Monday, April 7, 2014

Mommy's Money Trick (Not Dave Ramsey Approved)

A few years ago, fresh out of grad school with some scary student loans under our belts, N and I took Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class through our church. We got a lot out of it and have utilized a lot of the principles, such as the debt snowball and giving principles. We really feel like we have been blessed as a result, and have been debt-free except for our mortgage for a couple of years now -- and that feels so great, we will never go back to living the "normal" way of carrying debt around.

But we have adapted the ideas from the class in ways that make sense for us, and one of the things Dave Ramsey recommends that we did not do is cut up our credit cards -- we just make sure to use them wisely to get discounts and rewards without EVER paying interest or fees. For instance, we have a Target Red Card to get 5% discounts at Target, and we pay the balance off every month so there is no interest.

The main one I use, though, is my Chase Amazon Rewards card. (Yeah, this sounds like an advertisement, I guess, but it isn't. Just want to share a tip that works well for me!) Like every other mom out there, I use Amazon a lot. It's just so convenient! And the prices on diapers and wipes are the very best, when you use Subscribe and Save. Anyway, I get 3 points for every dollar spent on Amazon purchases, 2 points per dollar on things like restaurants and gas stations, and 1 point per dollar spent anywhere else. I use the card for everything. Groceries, doctor visits, Amazon purchases (of course), and even our tithe at church! Then I am VERY scrupulous about paying it off completely, and on time, every month. The result is that each year I rack up lots of points that can be redeemed on Amazon for purchases. Free money! I usually use them as a nice little Christmas account. This year, I didn't use many at Christmas (I just sort of forgot about it, and then when I remembered, I didn't have much left that I wanted to get from Amazon for Christmas) so I saved them up for baby and kid purchases in the runup to Baby C's arrival.

Here's what I have used them for so far. Keep in mind that all of this cost me NOTHING. You can even pay for the tax with your points.

Crane Adorable 1 Gallon Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier, Elephant


Crane 1 Gallon Cool Mist Humidifier, $39.99

Skip Hop Diaper Satchel, Chelsea Downtown Chic

What Baby Needs (Sears Children Library)
Skip Hop Diaper Satchel in Chelsea Downtown Chic, $79.98 at that time -- the price has jumped to $119.99 since then! 

What Baby Needs book (used), $4



Hello Baby!
Hello Baby! book (We already had one copy of this. This one is a gift for my OBGyn's office that is going in the thank-you basket we're taking to the birth. This is an AWESOME book that has been tremendously helpful in teaching H to understand what's going on in our family.) $6.29


Baby K'tan Breeze Baby Carrier, White, Medium
 Baby K'tan Breeze Baby Carrier, $42




Britax Kick Mats (2-Pack, Black)
Britax Kick Mats, 2-pack, $16







Not a bad haul, considering it was all free. And I still have points left in my balance.  The funny thing is, Chase sent me a letter last month offering to raise my limit and thanking me for being such a great customer, and I thought, I'm actually a pretty lousy customer, in that I cost you money, but whatever, Chase! So that's my little trick. It only works if you NEVER fail to pay off the balance and you never pay late. But it has worked really well for us, and there is something very satisfying about opening that smiley box full of stuff you actually need and want and knowing you haven't spent a dime on it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A project I will NOT be doing again

Some DIY projects are just not worth the hassle, and I have decided that sewing your own Boppy cover is one.  I wanted a new cover for our old Boppy that would have some cute custom fabrics for Baby Boy, and I picked a sweet baby deer fabric and then a tan and white polka dot minky that echoes the spots on the fawns' backs.

First I tried a tutorial I found online, where you trace your existing Boppy pillow to make your own pattern. Apparently, my tracing skills are lacking, because my finished product was WAY too small to actually fit on the pillow.

Next, I went on Etsy and paid to download a pattern.

It was awful. I have had lots of fantastic success with homemade patterns downloaded from Etsy (H's Easter dress, which I'll be posting soon, is a good example) but there have been a few flops, and this was one. It was totally unclear how the pattern was supposed to be printed and taped together, and when I did manage to figure that out, the instructions and photos were unclear at best. So there was a lot of figuring things out as I went. I did finally get it all put together, but it took what felt like FOREVER because it just wasn't any fun, and in the end, the result is kind of sloppy. The fit just isn't that great. And that's definitely the pattern's doing, not mine -- I followed it to the letter. (Or at least I think I did... given how vague it was.)

See? Kind of a mess.


