Saturday, March 26, 2011

Vintage pillowcase toss pillow - with how-to!

Update: I'm sharing this project over at Sew Cute Tuesday on Misty's lovely blog, Creative Itch. Please click through to see lots of wonderful ideas!

I recently conjured up the idea for this pretty toss pillow, when I was looking for a way to use the embroidery on an old cotton pillowcase my great-grandmother had worked. (You can see how I've used a few more of her pillow cases here and here.)

The fabric of this pillowcase was damaged, but I wanted to preserve the embroidery. My idea was to create a sort of "flap" over a coordinating fabric for the front, with a plain panel on the back. I originally envisioned some lace all around the pillow, but by the time I got around to sewing this project I couldn't find where I had stored the lace I had purchased. (Not surprisingly, I found it shortly after finishing the project!)

First, here's the finished toss pillow:

And, here's how I made it.

1. The size of the pillow is determined by the width of the pillow case. A 16-inch pillow form was a little bit too big, but I made it work by removing a little of the fiberfill. I cut squares for the front and back fabric panels a little larger than 16 inches to allow for seams.

2. I cut the panel from the pillow case so that it would end up being about two-thirds the length of the front panel.

4. I pinned the pillow case to the front side of the front panel. I stitched these two pieces together along the lace edge of the pillowcase so I would not end up with a "pocket" on the front. I also tacked the other three sides of the pillowcase to the front panel with a quarter-inch seam using long basting stitches.

5. Next I pinned the assembled front panel to the plain back panel, right sides together. I stitched the two panels together with about a half-inch seam allowance on all sides, but left an opening at the bottom about eight inches long so I could insert the pillow form.

6. I turned the whole piece right-sides out. The edges of the opening naturally wanted to fold to the inside, and I pressed them down. Here's the finished pillow before stuffing.

7. I stuffed the pillow using the 16-inch form I had purchased, but because my finished cover was a little under 16 inches, I had to remove a little of the stuffing to make it fit. Fortunately this was a zippered pillow form so I was able to shove that stuffing back in after I got the form inside the cover.

8. I pinned the folded edges of the opening together and whip-stitched them shut, then fluffed and squeezed the stuffing around til the pillow was nicely filled out.

Voila! A very sweet cottage-ready toss pillow full of vintagey goodness, with a little family history behind it!

Oh! And, just in case this isn't enough 'vintage" for you, below is what I'm using for a sewing machine these days: my grandmother Helen's Singer Featherweight 221-1! I love the machine for its indestructibility, its simplicity, and of course its vintage design. This one is from the late 40's, I think.

More soon!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pink Spring Table

Spring has sprung (finally!) and I've been eager to set a small luncheon table to celebrate. I've used several pieces from my previous "speedset" table, but also some new items. Let me give you a tour of the table before we enjoy our lunch!

First, you can see that our dining spot is situated at one of my favorite spots in the house: next to the large bay of living room windows. I've set the table with an emphasis on pink and Spring.

Here's your seat - you can watch the robins hopping around on the lawn by looking out the window to your left. We'll be using these first pretty plates for dessert, so we can move them off to your right while we enjoy our salad. I don't know the name of this pattern, but I love the creamy white background, gold edging, and pretty roses.

Our salad plate is a soft yellow. The wide rim and pastel colors remind me a lot of a vintage brand called LuRay, but these are marked "MSE - Microwave and dishwasher safe." A moments' research revealed that MSE means Martha Stewart Everyday, so the fact that I got a pristine set of 2 dinner plates and two salad/lunch plates at the Goodwill, for a grand total of $2.99, makes me very happy!

At the bottom of the stack, our entree will be enjoyed on beautiful Homer Laughlin Glenwood. I acquired these plates through Ebay; the other two plates shown above were Goodwill finds.

Our beverage mugs are mis-matched, but they are from the same series. Your mug echoes the pale yellow of the salad plates...

...and mine repeats the pink theme around the table. I have a third mug in this series, too - together they are one of my favorite sets, and I don't even drink coffee!

Here you'll find we are again using my Oneida Chandelier stainless flatware - believe it or not, this is the only set of flatware I own! It was a long-ago gift from my Aunt, and I've decided there's no sense in saving it for special occasions - I love to use it every day! You can also get a much better view of the pattern on our vintage tablecloth - very Springy!

Feel free to pluck a pink napkin from this scrolly heart, another Goodwill treasure...

...and shoo away this visitor if you wish, she is only here to watch the birds!

Here's the view from my side of the table.

I'll be happy to pass you the salt in this pretty pink Depression Glass shaker. (Sorry, no pepper with this meal as I don't have any kind of shaker that complements this one!)

