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Category Archives: Nifty 50

This is the last of the Teen Room Re-Do how-tos. (that’s a mouthful!!)

We have many of these ottomans in our house. They make great, durable seats for kids and bonus storage. As part of my teen room make-over, I decided to recover a couple ottomans that were in her room. The original ottomans were black and blue.



Before beginning, measure your ottoman, because each one can be a little different in size. Mine were 15″ x 15″. The lids were a little bigger (16×16). For the base of the ottoman I cut four pieces 16″x 17″. I wanted plenty of extra length to wrap under the ottoman to secure. For the lid I cut one square (16″x16″) and four strips (16″x 3″)

{After looking at the pictures I realized that I should have ironed the fabric to get the seams out. I am a slacker mom, and ironing is not my thing, so make note that ironing really does help. Not only will it get your creases out of the fabric, but make seams and fold overs much easier}

To start, make the slip cover for the lid. Lay right sides together of one strip and the main square, and sew together. I used a 1/4″ hem.


Sew all four edges the same way, leaving the corners of the strips, for now


Place two of the strips, right side together to form one corner and sew. I only sewed it closed half way, to make my ticking a little easier.



IMG_0723Flip fabric, right side out, and place onto the lid. Be careful to line up edges just right.


With the lid laying upside down, fold over the flap in the middle. I tucked my fabric under, about 1/2″ to keep material from fraying. With out pulling to hard, place first staple in the center, on the under part of the lid


I learned this in an art class about placing canvas. Repeat for all four side, pulling fabric, and placing one staple in the center. Flip lid over and check for smoothness.

Then place two staples on each side of the center, tucking material under as before. Leave the corners open.

Sorry these next two are so blurry

Sorry these next two are so blurry

Gently pull corner out. Pull corner to one side, close to the edge and smooth out, much like gift wrapping.


While holding that down, fold over to create a smooth corner


Staple in place and repeat for the other 4 corners.



All done with the lid!

Now for the main ottoman piece. Measure the sides and length. As I said above, I cut 4 pieces of fabric into 16″x17″ for my ottoman that was 15″x15″. This allows a 1/2 seam on the corners and extra length for tucking and stapling.

With right side together, sew all four pieces together, make a cube slip cover.

Turn right side out and gently pull the cover over the old ottoman.



Pull it down, leaving about an inch or so at the top. Be sure to test your length to ensure you have plenty for the inside. Flip the ottoman over and remove the feet.


IMG_0738Pull fabric corner up (like you are wrapping a gift again) and screw the foot back in, through the fabric, but only half way


Tuck the rest of the corner under the foot and finish tightening the screw back in.


Fold extra fabric under, and secure with staples. repeat for all four corners. Flip ottoman back over. As you can tell, the lining at the bottom of this ottoman needs to also be replaced. I’ll save it for another time.

Now to finish the slip cover.

IMG_0742Starting with the corners, because you want to make sure there is enough fabric, tuck and fold in the same way you folded the corner on the lid and bottom of the ottoman.







Secure with staples, folding the fabric under for a more finished look. You could add rick rack with hot glue over the edges if you aren’t satisfied

IMG_0748IMG_0749All done, good job!!




Nifty 50


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Do you remember Martha Stewart in the earlier days? One of my favorites was her “It’s a Good Thing.” They were easy little decorating ideas that were simple and usually inexpensive.

As part of my Teen Room Re-do, I was needing new light and plug covers.


Washi Tape to the rescue!




It was so easy. Simply wrap the plugs with tape. I matched up patterns when needed to give a more uniform look, and then hung back on the wall.

The day I was taping them, I had taken the covers and tape to an event my son was involved in for school. While I was sitting and waiting, I kept busy wrapping in tape. Another father was watching me, and asked about it. The plain inexpensive plugs are the best, and you can change any plug or switch to match any decor that you can buy tape for.

IMG_4699Here is a sample of my washi tape collection. Duct tape would also work, but is much more sticky. {a-hem I have even more than what is pictured below}


Nifty 50

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We recently were able to re-do our Oldest Daughter’s room. It is so cute and makes me want to hurry up and finish the other rooms. You can see more pictures of her room here.


