Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Paint Colors

Hey everyone! Sorry I’ve been kind of MIA lately. There isn’t much sewing going on in my house right now, though I do have a custom quilt that I’m collecting fabric for so I’ll be posting about that soon. But more than sewing, what’s really been going through my head is decorating. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m ready to finally settle into my house and call it home, instead of just my temporary resting place. And that means that I should start resolving some of those places in my house that I look at and say, “I can live with that for now,” and make them a little more to my liking for the long haul. It’s funny, I can live with pretty much anything for a short time, even when it turns into a long time, as long I tell myself that it will only be temporary. No more! It’s time to get serious about settling in.

I have to admit, I’m both very excited and a bit nervous. Picking paint colors is hard work and since we’ve already painted our dining room three times since we moved in four years ago, my husband is really adamant that I pick the right color the “first time”. So I’m going to shell out a bit more cash and get those little samplers, just to make sure. But before I do that, I wanted to share a bit of my plan with you because I know that there are tons of you out there who really do have an eye for decorating. I’ve seen your blogs. I would appreciate any input you are willing to offer.  

So first off is my living room. I’m a bright-color girl, but decided to go with this warm gray so that I could have fun pops of yellow and blue, but can also change my accent colors a bit if I get bored with them over the next few years. This color will also go up my stairs and in my upstairs hallway. This is the big one!

Color: Benjamin Moore "Coastal Fog", Fabric: Joel Dewberry's Rose Bouquet in Jade from his Heirloom line (I just bought some for some roman shades so I'm stuck.)

Then off my living room is my dining room. I wanted it to be this soft yellow because my house doesn’t have many windows and I wanted a little brightness. Plus, I hope it will go well with the yellow accents in my living room. I did actually paint my dining room yellow once, but it was too bright. It was kind of like standing in a room full of highlighters. I’m hoping this one will be more subdued. What do you think? I think I will buy a table first though because yellow and some wood colors can look pretty unappetizing together.

Color: Benjamin Moore "Lemon Grass" with my dream table from Old Barn Star.

As for my kitchen, I’m thinking this creamy white. Who wouldn’t want to cook in a kitchen painted with Vanilla Ice Cream? I love a white on white kitchen with fun pops of color in dishes, towels, canisters, etc.

Color: Benjamin Moore "Vanilla Ice Cream", Le Creuset Au Gratin dish (which I just found at a yard sale), and two cute dish towels from Crate and Barrel, Anjou and Tomato.

The plan is to take things kind of slowly. I’ll probably start painting the living room and dining room first. Our kitchen needs a major overhaul so that will probably be next summer, and then the bedrooms and bathrooms can come as they will.

Isn’t it fun to change things up a bit? I just want to make sure I won’t have to change them again any time soon; much better to think hard, Pinterest like crazy, and know that I have a clear vision before I start anything.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

241 Tote

I have been happily putting this tote to good use since Sunday, and I’m in love. It’s such a light weight, casual tote which can literally go anywhere! I took it dressed up to a classy restaurant over the weekend and it’s also cute dressed down with a pair of jeans. It fits all the necessities, plus easily fits a paperback book, point-and-shoot camera, sunglasses, or whatever else you might need to bring along. It’s the prefect size for an all day outing!

241 tote

If nerves are all that’s keeping you from giving Noodlehead's 241 tote a try, just go for it! This was the third purse that I’ve made and while it was the most complicated, it wasn't difficult. I can’t say it didn’t go off without a hitch, but it still turned out to be really cute. I’m excited to make more so I can improve my construction skills. The part that I had the hardest time with was sewing on the side panels without catching the seam of the bottom of the bag in the stitching, which made a little unintended pleat. (Did anyone else have this issue? Any suggestions?) But, you really can’t tell since there is a seam there anyways.

In making this purse, my husband's voice once again became like that little cartoon angel that sits on your shoulder and tells you what you should or shouldn’t do. My husband expects a lot of himself and other people. He believes in always doing your best work. However, I’m usually okay with brushing things off as “oh well, I’m new to this thing." For example, when I sewed on my very first zipper, I sewed it on very crookedly, well, kind of in a wave actually. I took it proudly to my husband and said, “Look, I sewed on my first zipper. It’s a little crooked, but that’s okay.” I was expecting a standing ovation, but he said, “Why is it crooked?”

Let’s just say he wasn’t confused as to why I sewed it on crookedly, he was confused as to why I hadn’t taken it off and done it again until I got it straight. I did redo the zipper and with only a little time and effort, it was much straighter. I’m glad he said something instead of just patting me on the back; though I’m sure I gave him a begrudging look at the time. Otherwise, that zipper would have always bothered me and whenever anyone would have given me a compliment on my bag, I know I’d end up saying, “Thanks! I made it. The zipper’s a little crooked though.” Isn’t that weird how we point out our mistakes before someone else can? I’m assuming I’m not alone!

241 tote

So he’ll be proud to know that when I didn’t quite like the look of my top stitching, I just took out my seam ripper and started over. I’m trying to keep his voice in my head. It’s the voice that says (though these aren’t his actual words, thank goodness), don’t be lazy, do it right. Those are words that I need to hear often. I'm usually glad when I listen.

Friday, September 16, 2011

241 Tote - Work in Progress

I’ve been taking this 241 tote slowly. It actually took me awhile to get up the guts to start cutting because I don’t have much experience with bag construction and though the pattern is very clear, I was still just a little intimidated. And to make things worse, I really wanted to go the zippered-pocket route. After all, I live in the city and don’t want all my stuff hanging out in those open side pockets (through they are cute). I’ve never sewed a zipper on anything though and I was nervous! I ordered 10 zips from Zipit (at Anna’s recommendation) in 5 different colors to audition and landed on the lovely eggplant. Then there were no longer any excuses, I had to get started. I decided that I would use the interfacing since I’m doing all the work any ways and I might as well make it sturdy, right?

