Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Feeling A Little Nostalgic

Today, in honor of Valentines Day, I'm resurrecting an old post. While updating my holiday decor, once again, I brought out the album I made my husband a few Valentine's Days ago. 

It's the gift that keeps on giving- makes me gush just looking through it. 
I have a sweet life and an amazing husband. Blessed beyond measure, I tell ya! So here it is:

"Love is in the Air" 

TUESDAY, APRIL 12, 2011



Well, this one is a little late but....


Sam always complains about the winters here in Idaho. I, however, relish them. I get 7 months a year to be outdoors enjoying the warm weather, and I get five months a year to stay in and work on the crafts I enjoy. Winter is the time for scrapbooking, crocheting, sewing, baking, and whatever else I fancy. I like having a break from yardwork, farmer's markets, and entertaining so I can spend time doing the other things I love. 

It's not Winter, it's Craft Season.

Back in February, when it was miserable cold I got a great idea for a Valentine gift for Sam. I planned to make him a mini album of just us. Since our lives are filled with children now, I thought an album of the two of us would be fun and memorable for the Holiday of Love.

Aaaaww, young and in love (and skinny too!!). This was our rehearsal dinner, the night before the big day. 

Sidenote: I have no torso. I'm five feet tall and all leg. Weird, I know. I blame my mother.

I went poking around the internet for inspiration. I found a great channel on youtube with this lady who makes fabulous mini albums. Her name is Robyn and she lives across the pond and she gets really excited about her finds. She gives tutorials on techniques and showcases her albums and they are just beautiful. I think this is my favorite one. I just love birds and this one is right up my alley.



If you want to see more (and I highly recommend the slider card tutorial, these made really cool Valentines for the grandmas) she has a website with all of her tutorials. You can find Robyn at www.injoystampin.com

So I got crackin' on my own mini album. I'm sure you've seen these, they are simple and fun to make using lunch bags and paper. I was really into it too, I finished the album in a couple of nights and all I had left to do was add the pictures. 


Well, the album was the easy part. It took me forever to find pictures I could crop and print and put in the album. Just when I thought I had a few, I started to remember all of the pictures that are floating around on my in-law's computer. When you are always the girl behind the camera, it's really tough to find pictures that you are actually in. So by the time Valentine's Day rolled around, I still didn't have it completed.

No sweat I thought, because fortunately for me, Sam's birthday was the following week!

yeeeaaaahhh.

Didn't quite get it finished by then either. I did produce a partially filled album and it pretty much got the response I figured. A half interested "Thanks" before moving on to the next article he was reading on espn.com. 


Were my feelings hurt? Nah. I know before I give my husband a "craft item" he can only be about as excited as any other dude. Sure he appreciates the gesture, but I have learned that any expectation of seeing him sit down to pour over each page and notice the carefully selected patterned paper, read every quote and caption, pet the different trims and fibers I chose, comment on the hours of work I must have put into it, and cry over each picture of us isn't happening. 

And really, I must give God a big THANK YOU for that one. I think I would be laying in bed at night wondering what had happened if I was a witness to such a sight.

No pressure. No timeline. I finished it when I finished it and put it out on the table and said nothing. I'm guessing that was around the beginning of March.


A few days later he came home from work talking about how he was bragging to his coworkers about how cool I was for making him an entire book. Now if that doesn't make a girl feel special, what does? Knowing that he takes a minute from his March Madness bracket talk to interject a compliment on my scrapbooking skills (to other dudes, nonetheless) makes me want to gush all over him. I love that man.


Even when I think he's not looking, he has already been there and done that.
You might also like:

Monday, February 11, 2013

He's the Man!

We're talking men and decorating over at View Along the Way with Kelly today. How do you do this fine dance between decorating and keeping the hubs happy?

Does your big screen TV reside in a purple living room? Does he take his Sunday naps on a floral sofa with a ruffled lace pillow? Or does he decide which color to paint the bathroom?

Come see what myself and other DIY bloggers are saying!


This song just came to mind.

For your listening pleasure:


Funny, mostly not true in this house. But still funny.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Cupcake Purses for My Sweeties





While I was on Facebook some time ago, an old friend from high school posted these cute little cradle purses that she was selling. I had never seen them before and was completely intrigued. Apparently, I have been living under a rock for all my life, because everyone in the world chimed in on how they all had one growing up...their Grandma made them...yada, yada, yada.- All news to me!

My girls are just the right age for these little purses because they LOVE rocking accessories at all times and the mothering and doll playing stage is in full effect.

This is the perfect storm of crafts. Crocheting + kid stuff + holidays = "You're the BEST MOM EVER!"

I love to crochet, it's one of my wintertime hobbies, so I decided I would make one for each girl for Christmas. To my surprise, these adorable little purses are all over the inter nets, so I had no trouble finding a pattern.

