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Joint project for the baby

For about 7 years I have had the Ikea Apa wooden toy box.  I’ve used it for storage but I’ve been clearing out a lot of stuff lately and don’t have anything in it so I thought, why not use this for the baby’s toy box?  I got some fabric to put on the sides and then Jason said, why don’t we paint it?  So this is what we did.

This is what we started with, $14.99 at Target.This is what we started with, $14.99 at Ikea.

First Jason painted it.  He got the high gloss green from Home Depot.  He only needed a pint and I think it only cost about $15.  On the inside of the short end you may notice a bit of pink paint.  That was leftover from our bedroom and Jason thought the toy chest looked kind of cool with a bit of contrasting color.

I measured each of the 4 sections I planned to add fabric to and cut the fabric to size with about 1/4″ extra on each edge.  Then I pressed down the excess fabric while measuring carefully to make sure I maintained the correct dimensions.


I hot glued the fabric to each section.  I found it worked best if I glued a few inches at a time and ended on a corner.  When I did the long edges I worked on both sides simultaneously, a few inches on one side, then a few on the other.

After the fabric was glued down we attached handles and some purchased feet from Home Depot.  We are already trying to think of the ways in which our kid will try to destroy our home and dragging a toy chest across the wood floor until it scratches the floor seems like a pretty good possibility.  Hence, the feet.  We debated putting casters on the bottom but decided against it.  I think if we had our little one would be tobagganing down the hill in his toy chest as soon as our backs were turned.

This is the kind of project I get really excited about because we repurposed something we already had and it didn’t cost much.  I think the materials cost for the project was under $30.  Since I had been using the chest for 7 years I don’t think the cost figures much into the cost of the project.


Cloth napkins

I grew up using cloth napkins and have meant for a long time to get around to making some for myself.  We tend to use paper towels as napkins and I always feel slightly guilty every time I toss one away.  During my parents’ recent visit I took Mom and Dad downtown to the fabric district with the idea in mind that it was time to buy some fabric for napkins.  Mom was looking for napkin fabric, too and we hit a couple of $1 a yard storesn  looking for 100% cotton.  Of course, the $1 a yard stores suck you in with the intial promise but often you end up liking something that is not $1 a yard.  I picked a fabric with orange circles and Mom picked a calico.  I think my fabric selections startle my mother sometimes because her taste is more sweet and mine is more bold.  She’ll say something neutral in a quiet little voice such as,”That looks like you,” or, “It’s not my thing, but if YOU like it.”

I also found some Amy Butler fabric on sale for $6 a yard.  I was pretty excited because I really like Amy Butler’s designs and the fabric is great quality cotton and often pretty pricey by my cheapskate standards.

Amy Butler fabric napkins

Both fabrics yielded 6 napkins that are 16″ x 16″.  I hemmed them pretty simply around the edges.  That should be enough to get us started using cloth napkins!  My mother gave me an interesting tip.  She was shopping at an antique mall and saw a booth with beautiful vintage linens that were absolutely spotless.  She asked the seller how she got the linens so clean and the woman told her she soaked them in water mixed with Tide, sometimes for up to 3 days.  She just keeps checking them until the stains have all come out.  Apparently Tide is stronger than other detergents.  I plan on keeping this tip in mind for baby clothes, too!

Here is how I hemmed the napkins:

Press about 1/4" on two opposite sides.

Tuck the raw edge of the fabric under toward the crease you pressed and stitch down.

Now that you've stitched the first two sides, press down the two remaining raw edges in the same fashion

Clip or "miter" the corners a little before you stitch these sides to reduce bulk in the corner of the napkins. I only did this on the Amy Butler fabric because it was a heavier weight. The other fabric didn't need it.

Now you have hemmed all four edges and your napkins are done.  I tend to do this kind of work in assembly-line fashion.  I did two sides on all six napkins first, then did step two on the napkins all at the same time.  Clip any stray threads and you are done!

This is the other set of napkins I made!

