Saturday, February 27, 2010

Button Monogram Pillow Tutorial

Here it is, the tutorial you've all been waiting for.  Take it away Sarah...

On a recent trip to my local thrift store, appropriately named Nifty Thrift, I struck gold pink. I pulled up in front of the outdoor clearance rack, and this full length silk dress was staring me in the face.

After making this pillow, I had in mind to make a pink one for my eldest niece. Even on sale, the silk fabric I used for the first pillow ran about $12/yard. Total cost for this lovely pink dress.....50 cents!
After freshening up the dress with a spin through the wash, I decided to try it on. Funny enough, it fit perfectly! However, since I didn't have any plans to go as Barbie next Halloween, I decided to stick with my original plan and use the fabric for a pillow case. Here's how you can make your very own button monogram pillow.
What you'll need:

-12" x 16" pillow form
-17" x 13" fabric, 2 pieces
-60" (5 feet) of 1/2" pom pom trim
-12-14" invisible zipper
-invisible zipper foot for sewing machine
-assorted buttons

Wash, dry, and iron your fabric before beginning. Start by cutting two pieces of fabric, 17" x 13" each. Keep in mind the width of your trim. This is roughly the amount of seam allowance you will need for each side. For example, if the base of your trim is 1/2" wide, you will need a 1/2" seam allowance on each side of your fabric. If the width of your trim is smaller, you will want to cut your fabric a bit smaller so that your pillow case fits snugly.
Next, pin the trim to the right side of one piece of fabric, pom poms facing in. 

Using a basting stitch, sew the trim to the fabric. This will help keep it in place when you sew the two pieces of fabric together.
Pin your fabric, right sides together, making sure the trim is tucked in. You want to sew as close to the inside edge of the trim as possible (the edge nearest the pom poms). For our trim, we will want to sew about 1/2" in from the edge, around three sides of the pillow. IMPORTANT: Do not sew both long edges, one will be left open for the invisible zipper. Make sure to back tack at the beginning and end of your seam (To back tack, sew forward a few stitches, backward a few stitches, and then forward again, continuing with your seam. This will prevent your seam from unraveling.)
Snip both corners of your pillow so they look clean when turned right side out. Turn your pillow right side out and make sure your trim looks nice and neat.
To add the invisible zipper you will need a clothes iron and invisible zipper foot. The invisible zipper will come with installation instructions. Follow these exactly! If this is your first time to install an invisible zipper, you may want to practice first. The instructions are a little confusing the first time through.
Once you've added your zipper, you're ready to add your buttons! Using chalk (or a disappearing marking pen) trace your letter onto the front of your pillow. This will be your guide when adding the buttons. Sew the buttons on by hand. I like to tie off my thread after every few buttons. That way if I want to go back and move a button, I'm not undoing the entire letter. Make sure to use buttons in a variety of shapes and sizes, and layer them throughout your letter. I ordered my buttons in bulk off of Ebay for a few dollars.

Insert your pillow form, zip your zipper (if you can find it after the amazing job you did at making it invisible) and enjoy your personalized pillow!

**For more projects like this one visit Sarah's blog.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Meet Sarah!

Sarah is a dear friend of mine, as well as a fellow blogger and crafter. She works full time as an epidemiologist but still finds time to be a fantastic wife, renovate her home, and make these insanely cute felted animals:

You can follow Sarah’s blog where she shares lots of DIYs and decorating advice—and lots of funny real life anecdotes in between! You will also get the chance to experience the insights and humor of her husband Zach who is hilarious and also a very talented DIYer. Visit Sarah’s Etsy shop MinnieMillery to see all of her sweet felted creatures, as well as some other handmade items and vintage treasures.

When did you start making things by hand?

I'm sure my mom has a box full of macaroni art and finger paintings from my preschool years, but I would say that I first got interested in art around age 8 or 9, when my mom enrolled me in an oil painting class. I remember I was the only child in the class, and had a painting book with nothing but animals in it. My first painting was of a raccoon. It wasn't until after college that I became more interested in sewing and needlecrafting. Maybe getting married brought out the domestic side of me, or maybe it was buying our first house and wanting to create things to make it a home. Whatever the reason, making things by hand definitely helps me unwind after spending all day in front of a computer at work.

Where did you first get the idea for your felted animals?