The fun thing about DIY projects is that you don’t have to use store-made and manufactured decor. With some creativity, a little money, and a sewing machine I was able to make several projects that tie her color palate together.

To make this curtain I used one I bought several years ago as my guide. As I was studying my old one, after I bought all my material to make the one for my daughter’s room, I found that it was actually made from a regular curtain panel. It would be super easy to do. I already had it in my mind what I wanted to do, so I stuck with my plan.

First measure the window you will be covering. This window was 31″ wide x 43″ long (measuring the outside of the molding.) The curtain is made of two main pieces. When cutting fabric you will add about an inch on all sides to your desired finished size. The top panel is 36″ wide x 14″ long (38″ x 16″ before sewing, allowing 4″ for the curtain rod and ruffle area at the top), and the bottom panel is also 36″ wide, but 42″ long (38″ x 44″). The inch all around allows for a double fold over hem, giving a nice finished look to the curtain. You will also need four strips that are 58″ long and at least 2″ wide. (This is how wide I cut mine, but kind of wish they were a little wider.)

You will also see that I decided to line the curtain. The fabrics that I had picked out were a thinner cotton quality, and since it will be getting afternoon sun, I wanted something with a little more thickness. My main problem with lining was to figure out how to achieve the smoothest look. I stumbled on this post, and was a little discouraged because I HATE to iron. More than that, I also hate to pin. I set everything aside for a week, until I gave in, and decided that this was going to be the way to go. Of course I had NO idea where my iron was. Seriously! One of the things that the House of Hempworths post said, that I thought I would mention is that there is no need to measure and cut your linings to the measurements above, because they will actually be a little less, as you will soon see.

The first thing, after you have your main fabric cut out (the top panel, bottom panel and four ties) is to prepare the two panels for lining. Fold over  and iron on all sides of the panels towards the wrong side. Mine was about 1/2″, folded over double for a more finished look. This really will make adding the lining easier. I went ahead and pressed both panels.

Once you have the hems ironed, lay the lining under one side of hem. I started with the top panel, and pin in place along the long edge and one side. It does help if the lining piece is cut close to the same size of the panel.


Now that you have two sides pinned, trim with scissors the extra fabric on the lining so that it fits neatly under the hem on the two remaining sides.





Pin the remaining hems in place. Repeat for the other panel.


When you begin to sew the hems, leave one of the long side. It will be folded over to make the curtain rod place. I sewed the two sides and bottom hem first, then pinned the curtain rod area in place.


With the curtain rod area folded over, the top panel measured 10″

For the curtain rod, fold over 4 inches. 1 1/2″ for the top “ruffle” area, and 2 1/2″ for the curtain rod to be placed. I marked it lightly with a pencil and then sewed in place.

The bottom panel I hemmed all the way around, adding the lining. (Sorry no pictures)

For the 4 tie strands, place wrong sides together, sew the length of each tie. Turn right side out, using a safety-pin as your pull. Tuck 1/4″ in side of each end and sew in place.

Now, to put the two panels and tie strings together.

Lay the bottom panel, right side up. Measure  from each side of the panel to place the ties. Mine was 9″ in on each side.


Place a second tie in the same spot on the back of the bottom panel and pin to hold. Now, place the top panel, right side together, so that the bottom of the panel matches to the top of the other panel. Pin in place, being sure to secure where the ties are. Repeat on the other side.


As seen here layered is the top panel, tie, bottom panel, tie

Finally, sew the to panels together, with the ties in place. Be mindful of where the ties are at so that you don’t have to rip anything due to a loose tie that got in the way.

Iron flat, and hang over the window.

I find it easier to tie the curtain up once it is hung.



With the curtain down, it help keep he room dark and cool, perfect for these summer mornings of sleeping in.

I also made a couple of slip cover for her ottomans in the same fabric. Ottoman are so great for extra storage and seating.

Nifty 50

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The other day I was cleaning up a mess that our little toddler had made in my sewing area. He likes to pull out all the thread spools, ribbons, button, and this particular time he even dumped a bunch of straight pins on the floor, but isn’t he cute?!

