Category: DIY

New Life for Old Steps

It was March when we put our purchase offer in on our new old house. This means we really had no idea what our yard would look like since it was covered in snow. We did know that there was a walkway with steps leading up from the street…however they were covered in ice so we figured we would learn more later.

Well later came and it was obvious that these concrete steps had seen better days.


*Note this picture was taken after quite a bit of cleaning… the bottom step was a surprise to us since it was covered in an inch and a half of dirt and grass…

Well after cleaning some more and a few youtube videos we were off to pick-up some concrete to help these last a little while longer.

100 + lbs of cement-all later this is what we have


I know it is not perfect but I am happy with the results. I had neighbors walking by to ask if I was Italian. Italian by osmosis but I am sure it was the Irish mason father of mine that pushed me to give it a try.

We have some other steps in the back that need some love but I am brainstorming a different type of facelift… maybe some type of tile or painted design over the existing steps? Any ideas?


Everyday I’m Bustlin’

Seriously I have been trying to update but WordPress just does not agree with me all of the time. Is it firefox maybe?

Anyway, last time we chatted I had made my pseudo victorian corset for the upcoming festivities… which happened to be today!

So in a few short weeks I had to make my bustle cage plus the actual outfit… I went sans petticoat (this is a judgement free zone so please don’t be shocked.)


bustle cage check! Super easy and took half an hour! pretty much just made a large trapezoid and sewed channels – popped in more cable ties and added ribbon to tie the edges together (making rounded shape.) Added a ruffle and a waist band and called it a day.

pretty sure a proper victorian lady would also wear gym shorts…

I looked at a lot of fashion plates pictures trying to come up with a design for my outfit. I love the more tailored look of the late bustle period so I aimed for something like that.



I am much shorter than my dress form so the proportions are off but you get the idea. It was a new idea for me to flat-line rather than bag-line the jacket. The fabric was stretchy so flat-lining would give it more of the body I wanted, thankfully I thought of the easiest/quickest way to flat-line while giving me the look I wanted – thank you fusible black woven interfacing.
My facings were just quickly cut from scraps and I slap-dashed the rest of the jacket together. Historically it should have been boned in a few places but I just added boning on the side seams (whipped under the seam allowance.)

I also love playing with the subtle stripes!


In conclusion – I had a super fabulous time playing dress up and making this outfit. I did kind of a slap-dash job near the end but I didn’t have to go naked to the party and it was my first shot a historic costume. I did do a lot of research for inspiration and trying to plan out seam lines but obviously this was also loosely based on history, we will just call it my interpretation.

Let’s Make a Match! Pattern match that is…

First off I would like to wish you a Happy Saturday! I have been looking forward to this weekend for a long time. Why? Sometimes you need a weekend without anywhere to be or anything to do (except projects of course.)

I wanted to share another thrift store barrel chair update – this project has actually been going very fast…when I work on it that is. I probably could have done the whole thing over a weekend but I guess I am on the 3 month plan?

So I have decided to pseudo slip cover then upholster the chair, this was how it was originally done anyway. I found this fabulous silver quilted curtain panel at BB&B a while ago that was marked down to $6 for this tiny like stain (stain that washed right out.)

*If you are trying to find fabric never underestimate the power of premade items, it may end up cheaper than any length of fabric. Think curtain panels, shower curtains, table cloths, etc.

My panel was 120″ long… you can’t find nice fabric for under $2 a yard (or if you can please share your secret!)

Anyway silver pattern means that cutting out my pieces will be a little trickier.

1. I have to be aware of the pattern, or your eyes will alert you to something very wrong when yo are all done.

2. I have to cut all my pieces in the same direction (even if there was no pattern, any kind of shiny fabric has a “nap” and if you change the direction of your pieces the you might as well have you used 2 different colors of fabric)

This applies if you are making clothing as well – so general fabric matching tips!

Anyway I had my pattern pieces laid out and I found where the widest section of the chair was (closer to the top) and drew a line across my pieces at this spot. This is where you want your pattern to match. When I say match I don’t really care about what it looks like at the seams, you can’t have a perfect match to the actual motif if you have any shaped seams so don’t stress yourself out!

