A Few Yard Updates

Sorry about the lack of house posts this week, folks. We’ve got a couple of projects on the backburner and they’re just taking a while to get to the point where they merit a post. I’m really excited about them though and think they’ll have a big impact on our space.

Here’s a quick little update on the status of the yard. We recently added these new patio chairs. They’re from Kmart, of all places, and they were only $13 each, on sale! My husband is really good at finding deals like this.

new patio chairs

The new chairs are nice and comfy. They’re obviously not the highest quality things, but they are comparable to thirty-dollar chairs at Target or Home Depot, so I’m ok with the price we paid! They replace these grody things:

old patio chairs

The whole patio set was a hand-me-down from Chris’ parents. It was awesome, still sturdy and functional, but the chairs had seen better days. There was a ton of discoloration from sitting out in the sun for years, and it didn’t improve despite my attempts to bleach them out.

I finally got Chris to agree that we should get new ones. Now that we have nice chairs out there, I actually sit out there more! I’ll watch the baby running around the yard while I have my morning coffee.

patio chairs from kmart

The paint on the table is badly chipping and we’re planning to scrape it down and spray paint it. Guess what color we’re going to go with?

hose reel

We also installed a new hose reel this week. Suddenly the hose, which was lying coiled on the patio, is gone, and we have so much more usable space! It’s the little things…

Boy, we really need to get the outside of the house repainted. Sigh. That’s what happens when you buy a fixer. You have to live with peeling paint until you get around to it…which could be months or years. Be warned!

Turn Your Kid’s Pants into Shorts (in 3 Easy Steps)

Here’s a quick project that took me all of 15 minutes, and helps reuse something you would otherwise give/throw away, use as a rag, or lose in the bottomless black hole you call the closet (or is that just me?).

With the warm weather we’ve been having, I’ve really been wishing that my toddler had fewer long pants and more shorts. She’s going to outgrow her long pants before the weather gets cool again. Well, duh, I told myself, why not just shorten the pants?

turn kids pants into shorts

You’ll need:

1 pair of jersey cotton pants
sewing machine
thread that matches pants
scissors

I love the neon pink polka dots on these pants but they were kind of a weird shape on my girl. She has skinny legs so the pants ended up baggy around the thigh, but weirdly tapering at the ankle. So I decided that this pair would be a perfect candidate for a redo, and if it didn’t work out, oh well.

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Warning: I am not a seamstress. Not even close. I’m a total amateur who has to look at the manual every time I try to thread my sewing machine. So if I can do it, you can too!

Turn the pants inside out. Fold the pants in half lengthwise and snip off the bottom portion. I just eyeballed it, but remember that you’ll lose more length after you hem the pants.

cut off pant legs

Fold up the cuffs at the bottom of the legs. You could be all fancy and zigzag stitch them, but the knit t-shirt material won’t fray, so don’t worry about it.

diy baby shorts

Besides, who’s going to be snooping in your baby’s wardrobe criticizing your hemming skills? (uh…don’t answer that question.)

Just sew around the hem with the sewing machine. Let the machine pull the fabric through to avoid stretching the fabric. Just make sure you don’t sew the leg shut. If you want to be fancy, you can sew in a double seam (just add another seam next to the first).

hemming shorts

(I forgot to take a picture while I was sewing, so I faked the above picture.)

And it’s as easy as 1…2…3!

turn kids pants into shorts

Is it perfect? Nope. I’m incapable of sewing a straight seam. Does it work and are they comfy? Oh yeah.

I tried to get a pic of my daughter modeling the shorts but she moves too fast. This is the best I could do and it’s a little blurry.

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Of course, when you hem your shorts you will use a matching thread instead of white, unlike me, right?

The shorts are a little loose and flowy which is actually nice for this warm weather. They are the perfect play pants now.

