Friday, June 22, 2012

Maxi Skirts for Girls

I love the Maxi Skirt. I bought my first one last summer and all I could think was, how could I have not known about these before?! The Maxi Skirt has got to be the simplest, most inegeinious item of clothing ever. What more needs to be said about clothing that is as comfortable as pajamas and so much more socially acceptable than sweat pants?

I am working on some for myself right now, but those will have to wait until a later post. Today, I want to show you the ones I made for my 4 year old daughter. She actually asked me to make her a "long skirt like Mommy wears" while we were on vacation, so since I was already making some for me, she gets some too!

These 2 skirts took me a total of one hour to make. One hour. I think these are the simplest skirts I've ever made. The first one was made from 2 thrifted t-shirts and a strip of floral knit fabric I'd found on the remnant table at Hancock Fabrics last summer.

I had the smallest amount in the green stripe, so I used that for the top band, cut the navy and white stripes on the diagonal for the center and used the floral on the bottom.

First I sewed each piece into a tube, then sewed the bottom band to the middle right sides together. For the top, I made 1 inch casing which I threaded elastic through and then sewed it to the middle band. To finish it, I topstitched each seam down. Since knit doesn't fray, and I wasn't totally sure of my length, I decided not to hem it at all. And that's it, very quick and easy.

How cute are those toes??

For the second one I used some bright pink knit and a colorful stripe.

Using the first skirt as a pattern, I traced the shape onto the pink fabric. Then, I cut 2 pieces of the striped fabric on the diagonal to make side panels for the skirt. I took some inspiration from iCandy Handmade's Mismatched Maxi Skirt. I played it safe here and sewed the triangles onto the skirt pieces, then cut off the extra pink fabric. Then I sewed up the sides, made a casing for elastic at the top, and done!

Another nice thing about both skirts is they can be worn with either side as the front since they're only seamed on the sides. And the striped fabric pattern is different on either side (oops!) so it actually has 2 slightly different looks. I meant to do that. wink, wink

I made this one a little bit longer than the first one, I actually like them better that way. She really loves this one, it's pink, need I say more?? I really like watching her run around and twirl in them. She actually told me this morning that it was a good day to be a princess in her new skirt. Awwwww! Thanks, sweetheart!!

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Crazy New Curtains

Over the last few months I've been working on turning my kids' bedroom from a "toddler" bedroom, into a "big kid" bedroom. It's been somewhat challenging for a few reasons, the two biggest being that they share the room and that I really, really didn't want to repaint.

Pinterest, I'm sure you know, is just loaded with design ideas for boy/girl shared bedrooms, many of which are just fabulous but.....not really practical for this bedroom. It's small, for one thing and we'd already committed to bunk beds several years ago, and trust me when I say that under no circumstances was my husband going to look kindly on my sudden change of heart concerning the kids' furniture.

So, what else is there to do but just go with it?  I started with the lower bunk, seen here and moved to the upper bunk, seen here and both my kids love their "spaces" and have even embellished them more. My daughter told me she was the Decorator Fairy in training, which brought a proud tear to my eye sniff...sniff.

But what they really needed were some new curtains. Desperately. Not just because the old ones were a cute jungle nursery print, but after almost 7 years in a southwestern facing window in southern Arizona, they were bleached almost white, and well on their way to disintegration. So I spent several months this year hunting for the right fabric, pattern, colors, and nothing jumped out at me.


I was making my scrap map one weekend and I remembered a small piece of funky fabric that I wanted to use, so I pulled it out of my stash and there it was! The perfect fabric had been hiding in my closet all along! Has that ever happened to you?

Seriously, how fun is this fabric??!

I pulled it out of the closet, unfolded it and threw it over the curtain rod in the kids' room to see if I liked it in there, and yes, indeed it worked perfectly. I didn't have much of it and it had come from the red tag table last summer so I knew there wasn't going to be more to be had, but when I showed it to my friend Lori (Our Forever House) she reminded me that she had a yard of the same fabric and  gave me hers. Happy dance!

I decided to make the main part of the curtain a solid color and use the wavy fabric on the bottom. I got really lucky and found a green that looked great in the room and matched the green in the other fabric perfectly. After carefully cutting and piecing my wavy fabric together, I cut out the green fabric and my lining fabric (oh yes, they are lined this time, take that Arizona sun!) and then I got super busy and they sat folded up in my sewing basket until two nights ago.

