Pillows & Our Mid-Century Living Room

pillows in living room

Although our house was built in 1920 and is true to the craftsman style on the outside, it has undergone a bunch of remodels that have dramatically changed the inside. One of the things that we love about it is the wide open living room with tons of windows. The living room was at one point mostly a covered front porch that was the entrance to the house. It was closed in and the front door was moved to the side at some point in our house’s history. At some point in the 1970’s (which may or may not have been when the front door was moved), a built-in couch was added to the living room. I wasn’t totally sold on the built-in when we bought the house, although it’s true to the mid-century modern style that we decorate, but I must say that now that we have lived here …


Spaghetti Lace Crochet Runner

tshirt yarn crochet rug

Little by little, I continue to add handmade touches to our home. My pace of decorating has dramatically slowed through this challenging pregnancy, but I am pretty delighted to have finished a crocheted rug to go at the foot of our bed. I think it strikes a pretty good balance between visually interesting and calming, which is what I have been trying to achieve in the bedroom. And it breaks up the vast expanse of beige rug… The runner is my own pattern – a modification of my Spaghetti Lace Rug pattern. (I detailed the changes I made to the pattern to turn it from a small rug to a runner on Ravelry.) I used Hoooked Zpagetti yarn (which is an extra-bulky yarn made from leftover textiles from ready-to-wear fashion) and a size 10mm crochet hook. For more photos and details on the project, check out my post on the Minerva Crafts blogger network.


How to Sew a Pillow with Piping and an Invisible Zipper

finished pillow with piping and invisible zipper

Part of getting settled into our new home has been sewing a seemingly endless parade of pillows. I’ve been keeping them pretty simple since a) I needed to make a ton of them and b) I can still go back and add fancy pillows later. However, I couldn’t quite content myself with just sewing squares, so my pillows all have piping around the edge and an invisible zipper so that the covers can easily be removed for washing. Since I instagrammed a finished pillow, folks asked how I sewed the piping, so here’s the answer! Start by cutting squares of fabric for your pillows. I’m using a luscious cotton I bought in Thailand, but it’s a pretty loose weave so I serged the edges. If your fabric doesn’t ravel much, finishing the edges isn’t necessary since they will be well hidden inside the pillow. Tip: cut the fabric 1-2″ smaller than …


Vintage Chicken Tea Cozy and Some Pot Holders

vintage simplicity 243 kitchen

I really needed some oven mitts and pot holders for our new kitchen. I used the scraps from the strawberries and gingham dress I just made as well as some pink hand dyed fabric that was my grandmother’s. (The square potholders also got the scraps of the black floral lining from my first presidio purse demo).  The edges are finished with red bias tape from my stash and they are interlined with two layers of interfacing – some basic cotton batting and insul-bright insulated lining. Cute, easy, and functional. I was talking with my mom the other day and said “I don’t really like kitsch” and she laughed in my face. So I had to amend my statement. “I’m very selective about my kitsch.” This scrappy chicken tea cozy in pink and red and strawberries and gingham? My kind of kitsch. Since I was sewing up the potholders I kinda …


Re-Covered Sectional Couch

slip covered couch

A while back, I recovered my mom’s sectional couch for her. I’ve recovered several pieces of furniture before, varying in complexity, from dining room chairs to tufted loveseats. Recovering this sectional was a high-impact project that was actually pretty simple since the couch is pretty square. I approached covering the couch like a would draping a garment. I didn’t have to start with precise measurements or worry about running out of fabric because my mom bought the whole bolt (that’s the way she rolls). I really enjoy the occasional home dec sewing project and find the problem solving around draping a dress very similar to draping a couch, and both are fun for me. But I know a lot of garment sewers (and quilters) hate home dec projects. Have you ever re-covered a couch? Would you ever re-cover a couch? One fun design bit was figuring out which direction to …


New Art from Jeremy Novy and Mark Lifvendahl

Jeremy Novy Koi on Glass

Before Adam and I moved in together, I lived in a studio apartment above the Orbit Room, and beautiful stenciled koi were painted all over the sidewalk below my window. In fact, these beautiful painted fish are on sidewalks all over San Francisco and their simple and elegant images, to me, will always be a striking reminder of my time in this vibrant city. Imagine my surprise when walking through the cute town of Guernville, CA (where I first wore and photographed my new paisley Anna dress) when I saw a series of the koi stenciled on the sidewalks. I didn’t know much about Guernville or the elusive koi artist at the time, but have since learned that it’s not as incongruous as my initial thoughts. Guernville is actually something of a vacation mecca for queer Bay Area folks and Jeremy Novy is himself an openly queer artist (with a mission …


Closet ReOrganization

reorganized shoes and purses

I have a small closet in my bedroom. And I have to share it with my boyfriend. This has been a point of contention between us since we moved in together, 1 1/2 years ago. We’re both only-children, so sharing space isn’t a strong point for either of us. He thinks that he should get half the closet since it’s half his home. I think he should just get rid of the clothes he doesn’t wear and then there would be plenty of space for me to take over the closet. We had to agree to disagree for the sake of our relationship.

Thrift Store Score – McCoy Bostonian Crocks

brown and tan mccoy bostonian crocks

I’ve been collecting two-tone brown and tan crocks for our kitchen. I recently found another set at the thrift store that had to come home with me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I brought home a little bit of American history.


Fractal Crochet Tablecloth

modern crocheted white lace tablecloth

My first ever crochet project. It’s Fractal doily pattern by Essi Varis, available on Ravelry. Being my first project, I decided to go for a larger hook than the pattern calls for so that I would easily be able to see the stitches. So, instead of petite doily, I ended up with a tablecloth. I’m happy with it, regardless!