One little touch I added that makes it look a teensy bit better was a line of homemade piping. I got the idea because H's old Boppy cover has some piping. It also doesn't go all the way around, although it does go down further than this does. I happened to have one yard of a nice fat cord I had bought a long time ago to attempt DIY piping with and never actually used.  It worked well for this -- and it was super-easy to make the piping with some store-bought bias tape. So that is a nice skill to have in my back pocket.


 This pattern also called for a zipper, which I do not have much experience with. Unfortunately, installing this one didn't do much to get me over my zipper-phobia, because the terrible instructions led to a lot of not-much-fun trial and error.


So there you go. A rather sloppy but functional Boppy cover -- in some really cute fabrics. If I ever decide to make another one, please send me the link to this post and remind me that they sell plenty of cute Boppy covers at reasonable prices on a little thing called the Internet.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Baby Boy O's Nursery Tour!

Baby Boy's nursery is done! Take a look around.


 

First, the BEFORE pictures. We had never really "decorated" this room, just sort of arranged it, because we knew (I should say hoped) it would eventually be another kid's bedroom.  We were using it as a play room/guest room in the meantime.







 I managed to hold off on making any changes until we learned this kiddo is a boy. Then the first thing we did was paint. Pretty funny, I guess, since it was already baby blue (and we left H's bedroom the same shade, which actually works great for a girl's room!) but I had neutrals in mind. Painting may have been the  most arduous task, because we went through about five different sample shades from Sherwin Williams before we finally just mixed our own shade out of those samples, and had them color match it. We are really happy with the result -- sort of a mushroom taupe.  Unfortunately it photographs a little dark, so all these pictures look a little darker than I would like. Oh, well! It was the best I could do.

After painting, the next project we did was the new curtain rod and window covering. N made me this galvanized pipe curtain rod based on one I saw on Pinterest or somewhere. I love little industrial touches, so I thought this was perfect and so masculine. He made sure to mount it really securely into studs, because that rod is heavy. I made some no-sew curtains out of canvas drop cloths, Stitch Witchery, and navy ribbon, and we attached them with ring clips. A bit time consuming having to pres the huge heavy drop cloths and iron on the ribbons, but so simple! Having used a drop cloth for a curtain before, I knew these would block a lot of light, and sure enough they do. When combined with the accordion window shade behind it, they block out nearly all the light, which will be great for naptimes!
 

We didn't use a changing table when H was a baby -- just an antique dresser. But I got pretty tired of yanking on those old dresser drawers, and it was really girly anyway, so I'm using it as occasional storage now and we got a dedicated changing table for the nursery. It's OK. A little more cherry-colored than I would like, but that's the danger of buying online. Also, the knobs were hideous, so we changed them out for Ikea ones. The cool thing is that the changing table top removes, so it will be just a regular dresser in a few years when we're done with diaper changes.

The curtains hang a little funny because of the anti-tip safety doodads on the back of the dresser, but you gotta do what you gotta do!


I didn't want to do a theme, but I have always loved the beautiful artwork in vintage Dick and Jane books, so I knew I wanted to include that if I could. I searched and searched, and finally found this 1957 teacher's edition Dick and Jane Big Red Storybook on eBay. It was a bit expensive, but I justified it by deciding to sell off the unused individual pages on Etsy. Well, once it came, N and I agreed we just couldn't bear to do it. The book was just way too cool intact. So we're hanging onto it, and once we are no longer using these pages, we will put them back in the book (it's binder-bound, so removing pages doesn't damage them) and then decide whether to resell it or keep it.


We agonized over which pictures to use. They were all so gorgeous! Although, funnily enough, Dick, Jane, and Spot are nowhere to be found in the book! I guess this is a B Team book -- Tom, Betty, and ... I forget the dog's name. But I guess that's why we were able to get the book for $70. A lot of the Dick and Jane books go for much more.
 

We used Ikea Ribba frames in a glossy dark gray, and saved money by trimming the existing mats to fit using a mat cutter we got at Hobby Lobby. It was kind of a huge pain, but I can see us doing it again in the future. I am always needing a custom mat, it seems, and that can get really expensive.
 

This little rocker may or may not stay in here. I haven't decided. It used to belong to some great-great aunts of mine. Several years ago, when the last of them passed away, N helped me redo the wood (it was in REALLY bad shape) and then had the upholstery redone as my birthday present. I made the floor cushion using this tutorial. I used beanbag filling instead of polyfill as the tutorial recommends. On the plus side, it is more solid and substantial than it would have been with polyfill. On the downside, it's a bit bumpy! It will be interesting to see how that decision plays out over time. I do think it will be very useful, though. And it gives H a place (another place, that is) to sit when we're in baby brother's room. She loves the handle and wants to haul it around with her everywhere. I guess I need to make one for her room, especially since I have about 15 gallons of beanbag filling left over!


