Hand Stitched Pillows

While traveling this past April and May, we made it to Kampala, Uganda. The main attraction was of course the mountain gorillas — absolutely amazing, you must go see them before they sadly become extinct. The second attraction, ok besides the chimps, was the fabric. A lot of the fabric is made in Uganda, and other pieces come from Nigeria. Our friends in Nairobi say that Uganda has the most gorgeous fabric in all of Africa. Can’t say I disagree. $30 later, I’m in heaven!

Recently we purchased the Karlstad, L-shaped sofa from Ikea, in isunda gray. It can be very big and plain, and I’ve been struggling to find pillows that are lounge-y, comfortable, beautiful, man-friendly, and inexpensive to go with it. So I thought making my own with purchased fabric would be the best bet. I purchased a couple various sized cushions from Ikea – like $7-$15 per pillow, that you can stuff in once stitched. If you’re like me and don’t have a sewing machine, these can be exceptionally time consuming… however…they’re SUPER easy to make, and Orange is the New Black Season Two was just released, so my guess is you have some time to kill.

For your encouragement, a finished photo:

photo 3-2

The black and white checkered one is from Ikea (actually went quite nicely with them!). The green and aqua are the fabric purchases I made in Kampala.

What You’ll Need:

  1. Scissors
  2. Measuring tape
  3. Fabric – really depends on the size you want your pillows to be. For the larger green pillow, I cut two pieces of 23X23 inches.
  4. The pillow or stuffing you want to use for the inside — Maybe you have an old pillow that you hate? Recycle it, and add new fabric!
  5. Needles and thread — I bought a basic pack of thread that offered a bunch of colors, and it included a couple needles ($5) I’d recommend a large needle if you can, they’re a bit easier to work with.
  6. Sewing pins ($3)
  7. Iron
  8. Patience, white wine, whatever gets you through it
  9. Scotch Guard (if you want to spray onto your pillows to prevent stains)

So first, cut two sheets of the size of fabric you need. I recommend cutting a bit smaller than the size that you measure when the pillow is fully fluffed. You will want a tight cover, and it’s ok to stuff the pillow in … will make the final fit tight, and create a better shape.

photo 2

 

Once you have both sheets, turn them inside out — That way, your stitches are on the inside, and make for a cleaner finish. You’ll sew one side at a time. To keep your fabric lined up, and to make sure you’re stitching in a straight line, use your sewing pins. Roughly half an inch from the bottom of each side of fabric:

photo 3

After lining up your pins, use the length of the fabric to determine how much thread you’ll use. To make sure you don’t run out, and have enough to tie at the end, add about six more inches. Then, double over your thread. Stitching two pieces of thread at one time will ensure it keeps sturdy. Starting at one end, tie through your thread, and begin stitching in and out. Try to keep your stitches as close as possible — this will keep the pillow from ripping.

Do this for three of the sides. Remember, double your thread! (For real, it helps.)

Then, put the fabric the right way out, and you’ll see your stitches look great

photo 5

 

After turning the fabric right-side out, get out your iron, and iron out any wrinkles that may have developed… you’ll want to make sure to do this before stuffing your pillow, to ensure that it’s smooth and wrinkle free when finished. Then, for the side that has not been sewed, fold each piece of fabric about 1/2 an inch in — so that the cut line is hidden from the outside. This will be necessary when stitching the final side, and will make sure the pillow looks finished. (Insert photo, oops, my bad).

Next, stuff in your pillow or stuffing (insert 2nd photo I did not take).

For the final side, you’ll use pins once again to keep the fabric together, and to create a line you may follow. Double your thread, and stitch from side to side once more — this is the one side you’ll definitely see stitched, so take your time, and try to create a straight line. Again, make sure your stitches are small to keep the pillow from ripping.

photo 3-1When finished, shake our your pillow, let the stuffing move around a bit, and ta-da! Here’s the final look. I’m pretty sure these pillows would cost you at least $75 in stores like West Elm or Pottery Barn. Now, they may have been machine stitched and therefore more sturdy, but how fun is that?

photo 5-1

 

Jenna’s NEW Place

It’s been a while since my last post. Mostly because I’ve been traveling without a laptop. But even more mostly because I’ve been living out of a suitcase for four months. Just getting back, I’ve officially moved to New York, where my little one bedroom apartment is hiding in a storage unit. More on that soon. In the meantime, my friend Jenna, who’s row house mini-reno I shared with you here (or literally two posts below, oops), has moved! Typical of DC properties and rentals.  No worries though, because she found a sweet two bedroom apartment in a renovated funeral parlor. Creepy, perhaps. But whoever did the redesign left the exposed brick, old brick stains, wooden beams, and molding. I love this person.

