Monday, October 31, 2011

A Start on a Thanksgiving Mantel Vignette

I've put Halloween away, and I'm really ready to move on (although I must admit that I came up with an idea for next year's Halloween as recently as last night!)  I took down that PB Knockoff mantel that so many of you have enjoyed.   We enjoyed it too, but  I've made plans for something new and wonderful.  

At MMM's house, the fireplace, the stone, the mantelpiece  - well, they're all huge.   The mantelpiece is eighty eight inches wide.  Yes, I said it.  Eighty-eight inches.  That's seven feet four inches.  You cain't make no teeny-tiny plans for a seven foot wide fireplace!   You have to plan BIG.  

I started with five pumpkins.  I've loved the sweater pumpkin since the first time I saw it.  I love the pillowiness.....I love the simplicity.......I love the stems......and I really love the thriftiness of such a lovely item.  I dropped by the Goodwill store this evening, and picked up a couple of sweaters for two dollars apiece.  One white, one yellow.  And I spent the evening enjoying Will Farrell's salute on PBS and making pumpkins.  I already had the jute string and the fiberfill.  The sweaters were my only investment today.  I think five decorative pumpkins for four dollars is pretty good.  And they're all different sizes, from about 6" up to about a foot tall, including the stem.

If you haven't made these, but need a tutorial so that you can, go HERE.  The materials list is short, but the bang for the buck is big.  But not as big as that fireplace.  I need more, so this fireplace project will unfold over a few days.  I still have lots planned.  Stay tuned. 

One other thing you'll notice are my Scrabble-style Thanksgiving blocks.  These were another Goodwill find tonight.  I ran across these nicely finished wood blocks in an unopened package.  There were 13 of them for only 69 cents.  I snapped them right up.  Using a black Sharpie, I added Scrabble style lettering and tile values to create these little Thanksgiving blocks.  It might have taken me a whole five minutes, but I really think they're cute!

I love that, despite spending so little, with a little planning and preparation, I can make such pretty things for my home.  Loving it!  Thanksgiving will come and go pretty quickly, so I had to get a move on!  How about you?



I'm loving my LINKY PARTIES! 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Old School, New Cool #3 - Do You Know Where You're Going To?

I found an old book from Better Homes and Gardens, and while I nearly passed it up, I'm glad I took a second look.  It was published in 1960- 51 years ago -- before I was even born!  The image above is from that book.  It's Old School............they suggested using maps for decor.

But no doubt, Better Homes and Gardens had a visionary on staff, because this many years later, look at the 2011 trend:

Pottery Barn

APKHandmade at Etsy

Better Homes and Gardens.... who else?

Chez Larson

Domestic Ease

Eclu at Etsy

FuguDesigns at Etsy

MdoubleM at Etsy

SewDarnSimple at Etsy
I love each and every one of these clever ideas!  But you know what I think?  That's right.  I think that there's nothing new under the sun.  Just unique new ways to make Old Cool into New School.



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Upcycled Sweater Mittens

I had a lovely zip front Fair Isle Sweater that I loved and wore only occasionally.  It was 100% wool, and I worried about laundering it.  The last time I washed it, I used cold water and then laid the sweater out on the guest bed to dry.  It shrunk.  I couldn't believe it!  So incredibly frustrating.  You think you've done it all right, and suddenly, you've lost a perfectly nice item of clothing. I decided that I would keep my sweater by transforming it.  I decided to make mittens.

I am a smitten mitten girl.  You can have your gloves.   In Montana, if you want warm hands in the winter, and you don't care about glamour, you wear mittens.  I will always choose warmth over glamour.   But mittens for women are hard to come by.  I am apparently in the minority when it comes to fashionable hand wear. And I'd never made mittens before, so this was going to be an adventure.  Be warned --- this is a picture-heavy post.

I started by throwing the slightly shrunken sweater into the washing machine on the hottest water setting.  When that was done, I threw the sweater into the dryer with its hottest setting.  When that was through, I had one freakishly small and misshapen sweater, well-felted.  Good thing I had a plan.

I cut the sweater apart along all its seams on both side of each seam, except that I didn't cut down the length of the sleeves.  I just cut them free from the body of the sweater. I threw away the zipper. 