DIY Clutch from a Placemat

diy clutch from a placemat

I’ve been wanting to make a diaper clutch for a while. I have one that is a diaper clutch + changing mat all in one, but it’s kind of bulky. I just wanted something a little more compact that I could throw in my purse. This clutch is perfect. It’s cute enough to use as a little purse on its own too. I can just slip my wallet inside and carry it along with a diaper and a pack of wipes when I’m out with the baby.

I got this awesome idea from Nalles House. She takes a placemat, folds it, and sews up the fold to create a 5-minute clutch, perfect for toting diapers and other stuff. I decided to make mine a little shorter, and to add a strap, so it ends up taking a little bit longer, but it’s still pretty simple.

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I grabbed a blue and green ikat placemat from Target. It was nice and stiff, and I love the pattern for a clutch. Here’s the how-to!

I wanted my clutch to be a little shorter so it would hold diapers/wipes more snugly. So, cut off about an inch on each side (lengthwise).

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Use one of the extra strips to make a strap for the clutch. Cut off both ends; then fold the raw edges under and iron them, like so:

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Fold the strip closed so that the folded edges are flush. Then top-stitch with the sewing machine:

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With the layers of interfacing that are already sewn into the placemat, you now have yourself a nice sturdy strap:

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Now you need to close up both sides of your placemat proper (since we cut off the sides). Turn it inside out so the wrong sides are out:

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Sew along each side (leaving about 1/4 inch seam allowance). Remember to leave about a 3-inch gap at one corner so that you can turn the placemat back right-side-out!

right side out placemat

Turn the placemat right-side-out and iron it flat. Tuck the raw edges of the gap under and iron them flat so they lie flush with the sewn edge.

Decide how deep you want your pocket to be and fold your placemat accordingly.

IMPORTANT! Make sure the 3-inch gap is in the front corner of your clutch (see picture below):

folded clutch

The placement of your gap is important because that is where we will insert the strap. The ends of the strap will sit inside the top layer of the placemat, so the raw ends can’t be seen on the inside of the clutch.

Sew from the top corner, down across the gap, the straps, and the rest of the edge of the clutch. You’re sewing through multiple layers, and your machine may not like this. I recommend going very slowly, and you may need to manually turn the wheel of the machine to make the needle go through smoothly. Backstitch across the straps for added security, then continue sewing down the rest of that edge. Backstitch and trim your ends.

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Now start at the opposite diagonal corner (beginning at the fold), and stitch along the remaining open edge. Continue topstitching all around the rest of the top flap, ending at the place where you stitched in the strap. Backstitch and trim off your thread.

sewing clutch

Note: While you’re sewing you may want to backstitch along any areas where there will be tension.

Now, you’re pretty much done! You should have something that looks like this!

(I hand-stitched in a hook-and-loop closure. I didn’t want to sew right through the fabric so I just used a whip-stitch to sew it into place. Please, please, please don’t make fun of my hand-sewing. It’s a good thing my marital prospects…and future…don’t depend on my sewing skills…)

diy diaper clutch

Voila!

diy clutch from placemat

You could, of course, have made this from your own fabric instead of from a placemat. However, I liked how the placemat was already the right size, and came with all the interfacing and lining fabric so I didn’t have to buy those and cut them to size. My sewing skills are pretty much limited to sewing a (more or less) straight line, so this was a quick and easy project for me!

Hand-wash your clutch and DO NOT tumble dry! I find that these placemats shrink abominably and get all wrinkly when you machine dry them!

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This makes a perfectly sized diaper clutch, but you could also use it as a mini purse, or to store toiletries or other little things in! Do you like?

 

Quick Update with IKEA Cushions

I’m fortunate to live close enough to an IKEA that the words “IKEA run” are in my vocabulary. Although the giant home furnishings retailer is notorious for gobbling up entire Saturday afternoons (and destroying relationships, Re: 30 Rock), I’ve perfected the art of going straight to what I need, grabbing it, and little else. This time, the baby and I were in and out in less than 45 minutes!

