Thursday, January 27, 2011

Quilt, Gifted

My Mother in Law, MaMa, is here, and we’ve been having loads of fun.  She’s an excellent cook, so we’ve been spending all of our spare time in the kitchen. Of course, that leaves no time for my craft room…but it’s a small price to pay for all of the delicious food she’s teaching me to make! (At this point, she’s over her shyness, and doesn’t even bat an eye when I pull out the camera every time she pulls out pots and pans. Heh.)


Her first night here, we all exchanged Christmas gifts. I wanted her to use her gift from me right away…and was really excited to see what she would think of it.

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She liked it. *grin*

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

That Quilt I Mentioned Once or Twice

Yes, I’m dragging this out. It’s what I do! Here’s the quilt, all quilted, and waiting for my fabulous peeps to come over and help me sew the binding on. (Seriously, quilting bees are just one of the coolest things I can think of right now. I machine sewed the front of the binding on, and then a friend, a sister, and my mom helped me hand sew the back of the binding. Amazing.)

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Come and Be My Friend?

Please know I am not trying to drum up followers or anything insidious like that. What I AM trying to drum up is interactions, and a bevy of "friends" to Chat Craft with during the day. Are you on Facebook? Come and find me! Just "like" my page, and then we can chat it up, LoLo Style.

I love to post about what I'm up to during the day, in the craft room, and get feedback. So, if this blog is a place to discuss and show you the (long!) process things take to get into my shop...then facebook is the place to discuss the process things take to get to my blog! Heh. Something that like.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Bookcase Bench, Revealed!

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This is a blog for my crafts, right? So…essentially, a space for me to brag on the stuff that I make?


Alright. Good. Just checking.


I made a bookcase. Yes, yes. I know. Please, hold your applause until after the show!

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Our home is still very “new” to us…and we are still figuring out how to live and work in this space. One thing that I knew we needed was a bookshelf for Ming Wai’s room. Her old room had a wall of built-ins, and they were full of books, knick knacks, treasures, toys and stuffed animals. Her new room boasts a dresser, which she’s never had before…but no place for her books. Keeping her squirrelly brother in mind, I needed a bookcase that was squat, un-tippable, and preferably could be stood upon. (Because if something is squat and sturdy, a small boy will find a way to stand on it. And possibly jump off.) I decided that what I needed was a bench, with storage underneath.


Enter Basically, she’s a housewife in Middle of Nowhere, Alaska, with really great taste in furniture…and absolutely no way to get to a store and buy it. So…she makes it. This particular bench is a dead ringer for this one, from Land of Nod.


(I added 12” to it and really did intend to make a cushion…but Ming Wai’s stuffed animals don’t seem to mind sitting on the hard wood!)

You can get the plans here.

Oh, and did I mention that making furniture yourself gets you out for a fraction of the cost? Yeah, baby! Less than $50 for all the materials. The only thing I needed was…someone who know how to build furniture, because I don’t even own a saw. Luckily, I have a new friend (Hi, Tasha!) who just happens to be awfully handy with tools, and is slowly filling her home with handmade furniture. Yes!!


I dropped the kids off at my sister’s place, showed up at Tasha’s, and we went to work! It took us just one morning to make the bench. She did the cutting, I put things together (with a lot of direction from her!) and it came together pretty easily! Of course, it took me several months to get it sanded, primed, painted and sealed…but, who’s counting, right? The important thing is that now? Ming Wai has a place for her collection of books (with room to spare! *phew*) and a place to sit while staring out the window, dreaming her dreams.


And that just makes me happy.

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(Yes, those are Christmas lights around her window. Her Daddy does it every year, just for her, because it makes her happy. Amen.)



Aunt LoLo, Builder Extraordinaire


PS – Here’s my next project. Wish me luck!

Hyde Coffee Table

Friday, January 14, 2011

LoLoTute: Sew Yourself a Door Stop (a tutorial!)

First off, a big congratulations to “Andy and Melissa”. You won the pillowcase set! Shoot me your info and I will get your pillowcases off in the mail.


When I think of door stops, I generally think of unsightly, and very heavy, pieces of art that you aren’t sure what to do with. It’s kind of a joke, right? Hey! That would make a great door stop!

So, when my father (in all seriousness) requested a pair of door stops for Christmas, I was stumped. He suggested a bean bag, since he knew that a certain little grandson (*ahem*SIUJEUN) would most likely throw them if he could get his hands on them. (And he would be absolutely right.)


So, after a little searching online, and a little wracking my brain, and a little sewing (and a little seam ripping and tweaking), I have come up with a doorstop!

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(My tutorial is based on the one found here…altered by me to fit my own brand of crazy. Proceed at your own risk.)


