Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bulletin Board Makeover

I have been using this bulletin board in my son's room for several years now and it was due for a makeover. I was originally planning on using linen and I also considered using burlap, but I finally decided on a neutral colour outdoor fabric. I selected this fabric because it will hold up to daily use and will resist the sunlight from the nearby window.

Before I started covering the bulletin board, I braided three lengths of jute (remaining from the lampshade makeover project) and created a braided trim for around the edge of the board. I also sewed the edge of my fabric with my serger to prevent fraying and to give it a finished look. I then collected the rest of my supplies (as shown above) and a scissors was also needed (not shown).

The first step was to centre the bulletin board under the fabric and flatten it with my hands.

I then placed the first staple top centre, and placed additional staples on both sides of the initial staple. I continued working on alternate sides. The staples were placed approximately 1 1/2 inches apart and I flattened the fabric as I worked. I also stapled the fabric on the back of the board for a neat, tight finish.

The final touch was to hot glue the jute braiding around the inside edge of the board. I knotted one end to secure and glued the other end underneath this point. My son Matt wanted to help with the project, so he did some of the gluing.

The finished bulletin board still needs to be mounted on the wall or maybe it works well where it is right now. I think it looks a lot better than it did before. What do you think?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Home Organization Challenge: Kids Bedroom

Creating a fun but functional space for children can be a challenge in so many ways. The main objective for me was to make the room easy to clean up, but have it reflect the personalities of my two boys. As with most kids rooms it serves multiple functions, and I wanted to make the best use of the space available.

Having my eldest son involved in the process was crucial. I feel that by doing so it gives him a sense of responsibility and teaches him valuable organization skills. He loves to draw, enjoys reading and he will probably tell you that he cannot live without his computer. He can be a bit dramatic and was initially clinging to his old desk, which I have replaced with an older wooden desk that offers a larger work surface and drawers for storage.

The "new" desk also works a lot better with the other furniture and is the same height as his old keyboard shelf. I purchased the desk about ten years ago at a vintage store, so it looks a bit shabby, but I personally like the worn look and the departure away from so much red. Over the past few days my son has grown fonder of his new desk, but I have promised to hold on to his old desk a bit longer just in case he really decides he cannot live without it . . . the DRAMA. The lamp seen on the desk got a lampshade makeover in November and I have a few other pieces that I am working on for the room, which I will feature in a later post.


I have to say that I absolutely hate plastic blinds. The windows currently have blinds that came with the house and I have plans to remove them in the spring. I was hoping they would grow on me, but they have not. To clean these major dust collectors, I use the brush attachment on my vacuum. I have found that this helps a lot with the dust and can be followed by a cloth.

This past week I replaced the curtains with some lighter coloured cotton curtain panels that I found at IKEA. The previous curtains were too dark for the room, which is already a dark blue colour. The room is clean and well organized, but there is still more to be done. I have several changes I will like to make and I look forward to the room looking a lot brighter when I am finished.


Organizing my son's video games and tons of trading card games was the most time consuming part of getting the room in order. He also has bins of Lego and way too many Beyblades. I took the Lego to the basement, where the little pieces will be out of reach for my youngest son and I stored the countless Beyblade parts and stadiums on a shelf in the wardrobe. I also placed the game systems in plastic bins and labeled them.

The bedroom closet doors were removed at the beginning of last summer and replaced with an IKEA PAX wardrobe that I had in my sewing studio. The wardrobe makes it easier for my son to help organize and access his clothes. I added a pullout drawer, a wire basket, and an easy to reach clothing rod; which has been a valuable change and saves us time in the morning when getting him ready for school. The wardrobe also holds the linen for the room, which helps to keep things organized.

My son has several posters that he will like to display and I am thinking of a practical solution for putting them up without tacks and sticky tapes. A bunk bed is also a future consideration.