This is so weird, and evidence that Mommy Brain is real. (I have been suffering to the EXTREME this pregnancy.) I really thought I had ordered this print from Etsy, but it's not in my transaction history and I can't find any reference to it in my email. So I have genuinely no idea where I ordered it from now! Strange. It's pretty, though, and I like it! Same Ribba frame, same self-trimmed mat.


The chair is a really old Ikea Ektorp. It looks slightly better in real life -- just looks extremely smooshed in this picture! The fabric on these pillows, this storage ottoman, the crib skirt, and the floor cushion is all Premier Prints home dec fabric from fabric.com.


The cross is kind of funny. We signed up for a new insurance policy through Catholic Life Insurance (although we're not Catholic) and they sent us this as a thank-you gift. Seemed like the perfect addition to the nursery!








Cozy little nook! With wall space available later for a growth chart, mirror, pictures, or just to stay blank.



The clock is from IKEA, too. N cut the peg board to size for me and painted it with another color he mixed himself from paints we already had in the garage. The little outfit is from Target and the hat is from Hobby Lobby. The galvanized bucket, which I've had for a while, is great as a hamper (a function it served in H's room before I stole it for this nursery!) :-)




We spelled out baby's (probable) name with the same vintage (early '60s-era) flash cards we had up in the room before. It looks much cuter without the photoshopped white blobs!

The antlers are from a buck N shot. The toy deer peeping around the side of the crib is from Melissa and Doug and was surprisingly affordable for such a large toy. (I think around $55-60, although its price on Amazon fluctuates quite a bit.) It is very sturdy; H and several of her bigger friends have already "ridden" it many times. N named it Trophy, which is a bit macabre, but funny.

We made the globe mobile with some mini globes we found on eBay. They were originally sold at World Market. We got into a bit of a bidding war over them, but I think ended up getting them for about $30, including shipping. The metal rings are from a website that sells Native American craft supplies (they are intended to be used for dreamcatchers), and were extremely cheap.

I guess I didn't get a great picture of the rug, but it is a 6' square wool rug we got on Overstock.com. I love Overstock for rugs -- they have really good deals on high-quality rugs. Wool is a great choice because it's natural, doesn't stink, holds up really well, and is very stain-resistant (I think due to the lanolin). The downside is that it sheds, but a rug in a baby's room should be vacuumed a lot anyway!


The crib was H's (now discontinued). The bedding, you already know about!


That's it! I hope Baby Boy likes his room. I like that it is neutral and sophisticated enough to grow with him for a long time. Now the countdown until his arrival begins in earnest!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Tutorial: DIY Complete Sheet with Piping



After figuring out last week how to make a fitted crib sheet out of two different fabrics for a "faux bumpers" look, I wanted to make another one for Baby Boy's crib, out of some nicer fabrics than the ones I used in the "trial and error" version. I had also noticed, after the fact, that the Skip Hop Complete Sheet I had used as my inspiration has piping between the two coordinating fabrics. I really liked how crisp and finished it looked, so I decided to try that. It was super-easy! Here's how you do it. (I'm partially copy-pasting my previous tutorial and just making additions for the piping steps.)


Tutorial: DIY "Complete Sheet" with Piping

These directions are based on a crib mattress that is 52 inches long, 28 inches wide, and 6 inches deep. Apparently there is a bit of variation in what is considered a "standard" crib mattress, so you should definitely measure and see if these measurements need to be tweaked for you. I used 1/2" seam allowance everywhere.

You will need:
2 coordinating pieces of 100% cotton fabric -- 1 3/4 yards each. (Make sure the fabric you use for the sides is at least 42 inches in width or you will need more length.) I used Kona cotton solids for this one, which will make a nice, comfy sheet.
2 yards of 1/4" elastic
6 yards of piping, commercial or homemade. (This will be two packages of piping from the craft store.)

1. Prewash your fabric.
2. Cut your top piece 54 x 29 inches.
3. Cut your second fabric (the one for the sides) lengthwise into four long strips. You will need two that are 10x29 and two that are 10x54*. (Depending on the width of your fabric and whether you need to square it off, you may be left with under 40 inches in width on your fabric. You can make those strips a little bit narrower -- say, 9 1/2 inches, if you need the wiggle room.)
*Note that this is an inch longer than in the no-piping version.