Décor-weight cotton fabric

Filler (rice, wheat, beans, etc.)

1 freezer-weight zip-top bag (sandwich or quart size)




Sewing machine



Measuring cup with a spout, or a funnel


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You’re going to start off with two pieces of fabric – one 16.5” x 9.5” (the body of the bag) and one 4” x 9.5” (the handle). (Alternately, the handle could be a 9.5” piece of webbing, or bias tape, or rope or whatever else floats your boat.) Just to make things easy, make sure both of your pieces are pressed flat. I used décor weight cotton, from IKEA. (A thick cotton is necessary to get a really crisp and sturdy cube.)

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Working with your larger piece of fabric, fold it in half (right sides together, short ends meeting) and sew up matched short ends with a 1/4” seam allowance. Congratulations – now you have a tube! Add a matching 1/4” seam along the folded edge. (Just trust me on this. It makes your cube more…cubish.)


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Now, shift your tube around so that the two seams are matched up, and centered.

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Now sew two more 1/4” seams, one on either side, along the fold. (You don’t need to worry about backstitching, or trimming your threads neatly. They will all be hidden and sewed inside other seams.)

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Now, shift your tube again so that you have two matching, and stacked, sets of seams. Sew a 1/4” seam along one of your open ends. Leave the other end open for now. Now? Your tube is a bag.

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And if you stand it up, you’ll see that you’ve made a sweet little grocery-sack type thing. Carefully flatten out the bottom so that the bag will stand up on its own. You will end up with small triangles of fabric sticking off to either side. Finger press those, then mark the fold.

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Hold up the bag to make sure that your first triangle is even, centered, pretty, and all that jazz. I like to sew just outside of that seam that runs cross-wise through the triangle. It makes for neater corners. Once you have sewn up the first triangle, you can use it to match up the second triangle. That way, they will be identical. Sew that triangle off as well.

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Now, let’s turn our attention to the open end of your sack. You need to leave a gap so that you can turn your bag right side out, and also insert your handle. Following my marks in the picture, sew two seams, each one starting at the pink hatchmark and going out towards the outside corner of the bag. (When I sewed this up, I found that I had made my opening a little TOO small. If you think you might have issues, just make the gap bigger, but don’t OUTSIDE the matched seams. You need that part sewn shut.)

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Now, set that aside and pull out your smaller piece of fabric. To make it into a handle, fire up your iron. We’re going to make binding! First, fold your piece of fabric in half, lengthwise, and press. Open it up, and fold each long edge towards the center, wrong sides together, to meet in the middle, right above your pressed crease. Finally, fold it back in half along the original crease and press again. Voila! Head over to your sewing machine and run a seam along the open end, as close to the edge as you can get.  (About 1/8” for me.)

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Here’s where it gets a little odd. Grab your (still inside out) bag and (using one of your already-sewn corners as a guide), pinch off a third corner. Holding that corner in one hand, pick up your (freshly made) handle in the other hand and carefully feed it into the gap you left at the top of the bag, and up into the corner. Feel with your pinching fingers to make sure that the handle extends past your intended seam by at least 1/2”.

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Stick that baby under the needle before everything falls apart, and sew off that corner.

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Repeat the process with the fourth corner, again matching it up to the corner below it to make sure that it is the same size.


Now the fun part. Turn it right side out. At some point, it will look like this:

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Don’t worry! Keep tugging, prodding, sweating and begging. Eventually, it will right itself. And behold! A cube! With a handle!

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Now to fill it! You’ll need a small zip-top bag, filler (I used wheat, but rice or beans would also work) and a chopstick. (My zip-top bag was freezer-weight, quart size. I wanted to make sure 1) that I didn’t puncture it while filling it and 2) that it would be thick enough that it hopefully wouldn’t attract pests to the wheat inside. These were designed to be used at my parents’ cabin…and they have critters out there in the woods!)

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Use the chopstick to poke out the corners of your cloth cube, and then stuff your bag into your gap at the top of the door stop. Carefully pour in your filler, pausing often to shake and shift and poke and prod. You want the filler to firmly fill out the bottom four corners. Keep adding your filler until your door stop is about 3/4 of the way full. Carefully squeeze out all the air that you can from your  plastic bag, and zip up the top. Tuck the bag completely inside the gap. (My door stops took about 3 cups of wheat, FYI.)

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Fill out the rest of the door stop with fiberfill, and use a blind stitch or a whip stitch to sew your gap shut.

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Congratulations! You have a door stop. Now, go forth and stop your doors. (I was surprised, when I took stock, of how many doors in my house needed door stops just to stay put…never mind how many doors would need stops if I were to open the windows!)

