For The Man Who Has Everything

A colleague of mine with a penchant for fancy socks is retiring this year.
To honour him, I was commissioned to create a bouquet of…. socks.

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It was exactly the kind of challenge I love!
I spent a week or so thinking about how to go about it and then I sat down and got started.
I had six pairs of socks, so ended up with twelve “blooms.” Each sock became a single flower. After some trial and error, I ended up using some embroidery thread to gather each sock, using a running stitch along the bottom of the sock and pulling it tight. You can see in the photo where I stitched each one, indicated by the red dotted line.

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Once each sock was gathered, I just wrapped the gathered edge together, using the toe as the centre of each flower. A few stitches secured each one in place and soon I had twelve rosette-style flowers.

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What do to for stems? I decided to use a black button for each flower’s centre, securing it to a paper straw with a dab of hot glue (I stuck the shank of the button into the opening at one end of the straw). Then, I slid the straw through the centre of the rosette; the button stopped it from falling out. A few more stitches of embroidery thread through the paper straw and the sock to hold each flower together and, ta-da! Twelve sock roses!

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Next up, I used garden twine to make a French-tied bouquet and then tied on a jaunty polka-dotted ribbon I’ve been saving in my stash for just such an occasion.

When he is ready to wear the socks, all the recipient has to do is snip the embroidery thread (I was sure to use contrasting colours so that it would be easy to see) and unfurl each sock. The perfect bouquet to extend the length of time between loads of laundry!

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My colleague was delighted with his bouquet, I am happy to report.

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Hop To It

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Recently, I was overcome by the NEED TO SEW SOMETHING. It had been far too long since I had made anything from scratch and I was longing to get out my sewing machine and some fabric. Serendipitously enough, I stumbled upon this post about Mandi‘s home-sewn bunnies.  Aren’t they adorable? I couldn’t wait to make a few of my own!

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I put my own spin on the size and shape, but I really loved the mis-matched eyes and the quirky personalities of Mandi’s bunnies, so I made sure to give my funny bunnies similar.

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These ones will be making their way to some little ones I know and love. This weekend will see me whipping up a few more in order to get them off to their destinations in time for Easter.

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What are you up to this weekend?

Fine, Furry Friends

Go get a cup of tea, this could take a while.

I am not going to get into the whole fur debate here. Nor am I going to get into the fact that, as a child, I actually felt physically ill in the presence of fur (some of which feeling resurfaced this weekend when I took on a DIY project I’ve been considering for a few months now).  I will put forth that I am not proponent of NEW fur, but that I am willing to touch (and even wear!) vintage fur because I think doing so is better than throwing it out or letting it get moth-eaten. But that is not what this post is about. Instead, I am going to tell you a very not-so brief story about an item that was given to me when someone was doing a cleaning up/purge.

Here it is:

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It is, in short, the World’s Most Enormous Fur Coat.
Made of raccoon.
Vintage raccoon.
It weighed about 350 lbs. It was a size Gigantic. Seriously, a Volkswagen could have worn this coat.
It ought to have made the man who put it on (surely it was not designed for a woman?) look deliciously collegiate-football-fan-circa-1935. Alas, it made everyone, male or female, who donned it look like a pimp from the 1970s.
It was, in short, problematic. One of those items that ought to have been utterly fabulous but…. just….wasn’t.  This fact made me sad.
And I didn’t really want to believe it, so I let the coat hang in our basement for many, many years.

And then I started to think, what if I could save this coat from itself?
Would I have the nerve? Could I bring myself to do it?

Well, Gentle Reader, it took me a couple of months to work up the chutzpah to tackle it, but this past weekend, I took the plunge. After carefully removing the lining and label, I…..
cut up the coat.
Cue vomiting– this part reaaaallly made me think about the raccoons, I have to admit, and I very nearly chickened out.
Even now, just typing that makes me kinda queasy…

BUT, the the World’s Most Enormous Fur Coat, made of raccoon, vintage raccoon, has become two rather good, very cosy throw pillows on our couch.  Even M likes them! (Will wonders never cease?!)
I like that this project gave new life to the old fur; makes me feel a bit less sad about the raccoons.

