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Queen City Market- Hot Water Bottles and Covers

I am so excited about this next item I am selling at the Queen City Market this year…hot water bottles and covers.  Might not sound that exciting to you, but if you have ever snuggled up to one  or used one for pain relief or warmth you know just how awesome they are.  They may seem like an antiquated notion- filling a rubber bag with hot water and using it for comfort seems all too basic to really work- but it does!  I purchased my first hot water bottle online a few years ago after not being able to find any nearby and I instantly fell in love.  But a naked hot water bottle isn’t the most attractive thing is it?

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What makes a hot water bottle even better?  A cute cover!  I will be selling my hot water bottles with a soft flannel and fleece cover that is removable, washable and makes your bottle something you want to cozy up with.  I will be selling each hot water bottle with cover for $20.  I also plan on having extra covers for sale for $5 in case you want to change things up or have a spare.

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I have used mine to comfort the girls when they are sick or putting it in their bed under their covers to keep them toasty warm.  They work great for an earache, cramps, neck pain or a toothache.  There have been times where I have been sick with a cold or flu and I instinctively reach for my hot water bottle before anything else.  I swear- you really need to try one!  If for nothing else than to put under your covers (or in the baby’s crib or child’s bed) before bed so that when you climb in your feet are nice and toasty!  Best part they require no electricity, no microwave- just hot water from your tap.  Simple, easy and effective.  Isabel has been sleeping with ours for the past few nights, ever since I made her this special mermaid cover!

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What is cozier than warm fleece and flannel? Winter IS coming…be prepared!

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The place that dreams are made of: my new sewing space

It has been over a week since my last post because I have been busy, busy, busy.  Not necessarily with sewing, just with life- work/interview (for full-time- yikes!) and Halloween craziness.  BUT- my largest project of all over the last few weeks has been the transformation of my attic sewing studio!  Woo hoo!  I cannot believe I am lucky enough to have a space like this all to myself- I am in LOVE.  I turned a once dirty baby blue/grey and white space into a bright white dream oasis.  Really, I can’t stop gushing over the transformation.  This is a really long post- lots of pictures- bear with me!  First lets start with the Before!  I loved this Library sign on the door- of course I am going to leave it.

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I was so excited to get started I didn’t start snapping pictures until midway through- darn it.  But, you will have to picture it…mismatched furniture, tons of fabric and scraps and threads all over the floor.  A huge mess, with the girls sewing supplies scattered around no real flow.  Not to mention the old attic floor which had been painted grey/blue at one point and had been splattered with some sort of resin or shellac which also was splashed over blue and white walls.   The previous owner of our house built furniture, so I imagine he used this space to finish his pieces?  Either way it was horrible, but with so much potential!  A bright space in the attic, with finished walls, electricity and heat.  ALL TO MYSELF.

Here is a mid-process shots of the space. Already starting to improve!

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This is after I cleared out all of my old furniture, bins, fabric, and “junk”.  You can see the charm already; the slanted ceilings, the large windows and painted wood floors.  I chose to paint everything white…and I love it.  I probably could have used another coat of paint but I couldn’t wait to set up.  I had to do a coat of oil primer on all of the walls and slanted ceilings since I tested the original blue paint and it came up as oil.  I used my favorite primer- zinsser cover stain oil primer.  It covers everything- including the shellac splatters.  Awesome stuff (but pretty smelly- so use ventilation!).  I also primed the floor with a coat of this primer as well, to ensure my topcoat would cover well.  After my coat of primer on the walls I covered them in 2 coats of white paint- mixing whatever random white paint I had in my basement- I was trying to be thrifty (or cheap).  The floors were painted with 2 coats of Sherwin Williams Porch and Floor paint in white.  I can’t say enough good things about Sherwin Williams paint- it is more expensive but well worth the $$…I need this floor finish to last!

