Crafty Monday: Painting Curtains

Last week I wanted to blog about my adventure in expanding my overly small bedroom closet. My closet is in the smallest bedroom of the house. Inside the closet, is a fireplace. No, not the front of it, but the entire back of it. It is actually a faux fireplace which faces my craft room. Made of marble, concrete, and plaster, it’s not something that can be removed to make closet space without contractor! So I needed another solution.

Total Closet Size

Total Closet Size

It didn’t work out as planned, but I DID get a few things done to it. The big plan was to move the closet rod to the outside of the closet and hang the clothes in front of it. I didn’t really want a big metal rod hanging there with all of the clothes out in the open. The serenity of my bedroom is something I thoroughly enjoy, but this was not conducive to that serenity. So I was also going to put a curtain in front of the clothes. Simple, right? Well, as I explained in the previous post, it wasn’t all that simple because I didn’t allot enough time, nor did I have all the proper materials ready. *Sigh* This is the bane of many DIY projects.

But I DID have a plan, and I wanted to finish it. First of all, I needed curtains. So what does a crafty sewist do? Ah, yes, I’ll make them. And I did. I measured top to bottom and used a 60″ wide piece of off-white cotton lining I had bought to reupholster a couch. (Couch left, meaning I had 10 yards of this stuff available.) I cut and sewed them, making a simple header style curtain that could have grommets.

Then I started looking at all of these beautiful curtain panels online. You know, the ones that cost well over $100 each? They were embroidered and woven with beautiful scenes. My plain white curtains just didn’t measure up. I decided to paint my curtains. I played it smart this time, though, and made a sampler to try out some techniques.

Cherry Blossom Test Panel

Cherry Blossom Test Panel

Using the “make cherry blossoms with a soda bottle” pin as inspiration, I tried using the method they had. Ok, soda bottle didn’t work out so good. The ones I had, made flowers with spaces way too wide between the petals. So I took out my paint brushes and made little circles with them. Then I added some other colors to the branches and flowers, to see what I like best. Getting a little input from the husband, we went with the pink blossoms lined with a dark pink shade. Now I also had a painted panel I could frame and use to decorate the room! Yay, me!

A couple of days later I laid out my curtain panels and began to decorate them like I had the test sample. Not only was it fun, but I felt really good with paint on my hands and the smell in the air. I used acrylics with a little bit of water. The paint did seep through the fabric a bit, but I had covered the table with some craft paper beforehand. Once it had dried, I pulled it up. It stuck just a little bit, but no big deal.

Here are some progression pictures for you:

Creating the branches

Creating the branches

Branches done, ready for blossoms

Branches done, ready for blossoms


Painting on blossoms


More blossoms


Shading the blossoms

I love how they turned out! I put one across the bed to let it continue to dry, and instantly decided I needed a quilt that matched. One thing leads to another, and I have plans for my first painted, whole cloth art quilt. I love DIY.


Crafty Monday: Recycle Plastic Thread Spools

The Internet is full of functional and crafty reuses of vintage wooden thread spools. Let’s admit, these things are cool. We certainly don’t want to throw them away because they are vintage. And they don’t make them anymore. Now we have plastic thread spools. But what do we do with them?

I hate throwing them away because they take up room in landfills and leave a horrible carbon footprint. To put it lightly, my 4x great grandchildren could come across a discarded thread spool in the remote future. Hopefully people are still sewing by then and they will know what it is. Or at least have some idea what it is. But it will be in near perfect condition without any signs of disintegration. Wow. Ok, now back to the post. 
So I need to put those things to good use NOW. I was on Pinterest the other day (surprise, surprise) and came across a post where someone was selling fabric covered vintage wooden spools. I thought, now why can’t I make something like this with the plastic ones? And how would I do it? 
Answer: Decoupage. 
I really love decoupage. It’s quick and always turns out great. Well, almost always. 
So here’s what I did: 
scrap of fabric (hey! great way to use up scraps too!)
Mod Podge or something homemade
thread spool
foam brush or paint brush


  1. Measure the inside distance of your spool. Mine was about 1 1/8 
  2. Cut a piece of fabric the width of the spool
  3. Wrap the fabric around the spool and trim so that it overlaps by about 1/2″. You could also wrap a fabric tape around the middle making sure it overlaps and cut your fabric to that size. 
  4. Using the foam brush, apply Mod Podge to the spool
  5. Smooth your fabric over the top of the Mod Podge and pull it around. Apply a little more Mod Podge where the strip overlaps to secure it down. 
  6. You can choose to let it dry or go ahead and cover the fabric with another layer of Mod Podge. I just did mine, because I’m not real patient. 
  7. Let everything dry for a few hours. 
  8. Go back, marvel at your new creation, and then use it as a decoration is your sewing room. Hang it from some jute cording or ribbon to make a banner. 

