Tag Archives: project

One of the E’s

Quite a few years ago my mom bought me a large letter E with a hook on the end. I don’t know where she got it or for what occasion I was given this E but I have held on to it, never having a place to hang it but knowing that it would be useful one day. Now that I’m living in my condo I need ready access to my dog Nelly’s leash.  Enter the E. My plan was to change the color and then hang this on the wall behind the front door for hanging Nelly’s leash and my keys so both will be easily accessible when she needs to go for a walk. It was a cream color and the paint was purposely aged, not exactly the look I was going for in the condo but nothing that some paint couldn’t improve.

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To smooth the surface I used some high grit sandpaper on the paint. I was able to smooth out some of the chips and get rid of some of the excess paint. I took a damp paper towel and wiped off the paint dust so the letter was ready for a new color.

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After allowing the letter to dry, I brought out my new paint, pool blue. Using a 1” sponge brush I painted on a smooth thin first layer of paint.

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I allowed that to dry for about 20 minutes and then applied a second coat, making sure to paint in nice smooth strokes so I would have a nice finished product.

The final step was be installation on the wall. Two quick screws and it was ready for her leash and my keys! One project done…too many to go!

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Christmas Comfort

A request was made of me probably six weeks before Christmas. Would I be willing and able to make an afghan for Christmas, something in shades of reds that would be out only for the holidays and which  would possibly in the future be a favorite blanket of my niece and any future niece or nephew? How could I resist?!?

I knew this would be quite the undertaking but I was willing to go for it. The request was for a plaid afghan so I made my way to Hobby Lobby to choose the yarns I wanted to use. I have made this certain pattern only once before and I did it with three colors.  For this project I decided to use four colors, red, white, dark red and a variegated red and white yarn.

The project is very simple, but time consuming. The horizontal stripes are made with alternating double crochets and chains. There is a repeating pattern, each of the colors was assigned a number. For example any time I was using the red yarn I would complete five rows, the white yarn would only be one row.

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I completed the pattern six times to ensure that the finished product would be long enough after completing the vertical strips.

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The vertical stripes simply involved using a larger sized hook and slip stitching from the bottom of the afghan all the way to the top one row at a time. I used the same pattern for the vertical rows as I did for the horizontal. This portion of the project is time consuming because you have to be extra careful to keep tension the same so the finished piece turns out with nice straight edges.



The final step is pulling in all of the ends…let me just say there are a lot of ends, with changing yarn colors as frequently as I did for this project there were probably over 200 little tails that needed to be pulled in.

Because this was a Christmas present I had to have this done before a certain sister arrived in town for the holiday. This didn’t happen so I did have to spend a little bit of time up in my room, by myself to keep the secret for a few more days. When I was wrapping the gift up on Christmas Eve with Alice in the room with me I knew the project was a success. The blanket was laid out on the floor, just so I could make sure I liked the finished look of it and the little darling laid right down on it.  When I tried to pick it up and give her a different blanket and was not a happy camper. Maybe she was tired, but I think she knew that this was going to be a special afghan for her for many years to come.


Thanks, Em!  It looks awesome on our couch! -Eliina


Plaid scarf pillow

Emily’s Chicago visit was months ago and I’m just now writing up our final project from that weekend.  We were super busy! In addition to my regular sofa pillows in shades of yellow, cream, and grey, I wanted to make some pillows that would work with our Christmas decor.  I searched local fabric stores for an awesome red plaid…and found nothing.  Very disappointing.  Then when I was shopping at H&M one day after work, I came across a fantastic, classic, very wide red scarf.  Perfect!

First step: confirm that the scarf is in fact cozy.  Emily performed the assessment.


After measuring the pillow we were covering, Emily trimmed the fringe off the scarf, and then cut the front panel.


Exposed brass zippers are having a moment in fashion, so we thought it would be fun to add one to the back of this pillow instead of using a pocket closure. (As with the monogram chevron pillow, I wanted this pillow cover to be removable and washable).  Emily cut two panels for the back side of the pillow.  My super helpful contribution was to pin the three pieces of fabric together!


Then, Emily did the real work.  So, I’ll let her tell you what she did.