After just recently updating her old space, Jenna was a bit bummed to move, but turns out everything we purchased and set up went even better in the new place. Check out her space,  and see how she did. I for one was incredibly impressed.

5

photo 1Brilliant and so rad. The girls turned the TV stand into a glassware cabinet and liquor stand. Looks so great at the end of the bar, and I love the pop of the color surrounding the hues of brown.

4

The girls didn’t actually need to buy anything, either. Jenna had this Ikea bookshelf in her room, and simply turned it into an entertainment center. Love the record display, too.

2

Unfortunately, they had to get rid of the second sofa, but this set up still looks warm, inviting and heaps comfortable. Check out that BEAUTIFUL West Elm coffee table that hadn’t arrived before I left the last time. Also good to see that sofa cover has kept it’s color and shape.

Nice job, Jenna. Love seeing how we can adapt and make our furniture and belongings work wherever we live.

jenna’s space

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 2.59.15 PM

A friend of mine moved into a gorgeous row house about a year or two ago, and after a roommate (and furniture!) moved out, she decided it was time to get a few things to furnish and decorate her home. The row house is BEAUTIFUL. Original molding and hardwood floors. Bay windows. A dining room and living space that’s open. Exposed brick. I could keep going…

Her budget was around $1500 for round 1. She wanted to update her sofa, add some small pieces, and make the living area and dining room a bit more communal and warm. Host brunches and groups, and make the place perfect for her and her new roommates.

Here are a few before pics:

photo 3

photo 4

photo 1

photo 2

We upgraded the green Ikea sofa by purchasing a new slipcover online. It’s now a velvet, light grey — Comfortable, neutral, but unique with its texture. We found a great overstuffed leather chair in cognac. A new updated entertainment center in teal blue. We will drill holes in the back to add all the cabled equipment. The rug was on sale at World Market, and the bench was from (ahem) Tar-get! We found a few bric-a-bracs and pillows throughout the adventure, and will continue adding pieces as we find them.

In the dining area, we found six eclectic, wooden chairs at her nearby flea market that will be washed white during round two, but for now, they’re great. The recycled wine glass candle holders were actually made by me from a previous DIY project, and some serving dishes and tea towels for the dining table were found at World Market.

Here’s how it looks

photo 1photo 5 copy 2photo 3 copy

photo 3

photo 4 copy

photo 1 copy

photo 2 copy

photo 5 copy

photo 2 copy 2

photo 1 copy 2

photo 2 copy 3

photo 4 copy 3

photo 5 copy 3

We have a coffee table waiting to be delivered, frames and curtains that need to be hung, chairs that need to be painted… but this is an excellent start and already the space feels warmer, comfortable and cheerful.

Stay tuned for round two.

reupholstery is cake.

is that a mustache on your chartreuse chair?

is that a mustache on your chartreuse chair?

honestly, kinda an ugly chair from Ikea.

Before: Ikea could have done better. 

  1. Chair
  2. Paint – just buy a quarter gallon – indoor, with primer is lovely.
  3. Sand paper – if the chairs are already painted, get the medium grind. If they are basic unpainted food, the smoother paper is fine.
  4. A paint brush
  5. Staple fun
  6. Fabric of your choosing – make sure you buy enough. If you live in the city, I would recommend looking on Etsy for fabric… not too many places in DC. Make sure you buy enough!
  7. Scissors (cut your fabric)
  8. Hammer

First, you will want to wash and sandpaper down the chair – give it a clean, fresh feel. It will help making the paint go on smoother. At this time, if you can, unscrew the seat from the chair.

Screenshot_2013-06-06-22-04-07Then, you’re going to want to start painting. Make sure you shake and stir your paint to make it even. I recommend doing one basic coat, let it dry for 20 – 30 minutes, and then add another. I wanted a really bright, fun, summer color. Obviously throw-up green chartreuse was the answer. 

Screenshot_2013-06-06-22-04-16After your first coat, let the chair dry, and begin working on the reupholstery of the seat. As I mentioned, I purchased fabric from Etsy. Make sure  your order enough to go around the top, and underneath where there needs to be enough to staple that baby down.