4. Lay out your top piece on your work surface, right side up, and open your piping packages. You will be pinning the piping on all the way around the perimeter of this piece, with the corded part facing inward. You want the stitching on the piping to go right along your seam allowance. Since the seam allowance for this project is 1/2", you will need to bring the piping in a scant 1/4" or so all the way around to make the stitching 1/2" from the edge. I used my handy folding template as a guide as I pinned. (I think that is the most-used tool in my sewing room!)




When you come to a corner, just turn the corner and keep going, keeping it as straight as you can. It will be a tiny bit curved, which is fine. You will need to snip right up to (but not through!) the stitching to allow the piping to curve.

Since the perimeter of the sheet is longer than the length of the prepackaged piping I used, I needed to piece two lengths together. This isn't hard at all. You just overlap the ends as shown. When you sew it on, you just sew over both pieces, keeping your line straight. In the finished product, the resulting dip in the piping is barely noticeable.  I made sure to make the overlaps on the short sides so it wouldn't be right at front of the crib, but really, you can barely see it.


5. Once you have your piping pinned down, you will stitch it on. Attach your zipper foot. (It might be skinnier than this, depending on what kind of machine/foot you have.)


Align the project so that the piping is hugged right up under your zipper foot, so the needle lines up with the line of stitching. There are lots of tutorials online about sewing on piping, if this doesn't make sense. 


Stitch away, all the way around your sheet top.



A helpful hint: It's much better when you're pinning to go in a circle so that the pin heads will be facing toward you as you sew! That way, you can slip them out easily toward you as you sew along.


It's more annoying if they are facing away from you, like this, and you have to turn your hand around sideways and pull them out toward the machine. Just thought I'd share that little tidbit.

OK! Now your piping is attached. From here on out it isn't terribly different from the other fitted sheet tutorial.

You will be attaching the strips basically how they are shown in this awe-inspiring diagram.



 6. Sew the short strips to the short sides of the top piece, right sides together. You will continue using your zipper foot and "hugging" the piping right up under the needle. Of course, you can't see the piping now, as it is sandwiched between your fabrics. Go slowly and you will be able to feel with your fingers as you go to make sure you are lined up. You can kind of see the bump of the piping in the photo above.



Because the piping creates a slight curve at the corner, curve along with it, starting/stopping at the halfway point in the curve.




7. Once you have the short sides on, you will attach the long sides. This is the only tricky bit in the whole project. Lay your fabric strips down, right sides together, with an overlap of about 1/2" at the ends. The overlapping fabric is just to catch your piping -- you do not want to stitch the strips together just yet! 





Stitch down your long strips, going extra slowly and carefully at the corners so that you can curve around just far enough to encase our piping but not far enough to sew over the short side fabric strip.  The back will look like this, more or less.


And the right side will look like this! Starting to look pretty cool!

8. Once you have all your fabric strips sewn down, you can finish the seam allowances you have sewn, by serging, zig-zagging, or pinking.


9. From here it is exactly like the other fitted sheet, hence the recycled pictures. Bring two of your short edges together (the parts that will be at the corner of the mattress). Sew right sides together and serge/zigzag/pink the edges.



 10. If you have a serger, serge all the way around the bottom of the sheet. Otherwise, turn under 1/4" and press, all the way around. 


11.Turn under another 1/2" and stitch down to make a casing, leaving about a 6-inch opening.

12. With a safety pin, run your 2 yards of elastic through the casing you just made. Make sure to firmly pin the loose end down so you don't lose it! Remove pins, stitch the ends of your elastic with a zig-zag stitch and then close up your casing.

13. Put it on baby's crib and admire!







Can you see the place where the two lengths of piping overlap? It's pretty hard to spot!


I went with brown and gray, with a cream piping, to match the earth tones in the crib skirt, and chose solids because the crib skirt is pretty busy and I am going for a pretty sophisticated feel in the nursery. But imagine how fun and fabulous you can get with prints! Especially if your crib skirt and sheet fabrics come from the same line. Unfortunately, the home decor fabric I used for the crib skirt (Premier Prints, which I love, but which is rather heavyweight and not machine-dryable) does not have a coordinating lightweight fabric.



