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Here she is! My adorable little tub chair that I’ve spent the last week or two getting boatloads of contractions on behalf of.  I have been on a veritable nesting rampage these last couple months, tackling massive jobs that apparently I couldn’t tackle until I was massively with child, there must be some magical hormones at play. For fun I’ll tell you that right  now I’m currently working on getting a guestroom put together for my sister who is going to spend a little while post-baby with me (that includes clearing out and relocating lots of art/sewing supplies, painting a dresser, building a night table, making a bedspread, and then finding/making the necessary accessories like lamps, mirrors, plants, art etc). No biggy. And that was just today! SO I’m trying to say that I really didn’t need another project on my hands.

But when I stumbled upon this little tub chair selling for a song on KSL (like Craigslist), I knew that whether I liked it or not, re-upholstery was on my horizon. I was actually looking for a chair for my livingroom, but ended up deciding this one is perfect for our office/studio space because we just needed something cozy in there for relaxed crafting and programming (hers and his) pastimes. (I ended up getting a pair of chairs for the livingroom, so that settled it–this little tub chair was destined to become the favorite family chair for the favorite family room (we spend a LOT of time in there). Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

When I picked this little gem up she was in pretty crappy condition. The kinda-cute peach floral/swan fabric was incredibly shabby and coming undone in several places like the back (where the frame was completely showing through the fabric–no foam or support back there), and when you sat down you’d sink so far it was nearly impossible for me and my 8 month pregnant booty to hoist myself out. I couldn’t sit in it cause it grossed me out, but my family took to it immediately despite my efforts to constantly have a blanket draped over it. Gross.

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THE WORST part of re-upholstery–BY FAR–is removing the upholstery. It’s just so gross, with decades of dust and grime flying up and in your face and contaminating the air. And it’s super labor intensive, pulling out all the thousands of staples. This time around I wised-up and purchased this little baby to help remove staples, and it made all the difference in the world. Best $13 bucks I ever spent. But after pulling off that sea of peachy floral grossness, I wasn’t exactly thrilled to discover ANOTHER older and grosser layer of upholstery underneath—they had just re-upholstered right over the top of that sucker. Now at this point I was practically convulsing with disgust (ask my husband, he was getting pretty annoyed at my hysterics), but I just muscled through it and had it all stripped off in an evening. Yuck yuck gross nasty bleh. Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Down to her knickers, the foam and cotton wadding underneath were super gross too–but surprisingly not in as bad of shape as you’d think. There’s NO WAY I was going to reuse any of it, I knew it would just prevent me from ever sitting my keister down on it though, so I had to pony up to buying new foam and batting which isn’t cheap. The back also had nothing to support the upholstery, which is why the frame was showing through. I ended up finding all my high density foam and cotton wadding from Russell’s Upholstery shop in Provo, where the most adorable old men you can imagine sold me it at a very fair price by the yard. They also gave me some good tips on how to tackle this beast, it totally made me want to ask them if I can apprentice there, but then I remembered that upholstery is so much work and so so gross and I’ll never do it for anyone else but me. Selfish but true.

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Here she is naked and exposing those bare bones.  Everything was solid structurally, but the seat webbing was incredibly stretched out and sagging. I re stretched it, but used the same material; hopefully that won’t come back to haunt me. This is the point in re-upholstering that I start to believe that I could actually build furniture from scratch, because it’s just a wood frame! It seems amazing that this will become my cozy chair!

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Here she is with her new underwear, I could finally stop convulsing!

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And here I stretched the back piece over the cotton wadding. It’s three pieces seamed together, I had to resew the seams several times to get that sleek fit, the curve of the chair made it kind tricky.

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And then the seat and front foam and upholstery. This was the trickiest part and the part I’m least happy with. It would be impossible to explain how that front seam was done, but it was very thick, two layers of upholstery, a burlap bumper piece and two layers of 1″ foam, and I really needed longer staples to make it smooth. The bumpiness of that seam where the seat curves into the front bumper really bugs me and I was about to take it apart and start again, but I decided that it wasn’t worth the effort since it’s covered up by the seat cushion. Still bugs me, but I’ve moved on.

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This was how the back was, it had nothing to structure the fabric over that frame. I decided to first layer a sheet tight over it, and then my 1/2″ foam, which as you can see, I had to do some clever seaming to get a smooth fit.