I had been wanting to add more color to the family room couch and I thought some cushions would let me do so quickly and affordably:

Update sofa with IKEA cushions

I ended up going with the Sanela turquoise cotton velvet pillow covers at $7 and the Fjadrar feather-stuffed inner cushions at $6.99 each. So that comes to about $14 a pillow, which is pretty reasonable, especially for velvet. And since the inner cushion can be easily removed, I can switch the cushion covers easily without having to buy a whole new cushion!

family room sofa front 2

sofa with blue cushions

I really think those blue cushions add a certain¬†je ne sais quoi to the room, don’t you? Hee hee. They give it a more coastal and relaxed vibe and actually help the red/brown design on the cream cushions to pop more (the cream cushions are made from World Market napkins). And I love how they pick up the shades of blue in the painting on the left.

I also grabbed the Emmie Kvist long pillow:

Guest bed

I was originally going to put it on the sofa but it didn’t work. It was too big and the pattern was too dark. So I threw it on the guest bed and liked it.

guest bed front

It’s a lot of pattern but this room kind of needs it. Those walls really need some art. And I’m kind of over the orangey-red nightstands. They’re fun but they’re starting to look a bit juvenile. I’ve been considering painting them a glossy smoke gray to make them look a bit more sophisticated.

Ok! Well, that’s just a quick little update with IKEA pillows. What great deals have you found at IKEA lately?

Peek Inside the Family Room

Well, this post has been a long time coming. I’ve shared how we gutted the family room, painted the walls, spray painted the spiral staircase, and refaced the fireplace, but I haven’t shown pictures of the actual room yet. Mostly because…well, to be honest, most of the time, that room is a mess. It’s covered in toys and random bits of laundry, and the odd Cheerio here or there. But yesterday I went into a mini frenzy of tidying up and I got a few photos to show for it!

family room sofa 2 banner

That sofa is a hand-me-down from family. It’s still in good shape so we’re not planning to buy a new one anytime soon. So I need to make the dark color work for us. I’m hoping to add in some more bright and light cushions (hmm…Chris won’t be too happy about that). Maybe in light blues?

family room sofa front

This offset window is very frustrating. It was added to the room before the corner fireplace was installed, so it’s totally off-center. I thought about hanging curtains on either side to help visually center it more, but I can’t because the curtains’ proximity to the fireplace would be a fire hazard. So I’m planning to install a roman shade, and create a grouping of paintings/pictures to the left of the window to help balance it out.

Those awesome midcentury oak Parsons tables are also hand-me-downs. They look a little less orange in person and I love them. The top of the table has a beautiful herringbone pattern.

loveseat and spiral staircase

The loveseat butts up against the spiral staircase that we repainted. Wow, it’s amazing how when you take a picture of a space you really get a different perspective of things. I never realized how weird those yellow and blue cushions look against the loveseat…very 80s’.

oil painting vignette

The oil painting that we bought in Hong Kong and stretched on a frame ourselves. Antique glasses I found thrifting (very Mad Men; just need a bottle of brandy to go with it), and a photo of my baby girl. The little table it sits on is an antique passed down from Chris’ grandmother. We refinished the top which had seen some wear.

expedit media unit

Across from the sofa sits the IKEA Expedit media unit. This model is discontinued, I think, because TVs are getting too big to fit. Ours is a smaller TV so it fit perfectly. We finally got around to anchoring it to the wall and I breathed a big sigh of relief. The baby plays under this thing daily and I did NOT want it falling down on her in an earthquake.

I’m still working on a solution for camouflaging all those cords. Maybe something like this knotted lamp cord.

This room still needs a lot of work but it’s definitely a lot better than before!

family room before

 

family room with corner fireplace

Check out the other projects we did in this room:

Refacing Corner Fireplace
Happy Green Paint on the Walls
Spray Painting Spiral Staircase

It’s almost Friday yippee! Today I’m planning to shop for Mother’s Day. I already sent my mom a lovely pearl necklace and I’m looking for something for my MIL and Gracie’s great-grandma!

Sharing over at The36thAvenue.com, Remodelaholic, TatertotsandJello, SuburbsMama and TheShabbyNest!

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