Sunday, January 11, 2015

Spoonflower wallpaper review

Welp, this is a post I totally wasn't planning on writing... but when I realized I was going to have to upload pictures of my new self-designed wallpaper to a third party if I wanted to share them on Spoonflower anyway, I figured I might as well talk about it here, too.

As a fabric lover (okay, hoarder, whatevs), I fully did not anticipate that the first thing I'd ever design and buy from Spoonflower would be wallpaper. Spoonflower started with print-on-demand fabric, and I'd say it's what they continue to be known for.

The only other thing I've received from Spoonflower-- a free fabric swatch!
The thing is, the fabric reviews are pretty terrible and I'm leery of purchasing any Spoonflower fabric, even though there are tons and tons of awesome designs to choose from-- uploaded by the designers themselves. I've read multiple message board chains and reviews saying that the fabric fades terribly after just one wash. How well the fabric design holds up ultimately depends on the ink colors and type of fabric you choose, but I just don't have it in me to research what combo of ink and fabric I should choose in order to make sure it lasts past one washing. The fabric prices are also pretty steep.

The wallpaper prices, on the other hand, are pretty reasonable for a peel-and-stick, removable and repositionable, woven vinyl wallpaper. Spoonflower is far from the only print-on-demand wallpaper service, but I went with them because they had decent prices, and I was already familiar with them.

I looked at a lot of designs already in the database but decided to design my own because I couldn't find a design in the colors I'd already settled on (my wall had just been painted purple so I needed something to go with that). Plus, bonus, you get a designer discount on your own designs. Just 10%, but a discount nonetheless.

I made a design in Photoshop using an antique floral bouquet image on a linen-look apricot background. (Pro tip: found this tutorial from Scathingly Brilliant on making a pattern repeat super helpful). I ordered about 14' of the woven wallpaper and it arrived super quickly, faster than I expected anyway.

And once it arrived, I loved it! It was pretty much what I wanted and expected. It was maybe even a little better than I expected on the image resolution, when it came to the flowers anyway. On the background, on the otherhand, you can't see the linen-look design at all, which is probably my fault-- I think I don't have enough contrast there. I also didn't use Spoonflower's color chart when making my design, so that probably was part of it too.

Putting up the wallpaper sucked. But I think that's the case with any wallpaper. In fact, the fact that you can reposition this paper probably made it was easier to put up than other wallpapers. Hopefully I'll get better because, to be honest, I'm hooked! I'm examining walls in my house with a new eye, trying to find places to put wallpaper. The best part is, you can take this stuff down with no wall damage, so I can get as quirky as I want with the designs.

I still don't think I'm brave enough to buy Spoonflower fabric anytime soon, but Spoonflower wallpaper is awesome. In fact, I've decided to make my design available in my Spoonflower shop. And I'll be posting the entire project this wallpaper is part of soon on my YouTube channel.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Salt Dough Ornaments

I don't get those DIY blogs that have a fancy "themed" Christmas trees every year, with new coordinating colors, or brand new ornaments. What do they do with all the ornaments they've made, collected, or been gifted? Keep them in storage? That's no fun.

That said, I was a little bummed when I saw how my these salt dough ornaments were turning out last year, once my then-2-year-old started mixing up the paint I'd laid out for him. They were turning out that olive green/brown/khaki color that happens when every paint color ever gets thrown into the mix. I remarked to my sister that we were going to have the ugliest tree ever this year thanks to these monochromatic ornaments.

We painted them on Christmas Eve last year, so once they were dry, they were packed up until we took them out again this year. But when we opened the ornament box the day after Thanksgiving, inspiration struck. Glitter saves everything.

I hit all of the painted salt dough ornaments with a couple blasts of Rustoleum "Intense Shimmery Finish" in gold, and, like magic, I all of a sudden loved these ornaments (which had started to grow on me anyway, I mean, my baby painted many of them!)

