My (Super Small) Sewing Space

Is a lack of space cramping your creative style?  You can still make awesome stuff without a dedicated sewing room!

In my dream home, I have my very own office/studio, and it’s AMAZING…you ready for it??  It’s about 150 square feet, painted a cool gray with gorgeous white trim and vaulted ceilings.  There are built in bookshelves everywhere, huge windows overlooking my gorgeous green yard and like 4 huge wide tables for cutting out fabric and patterns and collecting miscellaneous crafty crap.

*Sigh* But back here on planet earth, I live in a 2300 sq ft house with 8 children.  Finding space for my creative hobbies isn’t always the biggest priority so I’ve had to figure out the best way to make do for the past few years.  Having a dedicated space to do what you love is important; even if it’s just a tiny corner of a dining room table.  So here’s a peek into my creative corner!

My sewing space currently resides in a shadowy corner of my family room in the basement.  This room also functions as a homeschool room, play room and media room…so it is FULL.  One of these days I’ll organize and decorate the whole thing so I can show it all to you.  We’ve got 2 full bookcases, 2 long Ikea tables, 6 chairs, a gigantic sectional, a school supply/toy closet and fabric closet.  It’s a hot mess but it allows me to be close to the little kids while I sew which ensures that I get a lot more creating done than if it was all in a separate room!

When designing this space, I knew I wanted an L-shaped configuration for my sewing machines and ironing board so that I can stay seated and make a sewing project from start to finish (I’m very lazy).  One of these days I think I’ll get a comfy swivel desk chair so that it’s even easier to move around!  I’ve got my regular sewing machine on the left (it’s also an embroidery machine) and my serger on the right.  Behind the machines I installed two metal rods to hang little white storage buckets.  These hold everything from seam rippers to scissors to markers and tape measures.  They’re really roomy and are strong enough to hold several pairs of heavy scissors!  The little clear box to the right of my serger holds all my bias tape and a few odds and ends.

I use the drawers on the right to hold just about everything else I could ever need while sewing: the top drawer holds pins, tape, chalk, etc.  The others store ribbon, elastic, zippers, buckles, snaps…you name it!  The big wide drawers on the left hold my button collection as well as all my really large paper patterns.  My favorite way to keep these patterns together is to take a large piece of cardstock, fold it in half and staple two of the open sides together.  These fit perfectly into the drawers and keep me from having to fold big patterns more than a couple times to store.

Behind my machines, I chose to hang pretty stuff and magazine cut outs of inspiring clothing designs.  While I love the idea of a pegboard to hang all my tools like many sewists use, we’re so tight on space that our “television” is actually a projector screen that pulls down and partially covers this part of the wall.  So the stuff I hang on it has to be fairly flat so that it doesn’t damage the screen.  It’s worked out pretty well!

In the back corner I have my stash of sewing books and smaller paper patterns inside 3-ring binders.  I also keep my big clear rulers here (out of the reach of naughty children who have broken about 3 of them already) and my big cutting mats get stored behind my machines against the wall.  My favorite part of my machine table is the power strip!  I used Command strips to adhere it to the table and plug everything into this strip.  That way, when I want to work, I just have to flip one switch to bring everything to life.  And then when I walk away I switch it off so I never forget to turn off the light or a machine or my iron (totally did that for years before this setup).

You can see a bit more crap stashed under the back corner of the table: I’ve got a bag full of cross-stitching supplies under there, padding for my dress form and more (and more and more) patterns.

Under my thread supply, I keep this pretty metal basket full of fabrics in my “queue”.  Anything that really inspires me or that I’ve bought for a specific purpose goes here so that it doesn’t get lost to die a sad and lonely death in my fabric closet (under the basement stairs).  I love seeing the pretty patterns and dreaming of how I’ll put them to use.  Way above the thread rack, I screwed in two hooks (these big ones are from the hardware store and are designed to hold bikes on a garage wall) to store all my rolls of paper: carbon tracing paper, swedish tracing paper, medical paper, rolls of interfacing, fusible web, etc.