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While I was cleaning up the mess, I had the idea of scraping this blog so that I could have another one named “Pins and Needles” since all my posts lately have been about stuff that I’ve made. Which then made me think of the idiom “on pins and needles”. You see, the last several weeks our oldest son has been studying literary terms. I don’t normally think about idioms for no reason.


As I let that thought set in for a second, it came to me. I have lost my blogging focus.


This started as a way to write about life, according to our perspective. Life lesson, cute things the kids did, happenings round the home life. Instead, I became obsessed with having a crafting blog. (what was I thinking?! I am no Martha Stewart!!!) I think where I went wrong was in my new goal I made (about Nifty 50- making 50 things this year.) Never mind the fact that I haven’t posted much of anything. Then I had another a-ha moment. I haven’t been blogging because our oldest daughter had surgery. which would have been really good “according to us” material.


Anyway, I have decided, from this day forward to no longer post How-to’s. (with the exception of some I already wrote that are waiting for some final pictures), but I will post things I have made for the Nifty 50 (to stick with my goal). There just won’t be explanations of how I made them.

For us, I love to set things out this time of year to remind us of the Resurrection and the promise of life. I have been slowly adding little decorations. They have a vintage feel, lots of scraps of paper and mixed fabrics. I am in love with yellow and coral.

IMG_3748 IMG_3804

For the buffet in our dining area, I like to make a little banner for the mirror. This scalloped banner was super easy. I hot glues the trimmings to the half circle and then sewed it all together to ribbon. I also planted wheat seed about two weeks ago so that it would be nice and tall for Holy Week. It’s a great reminder about life. As you will see in the close-ups, washi tape on baby food jars make an easy spring display.

For my front entry table, I made a wreath out of an old book I got for a dollar and scrap-book paper. I also made a Resurrection Garden and a vase of origami flowers. They are harder to kill. Over the kitchen entry I made an easy banner with the name of Jesus. (The backing paper is an old Bible that was torn up. That may seem sacrilegious to some to use for crafts, but I find it symbolic.)

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Then outside, I made a few things for the front porch. An easy scrap fabric banner, a ruffled fabric wreath and a quilted pillow. As you can see I have been quite busy. I think this catches me up for the year with my Nifty Fifty for March and April. Coming soon will be a Teen Room Reveal, and then I should be back on track to share my life and all its craziness.

Nifty 50

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I love simple.
I love brownies.

I love simple, home-made brownies.

To make these brownies, I melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave, but you could also do so in a sauce-pan over low heat if you so desire


1 cup Semi-sweet Chocolate Morsels

1/2 cup (1 stick butter)

3 large eggs

1 1/4 cup flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 bag Andes bits

Preheat oven to 350 and grease 13 x 9-inch baking pan

Melt butter and chips together in 8 cup mixing bowl. Start with 1 minute, stir, and then add 30 second increments. Stir until smooth.

Stir in 3 eggs using whisk.

Add flour, sugar, vanilla, and baking soda. Stir until mixed and spread into pan

Bake 18-22 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted comes out cleanly.

Pour bag of Andes bits, over entire surface, while still hot. Let them melt for a minute or two, and then spread evenly with a knife.



Let brownies cool completely, may place in the fridge. When cooled, the Andes will harden. Cut into bars and try now to eat all in one night.

****If you aren’t really a fan of Andes, you can stir in 1 cup of any chips you like before baking. I’ve made these with semi-sweet, butterscotch, and white.

Nifty 50

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Every year Alan tries to do something extra special with the kids. It is a way to treat them, for the girls it is a date out with their dad, and for the boy it is a time to bond over guy things. It can be whatever the kids are interested in, but is meant to be something special that they can remember. This Valentine’s Weekend he is treating the girls to go see Beauty and the Beast Musical. All three of them are very excited, including the 14-year-old.

