Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lucy’s Very Hungry Caterpillar, pt. 2

Before I get to the staircase reveal, I thought I ought to finish up the Very Hungry Caterpillar project!  If you missed part 1 (the creation of the fabric picture), you can find it here.

Lucy 3

Part 2 was the creation of the Very Hungry Caterpillar stuffed toy…which turned out to be SO big he’s more like a body pillow!  I will admit that the way he turned out was not the way I originally envisioned him, but it must have been the way he was meant to be.

There is no pattern for this, so I can only share with you what I did!  If you have more questions, feel free to e-mail me and I will try to help as best as I can.

I purchased the wonderful soft “minky” fabric for my caterpillar.  Not knowing what I was doing beforehand, I purchased amounts that “looked right.”  I think I bought about 1/3 yd of red and 1/2 yard of the green polka-dot.

When I got home, I realized that I had fabric to make a far bigger head than the body would support!  I had to dust off my long-neglected math skills to figure out how to make the best use of my fabric to make the biggest caterpillar possible.

There were ratios involved.

I had to figure the circumference of a circle.

I think I even worked in two equations and two unknowns.

It was a hairy business, folks!

Suffice it to say…I cut off a third of the green material (lengthwise), cut that piece in half (also lengthwise), stitched the halves together, and added that new piece (widthwise) to the remaining green material so I could have a nice, fat caterpillar (that piece because the “belly panel”).  Clear as mud?  I hope so.


I scientifically traced a circle for the caterpillar’s head (thank you, Tupperware), and then I also cut a long strip of red fabric (I think I had to piece this) to be his “neck.”

I curved one end of the caterpillar’s back for his tail (top right picture), and also tapered the belly panel (bottom left) before I stitched the pieces together.  Then I ran a gathering stitch width-wise all down the caterpillar’s body to create his “sections” (bottom right).  If I were to do it over again, I would stitch in a narrow piece of elastic, as the gather stitches un-gathered more than I would have liked.


The caterpillar’s feet, face, and antennae were created out of felt.  I actually liked having the “belly panel” as it was an ideal place to insert the feet (bottom left).  I left his “tail” open so I could stuff him…he didn’t always appreciate it (bottom right)!!


Finally I stitched his tail closed…it was a moderately painful process (for me, not him…I kept pricking my fingers!)…and then I invited my beautiful girl to “test him out.”

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She didn’t seem to mind!


This project has been featured at I’m Topsy Turvy!


Linking up here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Making an Entrance

