The Long-Awaited Kimono

It’s been a while, eh? Now that Baby H has finally started napping  somewhat reliably and I actually have more than 5 minutes a day where I’m not brushing my teeth, showering, shoveling food down my gullet, or catching up on sleep, I might have time to blog again! 😮 [side note- I first wrote this draft three months ago; clearly the napping has been going swimmingly. I have one of those babies that naps anywhere from 30-45 min and occasionally over an hour. I can count on one hand the number of 2 hour naps she’s had. Somewhere out there, a friend of a friend of my husband’s told him that by 6 months, he could expect that our daughter would nap for 2 hours, 3x a day and I would have time to grow a veggie garden, clean the house, and cook elaborate homemade meals with all my free time. Dude, I don’t know who you are or where you are, but I hope karma does.]

I would also like to take this time to formally apologize to every new mom I know, who I quietly judged inside my head before becoming one myself. Forgive me. The best quote I have heard on this topic is “It’s awfully hard to get on that high horse with a baby in your arms.”

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We both know it’s going to be weeks months before you finish this, so I’m just going to make myself comfy…

I’ve had a kimono project in the back of my mind ever since I saw Holly Dolly’s. When I found a cute peachy floral fabric at my #1 happy place AKA FabricLand, I knew just what to do! Actually that’s a lie, here is the original fabric that I wanted to use, but it was like $20/m so I settled on the cheaper alternative.

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I wanted something that would be light for the summer that I could nurse discreetly in. It’s not perfect by a long shot, but the last item of clothing I sewed was a pair of PJ pants back when I was oh, 10 or so? And I hated them and never wore them (sorry, Mom). I used a tutorial from Elle Apparel Blog as a rough guide, laid out my fabric, and got to it!

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Why yes, that is a baby strapped to my body while I sewed. #babywearingforthewin

One thing this project gave me was experience using the presser foot on my sewing machine. I’m super impressed with my little Janome SUV 1108. It came with a ton of accessories that I am slowly learning the different uses for. It was a fun challenge figuring out how to do a rolled hem. Shout out to the people of the sewing sub on Reddit for their tips! The fabric was super fine and hard to work with, so I used spray starch to get it to “stick” and feed better into the foot. I made sure to practice on a few test strips until I got the feel for how to feed the fabric into the foot, and took my time- unpicking was tedious and not suited to the delicate nature of the fabric, so I really had to try to get it right on the first pass. I also used these tips from Megan Nielsen and this video from The Colorful World of Sewing to help me out.

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Test strips, test strips, and more test strips

Et voila.

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Just in time for the fall [Edit… winter] and for baby to start solids, my easy breezy summery nursing-friendly kimono!

-C

Spring/Summer To-Do List

This worked so well for the winter that I thought I’d do it again! I love making lists, and the satisfaction I get from crossing stuff off of it motivates me just enough to keep going. Our summer is going to be mostly taken up by digging up and water proofing our foundation, which is pretty much the least exciting thing ever to blog about. So I might be kind of quiet here in the coming weeks, and will mostly be busy digging, moving plants, and making sandwiches for the horde of people helping us.

Here’s what I’m hoping to get done, in between resting my sore back. I reserve the right to add, subtract, or modify at will.

