Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pattern Haul: Simplicity on sale for 99 cents!

Say what you will about Jo-Ann (I've read the Yelp reviews, yikes!), the chain fabric store really throws down on the pattern sales.

Last time, it was Butterick for 99 cents, now it's Simplicity (through Monday, October 10th for the Columbus Day Sale).

And unlike the Butterick sale, I was determined to have no regrets-- I maxed out the 10-pattern limit with the following patterns:

  • Simplicity 2174
  • Simplicity 2180
  • Simplicity 2215
  • Simplicity 2282
  • Simplicity 2363 (Paging Mrs. Roper!)
  • Simplicity 2444
  • Simplicity 2702
  • Simplicity 2219
  • Simplicity 2588
  • Simplicity 4044 (Not pictured-- I only had space for nine patterns in my montage! It's one of the 1940s "retro" suit patterns.)

You know the drill, let me know if you're tried any of these and have any tips for me, and stay tuned for the dresses I actually make out of these. I'm a little worried about the Project Runway Patterns. They only go up to size 20 and my post-pregnancy bust is an embarrassing 45"!  I'll put those in the "way later" pile.

Next up on the pattern sale front: McCalls will be 99 cents at Jo-Ann October 13th through the 15th. And I've got a thrift haul to show you too.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pan Am costume: there's still time before Halloween!

I'd love to be a Pan Am gal for Halloween, but I'm not too sure I'd want to go the "sexy stewardess" route. Nope, as the mood board below indicates, I'm thinking more along the lines of "Christina Ricci jet-setting vintage bombshell" as seen on ABC's Pan Am.

Just like there was a vintage explosion on the Halloween following the debut of AMC's Mad Men, we're sure to see plenty of flight attendants this Halloween.

My sewing machine is still in storage because we're still on the ranch, but it's not too late for you to wear a Pan Am costume on my behalf! I've done some of the work for you, choosing easy-to-find patterns with pencil skirts and jackets (so you don't have to buy two separate patterns).

1. Simplicity 2154 - Obviously this "Simplicity Retro" pattern is from the right era, but the fit of the jacket is slightly off for the stewardess costume. It's not as tailored, and is looser around the hips. But made from the right fabric, it's sure to look authentic to the era.
2. Butterick 5147 - Has a pencil skirt and a fitted jacket, with the correct length of sleeves. But the collar is all wrong.
3. Butterick 3037 - Has the four buttons, just like the show, a close fit, and the perfect collar. The skirt and sleeves are too long, but that could easily be fixed. This is probably the pattern I would choose.
4. Royal Blue Suiting - $5.75/yd from Fashion Fabrics Club.
5. Pan Am Bag - These are all over the Internet thanks to the show, this one is $89 from Brookstone.

Don't forget the white gloves, retro-fab shoes, and pill box hat! Here's Threadbanger's tut on "How to Make a Pill Box Hat":

Have you made a Pan Am Halloween Costume? I'd love to see pictures and hear what pattern you used (if you used one).

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mood board: Robots in space boy's room

Here's a work in progress mood board for the boy's room, which I told you before started out as "Robots in Space". But the thrift store sold that robot/rocket fabric and now has these cool dino curtains....

I think the more important thing in the above mood board is the color pallette; reds, oranges, gradient blue and grays. It's something I'm pretty stuck on (which is why I stuck that Harry Potter poster in there even though he has nothing to do with either robots or space), and while the theme is fluid, the colors have stuck!

Now, if we can just get moved out before my 5-month-old becomes a teenager and starts actually wanting a say in his room.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How to: Cake Bunting

If you haven't seen the practice of decorating a cake with bunting instead of piping on icing, well then, you probably don't visit Pinterest. Or Odeedoh. Or every crafting, caking, kid-ing blog ever.

I know, I know, bunting has pretty much reached "Put a Bird on It" status.

But it's so darn easy, and looks so cute! Way easier then trying to-- and failing at-- fancy frosting.

