Saturday, July 19, 2014

DIY Drop Cloth Ruffle Crib Skirt

I LOVED the look of linen bed sets online! Some of them had a silky fabric peeking from behind, or ruffles of lace stitched along the bottom.  But I definitely did NOT like the three-figured price that came with it.  In my search, I also came across burlap crib skirts--which had a nice look, but a scratchy texture and definitely not a washable fabric.  While I was looking for curtain ideas for our living room, I'd seen so many twists on drop cloths I had to try this out for a crib skirt!  It has a look close to linen, its cheaper, softer than the burlap, AND you can wash it.  

This tutorial makes 3 panels for a crib skirt for less than $30 in materials. (It took me about 3 hours, but that's including my time stopping to take photos along the way.)  A panel for the backside isn't necessary unless you decide to put your crib in the middle of the room...which would be a little weird. :) 


  • One 4' x 15' canvas drop cloth (without the waterproof backing)
  • Scissors
  • High quality polyester thread (Sulky or Gutermann)
  • 4 yards (2 packages) wide Twill tape
  • Tape measure
  • Thicker sewing needle (I used a #18)
  1. Wash, dry, iron.  Trust me.  Canvas is all cotton, so its going to shrink.  The crib skirt isn't going to get super dirty, but it will get dusty so you'll want to be able to wash and dry without it shrinking.  Ironing takes some time, but it will make cutting your panels much easier!
  2. Measure.  I took three measurements: the width and length of the spring mattress support and the the distance from the support to the floor at its HIGHEST setting. My measurements were 50" length, 26.5" wide, and 17.5" to the floor--without adding any allowances.  For each panel, I multiplied my length and width measurements by 2.5 so I have a really nice full ruffle. Doing it this way, it was more of a reference point. I didn't have to be obsessed with getting an exact measurement and account for seams while cutting. The final cut of fabric for the length from the support spring to the floor may be longer than needed, so the ruffle puddles on the floor a bit.  You can always go back and shorten your hem if you like.
  3. Cut. The manufacturer's hems are dis.gus.ting! Mine had white thread, 2 rows of stitching all around. Not pretty.  So cut it ALL off but DO NOT THROW IT AWAY! You need it later. We use all parts of the cow in this tutorial. :)
  4. Fold.  Fold the drop cloth in half the "hamburger" way. (You teachers will know what I'm talking about when I say this!)  It really means folding so the 2 short ends of your drop cloth (4 foot sides) come together. 
  5. Cut some more! Eye-ball it again, or measure...if you must...and cut down the center through all layers of your fabric.  When you unfold, your dropcloth should now be in 2 long pieces.  To make your longest panel, cut off the excess of one of the halves.  With the other half of the drop cloth, you can cut your 2 short panels.  My long panel I cut 125" and my 2 short panels were each 66".   I did all my cutting and measuring on our dining room floor-it was the only clear space big enough!  I used a tape measure because of the length involved, and the little locking slider on top holds my tape in place. 
  6. Hem.  Roll & sew a narrow hem all along the bottom length and short sides for all 3 panels.  The top length of each panel is where you will create the ruffle; leave that part for the next step. 
  7. Ruffle. Okay, people. Here's where it gets tricky.  I would be lying if I said I didn't mess up this part.  I tried to do it the *RIGHT* way, and make 2 rows of parallel stitching, no backstitching, then pull the top threads to make my ruffle, yada yada. This worked all hunky-dory until I tried to do the longest panel--all 125" worth of fabric and BOTH of my threads broke at different points. @#*$!...... So, I ended up bunching up the fabric as I went a long, zig-zagging. And it turned out just fine, and took me less time than the other 2 panels.  So---that part is kinda trial-and-error, and we all love to learn new things, yes?!  Moving on.
  8. Twill tape. After you're done torturing yourself making ruffles, on the back of the ruffle you made, stitch your twill tape the entire length with a zig-zag stitch.  I used this so the ties and ruffle stitches would hopefully have a stronger, more stabilized edging.
  9. Sew ties. Remember the ugly hems we cut off? Yay, you get to sew them back on!  Cut to lengths of about 10".  To attach, fold it in half to form a V shape, and zig-zag the folded point to the twill-tape on the top of your panel.  I used 3 ties for my short panels, and 7 for the long panel. The top edge where all this ruffling and junk is going on is going to look, um....messy. Maybe even terrible? But its not going to show, so don't freak out. :)
  10. Tie to spring support. This step is slightly self-explanatory.

