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Handmade Christmas – Quick Pillow Cover Tutorial

With Christmas less than two weeks away and my sewing barely begun, I needed a quick and simple project this past weekend to give our livingroom a little extra Christmas cheer. A few new toss pillow covers in Christmas red and green made from thrifted button-down shirts filled that need quite nicely! In colors to match your decor, these pillow covers would actually work as beautifully year-round as they do for the holidays. Want to make a few of your own? Just read on.To get started, you need a pile of men’s button-down shirts. I found all of these at our local Goodwill store for around $2 a piece. For larger pillows, of course, you’ll need larger shirts. You also need toss pillows. I used the ones that were already on my sofa.The first step is to remove the pocket from the shirt that you’re working with. Just grab your handy seam ripper and carefully rip it off. (If you cut the stitches on the pocket side rather than the shirt side, you run less risk of damaging the shirt.) Once the pocket is off, if you have tiny needle holes remaining, either spray them down with water from a spray bottle and press well with a hot steam iron, or place a damp cloth over the area with the holes and press well with your steam iron. Cut the front and back of the shirt apart.Measure your pillow. Mine measured 17″ square. Most shams are made to the exact size of the pillow, but since I like mine to be just a little bit snug, I’m going to make my sham 16 1/2″ square. Because I’m using a 1/2″ seam allowance, I’ll add 1″ to that measurement (seam allowance times two), and cut my front and back pieces 17 1/2″ square.With the shirt front buttoned, measure and draw your piece. I centered my button placket, but you could place it off-center if your shirt is large enough. You will want to center the individual buttons, however. To do this, I just move my see-through ruler up and down until I have the correct full measurement and an even amount above the top button and below the bottom button. Be careful not to get the top and bottom buttons too close to your seam allowance. You want them to be at least 1 1/2″ in.Cut a second piece from the back of the shirt for the back of your pillow sham.Pin the front and back pieces right sides together.Sew all the way around at 1/2″. I serged the edges after sewing, but since no one is likely to see inside these shams, you don’t really need to.Once the two pieces are sewn together, just reach through between two of the buttons and unbutton one to turn the sham right side out. Push the corners out neatly, unbutton the cover completely, slide your pillow in, button it back up and toss it on your couch!

KCW Summer 2013 – Days 1 & 2: Upcycled Jammies

The first ever Summer Kids Clothes Week started on Monday! Are you sewing?! It’s not too late to join in. Just pop over to the brand new Kids Clothes Week site to read all the details, sign up and be inspired!I’m focusing the first part of my week on pajamas for my two youngest boys. They’re both wearing pjs that they’re about the bust out of. Projects #1 and #2 involved turning these two pairs of x-large mens lounge pants that I purchased on clearance at Walmart a few years ago into size 4 and size 6 pajamas.

It’s no secret that I don’t care for the chemical-laden flame-retardant pajamas that they sell in stores for my little ones. It’s not that I don’t understand the law. I do. It’s just that in my house, it’s not likely that my kids are going to come into contact with open flames during the night, and keeping them sleeping as chemical-free as possible is important to me. (I’m not offering advice, in any way, though! And, I do see the irony in the fact that the remainder of these pictures are taken with my kids playing on, around and in our never-been-used, it’s-only-there-for-looks fireplace.)Jamie picked the Star Wars pants to become his jammies, and he absolutely loves them! I used my free tank top pattern that you should see to the left for the tops and my new Runaround Pants pattern for the pants for these. Both are really simple and straight-forward patterns!Instead of leaving the hem raw like the Runaround Pants pattern instructs, I just reused the hem of the original pants. I also made the shorts a little longer. We live in Florida, so we can really use these PJs year-round, and the slightly longer shorts will give us even longer wear time.I had plenty of fabric to make Charlie’s entire outfit, but as you can see, I had to use some creative color-blocking for Jamie’s top. (Jamie’s tank is a scaled-up version of the tank since it’s only available right now in sizes 12 months to 5T. I do hope to get it scaled up to the larger sizes eventually.)I’d love to say that Charlie isn’t as angry as he looks in that picture, but the truth is, he was really mad. Apparently, I was supposed to make him Mickey Mouse jammies, not Fantastic Four . . . It took lollipops, a pacifier, encouragement from everyone in the family and a promise of a brownie when we were done to get him to somewhat cooperate for pictures. When you’re blogging about kids, you sometimes just have to do what you have to do.However, with the help of big brother’s antics which included searching for Florida on one of daddy’s vintage globes . . . . . . and checking out the inside of the chimney for whatever might be hiding in there . . . . . . Charlie did eventually decide that these PJs were worthy of a little superhero-style posing.He even wore them to bed last night. He did, however, strip them off first thing this morning and ask if I’d finished his Mickey Mouse jammies yet. I guess you know what’s on today’s list!

Front Porch Decorating: the Good, the Bad & the What Were We Thinking?!

We’ve been doing some work around the outside of our house the last few weeks. I think the appearance of the outside of a home really sets a tone for visitors, and I want ours to be warm and pretty and welcoming, but still simple and uncluttered. We have this great front porch area that we weren’t using at all, and I loved the idea of putting rocking chairs out there. I didn’t have a huge budget for this project, though, and rocking chairs can be expensive. I searched Pinterest for ideas and ran across several photos of front porches adorned with mismatched rocking chairs that were painted to match. I LOVED the look! With that idea in mind, I set out on a hunt at our local thrift shops and on Craigslist for well-priced wood rocking chairs that I could paint to match.Rocking chair #1 is a Craigslist find. It was listed at $25, but I only had two $20 bills and the owner had no change, so it went home with me for $20! Score! I found rocking chair #2 in one of my favorite thrift shops, but it was priced at $75 . . . definitely more than I was willing to spend. As I was walking out of the store, though, I noticed that the day’s sales included a 50% discount on all furniture making this chair only $37.50. Woo-hoo!Both chairs had a similar wood stain, but I thought it looked dated, and since they’ll be outside, they needed some protection from the elements. This Rust-Oleum enamel spray paint looked like a good choice since it’s designed for use on wood or metal and for indoor or outdoor use. It was a bit windy the day that I set aside to do this project, so we pulled the van out of the garage, and my husband set up a tarp for me just inside. Things seemed to be going well until I realized that the bottoms of my bare feet were starting to stick to the tarp. Then I stepped off of the tarp and left a lovely black footprint on the garage floor! Eeek! I called for help and someone brought me an old pair of socks so that I could walk through the house to the kitchen sink. When none of my attempts to wash off the paint worked, my wonderful husband Googled a solution for me, but not until after he grabbed my phone and snapped a few pictures of me sitting on the kitchen counter with my black feet in the sink.Sweet, huh? In case you’re wondering, olive oil is what did the trick. Even better than my temporarily painted feet, though, is my permanently painted garage floor. This definitely falls in the “What were we thinking?!” category. The over-spray from the spray paint coupled with the breeze coming in through the garage door sent a fine mist of paint through the entire garage. The only space that isn’t slightly gray now is the area where I had the tarp. Feel free to learn from my mistakes.I did eventually end up with two beautifully updated black rocking chairs for my front porch! (I’m thinking, though, that my plan to add a few more may not ever happen!)We added a few potted plants for a nice finishing touch, and our simply decorated porch is ready to welcome all of our guests. What do you think? Are you working on any outdoor projects this summer?

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