You don't even really need a "Cake Bunting Tutorial";
  • I just typed up my message in Microsoft Word (making sure to hit the "tab" key at least twice between each letter)
  • Cut the letters out in triangle shapes, free-hand, but I might try a template next time
  • Folded down the top 1/4" of the letters (which was the bottom of the triangles)
  • Placed the fold over a bit of yarn, and scotch-taped it
  • Tied each end of the yarn onto two shish-kabob sticks
  • Stabbed each stick in a cupcake
  • Set it.... and forget it!
Quick and dirty, and less than ten minutes. Srsly! I didn't bother to make 'em two-sided, but it can be done. What's your cake bunting method? Probably a lot nicer than mine.

Happy 25th to my little brother.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pattern Haul: Butterick on sale for 99 cents!

Butterick patterns were on sale for just 99 cents at Jo-Ann last week! They were limit 10, but the hubs and the LO were with me, so I only walked away with four...

These four:
Butterick 5564

Butterick 5454

Butterick 5451

AND! The controversial Butterick 4790
If you're not familiar, B4790 is one of Butterick's "Retro" patterns; a remake of a vintage one. But most reviews of this pattern you'll find on the Interwebs complain that the update is not true to the 1950's silhouette; it's looser and baggier. But I love the dress and at just .99, I thought I'd give the pattern a shot anyway.

Did I make good choices? Kinda overdid it on the wrap dresses, didn't I? And I kind of regret not buying B5674. And Butterick's 5731, just to have, maybe to alter into a non-wedding dress. Darnit! More regret even as I'm typing this.

Have you tried any of these, and if so, do you have any tips for me? I'd appreciate it!

Oh yeah, and stay tuned for the dresses I actually make out of these.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mood board: Kelly green, gold, and gray color inspiration

This color combination came to me in a dream. No joke. I dreamt I was in a kitchen with super-dimensional cabinets like the John F. Long cabinets often made fun of on the Ugly House Blog:
I actually kind of like those cabinets, especially if they had a super-bold paint color like the Kelly green they were in my dream.

In addition to the Kelly green cabinets, the kitchen in my dream (I hesitate to call it a "dream kitchen", because it's not, really) had graphic gray wallpaper, and gold accents.

It's a daring color combo that I just might try, or some variation thereof (like maybe gold wallpaper, gray cabs, and green accents), if I were brave enough.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Butterick 5731: Kate Middleton's Wedding Dress

A dress in my Facebook feed caught my eye today. Butterick posted a wedding dress pattern that is clearly inspired by what will arguably end up being 2011's most famous wedding dress.

While the description for Butterick B5731 does not explicity say it's meant to copy K-Mid's Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, there's no denying it. Butterick even styled their model with a tiara and a similar bouquet.

There are some differences; Butterick 5731 has some weird flappy bustle that I'd leave off were I to sew this, and it's absent the long train that the Sarah Burton dress has.

While I don't usually condone plagiarism, I think in this case it puts the royal dress within reach for us commoners. It's not like you're going to the Berresyessa Flea Market and buying an obvious Louis Vuitton pleather knockoff. This is a sewing pattern in which you, or the dress maker you hire, is required to do all the work, and you have the option to buy the most expensive "Peau De Soie" or the cheapest satin. You can make it any color you choose, and there are even cup size options.

The absolute best part in my opinion: it's a Butterick, so you can likely snatch it up during a Jo-Ann sale for .99 to 1.99.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Before & After: Bed to Bench makeover

It's hard to engage in too many DIY projects when a.) I have the LO attached to me pretty much most of the day and 2.) I don't have much of my own space here on the ranch with my parents.

But here's one of my dad's projects: an iron bed up-cycled into a cowboy bench. It was a gift for my mom.

You can see the headboard is the backrest and the footboard was sliced in half to become the arm rests. He welded horseshoes, a bit, and a steer head thing as accents.

I always think I got my desire to create, craft, and DIY from my Grandma, but it must've come via my dad.