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Then for the fun part where I added piping and the three-paneled back piece, it was so fun and satisfying to make it look so sleek. The original chair didn’t have the piping, but I love the crispness and structure it adds.

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Worked extra hard to get the front seaming to match the back seaming. Nailed it.

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Almost there!Processed with VSCOcamThen I just took apart the cushion covers and used them as a pattern to create new ones. I even reused the zippers cause I’m thrifty like that.

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And finally, I slapped on some mid century legs that I found on Home Depot for a great price (I stained them and spray painted the silver finish gold). In the end my family veto’d the legs because they were all enamored with those easy-to-move caster wheels, and loved to be able to just push the chair around the room according to needs. So now the chair is back to the casters, but I took photos with the legs, just cause they’re so perty. In the end I spent just under $150 for everything: the chair/fabric/foam/buttons/thread etc which I think is great for getting a comfy chair I love.Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

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When people ask me if re-upholstery is hard I always say that skill wise, it’s very doable. It’s just taking apart a puzzle and putting it back together. The sewing skills are very basic, and really there’s nothing that’s too complicated. But it is a TON of work. And as I’ve been clear about, it’s super gross. But once you get past the gross part, it’s incredibly fun and rewarding to put it back together with your pretty new fabric and see the new piece of furniture take life.  If you’ve always wanted to try re-upholstering, I highly recommend just heading to your library and checking out as many books as you can find to get a feel for the tools and process. You can also try youtube of course, but I love the thoroughness and organization of a book, myself. I am planning on buying this book because it looks like a great reference book I’d love to have. mim's-little-tub-chair1

I am feeling very tired and very very pregnant (36 weeks!) and uncomfortable (oh the back pain!!), and am starting to be consumed with thoughts about this little girl and our changing family and preparing myself for it. I’m really excited, although I’ve definitely run the gambit with my emotions this pregnancy. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that our 3 and half year old Tiny started having seizures in January, and that really threw me for a loop emotionally, I was having so much doubt and insecurity about being able to handle a newborn AND a special needs daughter who was having a SUPER difficult time on her seizure meds in addition to just still being a baby in so many ways. But gratefully (and I mean that in the most sincere, poignant way I can possibly say), she hasn’t had any seizures for a long while and our neurologist okayed her going off the meds for now at least. I’ve been using Frankincense oil on her religiously (supposed to have anti-seizing effects), which I’m not sure is the reason for her not having more seizures, but on the off chance it is I’ll keep using it.  And a couple months ago I had this sweet moment where I was watching my kids and was filled with all that motherly-love and joy and had this sweet thought that this new little girl would bring with her every bit as much joy and love that my other children have, and I can’t even imagine how good it will be–it’s impossible to imagine before they come and bring it all with them. So I’m excited. And keeping busy with every last home project and can squeeze in before she comes!

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mad_mim_leather_tablet sleeve_03If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I’ve been working on an upholstery project for the last week. It’s a little tub chair, and I finished it yesterday!! I am sort of thrilled with how it turned out, so as soon as I mount some new legs I’ll snap some pictures and share it her. This morning though, I was inexplicably motivated to share another leather DIY that I did with my leather hide store leather.

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I did this over the holidays (my husband’s birthday is right after Christmas), and it was one of those satisfying gifts that he needed really bad but didn’t even know it. I had seen him just shove his tablet in our diaper bag when going places, and then get all nervous that it would get damaged (entirely possible). He was also always finagling creative ways to prop it up on our counter when doing dishes or helping me cook or whatever. That man needed a tablet sleeve real bad.

So I searched online, and I’m not ashamed to say this is a straight up knock off of one that I found (which I’m embarrassed to report I can’t find again). It was awesome, and like $250 bucks. Mine is not perfect–a little homemade looking really–but it’s completely functional and that’s what matters. Allan put that sucker to use immediately, and hasn’t stopped since. Very gratifying.


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I basically just measured the heck out of his tablet and then made the pattern to fit, being careful to leave openings where buttons and speakers etc. were. I used leather, felt and really stiff cardboard, and it props up two different ways. Now we can watch Last Night This Week while cleaning the kitchen!

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Anyway, that’s it. I’ll be back pretty soon to share that tub chair!