A couple years ago I had no idea what needle felting was. I came across a feature in Radiant magazine and loved the little birds by Lauren Bradshaw. At the time, I thought they were just stitched together from felt. Then I starting seeing more and more needle felted pieces on places like Etsy, and shared them with my husband Zach. Thoughtful husband that he is, he bought me a needle felting kit for Christmas one year. After practicing with basic shapes, I started making animals. I use the same basic shapes for most of my animals, however my favorite animals to make right now are bears.

What was the toughest update you’ve made to your house so far?

Removing the popcorn ceiling! Although this job doesn't require a lot of skill, it's very messy and physically demanding. We tackled this project after we had moved in, which added to the difficulty. With 8 rooms (plus closets) across two stories, we were eating popcorn for months.Fixing the broken toilet waste pipe in the foundation of our half bath comes in as a close second.

Which was the most satisfactory?

When the last trace of popcorn was gone from our ceilings, we had quite a celebration. We jumped up and down, sang songs, and gave high fives. But I think one of the best transformations was our half bathroom. We pretty much gutted the space, replacing all the old fixtures and lighting. We added a classic pedestal sink, white bead board, and painted the walls sage green. It's a small space, but one of our favorites!

Give us your best tip or piece of advice when it comes to tackling a big project in your home.

Don't be afraid to make mistakes! Zach has definitely helped encourage me in this area....he doesn't call me Safety Sarah for nothing.

I am so excited to announce that Sarah has sent me an amazing tutorial that I will be posting very soon, so be sure and stop by to check it out in the next couple of days--it's a good one!

Thank you Sarah!!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Endearing Cottage Architectural Oddities

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but our house is over 122 years old, across the street from a church built in 1212, in a village that has existed for over 1,000 years. I repeat, over 1,000 years. This is staggering considering the US has only been a country for about 234 years. It wasn't until after we moved in that I found out our house used to be a butchers shop (sometimes I think I wake up to moooo-ing), then it was the village post office before World War 1, and after that it was purely residential. All this to say, they built houses differently back in the good old days: walls aren't straight but are curvy, rooms aren't symmetrical, and the house itself is a wedge shape--wider at one side and tapering out at the other. I love it. I call it my Dr. Seuss house. It has been updated quite a bit, but there are still wonderful features that remind me that I'm living in a little piece of history. I am also thankful to the couple who lived here before us, and did a lot of the renovations, for their attention to detail and careful restoration.

To the left of our log burner there is a little bread oven. In the old days when you had a fire going you would basically make your bread dough and it would rise in the bread oven next to the fire.

We have these great old wooden bedroom doors upstairs with old hardware. Love.
Exposed beams. We have a few of these scattered about.
This isn't old but I like it and hate it. This is our closet.
Our stairway, like our house, is wide at one end and narrow at the other.
You can see how thick the walls are in this picture. Here is our lovely stable door.
Wiiiide windowsills. Great for house plants.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Day of Love

For our first V Day as a married couple Sam built me a table (well put it together).
And I built him a lemon meringue pie.

Isn't it great how well the two went together? I say went because that's what the pie did.
I am so fortunate to be married to a very romantic person who planned a fancy 4 course picnic in the car (it's dang cold still) at a beautiful spot overlooking Wales with candles, wine, music and blankets. And when it got dark we lit some big lanterns and watched them float away over the hills. So sweet. So perfect.
Okay, back to the table. I am so pumped about that. The first day it's over 40 degrees F we are having a bbq for sure. I can't wait for the long summer days of England to enjoy sitting outside surrounded by all of the beautiful flowers that I'm determined to grow. Come over and enjoy it with us!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cockney Rhyming

A couple of weeks ago I promised a post on Cockney Rhyme. Here it is. Basically rhyming slang is where a word is replaced with a rhyming word so frog and toad=road and apples and pears=stairs. No one knows where rhyming slang originally began because variations of it exist in most languages. Rhyming slang is known as Cockney rhyme here in the United Kingdom since it is usually associated with Cockney speech from the East End of London and is believed to date back to the 1840s. Apparently you are a Cockney if you are born within earshot of the Bow Bells, however, the church of Mary-le-Bow was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 so there you go.

