For the Love of it! Decorating with Themes

There are interests, hobbies and crafts that we all do just for the love of the creative process it entails.  Decorating is one of mine.

Though I studied Architecture and Interior Design in college, it does not compare to actually doing it in your own home, and especially for your own children!!  Decorating, depending on how involved you get, can combine many creative outlets.  Being the type of creative person I am- I insist  on doing it all!! I enjoy learning new processes, like when we remodeled our home, I decided to learn how to tile and lay wood floors, but thats another story!

In decorating my children’s rooms, I have employed sewing, painting and furniture refinishing.   I love to decorate their rooms in themes that they like, to give them a feel of owning their space in our home.  Amazingly this also inspires responsibility for their rooms, which they take more pride in and try harder to keep clean. Yes! it really does work!

We have had many themes through- out the years: Paddington Bear Nursery, a Teddy Bear Picnic Nursery, a Garden Nursery.

Then as they grew up, for the boys, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Harry Potter and now  a Beachy/ Nautical theme due to my boys involvement in Rowing for Crew.

Many times we have used the redecorating of a childs room to help them transition into a new phase, like giving up the crib and moving onto the toddler bed

This was Andrew’s transition from the Nursery above- “Teddy Bear Picnic” to  a Woody theme with a special “Woody” Toddler bed, since we needed the crib for his baby sister.

In Andrew’s Woody room I tried color washing the walls, that is why they look a different hue in places. It adds a softer touch of color and has an aged look.  Then I stenciled the “Woody” motif and rope design.  On the bed I used a wood graining tool to add that western feel.  He was so excited about his “new” room and bed!

My daughter progressed to a Tinker Bell theme.

I used a wavy vine to accent the top of the wall as a boarder so that the flowers would stand out more, then I sketched out the flowers using a Tinker Bell coloring book as inspiration.  These walls were also colorwashed, I just love the soft layers of color that come through with this method

Now being all of 8 years old,  she is requesting a more sophisticated “Paris ” Theme, with all the Glam of course!!

I have learned many painting techniques through-out the years; Pickling, Weathering, Glazing, Crackling, Ragging, Sponging, Color washing, Stamping, Stenciling and Woodgraining, using them on walls as well as furniture. Unfortunately, due to a computer virus we lost a lot of our family pictures, so I only have a few left to show.

Our latest transition was from a Harry Potter theme to a Beach theme.

Here we tried a new technique called “weathering” usually done on furniture, but my son wanted his walls to look like an old weathered Beach shack. Along the way through all our redecorating,  I have taught my children how to do it as well.  The boys started as young as three years old.  There is nothing as exciting or scary as handing your three year old a loaded paint roller or brush and telling them to “go to town!”.  At eight and thirteen my boys learned how to pull up carpet, nail strips and three layers of old linoleum, they loved the crow bar action!!   Meanwhile my daughter was working on coloring my bedroom walls with her crayons!  So she was given a paint brush too!

The only downside to inspiring my childrens creativity this way, is that they frequently come up with new ideas for their rooms.  they love the process so much that they want to do it frequently!!

I am always on the look out for  inspiration and ideas for decorating with new window treatments or accents that we can work on together.

These are two of my favorite books that have inpired me:

Rooms your kids will love, by Paige Gilchrist and Mary Engelbreit’s,  Childrens Companion

I hope this has inspired you to collaborate with your child on a room of their dreams. I promise you it is a rewarding teaching and bonding experience.  Have fun exploring your creative urges together!!

Kerry ♥

Re-Make It – An Outgrown Shirt Becomes A New Outfit For An American Girl Doll…

I have always been a big fan of recycling, now also known as re-using or re-purposing. As far back as I can remember my Grandmother could always find a way to re-use items like : coffee cans, jars, pantyhose, old clothing, even those little left over pieces of soap, she would keep to compress together.  She frequently gave me scraps  and buttons from my Grandfathers old shirts to make things for my dolls.

So it is no supprise that I have followed suit. I find it challenging to throw things away, I stare at the item and try to think what could be done with it now, especially when I was home-schooling. Which, of course, could easily put me into the catagory of “hoarder”. We are in a time of cross purposes: recycle, re-use, re-purpose, or on the other hand  we hear “don’t hoard- purge!” So, in trying to find a happy medium, I recycle in the usual community way and since I am a seamstress/designer, I examine every piece of clothing that is ourgrown or damaged in our house, before it goes to Goodwill or the trash.  If I am particularly attatched to the item, like baby clothes that hold a special memory, it is saved, or if it is something I think I can use in a new project, it is put in my Project box- or boxes, in my case!!This pillow, for example, was made with my sons’ outgrown Tshirt and matching patchwork shorts, that he and I both loved, and co-ordinated with the “surfer” theme we were working on in his room.