Gucci belt, I want you so bad.

A big part of my mission is starting this blog is to push myself to do the projects on which I am vacillating.  Let me tell you it is a long list.  I have a scrapbook of cutout pages from magazines that are full of ideas I meant to follow up on and this spring, in the pages of Elle, I found another item for the file.  I found this Gucci belt that cost $990 dollars and the back of my brain started singing.  I could make that!  I could!  Immediately I picked it apart in my mind and knew exactly how I would make it.  All I needed was the right fabric and some gold cord.  Wait!  You are wondering what the hell I am talking about.  Here is the belt.

Right in the center, gold belt.

So I went downtown and bought this fabric.

It was $15 a yard and the guy would not let me buy less than a yard.  Still $15 versus almost $1000.  I think I made out ok.  I have most of the fabric still.  I could make several more of this belt.This is the finished product.  I lined it with black linen.  I made mine 4″ wide and it is cute but in hindsight I think I might have made it more like 3″.  When you are curvy and you wear a very wide belt it does tend to try to fold over while you are wearing it to accommodate the curve of your waist.  I have worn this several times with dresses and it looks great.  It really glams up an outfit.

Popcorn bags: a project (and a secret)

You remember the Oscars?  A couple of weeks ago?

We had some people over to watch and I spent a couple of days prepping the food and I made these little popcorn bags to serve kettle corn in.  Here’s how I did it.

popcorn bags

First I printed my text on the sheets.  I put the document in landscape view, centered the text and positioned it a few spaces down from the top edge but still near the top.

Then I marked for the creases.  My marking were at 2.5″, 3″ and 3.5″ from the edge.

Then I took some markers and drew an oval around the text and stripes on the fronts of the bags.

Then I cut a notch out of the top edge of the bag and a flap at the bottom edge.  These were only about a half inch deep each.

After that I started to assemble the bags.  First I folded the creases.

In case the pictures are less than clear I essentially made a small inverted pleat about a half inch deep on each side of the bag using my crease marking guidelines.

Then I glued the bags together.  First I glued the back seam and let it dry for a bit while resting under a heavy book, then I glued up the bottom flap and put it back under the heavy book for about an hour.

And now the secret.  I never used them.  I was so busy prepping the rest of the food that I completely forgot to pop the corn.  At least I got a post out of it!

Narrowing a tie

So much can be said about the design influence of Mad Men and in my house it has made itself felt in the menswear area as my husband expresses his dissatisfaction with wide ties.  He has been more interested in neck wear in general lately and all the purchases he has made could have easily been incorporated into the Mad Men aesthetic.

Ken sports a narrow tie on Mad Men

My husband had one wide tie hanging around which he wanted to wear.  It happens to be the tie he wore when we got married and neither of us likes buying things for only one occasion so I offered to narrow it for him and he was delighted.  “Can that be done?” he asked.  Yes it can, and this is what I did.

This is the tie in its original form.

Opening up the back of the tie revealed the lining and batting.

I measured the tie against a tie my husband likes the width of and determined that the offending tie was 1/2″ wider on each side at the widest point.  I marked the new widest point with chalk and used a ruler to mark the cutting line up to the point where the two ties matched in measurement.

Marking the cutting lines

Then I cut the batting and repositioned the fabric over the new silhouette and steamed the fabric lightly with an iron to remove the old crease lines. I trimmed out about 1″ of the tie and lining fabric but that was almost too much and I had to do a bit of finagling to get the back of the tie lined up.  After that I lightly pressed the fabric back into place over the batting.

The fabric pinned back into place.

I sewed up the back with an invisible slipstitch and put the label and the other bit of fabric (the one you stick the back end of the tie through) back in place and the tie was ready to go.  My husband wore it the next day and he loved it.  By the way I am certain there is a name for that bit of fabric you stick the back end of the tie through.  It is probably French and I don’t know what it is and a quick Google search has not answered the question so I will save it for another time.

The finished product.