IMAG0335Screenshot_2013-06-06-22-03-17The key is to pull the fabric firmly around each side, to ensure there are no kinks or wrinkles in the fabric. The corners are tricky, I recommend treating it as if you are wrapping a present. Now, if you’re terrible at wrapping gifts, try something else. :) If you don’t have a staple gun, you can always nail in small hanging nails… but do consider buying a gun at Ace Hardware, they’re only like $30 and last forever. If not all of the staples go in completely (they can sometimes be a sucker), use a hammer to smooth them out.

Here you go! Mustaches!

Screenshot_2013-06-06-22-03-46After the first coat is dry, work on your second paint coat. Touch ups can always be done the next day, too. I recommend waiting 1-2 days after painting to ensure the paint is 100% dry before reattaching your seat.

Screenshot_2013-06-06-22-04-46

honey & nutmeg mask

A friend of mine passed along seriously the best face mask recipe I’ve ever used. I’m in heaven. It makes your face smooth, your pores small, and can be used as an exfoliator. Yes, this is definitely not a beauty tips blog, but I couldn’t resist sharing. Here’s what you need:

  1.  Fresh nutmeg – just about a tablespoon grated. 
  2. Raw, natural honey. Not that bear stuff.

photo 1

Before making it, I prefer taking a shower. the steam opens your pores and preps your skin. Once ready, grate the nutmeg, about a teaspoon. Mix it with about a tablespoon of the honey. Rub it lightly on your face. If you have sensitive skin, don’t rub too hard as it will rough your face up a bit. Then, wait thirty minutes. Wash it off with warm water. And then I’d recommend blotting your face with some sort of toner, I use witch hazel ( like my sweet great grandmother used to do). 

photo 3

One very important sidenote: when first moving in with your boyfriend (or girlfriend. Or hell, anyone), I would recommend not putting this on and then sitting in the living room, waiting for the thirty minutes to pass. You will freak out said person. If it’s a male companion, he will remember why he was told at an early age that women are insane.

Last sidenote: place a paper towel around your neck. Honey drips. Enjoy!

final thoughts on studio living

Sooo I’m like three months behind. I should be ashamed, but damn I’ve been busy. Started new school programs, been traveling back and forth for work, and oh yeah… I MOVED again.

Oh yes, I said it. I have moved again. But before I get to that, here are my last thoughts on studio living. While it was only six months, I loved living on my own in a tiny shoebox. I will definitely take the sustainability and basic living along with my new space. Here it goes:

1. Don’t let a small kitchen prevent you from cooking. No really, don’t. Enjoy cooking, and figure out a way to organize all of your equipment. Check it:

IMG_1210Here, I hung a coat/towel rack and embellished hooks onces used for jewelry to hang my pots and pans, mugs, colander, and dish drying rack (when I wasn’t using it). In the middle is an Ikea bathroom shelving unit that I used to store all of my dishes and baking sheets. On top, you’ll see recycled jars I kept to store my silverware.

IMG_3044

Magnetic knife strip: best. purchase. ever. Ok, maybe not best per say, but seriously, this saved space, and it actually got me using all of them, rather than than just a simple pairing knife. At the bottom right is a metal paper organizer I purchased in college for my desk. I hung it on the wall and actually kept mail, coupons, and recipes in it. Really helpful, and brought a little more personality to the space.

IMG_3301

So, that’s the kitch. See at the bottom right, my mini fridge. Perfect for one person. On the front is a magnetic hanging rack that I hung scissors, hot pads, and measuring cups on. It was purchased about a decade ago from the Container Store. Note to future self: Never age yourself by dating your kitchen equipment. Above the fridge is my favorite DIY item ever – spice rack in a mason jar.

Moving on…

IMG_3298When this studio was first built, a murphy bed was up in the closet where my bed is placed. As you can see, the perimeter insert is still there, making somewhat of a nook for my bed. It makes it private. Additionally, I placed my beast of an Ikea dresser as a room divider, between the bed and living area. When you walk in the front door, you can’t see the bed, and honestly, most assume it’s what’s behind the closet door. Win. For studios, less is more, and spacing things out the best you can will definitely help.

Lastly, you should definitely try and make one of these mason jar racks. They’re WAY fun, super easy to make, great storage, and just plain rad.

IMG_1854Cheers to fabulous studio living!