Not to be a hater, but some of these purses are a little too "fancy" for my own taste. All of the variegated yarns, layers upon layers of lace ruffles...too rich for my blood.

Example:



Does anyone else's mind immediately go here when you think of these crocheted creations?


Can I get an "Amen?" (like it's a sin to see the roll of toilet paper?)

I was on the search for a  current design from this decade simpler design and was pleasantly surprised when I came across this one. Thanks "Champygirl!" I found her FREE pattern posted on Crochetville.com. "Champygirl's" secret identity is also known as Amelia Beebe, if you are a member of Ravelry, you can find an awesome project gallery here. I love the Minnie Mouse versions too.

It's a cupcake.
It's a purse.
It's a baby cradle. 
It's adorable.


 Photo credit via Ravelry by user BigFunFam.

Love it! 

One of my favorite versions. I wish I had seen the little heart earlier. How cute is that?

This is the best of both worlds, in my opinion. Anyone who can incorporate dessert into an accessory is a winner in my book!

I love the crocheted rib pattern on the cupcake "wrapper" for the base of the purse. It was simple to do and turned out looking pretty authentic. It is also nice and bulky, so it gives the purse it's form.

I chose Caron Simply Soft yarn for the frosting part of the cupcake; it has a nice sheen and is super soft. I followed the original pattern for this purse, however I did make a modification to add a scallop border around the frosting edge for a little more sweetness and because I didn't want to have to go back and add it later.

Truth be told- I'm lazy.

On the "Frosting" section of the pattern, I completed Round 1, then inserted 2 rows:

From Amelia's instructions:
"...Round 1:  Using size H hook join frosting color with a sl st to any stitch of rnd 12 of the cake part. Ch 1, 1 sc in each st around. Join with sl st to first sc. (48sc)"

*I inserted 2 rounds here:
Ch 1, sc in each stitch around, working in front loops only. Join with a sl st to first sc. (48). 
Ch 1, sc in first st, *5 sc in next st, sc in next st.* repeat from * all the way around to create scallop edge. 
Join with sl st to first sc. Sl st up the scallop to get back to Round 1. Continue with "Round 2" instructions of original pattern.*

This is what you get. A petite little scallop.

And back to Amelia:
"Rnd 2: Ch1 sc in each st around, through back loops only. Join with a sl st to first sc. (48sc)..."
Please refer to the full pattern instructions here. Thank You Amelia, for posting such a great pattern!

Anyway, this was a simple addition to the pattern, I didn't have to go back and change yarn or try to stitch in my existing work (which is always a pain for me). I thought the little scalloped edge looked sweet enough without having to "add more flair."

I finished the pattern according to the instructions, and for the top trim I chose this fun yarn. 
It sells like hotcakes at Christmas time. It's pom-pom yarn. Kind of a pain to work with, but it gives the most luscious soft cupcake "Topping" you'll ever feel. It's like a million little bunny tails all on one string.


With the whipped cream topping complete, all this cupcake needed was a cherry on top!
I just winged it to make a sphere. Started with a ring, increased my stitches a few rounds, then decreased for a few rounds. Just before finishing it off, I stuffed it with a little Polyfil, and in the end, I had a nice cherry. I tied it to a random place along the inside edge; when the purse is closed, it sits right on top. Yum!


Because I was crocheting bootcuffs and headbands (and more bootcuffs and more headbands) for my teenage nieces for Christmas, I didn't get the cupcake purses finished in time.

But you know why that's okay? 

Because NOTHING says "I Love You" like a cupcake!!

These gifts weren't late for Christmas, no, no... They were right on time for Valentine's Day!

Let's not forget the best part:

Not only are they purses, but have adorable little baby cradles inside! after I finished the little cradle/awning/bassinet thingy (what's that called?) I trimmed it in more of the pom-pom yarn.



To give support to the purse base, I inserted an old CD into the bottom (You know, when you bought 6000 of them because you realized you could burn all the music you wanted by yourself on your computer and then never did?). I put some batting on top and hot glued a scrap of fabric around it to make a little mattress. And a blanket to match, of course.



Then comes time to find the baby. Walmart has cheapies for a dollar, but I found some slightly nicer ones for three dollars at Target. And their outfits matched the cupcakes! SCORE!



The purse string is one long loop that I doubled around the top. That way, when you pull the ends, it cinches up on itself.


If you like to crochet, this is a fast project that worked up in one or two evenings. It was fun, easy, and I'm sure my little girlies will be dragging them to every store we go to for at least a week!







Happy Valentine's Day, from our family to yours!





                                     



Thursday, February 7, 2013

Hey Girl...

In honor of Valentine's Day, we're celebrating our real-life men! Kelly at View Along The Way, along with Ashley at Domestic Imperfection, and a few other bloggers are hosting a Valentine's Day "Hey Girl" Link Party. Link up and join in the fun, I am!