I have posted about my front room “design dilemma” on a couple of occasions (see here and especially here)…well, I have finally been working on a solution!
Before you get too excited…the whole room is not ready. I’ve just been working on my “entrance” (or lack thereof). You never get a second chance to make a first impression, right?
I posted a teaser yesterday, and the suitcase wall definitely seemed to capture the most attention, so I’ll focus on that first!
I don’t claim credit for the idea of turning vintage suitcases into shelves. That came from this magazine…
fms suitcases
…which my neighbor purchased, and I, shall we say--commandeered for several weeks!
Here are the things I needed for this project:
Vintage suitcases
1x10 wood
Painter’s tape and scrap paper (for templates)
2 1/2” screws (big ones)
3/4” screws (little ones)
Table Saw
Electric drill with a screwdriver bit
The hardest part—emotionally, that is—is that in order to get this look, you DO have to cut innocent luggage in half.
You can call me the Suitcase Slasher.
That may be my Halloween costume.
I don’t have pictures to share of that process. It is very hard to take pictures while running a table saw!
I measured approximately 6 inches from the front of each suitcase and drew a line, then I used the table saw to cut each half of the suitcase as far as it was able. THIS IS SCARY!! No joke. If you can, remove as much of the lining as possible before cutting, as when the table saw hits the fabric it will catch and make a funny sound and send your stomach leaping to your throat!
Now, my blade wasn’t high enough to get all the way through even one-half of a suitcase, so I used a jigsaw to finish the cuts (I originally tried to use the jigsaw alone, but my jigsaw couldn’t walk a straight line for a policeman). Since some of my suitcases had metal banding, I used a metal blade on my jigsaw (you DON’T want to send metal through any saw that isn’t fitted with a metal blade).
Next step: measure the opening at the back of your poor mangled suitcase, then cut a board to fit the opening (I cut my backs out of a 1 x 10 pine board).
stairs 002 (3)suitcase shelf
I enlisted helpers to begin arranging the suitcases on the wall…
suitcase shelves
…and I actually used wrapping paper cut to size to get the layout right on the wall (I lived with that up for about a week).
There is more than one way to mount your suitcases to the wall. The magazine suggested cutting keyhole hangers in the backs of the boards, screwing the suitcases to the boards, and then hanging.
I didn’t do it that way.
I used a stud finder to mark out the studs in my wall, and then I screwed the boards directly to the studs. Your boards DO NOT have to be centered on the studs, they just have to cross over two of them. Start one screw (I used 2 1/2” screws), then level your board, then screw in the next one. It’s very helpful to have a teenage daughter help at this point!
vintage suitcase shelf shelves
Eek! A mouse! I promise, it’s just a Halloween decoration.
Once the boards are in place, I used four 3/4” screws to attach the suitcase to the board (one top, one bottom, on each side).
These things are sturdy!
vintage suitcase shelves shelf
I had fun “shopping” my house for accessories for my new shelves! My folding yardstick star (I tried to fold it into a pumpkin—major fail) from Suzanne at Meridian Road looks great next to my grandfather’s cloth tape measure.
wall of suitcases
A wooden spool is pressed into service as a makeshift vase.
vintage luggage wall shelf shelves
Glittery spiders and pumpkins have taken up residence everywhere!
vintage luggage shelves shelf
I haven’t decided what to do about the open space at the bottom. Either I need another suitcase (or two), or a narrow bench. What do you think?
antique suitcase luggage shelf shelves
I think it’s official…I am a despoiler of suitcases (remember this one that I painted).
But….I can’t summon up any remorse. I am in love!

Linking up to these great parties:


Coastal Charm’s Nifty Thrifty Tuesday
Topsy Turvy Tuesdays
From My Front Porch to Yours
Someday Crafts’ Whatever Goes Wednesday
Hookin’ Up with House of Hepworths
No Minimalist Here’s Open House Thursday
Friday Remodelaholic
My Simple Home Life’s Simple Creations Friday
Miss Mustard Seed’s Furniture Feature Friday
Funky Junk’s Saturday Night Special
The DIY Show Off
Primitive & Proper
I Heart Naptime
Beyond the Picket Fence’s Under $100 Party
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Perfectly Imperfect
CoE - Creative Final Resting Place
Mod Vintage Life
Stylish Once Again
Reasons to Skip the Housework
DebbieDoo's Copycat Challenge
Thrifty Décor Chick

In case you’re wondering…I bought three of the suitcases for $10/each, one was $18, and the other two were given to me. It was not an expensive project!
Updated to add: You can see the staircase part of the project HERE!Link
stairs 001 (2)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Just teasing!

Want to see what’s been consuming my time for the last two weeks? 

Well, I’ve been turning this:

frontroom 014

into THIS!

stairs 007

More to come!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Lucy’s Very Hungry Caterpillar, pt 1

Sometimes you want to make something just to see if it can be done. In August, I visited a craft show where someone had made adorable jewelry and hair accessories out of fabric-covered buttons. These buttons captured my imagination—and I wanted to create something where they could really shine: a fabric picture. Just because I’ve never seen a fabric-button-picture doesn’t mean I couldn’t make one, right?

First step was to settle on a theme After considering and discarding several ideas (beginning with a fabric-button monogram…still floating around in my brain), my sister suggested The Very Hungry Caterpillar (book by Eric Carle), and knowing that my neighbor wanted to throw a Very Hungry Caterpillar party for her little daughter, that idea stuck!

