Saturday, December 31, 2011

RePurposed: Blouse To Pillow

I was fortunate growing up to be very close with my grandma.  We spent a lot of time together.  I did a lot of watching and helping as we made tons of things with fabric, yarn, glue, sewing name it, we probably made it. 

I inherited a bunch of her clothes that no longer fit her to use as costumes for a theater production I was working on.  Most of them were very pretty, having fancy lace collars and other decorative elements.  It just so happened that we didn't use them and I found myself still having them in my possession after she passed away.  I grabbed the bag full of these blouses one day and opened it up.  They still smelled like her and I just couldn't bring myself to get rid of them.  I thought long and hard about what I could do with the blouses to make sentimental keepsakes, rather than leave them closed up in a bag.  It finally hit me to turn them into decorative pillow cases.

That year I turned three of those blouses into pillows for my mother for Christmas.  Two of them are pictured below.  I saved a few blouses to make pillows for myself.  You can see one of them in the instructions posted here.  This turned out to be a great way to make good use out of something near and dear to us.  The project requires basic sewing skills.  If you wish to have pillows like this made but can't sew, it's worth asking a friend for help to get them made.  You'll be glad you did.

Pillow form
Sewing machine
Measuring tape or ruler

  •  First determine the size/measurements of your pillow form.  I add one inch to the lengh and width of my form to determine the size I need to cut my fabric (or blouse in this case).
    • If the blouse you are using is a button up you will need to sew down the center to keep the blouse closed once it has been sewn into a pillow case.

  • Pin the blouse across the top of the general area you think you will be cutting.  This allows you to make one cut through the blouse, cutting the top and bottom piece at one time.
  • Carefully measure and cut the blouse to the size needed to cover your pillow form.  You may want to make a pattern or template out of a material like cardboard or poster board. 
    • For example:  My pillow form was 14"x14" so I cut my blouse into a 15"x15" square.

  • Once cut, turn your two pieces inside out and pin together along the top edge.  When sewing a pillow case you always want to sew the front and back piece facing one another.
  • Begin sewing your two pieces together about a half an inch in from the edge of the fabric.  Start at one corner and work your way around to about halfway on the fourth side.
    • NOTE  It is very important to leave an ample opening on the fourth side (the bottom) so that you are able to push the pillow form thru.  I typically sew the last side too far closed because I'm not paying enough attention.  LOL
  • After sewing, trim off the four corners by rounding them off with the scissors.  I also trim around the entire piece so that the seems aren't too bulky once turned inside out.

  • Turn your piece inside out, revealing the front side of the blouse/pillow
  • Carefully stuff the pillow form through the opening at the bottom and into the form.  You'll need to manuever the corners around and into place.

  • You'll need to close up the opening once you've got your pillow form in and situated.  This part can be a little tricky but isn't impossible.  Some people fold over the opening in towards one another and simply stitch it close by hand with a needle and thread.  I'm not quite as particular about it (since it's on the bottom side) so I usually pin the opening together and sew it closed on the machine. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Canvas Creations - Painting Negative Space

I inherited some blank canvases from my aunt that have been sitting in my basement for well over a year.  I knew that there would eventuall be a project that they would come in handy for.  That project has finally arrived.  LOL

I've been doing a lot of experimenting on cutting vinyl with my Cricut.  I paired my vinyl cutouts with some scrap fabric and a blank canvas to create a custom sign.  I used the vinyl as a reverse stencil, painting the negative space over the cutouts.  I'm fairly impressed with the results and can't wait to continue to create other signs.

I will definetely be making more of these and will be sure to post the pics.

Stretched Canvas
Staple Gun
Spray Paint
Contact Paper
Scissors (I cheated and used my Cricut)


  • Start by cutting out whatever you'd like to have showing on your piece from a stickable vinyl.  I used contact paper.  I cheated and cut my pieces with my Cricut but you can easily cut whatever letters, images or designs you wish by hand.  Use stencils and trace them if needed.
  • Wrap your canvas with your fabric by stretching and stapling it onto the backside of the fram.

  • Peel the backing off of the vinyl and stick them directly onto the fabric.

  • Take your spray paint and give the enitre piece an even coat of paint.  I could tell that this would need two coats so I was careful not to oversaturate the fabric for fear the paint would bleed under the vinyl.  Be sure to get the sides of your frame as well.

  • NOTE: The vinyl started to peel up after it had set for a while.  Watch it carefully and try to get the second coat of paint on before it starts doing so.  You can see the peeling on the next pic.

  • After the piece is completely dry, begin removing the vinyl from the fabric.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Chipboard Letters

I love, love, love letters!  In fact, some people laugh because I have my initials scattered all over the house.  I also love to have random words spelled out on a shelf or counter for holidays and other special occassions.  One of my newest obsessions is using the pages from an old book and old hymnal as my medium for ornaments and other decor items. 

