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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ISO: The Perfect White

While we are not quite at the painting stage yet, I wanted to select the colors we will use at White House now so my husband can pick them up at the same time as another client’s paint (he’s a general contractor) whenever it’s convenient.

Fittingly, I knew I wanted the walls at White House to be white. I figure (a) it’s an inoffensive color when we move out and rent the unit, and (b) I love color and won’t have to be quite as restrained in my choice of decorative items. It’s just that there are about a million shades of white.

For a handful of reasons, it is easy and inexpensive for us to buy paint at Sherwin Williams, so knowing our source helped me narrow the selection of white paint colors initially. Then, I picked my top six colors, including a variety of warmer and cooler shades, and bought quart-sized samples (the smallest size available at my local stores). There’s no magic to the number six: I wanted a small variety without spending too much on sample sizes, so it’s just what fit the bill.

My brother-in-law cut me some spare pieces of drywall to paint so I could audition them on all the walls of the various rooms. If you paint either paper or drywall samples, definitely aim for several coats, the same finish you will use in the room (satin, eggshell, etc.), and LABEL your samples!

Johann laughed and said they all looked the EXACT. SAME. I disagreed outdoors but had to admit some of them looked pretty similar in the poorer indoor lighting.

I originally thought a really bright white would make the nursery, which has only one window that is partially obscured by a large and too-beautiful-to-remove lilac bush, would be the best way to brighten the room. I was surprised that colors like Pure White and Extra White actually looked garish in there. Instead, I opted for a more muted white. (Note: All the colors looked significantly different on my computer screen, even after calibration, than they did as in-person paint samples. You get a sense of relative color, e.g. one is brighter than another, but not actual color.)

My final(-ish) selections are Marshmallow for most of the unit and Snowbound for the nursery. Marshmallow is slightly warmer, and Snowbound is a little more blue-grey. Like I said, I was really surprised my nursery selection didn’t follow conventional wisdom. I’m glad I tested the samples indoors before committing to a color. With that quart paint sample of Snowbound, I might even paint a full wall of the nursery before finalizing the selection.

The selection process was reasonably smooth for me. I’m glad I had a direction before I entered the store or I might have died from being overwhelmed. There are just so many colors! If you have any paint color selection tips, I’d love to hear them!