Friday, May 25, 2012

Our Dining Table Makeover

Hi there! I'm tackling furniture painting projects left and right these days now that our summer has begun! I've been wanting to do something...anything...with our very worn out dining table top since last winter. When I saw this post from Domestic Imperfection, I decided to go for it before I could talk myself out of it all! :)

Here is the before picture...

The blonde and white dining set went much better in our old house, but seemed to clash with the gray walls we inherited (and love!) in our current dining room. Plus, you can't tell from this pic how badly the previous finish on the tabletop had been worn off in the "high traffic" areas! 

Initially, I had wanted to paint the whole thing white so I had plenty of paint on hand but I was nervous to leave such a blank canvas, so to speak, for my kids to put marker and paint stains all over. I thought a patterned tabletop would help disguise any kid-related snafus, maybe! The new table concept would involve sanding down our tabletop, painting a stencil across it, applying a darker wood stain, then sealing the whole thing with polycrylic.

Lucky me, I already had a really cute $4 fleur-de-lis style stencil on hand from my curtain project! I just didn't want to spend $50 on a large-scale stencil...but it took many hours of stenciling a repeating pattern in exchange, way into the late night hours! I started in the middle and worked my way out. I love how it turned out!
Here "she" is! (The table and I are besties now, after all these hours spent together!!)
My husband used his orbital sander to remove the old blonde finish...thanks dear! Then I applied three coats of Minwax Wood Finish in Dark Walnut. I also sanded with our orbital sander in-between each coat. This was my first time working with wood stains, and whew...what a smell! I'm not a fan.

The final step was applying a polycrylic sealant, also a first for me. I'll definitely use it again on all my painting projects! It really leaves such a nice, professional (and durable) finish. I did three coats, lightly sanding with a fine grit sanding block in-between coats.
 Can you believe all of this started with one tiny fleur-de-lis stencil?? I think it has a cute little French country look to it, which I love. More pics...
As you can see, we have the ubiquitous $20 gray floral rug Ikea rug that's just such a great value. Our dining room is strangely the largest room downstairs, so I decided to put two rugs together to span the table area instead of going sans rug. At twenty bucks each, no one is too heartbroken if our our troop of young children spill something our our conjoined rugs. Which they do...a lot. ;)

I'm so in love with our "new" table!! We actually served dinner on it last night and it was such a cool experience! After using our rickety extra drop-leaf table for the past several days, we felt like we were in some kind of fancy restaurant...ha ha! And I'm so happy with our all-white chairs. They even seem easier to clean now, thanks to a final coat of polycrylic.

Thank you so much to Ashley from Domestic Imperfection for inspiring me to do this table makeover and providing great guidance! I have a few other furniture DIY projects to share in the upcoming weeks, including our decoupaged bookcase that is something I just love. :) Thanks for stopping by!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Lotus Sew-a-Long Day 5 and Pattern Review

Whew! What a week! Our Amy Butler Lotus Tunic Sew-a-Long is now over and done with. Yippeee!!! So great to have a finished garment, and just in time for Mother's Day weekend too! Please check out our Flickr group to see even more pics, including those of my partner Cara's top/dress too. Click on the links below to get up to speed on our progress this week:

Lotus Tunic Intro
Lotus Day 1: Tracing and Cutting
Lotus Day 2: Sewing
Lotus Days 3 and 4: Lining

I'm not going to keep you in suspense any longer! Here's my shortened version of the Lotus Tunic:

I made this top about 5 inches shorter than the pattern called for since I wanted something to wear with leggings or jeans. I am so pleased with how it turned out! On me, the fit was perfect! There is definitely something to be said for a nicely tailored garment. If anything, I'd take it in around the natural waist/hips a little more, but I'm happy with a figure-flattering a-line look too. Here's the back:
I just think the sleeves on this garment are adorable!!
By the last day of our Sew-a-Long, all I still needed to do was hem my garment. However, I inadvertently made my muslin lining just a touch smaller than the outer shell. Ooops! So I had to open and fix one seam, then I was able to hem it just fine. It went really quickly, thankfully!

