Archive for the ‘DIY’ Category

Let me preface this post by saying that high school me would certainly not approve this post.

Having a wonderfully sturdy sewing machine and occasional access to cast-off remnants of designer fabric has definitely promoted my crafty side.  Who better to benefit from my crafting than my adorable nieces?

So when I was given a scrap piece of Thibaut’s Denmark cotton fabric in Aqua, I knew I wanted to do something for the girls.  My sister had mentioned that her first daughter, who loves to bake, was recently complaining that she did not have an everyday apron.  It should be noted here that my niece is 3.5 years old, but definitely an old soul.  So, being the indulgent aunt, I went for it.

After scouring the interweb, I found this tutorial: Child’s Pleated Apron Tutorial on MerrimentDesign.com.

Child's Pleated Apron - from MerrimentDesign.com

Adorable right?

One major problem, though.  Only Part 1 was posted!  So I started off with a nice guide and then went rogue.  Here’s what happened.

First you wash the fabric, so that it doesn’t shrink and get all wonky when it’s actually used.

Rumpled Denmark

I promised full disclosure on this blog, so take this as a lesson (which I later learned somewhere on Young House Love, as I am obsessed with that blog).
When washing fabric, be sure to remove fabric from dryer right away.  The longer you let it sit in there, the harder it will be to iron.  You know, like regular clothes.  But, as *D will surely attest, I’m not that into ironing.

First frustrating lesson of this totally worthwhile project.

But picture me ironing all that fabric during a heat wave – without air conditioning.

Step by Step From Merriment Design (Since I could never describe it so well):

  • Main fabric
  • Contrasting fabric
  • Fusible interfacing
  • Thread
  • Rotary cutter, ruler and gridded self-healing rotary mat
  • Sewing machine

Cut the pieces and mark the pleats
Cut out the apron pieces using a rotary cutter, ruler and rotary mat:

Main fabric
Apron top: 8” wide x 11.5” tall
Apron bottom panel: 26” wide x 11.5” tall

Contrasting fabric
Neckties (cut 2): 4” x 20”
Apron trim: 2.5” x 25”
Apron waistband: 5” x 14”
Waistband ties (cut 2): 5” x 20”

Fusible interfacing
Apron waistband: 5” x 14”

Then mark the following measurements across the top of the panel starting from the left.
2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 14, 16, 17, 19, 20, 22

Apron panel

I must reiterate again here that I am new to sewing, blogging and photography.  I didn’t cut the fabric exactly straight, but it  looked good enough to me.

A Pile of Apron Pieces

More instructions from Merriment Design:
Make side seams on apron panel and trim

On the bottom apron panel: Fold the right side under ½ inch and press the fabric, wrong sides together. Turn ½ inch again and press. Sew the seam close to the edge. Repeat on the left side.

Attach the apron trim to the apron panel
On the apron trim: Fold the top long side of the apron trim ½ inch with wrong sides together and press. Fold both short sides of the apron trim ½ inch with wrong sides together and press.

Put the right side of the apron trim onto the wrong side of the apron panel, lining up the raw edges on the bottom. Pin the trim in place. Sew ½ inch seam to attach the apron trim to the apron panel.

Press the apron trim so it touches the front of the apron. Turn the apron over so the right side of the apron panel is facing up. Pin the apron trim onto the panel. Stitch the apron trim onto the apron panel by stitching ¼ inch near the edge. So it ends up that the apron trim is on the 100% on the front of the panel.

Attaching Apron Trim

As this picture proves, I followed Merriment Design’s quite closely.

You will also notice in this picture that I decided to use the same fabric for the trim, but just reversed.  While this does look cute, this was another mistake of mine.  Call it the second frustrating lesson of the project.

Apron Edge Trimmed

Notice anything about this?  Yup, those are pins.  Remember when I said pining is for suckers?  I take it back.

While the fabric looks great reversed – white, but with a hint of the design – it is already quite thick.  Adding layers of the same thick fabric, especially when the layers are seamed, creates a lot of problems.  And by problems, I mean several snapped needles.

Old & New Needles

After a visit to my local, independently owned sewing shop, I began the project again with heavy duty leather needles.  The ones on the left are from *D’s mom’s craft drawer, with the new purchase on the right.

After attaching the trim to the bottom of the apron, the fun begins.

More directions from Merriment:
Make and sew the pleats

Make 3 pleats on each side by matching up the first two marks with right sides together. Fold the pleat toward the center of the apron and pin in place. Repeat this step until you have 3 pleats on each side.

Press the pleats and sew a 3/8” stitch across the top of the raw edge to hold the pleats in place.

Photo from Merriment Design to further detail this process.