  1. Put the finishing touches on the kitchen. Do you recall from my One Room Challenge reveal post that our flooring didn’t come in on time? It actually came in the day after the ORC deadline. *shakes fist* Just imagine how good this will look with charcoal grey rectangular tiles!One Room Challenge Kitchen Dear DIYWe also need to install the last light fixture and order our new fridge, which we are super stoked about. A new fridge was not in our reno budget this year but my parents offered to foot the bill because they’re awesome (and would like somewhere to put a champagne bottle that dispenses ice when they come over).
  2. Finish our master bedroom. Now that our carpets are installed, our room just needs some pictures on the walls and the closet doors back up. Bonus points if we manage to find a new bed frame- I’m on the lookout for something with straight lines, but we haven’t decided yet if we will buy or DIY.
  3. Hem the curtains in the guest room and set it up for actual guests (not just my cat). No, you’re not experiencing déjà vu, this just never got done on my Winter list. It’s even worse now since we got the carpets installed, because everything had to come out of there and we had to take apart the bed to get it out the door, so that is currently in pieces in the middle of the floor with the mattress leaned up against the wall. Not an ideal sleeping position! I’d actually really like to have some sort of a desk station inside the closet where I can store all my sewing stuff. My mom always had her sewing desk inside a closet and it worked really well, for both organization and hiding the mess when you need to!
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  4. Bring my style board to life in the living room and install window treatments- yup, this got bumped from the Winter list, too! One of my neighbors “casually” mentioned that she noticed we don’t have curtains up yet- welcome to small town Ontario! I love all the natural light that comes in since tearing down the old curtains but I’d like to put something up that will give us a bit of privacy without compromising the light too much. I really love the look of a natural woven fiber blind with white panels and will probably go that route.
  5. Restain the solid maple dresser I scored off Kijiji last year. My husband has been using a horrible small MDF dresser since I have known him (2007). His boxers and undershirts have to be folded in a specific way to fit inside it and it drives be bananas! I’m going to stain it with leftover Special Walnut stain from my dresser makeover.DSC_1622_
  6. This will probably get bumped off the priority list and might only get done next summer… but I’d love to do something with our sunroom. Right now it’s full of stuff that we moved out of the bedrooms during the carpet installation, but we’ve got our old sectional sofa in there along with a cute little table that I found at the ReStore and it has the potential to be awesome. It would be a great space to enjoy an afternoon nap or a cold drink- I can imagine euchre tournaments and board games happening here with friends.sunroom_bright

The one great thing about having a long list of stuff to do is that I can pick and choose what I want to work on, depending on my mood and productivity level! It really is amazing how much work there is to do around the house- any house, not just ours. I’m grateful that we only have 1100 square feet of space because we already spend so much time just cleaning and maintaining it, let along the time it takes to do all the projects we want to do!

Hope you come along for the ride,

-C

One Room Challenge: Kitchen Reveal (ish)

Well well well, time has flown! Thanks to Calling it Home for hosting this super fun linking event for bloggers, not to mention the serious design awesomeness coming from the designers. I’ve been so inspired! And jealous. But mostly inspired. I had a bit of a breakdown last night when I realized I wasn’t going to be completely finished, but such is life. I had to stay late at work a few times this week and I seem to have come down with a cold to boot. Excuses, excuses right?

To get caught up, make sure you check out my previous posts from Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, and Week 5 (I was in Mexico for Week 4 so I didn’t post). The Cole’s notes: I didn’t like my kitchen and I wanted to stop not liking it. It’s come a LONG way since we moved in, but there are still a few loose ends to tie up; most notably the flooring, which did not come in on time (Home Depot, I’m looking at you). We also have one more light fixture to install. Enough of my drivel though, here it is!

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One Room Challenge Kitchen Dear DIY

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I love the new colour scheme in here! It’s hard to tell from the pictures but the walls are a light celery green, and it looks great with the bold black of the frames and valence, as well as the turquoise accents, like my new favourite linen tea towel. I discovered that Fabricland sells “tea toweling” by the yard/metre so that was pretty life-altering. I have also been looking for the perfect wooden serving tray for ages so I am super excited about that in particular! The patterned bowls, hand soap (on clearance!) and bread basket from Home Sense were also lucky finds, and who doesn’t love fresh basil?

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One Room Challenge 2015 Kitchen

One Room Challenge Kitchen Dear DIY

For the time being, I have made my peace with the faux bois counters. I would still really like a new range hood and a new fridge (you’ll notice I strategically took the photos to avoid it), but I am flat broke after my trip and paying taxes! I think once the floors are done, I can totally live with this kitchen until we renovate it in a few years time.

I’m really happy with how the prints that I made turned out, too. I wasn’t sure what I wanted on the walls here and I like the simple square frames.

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I’m also SO happy to have the mini shelves gone off the island! It seems like such a small thing but it really makes a huge difference, in the overall aesthetic and making the passage to the dining room feel and look more open.

