Recently in Home Decor Category

Home Décor Tips and Tricks: Valance

April 16, 2014

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Recently my mom asked me to help her create a valance for her bay window. She wanted traditional with just a little drama (drama is otherwise known as trim). Understated but elegant was her description. We found an out of print valance pattern on eBay and got to work. First, we picked out fabric. Mom wanted a tonal damask pattern in a satin or satin-like look in gold. We found this lightly patterned fabric a year or so back from a designer lot on (Helpful tip: If you are looking for a jacquard woven damask search for "Damask" then narrow down your search by selecting "Home Décor" and then "Jacquard" on the left side bar). Here is a similar fabric from Duralee.  

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The one drawback from the beautiful fabric was because it was a poly satin it had much more drape than we wanted and needed for our pattern. Our pattern was structured with any drape from the swags given with careful shaping not from the fall of the fabric. We wanted each swag to be precise so we decided to add interfacing. Mom and I chose a medium weight sew-in interfacing because the fabric was a medium (almost apparel weight) and needed just a little bit of structure. Too much would have made the shaping of the swags impossible and stiff. I prefer to match my interfacing to the weight of my fabric. We also decided on sew-in because fusible can sometimes trap bubbles between the fabric and the interfacing and also can distort the fabric as it is being heated and pressed into place. Sew-in adds the structure we needed by preserves the shape of the pattern with no distortion and allows the fabric to be more easily manipulated.

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The final piece of the puzzle was the batten (this is the board that is used to attach the valance to the wall). Some valances can use a simple curtain rod to hang but most call for a batten. However, when you go and ask for a batten at a home improvement store, most sales people will look at you like you spoke a foreign language and explaining what you plan to use it for and its general purpose will not help your case. It is easier to ask in the lumber section for a 1" by 3" board. While this is wider than most battens it is close enough and will get the job done. We used three 1" by 3"s and some L-brackets to attach the valance to the wall. The valance is stapled to the top of the battens. Cutting your batten into multiple pieces will allow you to shape your valance to your window shape if you have an odd configuration like a bay window or two or more windows on a corner. 

Check back for my next Home Dec project: a grand, padded upholstered great room valance. Check our instagram feed for progress photos. 

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Nursery Bedding: For the Gentlemen

March 7, 2014

Here is my second installment of my Nursery Bedding series. Last time, I showed you my mood board for my girls' room but I didn't want to leave it at that. We can't leave the boys out of this so I modified my mood board leaving the foundation- gray walls, bird lamp and turquoise vinyl-covered chair- but switched out the fabric choices for bedding and curtains, added a different rug and this room is instantly ready for a little boy. It can grow with him into adolescence without changing a thing or with just a few fabric variations.

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1)      Here is our grey foundation and yellow classic dresser that you saw in my girls' room. This color is a modern neutral that allows bold colors to really pop. Remember infants and toddlers really love bold colors.

2)      This versatile zig zag is ideal for window treatments. First, the zig zags run vertically which can make any room look taller and inviting. The movement of the design will be stimulating to any child but won't overdo it with too many colors. Third, the medium tone blue complements without competing with the other colors in the room.

3)      Who doesn't love an elephant?! These cuties are huge in nurseries for the past few years for good reason: they are big hits with the pre-k ages. Michael Miller's version here blends well with our zig zag and welcomes other fun colors into the room. This fabric will make excellent sheets, pillow cases and accents pillows.

4)      This embossed minky is so lush I want in on my bed. I picked this especially for a bed cover and shams for the "I'm so over the crib" crowd and it would make an excellent changing pad cover as well as a crib blanket for those over 12 mo.

5)      The worn turned wood lamp is from Target. The bird lamp shade is really whimsical which the chunky wooden lamp grounds it and brings in a little adult. Face it, you'll be spending as much time in this room as your little one for many years; you should like it too.

6)      I found this rug online and it went so well with all the other colors in our room. Plus it was highly patterned which meant it would easily hide stains which as you will find out is unavoidable in a nursery.  