Child's Pleated Apron from Merriment Design - Pleats

This step was no joke.  For someone who’s barely sewn prior to this project, it really took me a long time to figure this one out.  So it was a great feeling when I finally did.  Which may have been a day or two later, since I walked away frustrated.  #3, if you’re counting.


But don’t they look great?!  I had decided early on that I would attempt two aprons, one for each niece.  As the second child in my own family, I remember how lame it was to not receive the same cool gifts as my older sister.  My second niece is a bit rambunctious like I was, so I decided to play it safe and only make the bottom part of the apron.  No neckties for that daredevil.

So for only one of the aprons, I followed the additional details below:

From Merriment Designs:
Make the top panel

Fold the right side ½” inches in towards the wrong side and press. Turn it ½” again, press and sew. Repeat on the left side. Fold the top side in towards the wrong side and press. Turn it again ½” again, press and sew. The bottom edge should still be raw.

Top Panel of Apron

See all those seams?  I definitely broke a bunch of needles on this step as well.  While this will definitely be a durable apron, selecting a cotton/linen blend may have been a little much.

From Merriment Design:
Make and attach the neck ties

Fold the neck ties in half and press, wrong sides together. Open. Fold the long sides into the center, wrong sides together, and press. Fold in half and sew ¼” around the neck tie, creating a 1” wide finished tie. Repeat for the other neck tie.

Photo from Merriment Design:

Child's Pleated Apron - Ties - from MerrimentDesign.com

This was a great lesson, to be used for many other sewing projects.

Apron Ties

For those keeping up, this equals 4 ties for Niece #1’s apron and only 2 for Niece #2.

From Merriment Design:
Pin the tie onto the top panel by placing it ½” from the sides and 1” from the top. Sew a square with two Xs in the middle to secure the ties onto the apron top.
Descriptive photos from Merriment Design:

Child's Pleated Apron - Ties- from MerrimentDesign.com

This is where the directions end.  I googled until my fingers hurt, but could not find Part 2!  So like I said on top – I went rogue.  Stay tuned for Part 2!

Also – the Feminist in me needs a footnote here.  No, I do not think little girls need to be raised to be happy home makers.  My niece happens to like cooking and tea parties, so this was one of the best things I could have made for her.

I also don’t think that enjoying sewing, crafting, aprons or cooking makes you any less of a rockstar female.  Though I am keeping this blog mostly anonymous, I can assure you readers that this was written by a somewhat tattooed career girl – jamming out to the Detroit Cobras while cutting patterns.  So there.



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Every June, our lovely suburban town organizes a round of bulk trash pick-up for all the residents who buy the expensive permit.   This grants residents the chance to get rid of all the crap they’ve accumulated through the years.  And it somehow opens up a flood gate of trash pickers from the whole Tri State Area.

Myself included!

During this period of widespread purging, it is a common sight to see a slow moving car creep by a trash pile – scoping out the goods.  And in certain neighborhoods, you can score some pretty good treasures.

*D and I purchase a permit just about every year, yet still have whole rooms of knick-knacks to chuck.  Either way, I was very satisfied with this year’s permit purge, as we definitely got rid of a lot of trash this year (including a 30 year old ping pong table).  We were also lucky to pick up these lovelies.

Wicker Score!

Because everyone knows a suburban porch needs as much wicker furniture as possible.

These two lounge chairs were a lucky find, as I’ve been meaning to add more options to join the “king’s” seat and love seat we already refurbished.

These were originally spotted by *D and my father.  Knowing my love for all things wicker, they grabbed one – and took me back to evaluate the others on my own.

As we are definitely in Trash not Treasure mode, I limited myself to only grabbing two.  One for me and one more for guests!

Sweet Wicker Lounger

To kick off this Wicker Chair Revival, I drenched them both with my garden hose, to get all the leaves and dirt off.

Warning to other DIY’ers – While doing this, though, I chipped off tons of paint.  I would have picked a different spot in the yard to do the soaking, had I realized how many paint chips would fly off.

After moving the chairs to the back of the yard, where no grass will grow, I brought out the steel bristle brush and sand paper, and went to town on these suckers.

Luckily, they were both in pretty good condition – just a little dirty and with a few spots of discoloration.

My Wicker Chair's Undercarriage

After spraying the chairs down again with the hose, to get rid of all the dirt and dust, we were ready to paint.

After debating which color to enrich these two newbies with, I made the executive decision to try Winter Grey by Rustoleum.  It seemed very similar to the color of the porch, but would not be too matchy.  I also wanted to have a little contrast between the stark white (or once stark white) pieces that we already owned.

A Wicker Pair

Still being new to this whole blogging thing, I obviously forgot to take pics of several steps.
Either way, after a trip to HomeGoods, they now look like this.

1 Cute Wicker Chair

Another Cute Wicker Chair

Aren’t they cute?!