  1. Design a space with kid's needs in mind
  2. Define zones
  3. De-clutter the space about four times a year
  4. Designate a home for everything
  5. Create floor space where possible
  6. Consider putting the dresser in the closet to create more floor space
  7. Get kids involved in the process
  8. Rotate toys
  9. Organize school materials as they come in
  10. Make organizing a fun routine

Week 7 - Home Office

To Do List:
  • Sort and purge items into four categories; shred, file, trash and other room
  • Shred unwanted documents
  • Organize paperwork and label files
  • Organize shelves
  • Clean light fixtures
  • Dust shelves
  • Wipe desk
  • Clean windows
  • Sweep, vacuum or mop floor
The main objective this week is to create a functional workspace that is free of clutter.

Thanks for following this Home Organization Challenge, we have six more weeks to go and I hope that you will share your organization tips here and on the Facebook page. You can also invited to join us on Pinterest.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Organizing Fabric

Organizing your fabric can be quite the task. I have found that a good way to approach the process is to start by identify what type of projects you will like to work on. I start by separating my fabric based on home decorating projects, clothing, quilting, etc. I also teach sewing classes, so I further subdivide my fabric based on the type of projects I plan on doing with my students. For example, cotton prints that are suitable for aprons are all placed together, while flannels for pyjama projects are also grouped together.

Much of what I found on the internet seem to focus on quilters and many of the links I found showed how to organize smaller pieces of fabric. But what do you do if you have different types of textiles with varying weights and other differences that make them difficult to group together in neat little draws or bins? The challenge I had was organizing different types of fabric, and simply folding and stacking did not seem to work very well.

Whenever possible I try to get fabric that is on the bolt. However, if you are purchasing smaller lengths of fabric or the fabric store will rather not part with the cardboard, folding can be your only option. To organize my fabric I created my own fabric boards that are 8 1/2 inches x 11 inches for smaller quantities of fabric and larger boards that are 7 1/2 inches x 24 inches for longer pieces of fabric. Usable scraps are placed in plastic bins and are separated and labeled according to fabric type. I made my fabric boards from white plastic corrugated signboard that I purchased at the art store. The boards were available in two sizes 24 inches x 32 inches and 31 1/2 inches x 47 1/2 inches.

Here is how I made my fabric boards:

  • Sheet of plastic corrugated sign board
  • Ruler
  • Utility knife
  • Pencil
  • Eraser

  1. Create a template out of cardboard or paper for the size board you will like to make
  2. Decided on the placement of by boards to get the most out of the material
  3. Use a pencil to draw your lines
  4. Use the ruler to guide your cuts
  5. Trim any excess material
  6. Fold your fabric on boards

8.5" x 11" Cardboard Template.

Pencil lines outlining six individual 8.5" x 11" boards.

A ruler helps to guide your cut.

Folded fabric!

Fits nicely in my IKEA Billy Bookcase.

The material I used works well for light to medium weight fabric. For heavier weight fabric, I fold and store on shelves or in plastic bins. I prefer to use plastic containers vs. cardboard boxes, because I have found that they last longer and protect better against moisture or dampness.

Depending on how much fabric you have to organize, here are a few links that might be helpful:

Craftaholics Anonymous - Ideas for Storing Fabric

I will be back soon with more tips on how to organize fabric. However, I will love to hear about how you organize your fabric and any tips and tricks you may have.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Crafty Ideas: Colour Palette Generator

Ginger Lily
Photography by Yvette-Michelle Cottle Darby

I want to share with you a few colour creation tools that I think are pretty crafty. I have not used all of them, but I have read some reviews and after checking them out, I am looking forward to making a comparison. With some of these web tools you can upload or link to an image and generate a colour scheme or palette, while others require you to enter a colour and it will generate complimentary colours for you.

Here is an example using the image above on the DeGraeve website:

Example using Sherwin-Williams (paint colours) website:

The possible uses for these tools are wonderful and are really great time savers. They are great web design and graphic tools and can even be used as a decorator's tool. Some of you may already be aware of these websites and may even have a few that you can suggest.