7)      Lastly, this unassuming armchair from Ikea is a true chameleon in any room. I would recover it in our Marine Vinyl in turquoise to make it wipe able, durable and to bring yet another bold yet soothing color into our little boys room. 

Drapes- Modify Store Bought with a Beautiful Border

March 3, 2014

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If you are anything like me you love short cuts. However, this time the short cut is to save my sanity. I needed curtains that were 130'' long and the thought of measuring, cutting and hemming all that made me want to burst into tears or turn to chocolate. I opted for a short cut. I had purchased several extra-long curtains from IKEA but I had "hemmed" them to use in our nursery in a different house with different ceilings. I need them to be 22'' longer. Instead of going out to buy a new pair I decided to add a fabulous border to the bottom instead to make up the difference. The plan worked out wonderfully. Now not only do I not have a whole wall of plain solid fabric but nor do I have a wall of bright, busy fabric. I have the best of both worlds. I decided on a French seam to bring the two panels together because the curtains would be unlined but I wanted the backside to look great too. Follow these easy instructions if you want to modify you own curtains or short cut your way to extra-long curtains.

I used one yard of Ikat Home Décor fabric for each drape border. Add from bold or color to your curtains, check out our home décor fabric section.

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  1. First measure how much of a border you need then add 1'' for the French seam and 5'' for a double turned hem.
  2. Press everything. You want it to be straight and relaxed. Rip up the side hems of the ready-made panel about 5-6''.
  3. Pin the border to the panel wrong sides together matching up side edges. Stitch with a ½'' seam allowance. Press seam open then flip the curtain over and press again. With pinking shear cut down the seam allowance to ¼''
  4. Flip the fabric so that right sides match at the seam and pin in place. Press again and stitch with another 1/2'' seam allowance. Press the French seam towards the darker panel and remake the side seams, pin in place and stitch.
  5. Finish with the double fold hem by folding over 1'', press and then fold over 4''. Pin, press and stitch.

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This would be great for adding just a splash of color, for wedding drapes to add the wedding colors, and for dorm rooms if you have windows that are above 84''. 

Doorway Drapes

February 21, 2014

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My mom loves to tell me about her childhood and summers spent at her grandmother's house in Pennsylvania. She goes on in detail about all the furnishing when something sparks her memory. One day as the weather started to turn cold this past year my mom was commenting on the draft that comes through her media room from the attic alcove. It drives the temperate down several degrees making it an uncomfortable room in the wintertime. While we were discussing this I suggested putting drapes up over the doorway to keep the draft out because I had recently seen something similar on pinterest. I could see the lightbulb turn on in her eyes. Mom told me how her grandmother had curtains in the doorway between her living room and dining room. "Everyone had doorway curtains back then. It was just standard in decorating. It helped keep the house warm" she recalled. We decided then and there doorway drapes were the solution. The finished double wide curtain panel has made all the difference in the media room. It is staying toasty now and makes a great gathering place for family movie night.

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To make your own you will need:

First up, measure your doorway. Measure how wide and tall you want your finished drapes to be. Double that width because most pleat tapes need twice the width. Also add a double turned side hems. I used 2'' for each double turned side hem (1/2'' for the first turn and 1.2'' for the second) but some prefer 4'' (that is ½'' for the first turn then 3.5'' for the second). For the length add a 2'' top hem to your finished length plus your desired bottom hem length. I prefer a deep 4'' hem plus ½ turn under so I added 4.5''. You don't need to double turn the top or make it very deep since the pleat tape will add stability and will cover the raw edge.

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Sew together any panels that you need to gain your width and then fold over 2'' along the top and baste in place. Pin the pleat tape ½'' down from the top edge of your curtain on the wrong side. You will see sewing guide lines on your pleat tape. Sew along the top and bottom of the pleat tape on these lines.  Remove basting stitches. Create the pleats you desire. I went with a triple pleat because I liked the formal look it gave and thought that complemented the tapestry fabric. After I assembled my pleats on the back side I took them over to the iron and steamed the pleats in place and finally gave each a small tacking stitch at the base of each pleat to give it a polish, formal look. An untacked pleat looks more casual.