Finally along that left part of the corner, I have my mini ironing board and iron, as well as more pretty storage on the wall.  I love, LOVE this circle shelf because it’s super cute and gives me a place to keep contraband up high.  My kids are pretty good about not getting into my sewing stuff (on penalty of death) but if the littles are being stinkers one day, I’ll stash my pins & needles up here as well as candy (or other sewing treats that are not for children) in that little bowl on the top shelf…what they don’t know won’t hurt them!

And that’s about it!  It’s not the fanciest or the most well organized but it works pretty great for me at this stage of life.  I often use the kids’ school tables for cutting out patterns…or just the floor.  I tend to make a big mess when I sew at night because I can, but it’s nice to have a place to put everything back in order when it’s time to clean up.

Let me know if you have any questions…and I’d love to know if you also have a teeny tiny sewing or crafting space.  Let’s hear any other tips out there for being creative without a full room at your disposal!

SOURCES

Table top, skinny drawer unit, wide drawer unit, chair, pendant light, white storage buckets & rods, and white magnet boards – Ikea || Sewing/Embroidery machine – Bernina Artista 180 (bought used on eBay)|| Serger – Brother 1034D || Thread rack, iron  – Amazon || Circular shelving unit, clock, gold cup, similar decorative bowl, metal basket & plastic (bias tape) basket, ironing board, gold baskets & mounting rail behind ironing board – Target || Instax camera – Amazon || abstract art on circle shelf – Candy Kirby Designs ||other handmade art – Pen and Paint || snowy barn art – painted by yours truly

Nursery & Toddler Room Reveal!

Get all the details on this fun gender neutral kids’ room redo…plus my unsponsored review of an online decorating service!

Bunk Beds – Wayfair (awesome quality and a GREAT deal!)|| Crib – Babyletto || Dresser – Craigslist || Rolling Cart – Ikea ||
Black Shelves – Target || Rocking Chair – Amazon ||Black & White pillows – handmade from this curtain || Curtain Rod – Wayfair ||
Pink Fleece Blanket – Wayfair (SO cozy!!) || Gold Task Lamp – Target || Hanging Pendant – Home Goods (similar) || Curtains – Wayfair || Crib Sheet – Target || White comforters – Walmart || Rug – Urban Outfitters || White Faceted Vase – Lulu & Georgia ||
White Frames – Target || Artificial Plant & stand – Target || Ribbon Mobile – Etsy || Art prints – All from this Rifle Paper Co. calendar ||
Quilt – Handmade (details here) || Clock – Target

I’ll be honest: home decor is not my strongest suit.  I know what I like, and I’m fairly picky at that, but I just can’t seem to recreate what I see on Pinterest in real life!  I’ve wanted our home to look put together for years, but since we’re on the track to moving in the next year or so, I’ve sadly stopped putting forth too much effort.

That is, until I got pregnant with this baby and we realized that we needed to do some rearranging in order to make this 4 bedroom house fit 10 bodies!  The big boys are settled and happy in our basement bedroom, while the 3 big girls share a full-twin bunk bed in their room and Mimi has her own room (perks of being a baby).

Poor Finn, however had simply been relegated to a crib mattress on the floor of the girls’ room…but let’s be honest, he ended up in our bed more often than not!  I knew that he needed to move in with Mimi, but that it needed to be a special place where he could feel grown up and important.

I also began reading reviews of Decorist late last year and thought an online decorating service sounded fantastic, especially if I could snag it on sale.  I stalked their site for Black Friday deals and grabbed a room re-do for just $150!  That was all the motivation I needed to get started.

The pre-design process was very simple and pretty fun!  I submitted measurements and pictures of the room, as well as a pinterest board full of ideas.  I also included a list of what furnishings I wanted to keep for the room (Mimi’s crib, a light fixture, basket and dresser), and submitted my (very low) budget of $1-2K.

My designer, Becky, was super nice, friendly and down to earth and assured me she could totally work with my budget.  We discussed how the room needed to be gender neutral and include a set of bunk beds so that Mimi would have a big bed to grow into.  She also created a private Pinterest board for us to collaborate on and toss ideas back and forth.  That was my favorite part!