There you go! A super-custom DIY crib sheet that mimics the look of bumpers, and with piping at the edge for a crisp transition. Doesn't piping make everything look fancier?! I love it!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Mommy's Money Trick (Not Dave Ramsey Approved)

A few years ago, fresh out of grad school with some scary student loans under our belts, N and I took Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class through our church. We got a lot out of it and have utilized a lot of the principles, such as the debt snowball and giving principles. We really feel like we have been blessed as a result, and have been debt-free except for our mortgage for a couple of years now -- and that feels so great, we will never go back to living the "normal" way of carrying debt around.

But we have adapted the ideas from the class in ways that make sense for us, and one of the things Dave Ramsey recommends that we did not do is cut up our credit cards -- we just make sure to use them wisely to get discounts and rewards without EVER paying interest or fees. For instance, we have a Target Red Card to get 5% discounts at Target, and we pay the balance off every month so there is no interest.

The main one I use, though, is my Chase Amazon Rewards card. (Yeah, this sounds like an advertisement, I guess, but it isn't. Just want to share a tip that works well for me!) Like every other mom out there, I use Amazon a lot. It's just so convenient! And the prices on diapers and wipes are the very best, when you use Subscribe and Save. Anyway, I get 3 points for every dollar spent on Amazon purchases, 2 points per dollar on things like restaurants and gas stations, and 1 point per dollar spent anywhere else. I use the card for everything. Groceries, doctor visits, Amazon purchases (of course), and even our tithe at church! Then I am VERY scrupulous about paying it off completely, and on time, every month. The result is that each year I rack up lots of points that can be redeemed on Amazon for purchases. Free money! I usually use them as a nice little Christmas account. This year, I didn't use many at Christmas (I just sort of forgot about it, and then when I remembered, I didn't have much left that I wanted to get from Amazon for Christmas) so I saved them up for baby and kid purchases in the runup to Baby C's arrival.

Here's what I have used them for so far. Keep in mind that all of this cost me NOTHING. You can even pay for the tax with your points.

Crane Adorable 1 Gallon Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier, Elephant


Crane 1 Gallon Cool Mist Humidifier, $39.99

Skip Hop Diaper Satchel, Chelsea Downtown Chic

What Baby Needs (Sears Children Library)
Skip Hop Diaper Satchel in Chelsea Downtown Chic, $79.98 at that time -- the price has jumped to $119.99 since then! 

What Baby Needs book (used), $4



Hello Baby!
Hello Baby! book (We already had one copy of this. This one is a gift for my OBGyn's office that is going in the thank-you basket we're taking to the birth. This is an AWESOME book that has been tremendously helpful in teaching H to understand what's going on in our family.) $6.29


Baby K'tan Breeze Baby Carrier, White, Medium
 Baby K'tan Breeze Baby Carrier, $42




Britax Kick Mats (2-Pack, Black)
Britax Kick Mats, 2-pack, $16







Not a bad haul, considering it was all free. And I still have points left in my balance.  The funny thing is, Chase sent me a letter last month offering to raise my limit and thanking me for being such a great customer, and I thought, I'm actually a pretty lousy customer, in that I cost you money, but whatever, Chase! So that's my little trick. It only works if you NEVER fail to pay off the balance and you never pay late. But it has worked really well for us, and there is something very satisfying about opening that smiley box full of stuff you actually need and want and knowing you haven't spent a dime on it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A project I will NOT be doing again

Some DIY projects are just not worth the hassle, and I have decided that sewing your own Boppy cover is one.  I wanted a new cover for our old Boppy that would have some cute custom fabrics for Baby Boy, and I picked a sweet baby deer fabric and then a tan and white polka dot minky that echoes the spots on the fawns' backs.

First I tried a tutorial I found online, where you trace your existing Boppy pillow to make your own pattern. Apparently, my tracing skills are lacking, because my finished product was WAY too small to actually fit on the pillow.

Next, I went on Etsy and paid to download a pattern.

It was awful. I have had lots of fantastic success with homemade patterns downloaded from Etsy (H's Easter dress, which I'll be posting soon, is a good example) but there have been a few flops, and this was one. It was totally unclear how the pattern was supposed to be printed and taped together, and when I did manage to figure that out, the instructions and photos were unclear at best. So there was a lot of figuring things out as I went. I did finally get it all put together, but it took what felt like FOREVER because it just wasn't any fun, and in the end, the result is kind of sloppy. The fit just isn't that great. And that's definitely the pattern's doing, not mine -- I followed it to the letter. (Or at least I think I did... given how vague it was.)

See? Kind of a mess.