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Back of curtain, pleats assembled

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Front of pleats before pressing and tacking. A very casual look. 

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Here I am tacking my pleats. You can see the 3 folds under my presser foot. 

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After tacking. Much cleaner and defined pleats

Next, I hemmed the bottom of the panel and finally the sides. I prefer to hem the sides last because it seals off the top and bottom hem and eliminates any pockets that can gather dust, dirt or even bugs. Lastly, I added the curtain hooks by placing each one in the middle of the triple pleat so the hook could support the pleat and hung them on a basic flat rod. Eventually my mom wants to make a tie back for frequent trips to the alcove which is common at Christmas time since she keeps her decorations back in the attic but for now she is content to keep the drafts at bay.

For more info on our Drapery tape check out my December 2013 post when it was Product of the Month.

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Nursery Bedding- Ladies first

February 5, 2014

I am in the process of redecorating my daughters' room and thought my dilemmas would make for an interesting post. Since it will house both a 1 yr. old and a 5 yr. old I wanted it to still be a nursery but able to grow as my girls grow, or out-grow the nursery. I decided to choose a neutral for the walls and let the bold colors of most of their toys and accents they already have (piggy bank collection, floating shelves, giant stuffed animals) serve as the color so when you walk in their room all you see is fun and comfort.

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    Girl Collage:

    1. Light Grey Bedroom with a bright yellow dresser. This is the foundation of my room. I love grey as a neutral and feel as my LO grows she can easily change bedding and accents without repainting. The bold yellow dresser gives a sunny look to the room.
    2. Tone on Tone Dots Yellow- This fabric will serve as drapes. The larger dots work well for such a large piece of pattern in the room, coordinates with the dresser and compliments the main accent color of coral. I will use two floor to ceiling panels on each window. It will also be used for shams and pillow cases to tie the bedding and the curtains together.
    3.  Michael Miller Stripes Chic Chevron Sun Yellow- This fabric and #4 will serve as most of the bedding for the room: sheets and duvet. The soft feel of quilting cotton makes for excellent bedding and the simple pattern makes matching easy. I love all the extra colors and tones it brings into the room which makes adding accents like lamp shades, book cases, and artwork easier.
    4. Aunt Polly's Flannel Polka Dots Peach- Great for the cold months, I love to bring in flannel for warmth but it is also nice for warmer months when used only on the top of a duvet, shams, decorative pillows and borders for sheets. I really love peach and coral together so I had to bring this fabric in.
    5. Threshold Lamp- the wooden base brings warmth and the larger shape grounds the space and tones down the juvenile theme so the room can host your child for many years and maybe even serve as a guest room in a pinch. The bird lamp shade coordinates well and brings in an animal touch that every child loves.
    6. Coral Chevron Rug- This features our signature color, coral, but has enough pattern to disguise dirt and even matches most juice colors.
    7. Ikea Tullsta Chair- I love the scale and shape of this chair. It will make a great reading chair. The shape cuddles your child so they can sit in any position and the scale is not oversized but certainly not tiny so it will grow with your child. I would recover it in our Marine Turquoise Vinyl which is very durable, wipe able and adds a complimentary accent of turquoise. I feared using too much coral and I love turquoise and coral together.

      Stay tuned for the next edition when I change out a few basic elements to turn this nursery into a boy's retreat that is anything but ordinary boys' toys. 

Snuggly Valentine Project: A Cuddle Bug Built for Two

January 26, 2014


Valentine's Day is approaching, but because this winter has been ridiculously cold, all I can think of are projects to keep me warm. Even so, I have to give credit for this one to my dear friend Phred, who, when I said, "What's a romantic stitching project?" immediately came up with a sleeved blanket for two people. Hilarious and genius! I will totally make these for couples I know. They'll either love the idea or laugh at it, but both are wins in my book.