After a few weeks, she came back with 2 initial digital designs that I then weighed in on and told her what I did and didn’t love…this was my favorite of the two! (I really wanted to go with that pink on the walls, but alas, my 3 year old boy would’ve had something to say about that.)


About 1 week later she came back with the final design, which I again tweaked just a bit.  The cool thing is that she sourced and linked to all the products she used in the design, and you can even order the products through Decorist instead of shopping all over the internet, which I did for a few things.

As you can see, I ended up doing a few things differently from the final design, due to budget & practicality’s sake, but I absolutely LOVE how it turned out.  Finn also loves his new top bunk (complete with Star Wars sheets conveniently hidden under a pretty white comforter) and he and Mimi have been getting along swimmingly in the same room!  It makes me SO happy to have at least one room that’s totally done and fun to look at.

All in all, I would definitely use Decorist and Becky again, especially at that sale price! Although I probably wouldn’t order directly through Decorist again…I found out the hard way that most items ordered through them are final sale and even if you can return something, you only have 14 days.  I didn’t love the colors of the Lulu & Georgia rug in the final design once I got it, but after we got through Christmas and I decided to return, it was too late.  Kind of a bummer to get stuck with an expensive rug I didn’t want!

*Update: Decorist did end up working with me on returning the rug –  but I still think a 2 week return window is crazy short!

So, what do you guys think of the final product?  Have you ever considered using an online designer?

Check out this collection of amazing boy-friendly rooms (including my design) to see more darling ideas!

Welcome little gem!

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One of my most wonderful long-time friends just had a baby…her 5th girl!  Her next youngest is 8 and this baby is the first for her current marriage so we decided little baby Angélie needed a shower to welcome her into the world.  And, since brand new babies are WAY more fun to see than pregnant women, we waited until after she was born to shower the little “gem”.

I’ve been seeing gem-themed decor everywhere so I knew I wanted to head in that trendy direction. What do you guys think??

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Click Read More for all the pics!

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Wooden Dowel Heart Wreath Tutorial

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Big Kitchen Reveal!

 

 

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Holy cow, am I excited to finally share all the after pics of our kitchen!  This project has been a LONG time coming and we are just thrilled with the end result.  I got to dig up some old “before” pics for this post, along with a couple pictures of the kitchen as a work in progress over the years.  Try to not get too overwhelmed by the heinousness that was our kitchen when we moved in almost 7 years ago.

Ready for this??

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This was what greeted us when we first toured the house.  Trust me, it was way worse in person.  We painted and replaced carpet before moving in, but that was about it.

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DIY Christmas Stockings

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Christmas traditions really are the most fun, aren’t they??  When I was a kid, we moved around a bit which means that our favorite traditions had to be mobile, like decorations or favorite foods.  Our stockings, handmade by my mom, are one of my favorite memories so I decided to duplicate them for my kids.  They’ve been so fun to create!

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Note: this is a great tradition to start when you only have like 2 or 3 kids, instead of 6.  I made 2 last year but have been nice and busy playing catch up this year.  And even though the personalized cross-stitching does take a little time, these stockings are otherwise super simple and fun to put together.  Let’s get to it!

First thing to do is create a pattern.  Sketch a stocking shape out on some cardstock, thinking about what Santa usually leaves in your kids’ stockings and making sure that the stocking is big enough.  For reference, my pattern is 17.5″ long (from top edge to toe), 6.75″ wide at the top and 4.5″ wide at the toe area (before it starts tapering).  FYI, ours are just slightly too narrow for a DVD, in case that’s important to you.

You’ll also need pattern pieces for the coordinating toe and heel fabric.  My toe piece is 3″ long and my heel piece is 1.5″ wide x 6.5″ long.