Here's to My Valentine:









Love you, Babe!

Link up here:






Monday, February 4, 2013

Diamond Tufted Dining Bench Part Deux





If you are just landing here, you can find Part I of this post including a tutorial for building this bench and applying the upholstery foam here:

Diamond Tufted Upholstery Bench

Full plans, materials list, and instructions to build this bench can be found on Ana White's site here.


Where I left off, I had just explained how to build the frame and attach it together. I was rambling on about the seat cushion needing trimmed to make everything fit, so here is a pic of that process. I just used my jigsaw again and then finished trimming with scissors.


     Once I got the foam situation under control, I could layer batting and fabric and begin to cover the seat. I picked up some quilt batting with a coupon from JoAnn's. It comes in a large roll, but it is half the thickness of upholstery weight fabric. I just doubled it and it worked great. Cut enough to cover the bench and wrap around the sides. Use your spray adhesive to tack the batting onto the foam. It just helps hold it in place. I flipped the entire piece over and began stapling the fabric to the underside of the bench. Pull everything taut, but make sure you aren't pulling the fabric so tight that the grain is crooked or it will be noticeable with your final product. If your mother ever demanded you learn to fold a "Nurse's Corner" on a bed sheet, that will come in handy here. I used a Nurse's Corner on the front corners of the bench seat. It's difficult to upholster around the legs of the bench; take your time and fold the fabric under carefully. I had a difficult time and the perfectionist in me wants to rip it apart and try again for the second third time- but I'm learning to let go! Trim away the excess batting and fabric making sure there isn't any hanging down on the underside of the bench or those loose threads will beome the cat's favorite thing to swipe.



With the seat finished, now comes the fun part:

Diamond tufting!

I love this look. It is rich, textural, and oh-so-plush. I googled and googled to no avail trying to find a tutorial for this. I found several youtube videos, but they would just show "before and afters." That is, until I found Carrie at Brick City Love. I came across her youtube video tutorial which led me to her blog. She gives excellent instructions for diamond tufting, and after that I got sucked into her home renovations.

I thought about making a video tutorial as well, but then decided I would just be repeating everything she said. Check out her blog to see the whole project and after you've been sucked into her blog for three hours, come back here for the rest.


Beginning with the back frame piece, you will need to cut holes into the foam for your buttons to go through. You will need a pipe that is slightly sharp on the end to cut through your foam. In the video, Carrie used a closet rod. I looked around my house and then this happened:



You know that moment.

The rod from my towel bar was perfect. I quickly dismantled it and let the "Ram-Rodding" begin. If I can give you precise instructions to quickly chew through those 3" of foam, I have to put on my big girl pants and try to keep my mind out of the gutter. Forgive me, friends!

Here goes:

Now, firmly grip your pole/rod. If you make quick, up-and-down motions, while holding the pole straight, it cuts through the foam rather quickly. Turning doesn't help. Trying to "screw" it in just makes the foam bind up on the rod. I'm telling you, up and down, really fast, while gripping the rod firmly, is the most efficient way  (blushing).
  
Ahh! That was tough, but I got through it (that's what she said).

Alright. Seriously. Bathroom humor segment is over.



If you are successful, the foam will come out in little plugs over every hole. You will have a perfect channel to  run your needle and thread through.



Next, I used an Exacto knife to cut a wedge around each hole. This will help smooth out the center so there is no abrupt edge near your button. It also cuts some of the bulk so you can pull your button down tight and get a nice deep tuft.

When you have finished all of the holes, it will look like this:


Kind of looks like a small rodent chewed through everything, huh?

You're getting close. Now, you will need to get some Polyfil stuffing. For each button to sink deep and have a plush look, there needs to be a lofty cushion around each button hole. If you skip this step, it will just look like a board with buttons on top. This really makes the difference.

Thus, I have developed what I am calling the "Doughnut Method."


Around each hole, form the Polyfil stuffing in a doughnut shape. I also filled in the surrounding spaces, across the top of the bench, and sides. My daughter walked in the room and said "Time to make the dooooughnuts" and had me laughing. She is way too young for that Dunkin' Doughnuts commercial, but her Dad has passed that one on for posterity.



After the stuffing has been added, it's time to cover the whole thing in batting. This is quilt batting from JoAnn's. It's $20 for a 10 yard roll (used a 50% off coupon). This batting only has a weight of 4 oz., while an upholstery weight batting is 8-12 oz. I just doubled the batting and made 2 layers for this purpose.