When I first made a Cuddle Bug several years ago, I wasn't sure how I felt about this craze. I am now a convert. I LOVE being able to use the remote while curled up in my little cocoon without having to send my poor arm away from the comfort a cozy blanket. I can also administer scritches to the cats while keeping totally toasty. What's not to love?  Add my beloved to the equation, and it only gets better.

This project takes a little less than 5 yards of fleece. If you're making it for tall people, you might want to cut it a little longer.



-Cut two pieces 1 2/3 yards each for the Cuddle Bug body. You'll basically be assembling two blankets and then joining them.
-About  15 inches down from the top of each body piece, cut 2 circles 10 inches in diameter. See the diagram above for placement. The sleeve holes are skewed off center because you'll eventually join the pair of blanket pieces together along the edge 7 inches away from each hole. This way, two people can sit side by side and still have plenty on each side to tuck around them.
-Cut two 25-inch long pieces along the grain.
-Cut the 25-inch in half lengthwise, so you have four sleeve pieces which are each 25" by approx. 30"

-Finally, cut two rectangles 8.5 by 11 inches. These will be made into pockets for the front of the Cuddle Bug for stashing remotes, smartphones or even snacks (I'm not going to judge).

Most fleece has a funky distorted selvage edge -- just trim that right off. I tie mine into little bundles for the cats to play with:



-With the right side up, fold down about 1 inch at the top of the pocket. Sew along all edges 3/8 inch from the edge, leaving the folded edge unstitched.


-Flip your fold to tuck in the seam allowance and stitch close to the raw edge to form the top of the pocket. The stitching around the edges of the sides and bottom of the pocket will help you turn the raw edges under without entering the danger zone of pressing fleece -- the stitching sits at the fold line.


- Center the pocket piece between the two arm holes and stitch around the sides and bottom. I set mine about 10 inches down from the arm holes, but if you want your pocket to sit further up the chest rather than in the lap, you can of course move it. I stitched first at 1/8 inch from the folded edge, and then a second time at 1/4 inch from the edge. Then I added a vertical stitch to break the big pocket into two smaller sections.


-Fold each sleeve in half lengthwise, and stitch closed along long edge. 
-Sew the sleeves into the sleeve holes, orienting the seam towards the bottom and easing in as necessary. 
(Since fleece is so easy to work with, I don't even bother with pins or clips on this step - just go for it!)

-Once your sleeves are in place, it's time to join the two sections at the center. I like to stitch mine with one side overhanging the other a little, then I fold it flat and stitch the seam allowance down.



-If desired, finish the edges of the blanket body. I hemmed mine, but you can leave them unfinished, serge them, or fringe them.

I'm short (5'3") and my husband is 5'10" -- so you can see that this length won't fully cover his feet if we're stretched out, though it also won't trip us up when we stand. If you want a longer blanket for more coverage, be sure to factor that into your fabric allowance.

And now it's TV time!


Welcome, 2014: Getting Organized With a Pocket Curtain

January 5, 2014

Time for a little new year organization project! 

When we bought our house, I was so excited about my closet. It was much more spacious than what we had available in our apartment, and it has its own window. I thought it was so magical and huge that I would never be able to fill it. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Needless to say, I was having some sort of fever dream. My clothes never fit into that closet. And my organizational skills when it comes to closets are a little lacking, so things got out of hand in a hurry. Cut to four years later, and my very sweet husband is spending a couple of week's worth of free time helping me get a handle on the situation. In December, we took everything out and put in new shelving and things improved dramatically. 

But still, not everything fit. AND I had never covered the window. So, I decided to combine my need for a window treatment and my need for additional storage all in the same project. Time for a pocket curtain!

This curtain is super simple -- all you need is a couple of yards of fleece and a couple of yards of a cotton print. (You can, of course, make it with more sophisticated fabric choices, but I wanted to keep things fun and be able to throw my curtain in the wash.)