I only had the one to use, because sadly I have been throwing mine out. Now that I see their potential, I’m thinking of other uses for them. Like wrapping unused elastics around them and securing with a pin. Ribbon, binding, cording, piping, and so many other things that end up scattered around in piles or boxes could also be wrapped onto these. They make adorable decorations, too. As a quilter, I generally have many empty thread spools at the end of a quilt. You could also Krylon paint the spools to make them look more like wood or any color you want before adding the fabric. You could use scrapbook paper instead of fabric! The possibilities are unlimited. 
If you make something, would you please consider uploading it to our Flickr group? I’d love to see your creations, as I’m sure many others would too! 

Thursday Sewing: Making a tree skirt from curtain valances

I had something completely different planned for today’s post! And as you can maybe tell I’m a bit late in posting today. What I had planned will have to wait until next Thursday’s Sewing Session though. So sorry.Today I bring you: Making a Tree Skirt from Curtain Valances

This would be a lot more relevant if we were closer to Christmas, but I also never got a chance to post it over Christmas. I was sick most of the time and we had family in from Brazil. So here it is today, and maybe it will give you a head start on your Christmas sewing?

To begin with, I had some old valances laying around that I had picked up at a thrift store, intending to make a silky bag with them. The bags never came to fruition. I needed a tree skirt. The one we had was too small and I wanted something a bit more elegant. And handmade. So I “found” the valances on my fabric shelf and started taking measurements.

With two of them, I had enough material to make the skirt. To make the skirt, I needed to sew them together, make a circular cut out in the middle, and then make eyelets or something similar for the ties on one side.

The first thing I did was to sew them together in the middle, so that the borders were on the outside edges. Then I folded them into halves and quarters so I could easily make a pie-shaped wedge to cut out the circular middle. I really just measured the top of my tree stand, subtracted about 1/2″ for seam, and measured from the point to the distance on the ruler. I then cut it and seamed it by folding 1/4″ under and running a zig zag stitch all the way around.

During all of this, I’d forgotten that I needed an opening to actually put it around the tree stand. So I cut down the middle of one side, seamed up the sides, and stood back to take a look at it. It needed more. It was just really plain. Here was where my two hour project became four.

I remembered that I had made a filet crocheted set of bells meant to be used as a centerpiece about 11 years ago. They had taken me forever, but were now laying unused in a drawer. I decided they would be perfect for my tree skirt. Sure enough, I got the centerpiece out and laid it across my skirt. Perfect! Now how to sew that sucker on there?

Looking around the craft room, my eyes landed on the can of basting spray I use for quilts. With an Aha! moment and recall of Ashley’s post about attaching her crocheted appliques, I set about spraying small sections and applying the piece to the skirt. This probably would’ve held for a while, but I didn’t want to risk it. I pinned the bells around, making sure to keep the slippery material as smooth as possible underneath the bells and the bells flat as well. With a zig zag stitch set for a long length and a short stitch, I carefully sewed the bells to the tree skirt.

For the final touch, I used an eyelet setting on my Janome. I made small holes down the sides of the open edges and then let the Janome do its thing. With little effort on my part, the eyelets were made and nearly perfect. I then laced it all up using some ribbon I had.

So it got a little involved, but I was really happy with the fact that I upcycled the valances and found a new purpose for my unused centerpiece. I also had a brand spanking new tree skirt that didn’t cost me a dime to make this year. (I’m not considering the initial cost of the valances which was about $3 and the thread used to crochet the bells, or the ribbon that I had on hand. It was all stuff I had on hand and didn’t have to go out to buy.)

With a little thought, looking through your stash, or a fun run through a thrift store, I bet you can find some stuff to make you own Christmas tree skirt for next year. If you make something, would you consider posting it to my group Flickr account? I’d love to see your projects!

*The pattern used for the bells centerpiece was from the November, 2003 issue of Crochet! Magazine and is by Ferosa Harold. You can reference the pattern on Ravelry.

Upcycling Recycling Sweaters

There are hundreds of blogs out there that focus on how to reimagine common everyday items into new practical purposes, most with the intent to keep stuff we throw away out of landfills or to clear out thrift stores. Some of my favorites focus on clothing. It seems one of the tend on Pinterest is to use sweaters (this of course comes after tee shirts and Anthropologie re-dos. What is it with that place anyway? Sure they’ve got great clothes but is it a price thing? Why not Tommy Hilfiger or something? Can someone explain this?).

It seems the unassuming wool sweater, designed to keep us warm and fashionable throughout winter months and frigid temperatures, also has a day job as a multi-purpose, do-it-all, DIYer’s dream come true. From leg warmers to arm cuffs, dog sweaters and beds, purses, scarves, stockings, and mittens there is little that you CAN’T do with a sweater.

Of course, Pinterest fails undoubtedly abound, and it’s useful to pay attention to details. However, with a little thought you can probably figure out most of these projects by yourself. It helps to have ideas, though. So the next time your local thrift store has a “fill a bag for $5” promotion or a really awesome sale on sweaters, grab up a whole bunch and squirrel yourself away for a weekend. It’s faster than knitting it all individually and you could have done really great accessories. Follow the Pinterest board below for great ideas!

Follow Freckle Dots (Tammy Lyons)’s board Upcycled Sweater Crafts on Pinterest.