As I don't live in London I don't hear an awful lot, but when ever I don't understand what people are talking about I assume they are putting this Cockney Rhyme to use. Some common rhymes:

Ham and cheesey = Easy
Chevy Chase = Face
Uncle Ned = Head
Saucepan Lid = Kid
Chicken and Rice = Nice
Almond Rocks = Socks
Man on the Moon = Spoon
Cain and Able = Table
Bat and Wicket = Ticket
Trouble and Strife = Wife
Donkey's Ears = Years

So you might hear exchanges such as:

-"How was your driving test?" "Ham and cheesey."
-"Where are you going?" "Home to the trouble and strife."
-"Chicken and rice almond rocks" --just kidding, never heard that one before, but it would be funny.

My favorite one by far is Scooby Doo = Clue. Sam uses this one a lot. I ask him a question like "What are you making me for dinner tonight?" and he says, "I haven't got a Scooby."

There you go, Cockney Rhyme in a straw hut kiss and tell.

I have an exciting interview with one of my favorite artists to post in the next few days, so stay tuned for that along with an exclusive tutorial that will rock your world.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

after pictures of a little stool

I picked up this little foot stool for £2 at a car boot sale in the fall. At the time the legs were stained dark brown, and the top was covered with a orangey/puke colored velvet material. The man I bought it from said it was quite a special stool because all of his grandchildren had sat and played on it when they were young. I loved it, and love it even more now that it's a bit more my style.

Friday, February 12, 2010

check out this massive doily

Is that amazing or what? It was created by Ladies and Gentlemen, and it looks like they may be doing a DIY tutorial of it in their book this fall...

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I love doors.  Here are a few pictures that I took of some doors in the little village of Dunster.  Believe it or not, these were all on the same street.  Aren't they great?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Animal-Lovers and Anti-Hunting Activists Avert Your Eyes Please (you have been warned)

It has been established that I live in a strange place the country.  While I love it and have accepted it, there are still things that happen that are alarming.  Take last Saturday night for example:

Sam and I were at the in-laws having a meal and a game of Trivial Pursuit, I'd had a couple glasses of wine, it was the weekend, everything was grand.  I was in a comfortable place, with people I trust laughing and being merry.  Then I had to go to the bathroom.  The downstairs bathroom is through the utility room which is through the kitchen, and I always close the door to the utility room to keep the heat in.  I used to always turn on the light because I'm a huge baby, but when I've had a drink and I'm feeling brave I leave it off and scoot through to the bathroom.  This was where I made a very grave  mistake on Saturday.  I came out of the bathroom when I was finished, and was reaching for the door latch when I grabbed something strange.  Something unusual.  This:

Which was when I started and stumbled forward with my face buried into a "coat" which was actually this:

As I fumbled for the light switch, and when I finally turned it on found myself eye to eye with this:

Which was when my knees buckled and I stifled a scream of terror.  

I'm from Texas y'all, I have accepted that people hunt, it doesn't even bother me that much anymore.  And since being here I have seen my fair share of pheasants hanging out in people's utility rooms/kitchens/front porches.  It was just the last thing I expected to put my face on on Saturday.  Needless to say, Sam and his parents laughed at me.  

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Curtains???

One of my favorite scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail is when the king is up in the Prince's room and they're looking out the window, and the king said, "One day all of this will be yours." and the prince said, "The curtains?" and the king said something like, "No you idiot, the kingdom." and the prince said, "I don't want to be king... I want to SING!" and then started singing and the king got exasperated and something else happened and the prince ends up falling out of the window. Anyway, I have always loved the part where the prince said "The curtains?" in an English accent, and I can't say those two words together without doing it just like that. Ever. So here is how I made the curtains? for our bedroom:

It all started a few weeks ago when I bought some curtains that were on sale, and upon bringing them home realized that I didn't actually want to spend that much. So I returned them and went in search of a suitable alternative. I found a duvet cover that was just the ticket, because it was the same color as the ones I had purchased, and it also meant that I could make them look the way I want. It was tremendously simple because it was a twin size duvet cover, and was the perfect size to fit our window, and all I had to do was to cut it down the middle and sew up the seams. Then I folded the top part of each panel over by 5" and cut pieces of Pottery Barn ribbon that I had kept from some of our wedding gifts, and made little tabs to sew onto the back part of the curtains? like so:
I sewed a seam an inch from the top to form a ruffle while also catching the top of each tab.
Then I sewed a seam at the bottom to close the "flap" while also catching the bottom of each tab. This way there is the option to put the curtain rod through the flap or through the tabs, get it?
In this photo I have put the rod through the tabs, and it gives it a very nice gathering effect.