There are a lot of lined curtain tutorials available, so I didn't write one. Check out House of Hepworths or Anna's Nest just to name two, there are many, many others. The only thing that took a bit of extra time was putting the two fabrics together to make one piece. I did a little topstitching at the seam for some extra sturdiness.

I decided to make a pocket at the top for the rod, with a little bit of extra at the top to form a ruffle, and once I got them done and hung up (at 11 pm while my children were sleeping) I decided they needed some trim. So I pulled them down and added about 1/2 inch wide strip of the wavy fabric to the top, just under the  pocket.

Then I re-hung them and they were perfect! I had to wait until the next day to photograph them, can't wake up the sleeping children after all, but I went to bed (late) and very happy.

This is the next afternoon, love them even more! I think the fabric is so fun and colorful and I'm so happy with how they turned out.

Two interesting side effects of the new curtains; one, the bedroom is actually darker (not that it's making my kids sleep later) and two, the bedroom is a bit cooler in the afternoons. These are all plain cotton fabrics, not home decorator weight, so I think that the lining helps a lot, and hopefully will extend the life of the curtains as well. So, in my opinion, it is well worth taking the time to line your curtains, especially if you live in one of the "sunnier" states!

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Chairs with Personality

I spent this week working on 2 chairs. I didn't write a tutorial for these, but I wanted to show you some process photos and share the before and after anyway.  The chairs themselves are a really interesting barrel shape, with a side-swoop on one side and an arm on the other.  And when I picked them up at Chrissy's they were really, really red.

Oh yes, we're back at my friend Chrissy's house this week, did I mention that?

Here's a before of the chairs.  Front view.

And side/back view.

Really cool chairs, right? And really red, which didn't work for her new house but since the chairs are fantastic, she (wisely, in my opinion) chose to go with reupholstering them. She chose some neutral fabric in a mid-grey for the front of the chairs and added a contrasting fabric for the back. Which we'll get to in a moment.

I spent about 2 days stripping them down to the frame, which turned out to be plywood. That certainly explained why they were so heavy.

Not much to them really, lots of cardboard in there too. Not a crazy amount of staples either, which always makes me happy.

Now, if you look back at the first two pictures you'll see that instead of one continuous piece of fabric these chairs have different pieces sewn together to form to the shape of the chair. So, once I got the fabric off the chairs, I took the pieces apart at the seams so I could use them as patterns for the new fabric. I actually only took one chair apart so I could use the other pieces for reference while sewing the new ones. (I took no pictures of the cutting and sewing, my apologies. I promise to do another piece of furniture with a fitted cover and photograph everything.)  My best advice for cutting and sewing the fabric on fitted furniture is to take your time. That's the key, in fact, I'm going to say it again. Work slowly, take your time, and remember to try the pieces on the chair as you finish them. It's much easier to make adjustments as you go rather than after everything is put together.

Once I had all my pieces sewn together, it was time to reupholster! I admit that no matter how many times I do this, and how well I follow my own advice about working slowly and carefully, I always hold my breath and say a small prayer to the upholstery gods right before I put the first section of fabric on.

YES!! It's always a confidence booster (not to mention a huge relief) when the fabric fits just like it should.  So I started with the seat, upholstering as normal.  Once that was done, I started on the top.

Here's where the care and patience while sewing pays off, because this top is tricky. There are a bunch of curves in this chair, so you're trying to get the fabric smooth and tight in a a lot of different directions. Again, moving slowly and carefully (and a little mantra of "I think I can, I think I can...") will be the best way to get it done. 

And it can be done. This the front of the chair finished. But wait, there's more, the back still looks like this---

And here's the fabric twist I mentioned earlier. Instead of plain grey, she chose a fun print with grey as an accent. So the back is still neutral colors, but it really pops visually.

They look so amazing and modern, what a change from the red! They almost seem like different chairs. It never fails to amaze me how simply changing the fabric on a piece of furniture not only gives it a new and longer life, but also can change its whole personality. 

I feel like I've said that before, but it's still true. Give it a try, it's amazing when it all comes together!

And with these done, I am off for a week of wonderful, relaxing family vacation!! But check back, I have some great things planned for later this month!!