First step was to get the general layout of the picture. I pulled a frame out of my garage (rescued from my parents basement), blue fabric (rescued from my stash), and we played a little. We had spent the afternoon making fabric flowers (for a previous idea that didn’t get off the ground), so we used those and yarn to outline the caterpillar’s body.

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I backed the blue fabric with some fusible fleece to give it some body. I drew some wavy lines directly on the fleece, and then stitched them onto the fabric for a quilted look.

I made the caterpillar “pattern” by placing a sheet of tissue paper over the yarn outline I made, and then transferred that to dark green felt. I used light green felt to make accent pieces, and a red scrap of cotton for the head.


I free-hand cut the caterpillar’s eyes, nose, feet, and antennae out of felt. Each piece was appliqued onto the background (I sewed around and around and around….)

I used two different green rick-racks to make the flower stems.

I used a yarn needle and red and blue yarn to stitch the caterpillar’s fuzzy spine.

One afternoon was taken up with making 100 fabric buttons. I used two different green fabrics to make four different sizes of buttons for the caterpillar’s variegated body. (My button covers were purchased from Three Dancing Magpies Supplies..highly recommended). It wasn’t too bad…thanks to Netflix!…but it resulted in some sore thumbs!

I carefully arranged all the buttons on the caterpillar’s body, and then I used hot glue to fasten them on.

caterpillar 001

I cut a piece of scrap wood to the size of my frame (by now painted orange) and ‘upholstered’ it with a couple of layers of batting before stapling on my new fabric art.


And there you have it…one Very Hungry Caterpillar—recreated in fabric! (The color in the next picture is a bit dark…sorry.)

caterpillar 049

I added a little buggy “friend” for Mr. Hungry Caterpillar…look just below his “chin.”

Lucy 1b

Do you think Mr. Carle would approve?

Lucy 3


Click HERE to see Part 2 of the Very Hungry Caterpillar project (the pillow).


Linking up  here and Mom on Time Out.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Off the Clock!

Well, my friends, I’ve been “voted off the island!”  My project for Round 3:  Fabric of Crafting with the Stars was Lucy’s Very Hungry Caterpillar (including the fabric picture, caterpillar body pillow, and butterfly wings).  It came in 4th place this round.

Lucy 1b

I had a lot of fun with my project; it was made better by the face that I created it for people I love (1st project was for my sister, 2nd for one neighbor, and 3rd for another neighbor and sister)!.  However, I don’t think I picked well for this contest—it was a good fabric project, but not really a good fabric-home-décor project, and those are what carried the day!  Congratulations to the final three contestants!

Lucy 3

The good part is…I feel a lot less pressure at the moment!  I have been hard at work on what would have been my Round 4 project, and this one is for ME!  It’s actually nice to be “off the clock,” so to speak, and not be working on such a tight deadline.

Lucy 2

THANK YOU to all of you who took the time to vote, whether or not it was for my projects!  Your kind comments always make me feel like a winner!

Monday, October 17, 2011

An ORANGE door!

The time from inspiration to inception for this makeover was very short (for me). I got my October Better Homes & Gardens magazine on a Tuesday, I think, that showed an orange front door…and I loved it.

By Wednesday night I had my first coat of paint on the door!


SewingArmoire 001

Awesome AFTER

orange door 007

I’ve wanted to paint my front door forEVER, but I never could settle on a color. This is “Maple Leaf” from Behr (I had it mixed in the Behr Ultra paint). I used about 1 1/2 sample pots (four coats)—less than $6 for the paint.

orange door 004

My children think it’s cool; my husband is tolerant. He keeps asking if I’m going to repaint it red and green for Christmas.

orange door 006

You know what? I just might!

No, not really.

But I like it!

What about you? Could you paint your front door orange?


Linking up here.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Different Kind of Entertainment

Almost three months ago, I received an e-mail out-of-the-blue from a sweet woman named Joy. Joy “knew” me from my blog, and she said she had an oak entertainment armoire she was willing to give me if I thought I could do something with it (she had been unable to sell it).

Umm…free furniture? Yes, please!