Moving On

Owning a small business is tough. At one point you hope that you can make something that everyone will want and you can sell it. When you find something that sells, you don’t want to let go of it. But what if that something makes you unhappy? What if every time you sell that item you dread the entire process and wish you didn’t have to do it? Is it then worth continuing to make the product, just so you can sell it?

This is something I’ve been struggling with for a while. Recently, a member in one of my Etsy groups announced that she would no longer be making some of her popular quilts. She said that she simply wasn’t happy making them. She didn’t enjoy it and wanted to make other things. Things that she enjoyed making. This was one of those moments when you smack yourself in the head with the heel of your palm and say, “THAT’S what’s wrong! THAT’S exactly what I need to do!”

So I did it. And what did I change? I stopped making my embroidered pot holders and small appliance covers. I just didn’t enjoy doing it. Most of them would take up to 10 hours to create depending on the intricacy of the embroidery and the quilting. Then it was the fitting and stressing over if it was the right size, if the client would like it, if they sent me the right measurements, etc., etc. I also have a collection of close to 300 different embroidery designs. But not one of them is ever what my clients want, unless it’s the rooster and love bug collection.

Honestly, I had only started making the pot holders as a way to run stitch outs for new patterns. Then someone asked if I could make matching appliance covers. Sure! Why not?? Thus started my journey down that road. Psh! Why do I do such things to myself??? My covers were quilted, embroidered, some with piping and ruffles and took forever. I just couldn’t make them fast enough to justify the price people wanted to pay.

I. Just. Quit. I removed all of them from my Etsy shop. I let people know on my Facebook page, and I am now only doing quilts and moving into making knitting and crochet patterns. I want to do what I love to do, not something that stresses me out. Besides, isn’t that one of the benefits of working for yourself?

It all sounds terribly selfish, but it’s not. I’m giving up the sales I was making off of them. I’m working on a new path that I’m not sure will sell, but hopefully will. It’s a risk. But I’m going to do it. I finished up my last mixer cover this past Sunday, put it in the mail on Monday, and nearly skipped out of the post office, knowing I would never have to do another one. It was a very freeing moment.

Are you a small business owner? What are some moves you’ve made in your business that you weren’t too sure of? How did it work out? 

Janome MC 8900 Review

A couple of months ago I purchased a Janome MC8900 from my local sewing machine store, Moye’s in Savannah. I had started out to purchase the 7700, but my dealer bumped me up to the 8900 and gave me a great price on it! They retail for $4400, but I paid about half that. It’s a long story, and unusual, so plan on paying at least $4k  for one! I love mine so much that I named it after a lady I truly respect, whose quilting, sewing, and crafty heredity has been passed on to me, my Grandma Bernadine. I just leave out the Grandma part, cause she’s still very young. 🙂

The MC8900 is a real workhorse, geared toward people like me that do A LOT of quilting and sewing. It has over 11″ of space to the right of the needle that provides plenty of room to roll up a king size quilt and finish it on a home machine. This machine is loaded with features from its 9mm stitch width and over 250 different types of stitches to its ability to change needle plates with the push of a button, auto tension, knee lift, 1000 stitches per minute, Accufeed flex (for those stubborn thick projects like jeans and 2″ batting!), and so much more.

I have used my Janome for more than 4 months and I have had it tangle up on me one time. That’s compared to my Brother hybrid (SE400) that I bought a little over a year ago that tangled up so much I became a machine repair expert! The tangle was actually caused from me not pulling the needle thread out to start sewing and I really knew better. I have finished everything from a twin to a queen size quilt on this without any problems. I am no longer afraid to do double sided t-shirt quilts with free motion embroidery. Even my stippling, which uses many different directional changes and can be hard on a machine, has come out beautifully every time with very little effort. This machine is truly made for quilting. I love my Janome and even with 4 months I have not had a chance to use everything that it offers. I am currently working on a log cabin block quilt made from jeans, t-shirts, and dress shirts. I have an order for a KitchenAid cover that will employ many other features of this machine. I’m looking forward to a long and happy relationship!

Full size quilt completed on Janome MC8900


Double Sided Full Size Quilt on Janome 8900

So if you’re looking for a high quality machine that is worth the money, I recommend the 8900. Janome also makes a hybrid sewing and embroidery machine, the MC9900 for those of you that want the best of both worlds. I do not own nor have I had the pleasure of using one (YET!), but you should check them out at your local dealer. 

Knit in Public Week

It’s time to knit out loud! June 8-16 is Knit in Public Week. We’re encouraging all of our crafty friends that love to knit (or crochet!) to get out there and knit in public. Tell people what you’re doing, share your craft, and invite questions. Sure, you may be counting, but if someone is interested enough to ask questions, write down your count and answer them. They may be joining you one day. Knitting is one of those crafts that draw people in and get them hooked when the discover the possibilities. Little kids’ eyes will grow huge when they see someone using 4 (or more) needles to knit in the round. To them, all those spiky rods are cool!

So come on, don’t be a prude. Gather your knitting friends, hit the local coffee shop, fast food resty, book store, park – wherever, whenever – and knit out loud!

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