Sunday, July 31, 2011

Skirtain: Take Two

I pinned the skirt/curtain up to give it more dimension and to show off the brown under-layer. I think I like it. What do you think?

Entropy: 1,342,733. Me: 1

Hatbox: $9.99 (50% off with A.C. Moore Coupon)
Photo/Shoe boxes: 2 for $5.00
Organization in my girls' room: Priceless
Organization is a beautiful thing, but a thing that doesn't often manifest itself here. I try to be organized, I label boxes and designate drawers and shelves for particular items, but alas, it sometimes feels like none of my kids (or my husband) ever read the labels. Yeah, yeah, I know, the kids can't read and the husband works long days to keep us in diapers and Pop-tarts, but still, sometimes I feel like the lone fighter in a war against Entropy, the universe's relentless tendency toward chaos. (Yes, physics nerds, I realize that's an oversimplification of the 3rd Law of Thermodynamics. Let's chalk it up to artistic license and move on.)

Anyhow, my point is, that any time I can make a dent in the disorganization that is closing in around me, I feel like I've won a major victory in the never-ending battle to keep my world civilized. Today was such a day. I have been eyeing hatboxes and other rigid, colorful, cardboard storage boxes that I have come across on my occasional sojourns to the craft store. It occurred to me that these would be a great way to hide some of the necessary items in my daughters' room and yet keep the space feminine and uncluttered. (A kids room, uncluttered? A girl can dream, right?) Today, I made that happen.

Pictured above are the boxes I came home with. The theme for the room is "Fairytale Forest" and the colors are pink and brown. I did not find quite the right print on this hatbox (it is travel themed), but at least the colors are right. (Maybe a potential Mod Podge project later?) The photo boxes are chocolate brown, so they were perfect. Below you see the area of the room most in need of organization.

Diapers, baby wipes, hair bows, shoes, lotion, air freshener, and various other
items cluttered the top of the dresser. I put a stop to that.
Claire helped by gathering up all the pacifiers she could find. I think she only
has six here.

Katie supervised from the back of her noble steed, the rocking elephant.
Diapers, wipes and cream went into the large hatbox. This was the largest
box they had, but if they had had one bigger, I would have come home with
it. This is about a day's worth of diapers for my twins.

I wasn't able to fit everything in my new boxes, but all the shoes are confined
to the brown boxes, and diapers and wipes in the hatbox. At least the pink
bin matches.

Do you see the clutter already encroaching on this shining bastion of order?
Also, observe the pink butterflies on our second-hand dresser. I did that meself.
Katie wanted to show you this end, too.

See? I think the butterflies look better on the white-painted
dresser than the planets and spaceships do on my son's.
Other projects for this room: paint on the walls (the pink I have purchased, the chocolate brown for the silhouetted trees I have not.), fix the curtains, add accessories. Also, clean it up and deal with the laundry mountain (not pictured) looming on the other side of the room. I've never had a "nursery" for any of my kids, so on some level I think I am decorating the girls' room more to fulfill my own desire, but I think as they get a little older and more aware of these things, they will love it too. If it ever gets done. But like I said last night, baby steps.

So I Pulled a Reverse-Scarlett O'Hara...

I have always loved getting hand-me-down clothing, and being the shortest girl in the class always made me a prime candidate to receive secondhand garments when I was in school. Now, as an adult, I'm still the shortest girl in the family, and I still get all the cast-offs. But ever since I've entered the Blogosphere, I've come across so many DIY ideas and clothing alteration tutorials that I've become (pretty near) fearless with my sewing machine, so I have come to see all kinds of new potential in these throw-away garments that I never would have seen before. Like this, for instance:
 Some of them fit, some do not. This skirt definitely
did not. But the fabric had a colorful blue and brown
pattern that gave me an idea.

It was a size 22. Plenty of fabric to use for the project I had in mind: a
new bathroom curtain.

 I did not make a tutorial because curtains are pretty simple and there are tons of curtain tutorials available to anyone with an Internet connection who can spell Google. Or goggle... The computer knows what you mean. Anyhow, I'll sum up:

I cut off the elastic and serged the top edge. This skirt had two layers, and I
decided to keep them both. I finished the edges and sewed a channel for the
curtain rod to go through.