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Now you’ll need to cut out your fabric, as follows:

Cut 4 stocking pieces out of your main fabric (2 on the right side of fabric, 2 on the wrong side)
Cut 2 stocking pieces out of thin batting
Cut 1 piece of aida fabric (the kind used for cross-stitching).  You need a piece measuring 3.5″ x 7″ but I always cut mine several inches bigger to allow some breathing room when cross-stitching.
Cut 1 piece of main stocking fabric also measuring 3.5″ x 7″
Cut 1 piece of fusible interfacing also measuring 3.5″ x 7″
Cut a piece from your toe and heel patterns out of coordinating fabric

Cut 2 pieces of trim to decorate your toe and heel pieces (long enough to cover the raw edges of each piece as seen in finished pictures)
Cut 1 piece of trim to decorate the bottom of cross-stitched piece (7″ long)
Cut 1 piece of trim or bias tape, 4″ long (for a loop to hang your stocking)

Now comes the easy part!  Top-stitch the toe and heel pieces to the front of your stocking piece.  Add trim where desired, to cover your stitching.

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Now make a stocking sandwich: batting, back and front stocking pieces (right sides together) and the other piece of batting, and stitch together with a 1/4″ seam.

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Separately, sew together the remaining 2 stocking pieces, also right sides together (this will be your stocking lining).

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Turn your outer stocking right side out (the one with batting) and press edges as best as you can.  Then insert the lining inside the outer stocking (keep it inside out…you want the right side of fabric visible when you look inside the stocking).

Once you finish the cross-stitching for your cuff, you’re ready to put together your stocking cuff.  **You can also skip the personalization and just make the cuff out of another piece of main stocking or coordinating fabric!  Start by ironing your fusible interfacing to the wrong side of your 3.5″ x 7″ piece of main stocking fabric (this will be the back of the cuff).  Press the bottom edge of this interfaced piece to the back 1/4″ and topstitch.

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Do the same to the bottom edge of your piece of aida fabric and add your decorative trim.  Then, sew your aida fabric and back cuff piece together, RST.

Now comes the only tricky part!  I’ve done this several times and finally think I’ve figured out the best way…so here goes!

Turn the entire stocking inside out, lining and everything, making sure you remember which side is the front of the stocking (mark it with a pin).

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Turn the cuff inside out as well, then slip it over the top of the stocking, making sure the cuff isn’t upside down and that the name is facing the front side of the stocking that you marked with a pin.  Pin all the way around the top, making sure the edges of the cuff, outer stocking and lining pieces all match up, then stitch together, using 1/4″ seam allowance.

Now, one final step!  Turn the entire stocking right side out and fold cuff down.  Rip out one inch of the seam you just sewed, wherever you’d like to put your hanging loop.  Fold your piece of trim or bias tape in half, and insert it into this hole in the seam, making sure your raw edges of the trim are even with those of the stocking.  Turn your cuff back up to access the seam, and sew this portion of the seam closed again, over the loop.

Tada!  You’re done!  Stand back and admire your handiwork and think about the years of memories it will bring!

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Candy corn pennant

Like the other 7 billion people on the planet, I LOVE Halloween décor, even though, as a mother, I HATE the holiday itself.  Don’t even get me started on kids changing their minds on costume ideas 2 hours beforehand or the sugar highs, fights over candy, fear of weirdos kidnapping my kids…. 

 

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But back to the fun part: décor!  My all-time favorite holiday DIY is this candy corn pennant because
1. it’s made of fabric! My favorite medium
2.  It’s super easy to sew
3. It has lasted year after year, which is more than can be said of my paper projects of years gone by.

Bonus: Read on for a no-sew alternative!

 

 

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My banner has 10 pennants and measures about 10 feet long, FYI.

Supplies:

Quilting cotton in orange, yellow and white (1/2 yard each)
10 feet of black, double fold bias tape (purchase or make your own!)

 

 

1.  Download and print a copy of the template right HERE.  Be sure the “fit to page” box is blank and/or set your margins to “none”.  The template should measure about 7.5” x 9”.

2.  Cut one copy of your template into 3 pieces for the front of the candy corn.  For the other copy of the template, just cut out the triangle whole (this will be for the backs).

