Monthly Archives: August 2011

Adventures in minor reupholstering

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2 years ago, my Mom picked up a small reading chair for my daughter at a garage sale.  She has loved it and now my son does too.  The problem was, the fabric shows stains pretty badly and when I tried to clean it, you would then see the water stains.  After seeing how easy it was to re-cover the car seat, I decided to give re-upholstering the chair a try.  Here’s what I started with:

 

The main thing I learned from the previous project was to take pictures…. lots of them.  I kept my camera next to me the whole time and picked it up every time I got to another section of the chair.  I also labeled everything as I went.  When I got the original pieces off of the chair, I used them as my guide to cut the new fabric.

 

The tools needed to complete this task were a flathead screwdriver and needlenose pliers to remove the old upholstery, scissors, pins and a sewing machine to prepare the new fabric (honestly, there was very little sewing involved and it could easily be done by hand) and a staple gun to put on the new stuff.  I picked up my fabric from Hancock Fabrics.  They’ve got a huge section of designer upholstery remnants that they sell for $4 a yard!  I got enough of this great, soft, durable brown corduroy-style couch fabric to complete my project for just over $10!  Pair that with the staple gun I bought (my husband’s was too heavy-duty and the staples were only 1/4 in wide) and I spent a little over $20 and a couple of hours of my time to make a really cute addition to our family’s living room.

I wanted to add a little something to it, because I thought the brown was just a little too plain.  My first thought was a ‘P’ for our last name, but then I couldn’t pass it on to a friend or family member once we were finished with it.  Becca suggested I do a bookworm, and I thought Eric Carle’s ‘Very Hungry Caterpillar’ would make a great addition and be fairly simple to applique.  I just used fabric from my stash to make it happen and I think he couldn’t have come out any cuter!

When I finally put the chair down for the kids, my daughter sat on the arm and ‘pet’ it, telling me how soft it was, and my son stood in front of it, banging on the caterpillar and talking to it.  I’m pretty sure they love it!  -Kelly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lessons Learned – Fabric Paint

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This evening, I ventured into territory unknown. For the most part, I stick to what’s familiar. Fabric…thread…scissors. I don’t get too fancy. But tonight I wanted to try something different. I saw a blog post a couple weeks ago talking about fabric paint and all the fun things you can do with it. This particular post was all about making a goldfish cracker come to life on a little girl’s pair of pants! I was sold on the goldfish, but was intrigued by the process. (You can read the full post here)

I wanted to try something a little different, so the cogs got busy upstairs thinking of what I could possibly make that would involve fabric paint. And BAM! it hit me! Travel Checkers! I loved playing games with my sisters when we were young. I remember one year, my two youngest sisters received a giant checker board game with huge pieces. Only problem with a giant checker board game? IT’S GIANT!

Solution? A travel size bag that can store all the pieces necessary for checkers (with a couple extra just in case the little rascals lose one)! I figured one side of the bag could be used for checkers and the opposite side for tic tac toe. I did some quick math to figure out how big I wanted the board to be (10″x10″) and then how big the bag had to be. The rest of this post are the lessons I learned doing a first run of the checker board (I’ll do probably two more posts about this – making the game pieces & the final product).

1. It’s really important to map out your board before you even put paint to fabric.

Use pencil to mark your game board and Xs to designate the boxes you need to stamp.

2. It’s even more important to line your work space with a lot of newspaper. It’s equally important to make sure you use several layers of paper between the two layers of your bag…or this happens:

I made the mistake of not putting paper between the two layers when I first started and it bled through. You can see here how much it really soaks in.

3. Since the checkerboard is a pretty simple pattern (1.25″ squares), I used some on-hand rubber I had for another project and used an x-acto knife to cut it. Had I not been so antsy to start the project I would have mounted the rubber so this wouldn’t happen:

Unmounted stamps are a pain to work with.

Finger prints, smudges, smears, yuck.

