Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pottery Barn Pillow

I don't know about you, but I LOVE Pottery Barn. Several months ago I was leafing through their catalogue and came across this pillow:
I loved the simplicity of it, I loved the muted Earth tones, I loved the texture, but I didn't love the price tag of $49. That's a bit steepish for a pillow in my book. A few weeks later I was looking at the Ballard Designs catalogue (another favorite) and came across these pillows:
Again, I loved the texture, the design, and the colors, but these were $59 apiece. So we've established that there is nothing wrong with my taste, but I figured that I could probably make a pillow that had the same look for a fraction of the price of the Pottery Barn or Ballard Designs pillows.

Project: Freezer Paper throw pillow
Skill Level: Easy Peasy
Time: About an hour, more for drying time.

First, choose your word. I would say that 3-4 letters works best, 5 would be the maximum I would recommend for best results. Choose your font on your computer and enlarge your letters to your desired size. My letters are approximately 3.5 inches tall. Cut your letters out and lay them out on a surface that can be cut on. Tape them down securely.
Cover the printed letters with freezer paper, shiny side down. Tape down all edges to keep the freezer paper in place while you work.
Using an exacto knife cut out all the letters. Make sure to save any negative space, like the center of the 'O' in the word Home.
Place your cut out stencil on a piece of fabric. I chose to use osnaburg fabric. It has the texture of burlap but the weave is closer together to allow the paint to adhere better. It is also cheap, running $2-3 per yard full price. Iron the freezer paper to the fabric on a low setting, making sure to adhere the edges of the stencil.
Using a sponge brush, dab the paint on the fabric covering all the exposed surface. I used a chocolate brown color with a couple drops of black mixed in which gave it a more distressed look. DO NOT peel back your stencil until it is dry. It's hard to wait, I know, but if you do it when wet you will not have crisp edges, and your run the risk of getting wet paint on a part of the fabric that shouldn't have it or smearing your design.
When your design is completely dry, peel away the stencil and discard.
Cut out your pillow front. I added 3 inches on all sides of the word, so my pillow is 21 long by 10 tall. Cut a second piece for the back, and two pieces of Warm and Natural batting, all the same size.
Place your pieces together in this order:
1. First piece of batting
2. Your pillow front, word side up
3. Pillow Back, right side (if there is one) down.
4. Second piece of batting.
The batting serves to make the pillow less lumpy when you stuff it. If you are using a pillow form, skip the batting. Tip: Place pins of a different color and/or size at the bottom of the pillow so you can tell where the bottom is when you are stitching.
Stitch around the edge using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, leaving a place to turn the pillow right side out at the bottom. Turn right side out and stuff, hand stitch opening closed.
Fluff and put in your favorite chair! The best part? Here's the breakdown of how much my pillow cost to make:
Fabric: $1 (1/3 yard at $3 a yard)
Batting: $1 (1/3 yard at $3ish per yard)
Fabric Paint: $1 a bottle
Sponge Brush: $.39
Stuffing: $1.50 (1/2 bag at $3 per bag)
Grand Total: $4.89!
So what do you think? Is it worth an hour of your time to make this pillow instead of spending $50-$60 to buy one just like it? It sure is in my book! Happy Sewing!

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Pink Hippo Party

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Another Birthday on a Budget

Not quite two months ago, I posted here about my middle son's birthday party. I am a firm believer that you can have a fun birthday party for a child without taking a second mortgage on your house to do it, and since my first post on budget friendly birthdays was such a hit I decided to do a follow up post for my oldest son's seventh birthday. Let me start by saying that I knew right off the bat that I was going to be spending more on this one simply because of the number of children coming. My middle son was quite content to invite his two best friends to his party, my oldest however, is a social butterfly and wanted to invite his entire class. We settled on inviting all the boys, and when all was said and done there were 10 boys invited to his party. 10 little boys, a Star Wars Theme, and about $30. Here's how I did it...

