July 15, 2012

Sew Modern

Sewing is something that I'm sure Martha Stewart is a pro at.  I imagine that in between canning preserves and mixing up homemade cleaning supplies she artfully creates her own duvets, curtains and Project Runway-worthy garments without batting an eye.  

Reality check.  Sewing is f--king hard!  

I learned this after Ryan bought me a beautiful sewing machine as a gift and after several frustrating sessions of stitches that were too tight, too loose or seriously pathetic Charlie Brown Christmas tree looking projects it sat collecting dust in our hall closet for months. 

Determined to master a skill that even children can learn*, I dusted off my Janome** and coerced my friends Erin and Melissa to join me for a baby blanket making class.  (yes, it's as dorky as it sounds) 

We met up at Sew Modern, which is officially the most darling little store ever.

We picked out our fabrics from among the rows and rows of beautiful prints and patterns.  The store is really affordable considering the quality and cuteness of their selection.  Most fabrics are around $10-13/yard which - when you consider all the ugly stuff at Joann's Fabric is $8-10 - is a steal.  There's also more premium items in the $15-$20 range, as well as a lot of 20-40% off sale pieces too.  Needless to say, there's something for every price range.

We got to work cutting and pinning our fabrics.

And then headed over to our machines to start sewing!

We each had a few little setbacks - trying to sew around a curved edge, my machine was threaded improperly so made some hideous stitches that had to be ripped out - but owner and class instructor Lauren patiently helped us each mend our mistakes.

But by the end, we each had a cute little blanket to gift to one lucky little baby!

(ignore our makeup-less faces...it was a Saturday)

Highly recommend going over to Sew Modern for a class of your own.  Check out their class schedule here, along with their online shop!

* That's not a child labor joke.  They literally have sewing summer camp for elementary school kids at the place we took our class.   

** Ryan's mom was a home ec teacher and swears by the Janome brand.  Unlike Singer or Brother, Janome is still made with metal parts which makes it super durable vs it's mostly-plastic competitors.  I credit this priceless tip with getting me an A+ machine that will last for years to come. 

July 12, 2012

Clothing Line Photo Display

In the digital age, it's a constant challenge to remember to print photos - not to mention put them in albums.  I love the option of making a photo album on Shutterfly or Apple but there's something wonderful about having a physical, individual snapshot on display. 

In an effort to add a more personal touch to my office, I decided to make the below clothing line display for my pictures.  It's a creative, inexpensive way to hang a ton of photos.  All you need is some jute twine, push pins mini clothes pins and spray paint (optional).  

Determine the width you'd like and cut twine to size.  Tie a little knot at the end and anchor in the wall using your push pin.  For the clothing pins, you could leave their natural color or customize with spray paint.  I went with traditional white.  Then, simply clip on your photos and you're done!

I'm planning on adding a third row eventually but ran out of pins and wanted to get something up in the meantime.  Hope you enjoy! 

July 8, 2012

Hello, First Embroidery Adventure

I've wanted to try embroidery for ages but got so obsessed with cross stitching that I never got around to learning.  After seeing some beautiful pieces on Etsy (here, here, here and here) I decided to give it a try. 

As my first project, I decided to stitch up a cute Dachshund for my dear friend, Tita.  She's a loyal cat owner but wants a little wiener dog named Pickles.  How cute is that?!

To make your own embroidery artwork, you'll need the image of your choice, fabric, needles, thread, an embroidery hoop, scissors, a pen and tracing paper.  Clearly, my photo below is missing a few props... :)

Lay your fabric on a flat surface.  Place your tracing paper face down and your image on top of it.  Using a ballpoint pen, trace over your image, pressing down firmly.  You'll be left with a chalk-like outline that you'll be able to stitch over. 

Secure your fabric in your embroidery hoop.  I usually place a few dabs of super glue on the inside to set it permanently. 

Next, grab your embroidery needle and floss.  I used 4 strands for the project below but you could use anywhere from 2-6 depending on the thickness of your fabric and the size of your needle.  If you aren't familiar with sewing or embroidery...check out these two great tutorials (here and here). 

Go around your pattern using the stitch of your choice.  I went for a split stitch, which gives a more textured look.  You start by making a single stitch.  Let's say about 1/10th of an inch in length.  Bring your needle back up through the center of that stitch and then down again another 1/10th of an inch away.  It's a one step forward, 1/2 a step back type of technique.  