I started by measuring the window, and decided to make my curtain 32x58 inches. So I first cut my fleece to that size, adding about 8 inches to the top to create my curtain rod casing later.

Next, I decided on my pocket depth and opted for about 8 inches. I cut 5 strips of the cotton print that were 9x 42 inches, using the full width of my fabric for the length. 

To prep my pocket fabric, I first ironed in a narrow double fold at the top edged and stitched it for each of the five strips.

Next, I had to figure out how many separate pockets I wanted to create along each strip. I landed at 5, so I divided 32 by 5 and got 6.4. 

At the bottom edge of my fleece, I marked every 6.4 inches with a sharpie. (You can see my cutting is not the least bit straight. I'll fix it later.)


Then I measured up 12 inches from the bottom and drew a line across the fleece fabric, and marked the same places 6.4 inches apart. I made a total of 5 placement markings for my pockets, including the very bottom edge.

This photo shows one set of my markings after the pocket segment below it has been attached:


Next, I marked the pocket fabric. Because I am using a busy print (I am in love with the movie "Frozen"!), I marked right on it with my sharpie. But if you have a more subtle fabric, you might want to opt for a fabric marker so it's not permanent.

I divided the length of the pocket pieces by 5, and marked the tops and the bottoms at equidistant points.

Next, I lined up the marks on my pocket fabric to the marks on my fleece and sewed vertical lines from the top to the bottom at each mark.


Then I folded the extra fabric of each pocket into pleats, and stitched all along the bottom edge of the pocket fabric.

Here's how the whole thing looks with pockets in place before I covered the raw edges:

3a-Pocket-Curtain.jpgOnce I shooed the cat off of my curtain and got back to the sewing room, I set about adding strips along the bottom edges of the pockets. Here's a little tip for those times when you're dealing with large pieces of fabric: Roll the section that has to sit to the right of the needle into a tube. It makes things so much easier than letting it bunch up over there. 

4a-Pocket-Curtain.jpgI cut 1.5-inch strips along the grain of my cotton print to use as both a cover-up for the raw edges of the pockets, and also to add some extra stability to the curtain. Because the fleece I chose is very stretchy, these strips keep things from getting super wonky.

First I ironed one edge of my strips, turning down about 3/16 of an inch. Then I matched the raw edge of the strip to the raw edge at the bottom of a pocket section and stitched about 1/4 inch from the raw edges. I use a medium-long stitch length anytime I was stitching across the stretchy width of the fleece because it helps keep the fleece from stretching out of shape.

Then I folded my strip down so it would cover the raw edges, and stitched close to the fold. 

Lastly, I stitch close to the ironed fold to encase all my raw edges and make things neat and tidy.


Here's a section of pocket with the strip applied at the bottom:

6-Pocket-Curtain.jpgI used this method to finish off the top four of my five pocket sections. I bound the bottom edge of the curtain, including the pocket edges. I also bound the sides. I used strips cut on the straight-of-grain for my binding, but I applied it just as you would bias tape.

Then I tested the length and made a rod casing by simply folding over my fabric at the top and stitching it. (I made two lines of stitching for durability -- I have rambunctious animals in my house!)

Here is the curtain hung in place, both empty and filled:


Mine is home to leggings and sports bras, but you could easily organize T-shirts, pajamas, stuffed animals, shoes -- anything that can fit in the pockets! These work great for kids rooms, and with more grown-up home dec fabrics, they can easily move into other areas of the house. You can further refine the look by coordinating your fabrics with new drapery hardware. A more utilitarian version can also organize hats, scarves and gloves in the mud room. 

So, bring on 2014! I've got space in my closet!

Product of the Month: Drapery Pleat Tape

December 18, 2013



The joy of home decor is that there are so many short cuts, tools and cool notions that make interesting details a piece of cake to pull off. This can come in the form of hem tape, roman shade ring tape or giant plastic grommets that install without a press. One of my favorites is pleat tape. It is a wonderful multi tool that gives a professional look without a lot of work. Pleat tape can help give a professional finish at the top of draperies, can make pleating easy and includes a slot for metal hooks that the drapes hang from. It is suprisingly easy to work with. All you need is enough tape to go across the top of each curtain panel. Be sure to order a bit extra because you want to start the tape the same distance from the first pleat on all curtain panels. 

