Saturday, March 24, 2012

$150 Sewing Room Makeover

Here it is at long last, my overhauled sewing room!

I'm hesitant to say my makeover is complete, because, knowing myself, there will be new elements popping up every now and then. For example, I currently have a craft table in the works, and I have some vague plans for vases to put on my shelves. But, it is finished enough for me to finally be able to use this space efficiently and feel like everything is in order.

I don't have any before pictures of this room, because I didn't actually have a sewing room before. In fact, this is the first time since I moved out on my own six years ago that I have a designated sewing/craft room. Before this makeover, all of my sewing and crafting supplies were stashed in closets and boxes here and there, with just my machine set up in a corner of a room.

Let me show you all of the details of my new space one at a time. I'll just start on one wall and move around the room.

Here is my shelving and storage unit.

I've seen cube storage popping up all over the place, and liked the idea for my room. However, at $15-$25 per storage cube or basket, it wasn't a feasible option for me. For a while I toyed with the idea of sewing my own fabric boxes, and was a little overwhelmed at the thought of how long that would take. Then my husband suggested I get some of these paper storage boxes from Walmart.

At $5 for 3 boxes, this option was much more in my price range, but I hated how ugly they were. My hubby asked why I didn't just paint them. I decided to give it a try, and spent a couple of days painting all of these boxes with glossy acrylic paint. I spent somewhere between $12 and $15 on the paint, and ended up using three packages of the boxes, bringing my total cost to about $30. That would have bought me two of the other boxes, at best.
When the boxes were painted, I attached some ribbon to the lids with hot glue, to serve both as decoration and to hold a tag labeled with the box contents. I spent about $8 on four spools of ribbon, some of which was used in other projects you will see later in the post.

Boxes: $15
Paint: $15
Ribbon: $8

Total so far: $38

Here are the boxes in progress.

This picture gives you only a small idea of the mess I was trying to organize.
When the ribbons were attached and I figured out what I wanted in each box, I tied on these cute little bottle cap tags. For a tutorial on making these, click here. Everything I bought to make the tags was on sale for half off, which brought my total cost for that project to about $5.

Tags: $5

Total so far: $43

After deciding to use cube storage, I had been on the lookout for some sort of shelving unit. I knew my husband could make one, but it would be easier, and probably cheaper, to find something used. We had looked at a couple of thrift stores and on Craigslist, and hadn't found anything yet, but we also hadn't been super serious about looking. Then, while we were helping some friends move, their new neighbors came up to us. They said the previous tenants in their rental home (which was right next door to our friends' new house) had abandoned the place and left everything behind, and that we were welcome to take anything we wanted. We walked through the place and I immediately spotted this shelving unit, knowing it would be perfect for my sewing room.

Shelves: $0

Total so far: Still $43

The unit was very dirty and had a few scratches on it, but it was free, and it's a nice, solid piece. After scrubbing it clean, I applied a coat of black paint and some varnish, making it look pretty nice and new.

Paint: $20
Varnish: $15
Not bad for a whole shelving unit!

Total so far: $78

Inside the unit, in addition to the boxes I painted, are some smaller boxes.

The clear, flat boxes, which fit so perfectly into this awkward 2-inch shelf, are also perfect for holding the numerous small supplies I need for crafting. They are full of beads, buttons, bobbins, and other small things that don't necessarily start with the letter 'b'. Even better, they came free with a tool box my husband bought, and he gave them to me, thinking I could use them more than he could.

The teal polka dot boxes were a Target clearance find. They are nice sturdy little boxes, fit well in this other small shelf space, and I loved them as soon as I saw them. I did not, however, love the price. Even on clearance, they were $10 a piece. To me, that's not really a clearance price for an item like this, and as soon as I saw that I almost put them back on the shelf. Then I remembered, though, that I had recently acquired a $20 Target gift card, meaning I could actually get these boxes for free. So I did. One holds ribbon and the other holds floppy disks which have embroidery designs on them. The size is exactly right.

Clear plastic boxes: $0
Teal polka dot boxes: $0

Total so far: Still $78

Sitting on top of the shelves are a couple of little frames that match the rest of my decor.

The one on the left was on sale at Hobby Lobby for $3.50, and the one on the right was on clearance at Kohls for $1.39! It was already blue on the outside, with the black and white flowers in the middle. However, when I got it home, I found that the blues clashed pretty badly. No problem, I just quickly painted over it with some paint left over from the boxes. Less than $5 for two cute little accent pieces.