I have never sewn a zipper into anything but I knew with a little thinking and maybe trial and error I would be able to figure it out. Now that the zipper is installed I would do it a little differently, but I will get to that in a bit.

The pillow had been all sewn together with an opening down the middle of one side for the zipper. When the fabric for the two back pieces was cut we added an additional ½ inch to the width so there was room to fold over the fabric and sew it to the zipper. The plan was to allow the zipper to show on the back of the pillow for added detail. I laid the zipper in the middle of the opening, with the fabric turned right side out, and made sure the fabric was laying nice and flat, this would help to make sure that I wasn’t pulling the fabric which would potentially make the pillow cover to small, or make it pucker. After this was nice and flat I took the fabric on the left side and folded it under to create a nice line, I then pinned this to the zipper in a few spots, making sure that the placement was fairly even down the zipper so the finished product looked nice.


After things were pinned where I wanted them I sewed the left side of the zipper to the fabric. This was nice and easy because the pillow was still open down the center.


Then as I began to repeat this same process on the right side of the zipper I realized I had made a mistake! Because I had sewn the rest of the pillow together there didn’t seem to be a way to sew the other side of the zipper to the fabric, I had left no opening in the pillow so any further stitching would end up sewing the back and the front of the pillow together…not the effect I was going for and to top it all off I had not brought a seam ripper with me so undoing a seam was going to be quite the process. As I sat and festered about this I realized that I could unzip the zipper! What a novel idea! Once I did that I continued with the same process as before of folding, pinning and sewing.

The zipper we chose was not the same length as the pillow so there were about 2 inches on the top and bottom of the zipper that still needed to be sewn together. I turned the pillow cover inside out and sewed a quick seam down to meet the zipper. Zipper installation complete!

Now for what I would do differently: I would install the zipper BEFORE sewing the rest of the pillow together. This would make the process a little easier.  -Emily

Here’s one last shot of my crafty sister Emily on my couch with all three pillows that she made for me! Thanks, Em.  -Eliina





Quilting Adventures Part 2

This weekend I finally got back to working on the quilt I started a while ago. I had made part of the top previously and the tasks I had left were:

  • Add a border to the top and section dividers
  • Cut the back to size
  • Buy the batting for the middle
  • Pin and sew the top, back and batting together
  • Tie the quilt

This list is why my project has not been finished. I have never completed these steps in quilt making by myself. I have been a part of making tops a number of times and I have tied quilts.  I’ve never completed the important middle steps before so I just wasn’t sure how things were going to develop, so I put this project on the very back burner for a while. Enter this weekend. I was ready to be productive and get a few things completed, or at least closer to completion. Between doing some holiday baking and working on a couple of secret gift projects I worked on and finished Nelly’s quilt!

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My first step was deciding how wide I wanted my border to be.  This would be the same width as the “section dividers”. I decided that about three inches would be a good width so I got to measuring and cutting. To leave room for the seam I cut seven 4” wide strips. The next step was just pinning them one at a time to the strips that I had made previously and sewing them together.

When this step was done I had a nice rectangular top ready to be pressed. I had been advised to NOT iron my seams open as I had seen in some other tutorials but rather to press them all in one direction. The reason for this was it would keep the seams stronger in the long run, when they are pressed open the stitches can be stressed more which would lead to stretching and potentially breaking.

I measured my top when it was all pressed and flat, and it was roughly 51”x58”. This was great except for the fact that the fabric for my back piece was only 45” wide and about 106” long so I was going to have to do some additional cutting and sewing. A couple of quick cuts later I was zipping the back through the machine, nice and easy. I pressed this as well and then asked my momma for some advice.

As previously stated my quilt making experience is limited. I wasn’t sure how to finish the quilt. What would I sew together to get the top, bottom and batting together? I took the three possibilities and went with what I thought would look the best without taking too much extra time This involved pinning the bottom, top and batting all together and then sewing around the edge, leaving a 10-12” gap so I could turn the quilt right side out when I was done. This involved layering the three pieces and making sure they lined up nicely, easier said than done when working on the floor, but I got it accomplished.

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Sewing it all together went smoother than I thought, I had a problem with the thread tension to start but after that I was off and running—ummm sewing. I left about a 10 inch opening at the bottom of the quilt and just reached in and grabbed a corner and carefully started to turn the quilt right side out.