How to Back an Embroidery Hoop for Framing

felt and embroidery hoop

There are many ways to frame an embroidery. I really like how they look framed in wooden embroidery hoops. This is tutorial for how I permanently frame an embroidery in an embroidery hoop.


Sewing Notions Organization

organized sewing notions drawer

One last project in my Organize January. Man, it’s felt good to get things organized. One drawer in my desk holds miscellaneous sewing supplies. My original thought was that it would hold bobbins, pins, the project that I’m currently working on (as if there is only one at a time, ha!), things that need to be readily accessible. What it has become is a dumping ground for things that I don’t seem to want to take the time to organize appropriately. So, I organized it.

Kitchen Organization

Rubbermaid Kitchen Containers

Much like the closet organization that I did, the trick for me to organize the kitchen is to buy way too many bins for organizing. I did a bunch of looking around and settled upon Rubbermaid as being cost-effective, sturdy, and all the sizes stacking nicely. And then I bought a ton of them.

Closet Organization

Organized Bathroom Cupboard

I’ve been going through closets like a mad-woman recently and I think I’m finally happy with the organization. The trick, in my opinion, is to buy a ton of plastic containers. Way too many of them. Then, in sorting your things into containers, you’ll have to make conscious choices about what you want to keep and how it should be labeled. And you’ll eventually come up with ways to use all the bins and many closets will be the better for it.

Recipe Organization

Recipe Binders

I’m pretty much always an organized person. I like things to have an order. I like to put things in order. I make a special effort every January to start the new year with a suite of organization projects. I like the new year to start on an orderly foot! Over the next couple of weeks I’m bringing you a round of posts on the things that I am doing to Organize January. I hope they can inspire you to do a bit of organizing too!


Cranberries and Coffee Beans

Lit Candles and Cranberry Centerpiece

I like to change little bits of our decorating to reflect the season. This year I put together a simple centerpiece for our dining table with lots of differently sized candles. I filled a large vase with cranberries and floated them with water.


Sweaters Blanket Tutorial

Sweaters blanket on railing

This is one of my favorite projects. I have one of these blankets in my living room, my mom has one in her television room, and I gave one to my cousin for her wedding this summer. It’s certainly a bit more involved than the last several days of tutorial projects that I have shared, but it makes for such a lovely finished project and is so easy to customize for anyone on your gift list (or yourself!).

There’s a T-Rex in My Living Room, or How to Paint a Plastic Toy Tutorial

White Dinosaur on Coffee Table

This is a tutorial for painting a plastic dinosaur  to make it an item of decor. While this is a tutorial for painting a dinosaur, I suppose that you could use it to paint other plastic toys. It doesn’t have to be used on dinosaurs. Additionally, it doesn’t have to be white. If you think another solid color would go better with your décor, go for it! This is a great gift for anyone who likes kitsch and a perfect decorating compromise for me and Adam – subtle and classic yet kitschy at the same time!

Wool Tree Ring Coasters Tutorial

Wool Tree Ring Coasters

This is a tutorial for sewing coasters and a trivet out of wool felt to look like tree rings. Make them from a neutral color palette to fit in just about any decoration scheme, or go bright and play up the kitsch!

Mom Made Household Dec

Red White and Blue Quilt

Welcome to my mom’s house! This is just a tiny glimpse of some of the lovely handmade touches she has added to her house to make it a home. Here is a shelf in her TV room. The folded quilt is all made of fall fabrics and is displayed seasonally. The red white and blue quilt and begonia applique (design by Primitive Gatherings by Lisa Bongean), while designed to be overtly Fourth of July, become more subtle and year-round when part of a broader decorating scheme that includes other colors (yellow) and lots of pattern.

DIY Mini Bulletin Board Tutorial

Mini Denim Bulletin Boards

This is a quick and easy tutorial for DIY mini bulletin board. It uses a square of styrofoam, a hot glue gun, fabric shears, and some fabric. I found my styrofoam lining the inside of a box as packing material. It’s 3/4″ thick and roughly 10″x10″, but thickness and dimensions don’t really matter here. For fabric, I used the legs from an old pair of jeans, cut open. You can use just about any fabric, thick or thin, just make sure that a pin will go through it easily. It doesn’t matter how wide around your styrofoam you cut your piece of fabric, just make sure that it will fold up and over the side and reach the back of the styrofoam piece. Once you have the fabric glued on, flip it over and nail it into the wall. You can hammer straight through the front of the board as …

Sewing a New Picture for Our Dining Room

I just sewed us a new picture for our dining room. See it here above our beautiful credenza. The canvas has had a couple of different different lives. I painted it with a gigantic flower when I lived in my pink and green apartment. When Adam and I moved in together, he didn’t want our home to be painted pink and green (go figure!). So I painted over the canvas in a blown-up version of the purple twigged fabric. It looked okay, but it was pretty amateur and the black marker I had used to outline the flower leeched through the new layers of paint. I have grand ideas for a triptych that I want to embroider to go in that space, but it’s not at the top of my “To Make” list any time soon. I’m not sure where the inspiration struck me, but I realized that I could do …

Spider Plant Almost-Craft

Spider Plant in Teacup

I tried to make a craft out of re-potting baby spider plants, but it didn’t work. I bought a set of teacups and saucers from the thrift store. I planned on drilling through the bottom of the teacups so that they worked well as little pots. I bought a drill bit intended for drilling ceramic and glass. And I spent 15 minutes of hard pressure, drilling intently into the bottom of cup, only to find that I had barely made a dent. So I gave up. I went to a DIY message board for some advice. I was told that it really would take forever to drill through the ceramic and that I should be patient. I was told I should have gotten a diamond tipped drill bit. I was told my life would be made significantly easier by using a drill press. I decided to forgo holes and pot …