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As you know, this past year we bought our first home. I’m just gonna say, that being a homeowners has been EVERY BIT as amazing as I’ve been dreaming of over the past 8 years. I always looked forward to the day that we’d have our own home and could paint it, DIY it, and do WHATEVER we wanted to it, it became this ultimate fantasy for me, so good that it felt like a fairytale that would never actually happen. Until it did. And it’s been amazing, we love our little house. And I freaking love making this place our home, and this year has been stupendously fun doing project after project, attacking one space at a time, slowly pulling it all together. Our biggest challenge was furniture of course, we had so little when we moved in. And actually I take it back it hasn’t been all fun in the sun, there’s been a lot of heartache mixed in–because especially in the beginning it was so crappy trying to make this place a home without any furniture and without any money. BUT, little by little over the past year, with absolute diligence scouring KSL and Craiglist, and with a few choice new purchases, we’re getting closer.  mad_mim_handbuilding_picture_ledge_coat_rack_01

One of the little design problems I’ve been grappling with this past year is our side entrance, which is really our main entrance–for us and most of our family and friends.  It goes directly into the kitchen and stairs to our basement, with a sidestep into our living room. The problem is that there is no entryway at all, and although I make my kids and husbands truck their coats and bags into our hall closet, guests never had a place to put their stuff, and it would just pile up there on the floor by the door.  No bueno.

The obvious solution was a coat rack, but I resisted for a long time because I HATED the idea of a coat rack in our living room.  There really isn’t space there for any piece of storage furniture, and I didn’t want it to feel cramped or heavy there anyway. It wasn’t until the December issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine that I spotted a peg board coat rack that they had just set pictures on top of, so it functioned as a little art moment and a coat rack. BING! Pretty and functional.  Subtle and open feeling. The design in the magazine was completely impractical for family life, the pictures just balanced on top of the pegs and would undoubtedly get knocked off every time someone took off a coat, but I loved the idea and decided to design my own version.

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This was MY project from start to finish. I designed it, bought the wood, built it, painted it, and mounted it (okay, Allan helped me mount it). I painted out the bottom coat rack part the same color as our wall paint (Martha Stewart Wetstone Grey), and then painted bright white just the front portion of the picture ledge for some subtle contrast.  The beautiful hook hardware was a bit of a splurge, I paid about $30 bucks for 4. The wood was from the Home Depot, and I’m pretty sure it was around $10. I used the 1/2″ X 3″ X 3′ and 1/2″ X 1.5″ X 3′ precut poplar boards, and then had them cut a 3/4″ X 4″ poplar board down to 3′ to match. To build it I just used wood glue, nails and clamps. Nothing fancy there.
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Finally I styled it with some art and choice tchotchkes and it’s now one of my favorite moments in the house. (That old guitar dude on that little Mate I brought home from Argentina years ago was just waiting for the day I would realize his true destiny was housing a tiny cactus). mad_mim_handbuilding_picture_ledge_coat_rack_04

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So, I’m gonna call this one as a win. When guests come over we have somewhere for them stash coats and bags, and it the area still looks pretty and intentional.  You better believe I still make my kids and hub truck their crap to the closet, not gonna let them clutter it up all the time.  This is one of the many nesting projects I’ve attacked with a vengeance that can only be attributed to the mysterious burst of energy one gets in the last couple months of pregnancy.  More projects to come! What about you, have you solved any  little design problems that you wanna tell me about? I’d love to hear, I could talk interior design til the cows come home.

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mad mim_handprinting_like moths to a light collection_3So last time I told you that I’d been doing a little designing and was exploring using my designs for art. Entering the design challenges at Minted has been so good for me! The next challenge after the fabric challenge was an art print challenge, a collaboration with West Elm, and even though at first I wasn’t even considering entering, my wheels started turning over how I could see what I do as art. Up til now I’ve always just seen what I do as like crafting, or as just part of my sewing or other craft endeavors.  So anyway, all these ideas started coming to me, and I had so much fun materializing this little narrative collection of art using my moths stamps (oh yeah, here are some moth stamps I carved). I did several others, all using some of my hand carved blocks as a base.  I really don’t think I ever would have started thinking this way if it weren’t for the challenge, but it’s really shifted how I see myself and what I can do with what I love to do, you know?  I’m really…excited. Excited about working on something that I love, and excited about stretching myself creatively.  As for the minted challenge, I really don’t have ANY expectations because there are about a BAZILLION entries, and so so many are so so good. BUT regardless, I’ve really enjoyed this experience. If you want to see everything I submitted and vote for me, here is my profile.