Metal Gate
My dad also welded the front gate, which Flickr user Brave Heart snapped a picture of.

As long as I'm still on the ranch, I'm thinking of snapping a Barn Tour to really give a sense of my dad's design. Consider yourself warned.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Before & After: China Cabinet Makeover

Psych! It's a PhotoShop mock-up of a china cabinet makeover, and a hastily done one at that.

This is currently for free on Craigslist. I asked my husband about getting it, but we ultimately decided to wait on grabbing any furniture until we were moved off the ranch. I agree.

But I also think he didn't see what this cabinet *could* be, so I started with the 'Shopping. And couldn't stop. An hour or so later, I have a lame picture that serves no purpose (I know my husband will only give it a a quick sideways glance) and STILL NO CHINA HUTCH.

So, why waste that pointless hour I spent doing this when I should've been doing something more productive? I'll just post the image here on my blog, where it can live in perpetuity.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

IKEA Emeryville wants to "Fix This Kitchen"

IKEA apparently has some series called "Fix This Kitchen". Never heard of it.

Buuut... it sounds like a great opportunity:
Do you have a friend or loved one who has a real passion for cooking but is trapped in an outdated, nonfunctional, unorganized or just plain ugly kitchen? Now's your chance to nominate him/her to receive a kitchen worthy of a gourmet chef! 
IKEA's hit series, Fix this Kitchen, has decided to make an extra, very special online episode... but we need a kitchen to renovate and we need one NOW! 
We are looking for homeowners who LOVE to cook but are in desperate need of a completely new kitchen. We are also looking for YOU...our accomplice in this mission. If your nominee is selected, you will help our team SURPRISE your loved one with a top-to-bottom kitchen makeover from IKEA. . .. and we'll be there film the whole renovation.
The casting call I spotted on Craigslist says you CANNOT nominate yourself, probably because they want the whole accomplice/nominee duo. The duo also has to live in the same area within an hour's drive of the Emeryville IKEA (no mention of the one in East Palo Alto), and "either the Accomplice or Nominee must own the home that is to be renovated". Sooo... a landlord can nominate their renter and get a free kitchen? That's kinda sketchy.

The best part is, the labor and new kitchen are free. But, in a rare peep inside the world of home makeover shows, the casting call says the IRS will be notified of the gift and you're going to have to pay taxes on it.

Anyway. To apply for a kitchen makeover from IKEA Emeryville, and have it shown on "Fix This Kitchen", apply at

And to watch the mystery show this design TV lover has never even heard of, tune into A&E on Saturday mornings. (That's right, I'm IN BED Saturday mornings. And the only time A&E is on in our home is when my husband is watching those creepy "The First 48" shows. Or "Hoarders". Or "Intervention". Or "Storage Wars". A home design show on A&E makes as much sense as one on TLC... wait a minute.)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Things I Fancy: Berenstain Bears' Owl Lamp

I've been wanting this owl lamp from Target, but was trying to avoid the whole "Put A Bird On It" craze.

But recently, I noticed someone else had it, too:
Screenshot of "Berenstain Bears: Think of Those in Need" cartoon on YouTube.

Scan of "The Berenstain Bears and the Week at Grandma's" book.

Maybe the Owl Lamp, $39.99 at, isn't such a bad idea after all!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Things I fancy: Star Wars Tea Towels

For some reason, I have a tea towel obsession right now. I think it started when I bought some colorful ones on clearance from Target for just a buck for a two-pack.

Coincidentally, I spotted these on Apartment Therapy. I really, really want these Japanese Star Wars tenugui, a type of cloth that I can use for tea towels. It's an amazeballs, colorful and functional tribute to one of my childhood favorites. Too bad they cost a lot more than fifty cents each.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Is Design Star's Cathy Hobbs already an HGTV employee?

Cathy Hobbs, Design Star Season 6 hopeful.
Judging by the comments on HGTV's Facebook page and the HGTV Design Star Blog, Cathy Hobbs has got to be this season's least-favorite contestant. Mostly, fans are complaining about her poor, Nina-Ferrer-esque attitude.