Damask frame: $3.50
Blue frame: $1.50 (we'll round up for convenience's sake)

Total so far:  $83

Moving to the next wall, here is the rest of my room.

The craft table I am in the process of getting is going to go to the right of the sewing machine, and I am always on the lookout for a better sewing table, but this is what I have for now, and it works.

The "Create" sign and bulletin board above the machine were two things that I made specifically for this room. You can find the tutorial for the sign here, and for the inspiration board here.

Create sign: about $15 for all supplies
Inspiration Board: about $20 for all supplies

Total so far:  $118

Underneath these is my little sewing area.

The bucket sitting on the table and the canister to the right of the machine were both Target clearance finds. They're both the exact same color as the little teal boxes from above, but these were more reasonably priced clearance items, with the canister costing $4 and the bucket costing $3. At first, I wasn't sure what to do with the bucket, but it matched my room colors and for such a good price I knew I could find a purpose for it. I decided to use it to hold projects that are in-process. That way they are not scattered all over my table, but yet they are easily accessible. The canister is perfect for holding scissors, tape measures, seam rippers, etc.--all those little tools that I need to have on hand when I sew.

Bucket: $3
Canister: $4
Trash can: $5
Table: $0 (on hand)
Chair: $0 (on hand)

Total so far:  $130

The chair is an antique sewing chair given to me by a friend, and I made this cushion from fabric I already had on hand. For the story about the chair and a tutorial on making the cushion, click here.

Cushion: $0

Total so far: Still $130

To the right of the sewing machine hangs this wall hanging, which I also made specifically for this room.

For the tutorial on this project, click here. Most of this was made from materials already on hand, so I only spent about $5 on the rest of the materials. I did, however, also buy all of the embroidery designs used in the project for about $15, bringing the total cost of this project to $20.

Wall hanging materials: $5
Embroidery designs: $15

Grand Total: $150

So there you have it. My new sewing room, complete with plenty of storage and cute decorations, all for $150.

It's so neat and inviting; I can hardly wait to start creating in this new space!

Chair Cushion

In the process of overhauling my sewing room, I started yet another unplanned project that just randomly inspired me.
A very dear friend of mine, my mother by heart, gave me this beautiful sewing chair as a wedding present.

This chair belonged to my friend's grandmother, and was a family heirloom. My friend often told me that I reminded her of her grandmother with all of my sewing and creating. When I would tell her about a new project I was thinking of, or show her something I had just made, she would say that I "had an eye for things" just like her grandmother, and that the way I could look at something and then create my own version was another quality we shared. I know my friend had a very special relationship with her grandmother, so I felt blessed and honored when she decided to pass the sewing chair on to me.

I knew in my sewing room overhaul that this chair would definitely have a prominent place in my new room. As I finished this wall hanging, I suddenly knew what to do with the extra fabric from the project. I decided to make a cushion for this chair.

To be honest, I had no clue what I was doing. I have never made anything like this before, and I didn't have any pattern except for the picture in my head. I told myself that if the project didn't work, it was no big deal, because I was just using fabric I already had, so I wouldn't be out any money.

I started by laying the fabric out on the chair and cutting a rough outline, leaving myself plenty of room for error. Then I marked what would be the center of the cushion and cut half of it out carefully, following the general outline of the chair seat and leaving myself about an inch extra on the sides. Next, I folded the fabric down the center line and cut the other half to match.

It seemed to look pretty good, as far as I could tell, so I cut out the second piece just like it.
I love the damask fabric, and how it will tie in with the wall hanging, but I thought it needed something more. I decided a pop of the blue color I'm using in the room would set it off nicely.
I took scraps of blue fabric, also left from the wall hanging, and made my own cording to go around the edge of the cushion, as well as some seam binding to use as ties.
People get overwhelmed when they hear things like that--that I created my own cording and seam binding. Really, it's very, very easy. In fact, it's so quick and easy that I forgot to take step-by-step pictures of the process, and can only show you the finished product. :(

That's the cording on the left and the binding on the right. Basically, all I did was cut strips of fabric on the bias that were about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. I don't even know the exact measurement, because I just grabbed a scrap of wood from the garage that looked like the right width to me and used it as my guide. The width isn't that critical, though, especially for cording. The important thing is that it is cut on the bias, because that gives the cording or binding the flexibility it needs to go around curves.

For the cording, all you do is fold the strip in half and run the cord inside along the folded edge, basting the raw edges together.