To apply your tape hem the sides of each curtain panel and fold down the top edge of the curtain. You don't need to double fold the top edge since any raw edges will be under the pleat tape. Pin the pleat tape in place on your curtain panel and sew along the stitch lines provided on the top. You will notice these lines are in a contrasting thread on the tape. This will ensure that you do not sew on the cord used to pull up your pleats or on the pockets the metal hanging hooks sit in. Once your pleat tape is securely stitched in place gently pull the cords in the pleat tape with even pressure. These cords work like pulling the bobbin threads to create gathers. The pleat tape and the weight of the fabric make it thick so you may need to help each pleat to slide along the cord. Once you have all your pleats in place and looking nice, knot off your cord. You can stitch parallel to these cords at each end to secure them but do not cut them off. Should you even wish to let down the pleats for cleaning you can pick out your stitches and then unknot the cords. This is very helpful for drycleaning. 

Using pleat tape can save hours of measureing, pinning and stitching and give a quality, professional finish everytime. I recommend it for every room. Even if you do not pleat the drapes, the tape helps to stablize the top of drapes for a clean look and an easy way to hang your drapes. 

Stitched Embossed Vinyl

December 4, 2013

Stitched Embossed Vinyl

This tutorial uses my previous post, Man Corner: Recovering vinyl bar stools, as a foundation. I wanted to give my husband something special for Christmas but this method can easily be applied to vinyl tablet cover, a vinyl clutch, footstools, headboards or even vinyl stocking cuffs for an edgy look. As soon as I finished my first bar stool which was to sit behind his counter at his motorcycle shop I thought how great it would be to cover another stool with his logo to sit on the other side of the counter for customers. However, I didn't want to just stitch it and be done; I wanted to stitching to really stand out and have an embossed appearance. To change it up for a more classic look try white vinyl with black stitching, for something more casual try a tone on tone scheme with turquoise vinyl and thicker, heavy weight thread for kitchen stools. I used a dark grey heavy weight thread. I considered black but I wanted the logo to be noticed but white was too high constrast (also it was going to a motorcycle shop which isn't the best place for white).

Continue reading Stitched Embossed Vinyl.

Product of the Month: Nu-Foam Bumper Pads

November 21, 2013

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If you haven't yet checked out the new selection of pillows, pads and stuffing that has in stock than you are sorely denying your stash and missing out. My favorite new products are the Nu-Foam Bumper Pads. I recently had a chance to work with them when I created some crib bedding in bright colors from some Amy Butler and Premier Print Fabrics. A few years ago when I had my first born I created some bumpers from poly fill stuffing and the results was great and did the job but it was nothing on the professional look and feel that I achieved with the Nu-Foam pads. Plus since the pads are pre-cut and all set to go I didn't have to measure or cut which saved a few hours at the least and I was confident that everything would all measure up. Couple that with the great Sew-4-Home tutorial that I used and it was a home run. I did modifiy the pattern just a touch by swapping the flat piping in for the large piping and I left my turn/stuffing gap for the bottom of the bumper pad not the side as suggested to hide the seam more but the results were still gorgeous. The bumper pads were a piece of cake to work with as well. I rounded the corners just as in the tutorial and just cut the pads with a regular 60mm rotary cutter and it cut fine.

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I can recommend this product as a great beginner project because it is so simple and the results are very encouraging. It is hard not to get great results with Nu-Foam Bumper Pads. They are actually a thick batting, not foam, which means you do not need to add batting to get a soft, smooth result. Any irregularities in cutting disappear and the result is very professional. These pads would also work well as small window seat cushions, built-in eating area back cushions or for those Pinterest nap mats

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