After making my embroidery debut with the piece above, I was hooked and spent the better part of Saturday experimenting with different stitches, fabrics, needles and thread thicknesses. Below are a few other projects I finished! 

July 3, 2012

Happy 4th Of July!

Fourth of July is one of those holidays that just sneaks up on you.  One minute it's Guinness and shamrocks, the next...Budweiser and red, white and blue.  It's a fun-filled, sunny occasion that's brought me many fond memories throughout my life:  a family reunion in Illinois, childhood pool parties in Denver, road trips to Lake Tahoe and fireworks on my apartment rooftop in Los Angeles.

There's something so nostalgic and wholesome about celebrating the greatest of great nations with delicious BBQ, sparklers, American flags and cooling off in sprinklers, the pool, beach or lake. 

In celebration of this most patriotic event, I pulled together a few items that are must-haves for both hosting and attending this year's soirees.

For The Host/Hostesses

1. Cute Patriotic Decor.  I love these pillows from Cost Plus because they're festive but could be used year round too. 

2. Colorful Beverage Buckets. Throw in some ice, beers, waters and sodas and voila!

3. Sunscreen.  I'm literally obsessed with sunscreen and have been known to bring an inordinate variety to any given outing.  I like Neutrogena's Wet Skin spray because it's formulated to go on skin that's sweaty or wet from swimming.

4. Plenty Of Towels.  Land's End has the cutest navy and white anchor towel that's perfect for the preppy kid or adult.

5. Firecraker Popsicle.  Seriously, who doesn't love these iconic red, white and blue treats? 

6. Meat Markers. These Crate & Barrel BBQ helpers are absolutely genius.  Label your steaks or burgers with a Medium Rare, Medium or Well skewer so guests can choose the dish of their liking.

7. Portable Mini Grill.  I love the idea of bringing the BBQ wherever you go: camping, the beach or a friend's backyard.  Plus the $60 price tag won't break the bank.

8. Watermelon.  It's in season, easy to eat, keeps you hydrated and can be soaked in a little bit of citrus or berry flavored vodka for an adult treat.

9. An All American Playlist.  Load up your iPod or iPhone with an essential mix of classics (Bruce Springsteen's Born In The USA and Ray Charles' America The Beautiful) and current pop hits (Katy Perry's Firework, Miley Cyrus' Party In The USA and Estelle/Kanye West's American Boy)

10. Radio Flyer Wagon.  Whether using it to transport kiddos to watch the fireworks or store food/drinks, I love the idea of having one of these childhood favorites at your 4th of July festivities.

For The Party Goer
  1. Boardwalk Striped Tote.  Be sure to toss in your sunscreen, magazines, bottled water and other warm weather necessities! PS: It's on sale at JCrew for only $50! 
2. Wide Brimmed Hat.  I have the straw hat below from Target and love that it blocks out bright light and damaging sun while still looking stylish.

3. Polka Dot Bikini.  There's something so sweet and timeless about polka dots and somehow it works for little girls and grown women alike.

4. Festive Nail Polish.  Essie has some great shades of red/coral but my all-time favorite is Clambake because it has an orange hue to it that isn't too orange.  The muted navy color is Bobbing For Baubles.

5. Colorful Espadrilles.  Banana Republic has the most amazing braided espadrille wedges in navy AND red.  I wouldn't even know which one to pick!

6.  Rosebud Salve.  It's totally coincidental that Rosebud's colors fit with the 4th of July color palette.  This miracle working balm soothes dry lips, cuticles or elbows in a flash!

July 1, 2012

Gold Dipped Vase

I'm obsessed with all things gold.  Jewelry, eye shadow, nail polish, clothing, home decor...you name it.  Naturally, when I spied some gold spray paint at Michael's a few months ago, I snatched it up immediately...not quite knowing what I'd use it for but knowing that it was something I needed in my arsenal of craft supplies.  

Luckily, I had a white ceramic vase that needed a makeover.

To give your vase (or any object for that matter) a dipped look, grab some masking tape and the spray paint of your choice. 

Tape off the portion of your vase that you don't want painted.  It doesn't have to look pretty...just make sure that everything is covered nicely.

Stand your vase right-side-up and start covering with a thin layer of spray paint, making sure you're even in your application.  Let it dry for a few minutes and then apply a second coat. 

After completely dry, remove the masking tape and you're ready to display with some pretty flowers of your choice.  I'm partial to Asiatic Lilies because of they're smaller and seem to last longer than traditional Lilies.  :)