11. Admire your hard work. <3

Thursday, July 17, 2014

DIY Crib Sheet Tips & Tricks

The truth is, mamas, that most store bought baby bedding is sad.  It is sad, because retailers are still ignoring what trends and preferences moms have when it comes to decorating for a new child.  Visit the aisle of any store and you'll find  pink, blue, yellow, or green.  And...that's about it.  Most of those colors are still in pastel form. Barf-a-roni.  And "theme" choices? Elephants, Winnie-the-Pooh, monkeys, and princess are not going to cut it. Not anymore!  Okay, okay...kudos to Target for finally jumping on the chevron trend...but even those colors are limited too.

There are SO many blogs out there that already do an incredible job detailing the "hows" for making your own crib sheets---and you can find the great one I used as a reference further down. BUT I do want to add in some changes of my own that will increase the quality of construction and (hopefully) the lifetime of DIY sheets.

So, here are some things to think about for crib sheets. (Who knew there could be so much thinking about crib sheets? They're just crib sheets!)

1. Fabric choice.  Make sure that the fabric you are buying is not too thin--since they will be washed often....And sometimes need to be scrubbed like a freaking maniac when your little sweetie has a diaper explosion.  (True story--I was warned about little boy pee, never about projectile poo. So there its is. You have been warned!!!)  A busier pattern with a lot of colors will also help hide stains that just won't come out.

2.  Cost.  Here's where it gets tricky.  In a DIY, *usually* the goal is to make something for cheaper. Sometimes this doesn't happen. Cost of fabric can be pretty variable depending upon the quality of fabric, the designer, and where its being sold.   I happened to luck out and get my fabric on clearance for $5 a yard at Joann's Fabric Store. I already had thread and elastic (which would be the only other things you have to purchase for this project. Yay!)

3. Time. Making these took me less than hour. Mind you--this an hour without interruptions. Without kids. Because they are finally in bed. And are STAYING in bed. That's also a smaller amount of time than getting in my car to drive to Target, stare at the limited options, look at more stuff I don't need or can't afford, plus the toy section because one son will be yelling at me the whole time to do that, and the other telling me he wants a snack.... and checkout. Because let's face it: I CANNOT make it in and out of Target in an hour. But I can make my own sheets!

4. Skills required.  First, do you have a sewing machine you know how to use? (This might start to sound like an ed. video from a 1950's home ec class, beware!)  Do you know how to measure and cut in a straight line? Can you sew in a straight line? You're in luck, because this project is for you!!!

5. Tutorial changes. I used this one by Erinn over at Fancy Napkin.  I followed the directions for all the dimensions, and I had to be a bit careful since one of my fabric choices was slightly less in width than normal.

  •  Pre-Wash & Iron. I might be paranoid about pre-washing fabric, but I make sure to do this slightly annoying step before starting a sewing project.  My fabric is 100% cotton and I didn't want to lose even an inch after washing and risk having it not fit the mattress.  I also iron because it makes cutting much more accurate than leaving it all wrinkly...and because I never seem to pull things out of the dryer right away. 
  • French seams. It sounds all super fancy and super hard--but its super not.  When you are sewing up the corners of your fitted sheet, the directions tell you to sew RIGHT sides together.  This only gives you one seam, and leaves the raw edges of your fabric exposed.  Instead, I sewed the WRONG sides together first using a zig-zag stitch very close to the edge of my fabric.  Then, turned and sewed the RIGHT sides together at 3/8. This will enclose the first zig-zag stitches inside and give a very nice finish, and the fabric won't fray in the wash.  
  • Elastic casing. Many of the tutorials out there tell you to zig-zag your elastic as you stretch it along the bottom sides of your sheet.  I have never liked doing this if I can help it; because I tend to stretch the elastic too much or too little while I sew.   It also leaves the elastic exposed; which I did not want either. Erinn folds hers over, irons, pins, and uses a straight stitch.  Mine? Skip the ironing and pinning, and just eye-ball the width as you sew. To create the casing, I folded the edge of my fabric over (not a rolled hem!) just once, and made sure it would be wide enough for my elastic to fit through I used about 1/2" width elastic.  I zig-zagged all around the edge of my fabric to keep the raw sides where I'd cut from fraying.  This isn't as important on the longer sides, since you don't have to cut the selvage--but it gives a really nice look.  Leave a small opening to put elastic through. Be careful not to let the elastic twist and turn inside the casing as you stretch it through.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Life in Bloom

