Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Snap-Front Baby Dress

Two of my good friends are having babies soon so in the next couple of weeks I have baby showers to go to :o) When one of my friends came to visit we took her and her husband to our local farmers' market and one of the booths had cute little girl pillowcase dresses for sale. My friend really liked one with apples on it since she's an elementary school teacher. So for a gift I thought I would attempt to make a dress for her baby.  I looked up different online tutorials on pillowcase dresses but then I came across a pattern for a cute snap-front dress on Prudent Baby.

I found some apple print fabric at Joann's for the body of the dress and a red and white pindot fabric for the collar.  Here's a little sneak peek of the finished product:

I pretty much followed the directions on Prudent Baby but I did tweak a couple of things.  I made the dress slightly smaller than the 12-18 months the original pattern would fit.  I shrunk the pattern to 90% of the original size to fit a newborn.  I'm not sure if the size is right (I'm not good with sizing babies!) but I figure if it is too small for my friends baby she could always use it as a doll's dress :o)

So after printing out the pattern I pinned it to the wrong side of the fabric along the fold for the body piences and cut the fabric.  I extended the length of the pattern an additional 4 inches at the same angle to make a dress instead of a shirt:

My first attempt at sewing the collar didn't quite work because the sewing foot couldn't fit around the snap backs.  I ended up tracing the collar pieces a little larger than the pattern called for and sewed a larger seam.

Here you can see all the pieces to the dress cut out:

The first step was attaching one side of the snap to the front collar.  I used white plastic snaps I also found at Joann's.  The pattern also said you could use buttons, but I've never sewn a button hole so I went for the snaps.

There is a special tool to set the snaps but I just set the two pieces of the snap in place and used a hammer to clamp the two pieces of one side of the snap together.  I placed a towel in between the hammer and the snap surface to prevent any scratching of the snap surface.  And here we have one side of the snap on the front piece of the collar:

Then I pinned the right sides of the fabric together and sewed a seam around the edge leaving a section of the bottom open between the marks on the pattern:

I made notches in several places along the seam to allow for the collar to lay flat when I turned the fabric right side out:

I then folded and ironed a seam for the open bottom piece of the collar and set this part aside.  Next I sewed the right sides of the collar back together leaving the bottom open as in the front collar.  I attached the snap front through both sides of the fabric so the back would show on top and the receptacle for the front collar snap would be on the bottom of the back collar.  (This should make more sense if you've worked with snaps before or when you start playing around with them, it's a bit confusing I know.)

Next I sewed the front and back body pieces of the dress right sides together from the bottom to the armhole: 

And used my pinking shears to finish the edges:

The arm holes were a bit tricky.  I followed the directions on Prudent Baby and used excess fabric with a surged edge (I think!) instead of bias tape because I'm not exactly sure what bias tape is.  I'm a sewing newby :o)  Even after ironing the armhole it didn't quite lay flat so I decided to sew it into place.  

Next I did a loose stitch across the top front body piece of fabric by hand and gathered it together to fit into the open end of the front collar.  I pinned it and then sewed it into place:

And then I repeated the gathering and sewing for the back piece and collar.  I sewed a hem for the bottom of the dress snapped the snaps together and I had a finished baby dress!  (I found the little wooden hanger at Michael's.)

So cute!  I hope the mom-to-be loves it :o)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Blue Farmhouse Dining Table

A couple of weeks ago we found a dining table on Craigslist that fit what I was looking for, extra leaves and nice thick, sturdy legs :o)  I had contemplated finding a table that I could replace the top with planks of wood but decided a table with removable leaves would be better for our small dining room, it would give us the versatility to sit more people if family or friends were visiting.  I refinished the table to match the dining room chairs I had worked on a while back.  I decided to keep the top wood visible but painted the legs a light blue to match our chairs.

To finish the table was a quite a process.  The table I believe is made of pine (or some light colored wood) and had a coat of varnish.  The varnish had been worn through in some places, as Brian remarked, it looked like it had been a kids crafting table.  So my first task was to strip the varnish from the table top.  I didn't worry about the legs and sides because I was planning on painting those parts.  I bought some citrus something or other stripper (I can't remember the name, it is orange goop that is supposed to be more eco-friendly than other stripping products).  I slathered it on somewhat thickly and waited a half hour for it to do it's job.  I used a plastic scrapper and some (A LOT) of paper towels and got to work scraping off the orange goop and varnish.  Here is a picture after a round of stripping, I forgot to take a before picture but this pretty much shows what I started off with.

(Please ignore the dying grass, we hope to one day put a patio in here so there are no sprinklers and my hand watering is not very consistent!)

Okay, so back to the table.  Next I sanded the top with a heavy grit sandpaper followed by a medium and fine grit sandpaper.  The first few passes with the heavy grit sandpaper took a while as I kept getting my sandpaper gunked up with varnish that I had not completely removed with the stripper.  It would have helped if I was a bit more complete with the stripping.  But all in all, by the end the surface was left looking nice and smooth:

Next, it was on to the staining.  I wanted to make the surface look a bit old and weather beaten, greyish-brown in color like an old fence.  I found some stain from Minwax in a "Medium Walnut" that I thought would do the trick.  I used an old rag to apply the stain, and the wood sure soaked it up.