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Moths Collection

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This one is called Diangular Filaments, and I love it. More abstract and graphic, and I see it in gold foil.  And shoot! I just realized I had the picture upside down! It looks way better right side up. mad mim_handprinting_like moths to a light collection_4

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This serpent/dna block was inspired after reading a book last week, The Cosmic Serpent by Jeremy Narby. So interesting, really blew my mind at parts.

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And then there’s my beehive You’re-the-Bees-Knees block too, so go check them all out.

ALSO. I’m 31+ weeks pregnant this week! You would not believe how many home projects I’ve been doing, I am in HYPER nesting mode. And I am supremely uncomfortable, I think I’ve forgotten how miserable it gets towards the end, because I’m like, could I have possibly done this before??

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madmim_handprinting_tribal rose pattern_1Over the last several years I’ve realized that I really love designing and carving stamps, and just hand printing and surface design in general. And you’re like, duh…we knew that. Well I guess I’m saying that I REALLY like it, and I want to really pursue it this year. I want to challenge myself and start turning my designs into repeatable patterns and would like to make more art work with it too. Thinking about lots of different ideas and plans (which are all incredibly tentative because I’m about to have my fourth child and life will be just bonkers), and I’ve realized that I’ve only shared just a tiny bit of all that I do here by way of all this here on le blog. I want to change that, and even if it’s simple, I want to start documenting more of my work.

A few weeks ago I stumbled on minted.com (saw the ad in Martha Stewart Living), and discovered that all their products are made by designers that submit their work through on going design challenges. Anyone can enter, aka even me who has never had the bravery to call myself an artist or designer and have largely done all my work for just my family and as a hobby. Well they were having a challenge to design fabric, and I’ve always wanted to learn more about how to do that like I said. So even though the deadline for submissions was just a couple days a way–I decided to just go for it–and take the design challenge as an opportunity to finally teach myself. I had bought the book A Field Guide to Fabric Design a while back (I highly recommend this book!), and I finally poured over it to help me turn one of my favorite floral stamps into a repeat. It was kinda hard for me–definitely not just wham bam thank you m’am, but I loved doing it and was so excited about how it turned out.

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And then I submitted it to the challenge! I mean, why not. If you like it, you should vote for it to be turned into fabric and sold on Minted, I wouldn’t be mad. I think the voting ends February 9th.  (As far as I understand you just rate it).

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What new creative challenges are you taking on? 

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I recently jumped out of my shoes with gusto for the chance to work with the Leather Hide Store and a large piece of remnant upholstery leather. After I stopped hyperventilating and finished my happy-leather-dance, I settled on the remnant labeled B17–a supple, rich caramel hide with lots of depth and variation. When it arrived and I finished wallowing around on it (that happened), I decided it was just about the prettiest thing I’d ever wallowed around on. The only trouble was deciding on what to make! At first I was thinking I’d upholster these chairs with it, and then I was almost settled on making a gorgeous pouf ottoman. But then I remembered to listen to my heart, and it was reminding me how long I’ve pined for a leather bag I could carry around when I’m sans kids.  Also, I wanted to get the most out of my hide, so I could also make the chic new diaper bag I’ve been dreaming of (currently in the works), the tablet cover my husband wanted (finished and he loves it!), and various other things my heart was telling me I needed to make like a wrap clutch and dop kit. I’m planning on blogging them all, so bug me about them if I don’t. And hey! You can have your own gorgeous hide to wallow around in! The Leather Hide Store is super awesome and nice and is giving one of my cool readers $50 to their store, so keep reading to find out how to enter, which you should DEFINITELY do.

mad mim_minimalist leather tote bag_15There were lots of leather bags that I considered, but I landed on this minimalist tote by Renske Solkesz featured on Design Sponge, because it was simple yet completely amazing, and it was a free pattern to boot.   It was a thrilling project to sew, one of those times when every step is so pretty and pleasing and satisfying that you want to just throw it a party.  I had to make several modifications to make it work for leather, as well as add some additional features to suite my needs.  I added a zipper pocket on one side, and a patch pocket adorned with rivets on the other, and to me they really make the bag. The patch pocket especially has proved to be so handy for sliding in my phone and keys. To me the rivets and grommets make it look so polished and not-homemade, but don’t be fooled, this is super simple sewing.