We strung them up on some butcher's twine (a.k.a. a fancy word for white and a colored strand of string twisted together) found in Target's Dollar Spot section. Thank goodness, too, because our tree would be pretty bare if it weren't for the addition of these ones. I think our theme is "sentimental."
How to Make Salt Dough Ornaments and Handprint Ornaments:
Dough ingredients:
One part water
One part salt (pretty sure you need to use iodized salt, i.e. not Kosher salt)
Two parts flour

Mix together ~10 minutes to form a soft dough. Roll out to desired thickness and use cookie cutters or butter knives to cut out shapes.

Once we got a couple of handprints of each of the kids, we cut circles around those and use rubber stamps to spell their names and the year, pressing the stamps into the dough. Then we let the 2-year-old go to town on the rest of the dough, treating it like Play-Doh. He used his Play-Doh cookie cutters, which gave us shapes of fish, flying saucers, and birds. He also pressed some of his Cars toys into the dough.

We used a straw to cut little hanger holes in the top of each ornament, then popped all of the ornaments into the oven on cookie sheets and baked them at 200* until they seemed nice and firm.

A couple of days later we painted them using acrylic craft paints. I painted the handprints solid white and filled the names in with a gold paint pen. Those ones were sealed with Modge Podge.

Then we had a painting party to paint the rest of the shapes, which didn't come back out again until this year!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Wedding Invitation Ornament

Awesome DIY gift idea for bride and groom
This is why I could never be a pro blogger: this is a project from last year.

I knew I wouldn't get this DIY gift idea posted in time for Christmas, so I thought, I'll just hang on to the pictures for next year. And, holy crap, it's already next year.

Am I the only person who feels guilty throwing things like wedding invites away? I mean, they spent so much money on it! I don't keep a scrapbook, and even if I did, why would I want someone else's wedding invite in it? And they presumably already have their own copy, so you can't just, give it back. Unless! You shred it up and stick it into a glass orb!

Seriously though, this is the perfect kind of DIY gift that doesn't have that kitchy homemade vibe, and even if it does, your gift recipient only has to look at it once a year. This wedding invitation ornament was for my brother and his wife, who got married last year, and I'm pretty sure my SIL liked it a lot. Plus, since they're newlyweds, I'm sure they could use more ornaments for their tree anyway-- my husband and I have been together for 14 years and even we have a pretty bare tree.

How to Make a DIY Wedding Invitation Ornament:
Wedding invitation (duh!)
Clear glass (or plastic) ornament
Craft knife, cutting mat, and ruler (recommended) -or- scissors and a pen
Ribbon to hang the ornament
Other decorations such as glitter or confetti (I used a heart-shaped punch)

Just slice the invite into strips with your ruler/mat/craft knife, or cut into skinny strips with your scissors. The strips can be uniform, but I varied mine in width and made sure to get the important names and dates all on one strip.

To curl the strips, wrap them around your craft knife or pen, then stuff all the paper curls into the glass bulb. Arrange them as you go in case it gets too packed to wiggle the couple's name back to visibility.

You can leave it plain, or toss in some coordinating glitter. I punched red hearts out of the invite's envelope, and bonus! The invitation came with a bow around it, so i took the ribbon off, ironed it nice and flat, and used it as the ornament's hanger.

I think this blogger was the first to do this, and I'm so glad I found her tutorial. I'm particularly fond of these clear glass balls now, and since I had to buy a four-pack, I have three more to fill up. Although, to be honest, I don't think it's going to happen this year. ;)

Friday, December 12, 2014

McCall's 6404: black leggings

This pattern suggests double knits; I used a black ponte from JoAnn, pet hair was my own addition though.
Ah yes, by the time I get around to sewing, and reviewing, a's discontinued. Typical.

These are McCall's 6404 and I like them a lot, mostly because the sweet seaming details on the legs. I'd like them even more if I could get the smaller size envelope, but I can't. Because it's OOP.

leggings pattern
Really, McCall's? Is it that hard to just put all five sizes of leggings in the same envelope? You can put five dress sizes in one envelope for crap's sake!

Ignore the "I could never be a ~real~ blogger" face-- picture in B&W with added contrast to try to show you the leg seams.
Anyway, I purchased the larger sizeway, measuring for the largest size (XL). I sewed the next size down based on reviews and finished garment measurements and still had to take them in. Ideally, I would go down to a medium, if I had that size. Since I don't, I'll make do with slicing some off my pattern. Which I guess works, since the stomach fits relatively well, so I can grade in at my narrow hips but leave the bigger waist measurement. (Lazy girl's full tummy adjustment ftw!)