If you make one of these, please come back and let me know in the comments! I’d love to see pictures.

Friday, January 7, 2011

LoLo Tute: Easy Pillowcase (and a Giveaway!)

The giveaway is now closed. Congratulations, Melissa!!

(You might have already seen this post. I tried to get things done ahead of time...and apparently, got things all mixed up, with three or four posts going up in the same hour. Derp. So. Here you go! Giveaway!)

Now, I certainly can’t take sole responsibility for this tutorial. The original directions were found here, from Su at Vively Online. So, if you want a sweet little cheat sheet that you can print out…head over! She’s awesome!

But, if you’ve gone, say, to IKEA and picked up a Fjadrar pillow (because they’re big and filled with feathers and oh-so-cheap), I’m about to show you how to make a case for it. And you don’t have to think about any measurements. Sound good? (This, by the way, makes an envelope style pillow case.)
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(This would also work for any square 20x20 pillow. Just so’s you know.)
First, round up your fabric. I’m using a cotton print from IKEA here, that used to be my drapes. Just about anything will work here. Now, cut it to size. You need a rectangle 19.5” x 45”.

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Heat up your iron, and find one of the short ends of your rectangle. Fold 1/2” of the raw edge toward the wrong side of the fabric and press. Now, fold it down 1/2” again and press. Do the same thing to the other short side, then head over to your machine and stitch both hems down, close to the open edge so they don’t flap around.
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Lay your fabric right side down on a table, and fold up the closest short edge to about the middle of the fabric, like you’re folding a letter. On the wrong side of the fabric, measuring down 5” from the hemmed edge, make a mark on the left and right sides of your fabric.
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Now bring down the other hemmed edge to that mark. Pin through the top two layers so that you now have a tube.
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Now that your tube is pinned, you can sort of roll it a bit to make sure that the second layer (what will be the outer layer when you turn this thing right side out) is positioned just about in the middle. (Here you can see that my 20” case is laid on my cutting mat, and the second layer edge just about lines up with the 10” mark.)

Making sure everything is flat, even and nice, pin it if you like, then put a seam on both remaining raw edges.
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Snip your threads, flip, and you’re done!

Now, here’s the fun part. Just because it’s a new year. And because I have this insane goal to actually put things in my etsy shop this year, despite all the crazy new tax laws, so I need to practice sewing a few things. And because I love you.

Do you happen to have any 20x20 pillows around? Or live close to an IKEA? Or just really need more pillow cases in your life? I’m giving away a set of the pillow cases featured in this tutorial to one lucky reader. So, if your home needs more brown, green and khaki in its life…this is the giveaway for you! Simply leave a comment on this post to be entered. I’ll pull a winner early next week, and announce it…mid week. (See what I did there? This way, if I forget to take any of these actions, I can just tell you that it’s all on schedule. Heh.)

PLEASE make sure to leave an e-mail address in your comment. A winner without contact information…will quickly become that-person-that-could-have-won if they’d only had contact information!

Good luck! And here’s to doing 2011 up right!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Facelift for the Living Room (2011, Thing 1!)

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After Christmas, I was more than a little ready to move on. Make a little change. Shake things up a bit. I mean, the holidays were festive and all…but once Christmas is over, I want nothing more than to set my sights on SPRING. Down came the tree, down came all the snowmen and reindeer. Down came the stockings and the hangers. And out came the sewing machine!


I picked up this fabric at a Crate & Barrel outlet before I moved from one coast to the other, specifically to make pillows for our new couch. The new couch we hadn’t bought yet. Or picked out. Or shopped for. I was pretty sure it would be a solid, though, and…knowing us…it wouldn’t clash with a subtle blue print. I was right! (The fabric is MARIMEKKO. I’m not sure of the name…I can’t seem to find it online. Any MARIMEKKO experts out there?)


I vaguely referenced this tutorial from the lovely Su, at Vively Online, but since I hadn’t looked at the tutorial since she originally posted it…I can’t be entirely sure that I didn’t botch it up. Heh. (Su? Check my homework and let me know, yeah?)

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The pillow forms are from IKEA, and are $7 each. In case anyone would like to make themselves some fabulously cheap Sofa Bling, I’ll put up a tutorial in a few days, with exact measurements for these pillows. I still have a few yards of red Chinese brocade that I picked up, also for pillows, at Pearl River in NYC before I moved. I figure a pillow can never have too many “dresses”, and besides…Chinese New Year is just around the corner. And nothing says SPRING like red, gold, and a house full of cherry blossoms, right??! (I have a really cool cherry blossom project in mind as well. Stay tuned!)

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Happy 2011, y’all!!