Then, using my hand as a more-or-less size model, I cut out nice little blunt mitten fronts and backs from the main body of the sweater, originally intending to use the finished lower edge of the sweater as the cuff of the mitten.  I cut four of them, with the fabric laid out, right sides together.  I have seen mitten tutorials where the instructions were to trace around the whole hand, including the thumb, but I wanted a better, more well-made mitten, with a set-in thumb.  The other way leaves you with too much bulk in the palm. My way gives you an actual left and right mitten, as well.

Next, I cut out the space needed to set in the thumb.  At this point you have two sets of these side by side.  Remember that you are mirroring these as a set, and you only cut out that little piece from the top layer of each set, opposing each side.

You must also understand that I had only my camera phone while I was working on this project.  I realize that my demonstration illustrations are a bit low tech, but I think they help.  I have medium sized hands, and here were the measurements of my cuts:

By the way, I think that it would have worked just as well if the length of that thumb hole had been only 2 inches.

Time to sew!  I set my machine to a very close-set little zig-zag - almost a button hole stitch - and sewed each mitten together, following the stitch lines indicated in the following illustration.  I left very little seam allowance, and then trimmed fairly closely to the seam.

Next, I cut out the thumbs.  For this, I used the cuff end of each sleeve.  I loved that the Fair Isle pattern was repeated on the sleeve, so that I got a fun little effect on the thumbs.

Then, I sewed around each thumb.  You can see from the picture above that I cut out the thumb and used the folded edge of the sweater as one side of the thumb, so I would only need a seam down the outside.  I decided that would help keep the bulk out of the palm as well.

If you have not made garments in the past, I am hoping these pics will still help you understand what I did.  Essentially, I set in that thumb in much the same way you would set in a sleeve.  The thumb is turned right side out

and then placed inside the inside-out mitten, raw edges together at the thumb hole, as below.

I had used the cuff edge of the sleeve for the thumb, which meant that it was both decorative and finished.  I was fortunate in that, because I had to stretch the thumb pretty hard to match the receiving hole in the mitten.

Here they are, sewn together, seam trimmed.  Go back and do the same with the other mitten.

My sweater had had a nice shawl collar.  I realized that I could use it to make cuffs for my mittens.  That way, they'd be tighter, longer, and warmer.  I cut that collar off and then cut it in two pieces, ending up with two nice 6" chunks of ribbed sweater edge, as illustrated below.  One long edge had already been folded over to make the whole thing doubled; the other edge was raw after deconstruction.  I sewed the ends of each 6" length together to get two cuffs.


I think I'm missing a pic to illustrate this step, but it's similar to how the thumb was set in the hole in the picture above.  I essentially slid the cuff around the outside of the mitten, lined up the raw edges, and sewed them together, matching the seams of the cuff and the mitten just below the thumb.  Again, I had to stretch as I sewed to make the cuff fit the slightly larger circumference of the lower edge of the mitten.  I did this for each mitt.

I doubled checked each seam, trimming closely.   Lastly, I turned the mittens right side out and tried them on.   


They are warm, comfortable, and stylish. Handmade 100% wool mittens.  You can't beat that!

I hope you never shrink a favorite sweater, but if you do - you can open a can of Sass on that sweater and keep  on wearing it.......... in a new and different way!



An Autumn Topper

Crocheting is my fall-back stress relief.  I love to have a project in hand, and nearly always have one or two things in the works.  For instance, right now, I have plans for more dishcloths.  Those are my easiest and best ongoing project.  I love to tuck a stack of three dishcloths in with most gifts.  Everyone can use them, and there's nothing nicer to use than a handmade 100% cotton dishcloth.  Mine are very plain, very utilitarian, and very sturdy.  I love to make them and love to gift them.  I also have a hat and scarf underway, as well as an afghan.  I have plans to learn to knit this year, as well.  I hope I'm coordinated enough.  

Just lately, I crocheted a little bucket-y hat.  It's made with chunky yarn and it's sturdy enough, I could have added a handle and turned it into a little basket, but I had hatlike intentions, and so it came to be.

It's certainly versatile, in terms of size.  Both my granddaughter (who was reluctant to model, until MMM made her smile) and I are modeling it here.

What do you think? Do you have a hobby that lets you work out life's knots?

I'm linking up to a party here.