Too big - too short (I only added 3 inches) - baggy crotch lines (need full tummy adjustment or crotch curve change? Not actually something I care too much to fix next time, we'll see.)
All that said, I like this pattern despite some other fitting issues (see the picture) and my biggest concern for the next pair is having the legs more narrow and tighter, which is what most of the other reviewers said as well.

I go into a little more detail in the video review:

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving + Vintage Sewing Videos

I was trying to think of a way to tie these two things together, but was coming up empty. Like, something about nostalgia and family gatherings and good old times?

Anyway, I wanted to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! I love this holiday and this year is kinda fun for us because my husband and I are cooking tons of food even though it's just us and the kids.

Separately, I've been collecting old sewing-related videos-- commercials for machines and instructional videos and the like, and am now sharing them on my YouTube channel. You can see them in the playlist above, which will automatically update everytime I add a video!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

How I mend jeans (Waste Not Weekly #10)

My jeans mending skillz have come a long way since I fixed the knee in this pair of jeans...which ended up ripping again soon after I fixed them.

Hold up-- I just realized the jeans I used in this week's video is that pair of jeans. Totally unplanned.

You see, when the knee in those jeans gave out yet after fixing it twice, I decided to just cut the jeans into shorts. But then my new shorts decided to get a hole in the butt (er, butt hole?) anway. Does the Gap outlet sell poor quality jeans, or what?

But this time around, I was ready. Since that knee ripped two years ago, I've fixed numerous holes and have devised what I think is the best way for fixing jeans. If you'd like to know the method, you can watch my How to Repair Jeans video.

Otherwise, I'll just tell you that I fixed FIVE pairs of jeans last week, putting a serious dent in my Waste Not Weekly pile, and getting some serious jeanage back into rotation. They weren't all small holes, either! There was a lot of chub-rub damage to be fixed, which of course tends to cover a sizeable area of denim real estate.

The bad news is I still have four of my husband's jeans to repair. I'll guess you'll be seeing those in a future Waste Not Weekly, but probs not anytime soon! Mending is on hold while I tend to some holiday projects!
Waste Not Weekly is all about my efforts to avoid fast fashion and heavy consumption while being as frugal and sustainable as I can. Once a week, I dedicate a post to checking off projects on my to-do list by using up my fabric and craft stash instead of buying new supplies, or refashioning and repairing clothes I have instead of buying more clothes.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Kermit the Frog quilt (Waste Not Weekly #9)

You may remember I made a quilt for my first son's 1st birthday, so I couldn't not make my second son one too...even though neither of them will remember said first birthdays!

The difference is that this quilt was made almost entirely from stash materials, so it counts as a Waste Not Weekly project. I only had to buy a little bit of  navy and green leaf-print fleece, maybe a yard and a half or so, to cover the entire back.

Everything else I already had; Kermit quilting cotton from the thrift store, a jelly roll by a brand called Stripz purchased on clearance from WalMart, and Kermit fleece bought when this stuff was out of stock.

This Muppet quilt ended up long and narrow, just like my string-bean shaped baby-- kind of in-between toddler and twin sized.

I still hate how much static electricity fleece generates, but I'm starting to warm to it because I find it so darn easy to work with.

The top is just a random, er, "design" I came up with (I just sewed strips and slashed here and there until it resembled a rectangle). There is no batting, but I decided this will be my last quilt that I do that.

For the quilting I did double random lines, my first time trying random line quilting. Also my first time using spray basting and I am a total convert! In fact, I'm thinking of going back and re-doing my two other most recent quilts to eliminate puckering...more stuff for my "Waste Not Weekly" to do list!
Waste Not Weekly is all about my efforts to avoid fast fashion and heavy consumption while being as frugal and sustainable as I can. Once a week, I dedicate a post to checking off projects on my to-do list by using up my fabric and craft stash instead of buying new supplies, or refashioning and repairing clothes I have instead of buying more clothes.
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