The binding just requires an iron. I wanted double-fold binding, so I folded the whole strip in half and pressed it, and then opened it up and folded both of the raw edges to the press line and pressed it again. At this point you have a flat piece with the two edges folded in to meet in the middle. Then, keeping the raw edges inside, you simply fold on your first press line--the one that does down the center of the whole thing, and touch up the pressing a bit. I then stitched the edges closed so I basically had a tube of fabric. For this project you could just put the right sides together, seam it, and turn it to get a long skinny tube. I just hate turning long skinny tubes, so I chose this method.

I basted the cording around the edge of one of the pieces of fabric. Then I laid the fabric on the chair and figured out where I needed to place my seam binding ties so that they would line up with one of the chair rungs. I also basted these in place.

Next, I took the other side of the cushion and pinned it to the first piece, then stitched around it, leaving a small opening to turn. The trickiest part of this is sewing close enough to the cording; I just feel with my fingers where the cording is and go a little slower than usual.
If I had decided to stuff the cushion with polyfil or something similar, I would have turned it at this point. However, I didn't have polyfil, but I had tons of quilt batting on hand, so I wanted to use that. I pinned four layers of quilt batting to the cushion and stitched around it. I didn't cut the batting to the shape when I pinned it, I just pinned a large square. Dealing with trying to keep all those edges together just didn't sound fun. After I stitched it, I trimmed the batting close to the seam line, turned the whole thing inside out, and slipstitched the opening closed.
To finish it off, I sewed a blue button in the center, on both sides of the cushion. I sewed them together tightly, so that the cushion would "bubble" up around it a little bit and give it that cushion-y look.

Somehow, even though I didn't really know what I was doing, it worked out and fits my special chair perfectly. :) It looks beautiful in my new room.

Bottle Cap Push Pins

This one is for my hubby. As I was creating the bottle cap push pins for my Inspiration Board, I started thinking about how cool it would be to make some push pins out of my husband's collection of bottle caps. I thought it would look awesome in his man cave or in the garage.

Note: if you don't have bottle caps, or don't feel like waiting and saving them up, you can get some cool ones here:

I dumped out all of the caps and sorted through them.

As I sorted them, I realized I had automatically made them into a bar graph, instead of just piling them together. Can we say "teacher's instinct"? :)

I decided to just use one of each type that he had, because I figured that would be enough push pins to get him started. I picked the ones that were the least dented and scratched up.
I glued pushpins to the back of the caps with hot glue. Such a quick little project. I was able to do this while also working on another project. While the embroidery designs were stitching out for my wall hanging, I was happily gluing away.

Ta-da! A nice manly way to display the bottle cap collection and serve a useful purpose.

My husband really likes it, too--although he said he may get rid of the pins from my "girly" drinks like Smirnoff, lol!

Note: while my bottle cap pins have held up fine so far, hubby has managed to break two of his already. I can quickly and easily re-glue them, but I'm planning to experiment with some different types of glue. I will probably try super glue and Gorilla glue and let you all know how it goes.

Sewing Room Wall Hanging

Here is the new wall hanging I have up in my sewing room. I think it's rather cute, and I know my grandma will be proud because it is the closest I have come to making a quilt in, oh, I don't know--ever? My grandma is a quilter...and apparel artist, and general crafter, etc. She is the one that taught me to sew and I'm sure she is the one who passed down the love of creating to me.
Somehow, though, while I picked up all of the rest of it, I have not picked up the quilting gene. Quilting is frustrating to me. Don't ask me why; it makes no sense. I can sew or alter a wedding gown with no problem, but for some reason the fussiness of quilting drives me up a wall. This last project may have changed some of that, though, because as I was sewing this, I started thinking what a cute bedspread it would make, and how I could totally make something like that. I'm pleased with how this turned out, so only time will tell if it has helped change my feelings toward quilting.


Sometimes I am a very impulsive person, especially when it comes to crafting. I was searching for embroidery designs for a shirt when I stumbled across this design pack. The little filigree on the designs goes perfectly with the filigree on my black-and-white ribbons and the bottle cap push-pins in my sewing room, which I am in the process of overhauling. Suddenly all thoughts of the shirt I was planning to make were pushed to the back of my mind, and I was planning what I could do with these cute new designs. I immediately envisioned a wall hanging, and before I knew it the designs were downloaded and I was digging through my fabric.