These are the colors in my bathroom: blue and brown. When we moved in
the walls were white and the floor was covered in blue carpet. I think we've
 improved the room already with the clearance wall paint and dollar store
floor tiles. That's right, Mama knows how to stretch a dollar :)

But this little guy had to go. The blinds are awesome, but
the little valance doesn't quite work... I mean, I like brown and
gold leopard print with blue patches as much as the next guy,
but this thing is pretty sorry looking.

And here is the finished product. It still could maybe use
something, but I think it's a definite improvement over what
we had. Baby steps, my friends.
I'm thinking of possibly gathering the fabric in a faux Roman shade or something. Maybe I'll add a band of brown or some beaded fringe. Or a ribbon. I'm not sure yet. But for now, I'll leave it up as is. Honestly, folks, I doubt I'll ever buy curtains again.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Do You See What I See?

When we bought our house a year ago, the previous owners left us all kinds of goodies: couches, tables, folding chairs, dishes, hangers, you name it. They even brought us back a TV table that they had taken to their new house but couldn't find a place for it. I found a place for it (under my TV). Most of the things they left behind were welcome and appreciated, but there were a few things that I must say are just not to my taste, such as all the little ceramic, resin, and plastic creatures living in the flower beds.

I started to box up the bunnies, foxes, squirrels, and raccoons today, thinking that I might sell them in my yard sale, and I came across this:

I can only guess that this was originally a plant stand. The little tile on top has a faded relief of irises and other flowers and the base is a little rusty. As you can see, the two pieces are no longer one. I almost tossed this in the box with all the rest, but then I had my epiphany. So now that you've had a look at it, do you see what I see? There is a striking similarity between this little plant stand and a

Wrought iron mosaic tile top patio table. You see it now? This particular "patio table" is just the perfect size for my son's GI Joes, who have the kitchen sink, but are conspicuously missing the kitchen table. (It was on the list of things my son said they needed last time we worked on his GI Joe house.)

The backside of the tile top had rust marks on it from the base, but it was pretty smooth, so that's the side I used for the top of the GI Joe table. You knew this was going to turn into an art project, right? Of course you did.

I painted the top with white acrylic paint (titanium white, if you must know), and coated the base in mars black to seal away the rust. Next comes the fun part: adding the "mosaic tile design":

I keep a box of nail polish, not for the purpose of polishing nails (silly), but for art projects (duh). Some of this is old stuff that I used way back in the high school days (the grayish color used to be a light purple--senior prom, I think), and other bottles were purchased just for the purpose of making art. Unlike paint, nail polish dries with a shiny, jewel-like sheen, perfect for turning my tile into a faux mosaic.

Because the table had four legs, I decided to divide the table into fourths and start painting on the polish. Do unto one section what you do unto the other, the golden rule for this type of "mosaic" effect.

Continue building on what you started with. Don't get upset if it's not perfect, it's a toy after all. I think the imperfections add charm--that's my story, at least, and I'm sticking to it!

You can stop when you feel your design is finished, leaving as much or as little white space as you desire.

When the top was done, I used white school glue to affix the top to the base. I'll let you know how that works out when the glue is dry. I am a firm believer that not all glues are created equal, but I do not have a large adhesive selection to choose from (hot glue, Elmer's or glue stick). I've heard rumors of a magical glue called E-6000 that will adhere plastic and metal, but I have not yet fulfilled my quest to retrieve said adhesive from the mystical land of retail. I'm also thinking I need some Outdoor Mod Podge (who knew they made such things? Thank you, Internet, for opening mine eyes!). Anyhow, I digress.

My kid wanted to play with it right away, but alas it was bedtime, and the glue and nail polish are still wet. I advised him it should be dry by morning. How early do you think he'll get up and try to play with it? Here's hoping if it's before seven, he plays quietly **winks**. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Trading in the Flip Flops for High Heels

Well, guys, it looks like I'll be trading in my sweats and flip flops for pencil skirts and high heels. That's right, I'm about to join the ranks of the employed. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about this new part of my life. I am excited to be starting something new (and also looking forward to a paycheck!), but a little sad that I'll be away from the kids for so many hours during the week. And to be honest, sad to be missing those precious nap time hours I've spent sewing and crafting. Although, this is also another opportunity to get creative... in building up a work wardrobe!