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I was nervous, never having sewn with real fur before, so I looked up some tutorials online. They all required about 30 pieces of equipment, which terrified me. Also, I am the Lazy DIY-er, so there was No Way On Earth I was going to take on some complicated cushion tutorial. Thus, I did what any self-respecting Lazy DIY-er would do: I winged it. And it all worked out fine! Basically, I made two envelope-style cushion covers, the way I would do if I were using regular fabric.  No big deal. I did take three sage pieces of advice from the lengthy tutorials, so if you are planning to do similar, I recommend that you also take these tips:

1. Use a razor blade or a utility knife to cut the fur, and cut it from the back side of the pelt, being careful not to shear the fur

2. When sewing, be careful to push the fur away from the cut edge of the fur/fabric, in order to avoid stitching the ends of the fur into your seam. Just go slowly and you will be able to tuck the ends of the fur towards the middle of the cushion as you go, leaving you with a nice, furry edge when you turn the pillow right side out.

3. Keep your eye on the nap of the fur by using the bottom hem of the coat as a guide– always keep it positioned towards you so that you can be sure that both pillows have the nap going the same direction.

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What do you think? Would you save unusable fur from itself?

Work it!

Remember the Office Inspiration post? Well, here are (most of) the details from the (very nearly) finished office.

I needed to update all the storage & organization bits in the room, but did not want to invest in all new boxes, files and bins.  I decided the solution was to give our existing ones a facelift with the help of some fabric and some paint.

I wanted gold accents, so I had to find a way to take the trim on our Ikea storage boxes & magazine files from silver to gold. Removing the hardware and painting, then replacing it was not an option; the boxes would not have survived the surgery.

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Some of the boxes were black, so I sprayed the silver trim gold & then went in with an artist’s brush and some white paint to cover the black/gold-overspray. I do not recommend this if you are in a hurry. It took FOREVER! Lesson learned: spray prime entire surface first, then do gold spray on hardware, then paint. I rushed right in with the gold paint and then the white paint = I needed about 6 coats of fiddly, artist-brush painting to cover the dark lids. Sigh. Learn from my haste, Interwebz.

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For boxes whose lids got a paint job, I covered the bases in one of two fabrics. I just cut a strip of fabric a couple of inches wider than the height of the box and long enough to wrap all the way around. I used a combination of spray adhesive and glue-gun action to adhere the fabric to the boxes. Then I re-attached the newly-gold outer label hardware and ta-da!

Some of the boxes were already white, so I just sprayed the label hardware gold and covered the lids in fabric. Using spray adhesive and hot glue, I pretty much just wrapped the lids like they were presents.
That will never be opened.
Because they are glued shut.

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I found some cute file folders at Target in the $1 bins (woot!)– they are a natural colour and have metallic designs on them, so they look cute with the new accents in the room.  Now to find the time to reorganize our file drawers. (The entire contents of our filing system may have fallen down the stairs in a moving incident during the floor refinishing bonanza…. We may have just shoved the files back in the drawers any old which way because we were tired and highly cranky….)

I also re-jigged the magnetic bulletin board I made a few years back, covering the board with fabric and painting the frame Blackberry Punch (after trying three different versions of gold…). I sprayed the little clothespin magnets gold, too. I sprayed a woven box and a few Ikea tea-light holders gold to keep storage looking pretty and to keep pens, pencils, letter-opener, etc. accessible.

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I invested in new frames for the gallery wall because I wanted white ones and the images in the frames all came out of mis-matched, random frames. I did paint the one on the lower right side, next to the M. I love the way the white frames look so crisp against the dark wall. It makes me happy every time I see it!

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I took a West Elm dip-dye curtain (that I snagged from the sale section for $14!) and, since I wanted a horizontal, rather than a vertical dip, I cut the curtain in half and, using some inexpensive white muslin ($3 a yard), made two curtains with simple rod pockets at the top.

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Finally, I decided to embrace the whole, “colour code your books” trend. This is the cheapest update you can think of: it’s free! You do need to invest some time, but it took me less time than I thought it would. I’m still a bit on the fence about it– sure, it looks great, but I’m not sure I can FIND my books…. My previous system was a “by topic” system, so I could easily find any book at a glance. Now, I have to know what colour the book’s spine is… I’m pretty visual, but I’m still not convinced that this is the most sensible way to file stuff.