What really matters is that this line/point is on the same area of the motif  for each pattern piece Рvisually you will see your seams but there will be a continuous run horizontally of your pattern across this chosen point (and for the most part it will fall into place elsewhere.)

does that make sense? think if you had a striped fabric and the stripes were going horizontal – you would want your red stripe to match with the red stripe at the seam otherwise complete chaos would be unleashed on your eyeballs. Image

I know the motif on my fabric is a little hard to see but it was pretty easy, I could draw a straight line through the diamonds and match it with my straight line on my pattern pieces.

If you are working on clothing, again pick some of the most prominent areas to use as a standard match point such as your bust line or hips.

*I know I previously said not to worry about what happens to the motif at your seam but I lied, just don’t think you need to try to match one half of a flower with the other half (or whatever your fabric may look like.) I would however just keep an eye on the surroundings of your seam, you may have a large motif and it can look a little awkward if you end up with the same piece of the motif close together.¬† Practice Practice, and you will get it.

Twist it, Hit it, Bop it, Pin it

quick post for today. While I really should be cleaning… I wanted to take a moment to introduce you to the mighty upholstery twist pin. Image

These things are AMAZING to have if you have slipcovers. I originally picked them up from Joann’s years ago with the intention of getting a slipcover for my sad sad sad sofa. As with most things, I completely forgot I had these until this weekend.

I am in the process of reupholstering/slipcovering a chair. It is easiest to just leave the current fabric on only to find out I could not staple where I had intended to. Luckily I remembered these hiding in a drawer and they are holding everything in place just great. It just twists into the the layers of fabric and a cushion will hide the pins from view.

So if you are tired of a slipcover sliding around or find yourself with lacking staplability… try out these wonderful creations.

p.s. I will share the chair once it is done and we can discuss working with patterns and repeats.

The Good ol’ Standby


This morning while grabbing some fabric from my retired sewing room (attic), I discovered 2 things:

1. Our annual spring tenants, Doug and Lucy of the canadian geese variety have taken up their original nest from 2011 which happens to be right outside of my attic window (let’s hope the eggs hatch this year!)

and 2. My favorite sewing book was buried and hiding upstairs!

I love this sewing booklet from Simplicity Patterns – I got it from my mom but being from 1949 it probably belonged to my grandmother first.

I have a few basic sewing books (and many specialty) but by far the 87 pages of adorable illustrations is my go-to for most sewing needs. “Helpful Hints for Beginners and Experts” definitely sums up this book as it covers all the basics but leaves out some info that I feel has been lost in some modern publications.


While every sewing book has it’s place, I love the ease and chart-filledness of this one. What are your favorite sewing resources?

Sliding Thread Catcher v 1.7

If you missed me post from yesterday I made a thread catcher that was attached to my sewing table. However I quickly realized that there was a flaw and the bag would falI at an angle versus stay straight against the bottom of the table. Here is a quick fix but you can easily change the original idea to incorporate a large “U” wire that acts as the track and attaches across the front of the bag versus the back.


with a couple of safety pins, I added some more hanger wire across the front, side and connected it to the track wire by just wrapping under and over.


This made it sturdy enough that the back stays up with the track height and does not sag down.

Again if you are planning ahead you can always add a couple more tabs or a casing and have one longer “U” of wire that goes across the front rather than just the back.

Sliding Thread Catcher

So I have a bad habit of just leaving a pile of snipped threads near my sewing machine… generally they end up on the floor rather than a waste basket. I decided to make a thread catcher but I really didn’t want it to be in the way like many are. So I made this slide out one using screw eyes and a coat hanger attached to the underside of my table.


Fabric & Lining
*cut to 27″ x 9.5″ for body
* cut 2 pieces 2″ x 3″ for tabs
Wire (hanger)
Screw Eyes

*** when sewing lining, just sew the first and last 1″ or 2, this will leave a big enough opening to turn and sew you boning onImage
sewing the corners will create a rectangular shape at the bottom of the bag




ImageTurn the bag right side outImageImage

topstitch to keep your lining from pulling up






woohoo! Now that it is done, I realize that the bag flops partially down but that isn’t a problem. If you are looking for something that will stick straight out then you may want to make a casing or more tabs and attach the wire to the front and sides rather than the back.

One more piece of my fabric stash has been used!