I decided to lightly sand in between stain applications as I heard that brings out the grain of the wood.  Then it was on to another round of stain..............and this is when all heck broke loose!

What happened to my beautiful table?!  I think this is another result of not getting all the varnish off when stripping, leaving me with patches that where not able to take up the stain.  I felt a little defeated.  I was ready to throw in my crusty stain rag and paint the top!  But I decided to give it another try.  So I got my stripper back out and coated the whole table top again, laying it on extra thick in the splotchy areas.  I scraped off what I could and sanded again.

AH, RELIEF!  I then added some stain but in Minwax's "Colonial Maple", a slightly red tint, as two applications of the "Medium Walnut" were too dark for me.  Then it was two applications of Minwax's Tung Oil to protect the surface and the top was finished!  I painted the sides in Annie Sloan's "Duck Egg Blue" to match my dining chairs, did a bit of paint distressing and finished with a layer of wax.


Gorgeous if I do say so myself.  Especially after the staining fiasco!  With the two leaves in, the table is sooo loooong!

And look at the nice, thick sturdy legs!

Yes, with few battle scars, but only superficial!

And it even has a cute little drawer (I still need to replace the knob).

Lastly I removed the two leaves for everday use in the dining room.

And then we moved it back into our house:

Despite a staining hiccup, things turned out pretty nicely.  A little different than I expected, but if fits perfectly in the end :o)

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

What's For Dinner?

Since I first saw framed chalkboards on Miss Mustard Seed's Blog I've wanted to make one.  I've been on the lookout for a large old frame and I lucked out on my last visit to my parents' house, my mom had a frame she was willing to part with.  So I got to work on it and thought it would make a perfect menu board for our dining room.  Brian and I have been bad of late, eating a lot of freezer dinners and it has begun to show in our waistlines!  Hopefully having a meal plan for the week will encourage us to cook more, there's no ignoring a big menu on the wall!

For some reason we were in the mood for a lot of Asian food this week?!

The frame was a bit beat up when I first started working with it.  I didn't mind as I planned on distressing it at the end.  But I did fill in some of the larger chipped areas with wood filler.

Here it is closer up, I like the rose pattern along the edge:

After filling in the chipped edges I painted the frame with my Annie Sloan chalk paint in "Duck Egg Blue",  the same color I used on my dining chairs.

And then a bit of paint distressing:

When I took it inside it didn't pop against the green walls as I had hoped, so I decided to try chalk paint in "Old White".  I had ordered a couple sample colors of the Annie Sloan chalk paint from Shades of Amber a while back.  The sample was enough to paint the frame and I have about half left over.  So the sample is not enough to do a large piece but enough to see how it works if you are interested in trying some out.

I bought a piece of plywood and measured it to size and Brian cut it out for me.  Then I put on a couple coats of primer and three coats of chalkboard paint, sanding in between applications.  I put the chalkboard in the frame, hang it up on the wall, and then made up our menu for the week.

For the next week's meal plan I decided it would be better to start off with Sunday since that is the actual beginning of the week.  And that way I have time to figure out the menu for the week and go shopping for any ingredients I need on the weekend.  Stopping by the grocery store after a long day of work is never fun!  I also thought to change my writing style up to make things a bit quirkier and fun :o)

So far so good, although we have gotten a little off schedule some nights.   The fried rice lasted for a couple nights and Brian went out to dinner with a friend one night but we are doing A LOT better preparing meals than before.  Hopefully we stick to the plan!

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Bunting Banner

I really love the look of bunting banners used as decorations and I finally got the chance to make one.  My friend is having a baby soon and I'm working on a baby quilt for her.  I decided to use some of the extra fabric to make a bunting banner for decoration at the baby shower and for the baby's room after the shower if my friend wants.  I picked fabric in shades of pink, lavender, light blue, and green.  Here you can see a preview of the finished sweet!

And then here's how I did it.  I first traced and cut out the triangles for the pennants at 6 inches by 8 inches.  I also cut triangles from some cream fabric I had to be used as a backing to make the pennants more substantial. (I think this will allow them to hang nicer but this is only my thoughts..........and I think it helps to make them look finished.)

I then placed the right (good) sides of the fabric together, I didn't worry about pinning things in place.

Here you can see a bit better by what I mean about right sides of the fabric together:

And then I sewed the sides together leaving the top of the triangle open:

I trimmed a little of the extra fabric around the point of the triangle and flipped the pennant right side out.  I also used a pen to help push the point of the triangle out.

I ironed all the pennants to get rid of any creases and to make the fabric lay flat at the seams.  I then took some ribbon and folded it in half over the top of the pennants and pinned the ribbon into place.  Here you can see the ribbon on the end pennant.  I didn't worry about pinning the entire ribbon in half, only the portion with the pennants.

Here you can see a larger section of the pennants pinned to the ribbon:

Then back to the ol' sewing machine to sew the ribbon into place:

And here we have the finished product!

Isn't it cute!  We are having a circus-themed baby shower so I think the banner will work perfectly!  And here's hoping my baby quilt works out as well! 

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