ColorCombos -
Colourlovers | Photocopa -
Color Scheme Designer -
CSS Drive -
DeGraeve -
Kuler -
Pictaculous -
Resene - Colour Palette Generator
Sherwin-Williams -

I hope you find these links of some benefit. Let me know what you think.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Home Organization Challenge: Master Bedroom

The main objective for me this past week was collecting clothing that will be donated and to maximize the storage potential of the master bedroom. I really wanted to reclaim the room and create a sanctuary. The bedroom is a place to retreat and reenergize and having an uncluttered space is instrumental.

There is a lot of of floor space in the bedroom, but the angles in the room make it a bit of a challenge for furniture placement. To maximize storage space, my husband and I found this great armoire this past summer that is now his closet, while I was able to claim the built-in closet as my own. I also use an old family trunk at the base of the bed to store additional linen.

Several weeks ago at the start of the Home Organization Challenge I found four red Sterilite ornament storage cases that are perfect for most of my Christmas ornaments. I say most of them, because the cases do not work very well for unusually shaped ornaments. I purchased four of these cases and I repurposed two larger containers that stored family photos. After some minimizing of our Christmas ornament collection, I was able to fit everything (including lights) into the six containers. These containers fit perfectly under the bed, which is a great space to store them away from direct sunlight and changes in temperature and moisture. In the past I have also used the space under the bed as a place to store seasonal clothing items. I like using rubber containers under the bed, because they are easy to pull out and clean on a regular basis.

Cleaning my dresser and limiting its' contents to a couple family photos and night lamp is a great de-clutting strategy. I have found that keeping the surface of my dresser clean and de-cluttered is very important. The dresser can become a catch all for all sorts of things and believe me I have had a very messy dresser before and it is no fun. When we move into our week on closets, I will share with you how I organize my dresser and armoire.

This coming week our focus will be on kids rooms. We have a three bedroom home, but since I am using one of the rooms as my sewing studio, it means that my two boys will be sharing a room. This week is therefore not only about cleaning, but about getting the room organized and functional for two boys that are eight years apart in age. My youngest son will be three in April and he has been partly sharing a room with my husband and I. We have been getting things ready for him to move full-time into what has been my eldest son's "domain." There are two beds in the room and the boys currently share a wardrobe and bookcase, but my youngest son is yet to spend a full night in the room. It has been a slow process and I am hoping that with a few changes, the transition will be complete. There is a lot of space for the two boys, but again the angles in the room have made furniture placement a challenge.

Week 6 - Kids Bedroom

To Do List:
  • Sort and purge items into four categories; keep, donate, trash and other room
  • Empty dresser and sort items
  • Sort and wipe bookcase
  • Sort and wipe night stand
  • Clean lamps and light fixtures
  • Wipe walls, doors and windows
  • Clean under bed
  • Clean and shine mirrors
  • Clean floors and vacuum carpet
  • Vacuum and flip mattress
  • Wash curtains and bed linen
  • Organize toys and disgard damaged ones
  • Donate items
The idea for week five is to create a bedroom that is both fun and functional. I am also getting my eldest son involved in the process so that it works well for him, but also encouraging him to help keep the room clean and organized.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

DIY Valentine Coupon Book

I am giving my husband a coupon book as one of his Valentine's Day gifts this year. I decided to put together fun things to do for a week. It has been a long time since I have made one of these for him, so I decided to make it a week full of breakfast in bed, massages, a date night and bubble baths (just to name a few things on the list).

I wanted the coupon book to have a personal touch, so I hand wrote little messages versus using the printer. I used regular printer paper for the inside pages and created a cover using scrapbook paper, Japanese tissue paper and silk fabric.