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What is a sewing space without furniture?  I ordered all of my furniture from IKEA online, and had it shipped right to my door- so easy.  I ordered the separate tables and legs (where else can you do this besides IKEA?) and it worked out perfectly.  I was able to get two drawer cabinets and a large tabletop (extra long to fit my serger and sewing machine) for my main work space (with an extra leg for support in the center) and another table top with extendable sawhorse legs to raise it up to counter height- perfect for my cutting table.  I love that they include shelves for storage, and can easily be lowered down if the girls want to pull up a chair for a special project.  I also ordered a bookcase to store my fabric- worked out perfect.

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When all was said and done I still had plenty of space to fit in a retro chrome and white round table I had, along with a few wooden chairs I used to use in my kitchen.  I think this will provide a great craft space for the girls, so that they can work in there with me while I sew.  Now that Isabel has been showing such an interest in sewing herself she can even set up her little machine there and claim out her own little space- which she did right away!

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I can’t wait to finish decorating the space and setting up all of my stuff, but for now I am really enjoying the minimalism and “clean” look of how it is now!  I know this won’t last long….

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The details:

From Ikea

Sewing/Serging table:

LINNMON Table top, white (Length: 78 3/4 x Width: 23 5/8 “)

1 SJUNNE Leg (in center for support)

2 Alex Drawer units, white

Cutting Table:

2 Finnvard Trestle with shelf, white

Linnmon Table top, white (Length: 59 ” Width: 29 1/2 “)

Shelf- Expedit

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What’s black and blue and (then) red all over?

I am hilarious.  Remember that joke?  What is black and white and red all over?  A newspaper!  Ha Ha.  Get it Red-Read?  I don’t know why I thought of this.  Anyways, the answer to my question is my milk door.  Yes, I said my milk door.  I imagine there are many people reading this (yes I actually think many people will read this!) who have no idea what I am talking about.  Let me clarify.  My house was built in 1910, back in the days before refrigeration.  There is a small door next to my side door that opens and is now used as my mailbox, but back in the day would be the storage for fresh milk delivered by the local milkman.  Pretty neat stuff.  I wasn’t too clear on the time frame and details so I did a bit of internet research ( I am a librarian after all!) and found this: http://www.historicnewengland.org/collections-archives-exhibitions/online-exhibitions/From_Diary_to_Doorstep

I do not live in New England, but the idea is the same.  Apparently the golden age of milk delivery was between 1860-1960…so I imagine for the first 50 years or so that my house was around this little milk door was in use every day.  To quote the site:

“By the 1960s, the housewife in the family car had replaced the milkman on his delivery route. Supermarkets, refrigerators, and affordable automobiles made the milkman obsolete, and home milk delivery as a reassuring staple of city and village life receded into memory.”

Pretty neat.  Even though the milkman no longer pays my house a visit the milk door still serves a useful function as our mailbox.  Unfortunately it was looking pretty bad, with glossy blue and black paint.  Not a color scheme I am fond of.  Now that both girls are in school and I have returned to work I have also returned to “work mode” on the house…determined to wrap up a number of projects before the snow falls.  The first project is painting all of my exterior doors- starting with this little milk door.  I have been pretty absent from blogging…but I have been busy!

Here is what I was starting out with:

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Do not make the same mistakes as me, I will embarrassingly tell you about all of my missteps so that you can avoid spending two days painting what seems like a simple and tiny area!  First, do not assume it was painted with latex paint.  If your house is as old as mine it probably wasn’t.  I did not think of this and tried painting right over the blue/black paint with my red paint.  Not a smart idea.  I had to wipe it off, sand it off and start over.  It was not even sticking, but rather streaking across the door.  Not pretty.

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Because I am cheap I then decided to cover it up with an oil based primer I had laying around.  Kilz I believe.  Remember- you can cover oil based primer with latex, but you can’t cover oil based paint with latex.  I then painted 4 coats of my red over this primer layer.  Still did not work very well.  Red is a very hard color to get right!  Since I knew I was also painting two full size doors this color I headed to the hardware store to purchase the right supplies to make my life easier- small rollers, sanding block and most importantly tinted primer!