It's been a while since I've worked, and even though I did have a decent wardrobe for my last job, for some reason most of my pants from that era no longer seem to button... I guess they shrunk in the wash or something. Hush, I said they shrunk! Anyhow, I did get some goodies at my local Goodwill yesterday, including several cute tops (one from B.Moss that still had the original tags!), a Petite Sophisticate suit, a nice pair of slacks, and a cummerbund. That's right, a cummerbund. It'll make a cute belt, methinks. 

I'll need to shorten the pants, of course, and I think I'll sew the pockets shut (they gap). Any additional sewing projects I have that add to my work wardrobe I'll be sure to post. Also, I have a few dollhouse projects on the back burner, waiting as I gather supplies. I need a new hot glue gun, that's a big stumbling block for working with cardboard. Maybe now that I'll be leaving the house daily it will be easier to pick something like that up on my way home from work? I am thinking that this work thing will be positive for me and my family, although it may cause some delays with my writing projects. We'll see. 

The point is, folks, I'm anticipating some changes in my life, and they may cause changes in the direction of this blog. I will make time for creative projects (I have to or I'll go crazy), they just may be different in nature or fewer and farther between. We'll see. But hey, we'll face these changes together, right? And that's what's important, going forward in life with the people who love and support you. I'm so thankful for my family, and I just want to do right for them. That's why I'm going to work, that's who I'm truly working for. Thank you all for your support!

(And yes, I have had a celebratory drink or two... but don't worry, not enough to be hung over in the morning! XO)

Friday, July 22, 2011

And Something for the Boy

I've been doing a lot of sewing lately, but mostly for my girls. It occurred to me that perhaps my son might be feeling a little left out, so I scoured the internet for ideas. (Okay, so I only spent about 10 minutes on a Google search, but it was fruitful, so I consider the internet quite scoured enough.)

Apparently other moms have noticed that there are loads of tutorials for girls clothes to be found online, but not so much for boys. To remedy this, the good folks over at MADE did a whole month of boys items in their Celebrate the Boy month earlier in the year. My project for my very own boy was loosely based upon this tutorial; however, I admittedly didn't use a real pattern (and my son's pants probably suffered from it).

I've recently discovered this about myself: I don't like patterns, and I hate to follow recipes. Too impatient, I guess... and I like the freedom to improvise, although sometimes this comes back to bite me in the butt. But, I digress...

This is the fabric I used. The maroon pocket fabric matched the pinstripes in
the pants fabric perfectly. I made my pattern pieces based upon a pair of pants
my son had and my memory of the above tutorial. (And no, I didn't make a
tutorial because I thought the link above was probably better than anything
I could whip up today.)

I thought it turned out alright, although perhaps a bit loose
in the crotch... I doubt he'll ever wear these to school, but I
think they will be comfortable for wearing around the house
this summer.

I love a pinstripe, and a white pant makes me think
of the tropics. 

I think pockets go a long way to making a pair of pants look
manly. Even bright maroon pockets... 

Okay... I got a little creative with this pic, lol. For some
reason, he was glowing like this in all the pics and I had to
do what I could to edit that out. I decided to go a different
direction with this pic.

There's a small gap in the stitching on the pocket where, for some reason, the
bobbin thread didn't catch. You can see it if you look closely. I'll have to go in
and fix that.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased. I think they look boyish and sophisticated at the
same time. I tried to find his hat to wear during his modeling session, but alas
it was not to be found.

And immediately afterward, he changed back into his other
clothes. I guess Mommy was more excited about his new pants
than he was. Oh, well. Also, his sisters are wearing some of his
old clothes. I love boys' clothes on little girls :)

Have you come across any other great tutorials for boys? I don't want my little guy to feel left out!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Girls Don't HAVE to Wear Pink...

I don't prescribe to the law that all little girls must wear pink... but it is a nice
accent for green, which is one of my favorite colors. And who doesn't like
a print that incorporates creative pursuits such as painting!