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At this point I was very excited with how my quilt looked, for just piecing together scraps it was looking good! Two final steps and the I would be done. First I folded the fabric at the opening and took my needle and thread to it, just slowing stitching it closed. Then I laid the quilt out on the floor to tie it, this step it necessary to keep the 3 layers together when in use. You can also quilt the top in various ways but I knew that was not what was needed.  This quilt is going to be used by my dog Nelly, so she can lay on the couch and keep at least some hair contained!

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Though this took a while to complete it wasn’t because of difficulty really, it was just procrastination. But I am really happy with the results and would definitely consider taking on another quilt someday. But for now I will just let Nelly enjoy her gift. Isn’t she a cutie all snuggled up!


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Sorry for posting this so late!  Emily wrote it before Christmas but her slacker editor didn’t get it up until now. -Eliina

A Step Up

For about 13 years, as long as we have lived in this house, we have been piling our afghans on the speaker behind the TV cabinet door. Sometimes they’re in a neat pile, more likely though the pile ends up falling over the side and spilling onto the floor a bit. We use the blankets regularly so putting them out of reach in a closet, or even in some sort of storage container out of the way wasn’t really going to work for our situation.

Enter Pinterest! My mom was recently searching around and found the inspiration, or pinspiration, for this project: a whitewashed ladder that leans against the wall. As an added bonus we had all of the supplies that we needed for this project, so it was FREE! We needed a wooden ladder, white paint, paint brush and rags. There were three ladders to choose from in our collection. (Eliina’s note – I wish I had the storage space to be a pack rat, I mean collector, like you). Mom selected the one she wanted to use and set it up on a couple of saw horses to get it off the ground. She used a scrub brush to clean off the dirt that had accumulated on the ladder while it was out the in yard.

Meanwhile I researched how to make whitewash.  There were quite a few different recipes out there on the web but we went with the simplest:  a ratio of 2 parts paint, 1 part water.   We used part of a milk jug as a vessel to mix the paint and water. I rinsed out an aluminum vegetable can and used that to measure the water and the paint.  A half a can of water and one can of paint was more than enough for this project.

Before we started painting there was a small repair to do on the bottom rung of the ladder.  One side of the rung  was a bit loose after being outside in the elements. It was a really quick fix.  After putting in a new screw it was sturdy enough to do the job.

Now for the real work. The process we used can be done by one person, but my mom and I tagged teamed it. She worked down one section at a time, painting in long sections and I followed behind with a rag to wipe off some of the paint to give the ladder the whitewashed look we were going for. There isn’t a hard and fast rule to how long to let the paint set.  I found that after a few minutes it had soaked in a bit and I could go along and not wipe too much off. The other factor to keep in mind when doing any whitewashing is how aggressively you wipe off the paint. Lighter pressure will leave more paint on the wood and heavier pressure will remove more. We simply moved in sections, going back if too much paint was rubbed off or if there wasn’t enough coverage to begin with.

We decided that one coat was perfect. It left enough of the wood grain showing through but it still looked intentionally whitewashed, and not just worn.

We left the ladder out in the yard to dry for the afternoon and overnight, after checking the weather forecast for rain!

We had recently rearranged the living room furniture for fun, and there was a spot in the corner of the room that was screaming for a little something with texture and height.

After putting the ladder in its location mom took the six blankets we had previously stacked on the speaker (yes we like options when it comes to warmth) and placed one on each rung of the ladder. Doesn’t it look great there in the corner, and doesn’t the speaker look better without a pile of afghans on it!


Monogram chevron pillow

I’ve been pinning cute monogram pillows on Pinterest for months, and my pillow predicament inspired me to actually make one.

I loved the yellow and cream chevron material I used to recover my bar stools, and since I had some left over I thought it would look great covering a pillow on my couch.  Several of the DIY pillow projects I’d seen online used felt for the monogram, so I picked up a coordinating piece of felt.

Then, I invited Emily to town under the pretenses of a Young House Love book signing, and asked her to pack her sewing machine.  I do not know how to use a sewing machine, let alone own one. Fortunately my crafty family is usually willing to help me out.

