Building Home & Family


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DIY Crib Sheets (a.k.a. the crib sheets Crib Sheet)

I am in full nesting mode and wanted some easy DIY projects to make the idea of having a baby seem a little more real. Using this DIY crib sheet tutorial, I made several sets of sheets for the baby’s crib this weekend.

Building Home and Family - Sewing Crib Sheets

My sewing room/library is getting nixed at White House in favor of the baby’s nursery, so I’m trying to use it as much as possible in the meantime. Also, yes: there are two empty containers of ice cream and one of gelato in the trash by my sewing machine. Pregnancy, amiright?!

Anyway, I thought the tutorial was great, but I made this handy crib sheet to go along with the instructions:

Building Home and Family - Crib Sheets Crib Sheet

Note the corner square cutouts are 8″ for French seams and 9″ for regular seams; it took me a minute to figure out why the top of the page said 9″ but the step-by-step version said 8″.

I chose high contrast fabrics since a baby’s eyesight isn’t fully developed at birth. Also because who doesn’t love buffalo plaid and ostrich prints?!

Building Home and Family - Crib Sheets Fabric

I haven’t purchased a crib yet, but crib mattresses are supposed to be standard in size. Can’t wait to update this post with a photo of the crib sheets “in the wild”!


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DIY: Free Boppy Cover Pattern

Our nursery renovations have slowed a bit while Johann is focusing time and energy on a big deadline, so I have been spending time on some sewing and decorating projects in the meantime. One project I tackled was sewing my own cover for the hand-me-down boppy (nursing pillow) I was gifted. To be clear, there was nothing wrong with either of the two covers it came with, but I was so excited to use a Cotton + Steel fabric I have been hoarding. What little girl doesn’t love horses?!

Building Home and Family - Finished Boppy Cover

(Oops! I need to clip better around the curves to eliminate wrinkles. Next time for sure.)

I followed the instructions in Vanilla Joy’s tutorial, but I could not for the life of me get the pieces of the darned pattern she linked to line up. When I finished my boppy cover initially, it looked saggy and gross. The photo below shows how much excess fabric I had to pinch out. It wasn’t universally too big (e.g. just sew around again with another 1/4″) – some areas were ginormous while others just about fit.

Building Home and Family - Pattern Adjustments

Some people gave the tutorial good reviews, so maybe the pattern issue was entirely user error, but I did find at least a few other bloggers who mentioned they had trouble. So I drafted my own pattern, and I’m happy to share it for personal use. Download a free copy of my boppy cover pattern here sometime during 2017 (at which point the link will expire), then follow Vanilla Joy’s boppy cover tutorial. A few notes:

  • As in the original tutorial, seam allowances are 1/4″.
  • Print the pieces at actual size (not “fit”) on 8.5″ x 11″ paper.
  • There’s a pattern layout illustration on the last page.
  • When you cut out the pattern, the lines should overlap. Perhaps because of my earlier frustration, I made this stupid-easy by including little symbols where the pieces should line up.

Building Home & Family - Boppy Cover Pattern Construction

  • Beyond having an issue with lining up the pattern pieces for the boppy front, the front and back halves of the original pattern also didn’t line up for me. I remedied this by reusing the same pattern piece for both the front and the back. You can work this one of two ways:
    • Print all the pieces one time and then fold the excess out of the way on the dotted lines as illustrated on page 5, taking care not to accidentally cut the fold of the pattern; OR
    • Print all the pieces once for the front, print all the pieces again for the back piece that goes below the zipper, and print pages 1 and 2 (A and B) for the back piece that goes above the zipper.

FYI: I used lazy Option #1 when I made my boppy cover. No shame!

My strong personal preference is to have a zipper on my boppy cover so I can throw it in the wash if our baby gets it messy. I hear babies are good at that.

I’d love your feedback on the pattern, and if you post a photo on Instagram, it would be awesome if you could use the hashtag #BHFboppycover.


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DIY: How to Refinish Laminate Furniture

I worked on a variety of upcycling projects in our apartment while we waited for a lease to expire on the first floor of the White House. It helped me be a little less impatient to start renovating. Here’s a short version of the process I followed:

building-home-and-family-painting-laminate

The desk wasn’t a thrift store find. Even thrift-challenged me could probably have found a more appealing desk as a starting point. But it has sentimental value:

As kids, my sister and I took turns going into our parents’ room and wrapping Christmas gifts for each other under the supervision of Mom and Dad. The year my sister was old enough to wrap a gift, my parents told me not to ask her what it was since she was too young for secrets. For years, I laughed how she had burst from my parents’ room and announced the gift: “It’s a pink pony!” It became a family joke about how NOT to keep secrets.

Several years later, I asked my sister to give me a hint about my Christmas gift, but she had learned the value of being cryptic after being the butt of the pony joke. “It’s in Dad’s office,” she giggled. I remember thinking she had seriously underestimated my investigative skills. I looked in the closet where my mom’s wedding dress and some old coats hung. I pulled books off the bookshelf and checked between them. I looked under every piece of furniture, inside every forbidden drawer. Nothing. What’s more, when it came time to wrap presents, no one even went into the office to retrieve a gift! I thought my sister, having mastered secrets, might be learning about white lies.

My dad walked me into his office on Christmas day and pointed to his desk, sitting in plain sight. “The desk is yours,” he told me. I stood in shock for awhile. Such largesse! I love that desk and everything it represents. I remember my dad doing taxes at that desk, paying bills, sorting out medical statements when my sister was born. To me, giving me his desk said my dad believed I was responsible.

Unfortunately, the desk was ugly. I didn’t notice for years. When I did notice, I was scared I might ruin an heirloom. (Can it be an heirloom if it’s laminate? I’m undecided.)