One little touch I added that makes it look a teensy bit better was a line of homemade piping. I got the idea because H's old Boppy cover has some piping. It also doesn't go all the way around, although it does go down further than this does. I happened to have one yard of a nice fat cord I had bought a long time ago to attempt DIY piping with and never actually used.  It worked well for this -- and it was super-easy to make the piping with some store-bought bias tape. So that is a nice skill to have in my back pocket.


 This pattern also called for a zipper, which I do not have much experience with. Unfortunately, installing this one didn't do much to get me over my zipper-phobia, because the terrible instructions led to a lot of not-much-fun trial and error.


So there you go. A rather sloppy but functional Boppy cover -- in some really cute fabrics. If I ever decide to make another one, please send me the link to this post and remind me that they sell plenty of cute Boppy covers at reasonable prices on a little thing called the Internet.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Baby Boy O's Nursery Tour!

Baby Boy's nursery is done! Take a look around.


 

First, the BEFORE pictures. We had never really "decorated" this room, just sort of arranged it, because we knew (I should say hoped) it would eventually be another kid's bedroom.  We were using it as a play room/guest room in the meantime.







 I managed to hold off on making any changes until we learned this kiddo is a boy. Then the first thing we did was paint. Pretty funny, I guess, since it was already baby blue (and we left H's bedroom the same shade, which actually works great for a girl's room!) but I had neutrals in mind. Painting may have been the  most arduous task, because we went through about five different sample shades from Sherwin Williams before we finally just mixed our own shade out of those samples, and had them color match it. We are really happy with the result -- sort of a mushroom taupe.  Unfortunately it photographs a little dark, so all these pictures look a little darker than I would like. Oh, well! It was the best I could do.

After painting, the next project we did was the new curtain rod and window covering. N made me this galvanized pipe curtain rod based on one I saw on Pinterest or somewhere. I love little industrial touches, so I thought this was perfect and so masculine. He made sure to mount it really securely into studs, because that rod is heavy. I made some no-sew curtains out of canvas drop cloths, Stitch Witchery, and navy ribbon, and we attached them with ring clips. A bit time consuming having to pres the huge heavy drop cloths and iron on the ribbons, but so simple! Having used a drop cloth for a curtain before, I knew these would block a lot of light, and sure enough they do. When combined with the accordion window shade behind it, they block out nearly all the light, which will be great for naptimes!
 

We didn't use a changing table when H was a baby -- just an antique dresser. But I got pretty tired of yanking on those old dresser drawers, and it was really girly anyway, so I'm using it as occasional storage now and we got a dedicated changing table for the nursery. It's OK. A little more cherry-colored than I would like, but that's the danger of buying online. Also, the knobs were hideous, so we changed them out for Ikea ones. The cool thing is that the changing table top removes, so it will be just a regular dresser in a few years when we're done with diaper changes.

The curtains hang a little funny because of the anti-tip safety doodads on the back of the dresser, but you gotta do what you gotta do!


I didn't want to do a theme, but I have always loved the beautiful artwork in vintage Dick and Jane books, so I knew I wanted to include that if I could. I searched and searched, and finally found this 1957 teacher's edition Dick and Jane Big Red Storybook on eBay. It was a bit expensive, but I justified it by deciding to sell off the unused individual pages on Etsy. Well, once it came, N and I agreed we just couldn't bear to do it. The book was just way too cool intact. So we're hanging onto it, and once we are no longer using these pages, we will put them back in the book (it's binder-bound, so removing pages doesn't damage them) and then decide whether to resell it or keep it.


We agonized over which pictures to use. They were all so gorgeous! Although, funnily enough, Dick, Jane, and Spot are nowhere to be found in the book! I guess this is a B Team book -- Tom, Betty, and ... I forget the dog's name. But I guess that's why we were able to get the book for $70. A lot of the Dick and Jane books go for much more.
 

We used Ikea Ribba frames in a glossy dark gray, and saved money by trimming the existing mats to fit using a mat cutter we got at Hobby Lobby. It was kind of a huge pain, but I can see us doing it again in the future. I am always needing a custom mat, it seems, and that can get really expensive.
 

This little rocker may or may not stay in here. I haven't decided. It used to belong to some great-great aunts of mine. Several years ago, when the last of them passed away, N helped me redo the wood (it was in REALLY bad shape) and then had the upholstery redone as my birthday present. I made the floor cushion using this tutorial. I used beanbag filling instead of polyfill as the tutorial recommends. On the plus side, it is more solid and substantial than it would have been with polyfill. On the downside, it's a bit bumpy! It will be interesting to see how that decision plays out over time. I do think it will be very useful, though. And it gives H a place (another place, that is) to sit when we're in baby brother's room. She loves the handle and wants to haul it around with her everywhere. I guess I need to make one for her room, especially since I have about 15 gallons of beanbag filling left over!