I thought I'd try my hand a a little more creative photography than usual, after all, all the
cool blogs are doing it. I've got the dress hanging on the twisty tree out front :) Fun fact:
it was so hot and humid outside, that when I first tried to take this picture, I couldn't see
anything because my lens was all fogged up. 

My little models were asleep, so why not throw the dress onto some shrubbery for the
picture? I took the pictures outside to make use of the natural light, but ended up having
to photo edit anyway because I chose to photograph everything in the shade... well,
you live and you learn.

Does the pink fabric look familiar? That's right, I used this same fabric to
make pillow cases for my girls. And now I've used it in a pillow case dress.
Ironic, or just a coincidence?

This dress was finished with a ruffle detail at the bottom and some eyelet
lace to soften the contrast between the light and dark greens. I'm really
pleased with the way this turned out, and I hope my giveaway winner is too!

Today was a great day for creativity because I got to pursue two different creative outcomes for this one blog post (three, if you count the writing). First, I spent a couple hours in the sewing room constructing a new pillowcase dress for my giveaway winner. (This could have been yours... but did you enter? No. You know who you are.) Then, I tried to be a little more creative with my photography, because let's face it, some of my photos are distinctly lacking in style. So, altogether, I really got the creative juices flowing today.

On the subject of sewing, I think one of the most important things to making a cute garment for kids is fabric choice. I probably took about 15-20 minutes going through my fabric pile, trying different bits together before I made my final decision. I don't know what I'll do when I run out of cool fabric in my stash! (I guess I'll have to dig through the clearance bins or use some of those coupons I post on the Facebook page... because you know me, I'm not going to pay full price!)

I'm not the only one in the mood to make pillowcase dresses today. Check out the pillowcase flower girl dresses that Aesthetic Nest is working on. Or your could make one out of an ACTUAL pillowcase like iCandy Handmade's pillowcase nightgowns. There's tons of creative mamas out there on the web. If you want to try your own pillowcase dress, I bet a Google search for pillowcase dresses would yield some great inspiration and probably a few tutorials. The number one rule: have fun with it!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Joes' Clothes: Long-Sleeved T-Shirt or Sweater

"To be dressed, or not to be dressed, that is the question."
On eBay, you will find hundreds of fancy ballgowns for Barbie in every color of the rainbow, some with lace, some with tulle, all with starting bids of one penny. When it comes to menswear for your 1/6 scale dolls, however, the clothing tends to be a bit pricier. Because of this, my son's Joes haven't gotten any new clothes since he acquired them about a year ago. So, yesterday when my niece asked if we could work on her dollhouse, I thought it would be a great opportunity to kill two birds with one stone (plus, I didn't have the materials yet to continue on her dollhouse, so this was pretty close). So I sat both kids down (my son and my niece) with some spare micro-knit fabric from an earlier t-shirt mod, a needle, and some thread, and we began this project together. This "pattern" will work for doll clothes of any size and can also be machine sewn, but for my two sewing beginners, I figured a little hand-sewing would be a little more their speed. (And I ended up doing most of the sewing for my son anyhow.)

We made long sleeved t-shirts/sweaters. You can adjust the fit for the look you want, but we made loose-fitting shirts because it was more basic and easier for small hands to manage. The "pattern" (and I use the term loosely) calls for three rectangles: one for the torso, two for the sleeves. See below:

Each of the pieces pictured is folded in half. For the torso piece, you will want to measure it from your doll's shoulder to hip or waist and about 2-3 times as wide as your doll. Basically eyeball it, but don't forget to leave seam allowances. The sleeves need to measure from shoulder to wrist/hand and be twice as wide as the shoulder/armpit opening you will need.

Front of completed shirt.

Fold the pieces in half inside out and sew the arm seams and a seam down the side of the torso piece to form three tubes of fabric. When that is done, you need to situate the torso piece so that the seam is in the middle of the back and set the pieces together as pictured above. Cut a notch on each side, angled down from the open top so that the hole will be the same size as the sleeve. With everything still inside out, sew on the sleeves with the seam on the bottom. This leaves a really wide opening at the neck, but otherwise, the shirt is assembled. Next put the shirt on your doll (still inside-out) and stitch the shoulders. If the fabric is really stretchy, you can leave a smaller opening for the neck. For my son's shirt, we also sewed on a collar to make it a faux turtleneck. I left it open in the back for ease of dressing/undressing.