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I then re-primed with the tinted primer (essentially starting all over again!) and covered it with 3 coats of paint.  Voila.  NOW it looks good!  Not the most direct route to success, but my trial and error will make my other doors go that much faster.  Until then, take a look at my beautiful shiny red milk door.  Love it.

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I took what I learned and painted my side and front doors too…much easier the second time around.  Post to come.  Once I make it through all of my home projects I will get back to sewing…I have made a few things since I last blogged but finding time to sew/paint/clean/work/prepare kids for school is stressing me out.  Once my routine becomes easier I will get back to sewing.  I miss it!

Simple Summer Sewing Series

Simple Summer Sewing Series Day 1: Bag Holder

My first sewing series!  Each day this week I will create a project that:

  1. Can be completed in under 30 minutes.
  2. Simple instructions, no more than 5 steps
  3. Use a yard of fabric or less (use up all of those scraps!)
  4. Fit under the umbrella of going “green”.  Good for you, good for the environment, good on your budget.

I am so excited to get started.  Hopefully at least one of the projects this week will inspire you to get sewing!  For more details on this series see last week’s post here.

Day 1:

Our local grocery store sells and encourages the use of reusable bags.  I have purchased over a dozen of these reusable bags over the years- but they always seem to get “lost”.  Lost in the trunk of the car, used for swim class or taken to the library, soccer stuff etc.  Or, simply forgotten in the trunk of the car in the grocery store parking lot!  In other words, I often forget to bring them in or can’t find them and kick myself when I walk out of the store with an endless supply of plastic shopping bags.  I hate throwing them out- it feels so wasteful when they can be saved and used again.  Unfortunately they are not the most attractive looking and can get a bit out of hand- they seem to multiply on their own!  Not the most attractive thing hanging in the kitchen.

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ugly plastic bags

Here comes the Bag Holder.   A great excuse to introduce an awesome fabric into your kitchen and corral those ugly plastic bags.    This is extremely simple and fast to make.  Plus, it looks a bit better hanging in my kitchen!

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You can really make these any dimensions you like, my measurements are just an example.  This is a great way to use up fabric scraps, I actually used the dimensions of my scraps to determine how large I made mine.  Fabric is Alexander Henry Mecca for Moderns- Mercer.

Bag Holder Tutorial:

What you will need:

20x20inches quilting or home dec fabric

coordinating thread

1/4 inch elastic (roughly 9 inches)

How to:

1.  Cut your fabric to desired size.  (My example shows 2 pieces of 10×20 sewn together, had I not used a scrap I would have cut one piece 20x20inches.)

2.  Sew your seam, and finish your edges.  (I chose to use a 1/2 inch seam allowance and pinking shears) If you use one piece of fabric you sew the long edges together to form your back seam.  If you use two pieces like I did, sew up the long sides to form side seams.

3.  Create your casings by folding over the edges 1/4 inch, and again at least 1/4 inch (room enough for your elastic).  Press if necessary, although I just wing it and finger press as I sew.  Sew the casings at the top and bottom of your fabric, leaving 1/2 inch space unsewed to insert your elastic, be sure to backstitch at the beginning and the end.

4.  Cut your elastic in half.  Use a safety pin to insert your elastic through the casing, sew the ends of the elastic together and sew up your openings.

5.  Create your hanging loop by sewing a 2x8inch pieice of fabric together lengthwise.  Turn inside out.  Fold in edges and topstitch.  Fold in half to form loop and sew onto the center back of the bag (you will be sewing it at your center seam if you have one, on the inside of your bag at the elastic casing)

You could also choose to use cotton webbing, or ribbon or a coordinating fabric.  Depending on where you will be hanging your bag you may choose to use a shorter or longer loop.  Adjust as necessary, my door hook is pretty high so I chose to have a longer loop.

Now, stuff your plastic bags in one at a time through the top.  When you need one simply pull one out through the bottom- so easy!  I know these aren’t the clearest directions, but hopefully it makes sense…I will be sure to take pictures during the process next time.