With the "polar vortex" aka CRAPPY WINTER we had, I was looking forward to seeing everything come back and grow again.  I was a busy woman last year and planted Princess Irene and Ronaldo tulips, a daffodil mix, Rainforest Sunrise and Sweet Home Chicago hostas, a Lynnwood Gold forsythia, common lilac, 40+ divisions of German bearded irises, bleeding heart, Endless Summer hydrangeas, and English Roseum rhododendron that I was SUPER anxious to see survive.  I was pretty worried about the hydrangeas...but come Spring, some leaves were growing that were peeking under the (protection? cover) the leaves and (ahem) neighbor's dog poop provided.....Mmm hmm.  That was fun to smell in our backyard too. Anyhoo.... 

After we moved into our home last Spring, I took quite a few pictures, but not very good this year I wanted to make sure I documented things as they were growing as a journal-of-sorts...ESPECIALLY for my peonies!  I don't know what kind they are, and they are just massive hedges that have likely been there for more than a few decades.  So, here are a few of the things I have been admiring. Thanks for stopping by my garden. :)

First type of my peonies to blossom.  Nearly all of them are brown now and starting to fall just as the magenta and blush color types are opening!

My bleeding hearts.....I'd like to work in a Doctor Who reference here, but since there's more than 2....

Just opens into the flower pictured right below!!!!  Its a blush pink, it fades to nearly all white.

Dark magenta with silver tips.  Opened later, about the same time as the blush one above.

Last type of my peonies I have to open.  This shrub has tons of buds, and its more than 4 feet tall.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Typewriter Keys Tutorial

When I got to thinking about combining my love for vintage and my need want for baby  name letters, I instantly thought of a typewriter.  My grandma had two different working typewriters that my sister and I would play "school" with in her basement growing up.  Its one of many memories I treasure getting to spend time with my grandma, and a great story to connect with this project.  

Of course I  did an online search for "typewriter letter art."  I might have a Pinterest from now on, when I say "online search" what I really mean is "Hello, I'm addicted to Pinterest."  What came up was a lot of neat circle picture frames, or wooden DIY boards that had all the letters painted on. Or expensive, round frames with glass. Then I found THIS on Sullivan and Murphy's  blog page through a Google image search.  Her guess for the DIY was using paint can lids.

First thought.....

DUH.  SERIOUSLY?! *facepalm*

Followed by....


I couldn't honestly post this tutorial without giving credit where it's due. Again, a HUGE thanks to Sue for putting the idea out there for me to stumble upon!

*Psssssst! Over here! Ssssssh!!!  My husband and I have a tradition where we don't tell ANYONE---not our parents, grandmas, co-workers, BFF's, NO ONE!--what name we have chosen for the baby.   Sorry, folks, you're only going to see ONE letter as part of this tutorial until baby girl is actually out of my uterus. (Maniacal laugh....)  

  • Gallon or pint sized paint can lids (1 for each letter)
  • Razor blade
  • Sand paper
  • Black craft paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Scrapbook paper for the letters
  • Mod Podge
  • Envirotex resin (optional)
  • Soda can tabs (for hidden hangers)
  • Hot glue gun and sticks
  • 3M sticky hooks
  • Spray acrylic sealer
This is a multi-step project, but the steps are sooooo easy. The most time-consuming part of this is removing old paint from the lids, aside from letting paint dry. 

Pretty pretty pretty PUH-LEEEEEZ do not use ancient lids for this project if you think the paint contains lead.   Safety first!

