the end, my friends

Well...today marks the end of this blog. I've been thinking about it for a while, and for a number of reasons have decided that this space seems to have run its course. Although it was almost always fun and I've learned a lot, it's time to move on. Cue the fanfare or whatever. :)

That being said, I'm not deserting the blog-world entirely, just shifting focus a bit and starting fresh. Which is why I'm delighted to share the news that my shiny, new blog is making it's debut today!

I hope if you've enjoyed this blog over the last few years or have bookmarked it at some point intending to read it but have never actually done so, that you'll join me over at....

I'm very excited about the new direction this blog will take and how it will be a better reflection of my life today.

I'll leave this space active for a couple months just in case, but after a while, I do plan on deleting it and thereby all the content as well. So if there was a particular post you were interested in, I'd suggest checking it out soon, or better yet, update your bookmarks and just join me over at the new space.

Happy Friday and happy blogging! I look forward to sharing more with you at Teaspoon, Thimble & Trowel.


no-sew ottoman upgrade

Hi there friends!
Back in September when I was out of commission, a rather unwanted project presented itself. It was almost comical - two days after surgery on both hands which would put me out of crafting commission for a good long time, the fabric on the top of our ottoman gave out. It took less than a week for one small tear to extend the entire width of the surface. It looked awful and I hadn't even gotten my bandages off yet!

True to form, we threw a blanket over the top and left it that way for a good long time, 5 months apparently!

However, I finally got tired of the cover up last week and decided to pull out my tools and to get crafting again. The framework was still very sturdy so I had a feeling I could revamp it pretty affordably. What I have to work with:
Naturally, I started by somewhat-wildly ripping the whole thing apart. It took a lot of elbow grease to get all the staples out, but all in all, it wasn't terrible.
Next, I stopped by JoAnn Fabrics to browse upholstery fabrics on sale. I found a nice, thick woven material with just enough texture and color variation to be a decent cover up for stains. I bought 2.5 yards at $7/yd. Back home, I draped it all over the top to see where the excesses were (fabric looks much better in person, but a bit meh in pics).
I knew it would be too complicated to try to make a separate cushion and upholstered base so I figured I'd just make it all one big piece and ditch the dust ruffle-y bit from the original. Using spare strips of fabric, I strapped the cushion back to the original frame. (I got a good laugh thinking about the 5th Element. Multi-pass, anyone?)
Next, I make triple-layer strips of quilt batting to cover the wooden portion and also to create more of a cushioned seam between the actual cushion and the frame base. I then used strips of extra cover fabric to secure the new batting.
I flipped the cushion top-down onto the back side of my cover fabric and secured it underneath the framework. The corners were quite tricky but I went for a simple folded tuck. No picture because I forgot in trying to figure out the corners - oops. 

Next, I used a 10" upholstery needle to tuft the top with 4 buttons. It took a bit of figuring out but I hadn't done that before. Following another blogger, I secured the stitches around small rolls of extra fabric. 

During this step, I also stained and did a coat of polyurethane on the new feet - $5 ea at Lowe's. We didn't love the rolling feature and since the corner wood had built-in hardware, I decided to just swap them out for something more sturdy. (The straps and brown backing were left intact during the original deconstruction.)
Finally, flip it over and prop up your feet!
It's certainly not perfect - upholstery is not my calling - but Strider and I are both pleased with the upgrade and definitely with the price tag.

Cost of materials to upgrade = $45
Cost of new, similar ottomans from the original manufacturer = $350

Worth it, don't ya think?


DIY Birth Ball Cover

Recently, I've had a blast using one of my Christmas presents from Strider -- a birth ball! In truth, it's just an exercise ball, but for doulas, it's a magic birth tool. They're fabulous for everyone, but especially pregnant mamas. The only problem is that they are tricky to transport -- I've heard from more than one doula about experiences chasing them across hospital parking lots or down maternity hallways. With my prenatal appointments well underway, I can easily agree. YourDoulaBag.com makes a fabulous cover that can even be ordered with custom print fabric. However, as I am trying to keep my expenses to a minimum, I figured this was a great opportunity to use up some of my stash fabric. I found only one other tutorial but I wanted a slightly different style. So, for anyone else looking to make their own, here's how I went about it.

To start, I pulled out large piece of a green batik print that I got on clearance a few years ago, measuring around 85" x 44". (Note: the colors aren't as pretty in the pics as in person, it's actually a lovely deep green.) I didn't use a pattern or have exact measurements before starting this -- I figured I'd go large and just cut off excess as I figured out how to build the cover around the ball.
I placed the ball in the center and pinned it at the top to see how much excess I could trim from the sides.
Right-sides facing each other, I sewed the short sides with a sturdy seam (red and yellow together).
Next, I folded one of the open ends up by an inch and sewed it to create the casing for the drawstrings.
To make the drawstrings, I used long strips of another stash fabric to create one long piece (it ended up about 10' long but I could've probably done with 8.5' or so in the end). I did a double-fold similar to a bias strip for quilting. It started around 3" wide but was 3/4" once the double fold was done.
 I finished the edges by hand and then sunk the ends into the hem.
Putting a safety pin through one end, I slowly fed the drawstring through the casing. Once done, Strider and I had a good laugh about how it basically looked like a skirt we could've both fit in.
Next, I put the ball inside and gathered the string to see how much excess I could remove from the top. 
(Many thanks to my handsome Vanna White.)
I ended up removing around 5.5" of extra before sewing across that edge. I placed the ball back inside and then tried to see how to finish the top. Sidenote: I had a good laugh picturing it as a giant Yoda head - Strider didn't see it quite as humorously as I did
Next, I pinned the two corners to the center-top using a safety pin through all three layers.
Then, I made the strap using the same stash fabric as the drawstring - it ended up around 3.5" x 36".
To secure the strap to the cover, I doubled the ends over around 2" and stitched them down.
After a little trial & error modeling with Strider, I decided to attach the straps at 10" distance from the top center point. The teal circle is the safety pin holding Yoda's ears in place. The red dots are where I pinned down the strap...just in line with the pin after I took the picture.
I sewed the edges of the straps on in a square and then x-shape to really secure them. I finished the cover by hand-sewing the center top point (the safety pin with Yoda's ears). I also sewed a decorative button over it to cover the gather-point. Then it was ready to go!
 Once again, a thank you to my ever-patient and supportive husband! Note: I made the strap extra long so that I still have room to also carry my labor bag on the same arm.
Overall, I'm really happy with how it turned out. It look about 3.5 hours, but if you wanted to cut that down, you could use a thin rope instead of making the drawstring by hand. The bag is also a little larger than necessary, but I think that is beneficial as it gives room for me to pump the ball up more or to even go up a size if needed in the future (mine is a 65cm). Total cost = $0.00 ...my favorite!

Has anyone else made a cover from scratch?