My "Create a Sticker - Max" was very helpful for this project. I used it to create a sticker for the front cover using the scrapbook paper. I was also pleasantly surprised that my silk fabric was able to pass through the machine without jamming. However, for the delicate Japanese tissue paper, I used a small amount of "Mod Podge" and applied it from the centre working outward and I left a 1/2 inch border. The pages are stapled together to form a booklet. To embellish the top of the booklet I added a ribbon trim, rubber stamped with gold ink and made stitch lines using a gold Sharpie paint marker.

Perhaps this will give you an idea or two.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Home Organization Challenge: The Basement Part 1

I really wanted to target the basement this past week, because it is the place that many of us store seasonal items and keepsakes. I do not have a garage or attic, so I rely on my basement for general storage space. In the coming weeks of our Home Organization Challenge I am sure to have items that I will like to keep and store in the basement. In preparation of organizing the basement, my husband and I purchased a dozen rubber containers several weeks ago. I also purchased a few smaller containers for some small items I will like to separate.

My basement has too many things in it and organizing it in one week seemed very overwhelming and just plain unrealistic. I therefore focused my efforts on the section of the basement that really needed my help and I will reveal more of the basement in "Basement Part 2." The area of the basement that I am highlighting today is essentially my craft room. This is the first area of the basement that you see when you first enter. I will love to switch things around, but I think the idea is to first get things de-cluttered and then consider re-zoning things.

This past week was very difficult for me to get things done. I have been sick most of the week with the flu and it has been compounded by bad weather. We had so much snowfall and bad driving conditions, that going anywhere or even going outside was difficult. I did package a box of fabric that will be donated, but still found myself overwhelmed by the amount of fabric. To provide more storage space I reused the ends of the large entertainment unit that were in the living room. This provided the much needed space for my embroidery machine and serger. It also provided some additional shelving for books and some hidden storage for smaller items. This left the open bookcase available for fabric. I found a great way to organize my fabric (which I will share later), but I have to put some more time into going through my fabric collection.

I was also able to identify needed storage for the basement and I have a few ideas on how I will continue to repurpose furniture and other items from other parts of the house. The planned changes should help to make the basement more functional. I am hoping that by the time I have completed Basement Part 2, that the basement will have a finished look.

With the hope of better weather for this week, here is the task list for the upcoming week.

Week 5 - Master Bedroom

To Do List:
  • Sort and purge items into four categories; keep, donate, trash and other room
  • Empty dresser draws and sort items
  • Fold "keep" items and place in draws with like items
  • Sort and wipe dresser top
  • Sort and wipe night stands
  • Clean lamps and light fixtures
  • Clean ceiling fans or other similar units
  • Wipe walls, doors and windows
  • Clean under the bed
  • Clean and shine mirrors
  • Clean floors and vacuum carpet
  • Vacuum and flip mattress
  • Wash curtains and bed linen
The idea for week five is to create a bedroom sanctuary that is free of clutter. So get under those beds and behind those dressers! Please note, this week we are not focusing on the closet, but we will in the coming weeks; so don't worry too much about it just yet.

Thanks for joining me.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

How to Make Bias Tape

Bias tape is a great way to finish the edges of so many projects. I love using bias tape on the edges of aprons, to finish off the armholes of summer dresses and as a fabric ribbon embellishment. You can add a unique touch to your projects by adding bias tape in a contrasting colour or fabric pattern. You can purchase ready-made bias tape or make it yourself. Bias tape is also used to make piping for home decor projects, but also has other applications.

What is bias tape?

Bias tape or bias binding is a strip of fabric that has been cut along the bias or cross grain of your fabric. It is at a 45 degree angle to the grain, which makes it stretchy and easier to use around a curve such as an armhole or neckline. Many strips can be sewn together to make a long "tape." You can vary the width of the bias tape depending on how you will like to use the bias tape. Generally bias tape is available in 1/2 inch or 1 inch width and is a simple bias (unfolded), single-fold bias tape, or a double-fold bias tape.