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I love the way the angular tabs fits into each other; because of the body of the leather it doesn’t close by itself when the strap is pulled, but I like the way it looks up, so that’s not an issue for me.

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I likewise added a zipper pocket and patch pocket to the inside lining for chapstick, phone, whatever. Never can have enough pockets, can we?

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To read more about how make your own tote and enter the sweet giveaway, read on!

Read More »

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Last Saturday I spent a lovely weekend in my sweet friend’s charming cabin. Everything Juliette touches is beautiful, she has got magic in her fingertips (really!! You should taste her bread and see her sewing…and weaving…and calligraphy…and doll-making…and stamp carving!) While we were there we all worked on various craft projects and I took advantage of the time to hand print this very light gauze swaddle blanket for my sister, who I expected to hear word from at any moment that she’d had her baby. It turned out that even though she was laboring when I left, she was still laboring when I got home, and didn’t end up having her baby until the following day. She was amazing, (!!!) and baby boy was born healthy and hearty at 9 and half pounds!

As I mentioned in my last post I was only planning on instagramming this blanket, but Juliette snapped some pretty photos for me, and I thought it was blogworthy. I used the same stamp as I did for my Bub’s shirt that I blogged last time, but as you can see here, it was double sided and I used both sides here.  Wish I had thought to get some photos of the process, but I just chalked out some stripes to follow, and printed with Versatex’s Primary Blue, which printed quite well on the gauze.

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As soon as I got home I hemmed and delivered it, and less than 24 hours later it was swaddling a perfect little boy.

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mad mim_handprinting and fabric markers_11A couple months ago I started a private Pinterest board for Twinkie, and I’ve had such a good time getting a peek her head–her idea of beautiful and favorite things. Like for example, I never would have predicted that she would immediately pin dozens of pictures of stained glass windows. Stained glass windows! Who knew she had a thing for them?? There have been lots of surprises in there, I plan on making the board my jumping off point when I finally get around to decorating her bedroom. So fun, can’t wait.

But as I was brainstorming her and Tito’s back-to-school wardrobes I wanted to create a sort of stained glass window inspired tee for them that they could help color, because they’re so into coloring the both of them and love to take part in the creative process. As I sketched ideas, the project also started to really remind of those velvet coloring posters, which is awesome because my kids dig those too. I also liked the idea of using a sort of dimensional paint so that the coloring lines actually had a raised tactile surface so as to act as a sort of bumper for their coloring.

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I started out by carving three different stamps that each had lots of negative space for coloring. These type of designs take longer to carve for sure, but I found that using sharp tools really helped, and I also used my utility knife a lot. I actually just bought Flexcut’s slipstrope to sharpen my trusty Speedball cutter set, and am really pleased with the results–it brought them back to their former glory.  I also used my favorite Eco Karve blocks to carve, they are so thick and smooth to cut. Because of their thickness, they worked particularly well with double sided stamps like the horse  (I don’t have a picture of the opposite side but it’s the same just reversed (more on that later!). My balloon was pretty detailed, but the gem was a cinch and probably a great place to start with this technique. If your ambitious, google velvet coloring posters and get some ideas (a really detailed one would be epic, but I just had to lie down for a rest contemplating it).

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I decided to try Setacolor’s suede effect paint, which when heat set changes  into a velvety semi-raised, very tactile surface which was perfect for this project. Use a foam brush or sponge to dab on paint pretty heavily on your stamp (I found this worked better with this particular paint than my usual fuzzy roller), and then with firm, even pressure carefully print your design. It took two or three tests prints to build up the paint on my stamp enough to get really solid and saturated results. I printed on white cotton jersey knit pre cut  into the tee Front using a simple raglan pattern from Ottobre.  (There are tons of raglan patterns out there, Oliver + S, Pattern Anthology..)

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mad mim_handprinting and fabric markers_01 Allow to dry completely, and then on the wrong side, heat set this on your iron’s cotton setting for about five minutes. This is when the paint raises and creates a super soft, textured surface that really is suede like, it’s pretty cool.

