the permanent solution, just an interim until I could afford the world's most beautiful wallpaper!)

And here is the end product....

Do I love it?  Ahhhh.... no!  Sadly, from a distance all my shades of blue are lost under that translucency and it just looks like two wardrobes that belong in a little boys' bedroom or playroom.... Bugger!

Oh well - given the shortening of my life by several years that occurred when I had to do those dashes into Bunnings, I decided we're just going to have to live with it.  At least it did solve the problem of covering up all my crap in the cupboards, which is great!  And to be fair, they don't look totally awful (they just look very out of place when you view the area in context with the rest of the house).

So end of story.  Happy(ish) ending... but could be happier.  Would I do it again?  No (unless I wanted to do it for a kid's room, in which case I'd be back at Bunnings in a heartbeat).  And will I be applying this method to my nine drawers in the bedroom?  No, I will not.

But just when you thought that was the end of the story (because, in fairness, I did say it was!) something wonderful has happened.  No, I didn't win lotto (still got fingers, toes and eyes crossed for that though!)  My husband has recently had a little time off work and decided to get handy with his paintbrushes... and lets just say that corner of the home is looking quite different!  So different in fact that I'm thinking I don't want to cover that beautifully painted area with cupboards any longer... I might like to try something else!  Check it out.... the back of the cupboards is to the left of the photo (obviously we moved them out of the way to paint).

What will I try in this newly painted corner, I hear you ask?  You'll just have to wait and see...  I know I always say this (and rarely deliver!) but we're hoping to make our little transformation this weekend.  So hopefully we'll have something wonderful to share next week!

Bye for now :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Made It this month : June...

A little while ago I featured some things I found over on Made It in this post...  I had some good feedback from readers via email and in person that they enjoyed that particular post (nice!)  Based on that I decided I might make a regular habit of sharing some of the amazing things I come across in this little online treasure trove.  So this is my first offering for you - I'd love your feedback on this new 'segment' - love it?  Hate it?  Let me know :)

The first thing I want to share is this Set of 4 Coastal Wall discs by Floss Design...  I wouldn't necessarily buy this, but I was thinking if you were in a crafty mood it and felt like taking a stab at this yourself, it would be a very cheap way to get some artwork on your walls - those embroidery hoops are only a few dollars from Spotlight, so if you scored some interesting fabric in your style of decor, it's a totally doable artwork.  I think these would work especially well for a themed room (maybe a kids room or a spare bedroom) - big bang for small bucks - love it!

This next one is something I would never buy, but I had to share - it's so bizarre!  If you haven't guessed already, this little offering is a Brain in a Jar - made by Your Organ Grinder.  I really debated whether or not to include this one, but in the end it was just so strange, I had to!  In case you're wondering if they do other organs, the answer is yes!  You can buy lungs (with or without red capillaries), a uterus in a jar and for the fashionistas there are even eyeball hair clips and ear brooches!

Okay pulling back from the weird and wonderful, and moving onto more traditional hand made offerings...  I loved this little Hand Made Felted Wool Bag by The Potty Knitter.  Isn't that little porcelain button cute?  I think its under stated but still a little bit hippy - nice.  It's also modestly priced :)

And while I'm on the bag train... I came across this gorgeous little Brown Bloom Pleated Wristlet/ Clutch by Odds n Blobs.  You might recall I mentioned Jess from Odds n Blobs in my last Made It post here - I am happy to say I ordered a big zippered pouch in my beloved owl fabric from her, and its gorgeous, I'm very happy with it.  (It also arrived very quickly - bonus!)  But back to this one - I'm thinking brunch... a pair of jeans, an earthy top, some gorgeous strappy sandals and cute little earrings... this little clutch would be the perfect addition! It sort of has a sweet vintage feel that really appeals to me.  She has tonnes of other fabrics in this style too... its hard to choose a favourite - even as I was copying the link for this one, I found several I potentially liked more! Lol...

I think this Organic Rose & Honey Lip Balm by Back of the Moon would make a lovely gift.  The flavour sounds divine, and the packaging is sooo pretty.  There are lots of other lovely skin care products on their site also.

I just love this Hand Made Quilted Rug Coaster from My Studio.  There's enough room for a cup and saucer, or mug and a little plate.  It has batting inside it to soak up any spills, then you just throw it in the washing machine - genius!  So it never lets your favourite cuppa wreck your surfaces.  I wish I had found this when my Nanna was still with us - she would have adored this one, she loved her tea and green was her favourite colour.  If a spare 20 bucks becomes magically available in our budget this week and its still for sale, I'm gonna have to buy it - it would look great on my desk at work and I just know it would remind me of her every time I use it :)

This little number below had me at hello....  It's a Book Satchel and Bookmark Set by Designery.  Is it necessary in life?  No.  Is it a super cute gift for an avid reader?  You bet!  I am forever carting around paperbacks which get dog eared in my bag and look 100 years old after 2 days.  This little satchel has room for a book and even your glasses (if you wear them).  This is a lovely gift idea... I may attempt this type of thing myself when I get more acquainted with my sewing machine!  (Note to friends and family - I am still figuring out how to thread it, so don't hold your breath!  Lol)

These sweet little Violet Garden Earrings by Three Wishes have a pretty vintage look and are made from lentil lampwork beads...  I can totally picture these little babies in my ears, they are so me!  In fact there are quite a few little trinkets on this site I would love to add to my treasure chest *sigh*

And now for the finale.  In my opinion I've definitely saved the best for last!  This 'My Love' Bracelet from Halle Jay is just beautiful.  The heart can be stamped with initials or a date which makes it the perfect gift for the birth of a child or wedding/ engagement/ anniversary. 