The key to refinishing laminate furniture is to allow yourself lots of time: there are two layers each of primer, paint, and sealant, and each layer needs to dry between coats.

I started by removing the old desk hardware, knowing I would switch out the dated knobs for something more modern.

Building Home and Family Removing Hardware

Typically, you don’t want to sand laminate. The one exception is if you are going to use different hardware/drawer pulls and fill some holes with putty, you may want to lightly sand the putty with a fine grit sandpaper to make sure it’s flush with the main surface.

Building Home and Family Wood Filler and Putty Knife

Building Home and Family Wood Filler

To apply the Zinsser primer, I used an angled paintbrush, plus I smoothed the paint with a mini paint roller to remove brush strokes. I used the same process for the paint. Paint at least 2 coats (until opaque), following directions on the cans for dry times.

Building Home and Family Zinsser with Angled Brush

I also added a coat of polycrylic using an angled brush to keep the finish from chipping/scratching. Follow the wood grain.

When I was done painting, I lined my drawers with fabric. I used a Cotton + Steel print and love the contrasting yellow of the lemons against the blue-gray paint color.

Building Home and Family Lined Desk Drawers

The easiest method is to cut the fabric to size: place fabric inside drawer and use a very sharp razor, rotary cutter, or Xacto knife to cut along the creases.

I actually used a different process. I cut the fabric slightly bigger and added a thin layer of iron-on interfacing onto the back/wrong side of the fabric around the edges before cutting the last ½” or so to size. The interfacing should keep the edges of the fabric from fraying.

Spray half (e.g. the left side) of the back/wrong side of the fabric with spray adhesive and adhere to drawer bottom, smoothing any wrinkles. Then repeat on the other side. Doing this in two parts makes it easier to get the lining straight and smooth.

Building Home and Family Laminate Desk Before and After

Overall, I’m happy with the finish, although I’ve since selected different colors for furniture in the White House. Oops! I’ll probably try to find a way to tie this in.

 


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Nursery Textiles: Twin-Size Quilt for the Spare Bed

Would I be thrilled to find a well-made, inexpensive quilt that perfectly fits the palette I’ve selected for the nursery? Yes, of course. But, despite scouring the internet, I’m still empty-handed and have decided to sew a quilt for the spare bed to match the other décor in the room.

I started with the Market + Quilt pattern you can download for free on the Cotton + Steel blog website, designed by Alexia Marcelle Abegg (one of my favorites!).

PrintThen I customized it, adding some additional borders to increase the size and switching out the original pattern colors for my 8-color nursery palette.

building-home-and-family-market-quilt

The Cotton + Steel fabrics in the original pattern are gorgeous, and lots of other C+S fabrics also fit my palette, but it was less expensive to use plain Kona cottons, so that’s what I am doing. As a compromise, and as a thank you for the free pattern, I bought C+S fabric to back the quilt.

Now I just have to sew the darn thing before the baby is born! No small task with about two months left from the date the fabric is scheduled to arrive. But I really think one or two pieces will the full spectrum of colors will pull the nursery together.

What are some of your favorite DIY projects or customizations? I am continually blown away by the creativity I see online and love the idea of a personalized space, but I SO hope most projects will be less involved than this one!

A few notes on construction to speed up the process:

  • I plan to chain piece the flying geese (the B&W triangles) using this tutorial. I calculated how many big squares would fit on my fabric, selvage to selvage, then determined how many rows I would need to have the total number of flying geese in the pattern. I used this number to estimate the amount of fabric I’d buy. (Math! Not just for students!)
  • Similarly, I’ll use this tutorial to mass produce my half square triangles (HSTs).

If you’re interested in quilts, sewing, and other handmade projects, check out my blog on that topic, East Dakota Quilter.


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Reupholstering a Sofa

“I know how to sew. What could possibly go wrong?!”
-Famous last words that I use way too often

We have a ton of renovation work left to do on White House, the rental building we own and plan to live in for awhile during renovations. I should absolutely be focused on finishing those projects instead of the furnishings that will go in the place when the work is done. But I can’t help feeling that once the baby comes, I won’t have time for projects for at least a decade, and if I don’t want to live with something that long, I ought to fix it now.

So I bought 15 yards of upholstery fabric online today. Gulp.

I’m not convinced I can actually reupholster the sofa we own, a hand-me-down from my parents. Then I found a fantastic sale on fabric, meaning the price of failure is lower than usual. At least, I have very little money in the project. I don’t want to think about what happens if we have nowhere to sit because I screw it up and can’t even reassemble the couch. (Another hideous plaid sleeper-sofa like the one Johann and I had in our first shared apartment?!)

My goal is to have a durable sofa that can withstand the first five years of kids. Obviously, my kids will behave better than anyone else’s (haha)… but I remember a time or two running across a room and then flipping over the back of a sofa in my parents’ house with my sister when we were small. I was convinced I was doing “real gymnastics.” And spills… it’s hard to blame a kid for an occasional mistake if Johann and I are both pretty clumsy ourselves. I found a poly/cotton blend that should be stain repellent and a color that should be dark enough to hide most issues, with a little fun texture to boot.

eroica_cosmo_linen_graphite

I have struggled with palettes since I started sewing my first quilt (incomplete, fabric donated – but I’ve blogged about subsequent quilts here). Some of the colors I love most in theory, blues and grays, feel too cool/sterile/depressing to me when it comes to home décor. But I love when other people use them, so I’m hoping that if I use warmer tones and pair them with bright pops of colors, I can find a happy medium. It might also help with the longevity of gray décor since I know warmer tones are on their way in and gray has already had its 15 minutes of fame. Here are some of the rooms that inspired my fabric selection and will guide other choices for the new living room:

sofa-and-living-room-inspiration-building-home-and-family-blog

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Wish me luck!