How to:
This is what I started with! 
  • Beg friends, family, co-workers, sit outside Wal-Mart with a sign--whatever you have to do---to get those paint can lids.  It was a little annoying, since we have left overs from painting the rooms in our own home--but I couldn't risk wasting perfectly good paint if we needed touch-ups later.  (I have 2 boys. 'Nuff said.)  My sister recently painted their current house in neutral colors because they were listing to sell, so I was able to get these 3 from her. While it's tempting to use the paint-free side that would be the outside of the lid--the "dirty" side is what gives this a real-giant-typewriter-key look because of middle being sort of 'concave,' and only ONE raised rim. 
  • Remove paint from the edges that will show. Do your best to clean them off--a heat gun isn't a good idea. It's actually a BAD idea. I had that idea, but um...metal gets hot.  Fortunately for me, that was remembered only a few seconds after I thought about using a heat gun.  I used my husband's box cutter because that's what I could find. I sliced paint off the rim very slowly, like peeling the skin off a tomato. Or something like that. I also did this around the inside rim where I painted black anyway--because I wanted the bigger chunks of dried paint removed. You're just going to paint the inside circle part anyway, so that's not a big deal.
  • After you've sliced off the paint, now you can use a fine sandpaper to remove the rest. The raised edge is where you REALLY need to concentrate to get it all off. The side I wasn't so freaky about, because I knew the paint wasn't all going to come off, but I was able to get a lot off since I used the blade to scrape first. You could spray paint with a chrome paint before moving to the next step.  Some of my lids had a plastic coating to keep the lid from rusting shut to the can. It was thin enough I was able to sand that off on the top of the rim to get the shiny metal surround that makes this look like a typewriter key.
After slicing old paint and sanding.
  • Paint the inside rim first with your black paint.  I used a narrow angled paint brush to get in this tricky crevice---but it is worth it because it hides the dried paint and rust so you don't have a different color peeking through.  If you look very closely, I painted up higher on the raised inside rim--that way I was able to give it a more even paint job and it hid some more paint I didn't want to waste time sanding. After I finished the rim, I painted the rest of the lid.  

Painting inside rim
First coat of paint drying.  
  • For the paper letter, there are a few ways you can do this. The easiest is to use a craft machine and have it cut out the letters for you from your scrapbook paper.  Another option is to print out one letter at a time using any document computer program, cut out the letters, trace them onto your scrapbook paper, and then cut those out. The font I used for my letters is ______________________.  It was free from  *Note: If you're going to cut these out by hand, I recommend finding a font that has thick lines for each letter.
  • Brush Mod Podge thinly onto the cut-out letters and press onto the center of the painted lid.  Smooth the paper down gently to get air bubbles out. Let it dry thoroughly! I mean it!  I always get in big hurry waiting for stuff to dry.  You WILL want to wait out this part so they don't bubble up later.  So go watch HGTV or something.  My bet is House Hunters will be on.
  • Brush on a thin layer of Mod Podge over the entire painted lid and letter.  Let dry, and do another coat. 
  • *OPTIONAL RESIN*:  For dimension, you can use a pour-on resin like Envirotex. I thought about using ModPodge Dimensional Magic because I'd heard of it when it first came out (again, after a long absence, apparently) and wanted to give it a try.  This is NOT a good project for that, simply because the amount per bottle, and the number of bottles I would need would be insane.  The other option, resin, I hadn't tried either, and since I'm going for an easy, cost-effective DIY here---I skipped the resin idea. I also have a thing about avoiding chemicals in my crafting if I its not super necessary...since this project is all about reusing a material that would have ended up in the garbage.
    After multiple coats of Mod Podge and 2 coats of sealer
  • *IF YOU SKIP RESIN*: Do several more coats of Mod Podge.  I did more than 5. And then I did some more and stopped counting. I went with a glossy acrylic spray to seal everything up to keep it from feeling tacky.  

Hot glued soda tab to back. Marks for center are visible.
  • Warm up the gun! After everything is dry (about 24 hours for the sealer) glue the soda can tab to the back of the lid and let set.  This will be an invisible hanger.  I used a washable marker to make dots where the center was on the top of the rim, and then 2 and 3 inches down as guides.  I kept checking using my "bird's eye view" to make sure the tab would be centered while the glue was still warm.  By marking before you glue, you ensure that you don't accidentally have any letters upside down...because that's something that would likely happen to me. Be sure the tab is propped up a bit because of the lid being concave, or it will be difficult to get on the hook when you are ready to hang!  Also, the tab absorbs the heat from the glue--be careful while you are adjusting.
On the wall

  • Hang it baby! Note: You *could* use ribbon, but I think it detracts from the purpose of these being made to look like typewriter keys if you make the hanger visible.  I included 3M hangers on the materials list because I have plaster walls.  Plaster walls are tricky to put holes in, and the lids are too light to warrant risking damaging the 100 year old labor-intensive plaster walls in our home by pounding in nails. I would rather touch up paint than repair plaster!  If you're going to store these for awhile before hanging, be careful when you're stacking, the soda tab can scratch.  