I dug out the scraps of fabric left from my Inspiration Board, knowing it would be perfect for this project and would also help tie elements of my new room together. I like the uniformity that happens when the same fabric or design appears in multiple places. I kept digging and just happened to find some fabric I didn't even remember I had, in the perfect shade of blue.

So I cut out some squares of each one, and embroidered my designs. That was the most time-consuming part of this project, although it was not difficult. The machine just does its own thing while I do mine. Specifically, I was working on this project, because it was something easy and I could put it down quickly to go change thread colors.
When the designs had all stitched out, I sewed the squares together.

At this point I had to make a run to the store, because I did not have the right fabric for the border or the backing. As I thought about what I had so far, I decided that the wall hanging "needed something", so I also picked up some narrow black ribbon. I stitched the ribbon down the seam lines.

I really think the ribbon added definition and helped the whole piece to "pop".
Then I sewed the border on.

I love the damask design of the border combined with the filigree on the designs. I am all about damask right now! You can get similar fabric here:

After the border was on, I pinned on a layer of quilt batting, and then sewed on the backing, which I cut from the same fabric as the border. I didn't do any fancy binding; I just sewed around the whole thing, leaving a small opening to turn. Then I turned it inside out, slip-stitched the opening closed, and topstitched around the edges. To quilt it together, I merely stitched over my ribbons again, right down the seam line.

So there you have it, my finished wall hanging. I love that I was mostly able to complete this project with fabric I already had on hand. And it just looks oh-so-cute hanging in my new sewing room.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Bottle Cap Tags

Here's a mini-project I completed today as a part of my spring break sewing room makeover. Bottle cap tags for my new storage boxes!


This was another Hobby Lobby inspiration. I love that store! I stopped by looking for some cute way to label my boxes, but I didn't really have any particular idea in mind. I just knew I wanted it to be cute, and that I would know it when I saw it. So I wandered around the store for a while looking at different options, when I again saw the adorable bottle caps I bought the other day to make pushpins out of for my inspiration board. I suddenly became obsessed with the idea of a bottle cap tag to label my boxes, and was trying to figure out how to make it become a reality. I wanted something that could hang off of a ribbon so that I could easily interchange it if need be, which presented a bit of a problem with the bottle caps. I headed to the jewelry making aisle to see about getting some sort of ring to attach to the caps when I found these:

These were perfect for making into tags! I snatched them up and grabbed a couple pieces of scrapbook paper in my decor colors, along with these little clear adhesive circles that were made by the bottle cap company to be the same size as the caps.

Using one of the clear circles as an outline, I cut some circles out of the scrapbook paper. Then I wrote the box contents using a fine point Sharpie, and glued each circle into a bottle cap. I love the little detail that the patterned paper gives the tags.

Finally, I put the little clear plastic stickers over the top. These really finished the tags off nicely and gave them a more professional look.

It's a little difficult to tell in the picture, but the tag on the left just has the paper, and the tag on the right has the clear plastic "bubble" on top. In person you can tell a huge difference!

Here are all of my completed tags...

...and here they are on my storage boxes.

Don't look too closely at the background of this picture or you will see that my room is still a bit of a mess, although it is almost there! :)

I am all about the details, and I am currently obsessed with the fact that I have bottle caps on my inspiration board and as labels for my boxes. It's such a fun little detail that was not planned out, but was simply the result of random inspiration. I'm thrilled with how my sewing room is coming together!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Inspiration Board

Here is another spring break project I've completed--what I'm calling my inspiration board.

The idea is to hang fabric swatches, ribbon, paint chips--whatever happens to inspire me for a new project. It includes a pencil cup and a notepad for sketching down ideas, and also little containers with clear windows for holding beads, buttons, and other knick-knacks. I hung it above my sewing machine so that I could also use it to hang pattern directions and to hold notions from my current project.

I found the original idea for this board on Pinterest, but of course I had to add my own touches. Let me walk you through my process.

Here's a list of my supplies. A bulletin board, fabric, Velcro, pencil holder, containers with clear lids, and decorative bottle caps. Not shown are some pushpins, ribbon, and a notepad.

First, I removed the frame from the bulletin board so I could cover the cork with fabric. This was not an easy task. My husband ended up having to use a hammer and screwdriver to beat the thing apart. I would highly recommend using just a plain corkboard without a frame, or buying one with a removable frame. I just happened to have this on hand and decided to make it work--which it did, but it took way more time and effort than necessary.

Anyway, I stretched the fabric over the board and glued it around the edges. I would also recommend spreading a thin amount of glue over the entire surface of the board before placing the fabric on, something else I failed to do. Hindsight and all that.