This is so weird, and evidence that Mommy Brain is real. (I have been suffering to the EXTREME this pregnancy.) I really thought I had ordered this print from Etsy, but it's not in my transaction history and I can't find any reference to it in my email. So I have genuinely no idea where I ordered it from now! Strange. It's pretty, though, and I like it! Same Ribba frame, same self-trimmed mat.


The chair is a really old Ikea Ektorp. It looks slightly better in real life -- just looks extremely smooshed in this picture! The fabric on these pillows, this storage ottoman, the crib skirt, and the floor cushion is all Premier Prints home dec fabric from fabric.com.


The cross is kind of funny. We signed up for a new insurance policy through Catholic Life Insurance (although we're not Catholic) and they sent us this as a thank-you gift. Seemed like the perfect addition to the nursery!








Cozy little nook! With wall space available later for a growth chart, mirror, pictures, or just to stay blank.



The clock is from IKEA, too. N cut the peg board to size for me and painted it with another color he mixed himself from paints we already had in the garage. The little outfit is from Target and the hat is from Hobby Lobby. The galvanized bucket, which I've had for a while, is great as a hamper (a function it served in H's room before I stole it for this nursery!) :-)




We spelled out baby's (probable) name with the same vintage (early '60s-era) flash cards we had up in the room before. It looks much cuter without the photoshopped white blobs!

The antlers are from a buck N shot. The toy deer peeping around the side of the crib is from Melissa and Doug and was surprisingly affordable for such a large toy. (I think around $55-60, although its price on Amazon fluctuates quite a bit.) It is very sturdy; H and several of her bigger friends have already "ridden" it many times. N named it Trophy, which is a bit macabre, but funny.

We made the globe mobile with some mini globes we found on eBay. They were originally sold at World Market. We got into a bit of a bidding war over them, but I think ended up getting them for about $30, including shipping. The metal rings are from a website that sells Native American craft supplies (they are intended to be used for dreamcatchers), and were extremely cheap.

I guess I didn't get a great picture of the rug, but it is a 6' square wool rug we got on Overstock.com. I love Overstock for rugs -- they have really good deals on high-quality rugs. Wool is a great choice because it's natural, doesn't stink, holds up really well, and is very stain-resistant (I think due to the lanolin). The downside is that it sheds, but a rug in a baby's room should be vacuumed a lot anyway!


The crib was H's (now discontinued). The bedding, you already know about!


That's it! I hope Baby Boy likes his room. I like that it is neutral and sophisticated enough to grow with him for a long time. Now the countdown until his arrival begins in earnest!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Tutorial: DIY Complete Sheet with Piping



After figuring out last week how to make a fitted crib sheet out of two different fabrics for a "faux bumpers" look, I wanted to make another one for Baby Boy's crib, out of some nicer fabrics than the ones I used in the "trial and error" version. I had also noticed, after the fact, that the Skip Hop Complete Sheet I had used as my inspiration has piping between the two coordinating fabrics. I really liked how crisp and finished it looked, so I decided to try that. It was super-easy! Here's how you do it. (I'm partially copy-pasting my previous tutorial and just making additions for the piping steps.)


Tutorial: DIY "Complete Sheet" with Piping

These directions are based on a crib mattress that is 52 inches long, 28 inches wide, and 6 inches deep. Apparently there is a bit of variation in what is considered a "standard" crib mattress, so you should definitely measure and see if these measurements need to be tweaked for you. I used 1/2" seam allowance everywhere.

You will need:
2 coordinating pieces of 100% cotton fabric -- 1 3/4 yards each. (Make sure the fabric you use for the sides is at least 42 inches in width or you will need more length.) I used Kona cotton solids for this one, which will make a nice, comfy sheet.
2 yards of 1/4" elastic
6 yards of piping, commercial or homemade. (This will be two packages of piping from the craft store.)

1. Prewash your fabric.
2. Cut your top piece 54 x 29 inches.
3. Cut your second fabric (the one for the sides) lengthwise into four long strips. You will need two that are 10x29 and two that are 10x54*. (Depending on the width of your fabric and whether you need to square it off, you may be left with under 40 inches in width on your fabric. You can make those strips a little bit narrower -- say, 9 1/2 inches, if you need the wiggle room.)
*Note that this is an inch longer than in the no-piping version.