For those of you that are curious, the wall color is "Carolina Plum" by Benjamin Moore.   :)

Please leave me a comment or question you have! I'd also love for you to share links to your own letter art!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Nursery Sneak Peek

I just cannot wait until baby girl's room is done!  I don't want to post too many things until I do the big room reveal, so I thought I'd share the same peek as I have with my family.  I'm working on blog posts to have them ready-to-go when I do get everything done...because there is some seriously good stuff I'm planning---and its fun for me to share how I created something if someone else might appreciate it too. Even though I have a whopping 6 followers---it's pretty awesome that those 6 followers are following me at all, considering really how pathetic my maintenance of my own blog has been. LOL  So thank you for sticking around. :)


Lined drawers

Painted original hardware

Even if green isn't your choice of color---I'm really confident about how its going to work with everything else that will be going on in there.  I like that its unexpected in a girl's room, and its especially bold for a baby room.  It makes for a very interesting combination with our dark purple wall! Details on that to come....
Another piece in the room I'm super excited to share is the bunting!  The time consuming part was really just cutting all the triangles and sewing them together.  I made my own template, and cut 2 pieces for each flag, laid wrong sides together, and just did a straight stitch all around.  Once that was done, I laid them out on the floor to get the pattern right.  I only have one at an end that's a little off...don't look!  Next, I pinned so they were tucked inside the bias tape and stitched.  To hang on the wall, I knotted each end and looped them around a clear 3M hook. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014


So, about a billion kajillion things have happened since my last post. I honestly couldn't say when that was, unless I check.  (I haven't.)  Here's what you've missed:
We moved from our (decently sized, not super tiny) 2 bedroom apartment into a  FOUR bedroom 1913 mishmosh sorta-Victorian, sorta-American Foursquare home.
This was all right before I had an awesome (but nervewracking in a good way!) opportunity conducting a select choir of children to honor local teachers. It was amazing, since I was the conductor, I was able to have about 20 of my own students in the group!

Back to the house....

Let me tell you, as much as I loooooove HGTV---the home buying process is not as easy as your realtor making a few phone calls in one day and everything is hunky-dory!  We actually put our first offer in last January...and it wasn't until early March that we moved in.

In the meantime, I watched with wonder as things started popping up in our yard, and begging  asking friends and family to help me figure out what everything was.  Most exciting that tops my list?  GIGANTIC beds of peonies in blush pinks, magenta, white, and dark maroon.  I'm impatiently awaiting June when they will be in bloom again for this year!
First opened peony of the year (2013)

Some projects that have kept me busy were stripping multiple layers off the original door hardware--knobs, escutcheons, latches...  They are VERY Victorian in design, copper-plated and I can't believe what whacko would have painted over them in the first place.  There are no manufacturer markings, and I've only ever seen one set like them online since I searched.  We even have the original skeleton keys!


Pinterest has kept me very busy.  I clearly spend way too much time on there, and there's no way I could ever do all the projects I've pinned.  But the beauty of Pinterest is that I can keep all my ideas organized without one scrap of paper. Paper in our house gets lost. Buried. Spilled on.  Shredded to bits....

That leads me to another great memory that's passed. My "baby" has just turned 2! And holy crapola does he really define 'terrible twos.'   So different from his brother at that age, but that's okay.  He's kept up his cuddly, snuggly nature inbetween the tantrums.  Speaking of which, he's awake.  At 11:30 at night.  I guess that's my cue to end my update and I'll be back with another post to share and catch up projects I haven't posted....and even more that are planned!

Monday, January 6, 2014

My Rock the Shot Entry!

It's hard to put into words what this photo is all about...but I didn't know what I'd captured until I got home.  Its funny and beautiful at the same time.  My youngest was 18 months, and I knew I wanted shots of him with big brother, too.   We spent the afternoon in an open field that's part of a park.   After I'd taken a few pictures, I'd realized just how blessed I was with the autumn light--the dust glittering in the background was nothing like I'd photographed  before....because I'm no professional photographer.  But the more pictures I take, the better I am getting. And it has become such a rewarding, fun "hobby" for me.  Taking photos like this of my own children started out as just saving money---but it's become more than that to me now.  It's making memories--its the experience of making time stand still for just one second--because these years are flying by and maybe--just MAYBE---if I keep taking pictures I can slow them down and they will be little forever...

But I know it won't.

In the end, what I'm left with and reminded of--is that day we spent time together exploring the park of our new hometown that holds so many hopes and dreams for our family.  How big brother and I chased little D. all over; and how Mama screamed and and ran SO fast back to the car when she saw the snake in the grass...

Sorry about all that mushy stuff, you know how Moms can be! Now, to some more of the details. Time of day surely matters--these were done late afternoon, about 4pm.  I didn't use my flash for this, but I did make adjustments to my ISO.  I only ever shoot in manual mode now.  I didn't have to do much editing; just levels.  So, that's it.