Your hands will look like this. Your stamp gets slippery. It's just a mess. Thankfully the paint I use washes off pretty easily.

All in all it didn’t turn out terrible. It was a really fun project and I’m looking forward to trying it again with better supplies and armed with the knowledge of how to make it look great! I kind of like the varying degrees of pressure for each of the squares, but the smudges and fingerprints are really distracting.

All done!

 

Stay tuned for an update on how the pieces are made! I picked up some really awesome stamp sets at JoAnn this weekend. Can’t wait to make a pirate themed set! -Becca

[Thanks to my photo-genius husband, J, for taking all the photos!]

Homemade Baby Food is Cheap & Easy!

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When my first child was born, my husband and I were both working full-time jobs and had more than sufficient income to live off of, so I never really gave much thought to how much money I was spending on baby food.  Just before she had her 1st birthday, I had a break down and couldn’t stand the idea of not being a stay-at-home mom.  My husband and I had a few long discussions about it, and finally decided it could be done, but things would not be as easy financially as they had been.

When my second child came along, it was a little more harsh to see what the cost of diapering, feeding, etc. a baby really was.  We adapted where we could, getting deals on diapers, breastfeeding for as long as possible (I had only made it 4 months with my daughter due to work).  When it was time to introduce foods to my son, I could finally see how expensive it was to feed him healthy foods.  I decided to give making my own babyfood a try.
The first thing I did was go to the library, where I could do some research and see just exactly I was getting into, all for free.  I have a tendency to get all these great ideas, buy all the stuff to make them happen and then forget about them in a month (you don’t even want to see my sewing room).  I got a copy of ‘Blender Baby Food‘ and that was all I needed to get started.  I love that this book offers some great recipes for foods that actually have some taste, but they also tell you how to make the simplest things; like how many apples need how much water and how long to stew them for.  I stored the batches in quart ziploc bags and tossed them in the freezer, flat on their sides.  Then, to make them into servable portions, I would take them out after about 2 hours, when they had partially frozen and used the side of a book to make dents, like a 6-pack.  Every morning (if I remembered) I would take out his 3 meals to thaw for the day.  If I forgot, I would just thaw one in the microwave.
After about a month of this, when I finally had to return my overdue library book, I decided that this was something I could easily handle.  I decided to buy myself some supplies to make life just a little easier:
I found ‘Blender Baby Food’ used through Amazon and spent about $7 on it.  It came in great condition.
I also decided to splurge and buy some containers for freezing and storing.  Green Sprouts Freezer Cubes are the ones I chose, mostly for their cost.  I bought 2 sets, which cost about $15 (with coupons) and has SO been worth the money.  You can also use the Ziploc method, or many people use ice cube trays.
I have not felt the need, at all, to spend any more money than this on equipment.  My stove and my 10 year old blender have been more than sufficient in getting the job done and to think people spend $100+ on steamer/blenders made just for babyfood seems an unnecessary waste to me.
Our favorite recipes right now are the Shepherd’s Pie and the Chicken with Brown Rice and Peas.  I would have never thought of putting onions or curry in my baby’s food at this age, but in small amounts, it’s helping to introduce him to what the food WE eat tastes like, hopefully making him less picky in the future.  And if you hate the way jarred meat baby food tastes, you are in for a treat, because this stuff is tasty and smells like a home-cooked meal.

If you have any questions about making your own baby food at home, feel free to ask.  I’m not an expert, but I’m happy to share my advice and thoughts with you.  -Kelly

Happy August!

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August is here, and hopefully, that will mean some relief from this heat (and worse, the humidity!).

Just an update, we now have a Facebook page for the blog, so you can stay on top of new posts and share us easily with your friends.

Here’s a peek at what I’ve been working on for the last few days:

My little sister is getting married in 10 days and my whole family is part of the wedding.  I’m so happy to use my crafty skills to help her celebrate her special day.  -Kelly