These letters are great to give as gifts.  You can tie them to presents, wine bottles, etc.  You can also spell out words or entire names and string them together into a garland with ribbon.  The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.  I will definetely be making more of these using different papers and embelishments.  Check back to see how I've covered the next batch.

Chipboard letters
Craft knife
Glue stick
Acrylic paint
Paint brush

  • Paint the edge (and back if you wish) of your chipboard letter.  Choose a paint that compliments the color of the paper you are using to cover the front of your letter.  Let the paint dry completely before moving on to the next step.

  • Cover the entire front surface of the letter with glue.  Be certain that all of the edges of the letter have plenty of glue to prevent your paper from peeling off.

  • Place your letter face down onto your paper choice.  Apply plenty of pressure to be sure that your paper is sufficiently stuck to the front of your letter.  I turned the paper over and ran my finger along the front, just to be certain that everything was firmly glued on.

  • Take a sharp craft knife and carefully cut along the edges of the letter.  Be certain that your knife is sharp.  A dull knife may cause you to tear the paper rather than cut.  Tearing the paper often pulls it off of the front of the letter.

  • You may need to take your knife and clean around the front edges once you have finished cutting off the excess paper.

    I went one step further with these particular letters and applied an antique linen finish using something called Distress Ink (purchased at Hobby Lobby) to make the paper look aged. 

    Sunday, December 4, 2011

    My Christmas Mantel 2011

    My Christmas Open House is over and as promised, I've got pictures of my mantel.  I've been eyeing the most amazing mantel garland for a few years at Grandin Road and decided that I'd treat myself and purchase it to adorn my freshly made-over mantel.  I LOVE IT!

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Fall In My Yard

    I love my backyard...especially in the fall.  While my overall decor style is more contemporary and less primitive, I do like to use more rustic, weathered things in my back yard.  I've been fortunate to inherrit a few things that had belonged to my grandparents and my parents that I have incorporated into the yard.

    I thought I'd share a few pics of my backyard in the fall.

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    The Many Faces Of My Fireplace

    I have always wanted a fireplace...not to actually have a fire but because I've always wanted a mantel to decorate.  My house is really small and floor space is an issue when it comes to putting very much in my rooms.  I have some long-time family friends from church that had a nice fake corner unit that they had for years.  They finally decided that it was time to get rid of it and knew I had always wanted one.  I was excited to get it.  It was a stained oak, which isn't really my style and doesn't match anything in my house.  I decided to give it a makeover.  I painted it white to match the moldings and trim in my living room.  It's been some years now and I don't have a before pic, but here's one of the decorated fireplace that year.

    I really loved having a mantel to decorate that year but was really missing all the space that it took.  I had originally hoped to find just the face and mantel piece to use...then it hit me.  I could dis-mantel (ha ha) the fireplace.  I unscrewed all the insides, removed the faux brick and then cut the back part of the mantel, flush with the back of the face. 

    Then I ran to Menards (one of my favorite stores in the world) and bought two pieces of lumber.  I think one plank was six inches wide and the other eight.  I measured and cut them to add to the existing mantel so that I had a larger ledge space.  I gave it all a quick brush of paint and then screwed it flush to wall.  It was one of the best things I've ever installed into my living room.  Here are some pics.

    Christmas 2009

    Everyday 2010
     This year I was wanting a big change in the room when I decorated for Christmas.  I had started off planning a color palette of purple, gold and black.  I decided that it was time my mantel get another makeover.  So I painted it black.  This was a great idea since that round accent mirror and the TV console are black.  I love the new look.

    Fall 2011
    Wait until you see how it looks this year for Christmas.  I purchased an AMAZING new garland and it looks spectacular.  You'll have to check back later to see those pictures.  And of course I went with a completely different color palette...Gold & Silver.

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Figured That I'd Share

    I've spent years doing some very elaborate Christmas decorating.  I do something new and different every year and constantly have people leaving me house saying things like, "I would have never thought of doing that" or "I would love to do something like that in my house."  Friends often leave with a few ideas that they would like to incorporate into their own holiday decor.

    I was deep in a Christmas decorating discussion with a coworker last year and she insisted that I begin blogging about how I do Christmas (thank you Ashley Murphy).  She thought that would be a great way for people to see exactly how I create the holiday magic in my home.  That's when The Christmas Guy blog came to be.  It's there where you can find me blogging all things Christmas.

    I've had a good time blogging but have come to realize that I do some pretty cool non-Christmas things all year.  I'll still be blogging at The Christmas Guy while tangled in tinsel but I'll share the rest of my decor projects and ideas here.