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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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!


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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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Nursery Inspiration

Our baby’s first home is an investment property and not our “forever home,” which means I have been torn as to how much time and money to put into our nursery. On top of that, space is limited, so I want to avoid bringing things into our home that will be used for only a short time – even if they’re adorable! This process has been full of compromise.

Palette
I am really bad at editing (in a room, quilt, painting… the list is endless). I love color and want to incorporate every item I like, even if it doesn’t match anything else I own. Step 1 for me was narrowing my palette.

Probably the easiest solution would have been to pair blush pink and gold. They are popular colors right now, and I’m having a girl. Easy peasy. But my mom decorated my childhood bedroom in pink and white – even making all the curtains, bedding, etc. herself! – and I hated it. It made me feel like I was supposed to sit in a frilly dress and not get dirty while I was more of a mud puddle princess. So… no blush pink and gold for our baby. (Even though I think it’s really cute now! Irony.)

I kept returning to one of my favorite backgrounds in the A Beautiful Mess iPhone app and decided was the perfect fit:

abm

From that background, I pulled a still-huge-but-at-least-cohesive palette:

building-home-and-family-nursery-palette

It even includes blush pink!

Having settled on an 8-color palette, I almost died laughing when I was reading Emily Henderson’s design blog archives yesterday and came across this gem (abbreviated by me for relevance):

“Tip #1. You can mix however many styles you want… as long as you have a consistent color palette peppered evenly throughout the space. This is the number one problem I see – not telling a cohesive color story through furniture and accessories. Now if you are a color genius, or an extremely confident diy-designer then of course you can do whatever you want – and I’ve seen rooms look great with 94 colors in them. But I warn that if you have a ton of different styles in a ton of different colors all thrown together in a room, it can look like a thrift store, or even worse, a big, busy, messy, cluttered mistake.”

Yes, that is Tip #1. Top designer Emily’s very most important design guideline. It’s like she met me and is warning me not to follow my instincts, and yet, here I am, plodding ahead as “an extremely [over-]confident DIY designer.” Haha… I will probably wish I had followed the advice, and yet, I just can’t help myself!

Furnishings
The nursery is approximately 10′ x 10′. It can fit a lot of furniture, but not without looking cluttered. My second goal was to determine what items are most important and try to eliminate everything else.

  • Crib – The baby needs to sleep somewhere. I’m not a huge fan of most budget convertible cribs (with accessories, you can reassemble a crib into a toddler bed and then a twin bed), so I plan to keep this item inexpensive and upgrade to a “real” bed when it’s time.
  • Dresser – In addition to storing clothes, blankets, etc., I plan to put a cushion on top so it can double as a changing table. (Yep, I know to never leave my kid up there unrestrained.)
  • Bed – This choice is less common than the others. I originally planned to include a chair for feeding the baby. Both a bed and a chair won’t fit, so it had to be one or the other. I realized it might be more convenient to have a bed so the parent on “baby duty” can catch some sleep. Plus, when the baby is small, we could keep a bassinet in our room and have the nursery double as a guest room. We anticipate more visitors with the baby.

In addition to furniture, I know I’ll need a rug. The hardwood floor will be beautiful when it’s refinished, but we won’t get to that before the baby is born. We won’t do it right after, either; it makes more sense to refinish the nursery floor when we refinish the other floors (economy in grouping like projects), but the process generates a lot of dust and would mean moving ALL our furniture from EVERY room out of the apartment. It might not even happen while we’re living there. Serious bummer. Bottom line: a rug will be key.

Based on palette and furnishing considerations, here’s my inspiration board for our baby girl’s nursery (sources below).

building-home-and-family-nursery-inspiration

Was there anything you wish you’d had in your nursery, an item you thought you could live without but couldn’t? Am I totally off-base not having a chair in the room, understanding I have some very comfy chairs in the living room that’s just a few steps away? Advice is much appreciated, folks!

Sources:

  • Ikea Hemnes bed frame; our goal is to DIY this bed frame when we have more time, so the Ikea frame is a temporary solution
  • Ikea Gulliver crib
  • Curtain handmade from a Target shower curtain, sewn to size (for a prior apartment) and backed with heavy Ikea fabric for light blocking
  • Secondhand dresser painted to suit
  • Looking for a budget version of this lamp
  • Handmade crib sheets (fabrics are Robert Kaufman Urban Zoology Ostrich in Charcoal, Windham Fabrics Handmaker Loom in Black & White, and Flannel gingham plaid in Black) – will share details later in case you want to make crib sheets of your own
  • DIY wall art based on this tutorial/inspiration (with colors and images to suit)
  • Rug- Still searching, but recolored this rug by Lulu & Georgia to fit the inspiration board
  • House shelves from Target with hand painted peg dolls of our family inside
  • Canvas hamper from Land of Nod

One final note for anyone still reading: I’m a little crushed not to incorporate more wood into the design, but we have wood stained in almost every finish in the unit now. I don’t want one more mismatched piece. But opting for white furniture does kill me a little bit, even though I think it makes the other colors stand out in a positive way. Natural stained wood is my absolute favorite.