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sass Can Cook - Pumpkin Treat Bar

I baked a little surprise for everyone the other night.  It was a surprise to me, as well as everyone else, particularly since I sort of made it up as I went along.  But it's right in the spirit of the season, since the primary ingredient is pumpkin.  Pumpkin is full of vitamin A, and has lots of good fiber, is fat free, and has lovely antioxidant properties as a result of all that rich color.  I think we should probably all eat more of it.  Plus, this recipe is lower in fat and sugar than many similar ones.

It was a chilly, fall day, with spattery rain, and it just seemed right for a warm dessert and a cup of hot tea.  Here you go:

Pumpkin Treat Bars

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (Reduce this to 325 degrees if you are using a glass pan).

Cream these together:
1 C. sugar
1/4 C Truvia
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 C. milk
1 16oz can of pumpkin
1/4 lb of sweet cream butter, softened

In a separate bowl, combine:
3 1/2 C. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 C. rolled oats
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Add the wet mix to the dry mix.  Combine well.  Transfer the mixture into a 10" square prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  You can overbake a tiny bit, as the mixture is heavy and the center will be a bit resistant to baking thoroughly.  I think this would make fine cookies, as well.  Just be sure to spray your cookie sheet, because the fat content is relatively low.

I topped this off with a little whipped cream and a drizzle of cinnamon caramel sauce from Sweet and Saucy.  It was amazing.  I think only ice cream could have improved it.

Enjoy!  Love,


Printable! Spooky Shakespearean Saying

Maybe you're just getting started on Halloween.  Maybe you want to punch up a little corner.  Maybe you love Shakespeare.  In any case, I've made a little something for you to help out.  It's another Halloween printable:

Go here, print it, frame it up, and enjoy!

Linking up to parties on my linky page.



Monday, October 24, 2011

What can you buy at the "Scary Apothecary"?

This is the easiest project in history.  I swear.  A first grader could do this, and probably has, sometime, somewhere.  I probably should have given it to my granddaughter to do, while I did something incredibly important, like watch a "Friends" re-run.  But I didn't.  I nobly took on the task, and five minutes later, had a strangely beautiful set of scary apothecary bottles.

Here's how it went down.  Brace yourself.  

1.  Print a set of scary labels on your printer.
2.  Cut them out.
3.  Coat them, both sides, with Mod Podge.
4. Stick them to bottles that you've picked up at rummage sales.
5. Let them dry.
6. Set them on the mantel.
7.  Call everyone over to enjoy your creation.

OK, really, I just added those last three steps, because four didn't seem hard enough.  But the last three don't exactly cause the difficulty quotient to rise, I think you'll agree.  The original source for these labels is right here.  I earlier thought they were from The Graphics Fairy (my favorite site for beautiful graphics), but I must have stumbled across these on another day. 

Now, on to the pictures that demonstrate all that bubble, bubble, toil and trouble:

You want to collect bottles and try it too?  I think you might be able to do it, if you really apply yourself!

I'm linking up to parties listed here!



Sunday, October 23, 2011

Old School, New Cool #2

I recently began a series based on a book I found in my local thrift shop -- It's Decorating Ideas, published by Better Homes and Gardens in 1960.  I nearly passed the book by, but I was struck by the number of decorating coincidences between 1960 and the present.  So many, in fact, that I thought it would be interesting to see what old school decor has been reborn in new cool ways.

Chalkboard projects abound these days.  I love them all.  There are so many interesting, useful, and sometimes, just downright cute ways to use chalkboard paints, including mixing up your own!  If you've just recently entered the World of Blog, and haven't seen how that's done, go here, and you'll soon be painting every surface in sight, so you can write on it, erase what you wrote, and write something else.  And so on, and so on.

I've surfed around a little and have amassed a small collection of New Cool chalkboard projects (hardly a taste of all that's out there, if you go searching):

A beautifully bordered table.......

Some cleverly organized tags..........

An entire wall of kitchen kitsch.........

A colorfully categorized dresser........

An hidden benefit in the pantry......

A nursery gallery wall.........

A shades of gray wall calendar........

Jars of careful labels.........

And a personalized clockface!

And what, pray tell, was Better Homes and Gardens promoting as decor in 1960?  Here it is, old school style:

There is nothing new under the sun!  That's how it's done, whether old school or new cool!

I'm linking up:



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