Recently my daughter, Brianne,  outgrew a favorite shirt that she did not want to part with as it is an official “American Girl” shirt and she just recieved an “American Girl” doll for Christmas, that of course, looks just like her.  So my solution? I will make her doll an outfit from the shirt. 

So I cut it up through the sides, seperating the front and back, then cut out the “American Girl” emblem so that I can later applique it to the front of the dolls’ top as it did not fit the pattern piece for the top because of where it was located on the shirt.

Then, using a popular 18″ doll’s clothing pattern, I laid out the pieces I needed to make a similar style top and matching pants for our AG doll.

Notice I cut the doll’s top using the existing bottom hem as the doll’s hem as well to retain the original decorative stitching.

I was able to get all the pieces I needed for the top and a ruffle for the pants, from my daughter’s shirt.

I appliqued the American Girl emblem to the front of the top, suprisingly it just fit!

Then I  went on to finish the outfit and – voila!!

She has a new outfit similar to one of my daughter’s favorite outfits!!!  Needless to say, Brianne was thrilled!!  Considering how much these American Girl outfits cost, this is a great thrifty way to fill up her closet. (No we don’t have the “Armoire” yet- but I am sure we soon will!)

Best of all I did it all with-in one hour!!

Next week I will show you how to make something really practical that everyone could use and will save you money!!!

Keep up the recycling, re-using, and re-purposing.

Kerry

Finding Time to be a Work -at-Home Mom

I am a stay-at-home Mom, who feels like a single parent to my three wonderful children. My Husband works insane hours and is never home on weekends due to his schedule. Thus leaving me to be the literal Mom-Taxi!  But wait! There’s more –  I am also a work-at-home Mom, as I own my own business –

K. A. Handmade.

This will all soon become MORE complicated as we are adding a second business to the mix!

What do I do, you ask?  Well, I design and create handmade costumes, clothing, home decor and plushies, your wish is my inspiration! I have been doing this since I was in middle school when I learned how to sew.

Now, as you can imagine, trying to do all this along with taking care of a family of five and three dogs, is no easy task. How do I create 30 costumes, shuffle the kids to three separate schools-(no buses!), get them to practice, play dates, shop for groceries, clean the house, do the laundry and walk the dogs??  Holy Cow! I have no idea!!

Organization and cooperation are the key, even though I don’t always feel that my life is organized.  It is also by teaching my children to be self-sufficient – wish I could teach my husband that one!! LOL!
They make their own lunches, are responsible for putting their own clothing in the laundry bins because I do NOT search for dirty clothes. Who would want to do that? It means more work after all! They wanted the dogs, so they are responsible for taking care of them. They clean their own rooms and bathrooms and since I do the cooking – they do the dishes. I mean, what are kids for if not to take a load off? Right?

Seriously, my goal here is to raise responsible adults that have a good work ethic and can take care of themselves. At the same time I am hoping that they will pick -up on  my entrepreneuring spirit by watching me create a business from something I love to do.

I find that if I get up an hour before my family, then I can get myself organized for the day and once I am organized, then everything runs much smoother. I generally have five hours between the time I  drop off the last child at her school- before I have to pick up my oldest and get him to practice. Once we are all home (two hours later- traffic -URG! ) It’s homework time while I prepare dinner. Luckily, the older two do not need much help with their homework, thank God! I am no math whiz!! Once dinner is done I go right back to my studio, which is right off the living room, so I am accessible, but in my zone. When my husband comes home I sit with him while he eats his dinner and we share our day. Then, if I am on a deadline, I go back to my studio. Weekends are another story!
I usually have more time on weekends – until racing season begins! Did I mention my boys are in Crew? Not familiar with it? Ever seen the movie “Varsity Blues” or “The Social Network”? Well being a part of Crew is NOT an activity- it is a way of life! In our house, it has become a year long – life long sport / obsession!!

Regatta Oars

When racing season begins we generally have a race every Saturday, which is a day-long event.  I’m talking 5:00 am to 6:00 pm! In ANY kind of weather, they are more determined than your postman!! The more prestigious races involve many states or regions and are whole weekend affairs.