Isn't it lovely?  And since my husband doesn't read this blog (he's been "going to get around to it" for some time now)... would someone please share this link with Boofy and tell him our 9th wedding anniversary is just 3 short months away?  Also let him know I would love this bracelet with his name on the heart (which conveniently only has 3 letters), or our wedding date... and to communicate directly with the seller about getting some extra links put in, as I like my bracelets on the loose side!  Thanks ever so much :)

So that brings us to the end of Made It this month...  What did you think?  Did you enjoy this little look at some of Australia's more creative offerings?  Do you already scour Madeit, and if so, do you already have your own faves?  Will you look forward to reading this every month, never want to see it again, or wish I was doing it every week? Love to have your comments....

Bye for now :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A place at my table : Christmas setting

Gosh is it really mid June already?  And I haven't posted since 30 May.... my bad!  As usual things have been busy around here.  In between everything else, we took a little trip down to my Grandma's house just outside of Byron Bay on the weekend - she turned 80 at the beginning of June so we went to wish her a happy belated birthday :)  Grandma lives on the same property as my Aunty Gayle, her husband and children.  It was wonderful to see them all, and its been a long time since I've been there (even though its only an hour away).  I could not believe how much their land has changed - Gaylie has spent years planting and cultivating a tropical Bali-like garden and its just stunning!  Also her husband, Hank, is a very talented tiler (you can check out his handiwork here) and he has done some wonderful things down there - even the toilet is a masterpiece!  I am hoping I will be able to go down and get some photos to share one day soon (since I forgot my camera this time), so more on their beautiful property another time :)

Our stay was quite eventful as it turns out - while we were there, staying at my Aunty's house, I took a 5am slide down half a flight of stairs... not fun!  Actually I went head first into a wall - I have no upper body bruising (except for my head!) so I can only conclude that I took almost the full weight of my (ample) body on my head... and let me tell you that 4 days on it still feels like it... I still have the bump on my head, countless bruises and scratches all up and down my legs, a mildly twisted ankle and a very black toe which I suspect was very nearly broken (this remains my most painful injury!)  In any case, when I took this tumble I had Alex in tow unfortunately - he didn't have any injuries since I actually pulled him on top of me (also head first) but he got a big shock and screamed the house down... my poor Aunty and her family didn't know what had hit them!  Shortly thereafter, I accidentally pinched Alex with the zipper of his jacket (ouch!  more crying...), and a short time later Grandma's little old lady cat, Chloe, decided she'd had enough of Alex following her around and clawed him in the face... not alot of damage but OMG did he wail!!  And all this before 9am!  We hit the road pretty soon after - I felt we'd more than made our presence felt and should give this family some time to recover from our visit...  So much for being quiet and unobtrusive house guests!!  I did try...  Hopefully one day they will have recovered from the trauma enough to let us stay again! Lol. 

So back to the title of this post - I know you're saying what the??  Christmas?  Stay with me, I'll explain.

I am obsessed with creating a lovely table when we have people over, even if its only for a BBQ!  Well, why not?  I do have some tablecloths, but they don't tend to really give me the wow factor I'm looking for.  I much prefer runners or placemats with the wood of the table showing through a bit.

I like to entertain as much as my husband can stand possible - judging by comments I receive from guests, I think I am most known for a decorative table, and salads!  I love a good salad - its never iceberg lettuce and soggy tomatoes in this house - I pile it high and love to try out new recipes.  But back to the table settings.

I've decided that this will be the first of an ongoing series of table settings I love to do...  I just think they're pretty and inviting and make guests feel a bit special.  I generally get lots of amazing comments, so hopefully you will enjoy them too!  And hopefully it will keep me on my toes and trying out new table settings instead of just resorting to my faves all the time!  :)  I can't promise I will post these with any regularity of course (heaven forbid!) but I will do them from time to time.

So let's start at the beginning - I have an 8 seater table, but most of the time I just leave 6 chairs around it.  I thought I should start with showing you how it looks for every day - if you walk into my house on any given day, this is what you're likely to see (although there might be a few magazines and papers around too...)

So back to the Christmas thing - I know we're in June and it's a long way off - but if I'm going to be sharing my decorated table, this was has to be first as it is just one of my all time favourite tables.  Also, lots of people have Christmas In July parties, so maybe it will come in handy for somebody!! (I know, I'm clutching at straws aren't I... oh well - humour me!)

For Christmas last year, I went with this simple arrangement.  Actually it was totally last minute, Mum was staying with us and generally she favours a tablecloth at Christmas lunch, so I had one all lined up for the occasion.  Before we got lunch underway, she accidentally bumped a candle and spilled wax all over it, so that was the end of the table cloth for that day!  The following day (Boxing Day) we had Mum's cousins over, and a friend of mine from Sydney who I hadn't seen in years (hi TB!).  With the Christmas tablecloth out of commission (for that day at least) I had a think about what I could use on the table to make a really nice setting.  I recalled I had this white and silver fabric in the linen cupboard, so I cut it into three strips to make runners...  The baubles and strands of beads are just Christmas decorations I had hanging around, and the feather Christmas tree I bought in a January sale a couple of years ago...  Here is how it looked:

It looked much more impressive in person.  The guests raved about it, which was lovely.

Having gained a bit of confidence in putting the runners sideways on the table for place settings, I set about accumulating a few more (that weren't just scraps of fabric!) so I had one for every occasion.  I do use these little rectangular plates (which are part of my dinner set) quite often

In this case we had baubles and strings of beads on them, but I often use them with some decorative gravel on them also - then just top with a candle of choice!  In any case, you will see those as I share more tablescapes with you.

I hope you've enjoyed this little peek at our table - how do you set your table?  I'd love to hear and/ or see what you do with your table for visitors.

Bye for now :)