 With the Polyfil and batting in place, all that's left is to drape the fabric over the top. If you look on Carrie's blog, she explains the extra yardage needed. It is important to note that you will need extra fabric in each direction. She has a chart to give you the correct math to figure it out. Every time a button gets pulled down into the foam, it is taking an inch or two of fabric from each direction down with it. The chart explains that you will need to add several inches for each button in your design. Truly, as Carrie agrees, the chart is a little over estimated. When I laid the fabric across, I measured enough to cover the bench front and sides with extra to staple around to the back, PLUS 8-12" for the buttons on each side. By the time it was all said and done, I had more than enough and ended up trimming off a good 4-6" of surplus fabric. It's better to have too much than too little. Pay attention to the way your fabric print runs when you are choosing fabric for this project and estimating yardage. This will work best if the bolt of fabric is railroaded ( the print runs with the roll on the bolt). Otherwise, you may have to piece your fabric together with a big seam across your bench.



A professional upholsterer will use an insanely long upholstery needle, but I was able to find an extra long (4") "Doll Needle" at JoAnn's to do the trick. I used upholstery thread that is extra strong to tie my buttons.
You will need two sets of buttons; one for the front, and one for the back to bind off the threads.


I took a few minutes and lined up my buttons and pre-threaded them. It makes things go much smoother when you are using both hands and teeth trying to do this by yourself. I also laid out how the colors would look since I had a mix, it helped me visualize things. I strongly recommend doing this part with a buddy. It's helpful to have someone pushing the button in while you cinch it up on the back side. I used a 30" length of thread, folded in half and strung through the button



Then I threaded all four ends through the needle to poke through the front of the bench, past the foam, and through the drilled holes in the wood. This is a blurry shot, but you can see how many threads are through the eye of the needle.


Start in the center of the bench. Middle row, middle button and work your way out. Be careful of your creases as you go, it is important to give a little slack in the fabric to get the plush look. Carefully watch the grain of the fabric to keep it straight.

Every other button, I had a little difficulty with poking the needle in and hitting board. After a few stabs, still no luck. It was helpful to take the needle and push it from the back through to the fabric, just for a visual. I could then see and feel the right place to stitch through the fabric.



Bring the needle and threads through. Drop the needle and thread the loose ends through a button on the back side. Have a helper push the button in on the front while you tighten and put numerous knots in the back threads. Even with several square knots, my thread still wanted to loosen, so take some time here. I ended up tying all of the loose ends together to form a chain across the back. You do not want to do all this work and cover up the back, only to have your tufting come loose.


 It's nice to have a good set of eyes on the front during this process to make sure that the buttons are sinking in at equal depths and staying level with the holes. Even with the foam and pre-drilled backer board, if the needle is placed to high or low into the fabric it can look crooked. Carefully crease the fabric on the diagonal, making sure to fold the creases in the same direction.


For my rows of three, I made the creases roll in toward the diamond shape that is created between the spaces. Do you catch my drift?


Once all of your buttons are done, step back and admire your work!


Fold the fabric back around the rear of the frame and staple to the edges, keeping the crease  from the outermost buttons.


Corners are always tricky. There tends to be a lot of bulk and with fabric running two directions, you want a smooth transition at their convergence. I trimmed away excess batting and even a little fabric that got in the way. I pleated the fabric, starting on the side and working in a wedge up to the bench top.


 This took lots of stapling, as it is so bulky on the corner with all of those pleats. Good luck!




With the top and sides done, all that is left is the bottom. I stapled the fabric along the edge of the foam to tighten up the upholstery. Notice I kept the creases going down from the buttons.


Finally, I trimmed the excess and carefully folded the fabric around the angled leg and stapled into place.


With the seat and back cushions complete, I clamped them together and bolted them in place. I did end up countersinking my bolts here so that they would be flush with the rear frame. If you don't do that, your back cover will not fit correctly.


To make the back cover, I measured another piece of plywood  half an inch shorter on the sides and top piece, but flush with the bottom frame.


I purchased small tacs (which I had to reinforce with finish nails because they weren't long enough. boo.) and hammered them all the way around the edges of the board about every 6".


After the nails were in place, I laid it face-up on a a piece of fabric with batting cut slightly larger than the board with the dangerous nails spiked everywhere. Be careful, keep the kids out for this part.


Pull the fabric tight and staple it around the board. Pull it over the tacs and try to keep the fabric even.Trim the corners to get rid of the bulk. Staple the fabric ONLY on the top and sides, but leave the bottom hanging. You will need to use that remainder to attach to the bench.

Using a hammer, pound in the tacs centering the board on the back of the bench. You might want to add a block between the hammer and tac so the fabric is not ripped. This took some time, and with some of my tacs not holding well, I had to use reinforcements. Carefully split the threads in your fabric and add a nail into place. Before it is completely nailed in, you can pull the fabric up around it with the tip of your needle and the head will be buried behind the fabric.


 Wrap the fabric from the bottom edge around the rear frame to complete the back. Voila! It's done.




The girls love their bench and use it daily at their homeschool table. If I ever get a dining room, I plan to build a large Farmhouse dining table with a set of benches on each side just like these. They really are comfortable and give a nice high-end look.