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Then color! This was so fun, I forget how satisfying coloring can be. Twinkie rocked her coloring, the dimensional paint was really good for helping her stay in the lines. We used Fabrico Duel-tipped fabric markers and loved them! Lovely color and I loved the end with a long flexible tip, it was easy to fully saturate the coloring space.

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 I totally did the horse and and gem tee myself, I couldn’t help it.

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mad mim_handprinting and fabric markers_12Ah, good times. My kids are adorable, PS, and so are these tees. These stamps have also been killer on paper for cards and such and the kiddos love coloring them in using different colors. And I actually really love the look of the designs printed with the black paint just as-is without being colored in, it’s really striking. I think I’m going to print a baby blanket using that horse stamp with that technique, no coloring in. Gonna be good, maybe I’ll try and instagram it.

Has school started for ya’ll? We just began a couple days ago, and peeps, I made like SIXTEEN tees in two days for my kids. I’m getting faster than the wind, I  can sew up a tee (not including cutting out) i like 10-15 minutes. That sounded a little braggy, because it is, I mean I’m like the Usain Bolt of sewing tees. Hope you guys made it through the first week of school okay! My kids were happy and excited to go, and I was surprisingly fine with the change–I’m excited for this Fall.  I’ll probably be an emotional mess when my little Tiny starts her special-needs preschool in a few weeks, but I’ll hoist myself up and over that hurtle when we get there!

This is not a sponsored post, although Dharma Trading did supply me with most the supplies for the project. All the opinion expressed is honest and my own!

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There are so many things I’d like to share with you from the last several months, but because I know I’ll never blog most of them, I’m choosing my faves. This wood-working project was something completely new to me, and very intimidating. Your first project in any craft is a big deal, you know? Despite being totally overwhelmed at times,  it was such a fun experience–probably mostly because I did it with my husband. We rarely craft together in the DIY-sense, and so this was just so fun; lots of podcasts and $5 pizza and headscratching and problem solving and lots and lots of saw dust.

Our little breakfast nook is tiny tiny tiny, and we knew that our only real option was to have a corner bench. Have you ever needed a corner bench? They are pretty hard to come by, there was just nothing out there that I even remotely liked.  Plus, to be honest, we needed something with such specific dimensions that it seemed like we had no other choice than to build. For Christmas last year I got Ana White‘s book The Handbuilt Home  (which I learned so much from), so this seemed like the perfect project to begin with. I came up with a  simple design (inspired by this ), and Allan drafted the plans using his fancy drafting software at work.  And then we just went for it.
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We used poplar for the outer seat frame, and just 2X4’s for the inner box. We ended up having to completely rethink our leg plan, but we decided on some basic square oak legs, which we subsequently had to strengthen by adding diagonal supports (which were alder, and we had a friend help us with them). Despite the legs having two different types of wood, they stained remarkably the same. I used Minwax in Natural for the legs, and did a white paint stain for the seat.  Paint staining, for those of you who don’t know, is just a fancy way of saying I watered down white paint and then worked it into the wood with a rag. It was a little tricky getting even results, but I’m happy with how it turned out. I wanted it to look white washed, with the beautiful grain still visible. To seal the deal I used a wipe-on polyurethane which I highly recommend.  It gave such a lovely finish, and has been very durable in the 3 months since we finished the project. And it is just so much easier to apply than the paint or spray on. 
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Although the diagonal supports were our solution for making our legs more stable, I ended up loving their design and am so happy we added them. I also love that we didn’t put legs in the middle, it’s plenty sturdy without them, and I think the openness looks cool. mad mim_corner bench_2

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Pretty excited by all these tight joints!mad mim_corner bench_6I was so proud of this project, I can’t even tell you. We made plenty of mistakes, but overall I think we nailed it, (pun unintended but welcomed) and it’s been so sturdy and easy to clean which translates into massive success in my book. I would show you pics of it actually IN the nook, but we need a new table REAL bad. When I find one I promise I’ll give you a whole (tiny) kitchen tour!

