Monday, July 16, 2012

Recent Projects

I've done several more Summer List activities with the kids in the last week, but I just haven't had a chance to write about them.  My to-do list has been heavy with long-term projects and unusual tasks that I don't particularly want to do.

So today I thought I'd share a couple of random sewing projects that I've done lately.  I really enjoy using my sewing/craft knowledge and supplies to make stuff for friends and family.  I love when I can help meet a specific need or solve a specific problem.

Two such projects I've completed recently are (1) a window valance made from a crib bumper and (2) a new cushion for an outdoor swing

First up:  the valance.

Angela, a long-time friend and one of my college roommates, spent the 4th of July in the hospital in endless hours of labor.  Her precious son Brennen was finally born early afternoon on July 5.  When Brennen went home with his mom and dad a couple days later, he came home to this fantastic bedroom:

That valance at the top of the window was my little contribution to the adorable room that Angela put together. 

When Angela found out she was having a boy, she and her husband fell in love with this baby bedding collection from Pottery Barn.  The problem was that parts of this collection are discontinued.  They were able to find all the pieces they wanted on eBay, but they couldn't find the valance anywhere.

So here's what we did.  Angela bought an extra crib bumper from eBay and mailed it to me (we live in different states), along with some solid white fabric that was home dec weight.  I ooohed and aaaaahed over the cute crib bumper and then promptly ripped it apart.

One side of the bumper had striped fabric, which I saved for the top and bottom of the valance, and the other side of the bumper was blue fabric with elephants appliqued on top. Angela wanted the elephants removed from the bumper and sewn onto the valance.  Since they were already appliqued onto the blue fabric, I couldn't just cut around them and applique them onto the valance as I would do if they were simply printed onto the fabric.  So we agreed that I should cut ovals around each elephant and applique those ovals onto the valance.

For the body of the valance, I cut a rectangle of white fabric and sewed strips of the striped fabric on the top and bottom (all using measurements from Angela's window).

Next I spent some quality time with those elephants.

It was tricky to do the math to find oval sizes that would fit all the way around the elephants (which were all different sizes, by the way) and also fit on the width of the valance.  After hours of measuring, doing math, fitting, and adjusting...I figured out that I could do three larger oval with two smaller ovals in between.

I used Wonder Under for this part of the project.  I applied it to the back of the blue fabric (with the elephants), traced on the ovals with a light box and a removable pen, and cut out the ovals.  Then I peeled off the paper backing from the Wonder Under and ironed the ovals onto the white fabric (measuring to make sure they were positioned correctly). 

The last step was sewing a decorative stitch around each oval to secure it and add a nice finishing touch.  I chose a green thread for contrast.  Here you can see the elephant on the right has stitching but the one on the left doesn't:

Here is the {very wrinkly} finished product:

The various elephants:

The stitching:

The back side:

Back side serged and finished seams:

And the pocket for the curtain rod:

I love making custom gifts like this for the people I love!

And now about that swing cushion...

While Jared was on the other side of the world, his mom had the kids and me over several evenings.  She took the kids to VBS at her church and let me stay at her house.  Alone.  No kids.  I was a little like a foreigner wandering in a strange land. 

My mother-in-law Cathy loves to read, and when the weather permits she likes to sit on her swing on her deck while she reads.  So I did the same.  I borrowed a book from her collection and sat outside until I was bathed in my own sweat.  While I was out there, I noticed that her beloved swing had seen better days. 

It's well loved and used, but it's been hit pretty hard by sun, rain, wind, etc.

So I sneakily took quick measurements of the existing cover.  I found outdoor fabric on and ordered 4 yards of a print I thought Cathy would love.  I also bought one yard of a coordinating fabric so I could make pillows.  I had to search a bit, but I finally found mildew-resistant foam padding for inside the cushion at Jo-Ann Fabrics. 

I didn't take any pictures of the process of creating the cushion.  It basically involved a lot of drawings and math to figure out how in the world to create this cushion. 

It's one large cushion that fits on top of the existing swing cushion.  The existing cushion provides the actual support, and I'm pretty sure it's impossible to get off the frame of the swing.  To secure the new cushion to the swing, I attached two straps to the top and two to the bottom (front of the cushion on the seat), and I put Velcro on the straps.  It'll make more sense in the picture.

I'll skip the hilarious antics of me wrestling the foam into the cover and trying to hand-stitch the back of the cover and taking off the tip of one of my fingers with a pin.  Let's move forward to the final reveal.

The kids were super excited to help us surprise their grandma ("Ammaw" as they call her) with this cushion.  They took her back into her bedroom and kept her occupied while Jared and I set up the new cushion and pillows.  Then we brought her out to show her her new comfy reading swing.

The coordinating pillows (also made with outdoor fabric):

The back with the Velcro straps to hold it in place:

Cathy was so helpful while Jared was gone, and she even let me read a book!  So, this was my way of thanking her so she can have a cozy spot for relaxing with a book.  Perhaps when the temperature is cooler than in the 90s. :)


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