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The valence was a massive pain but I’m happy with how it looks. I unpicked it 3 times and it still isn’t perfect but I’m filing it under “learning experiences”. It was definitely tough making it symmetrical, even, straight, and fit in the window with that bold pattern and the knife pleats. On the bright side, it felt really good to get my sewing machine back out, and I sewed this entire thing on one bobbin, about which I kept yelling to my husband “It’s still going! How has it not run out yet?! It’s the Little Bobbin That Could!” It symbolically gave out just as I finished the last hem.

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Thanks for reading, and to everyone else who has commented, liked, or otherwise supported me here and on Instagram @cathyatdeardiy. Definitely check out the other linking participants and the designers for some serious eye candy!

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[Side note- sorry for all the theme changes recently. I can’t seem to decide on one. I just installed the Genesis framework and I’m determined to learn more about CSS, coding, and other fun web design stuff. So please bear with me!]

-C

Big, Bad Slipcover Project

 

Slipcover made out of bleached canvas

The time has come for me to share with you a story of personal growth and accomplishment.

When my husband and I moved into our current apartment, we were escaping kind of a bad situation. We had been so excited to move into our first place together and start to build our life as a couple. However, sometimes life hands you lemons…. and sometimes those lemons are actually blood sucking parasites that live inside your bed. Yup, our lovely new home had a bad case of bedbugs.

To make a long story slightly shorter, we got the H out of there and found a new apartment (our landlord wouldn’t treat the problem and didn’t believe that it was preexisting, so we had to abandon ship). In the process we lost a whole lot of our furniture and pretty much anything we owned that wasn’t a necessity or wasn’t something we loved enough to pay for it to be professionally heat-treated. So when my in-laws offered us their old sectional sofa to replace the futon we threw out, we happily accepted!

Now, I love my in-laws. They are very sweet, warm, lovely people (hi S&L, if you’re reading!). But the sectional had been purchased possibly before my husband was born, and was starting to show its age. But you know what they say about beggars and choosers, so we decided to attempt to recover it. We put A LOT of time, thought, and energy into picking out the right fabric and approach. At first we thought we would reupholster it in a dark grey fabric with a houndstooth print. But when we priced that out, and remembered that a) I am clumsy and b) my husband usually has newsprint/jam/peanut butter/spaghetti sauce somewhere on his hands and c) we have a cat who sheds a lot, we figured it would be easier and more economical to sew a washable slipcover instead.

After much Googling and reading about Miss Mustard Seed‘s and Honey Bear Lane‘s slipcovers, I decided to use white canvas. Stay with me, I will make you see why this was a good idea. The great thing about a white slipcover is that it is super bright and fresh, and if you do happen to mess something on it, you can spot clean and wash with bleach once the stains accumulate! I have had the slipcover for about a year and a half, and it still looks great. In that time I have washed it 2-3 times I think, which is pretty good considering we eat dinner on it every night. And did I mention we’re clumsy? Canvas is really durable too, and it has worn really well under near constant use (and near constant cat-claw sharpening).

But I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that sewing this SOB was easy. I had a few breakdowns and there were definitely some tears shed. Sometimes my husband would have to give me a pep talk after I unpicked my umpteenth stitch, or sewed a zipper on backwards, or broke another needle. I kept going though, and eventually got it done in the end. I think my mom felt bad for me because she ended up coming to visit for a weekend and helped me slam out the last of it when I was running out of steam. Moms are great, eh? Although it was hard work, it was totally worth it in the end. The white cover really freshened it up and helped make it feel like ours, instead of a hand-me-down. Plus it gave me the opportunity to brighten up our living room with a punchy lime/turquoise/grey colour scheme, instead of the blah beige and browns I’d had for years.

Here are some photos of the process- apologies for the quality, they were mostly taken with my iPhone with no natural light to speak of!

This is the best “before” pic I have… the white is the new part and the old cover is the green velour.

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It took about 20 m of canvas to cover the entire sofa. 20 Goddamn metres. Half of the battle was bleaching and ironing all of the fabric, which I did in batches to preserve my sanity.