Oh! And I want you to meet our seatmates - our Spring-time friends Rob & Jay. Rob is a hand-painted Lefton figureine, and Jay hails from The Whitehall Society. Robins and Bluejays are among my favorite birds. Don't they look right at home with the rustic white picket tops? (You might remember that I won those picket tops recently from Donna's give-away over at Funky Junk Interiors! My little birdies love them!)

Here's a peek at our floral accompaniment - a vintage pink Diamond Point vase by Indiana Glass Co., filled with a simple silk stalk from elsewhere in the house.

Finally, the table where we're seated is extra special to me: it is an antique that sat in my grandparents' home for decades, and I kept it after they both had passed away. You can see the lower portion of it in this picture, and I've included below a full view of the table without the covering and dishes.

Now let's enjoy our lunch and this beautiful Spring day!

More soon -

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Thrifty joy (or, seek and ye shall find)

After drooling over all the wonderfully creative tablescapes celebrating St. Patrick's day over at this past week's Tablescape Thursday, I was regretting that I didn't have anything that could be construed as shamrocky... or even "green"... to join the holiday fun. I decided that I would look for some thrift-store finds that would be fairly versatile and not overtly "holiday," because St. Patty's isn't a day we really celebrate around here (except for pinching those who forget to wear green!) and I need to be at least somewhat conscious of over-accumulation. (I know.)

I must've carried some of that fabled Irish luck today, because I found just what I was looking for: a set of four salad/luncheon plates with a green pattern that's reminiscent of shamrocks but doesn't scream "St. Patrick's Day." I really like these because I think they can be used for just about anything. They are marked "mse" (Martha Stewart Everyday) and I got a set of 4 for $2.99. Hooray for thrift stores!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lace tablecloth bargain

Just a couple quick photos to share one of my favorite bargains from this week. Stopped in at Dollar General because I'd found some cute vinyl tablecloths there last year for the porch and patio, and found this gem for $5. Surprise, it's vinyl!

The "lace detail" on the sides looks very summer-sheer...

...and the top detail is also lovely.

The brand is True Living - I believe this comes in round or oblong for your outdoor tables. (Or even indoor, for easy clean-up!)

Also, I encountered something really cool while taking these photos. I had set my phone down on the table to pull it out from the wall a bit, and discovered that the lens opening could actually peek through the holes in the lace. I snapped a couple photos of the view looking down toward the floor through the holes - in those pictures where the peep-hole was tiny, the lens picked up the edging around that hole and because it's out of focus it almost looks like a layer of "cloud cover" over an aerial photo. I liked the overall look and composition of these "accidental" pictures!

More soon!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My kitcheny mess: the official 'before'

I hereby declare this to be the official "before" post for my kitchen. Our home is a lovely ranch built in the late 1950's by a guy who, according to one of the garden stepping stones we found sunk into the lawn, referred to himself as "Irv the Great." In the weeks before we moved in, we did some major and minor repair and touching up, including painting every room. Sadly, although it had obviously not been updated since the 1970's (when Irv built some very sturdy-looking dark walnut cabinetry), we did not have the resources to re-do the kitchen.

Still, the kitchen is a good size and does have some very good features: an eat-in area, utility closet, lots of counter and cupboard space, and even a window over the sink - all things our prior home lacked.

And, having lived here now for a little over two years, I'm thinking seriously about how I can spruce up the kitchen for as little money as possible. And by that I mean, $300 or less. I think this is do-able, because even thought the cabinets, floor and countertops all need to be replaced, we just don't have the funds. I will be happy with refinished cabinets (new paint and hardware), and some kind of real fix for that soft spot in the floor where there was clearly a dishwasher leakage issue.

For now, here's the quick tour of my "before" kitchen, starting with the refrigerator area. One thing I absolutely hate is crap stuck all over the refrigerator. Now don't get me wrong, I love pictures of my kids and grandkids, but I really dislike having anything (even pictures) stuck to the fridge. It just looks cluttered and disorganized. This is my least favorite view of the room.

Turning to the left, here's the "pantry" section of the cabinetry...

...and a little more to the left, showing the sink area. Those windows have a really neat feature - glass shutters, which I imagine are original to the house. That is a new-ish dishwasher, but it was bottom-of-the-line when we bought it two years ago. It's the newest major appliance in the room.

Continuing on to the left, here's the main cooking area with Jurassic-era microwave and electric cooktop...

... and Tappan wall oven that's just barely large enough for a roast turkey.

Here's the eat-in area, with fab 50's paneled "planter box" colonade and shadow-box room divider.

And finally, a couple of details: the 70's hardware on the cabinets...

... and the wallpaper covering the bulkheads, which is actually not that bad but does not fit into my spruce-up plans.

So there we have it - the "heart" of this home is rather well-worn at this point, but hopefully will one day look lighter and refreshed.

More soon!
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