Starting off, the favor bags. I was lucky enough to find Star Wars coloring books in the dollar bin at Target. I bought 10 of them, and then bought 10 packs of 8 count Crayola crayons. Add to that a little candy and you have a great favor bag for under $2 per kid.
Obviously the coloring books didn't fit into the little cellophane bags I had, so I just kept those separate. I put the crayons, two suckers, and one roll of smarties into each bag and tied them shut with twine.
Next up, the cake. Only my oldest is the only child in the world who doesn't like cake. Seriously, he has never eaten any of his own birthday cake. Even on his first birthday he ate one bite and turned his head. Anyway, he likes cookies, and I was fortunate enough to have two sets of Star Wars cookie cutters from Williams Sonoma. My mother bought the set with the heads for my kids this past summer, and my oldest's BFF got him the set of ships for Christmas this past year. They come with a great recipe for a short bread type cookie, and so I made those instead of a cake. He also doesn't like frosting, so I just sprinkled them with sugar and baked them.
An assortment of cookies cooling...
Hard to see, but they are sprinkled with sugar. Darth Vadar never looked sweeter...
Now onto decorations. The great thing about kids' birthday parties is that you can easily use their own toys for decorations. Most of the time, the theme they choose is something that they already have a ton of anyway. This party was no exception. I gathered up the little figures and a couple of ships, added some red, black, and white stars that I punched out of card stock, and ended up with a cute centerpiece for the table! The best part? Other than it being a free way to decorate, the boys were only too happy to take off with the toys after cookies and ice cream were served, so I didn't even have to clean them up.
The favors all laid out and waiting for the kids at the end of the party.
I put all the cookies on a cake pedestal. (I also almost dumped all of them when I picked up the pedestal to pass them out, but I digress.) I got the ice cream at Rite Aid a couple of weeks ago when it was free, (yup, I stacked the coupons and they paid me a dollar to take 6 containers of Edy's off their hands) and got juice boxes for the kids to drink. I was also lucky in that I dug out a pack of Star Wars napkins that my mom got the kids last summer as well to go with the cookie cutters. (She never spoils them or anything.)
And voila! The table all set and ready for the kids to come enjoy the party! It didn't look like this for long, but the party was a hit and the kids all had a great time. We ended up with six boys in the end, a couple of them weren't able to come at the last minute. And with that, I am off to lay down on the sofa and crash. I plan on a night of television and leftover cookies. Maybe I'll even be recovered enough for my daughter's birthday party in August...

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Felt Make-Up

I love to make toys for my kids. My mother made things for me to play with when I was little, and it was so special to have something made with a mother's love! I have had this pattern from Gulf Coast Cottage for a while now and am just getting around to making it up. Mistress Monstress is loving her new makeup and looking forward to getting the rest of the set!

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Book Basket

In our house, reading plays a big role. We almost never say no to a book order at school, a trip to the library, or a bargain book bin at a garage sale. I love to read. I always have, probably always will. I'm hoping to instill a love of reading in my kids early, and I think so far that I am succeeding. My oldest LOVES the Magic Tree House series, and the other two climb on my lap all the time with worn copies of their favorite stories.

At Christmas this year, I set a basket of holiday stories out for the kids to enjoy in our living room. As I packed up the books, I decided to keep the basket out since it seemed that we were reading more than before. With the books so easily accessible in our living room the kids were much more apt to grab a story instead of grabbing the remote. So I kept the basket. Every month I take it upstairs to their large bookshelf in the playroom and fill it with new stories. January was "Classic Children's Literature" month in our house, so we had books like The Little Engine That Could, Cat in the Hat, Mother Goose, The Adventures of Frog and Toad, and Make Way for Ducklings. With the beginning of February I changed them all over to books relating to this month. So we have Woodrow, the White House Mouse, House Mouse and Senate Mouse, The Mixed Up States of America, Love and Kisses, and Guess How Much I Love You? just to name a few. March will probably bring spring stories, April will bring Easter stories, and so on and so forth. It's a great way to keep reading interesting to the kids, it's helping me see what topics I'm lacking in for them, and creating more quality time with my kids. We've found a winner in our house, maybe your house needs a book basket too?