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I really didn’t mean to take a blogging hiatus, but when we first moved into our house it was so exciting and there were (ARE) so many projects to work on, and so every night I would be like hmm, Blog? Or put up the curtains? Curtains. Blog? Or make a bench? Bench. And then I just got out of the habit of asking the question at all. And here I find myself, trying clumsily to explain why you haven’t heard from me round these parts. Well I’m back tonight, and I’ve got a project that ranks up there in my top five fave garments I’ve sewn (sentimentality definitely factored in).

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In my family growing up all of us girls had a very special and romantic nightgown somewhere between the ages of  6-10 that was called a Ginny Gown (although we never had anything to do with the dance studio where these originated, here’s the story).  These long, dreamy, twirly affairs were like a right of girlhood, and I have the most beautiful memories of lounging around in the buttery silky fabric–feeling so luxurious and pretty.  So this was a sewing project I’ve been planning for years, and although I did make Twinkie an earlier edition, it wasn’t up to par with my standards of dreaminess. So last Christmas I decided to embark on the project, and decided to go with Dharma’s rayon lawn because it’s so buttery and light and drapey and swingy and just perfect for what I wanted this night gown to be.  It was definitely the perfect choice.

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For the lovely two-tone printing, I went for one of my fave printing mediums color magnet. Because I’ve screwed up sewing garments with color magnet dyed fabric before, I’ve decided to go through the process with you here so you can avoid the mistakes I’ve made. Usually when printing the fabric I’m sewing with, I cut the fabric out, print it, and then sew. Not so with color magnet, if you cut out, print and THEN dye, your small pieces will fray and wad and you’ll end up with a massive ball of sadness. For colormagnet-garment-sewing happiness, begin first by tracing your pattern pieces (only the ones you plan on printing) onto your fabric. I used a washable magic marker.

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Then, without cutting, print only those traced out areas, here I used a homemade floral stencil. mad mim_printing,dying,sewing_the ginny gown_9

Allow to dry, and then proceed with your dying normally. The color magnet will do it’s magic, and the printed areas will attract more dye and turn out a more saturated deeper color. I’m sorry I don’t have pictures of the fabric post dying, I waited so many months to actually dye it, and then so many more to actually sew it that I totally spaced taking a pic. After dying you’ll THEN cut, which will be easy because you’ll have these beautiful printed areas begging you to cut here!  Now you’re ready to sew ‘er up according to dictates of your whim and fancy.mad mim_printing,dying,sewing_the ginny gown_8

I used Simplicity 3510, which has been a favorite of mine lately (see here and here). The only modification that I made was to  add some more fullness to the sleeves.

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PS JUST SO YOU KNOW, her face isn’t dirty, it’s peeling. Wouldn’t want you to think she hasn’t bathed in a week, although that’s entirely possible.

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I absolutely love how this night gown turned out, and it is so appealing to me that I am going to make myself one like this. Exactly. Because I guess I need a still need a Ginny Gown to lounge around and feel luxurious and pretty. The reason why this project took a kazillion light years was because I just waited months between steps (too busy, then moving, then broken machine, then no machine, then borrowed machine, then new machine). My poor sewing machine was having major issues which eventually resulted in me having to take apart and resew everything. It (my machine) finally died! Kapoot, I sewed that sucker into the ground, God rest her soul.  BUT don’t cry for me friends, because I got a new one! After weeks of research I landed on a Bernina Activa, and so far I’m real happy.

And hey! if you’re in the area this week, I’m teaching a hand printing class at A fashionable Stitch in SLC this wednesday 6 pm, there are a couple spots left! Call the shop (801) 466-3110 to sign up, I’d love to see you! 

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I’m so jazzed that April is finally here, I mean it took you long enough, for real! And April means National Serger Month again, holla!  Always enthusiastic when it comes to all things serger, you know I love me some knit sewing. Last year I did my gathered basket weave pillow cases, which I love but was a bit more time-consuming than my typical serger project. This year I wanted to show you one of the many tricks I use with a serger that eliminates steps in the sewing process, because that’s the way I use my serger the most.  Whenever I’m sewing a knit project I usually try to minimize having to use my sewing machine or switching to coverstitch (which really isn’t bad, but I’m real lazy).  That’s why I love adding bands to finish off sleeves and cuffs, because they give a nice finished look without hemming. I often use my sneaky f aux band technique as well (last technique under Finishing Sleeves and Hems), which makes it like don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-fast.  But this little bow cuff is such a sweet little detail, and I feel like it takes ho-hum leggings into real-cute-land, which really is the place to be if you haven’t heard.  And they’re  fast, which is really (let’s be honest) why they’re my go-to legging finish.

