Front Yard Makeover

Have I mentioned that we’re only the second owners of our lovely little California bungalow? Well, we are and the elderly couple who first purchased the home in 1946 lived into their mid-90’s. The neighbors have wonderful stories to share about them and I love that our home has such good vibes.

The one place that lacks groovy-ness… the front yard or should I say, gravel pit. We had the city break out the curb and plant the two trees so we’re getting somewhere restoring nature.

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The neighbors say once the lawn mower quit working Angelo (original owner) said he wasn’t going to replace it. Broken mower + California drought = unsightly gravel. I won’t go on and on about how I dislike it because, hey… maybe rock is your thing and it was a good solution for an elderly couple. People snatched the rock up real quick on Craigslist so it’s clearly someone’s thing. I hauled the stones out by hand. Scooped it with my fingers into a Home Depot bucket and lugged it to the tarp. Three days labor, one manicure later, and its gone. Why not shovel it? Because by being more careful I salvaged the landscaping fabric, which would have cost more than the manicure.

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I digress… as much as I’d love to install lush green sod my conscience and my Earth lovin’ husband wouldn’t allow it during a drought.  So here’s my inspiration board. Pinterest + Picassa = My Vision.

House Exterior Mood Board

Spanish Mediterranean, drought tolerant, plus we’re going to plant fruit trees because this area was once orchards. Also want to plant lavender because of the smell and hardiness, white roses, and I’m trying to propagate succulents as filler. Plan to use flagstone across about a third of the yard to expand the walking path then have Thyme grow between the stones. The gravel we use will be more “walkable” than the large rocks I removed.

We’re digging holes for the trees tomorrow and I’ll have a wonderful salvaged trellis project to share soon!

POW! Tissue Paper Flowers

If you want maximum bang for your buck than I highly recommend tissue paper flowers. You may recall my friend Carrie from the Bridal Shower Tea Party, she’s getting married next week, woot! For most of her guests this is a destination wedding so she and her fiance are hosting a welcome party. They’re renting a cool loft space in San Francisco’s Mission District, but it’s pretty stark. Enter the tissue paper flowers to soften and liven it up!

Tissue Paper Flowers

Carrie purchased six packs or so of assorted tissue paper and we made them in various sizes using this tutorial from Two Twenty One.  Don’t feel like the measurements have to be exact… in nature flowers are never the same size… this is what I tell myself as I assemble. 🙂

I’ll follow-up with a post after we decorate the event space. There are three garbage bags full of these bright beauties.

Tissue Paper Bouquet

Oh and this was our craft fuel! Carrie says there’s only a half cup of sugar and that the muffins were healthy, but really I’ve never been one to turn down baked goods either way.

Craft Fuel

Cocktail Napkins

Ever need a great hostess or housewarming gift? A set of cocktail napkins makes the perfect little favor and can be made to match the recipient’s style.

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My friend Susan and her husband, Tommy, host “Friendsgiving” every year. They clear all of the living room furniture out of their tiny… read cute… Nob Hill apartment. Everything is stuffed into their bedroom (sofa, side table, I’m mean everything!) The bedroom, as stuffed as the bird! Then a dozen or so people pack the living room and enjoy delicious grub with friends we love like family. You know the saying… you pick your friends not your family. “Friendsgiving” makes so much sense!

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Recently, Susan and Tommy moved into a bigger apartment because they’re expecting their first child this summer. Yay Baby Boom 2014!  (I’ll write about their baby blanket soon.)

I knew a fabulous hostess like Susan would appreciate cocktail napkins. She has the classiest kegerator and bar cart.  Yes, I used kegerator and classy in the same sentence.

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Here’s the tutorial I used to make the napkins from CraftStylish. The mitered corners turned out wonderful. There’s no point in writing up a tutorial because hers is so good! But, I am an instant gratification type gal so my version has a machine stitched hem. One of these days I’ll slow down and hand stitch… maybe.

Baby Boom 2014: The Twins

Everyone around me is pregnant. But seriously… it may be because we live close to a maternity hospital or perhaps because I’m of that age when people start having families. Either way it means lots of sewing for this gal. Seven of my friends are expecting… so much love!  Below is a tutorial for two of the seven blankets involved in Baby Boom 2014.