Making your bias tape

Start by pre-washing or pre-shrinking your fabric. Always make your finished bias tape a bit longer than is needed. Measure the circumference of your project and add several inches to be on the safe side. Next, you will have to decide how wide you want your strip to be. For example, if you will like your finished bias tape to be 1/2 inch and you are making a double-fold bias, then you need a strip that is initially 2 inches wide. To finish your bias tape, you can manually fold and press or you can use several helpful tools that are available to help you with the final phase. I purchased the "Simplicity Bias Tape Maker," which has been really helpful. However, for this tutorial I wanted to demonstrate using the manual method.

Step 1: Find the bias of your fabric and using a ruler and fabric chalk or other marking tool, measure equal distances and mark off the size of the strips you will like to cut.

Step 2: Cut your bias strips using a scissors or rotary cutter. You will notice that your strips are stretchy if you give them a slight tug.

Step 3: Place two strips together so that they form a 90 degree angle with the right sides facing each other. Sew across as shown in photo. Continue to do this with all of you strips to make a continuous strip.

Step 4: Press the seams open and trim the ends off of the seam allowance.

Step 5: Fold your bias in half down the middle and press along the strip. Then fold the outer edges towards the centre of your strip. Another slightly less time consuming method is to feed your bias through a bias tape maker and gently pull and press as you make your way along the bias strip. With the "Simplicity Bias Tape Maker," you simply have to feed the end of your bias strip into the tip, select your fabric setting and press run, and it does the rest for you.

Now you can enjoy your new bias tape.

Types of bias tape

Simple Bias: This is essentially unfolded bias strips, which you can use as ribbon embellishments on packaging, millinery, ribbon work, floral projects or to create piping.

Single Fold: This is when the bias tape is folded on the outer edges and is flat. Single-fold bias tape is great for use on hemlines.

Double Fold: This is the most common type of bias tape used. It is a single-folded tape that has been folded again down the middle of the bias strip. This type of bias is slightly wider on one sided, so if you follow the edge of the short side with your sewing machine, there will be more than enough space for the stiches on the underside not to go over the edge.

Here are examples of how double-fold bias tape can be used.

Bias tape was used on the top edge of the bag.

Bias tape used on armhole and tie strap for a kid's top.

If you will like to make piping with your bias tape, visit "The Seasoned Homemaker" for a wonderful little tutorial on how to "Add Piping to a Pillow."

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Valentine Felt Heart Bookmark

Here is a crafty idea for Valentine gifts that is simple and easy to make. Start by cutting two pieces of felt in the shape of a heart. Embellish one of the hearts and stitch the two hearts together along the straight edges.

I embellished my felt heart bookmark with French knots and daisy chain leaves. How will you embellish your heart?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Book Review: A is For Apron

A is For Apron: 25 Fresh and Flirty Designs by Nathalie Mornu

If you are looking for a book on how to make aprons, then "A is For Apron" is a fun book with lots of ideas for making aprons. The projects range from classic to playful. There are full colour photos of the finished aprons and coloured illustrations aid in teaching you how to make each project. There are step-by-step instructions, and patterns for you to enlarge. There are also instructions on how to make bias tape and how to miter corners. There is even a quick little tutorial on some basic embroidery stitches that you can use to embellish your projects. The author even provides a mini gallery of vintage aprons for inspiration along with a brief history of aprons.

I originally got this book for the library because I felt it would make a great reference for the students of my Aprons 101 workshop; however, I have found that I really love the projects myself. I am looking forward to doing several of these projects, including the "Dig It" on page 37 and the "Twirl, Girl!" on page 101. Another fun apron that looks like a great way to use up ends of ribbon and other trim is the "Carnival" apron on page 117 (also featured on the cover).

ISBN 978-1-60059-201-0


*As with all of our book reviews, this review was not solicited or endorsed in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and is presented in the spirit of sharing.

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