Just a few notes about this pattern, in the vein of a review: the Lotus Tunic is a very easy pattern to follow. This is the third Amy Butler pattern I've used so far and I've been happy with the results every time! As with any garment you're working on, definitely try it on midway and adjust for fit issues. My hubby is a good helper with this. He does computerized drafting all day long, so measurements come naturally to him! I ended up making my seams around the bust/shoulder area smaller than the pattern called for (about 5/8" as opposed to 1/2") and a smidge bigger than 1/2" from the hips down. What can I say...I'm kinda a giant rectangle!!

Also, if you decide to shorten the tunic like I did, you might need to trim off more than 5 inches. I'm nearly six feet tall, so 5" wouldn't be nearly enough for you petite ladies. :) And I'd advised shortening it if you are of average or petite height. The tunic was absolutely more of a dress on my friend Cara, my Sew-a-Long partner.

In any case, please note that this pattern calls for more fabric than necessary, especially if you're going to shorten it. This shortened garment is a size Large, and I used 1 1/2 yards of main fabric and maybe a little more than a fat quarter's worth of fabric for the coordinating pieces. For the full tunics I'm making for my sister and my second top, I used 2 yards of main fabric.

Finally...about the lining: I can see making this top piece by piece with the lining already sewn to the pattern pieces. Muslin is so light and pliable, I don't think it would add any discernible bulkiness to the seams that way. Maybe, but I don't know. Any more experienced seamstresses want to weight in on this?

I better run! Next up I'll be posting pics and a pattern review of the Amy Butler Blue Sky Sun Hat! I made two, one for my Grandma's Mother's Day gift and then one for myself. :) And, of course, I'll soon be finishing and posting pics of the other two Lotus Tunics I have in the works. Can't wait!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Lotus Sew-a-Long Days 3 and 4: Lining

Thanks for following along with the Amy Butler Lotus Tunic Top Sew-a-Long that I'm working on this week with Cara from My Little Lady Designs! Check out our Flickr group for lots of fun photos of our progress, but here's a quick recap of what happened on days 3 and 4 of the sew-a-long...

Day 3: Well, things certainly started to slow down for me mid-week. On Day 3, all I managed to do was install zippers on all 3 garments and then wrangle my muslin linings. Sounds easy, right? Not if you have a certain 11 months old that wants to participate!

"Is this my new blanket, Momma?"

Hey, come back with that muslin!!!

Anyway...here's the muslin lining after I rescued it from my youngest kiddo (and ironed it!):
 Front
Interior
This section of the pattern calls for finishing or serging all the seams, but I boldly chose to skip that step after consulting with my mother. All the seams will be encased in the interior of the garment after it's complete, so I didn't really see an acute need for all that extra reinforcement. Plus, I was running short on time! Actually, the muslin came together really quickly but I only had an hour or two to put into it all.

On Day 4, I attached the lining to my main garment and then completed the sleeves. At this point, it became crystal clear that I would only be able to finish one of the three tops I was constructing by Friday. Oh well! There's always next week. :) Here are some pics...
Front
Back
There was some wonkiness at the outer corners of neckline that required a little extra clipping and stitching, but otherwise I was super pleased with the results! It was my first time understitching anything so I had to google it to figure out exactly what to do. Easy peasy, though! Here's the video I used to figure it out.

Then it was sleeve time! The pattern calls for gathering stitches or basting at 1/2" and 3/8" on the sleeve piece, but next time I'll stitch at 1/4" and 3/8" to avoid having to clip those seams out later. I also made the circumference of my sleeve just a little bit bigger than the pattern called for. The size Large top has a 9 1/2" sleeve, but mine ended up at 11". I was worried it might look too poofy, but I'm happy with the end results. Plenty of room to move my arms around! Isn't it so cute and feminine?
Another first for me...I used Amy Butler's method of attaching bias tape instead of my quick, one step (and maybe incorrect!) method! Here's a tutorial on sewing bias tape on a curve that really has great step-by-step pics: Bias Tape Tutorial. Pretty cool, really! I'm a convert!!

Mother's Day weekend is upon us, so I'll have to post my Day 5 finale and pics after the weekend. So excited to share photos of my finished garment with you! Yes, I actually finished it...ha! So adorable and worth all the work...plus, the fit is just perfect for me. :) Can't wait to wear it on Mother's Day! Thanks so much for visiting my blog and Sew-a-Long!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Lotus Sew-a-Long Day 2: Sewing

Hey there! It's our Amy Butler Lotus Tunic Sew-a-long week and now we're getting into some real work here! Monday we traced and cut our fabric pattern pieces and Day 2 was the start of sewing them together, which is always exciting! I love seeing the garment come together!