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Begin with your fave legging pattern, I used one of Ottobre’s many varieties (which is incidentally,where I first saw this detail!).   When cutting out, shorten your pant length by about 3 inches, and then cut a rectangle that is the width of your bottom pant edges and has a length of  6″.  Also cut  a strip that is 2 3/4″ by 7″ or so.

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Assemble however you want, I usually zip up the inseams, and then nest leg into leg (right sides together), and sew the crotch. mad mim_no-hem bow band leggings_02

Fold your cuff pieces in half right sides together and lengthwise, and serge down the sides (be careful you get this right, you should be sewing the edge that is 6″).  Now with your tubes, fold the bottom edges up the top edges, wrong sides together, creating a cuff. mad mim_no-hem bow band leggings_03

Now grab your strip and fold it in half, right sides together and length wise, and then serge down the side, leaving your tails. Turn right side out, and finger press the seam so that it’s fully on one side.  Cut tab in half into two lengths (not pictured).mad mim_no-hem bow band leggings_04

Slide one cuff over pant leg RST, and pin the raw edges making sure to match the inseam of the legs to the seam of the cuff.
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Now  slip one tab between leg and cuff on the OPPOSITE side of the inseam, and pin. Make sure that your tab is facing seam-side out towards you. Serge around beginning an inch before your tab, making sure to catch all layers. Upon completing the round, stop, but leave your work under the pressure foot, needle down.
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Reach in between leg and cuff and pull your tab out and around (scrunching and cinching the cuff) and then pin, creating a loop around the cuff. You want the the loop  to be almost as tight as you can make it. Align this tab end to the first tab so they are right on top of each other, and carefully continue serging so you’ve caught ALL six layers at that point. Continue serging for an inch or so after that point and then serge off. mad mim_no-hem bow band leggings_09

Flip right side out and make sure you haven’t missed any layers (so cute!)mad mim_no-hem bow band leggings_07Finish legging waist as per your instructions, I always do an elastic waistband with coverstitch topstitch (or zig zag). 

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And that’s a wrap. You’ll notice I used sweatshirt fleece which although it worked ok, was much harder to work with than regular knit which is a cinch. Just FYI so you know and have been warned.  I’ve only ever sewn this detail for my girls, but if this is your flava, it would be famous on grown-up sized leggings too!
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Be sure to head over to the NSM’s blog and check my project and so much more  amazing serger spectacularness there!

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Little by little I’ve been working on organizing and beautifying my craft and sewing space. Sometimes the little-by-little nature of decorating in general really bums me out–I want it NOW, Daddy!, but sometimes here and there projects are just the ticket to scratch the itch to create, and satisfy the need to check something off the list, you know?

In the first few months that we moved in I mounted some pegboard on my craft closet and have been picking up a few pieces of hardware every time I stop by Home Depot, and thinking of other ways to mount various notions and supplies.  The one thing I wasn’t really finding were pretty bins to mount, there are some blah baskets out there, but nothing I was jonesing after, I can tell you. Then I remembered these cheapo plastic bins that my mom had given me, and I decided to use them until I found something cuter. But once they were up there, it occurred to me they might have some real potential.

I can’t be the first one to think of this, but a quick google search didn’t surface anything so I thought I’d share my (sorta) quicky solution here.  I cut up some strips of knit fabric (like 3/4’s wide), and hand tacked one to one strip around one of the rungs (for lack of a better word).

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And from there I just weaved it in and out through the slats of the bins, hand tacking another strip to the end whenever I ran out. mad mim_weaving fabric through plastic bins_01

I found that in order to keep the rows weaving alternating (like it goes over the slat on one row, and under on the next), I had to skip a slat on one end every time, but the opposite end I could weave normally. When I reached the top when I really couldn’t stuff in another row, I would just tack it around a slat again on the inside of the bin.

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One day in the not-too-distant-future I’ll show you the whole closet, which, although it’s nothing Martha Stewart would get worked up about, it sure gets my heart pumping. Where do you craft? Do you have a table or corner or studio? Do you care as much as I do about making it pretty?

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