4. Lay out your top piece on your work surface, right side up, and open your piping packages. You will be pinning the piping on all the way around the perimeter of this piece, with the corded part facing inward. You want the stitching on the piping to go right along your seam allowance. Since the seam allowance for this project is 1/2", you will need to bring the piping in a scant 1/4" or so all the way around to make the stitching 1/2" from the edge. I used my handy folding template as a guide as I pinned. (I think that is the most-used tool in my sewing room!)




When you come to a corner, just turn the corner and keep going, keeping it as straight as you can. It will be a tiny bit curved, which is fine. You will need to snip right up to (but not through!) the stitching to allow the piping to curve.

Since the perimeter of the sheet is longer than the length of the prepackaged piping I used, I needed to piece two lengths together. This isn't hard at all. You just overlap the ends as shown. When you sew it on, you just sew over both pieces, keeping your line straight. In the finished product, the resulting dip in the piping is barely noticeable.  I made sure to make the overlaps on the short sides so it wouldn't be right at front of the crib, but really, you can barely see it.


5. Once you have your piping pinned down, you will stitch it on. Attach your zipper foot. (It might be skinnier than this, depending on what kind of machine/foot you have.)


Align the project so that the piping is hugged right up under your zipper foot, so the needle lines up with the line of stitching. There are lots of tutorials online about sewing on piping, if this doesn't make sense. 


Stitch away, all the way around your sheet top.



A helpful hint: It's much better when you're pinning to go in a circle so that the pin heads will be facing toward you as you sew! That way, you can slip them out easily toward you as you sew along.


It's more annoying if they are facing away from you, like this, and you have to turn your hand around sideways and pull them out toward the machine. Just thought I'd share that little tidbit.

OK! Now your piping is attached. From here on out it isn't terribly different from the other fitted sheet tutorial.

You will be attaching the strips basically how they are shown in this awe-inspiring diagram.



 6. Sew the short strips to the short sides of the top piece, right sides together. You will continue using your zipper foot and "hugging" the piping right up under the needle. Of course, you can't see the piping now, as it is sandwiched between your fabrics. Go slowly and you will be able to feel with your fingers as you go to make sure you are lined up. You can kind of see the bump of the piping in the photo above.



Because the piping creates a slight curve at the corner, curve along with it, starting/stopping at the halfway point in the curve.




7. Once you have the short sides on, you will attach the long sides. This is the only tricky bit in the whole project. Lay your fabric strips down, right sides together, with an overlap of about 1/2" at the ends. The overlapping fabric is just to catch your piping -- you do not want to stitch the strips together just yet! 





Stitch down your long strips, going extra slowly and carefully at the corners so that you can curve around just far enough to encase our piping but not far enough to sew over the short side fabric strip.  The back will look like this, more or less.


And the right side will look like this! Starting to look pretty cool!

8. Once you have all your fabric strips sewn down, you can finish the seam allowances you have sewn, by serging, zig-zagging, or pinking.


9. From here it is exactly like the other fitted sheet, hence the recycled pictures. Bring two of your short edges together (the parts that will be at the corner of the mattress). Sew right sides together and serge/zigzag/pink the edges.



 10. If you have a serger, serge all the way around the bottom of the sheet. Otherwise, turn under 1/4" and press, all the way around. 


11.Turn under another 1/2" and stitch down to make a casing, leaving about a 6-inch opening.

12. With a safety pin, run your 2 yards of elastic through the casing you just made. Make sure to firmly pin the loose end down so you don't lose it! Remove pins, stitch the ends of your elastic with a zig-zag stitch and then close up your casing.

13. Put it on baby's crib and admire!







Can you see the place where the two lengths of piping overlap? It's pretty hard to spot!


I went with brown and gray, with a cream piping, to match the earth tones in the crib skirt, and chose solids because the crib skirt is pretty busy and I am going for a pretty sophisticated feel in the nursery. But imagine how fun and fabulous you can get with prints! Especially if your crib skirt and sheet fabrics come from the same line. Unfortunately, the home decor fabric I used for the crib skirt (Premier Prints, which I love, but which is rather heavyweight and not machine-dryable) does not have a coordinating lightweight fabric.



There you go! A super-custom DIY crib sheet that mimics the look of bumpers, and with piping at the edge for a crisp transition. Doesn't piping make everything look fancier?! I love it!