 

dazzle you with my lip balm

So many blogs and posts – DIY this season! Make your own gifts! First off, I don’t have time to print out every Instagram photo and make coasters. Nor do I have time to try and crochet a scarf again this year. (I can never remember how to start.) However, I figured I would try to make lip balm. Simple enough. You can make a bunch in a short amount of time, and awesome. You have lip balm that’s cheaper than $4 a tube at Target.. You can buy everything you need at Amazon.com and Whole Foods. Again, Amazon prime this, and you’ll be ready the next day.

photo 5

First – buy some tins. Or plastic containers. Whatever you want to put the balm in. You’ll also need:

1. Beeswax! I bought the small pellets – it’s easier to melt, and cheap!

2. Oil – I made two batches, the clear one has coconut oil, the rose tinted has a mix of olive and vegetable oil

3. Raw honey

4. Essential oils – for the clear one, I used rosemary, lavender and peppermint. Ha – kind of a weird mix, but it worked out well. For the rose tinted balm, I used rose essential oil and peppermint. About 40 drops of each

5. Pipettes! You can buy 100 for $5 on Amazon – They make pouring the liquid balm into the tins a whole lot easier.

6. I also took a couple Vitamin A liquid pills, sliced em open, and added them to the mix. Good for your skin. I added Vitamin E, but naturally forgot to photograph. These were just in my medicine cabinet – as were the oils.

photo 4

Next you’ll want to use a double boiler. Since I don’t have one, I used a frying pan, and then put a glass pie dish on top. Pour water into the pan, and let it start to boil. While waiting, in the pie dish, add all of the ingredients. Depending on how much you want, you will want a 3:1 ratio of oil:beeswax. A tablespoon or so of honey. And 30-40 drops of each essential oil. If you want to add color, buy a tube of natural lipstick, and add half of it to your mix. When the water is boiling, put the pie dish on top, and let everything melt. No sense in starting to stir, because everything will just stick to your spoon. So wait, and use the time to remove all the tops to the tins.

photo 3

When all of the ingredients are melted, take the pie dish off the burner, and use a spoon to stir everything together. Then, use the pipette to put the liquid mix into each tin. About three squeezes per tin.

photo 2

The mix cools and solidifies super quick, so if it hardens before you finish, just put the pie dish over the boiling water/pan and let it melt again. And there you go! I am going to give the balms away in pairs – it will be a nice little gift. Everything total – and I still have more than half of what I originally purchased – cost under $75. And I made 50 tins of balm. Boom.

photo 1

spice racks are so last year

This is my spice rack -

photo

It seems organized, consolidated, and just dandy. But good grief, I’m a lady in a studio with absolutely no space. Especially for spices! The cabinets aren’t tall enough to just stack spices, plus let’s be real, I’m way too OCD to have  little containers all over the place. When cooking, you want spices readily available, and ideally in front of you. I also like the beautiful colors of spices… so  let’s get creative, and find a way to show em off, without taking over my (no joke) 2X3 foot kitchen. Sad. Anyway, here’s what I did – test tubes! I chose glass ones with cute corks – ten for $10 on Amazon. (And if you have Prime – please, please, use Prime, it only makes sense – free shipping!) Anyway, I bought these, and made a little paper filter to pour the spices in each tube. I’m storing them in an old spaghetti sauce jar, and currently figuring out a way to hang them on the wall. Or, I might just keep them in the jar. I kept the rest of the spice jars under the sink in a box until they run out – when I need to buy new spices I’ll buy from a shop that sells in bulk. This saves space AND it’s sustainable. I’m also starting to think of ways to use the old spice jars in ways other than bringing salad dressing to work.

Sidenote: If you don’t know the smells of spices, make sure you write their names somewhere on the tubes. Use a Sharpie marker or something. That could get things messy.

Woohoo! So much more space!

photo 4So bright and rich!

photo 1

 

photo

photoDefinitely fits better in this little kitchen. Love it.

christmas threw up in my studio last night

It happened. Earlier than usual this year, simply because I realized late last night that I didn’t need to ask anyone if it was ok to start decorating.

Boom.

Anyway, here are some photos of my little casa. I have had all the decorations for the last several years — some from when I was in college. They are from various places like World Market, Target, and some of the ornaments are from around the world – Russia, Mexico and France. Anyway, check it out. Here are some thoughts when decorating your own place -

- Keep your regular home designs out, and decorate them. Example: Where my bottles are, I added a couple Christmas trees. It just adds more color and liveliness. You can also see that I hung cinnamon sticks, pine cones and a cranberry wreath on top of my frames. I like the layering look. It’s fun, and not perfect.

- Mix classy with trashy. I love the shiny, tacky garland. And I love natural and earthy color ornaments and decor. Mix them just a bit (see my bits of garland), and I think the finished product looks good.