Here's the view from the back...

...and here's how it looks from the front:

So nice and smooth.
A note on the fabric: I intentionally picked something very subtle with a small pattern. I wanted some design to it, but I also did not want it to distract from any swatches I would be hanging on it. A fabric with bright, bold flowers, for example, would really throw off the look of some delicate lace. I didn't want my inspiration board to end up hindering my design process!

After attaching the fabric, my hubby and I pounded and glued the frame back on, but, as you're going to be smarter than me and not have to go through that process, I will spare you the details.

Now I was ready to add all of my little elements. I had found these super cute bottle caps at Hobby Lobby and fell in love with them. I wasn't sure at first how to use them, but ended up deciding to try using them to make decorative push pins. It worked so well, and was very easy. I simply adhered a pushpin to the back of each bottle cap with a dab of hot glue.

So cute. I plan to take some of my husband's old beer bottle caps and make them into pushpins to use on the bulletin board in his garage. Aah, the projects never end. One project just ends up inspiring more! (Update: Check out this post on the beer bottle cap pushpins!)

Next, I got the little containers ready. I didn't want to just glue them onto the fabric because they were going on sideways, and trying to put little pieces in a sideways container that was affixed to a board sounded like a bad plan. So I put some Velcro on the board and on the containers.

This way they can hang up there and I can see what I have, but they are easy to take down to fill or empty.

I did attach the pencil cup with a good amount of hot glue, because I thought the weight of it when filled with pencils would be too much for the Velcro. How adorable is this with its little ribbon? The ribbon on this project was actually an afterthought, but I happened to come across it at Walmart and saw how it matched my bottle caps perfectly. I love how it ended up tying everything together!

Finally, I put some more Velcro on the board to use with the notepad. The original idea I saw showed a little notepad just stuck in the pencil cup, but I wanted mine more accessible. I liked the idea of making a sketch and leaving it posted, so that I could see it and quickly jot something else down if I needed to. Yes, I could just tear that page out of the pad and pin it up, but this way I don't end up with endless loose papers.

So there you have it, my inspiration board with all of its handy little details! It is very functional, but also looks fantastic!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Here's one of my latest projects that is now hanging in my sewing/craft room:

This was one of those projects that are the result of random, sudden inspiration. I was shopping at Target and saw this wall hanging:

I thought that would be a cute concept for my sewing room. Suddenly my craft light-bulb went off in my head and I started thinking about how I could make it. The next thing I knew, I was at Hobby Lobby buying everything I needed to make my own personalized, 3D version of this idea.

I started with a piece of 4" x 12" mounted canvas. I had seen on Pinterest recently that if you stick decals on canvas and paint over them, you will be left with a white outline of the design. I thought it would be cute to have my clothesline hanging from some tree branches, so I got some tree branch decals and painted over them.

It was a great idea in theory, but it didn't work. Whether it was because my decals were too detailed, or because I wasn't careful enough with the painting, I'm not sure. I really think the decals just didn't adhere well to the canvas, which is why the paint seeped under the edges. However, it did leave me enough of an outline to follow and paint the branches by hand. It ended up working well for that, but if you're not confident with a small paintbrush, I wouldn't bother trying the decal method.

Next I got out my little wooden letters and painted them.

By this time my canvas was dry. I put a silver thumbtack on each branch, over by the very edge where I could stick it into the wooden frame.

I only pushed them about halfway down, and then wrapped some jewelry wire around each one. Then I pushed the tack the remainder of the way into the frame.

After that, I hung the mini clothespins on the wire. I opted not to paint the clothespins, because I liked the realistic look of their natural color, but I think it would be pretty if they were painted, too. I didn't glue them at this point, because I wanted to be able to arrange them after the letters were glued on. I thought about gluing the letters to the pins first, but realized that would make it more difficult to then clip the pins onto the wire.

I clipped the letters each into their own clothespins, securing with hot glue. I purposefully made them hang in different directions instead of keeping them all perfectly straight. This was more in keeping with my original design inspiration, and seemed more fitting for items hanging from a clothesline.

I tried hanging the finished project at this point, but my free-moving letters ended up all bunching together at the bottom of the wire. So I arranged the letters at the distance apart I wanted them to be and used a dab of hot glue to affix the clothespins to the canvas.

And that was that! My cute and simple project was ready to hang in my sewing room!

Linking up with Dear Creative's Inspiration Spotlight!