241 Tote in Progress

Everything was going along splendidly, except I didn’t really think through my marking tool. I used my brand new blue Crayola Washable Marker because I wanted to try their wash-ability on something small before I attack a whole quilt with them. So I made my bold blue marks, but slowly started being haunted by fears that they wouldn’t wash out, especially as I ironed the marks a few times and I know that can set some inks. So after I finished the center panel and got my pockets all in and, hooray, my zippers on without too much to-do, I took it to the sink and started rinsing.  Some of the ink came out, but not all of it. Then I started getting really nervous and threw it in the wash for a quick cold wash. Thankfully, the blue marker did come out beautifully, but my fabric was also bubbled away from the interfacing and sadly, my purple zippers had bled some pink dye onto my cute white elephants. Boohoo!

241 Tote - WIP

All that to say, I’ve learned three very important lessons already and have only finished the exterior! Important lessons learned: 1) use a marking tool which will come out either with a good steam, with a damp cloth, or use a hera marker; 2) only spot clean the tote (though most of the bubbles did smooth out when I ironed it); and 3.) pre-soak the zippers, especially if they are dark and are of the red family (silly red dye!) That’s my little bit of novice wisdom to pass on to you.

But despite the pink smudges and the wrinkly fabric, I'm still pretty in love with it. How could you resist those elephants? I'm excited about using my new tote, once it is officially a tote. If I get my rear in gear, I should have it done this weekend.

Thank goodness for first time mistakes that make second attempts all the more sweet.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Rethinking Redecorating

When my husband and I bought our house four and a half years ago, we knew we'd live here for at least four years because my husband was in graduate school, but I always thought of this house and Philadelphia as a temporary resting ground before the next big something came along. Idealized visions of the romantic life abroad started tickling my fancy. Though my house is my home and has been for many years, it never felt like the place where I wanted to sink my roots.

But on Thursday a conversation with my husband started changing my thinking. I don't remember quite how it came up, but we were talking about refinishing our kitchen (which should not surprise you if you've seen our kitchen) and I was pulling my usual, "Well, who knows how long we'll be here...", but he surprised me by saying, "At this point, this is where we're going to be, maybe for the rest of our lives. It doesn't seem like we're going to leave anytime soon." And it hit me. He's right. We love our friends here and are settled into a great church, we have jobs that we like and coworkers we enjoy working with, my family lives close by, and we own a house. Whether I like it or not, I've sunk my roots without thinking about it. But his saying it really struck me. I, all the sudden, was not just a passer-through. I was responsible for the life of my home, my neighbors and my neighborhood. The parts that I love and the parts that I hate, I have to own them.

Things I love about my house:
This gorgeous mantel (though the fireplace itself is, sadly, a fake).

The wainscoting and wood floors.

Things I hate about my house:

That there's no room in our kitchen for a fridge(?!)
So it resides in this little shed/shack off the back of our kitchen.
Our dusky pink laminate countertops. Mmm, pretty...

I looked around my house, which is decorated with a haphazard collection of Craigslist finds, things friends were throwing out, or other frugal collections of stuff, and realized that my house is piecemeal, it's not very pretty, and I wonder if it's even very welcoming. I struggle here because I also don't want to become obsessed with the cleanliness or togetherness of my house. I don't want that to become my worth. But I do want to honor my house as a gift and to make it as beautiful as I can on the resources that we have.

So I got on Pinterest, which I know many of you already make good use of, and started making some boards with decorating ideas that I find lovely and inviting. As long as we live here, whether one month or 60 years, I want to sink my roots. I want to be more present. I want to flourish were I am and work towards the flourishing of others, and that includes my little old house.

Over the next few months, be expecting a few decorating posts! I always appreciate the input of those more gifted in decorating than I.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Little Apples-Baby Quilt

Forgive me for my quietness through August. I have been working hard on a baby quilt for my dear friends who are due with their first baby in mid-September, but my friend also happens to be a dear reader (thank you!). Therefore, secrecy was a necessity. But we gave them the quilt last night, so it's with great relief that I can finally share with you all this sweet baby quilt made with Aneela Hoey's most adorable Little Apples collection.

Little Apples-1

I was so thankful when my small group at church agreed to let me make a quilt for our friends for part of their group gift. I was dying to get my hands on Little Apples and this was the perfect opportunity. Our friends have decided to not find out the gender of their little one beforehand which I admit made things a bit more difficult, but I think this fabric collection, with its aqua, olive, gray, and red, keeps things pretty gender neutral.

Little Apples Quilt Detail

The best part about Aneela Hoey's prints are these little drawings which make fussy cutting such a pleasure. There are kids playing Ring-around-the-Rosie, cute back-to-school outfits, turtles, snails, squirrels, apple trees, and hula hoops. All the things that remind us of the fall when we buy new pencils, pull on our sweaters, and look forward to jumping in piles of raked leaves.

Little Apples

It seemed that when our friends received this quilt last night that this little white block was the most special part. Everyone from our group signed it for them. This was such a fun way to remind these new parents of our love for them and their new baby and to let them know how excited we are to help raise this newest member of our family.

About this Quilt:
Fabric: Little Apples & Medium Gray Kona Cotton
Binding: Michael Miller's Dumb Dots in red
Size: approx. 36" x 36"
Pattern: Windmills and Pastures (designed by me)
Quilting: Hand-stitched with Perle 8 in red

Little Apples Quilt Label

Now, I just can't wait to meet the little baby who will get wrapped up in this quilt! I know I'm not the only one :)