2.  Using the three front pieces, trace and cut out fabric pieces in each of the coordinating colors.  Do this until you have enough for your entire pennant (i.e. 10 yellow top pieces, 10 orange middle pieces and 10 bottom white pieces).  Then, using your uncut template, cut out backs for each candy corn.  I alternated between orange, yellow and white for the backs, just to make it interesting.

3.  Sew the three front pieces together, right sides together, pressing each seam open.

4.  Lay your back piece on top of the front (right sides together) and sew down each side (leave the top open).  Turn right sides out, poking the point out with a chopstick or pencil tip.  Press seams well.

5.  Using black double fold bias tape, sandwich the top of each pennant in between the folds of the tape, and top stitch all along the open edge of the tape.  I left about 4” of space between each candy corn.  Lastly, fold in the short raw ends of the bias tape and topstitch.

Voila!

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No- Sew Variation!

Same supplies as above plus:
pinking shears
fabric glue (No-Sew, Fabric Fusion or others found at any craft store)

**Follow instructions above through step #2.

3.   Fold the front tops of the middle and bottom pieces of each candy corn over 1/4” and press.  Using fabric glue, glue the folded down top edge onto the raw bottom edge of the piece above it (middle piece glued to top piece, bottom piece glued to middle piece).  OR just use felt and no need for folding or pinking shears!

4.  Run glue around the inside edges of finished front piece and attach back piece.

5.  Using pinking shears, cut around sides of each candy corn.

6.  Glue each candy corn to inside of double fold bias tape.

Done!

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Wondering what magnificent Halloween photo is in that frame?

Ok, you asked for it:

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A classic from the old glory days of college.  Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure this wasn’t even ON Halloween…

Girls’ Room Inspiration AKA Early nesting

If you missed the announcement on social media, here it is again, in all its camera-phone glory.

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Everyone is SUPER excited about another baby.  The kids watched Cheaper by the Dozen the other day and then announced that we need to have 5 more kids.  Uuhhhhh… I’ll have to think about that one.   This feels completely normal to me and like I’m fulfilling my destiny by having a big family…but every once in a while I catch a mental glimpse of myself from other people’s perspectives and it’s kinda scary.  No wonder I get googly-eyed stares when we go anywhere.
We are so weird!  hehe

After seriously YEARS of having little to no motivation to do things around the house (I blame having twins), I woke up the other day with this burning desire to finish all the little nagging things that whisper at me every time I see them: missing closet doors, unpainted bathrooms, crappy towels, etc.

The first room to feel my wrath has been the girls’ room.  It was adorable in pink, black and white damask for Juliet’s nursery, and then in bright pinks, greens and turquoise for the twins but I haven’t really done anything to it since all three girls moved in together after Finn was born.

What stays: a set of white bunk beds, this lavender/blue bedding and white and lavender desk that my mom gave us.  I also have a child-sized rocking chair given to me for my first birthday (dumpster dived for back in 1981, no less) that I’m contemplating painting turquoise as well.

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I found this fabulous vintage dresser on craigslist (along with another amazing vintage campaign dresser for the boys’ room!  One of these days I’ll get around to finishing and sharing their room too) within 5 minutes of searching so I decided it must be fate.  It’s much smaller than their previous dresser but I consider that a good thing.  Major clothes purge needed around here.

You can see my paint swatches in the corner…I ended up going with a lighter version of that dark taupe.  Although now that it’s done, it almost looks like a lighter shade of the nasty beige that’s on it here.  Ugh.  Whatever, I’m SO not painting again.

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Some of the inspiration I’ve found lately is just to die for.  Here’s hoping I can put stuff together with minimal expense and make it look as cute as some of these rooms!  Check out my Pinterest board for it here.

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land of nod

 

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This last one is probably my favorite of them all (or the land of nod room…can’t decide!) I was going for this taupe-y/gray on the walls and don’t think I got it, but regardless, it’s a fabulous room! You have to see the other pictures…follow the link underneath.

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My only caveat is that I need a spot of black or something to ground the frou-frou colors.  I love matchy-matchy rooms but the BEST designs always have some contrast to them.  I’m thinking about adding this rug!

You really can’t go wrong with black and white striped anything, amiright?

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