The Finished Pair

What do you think?!

I’m happy to say that this project inspired a makeover of some other items that were already being used on the porch.   Post coming soon…

But as a preview, check out this post on my porch by my lovely designer friends John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon on their fun blog Demystifying Design!

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For our wedding last year, I went a little overboard on DIY projects to decorate and accent the day.  I would not take back one blister, one cut, not even the life-long battle with arthritis that I have ushered in due to over-crafting.  It made me so happy to see all my work exhibited on the actual day of the wedding – and to be completely honest – it really did swell my ego and make me feel like a Martha-worthy DIY goddess.  There – I admitted it.

That said – I was beyond honored/humbled/flattered/excited when my best friend from college asked me to contribute to her wedding day!  Monique has always been like a long lost sister to me, and graced *D and I with a reading at our wedding.  She also happens to be an avid blogger!  Check her out here – Tipa Tipa.

Picking an actual camp as their wedding location, I was asked to make bridal bunting to hang from all the guest cabins and throughout the various locations.  The wedding passed about a month ago, and I am still so happy with the results and that I was able to contribute.

Below are my step by step instructions for this super simple, yet very impactful party decoration choice.

I used these instructions on the Joyful Abode blog as a guide – and made my own tweaks as I went.

Fabric for bunting – Monique searched where every crafter knows to search – Etsy –  and sent everything directly to me.  She purchased the fabric from Iron Sea on Etsy.

I had to laugh each time I opened a new box, as *D and I have closets full of some of the exact same prints!  Now that I’ve been documenting all the strange house finds, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

Vintage fabric from Etsy

To get started, I looked at all the different colors and patterns of fabric and tried to group them together.  Monique and I had decided to mix up the patterns for each string of bunting, and overall the colors looked wonderful together.

Measuring Flag Jig & Supplies

Tools to complete the project:

New Cutting Mat – this was a great find, purchased here.
Rotary Cutter – I purchased my Fiskar at Michael’s and use it all the time now.
Cardboard – to create a flag jig
Old school ruler – Found in *D’s mom’s sewing table
Sharpie – see above
Bias tape – which was actually hard to find!  I was very impressed with the selection and pricing at the Vogue Fabric Store Online

Cardboard Flag

Using the Joyful Abode directions as a guide, I made a few jigs and a few cuts of fabric to see which size looked best.

After picking the 6.5″ x 8″ flag size, I got to work.  It should be noted that I am not the biggest stickler when it comes to accuracy, so it’s more of an approximate 6.5″ x 8″.

Hook Ends of Bias Tape

Knowing that the bunting was going to be hung the day before the wedding, on the porches of the cabins, I made sure to include hooks at the end.

Sew the ends over, creating a little fold or hook hole.  That way,when you go to hang up the bunting – it goes up easily!

Fabric flags - ready to be sewn

Not the best picture – but some of the lovely fabric flags waiting to be sewn!

Attempt at pinning

It should also be noted that this was one of my first official sewing projects.

So everything was an experiment and a learning process.

Hence, my attempt at pinning.  For this project, I found it to be much more annoying and time consuming.

I found that if you slide the fabric into the bias tape and align it to be straight, natural tension will keep it where it belongs.
As long as you hold the bias tape taught, then the fabric should stay tight and straight within the bias tape.

That, and with such thin bias tape, I had to stop every few seconds to remove pins.  No fun.

Pinning is for suckers

Well – for me, pinning wasn’t necessary.  I know that several future projects will need pins, and I will then be offended by my own post.

Completed Bunting

I’m so happy that I was able to do this project for my dear friend, and learn along the way.

For all friends and family members – expect lots of holiday/occasion themed bunting!

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When *D was a baby, his nursery was adjacent to his parent’s room.  Wanting to always hear *D’s chirps, cries, and other baby noises, his parents opted to have the regular wooden door removed – and replaced it with a screen door.  The illusion of privacy, with clear range of sound.  Future nursery designers take note.

*D abandoned his nursery for the much “cooler” third floor in his teens, so this room has been somewhat neglected over the years.  And by somewhat, I mean completely.  Other than being a sometimes guest room to our favorite guest, the Right Rev Joe, this room has remained as seen here.

Craft Room - Owl Wall

Check out the cracked plaster walls.  While this does show the sad state of the room – it also really highlights the quality of the walls.  I do not know when these walls were put up, but I would not be surprised if they were original to the house – so we’re talking 1910.  Although I’m pretty sure that Owl light switch is ‘new.’

Here’s another plaster wall – showing off the lovely fabric curtain that acts as the door.  See that trio of baby pictures?  *D’s mom was a twin, so we have this picture proudly hung here.  This is probably the only decoration in the room that is safe from my DIY/Spray Paint habit..