One of my favorite photographers at work, Jacob, and his wife Mary are expecting twins. A boy and a girl. It’s so much fun to hear all about the prep work for the babies and see ultrasound pics. He’s ecstatic and terrified at the same time. One morning Jacob showed me a photo of the bright painted squares on the nursery wall (his days off are now filled with baby-prep projects.) I went to Joann’s knowing that the nursery was painted with bright primary colors and brown. Jacob and Mary also like to travel so the Interstate 80 fabric with Volkswagon Buses seemed perfect.

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Start by cutting strips of each fabric into long rows, then sew together. This does not need to be precise. (The next time I use this technique I’m going to cut the strips even more varied.) Once you have a large sheet cut it vertically into piece as wide as you’d like. I cut 7 inches wide then used a half inch seem allowance.

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Cut some white fabric to go between your colorful strips. I cut 4.5″ strips and again used a half inch seem. There are four colorful sections and three white. You can cut your strips as wide or narrow as you like to where it totals to the finished size you so desire.

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Once you have the top finished lay it on your backing. I used chocolate colored fleece and no batting.

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Pin the layers together so they don’t slip. Next, machine stitch the white sections. I stitched “in the ditch” along the seam and then in half inch increments… give or take a little.

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You can see the fleece is fluffy enough to create a quilting effect. A used half inch double fold bias tape from Joann’s to bind the quilts. The binding is always the most difficult part for me (especially the corners!), but this tutorial  from Wendy’s Knitch is really helpful.

Here are the finished blankets! The boy’s has navy fabric while the girl’s has pops of pink. I like how they are similar, but distinguishable.

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I’m really eager to give the quilts to Jacob and meet the twins soon. If you’re not for to this much sewing Organic Quilt Company has some beautiful listings on Etsy. One of the designs actually inspired the quilts I made. Here’s to Baby Boom 2014!

 

Carrie’s Tea Party Bridal Shower

My friend, Carrie, is getting married next month and like many of us she moved to San Francisco for work. Since her family and friends are scattered across the country she wasn’t going to have a bridal shower, which simply wouldn’t do!

The exceptionally talented Kelly Gleeson and I decided a  tea party would be the perfect way to make sure Carrie experienced all the frilly girly-ness that weddings entail.

Our theme: Naughty and Nice. The invite’s Kelly designed captured the mood perfectly. A fabulous tea party where we get a little naughty with lingerie gifts.

Carrie's Shower Invite

Carrie’s wedding colors include a dark red “oxblood” and gold accents so Kelly kept those colors, but made it a little sexier with a black background and romantic font.

Carrie's Shower Bride

Here’s the bride! (Sorry we didn’t take enough photos!)

Carrie's Shower Group

The venue is an adorable tea shop called Crown and Crumpet in SF’s Japan Town. We had a large enough party to use their private room, but the shop is also open for lunch and smaller parties in the main restaurant area. The menu included four different teas, crumpets (of course), tea sandwiches, scones, quiches, and dessert bites.

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Kelly designed the “Thank You” tags and the “He Said, She Said” game cards. You can’t tell in the picture, but the Thank You tags are a fabulous gold emboss. Kelly was oh so excited to use her new embossing gun. I told you she’s talented!

Carrie's Shower Lingerie Wall

We hung the lingerie on a clothesline as Carrie opened it. She had to rank it from naughtiest to nicest.  The guest who brought the naughtiest won a prize. The winner was a pink furry number much like the fembot outfits from the Austin Powers movies.

I wish we could take credit for the amazing paper flowers, but they were already on the wall. So fun!

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I re-purposed old shopping bags into gift bags for the game prizes. The gifts were homemade aprons from men’s dress shirts. Here’s the tutorial from Love Grows Wild. The clearance section at Anthropologie helped round out the prize bags with a cute tea cup, decorative plate, and headbands.

Carrie's Shower Silly

I had a wonderful time at Crown and Crumpet and can’t wait for Carrie’s big day! p.s. Carrie’s wedding has been a treasure trove of projects for me so stay tuned for a birdcage veil tutorial!