Emily measured the size of the square pillow we were using as a base, and leaving an extra quarter edge around the edge for seams, cut out the front of the pillow.

Since this pillow would have an obvious front side with the monogram we decided to make the back a pocket.  It would be a little easier than sewing in a zipper, but would still be removable.  With my sixteen month old daughter around, spills are inevitable, and I prefer decor I can launder.  We wanted the pocket to be at least six inches deep, so Em took the measurement for the front of the pillow, divided it in two, and then added six inches.  She then hemmed the outer  edge of the pocket pieces.

Meanwhile I found a font I liked, and printed out a large letter P.  I then traced the letter onto my piece felt, and cut it out.  Emily pointed out that if I traced it backward, the ink from the pen would be on the back, and I wouldn’t have to worry about cutting off every pen stroke.  She’s a smart one, my sister.  Also, she didn’t gripe about the vastly unequal division of labor.

Em centered the letter in the middle of the front panel, and sewed into place.

After that she pinned the three panels together, wrong side out, and sewed them together.  I may have fetched a Diet Coke.  The pillow fit inside perfectly.

The finish product looks great on my couch, especially next to the crocheted pillow cover Emily made for me.

Thanks, Em!


Crocheted Cover

I have been crocheting for about 12 years now and I feel I am fairly competent with my hooks. I can read patterns, make up my own patterns and usually figure out what stitches were used on a completed project that I am shown. When Eliina brought up the idea of making a pillow cover for her couch I figured it would be something I could handle. I needed some inspiration. I didn’t want to make something that was more my style that might not really jive with what she had in mind. She linked me to a few suggestions and I started looking for possible stitches to use.

A great source that I use for crocheting information is Stitch ‘n Bitch: The Happy Hooker. I have had this for a few years and it has greatly increased my repertoire of stitches. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn how to crochet and to those that already know how – it is a real wealth of information. But once I decided on the look I was going for I took to the internet to see what was out there. I found that to best achieve the look I was going for I would use alternating single and triple crochets.

I thought a neutral cream for the yarn so other pillows could be switched out during the year but this pillow could stay for some added texture. Eliina provided the pillow form, found for $5 on clearance!

I wasn’t sure exactly how many stitches I would need for this because I would be making up my own pattern as I went along. To keep with the chunky textured look from my example I decided to use a little larger hook, a J hook, this would not only make the bumps larger but it would also help the project work up a little quicker…BONUS!

I started off with chaining a length and laying it across the pillow to see if it was about wide enough. Then I started on the pattern, one row of alternating triple crochets and single crochets and then a row of all single crochets. That was it, the whole pattern consists of two alternating rows.

As I worked and thought I was close to the end I again layed the work across the pillow to see if I needed to continue. Based on the sample ideas I had I knew I was going to do a make a pocket cover so instead of making a front and a back I made one piece that would be sewn together. After achieving the length I needed I marked my stitches so I knew where the pillow would fold over the top and then continued on. Each flap needed to be over half of the length of the pillow to allow for overlap once the pocket was made and the buttons sew. Once I had the length I wanted for the top I detached my yarn and reattached on the bottom of the back and worked my way back up.

One possible hiccup in the project was making button holes. This was the first project I have done that needed them and I was a little unsure of the process. My handy Stitch ‘n Bitch book had a great tutorial on how to recreate horizontal button holes, which are easier, and after deciding where they should go I had the button holes made. Lining up the buttons on the bottom half was pretty simple as well and crochet can be quite forgiving so I knew if they were off by a smidge things would still work out fine!

Now I had the rectangle made and ready so I folded up the bottom half and used a slip stitch to connect the front and the back. After it was all stitched together I stuffed the pillow form into the cover. I will admit I was relieved to find that it fit nice and snug. Not using a pattern had me a bit worried I would end up with a cover that was either way to big or had to be stretched too much to fit. The final step was to stitch a single crochet all around the outside of the pillow just to finish everything off.

Pillow cover complete! I am really happy with how it turned out. Now maybe I should actually write up the pattern for future use!


Addendum from Eliina: The pillow looks great on my couch, and is helping me solve my pillow predicament.