Back of shirt.
The piece of fabric we used for Joe's shirt had a finished edge, so we cut it so as to make use of that hem. The waist, sleeves, and neck are all finished because of that edge. On Brat's shirt, however, the fabric had no finished edges. Since we were using a micro-knit, which really doesn't fray, we didn't bother to hem the sleeves or waistline of her shirt. Also, we didn't sew a collar on hers but left a wide neck for an off-the-shoulder look.

Miss Brat has a skirt made of eyelet lace trim and elastic and a ribbon belt.
Her sleeves are cuffed. Joe is hiding under a crocheted rug for modesty's
sake. My son must have asked 20 times during this project when we would
make him some pants... 
I thought this turned out pretty well. It fits, which is the biggest concern.
And it's easy to put on and take off, which is good for kids who actually
play with their dolls/action figures. 

Next project: pants. Hopefully, I've learned enough from my blue pants to
be able to fashion some for Mr. Joe here.
We didn't have time to do anything else for the Joes/Barbies/Bratz, (nap time only lasts for so long) but at least we did have time to do this little project together. Some of my fondest childhood memories were making doll clothes with my aunt, and hopefully I can pay it forward for my niece and kids. And hopefully, next time my niece wants to work on her dollhouse, I will have some supplies ready and a project in mind. If not? Well, maybe her dolls need some pants too...

Friday, July 15, 2011

First Attempt at Pants for Me: A Learning Experience

The making of these pants, imperfect though they may be, has served as a lesson in several ways. First of all, I learned that I DO need to make two pattern pieces: one for the front, and one for the back. Otherwise, I either end up with enough extra space below my belt to accommodate a front butt (which, thank goodness, I don't have), or if it fits in the front, I will be sporting the stereotypical "plumber's crack" in the back. Lesson learned.

The second thing I picked up on is if I'm going to make a dart or pleat, I must be cognizant of what it will look like on both ends. Example: I managed to get rid of all the extra space in the front by making a horizontal tuck across the tummy, but that left me with some fluffy hips. In effort to camouflage this, I sewed on the pink stripes (easier done BEFORE one sews the pants together, but of course I did it after). When camouflage didn't work, I attached some large buttons to the offending area, thus pointing out the flaw, as if to say "I MEANT to do that". It didn't fix the problem, but I consider it dealt with.

While I'm not sure if even my grandma wears baby blue polyester knit pants these days, I think I will prance around in these for today at least. Even in a failed project one can take some pride, but especially from a failed project one emerges a tad wiser. Or at least I'd like to think so. Maybe my funny blue pants don't scream "wise and learned" to anyone else, but as I wear them and remember the process, I will work out a thousand alternate ways in which to construct the next pair of pants, and these babies will serve as a reminder that even in imperfection there is a purpose.

And the Winner Is.....

Here's how I determined the winner of my giveaway:

I numbered the entrants in the order that they posted their entries on my Facebook wall, 1 being the first person who entered the giveaway and 4 being the last. (That's right, only four of you entered, so you have a 25% chance of being the lucky winner... as for the rest of you guys, well, you snooze, you lose.) Next I found a Random Number Generator and set the number range from 1 to 4. Then I hit the "Generate" button, once. This is the number I went with. And the winner?

That's right, folks, number 4 is the winner!

Number 4, the last person to enter my giveaway... Tiffany Hinnen! Congratulations :) Now, for the hard choice.... Pillow Case Dress or T-Shirt dress? (The T-Shirt dress can be for you or your little girl). Tiffany, shoot me an email at art.from.trash @ and let me know your choice. We'll iron out the details then. And for the rest of you folks, you'll have to just be satisfied with pics. And who knows, maybe you'll win my next giveaway, at 10,000 pageviews. (Of course, that might happen sooner if you encourage all your friends and relations to frequent this blog, lol... *hint, hint*)