How do I work with this, you ask? I prepare whatever must be done on the sewing machine and save the hand-work for these days; Buttons, hand stitching, embroidery, crocheting, stuffing and paperwork are saved for ‘race days’ where I sit under a tent in my fold up chair with my sewing bag next to me and my binoculars around my neck  waiting for my sons’ races to begin.

CREW!

I have been seen hand sewing the lace cuffs on the Mad Hatter Costume.

The Mad Hatter!

Hand appliqueing the ‘E’ on a Crew blanket  for a team member. Crocheting flowers to add to a repurposed denim skirt. Stuffing a Coraline doll and sewing her limbs on.

This has actually been a great advertisement for my business, as the other parents arrive currious to see what I will be working on that day. I practice this at other places as well, such as,  doctors’  appointments, the dentist’s office, and the dreaded car maintenance appointments. I’ll say it again, this has been a boost to my business as it is a great conversation starter and people are always curious about what I am making. Where there is a will there is a way, and if there is ANY block of time that my hands are free- I will fill them!

This summer my husband has bought me a new Mac-Book Pro laptop, as we will soon open a new business. Now, I can take that with me as well! (Not sure if that’s such a good thing or not!)

By the way, that new business I mentioned?  It’s LotusMade.com.  You’ve heard it mentioned here for the past several weeks, as we have divulged details about a new E-commerce handmade web-site. We are getting closer to our launch date and SO excited to present to the public a fresh, personal experience in an on-line venue for handmade Artists of all types and a pleasure for shoppers world-wide!  Keep reading our posts and be the first to know when we launch LotusMade.com!

As my daily schedule fills up even more, I find new places to create and fulfill God’s purpose for my life.

Kerry ♥♥♥

Creating your own printed fabric

Stamping Toile print on Roman shade
Stamping Toile print on Roman shade

Stamping a Toile print

Have you been searching for just the right print, with the right color combination for your next sewing project?  Scoured through all the fabric websites, local fabric stores and even local yard sales?  Frustrated after all that searching and only finding something similar, but in the wrong color or fabric?  Believe me I have been there! More times that I care to remember! What is more frustrating is that I saw just the item I wanted only weeks before, but now it is nowhere to be found!  After confronting this issue several times, I decided to try making my own printed fabric. I had been searching for a navy blue printed toile, for a roman shade that I wanted to make for my Dinning room window, The only blue I could find was not navy but a teal blue and on an ecru background, when I wanted a white background.  So I purchased the white fabric for the shade, cut it and sewed it together, then went to search through my rubber  stamp collection.  I found a set of stamps very similar to a toile pattern, poured some navy blue acrylic craft paint into a disposable plastic plate and began to play.  I started with a scrap piece of the fabric used for the shade and started testing how best to achieve the look I wanted. I was very happy with the results as were my family and friends, who could not believe that I had done the printing as well as the window treatment.

Blue Toile Roman shade

Dining room Toile Roman shade

A few months later, a friend wanted  Umizoomi costumes for her son and daughter for  a birthday party. Well Geo is easy just solid colors, but the girl – Milli has a specific flower pattern with light pink on a darker pink background. Well of course there was nothing similar to be found, so I went searching through my rubber stamps and found one that would work. This is how I prepared the material:

* Wash and dry material
* cut out all the pattern pieces
it is less time-consuming to “print” just these pieces rather than all of the fabric

Pink Milli hood

Printing the hood peices

* Lay out all the pieces flat on top of freezer paper or wax paper in case any paint bleeds through.

* I mix the color of acrylic craft paint with a fabric medium according to instructions on the bottle.

* Pour the mixed paint and medium into a disposable plastic plate that has a large flat surface.

* Test your technique on a scrap piece of the same fabric you will be printing.

* Use enough paint to cover the surface of the stamp but not to run down into the crevices

* Try varying the pressure you apply when stamping down onto your fabric

Pink Umizoomi Milli costume

Flower stamp and material for Umizoomi costume

* Remember to bring your stamp straight up and down onto  and off of the fabric

* Once you have your technique down, you are ready to print on your pieces

* I start in the center and work my way out, even overlapping on some edges

* Once all the pieces are printed, I leave them to dry for several hours.

* Using a pressing cloth and dry iron on the hottest setting your fabric can take,

Pink Milli Umizoomi dress printing

Printing the dress peices

iron the wrong side

of the fabric to set the paint.

* Now you are ready to assemble your project.

I enjoyed this process so much that I am constantly looking for more projects that I can print myself!
I guarantee that if you try it, Not only will your family and friends be impressed by the project you made  but in awe of YOUR handmade printed fabric!

Kerry

finished Milli dress

The finished costume!