The first step was to tackle the darts for our back pieces. Here are some pics...

 Dart from the "wrong" side
 Completed dart
Remember, I decided to sew 2 tops for myself and then I added a third top per the request of my sister. I'm a nice sister, right? Ha ha! Actually, I'm not sure if I'll finish hers this week, but it's good to get a head start!

Although the pattern called for inserting the zipper practically right away, I decided to hold off until Day 3 because I realized that I didn't have the right zipper on hand. It won't change the final product anyway. Here are my three Lotus tops through Step 8 of the pattern:
I just love the sweetheart neckline on these tops! I've never sewn a garment like that and I'm definitely happy with the look. 

Then I attached the upper bodice pieces. Easing around this curve wasn't so much fun, but I was getting more efficient by my third top! Still, check out how many pins I needed!
It was about 10:30pm when I called it quits, and here's some shots of how far I got...
At this point, I'm all the way through Step 10 (minus inserting zippers) and ready to start sewing my muslin linings. I'm actually not too thrilled with the color combo on my sister's green/aqua Sandlewood top. I hate to change it now, but I plan on getting her opinion ASAP and proceed accordingly!

Just a quick note...be sure to try on your top at this point and see if any fit adjustments are needed. I tried on my sister's top first and decided to use a smaller seam allowance on my two tops where the shoulder attaches. I happen to be quite tall (5'11") and I could use a tiny bit more length in that area compared to her smaller stature. Otherwise, I was very happy with the fit and really looking forward to wearing these tops eventually!!

Next up...two more days of sewing, and then Friday to finish up! Check out our Flickr group for more pics and also please visit my friend Cara's site, My Little Lady Designs, to read all about her progress with the Lotus Sew-a-Long!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Lotus Tunic Sew-a-Long: Tracing and Cutting

Today's the big day! For those of you who are just joining us, we are starting a sew-a-long for the beautiful Amy Butler Lotus Tunic Top. Check out or join or Flickr group for even more pics and you can follow along with our progress on this blog or my sew-a-long partner's blog: My Little Lady Designs!
 All ready to trace this pattern and cut my fabric...

By the way, I've decided to cut two tops and sew them both this week. Wish me luck! Actually, my sister saw how cute this pattern is and immediately wanted me to make a top for her too, so I might add a third to the mix if I can squeeze out enough time! I'm pretty busy as a stay-at-home mom with three kids aged 4 and under, so I'm not super optimistic about finishing it all!

A few notes about this pattern...the pieces are in tissue like a traditional McCall's or Simplicity pattern. I'm not a fan of that. Since I've been exposed to digital patterns on paper, I just prefer their sturdiness. Oh well! I also like to use parchment paper to trace my pattern pieces, when/if they'll fit. Then I can re-use them and not worry about tearing or excessive crinkling.

Here's my Amy Butler Sandlewood fabric:
Since I didn't have a full 2 yards of this fabric on hand, I decided to make a hip-length version of the Lotus Tunic. Thus, I trimmed 5 inches from the bottom of each body pattern piece. The other option for a shorted top was to use the Cami pattern, but I wasn't as happy with how the fit looked on example pieces I've seen or having buttons up the back.

Here are some of my Sandlewood pieces with my coordinating fabric, Lodge Lattice by Joel Dewberry:
For my second top, I scrounged up some random fabric made for Joann stores that I barely remember buying. That's okay...since I had two yards, I was set to make a full-on tunic! I chose Amy Butler's Fresh Poppies in fuchsia for the coordinating fabric...
Not a super hard pattern to trace and cut, but time-consuming. There are six pattern pieces and almost all of them need to also be cut out in a lining fabric (muslin). I just finished my muslin pieces, and I didn't bother with pics of those, alas. Just happy to still be on schedule! :)


Next up...two days of solid sewing! Ha, I wish. More like two days with a few stolen hours of sewing during my kids' naptimes and after they go to bed for the night! Here's a recap of this week's schedule:


Monday (May 7): Tracing and Cutting Pattern
Tuesday-Thursday (May 8-10): Sewing
Friday (May 11): Finishing

I'm so excited to get started tomorrow, especially now that I can more easily envision the finished product! Hope you can join us! :)

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