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Once my Serena and Lily round rattan rug arrives and I find the perfect ceiling light fixture, the room will be done! Yay!

I have this thing…

…about changing my living room décor to reflect the seasons. It involves “lightening” the accents in the room by removing the ruby-red raw silk drapes and the warm, nubbly linen and raw silk cushion covers and replacing them with more summery fabrics.

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This year, we are embarking on a big renovation and so I did not want to go all the way– dredging out the seashells and starfish to make the living room feel beachy– rather, I wanted a quick fix that would still say summer without all the fuss and muss, as I figure fuss and muss are to be had in spades in the weeks ahead.

I was lucky enough to score a real deal on some curtains from Ikea. They were in the “As-Is” room and were in perfect condition, but had been used in a display, so could not be resold at full price. I scooped them up immediately, despite the fact that they were tab-tops.

Dear Interweb, I really hate tab-top curtains. They don’t function well and they don’t look good.

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I had elaborate plans to get rid of the tabs by cutting them off and then sewing a channel to make a pocket for the curtain rod and then, out of nowhere, it hit me: there was an easier, BETTER way!

So here is what I did:

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I folded the tabs over to the rear of the curtain and pinned them in place.

Next, I machine-stitched each tab in place along the top (now the bottom) of the tab to create the look of pleater tape without the hassle of pleater tape. I threaded the rod through the loops made from the tabs on the rear of each panel and that, my friends, was that.

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The result?
(A bit hard to see in our north-facing living room, I admit.)
For $20 and 20 minutes of work, I have a light, summery linen look that lets my new cushions with their bright persimmon-coloured birds pop.

Wraparound

Because they are long and a bit delicate, packaging up paper garlands can be a bit tricky.

I decided the best way to do it was to wrap each one around a cardboard tag. That way, I could write an explanation of the garland and give some suggestions for how to use it on the tag itself (in case the recipients wondered why I was giving them a string of paper flowers…).

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To make it coordinate with its garland, I stitched some confetti to the bottom of each tag.
No sewing machine? No problem. Use glue to attach the confetti or add some washi tape to pretty up the tag.

Next, I wrote a little message on the tag and then started wrapping the garland around it.

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Finally, I put a bit of washi tape on the garland to hold it in place. Ta-da!

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Confetti Garlands

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This weekend, I had the pleasure of making some thank you gifts for a couple of teenaged girls. Both of them are currently at boarding school and will be off to university next year, so I thought they might like a little something to personalize their spaces. I decided that confetti garlands would be cute.
When I Instagrammed a photo of the process, the lovely Kate Durie asked for a tutorial. So here it is!

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I made myself some of these a few months back and it is an easy, fun craft.
You will need a few little supplies.

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I decided to use one “main” colour, plus three complimentary and contrasting colours. Punch out more of the “main” colour and successively fewer of each of the next two colours. For the “accent,” or contrasting, colour, punch out only a few. I used my little floral punches, but any shape will do.
How about hearts? Circles in varying sizes?
Don’t have a punch? Why not cut out squares?
Try using patterned paper or a mix of patterned and plain.

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Arrange your piles of confetti by colour and then fire up your sewing machine.
(You will need to replace your needle after you are finished– you don’t want to be sewing fabric with a needle you have dulled by sewing paper!)
Place the first piece of confetti under the needle and slowly stitch across it; line up the next piece and repeat.
Keep going, stitching a long, looooong row of confetti together.
For the colour pattern, I was just pretty random, but you could be more mathematical about it if you prefer. To keep the thread from unravelling at either end, I sandwiched the ends between a bit of glitter tape at each end of the garland. You could use washi tape or sandwich the thread ends between two bits of confetti with a dab of glue.

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Use the garland swagged over a curtain rod (I do!), as “ribbon” for wrapping gifts, draped over a mirror, or just taped to the wall or the ceiling with some fancy tape. Use it to pretty up your daily decor or for a party.

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No sewing machine?
No worries– check back here on Wednesday for the “by-hand” version of the project!