Even posts that have nothing to do with Cathy spawn dozens of comments, such as this one on the Design Star Blog touting Dina Manzo's impending Design Star appearance. Among the comments: that Cathy Hobbs is already an HGTV Canada employee.

Huh? If you already know me, you know that in addition to fancying homes, I also am super-into TV and media (and doing research). So I just had to check it out myself.

What I found: Cathy Hobbs is not necessarily already an HGTV employee.

Here's what her bio says on HGTV Canada:
Emmy award-winning television personality Cathy Hobbs is the founder of the interior design firm aphereƤ, based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and the Co-Host and Executive Producer of Metro Residential.
Therein lies the confusion. People are reading that and thinking that Metro Residential is an HGTV show. When actuality, it's not. It's not even a national show. It's a local show that airs on WPIX in New York.

The reason she's on HGTV Canada's website seems to be because she's appeared on their "Top Ten" show, which is similar to a VH1 "I Love the 80s" countdown or clip kind of show. Correct me if I'm wrong, but she appears in a commentator-type capacity, not as a host or designer. Or to rephrase that, she does appear as an "expert" designer, but not actually designing rooms.

So, do you think this is a conflict of interest? Should HGTV should have disclosed this to us, the fans? Or are you a Cathy fan and think she should soak up any camera time she can get (and you'll be right there watching)?

Boy's room ideas: Robots in Space

I guess I should start by saying I'm not so into the super matchy-matchy bedroom-in-a-bag, everything's-put-together-for-you way to decorate a baby's room (although Overstock has some cute ones I did consider). But that doesn't mean I can't have a little fun; it IS a kid's room after all.

So... I like "Robots in Space". Which actually sounds pretty corny now that I'm typing it out, but I've had it in my head for a while. Too bad for me then that this room on Apartment Therapy's Odeedoh wrecked that for me. How will the room I make for my baby ever be complete with this:
Check out the badassical GIANT robo-man! ACK! <robot voice>AWESOME OVERLOAD</robot voice>

Lucky for me, I was planning on going with a slight variation of the strictly-robots theme. I'm thinking more of an Atomic Age/Jetsons/Lost in Space feel, but not overpoweringly so. In fact, the theme may only show up in the form of a rug (especially now that the thrift store already sold the robot fabric I was planning in using for curtains).

So here, a potential rug roundup:
Ranging from $50 -$75, this "Roule Olive Kids Collection Go Robots" one from seems like an economical choice. I also found it on

Also from Amazon, this "Momeni" retro robot rug is a little pricier, from about $170 on up.

These two from Amazon are priced at $219 each and the dimensions are not listed.

We could also always go with a space-themed rug, and there are LOTS of those out there, including on Amazon, at Home Depot, on Overstock, and on

Which one do you like? Are there any others you'd like to let me know about?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Things I Fancy: Barney the Dinosaur's "idea bench"

Yes, seriously.

I was just watching "Barney the Dinosaur" on Sprout and saw the most awesome park bench ever:
The "idea bench". This picture comes from The Ponder Home, which also shows her kids sitting on a real one if you follow the link.

Here's BJ next to an illustrated version, courtesy
It's an outdoor park bench where the two occupants face each other, much like some types of love seats (and these toilets).

But the best part is that it spins! What fun! A full 360 of your garden. Here it is in action, starting at around 6:41:

I want my HGTV!

I really, really try to keep my media and TV related posts on my other blog, but in this case I feel this post belongs over here because of the content and shows I'm discussing.

I get the feeling HGTV feels like Bravo is encroaching on their territory.

With a bevy of shows like "Flipping Out", "Million Dollar Decorators", and "Million Dollar Listing", Bravo certainly is giving HGTV a run for their money when it comes to the volume of Real Estate and Interior Design programming. Money being the key word there.