Craft Room Entrance

Again – being that this was originally set up to be a nursery – you have to be a little amused by the decorations.  Dinosaur border?  Check.  Weird metal wall sculptures?  Staggered for effect.

Dinosaur Corner

This picture really captures a lot.  You can also see a bit of a lighter square in the middle of the picture.  A Hershey Park poster used to hang here, but in a fit of cleaning I threw it out.  No, *D, no one will buy that in a garage sale.

But those odd metal flower pieces are definitely up for debate.  To keep?  Gift?  The more I look at them, the less jarring they appear – combined with dreams of red high gloss lacquer sprucing it up a bit…  Am I crazy?

And the aqua-colored radiator…  I cannot wait to renovate and finally make this house energy efficient!

In the opposite corner, the tiniest, most cluttered closet sits.  Another indicator of how old this house is, the closet is quite small.  But as you can see – *D’s parents used every square inch of this closet to house clothes, Christmas decorations and who knows what else.

Craft Room Closet

It should be noted that this is not the only space for Christmas decorations in our happy home.  Most dressers, drawers, closets and cubby holes have at least one small touch of Christmas hidden inside.  As a complete Christmas junkie, this should delight me.  But the amount – and the condition of some items – is definitely concerning.  To be sure, we will not be tossing any of these once beloved items, but will be selling at every garage sale – and gifting to tacky Christmas enthusiasts when appropriate.

Below the Christmas decoration shelf, you will notice some of the oldest, scariest wire hangers known to man.  Makes me understand Mommie Dearest…
  And my favorite detail of the room!  Can you tell what is going on in here?!

Closeted Wallpaper

Wallpaper in the closet!  I love it!  The periwinkle ground – the Liberty-esque yellow blooms…  It’s the perfect amount of humor and kitsch – at least in my opinion.  It’s little gems like this that make me realize how unique this house is – and encourages me to keep going with my own design plans for the renovation.  Expect lots of wallpapered closets!

While the renovation project is still another year off – we are making do with what we have.  As you can see in these photos, we are not engaging in any major make overs.  It is just not worth the time, money, or energy.  And in the case of this room, I lucked out – as we agreed that it would be nice to have one room to contain all my crafting supplies and half finished projects.

With a lot of cleaning and dusting, and arguments over what to keep and what to trash – this is now my craft room.  Complete with work table, cutting mat, old school Singer Sewing machine – and plenty of space to work.

Sadie the Singer

That is my Singer Sewing Machine, Sadie.  More on Sadie to come…

In addition to the solid wooden craft table (which already lived in here), I set up my lovely college dorm room plastic drawers, in attempt to stay organized.  I’ve carted this set with me since Freshmen year of college, and have never been able to part with it.  Now, these sticker covered drawers house all my crafting tools – and my Type A self couldn’t be happier.

Now for my favorite part of the room – the view.  This is what I think about when people ask us why we don’t live in the city.

Craft Room View

Stay tuned for projects completed here.

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here we go!

It has been recommended that I start a blog. So this is me, doing just that.

I hope that the interwebs appreciates my humor and gusto as my husband (hereafter referred to as simply *D) and I deconstruct his childhood home in Suburbia. We pre-inherited a 100 year old Side Hall Victorian house in a beautiful suburb of NYC, in New Jersey. This home happens to be in the town that both *D and I both grew up in.  Although we weren’t technically high school sweethearts, you get the drift.

After years of being somewhat neglected (due to several factors, which I will not bore you with on here), it is time the house gets a big overhaul. So that is where we (and you, dear blog-readers, aka Mom), come in.

So bear with me as I translate our finds and our work onto this blog.

I will share the before pics, the during pics, and the after pics – over the course of the next two years. Or ten years, based on *D’s lofty ideas of design and construction…

This journey will not simply be photos of our unique house. It should also be noted that *D’s parents both had an affinity for knick-knacks and for compulsive saving. As we go through the house, room by room, we often have to stop and consider why something was purchased, what usage was intended, or why something was saved.  I plan to share these little treasures with you all along the way.

And in addition to posting about the treasures we unearth, I will also be sharing lots of other goodies.

To celebrate our first year of marriage, I’ve arranged several small weekend trips for us to take together, exploring new cities and sights.   So expect some honest reviews, tips and fun pics – including my favorite of the HV/AC Farm. Stay tuned.

Another reason I felt compelled to start this blog was to review and highlight some of the cultural goodies this great Garden State has to offer – but is often not recognized for.  So expect some yummy restaurant reviews, cultural events, home tours, etc.

And lastly – to finally capture and share all my design forays, crafting binges and DIY moments of glory and shame, I will share all my tips, true stories, and of course pics.

That’s right – all while DeConstructing Suburbia.

We’re not all white picket fences and green front lawns out here.
I promise.

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