Yep, that was three months ago. Even though I knew almost immediately what I wanted to do with it, it was a BIG project (the armoire is over 7 feet tall), and it took a lot to get me motivated to tackle it (enter Crafting with the Stars, Round 2).

Of course, the reason these entertainment centers are virtually unsaleable is that the new TVs don’t fit in the same spaces. So here you have a perfectly good piece of solid wood furniture with beautiful moldings, lights, and leaded glass panels, and no one wants it.

Well, I thought, what if it housed a different kind of entertainment?

I envisioned this armoire repurposed as a sewing cabinet, or maybe one which would house a computer (those are two of my favorite forms of entertainment at least).

The first step was to build a big box that would fill the open space in the armoire. I had a friend help me (OK, it was really the other way around…WAY around) with this part. The idea was to have a pull-out shelf at working height, so all the other measurements were secondary to that.


Look, it fits! Always such a relief.

The other “building” part of the project involved the top drawer. See all those nice plastic dividers? They were meant to hold VHS tapes—remember those?

baby 010

There were no sides for the drawer, so some spare plywood was used to create the sides and a back.

Next step was to remove the leaded glass. I wasn’t a big fan of the brassy gold trim, so I used Rub n Buff in pewter and black to stain the metal. (And my fingers.)


Then—I removed all the hardware for sanding, priming, and painting! Did I mention this armoire is HUGE? And I couldn’t ignore the inside of this piece. EVERY SURFACE had to be painted. That’s in addition to EVERY SURFACE of the insert!


The exception was the crown and base molding. My friend suggested that those be sanded down and stained dark, and of course this is a look I love. It was a MAJOR ORDEAL to sand it all down! …but I did it.


You may notice that I had already primed before I tackled the moldings. I covered them with plastic wrap and painter’s tape to protect them during painting.

The upper display cabinet was backed by a mirror, but Emily from Décor Chick suggested that I cover it with beadboard to cut down on funky reflections. Since I had already planned on backing the main cabinet with beadboard, it sounded great to me! Especially since then I could ignore trying to keep the mirror clean (I would never have succeeded anyway).

SewingArmoire 017

I used Liquid Nails to adhere the beadboard directly to the mirror. It helps to use a spatula tool to spread a thin, even layer over the whole back of the beadboard.

SewingArmoire 018

Then I balanced precariously on a chair and held it in place and prayed and held it in place and taped it and held it in place and prayed some more. Sorry, no pictures of that…my photographers have to go to school sometime!

I also thought a “working” armoire needed a chair to go along with it. I have three chairs in my garage that were a curbside find—would you believe they actually match my kitchen chairs??—except they’re pretty well thrashed (mine are only a little bit thrashed). But hey, that means less sanding for me!

SewingArmoire 019

I painted a chair first green (to match the insert), and then in the same creamy white as the armoire. To give the chair a little more pizzazz, I used my tried-and-true overhead projector method to paint a vintage French advertisement that says something about corsets (it appealed to my sense of humor). I got the graphic from The Graphics Fairy.

I distressed the chair to show some of the green underneath, and glazed the whole thing.

Whew! So are you ready to see the end product?


Two functioning drawers, lined with a pretty botanical paper…

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A completely extendable shelf (we used this slide from Rockler).

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Chalkboard cupboard doors (these actually retract into the cabinet so you don’t get claustrophobic while you’re sewing/blogging). One side will be a magnet board when I can get some sheet metal cut for it.

SewingArmoire 048

A beautiful lighted display cabinet (that was fun to stage)…

SewingArmoire 035

An integrated work light and a power strip (found at Lowe’s)…


And of course the chair.

SewingArmoire 038

So, what do you think?


Would this be your kind of entertainment center?


Linking up to:


This sewing armoire is going to be a Christmas gift for one of my dearest friends! Her husband is the one who helps me so much on my building projects, so we are making a trade!

This project has been featured at House of Hepworths and My Repurposed Life.



Linking up here, Thrifty Décor Chick’s Before & After Party, and The DIY Show Off.