Bravo's Real Estate and Interior Design programming is decidedly more high-end than HGTV's, which has shows like "Design on a Dime" and others with budgets in the very low thousands-- not the millions. Bravo's shows are also much more reality-based, with story lines outside of the decorating or home buying process, and regular "characters" as opposed to hosts and homeowners.

And now it appears that HGTV is trying to borrow a chunk of Bravo's audience.

First it was the Novogratz's, which HGTV pinched from Bravo's "9 by Design" to star on their own "Home by Novogratz." That's all well and good-- until the HBN episode I watched took a very ugly turn toward reality TV. Or at least attempted it, with a staged scene at a crowded dining table where a design meetin with Courtney and an assistant kept getting "interrupted" by the children.

Now, some of their other programming is trying very hard at "reality", and failing miserably. Tonight I watched the sneak preview of  "Debbie Does Dallas", "Donna Designs Dallas", "Donna Decorates Dallas". Even though she was a runner up on a previous season of "Design Star" that I hadn't watched, my love of television and my fancying of homes means I'll always give a new HGTV show a whirl before deciding whether or not I'll watch it.

And there were two things I noticed within the first five minutes of this show; with it's introduction of Donna's daughters (apparent "characters" on the show) and the playful-sound-effecty music score, this was going for a much more "reality show" vibe. And while I'm not all that familiar with Donna, I can tell she is all about the bling. Even just looking at the home shown in the opening credits, you can tell this show is not meant to portray the average American's home. This is high end.

Hhmmm... those two things sound like a certain other network.

A quick Google search just now lands me on a Scripps Networks press release, which confirms my suspicions of HGTV's angle with this show:
When Dallas homeowners feel the need to bling out their lavish houses, they count on former HGTV Design Star finalist Donna Moss to bring the glitz. During this new design series, HGTV will follow Donna and her daughters Tiffany and Ashley, as they bring dramatic designs to Dallas.
Reading further down in the same press release reveals that HGTV has hired none other than a former "Real Housewife" to do another design show, sniping yet another personality from Bravo. Dina Manzo, an interior designer and special events planner from "Real Housewives of New Jersey", "will bring her lavish and sumptuous events to HGTV in this new weekly party-planning series." Sounds interesting, but certainly not what I watch HGTV for. If Scripps Networks wanted to start a party-planning series, it sounds better suited for the Food Network (a la Sandra Lee), but even that's a stretch.

Bottom line: Bravo does the high-end "reality" based home programming better. But that's why I watch HGTV (it's no secret working there as a producer or blogger would be a dream job for me), so I hope they stop this attempt at Bravo-lite soon. HGTV is my go-to for accessible design and within-reach real estate. And this switch to higher-end design is a bizarre choice while the country still deals with the fallout of the recession and foreclosure crisis.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

How to display a beer coaster collection?

My sister Ariel is a big traveler and loves collecting beer coasters (like the ones pictured above from BuenaHelena) from places she visits.

Some time ago, we'd discussed her preserving them in resin so she'd have them forever. We brainstormed what she could use as a mold, and figured she'd need something to keep the ink from bleeding and suspending into the medium. That was a while ago.

Now, she has multiple shapes in her collection (making the mold situation more tricky) and has figured she really doesn't need THAT many coasters, if any at all. So she mentioned making a coffee table top. Good idea (I had similar plans for a vintage postcard collection), but, I had some other ones for her, all keeping with the resined-theme:
  • If she ever buys her own place, she can make them into a counter top for a breakfast bar.

  • If the resin wasn't too heavy, she could frame it and just turn it into wall art. The frame and resin would keep it from looking too frat house. This was her favorite idea.

I also Googled the topic and found this, which starts of good and ends on a facetious note. Still had some good ideas, though, including using them as postcards and luggage tags.

BuenaHelena, the blog the above picture is from, turned them into Christmas ornaments.

Do you have any ideas for an old beer coaster collection? If you've randomly stumbled upon this post, give us your ideas no matter how old this post is.
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