For this area, I hung strings of stuff- The flower-like ones are from Target, the other string is small pine cones, cranberries and cinnamon sticks I put together after seeing it done in a magazine several years back. I also love the little green bows and stockings that seriously date back to like 2006. The cranberry (alright, they are puff balls) wreath is from Target three years ago, and the ornament is from France. There was a time when I wanted an ornament from every country. That last lasted like half of one trip. Nice idea though.

These are some of my favorite Christmas decorations. I have an affinity toward Christmas trees (like bottles), so I have slowly collected different ones throughout the years. Similar to my original set up, they all share a warmth in color – while they may all be different, the sizes and mixed colors make for a nice balance. There’s also a photo of my college girlfriends and I. Nice memory to bring out each year.

The center piece is a mini cinnamon broom from Whole Foods. I LOVE IT! And it smells AMAZING. I had one a few years back from Trader Joes, one of the larger ones. But trust me, if you live in a studio, the tiny one is all you need. Again – gotta love the gold garland… that was purchased my sophomore year of college, and has lived in seven homes since. Ha!

sidenote: my cat just fell off the couch. hilarious.

My version of a Christmas tree. The little Russian dolls were hand painted in, you guessed it, Russia. I actually picked them up at the World Famous (I am actually not being sarcastic) Gem and Mineral show in Tucson, Arizona… one of the best places for amazing jewelry and random pieces like this. The wreath is fake, but I use it every year … maybe that’s sustainability in action?

Here is one big view. I love my cozy space, and I love Christmas decorations. Win. The garland balls 1- 12 represent the Twelves Days of Christmas. I bought them a few years ago from Target (seriously, they sell amazing decorations), and actually kept them up in my last place the whole year.. but not in that you-still-have-your-Christmas-lights-up-in-February sorta way. They’re pretty cool.

I’m going to check out new things this weekend, and see if I find anything fun to add to my collection. Woohoo.

I hope this inspires you to get decorating! (or have me come decorate your place!)

Summer 

throw a Halloween party – on Nov. 1st.

While Hurricane Sandy did prevent my office from having our Halloween party on Tuesday, October 30th, we really can’t complain – our families and friends were safe, and our homes, unlike many in New York and New Jersey, were left in one piece.

That said – I wasn’t about to not have our Halloween party. Especially after buying decorations and makins for delightful food.

Here are a few pics for some party creation inspiration.

Make cupcakes. I prefer mini. They are cute. Little. Fun to decorate. Plus, large cupcakes go to waste and are messy to eat. This is also a decoration, so dress em up. People aren’t crazy about dessert at parties – they want something sustainable (pizza) to go with their beverage (whiskey). So make this fun, but don’t stress out!

Buy a mini cupcake tin. They also work for mini quiches, mini whoopi pies, cookies, and something bacon-wrapped – I’ll leave that to you to decide.

Next. Decorate. Mentioned in a previous post, I bought everything I needed from Amazon. com and Party City. Again – look for coupons online! You don’t need fancy noise making monsters or large cemetery displays to make your decorations rad. What I bought -

a couple bags of cob webs – make sure to spread em out!

black fall leaves

table netted cloths – black, blood-stained, and creepy

Something to hang – I chose paper lanterns and cheesy bats

This year, I found plastic wall decorations of zombies and creepy frames-these were fun and spooky

crepe paper. duh.

For food – I bought pizza and beer. Alright. I also bought a load of things to make for appetizers. Buy some apples, cheese, cured meat, and some veggies…make your own display tray. Cheaper than buying one, and this way you can decide what to include. Make sure to have veggie and vegan friendly options. Surprisingly, there are some options in the freezer aisle – spring rolls, falafel balls. Chips and guac. (a classic) Also – artichoke dip. Everyone loves it. And I know  you do, too.

**  Note – Yes. I would normally cook more items to share. But given this was a work party, after work, after the storm… time is everything. Choose your battles.

Another note – Make your spread pretty. Use bowls and plates to display everything. Bags of chips makes me think frat party. Ok for a Netflix Breaking Bad marathon. Not ok for a work event. Additionally, I always save the catering trays that places like Au Bon Pain use when catering. We work with them a lot for big meetings – wash em, reuse em. Win.

Lastly. I created a photo booth for folks to take pics in their costumes. Set the scene, and create a frame out of decorations that will be a nice backdrop. Check out what I’ve done here. Super cheap. Definitely worth it. For the photo booth – set up your laptop (I’m a MAC user), and use the photo booth app. You can change the settings to snap four pics in a row – hilarious.

That’s it! Have fun – don’t give yourself a lot of work. Set things up in advanced, and enjoy the party!