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In addition to all that canvas, I also used a few metres of zipper, a whole lot of piping, and a couple rolls of upholstery thread. Oh and the needles for my machine… I burned through several heavy duty denim needles.

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The one saving grace about our sofa was that it was pretty square, so we mostly had to cut out squares or rectangles that were the right size. We measured each cushion and cut the fabric out to size, and for the irregular pieces draped, cut, and pinned the fabric until it was the right shape. Once we had the pieces cut out, we labeled them with masking tape so that we didn’t get mixed up.

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I was pretty nervous about doing piping for the first time, but once I figured it out it wasn’t so bad. This post from Honeybear Lane really helped me out. Piping made it look a little more finished and a little less like I’d just draped a sheet over it and called it a slipcover. Here is a cushion cover in pieces: front, back, and the middle piece with the zipper.

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Once I had the cushion cover technique down, I just modified it for the different cushion sizes and shapes. To make the covers for the frame, we draped large pieces of canvas and pinned/cut to size. Did I mention how awesome my mom was? She was a ton of help with this step.

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Here it is finished, before I redecorated… the pieces on the frames were bleached after they were sewn, which is why they look like a different colour from the cushion covers in this photo.

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And this is what it looks like these days. I love the pop of blue and green against the crisp white with the grey throw. There is a lot of white in this room because we couldn’t be bothered to paint the walls and have to paint them white again for new tenants once we move out. So any bit of colour helps!

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Shoutout to my hometown of Sudbury, ON with that water tower photo that my Dad snapped. I had a hard time taking a good photo of it from that angle, so I ended up rearranging our living room- it’s much more open now!

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Here’s a view of the sofa sans my awesome coffee table (see how I fixed that up in this post!)

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And just to prove that the whole thing is not, in fact, covered in food stains:

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When you add up the cost of the canvas (about $5.50/metre with my Fabricland member discount!) as well as all the other supplies, I figured I spent about $180 on this. Much cheaper than a new sectional!

I hope this inspires someone else to try a slipcover project… it seems scary at first but it’s so worth it in the end! I’d love to answer any questions you might have, or hear from anyone else who has tried to make one.

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Old Sweater, New Look

I love to sew, but sometimes I hate to sew, you know? The tutorials I found online for sewing on elbow patches made it sound so easy:

1) Cut an oval of the fabric of your choice to make a patch.

2) Centre the oval on the elbow of the sleeve.

3) Stitch the patch on.

4) You’re done!

Here’s a more realistic breakdown (for me anyway):

1) Cut an oval of the fabric of your choice to make a patch.

2) Centre the oval on the elbow of the sleeve.

3) Notice that the patches are not symmetrical. Try again.

4) Notice that although they are now symmetrical, the patches are now not covering the worn area of the sleeve, which defeats the purpose of the elbow patch in the first place. Consider the importance of having symmetrical elbow patches vs. the importance of having functional elbow patches.

5) Try again.

6) Now that the patches are semi-symmetrical and mostly covering the worn area (a good compromise is one in which neither party is happy), start sewing the patches on with your sewing machine.

7) Have a minor heart attack halfway through sewing the first patch on when the fabric bunches up, making you think you have ruined your favourite sweater. Call it a night and come back to it after 48 hours.

8) Finish sewing the other half of the first patch and the entire second patch by hand. Be grateful you did not choose a contrasting thread colour, which hides how uneven your stitches are.

9) You’re done!

We took my elbow patched sweater for a lovely “Spring” walk and took some photos by the creek near our apartment. It was snowing and I took off my coat and mitts for the photos.

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The tutorial I followed (more or less) was from Brit + Co. I used one-sided fabric adhesive after I had sewed the patch on, and I only used it because I wanted to keep the frayed and worn areas from getting worse. I also did a zig-zag stitch around the patch before stitching it on to prevent it from fraying, since I used corduroy.

This was frustrating but it’s partly my own fault. Every time I sew something I think “I should put more pins on, but it’ll probably be ok” and it’s never ok. Why don’t I learn? Oh well, I’m just happy I can still wear my favourite cardigan!

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