Tutu fit for a Queen Bee

While searching for a gift for our niece I came across so many cute tutu’s on Etsy. My general rule: why buy it when I can make it? A traditional pink tutu just wouldn’t work for a girl named Clara Bee hence the light yellow, black, and white color palette. All you need is elastic, tulle, and some thread for this project.

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Depending on the size of tutu you need cut the elastic to the size of the child’s waist. I wanted a thicker waistband so I went with 2 inch elastic, but any size will work. Sew the ends to create a circle.

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To the tulle! I always try to buy more fabric than I’ll need in order to avoid a second trip to the store mid-project… that’s THE WORST. Most likely the tulle will be folded in half when it comes off the bolt, which is great, leave it that way for cryin’ out loud cutting will go so much quicker. Next, cut the tulle into two inch strips. Now tie those buggers in double knots around the elastic and BAM! you’ve made a tutu.

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Clara Bee's Tutu

Craigslist like a bandit! Chair makeover

When the fiancé (now husband) and I moved into our second San Francisco apartment we acquired a little more space. And by more space I mean room for small chairs in our living room. Do you know what the rental market is like in SF? Let’s just say two bedrooms is a luxury! 

Craigslist Chair

After reselling some overpriced Craigslist chairs I found these gems. Someone was cleaning out an old office space and selling two fabulous mid-century modern chairs for around $25. I felt like a thief as I crammed both chairs into our two-door Honda Accord.

The wood only had a few minor scratches so I decided I was too lazy to sand and re-stain properly. The wood was dry, but looked brand new following an olive oil rub down. You know kind of like refreshing your cutting board. Smear the suckers down with olive oil. Works like a charm!

However, the upholstery left a little to be desired. Plus, if I can’t properly clean a Craigslist find my mind takes a turn for the worst.  What’s a girl to do?!? Rip off the old stained upholstery, duh. Most chairs like these have screws or bolts holding the seat in place and the back had a row of stables along the bottom that secured the fabric.

There is probably a more sophisticated way to remove upholstery, but I use a flat head screw driver, needle nose pliers, elbow grease, and an occasional swear word. Sometimes you have to show old staples whose boss! It’s ME.

Once you have the fabric off use it as a pattern for cutting out your new upholstery fabric. Re-upholstering this particular chair is around an intermediate range for difficulty because it required sewing. Other chair cushions could just be removed, new fabric cut, then re-stapled. Don’t be intimidated, you can do this!

 

The navy fabric and white piping came from an amazing discount fabric store in my neighborhood. It’s called Fabrix, located on Clement and 2nd Avenue in SF’s Inner Richmond.

After cutting the new fabric I pinned and sewed the seat top to the long side piece with the piping in the seam. Then stretch the new cover over the cushion. Depending on the condition of your chair you can replace both the foam cushion, batting, and fabric or just the batting and fabric like I did.

Then comes the part where your muscles are needed. Pull the fabric tight, being careful to staple on opposite sides as you stretch the fabric. This will prevent any weird gathers or an uneven seam. (Also, save yourself possible heartache by not cutting your fabric too small. It can always be trimmed after you’re done stapling.)

The back of this chair was tricky since I don’t have professional grade upholstery tools… just a hand held stapler. I stapled the front piece of fabric to the back first, flipped it over then stapled to the underside. Then pulled the sides taught and stapled as close to the edge as possible. (This is where the professionals would have out done me.) I stapled a piece of the piping across the back then stapled the back fabric on top, flipped it back over the staples then secured it on the underside of the back rest.

Craigslist chair back

To cover the stables down the side of the back rest I hot glued the piping. Not the most ideal solution, but absent any other brilliant ideas I went for it. I’m kind of an instant gratification type DIY’er.

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So here they are in all the mid-century glory. The contrast with the white piping and navy fabric does show the slight unevenness of my seam, but nobody is staring at the chairs for hours on end. Hopefully they’re sitting in them while conversing amongst friends! I may redo these chairs again someday. I love the classic shape and style that much. They would be fierce with a leopard print or maybe a bold floral. Perhaps it will happen when I need to take out my aggression on some old staples.

Re-upholstered Craigslist chairs

Man, those are some sexy chairs!

Re-upholstered Craigslist chairs