And this is what it looks like from the back.
And here is the window.
This is what our bedroom looked like when we moved in. We had curtains that were hand me downs, and served their purpose beautifully but totally clashed with everything. Always a very temporary fix. We took off the curtain track that was up there and put up a curtain rod that we got from Sam's sister when they were remodeling their home. We painted the rod white as well and installed it this past week.

Since we moved in we have painted the dressers and distressed them (there is one on the other side of the bed too), painted the wardrobe (the big thing in the right hand side of the picture) and painted the walls grey. I really am so happy with how it looks now with the curtains?!!!!
This is how the bedroom looked this morning after I finished and hung the curtains? I'm quite pleased. We plan on hanging pictures eventually, as soon as I bring some back with me after my trip home in March.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Living in the Projects

Sam and I are definitely living in the projects these days. I mean, there are projects in progress everywhere around here. There are lot of things we want to do to our little house to make it our own, and now that we both have incomes they're starting to happen. It sure is messy though. Sam came down stairs this morning (where I was covering some boring lamp shades) and said, "THERE ARE TOOLS EVERYWHERE!!!" Which I thought was funny, coming from a man. But there are--pretty much on every surface. I'm hoping to post some pics soon of the little things we have gotten done, but I've been really bad about taking before pictures, so you wont be able to appreciate the vast improvements we've made. This weekend we are organizing our spare room, downsizing a desk, painting and hanging a curtain rod, making and hanging curtains, cutting back our outdoor plants and cleaning off the deck of all dead leaves and dirt, and getting rid of the last of the mold that we have had such a problem with (this involves bleaching, sanding and repainting things). I am rewarding Sam for all of his hard work by allowing him going with him to watch a Rugby game.

Going back to the mold problem (mould if you're English), we have had to get creative. I have done lots of research and have found some handy ways of preventing mold. Our closet is the main problem area, so now we keep our shoes in plastic bins, and have purchased this:

Which you can buy here, and it really does make a difference in our little closet. Basically it is a porcelain "egg" with absorbing crystals inside of it--the same stuff that you find in those little packets in shoe boxes, and when the little sensors on the sides go from blue to pink you pop it in the microwave (or if you're like us, in the oven) and it makes the moisture inside of it evaporate and it's ready to go again. The egg is made for small spaces, so we also invested in a dehumidifier which is expensive but totally worth it because it gets so much moisture out of the air. We run it about 2 or 3 times a week for an hour or so and get about a cup of water each time--THATS HOW DAMP IT IS Y'ALL.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom!

Love you and can't wait to see you in a month!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Go to Natalie Jost's blog at Olive Manna to vote for this very sweet giveaway. In honor of Valentines Day she asks that you post a romantic story when you leave a comment.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Common English Words Defined

This post is inspired by some nasty emails I have received lately, in response to some of my emails, which have been auto "corrected" by my UK version of Outlook. Hence such changes have occurred against my will: labor-->labour, neighbor-->neighbour, color-->colour. Basically, I have some family and friends who have accused me of becoming Englishized and being a poser, or one of those obnoxious American people who try to become Europeans (the audacity), and I hereby say IT'S NOT MY FAULT. I am also here to say that I get made fun of on both sides of the pond. There are a surprising number of words that are not the same--I am trying to speak their language here but sometimes I forget.

A list of commonly used English words that differ from American in alphabetical order (more or less):

Biro--ball point pen
Bobby--police officer
Estate car--station wagon
High Street--shopping area
Jacket potato--baked potato
Jumper--pullover sweater
Kitchen roll--paper towels
Loo roll--toilet paper
manky-rough, dirty, nasty
minger--someone who is unattractive
Nutter--insane person
One the Piss--drinking heavily
Pikey--Irish traveler, aka Gypsie
Plonker--fool, silly person
Press up--push up
Push chair--forward facing baby carriage
Toff--member of the upper class
Wing mirrors--side mirrors
Wobbly-freak out, have a hissy fit
Wonky--not straight
Yob--young troublemaker

So you see, there are a lot of differnces. Please don't have a wobbly if you get a ping from me with wonky words in it because I'm still trying to orientate myself, and this is not the same English as I learnt at uni, I'm not a plonker innit.

Stay tuned for tomorrows/next weeks post: Cockney Rhyme and Other English Anomalies...