To help the girls feel a little extra special I decided to make a little outfit for them. After searching around, I came across this darling thing on pintrest from etsy. My little girls are not twins, but 20 months apart. They love to do so much together and to fight at the same time. So not only did I want them to have similar skirts, I knew by making them, I could reverse the materials so they are also individual.

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 5.08.29 PMObviously, it is a great inspiration!

Now I am a real amateur when it comes to sewing, but I like to try things out, so I thought I would make my own easy version of this skirt. It really is easy! Try not to get overwhelmed with all the steps, just trying to make it as clear as I can since I didn’t use a pattern.IMG_0697

One of these girls is also more discreet than the other. (They had suckers they were hiding behind their backs.)

One of these girls is also more discreet than the other. (They had suckers they were hiding behind their backs.)

IMG_0689 IMG_0685 IMG_0684 IMG_0681 IMG_0679

The other girls takes her "modeling" very seriously

The other girls takes her “modeling” very seriously

One of these girls is a real ham. Can you tell which one?

One of these girls is a real ham. Can you tell which one?


To make the skirt you need two contrasting fabrics, 1-inch elastic for the waist, thin fold over elastic (or something similar), ribbon, thread

1. Measure your child both around the waist and for length. You will double the width of the waist, and add about 4 inches for hemming and connecting the pieces together.


2. I find it helpful to write the measurements down. For my girls their waists are about 25″ around and for length I wanted a total of no less than 16″, but if it was a little longer it would be fine. When cutting pieces you will have three, all being 50″ long. (or whatever width is correct for you.) The top piece of the skirt is  9″ wide and the bottom pieces are both about 13″ wide. This will allow for an inch and 1/2 for the waist band and 1/2 hemming the bottom to the top, and about and inch for the bottom hem.

IMG_06483. I went ahead and also cut out the elastic that I needed. Since the waist was 25″ I cut about 23″ for the waist elastic. With the fold over elastic (for the gathering sections) I stretched them as far as they would go until I got the length of the bottom skirt, which was about 7 inches of elastic not stretched. I cut six of these, but 4 would probably be okay too.


4. With the top part of the skirt, I went ahead and folded and sewed the elastic pocket. Confession time: you should use an iron to get crisp clean lines. I didn’t, and to be honest, it’s because I don’t know where my iron is. For the elastic, I folded over about half and inch (press), and then fold over about another inch. I used the elastic as a guide. Sew this closed, and then set the piece aside.


5. Now for the bottom hem of the two lower skirts. Again, use your iron and fold over about 1/4 to 1/2 inch hem on both pieces.


6. Now to sew the 3 pieces together, lay the bottom of the skirt right side up, then the second layer (that will be gathered) also right side up, and finally lay the top piece, wrong side up, with the waist area down. I don’t usually like to pin, but I did pin the pieces together since there are three layers and I didn’t want them to move. Sew together.





7. When you open up the pieces it should look like the picture above. Now to add the fold over elastic for gathering


8. To place the fold over elastic, I found the middle of the skirt and pinned it on the wrong side of the top layer (which for my skirt is polka dot) near the connecting hem. Then I place one at one end (where the pieces will eventually be connected). This left me with 4 more elastics. I placed two equally between the two halves of the skirt.


This picture shows how the top layer is flipped and where I pinned all 6 of the elastics. Only one end has an elastic on it, because when you connect the ends, it will even out.

IMG_0656 IMG_0657

9. To attach the fold over elastic, first make certain that you are ONLY sewing on the gathered layer. Place a few stitches to hold the elastic in place (go forward, reverse, forward), then make sure the needle is down in the fabric


10. Pull the elastic as far as it will go, then proceed to attaching the elastic. I found that I had to gently guide the fabric in the back, since I was pulling it from the front. (I can’t show you this, because I was using both my hands and lacked a third to hold the camera) Repeat for all 6 elastics.


This is to remind you to pay attention! I was careless and let my fabric bunch up. Fortunately I only had to rip out the bottom part, and then was back on track. *sigh However, I made two of these skirts, and this only happened once.

Okay, breathe. We are almost done. Yay!


11. Now to piece the skirt together. Start with the gathered top layer. Place wrong sides together, and place a few stitches to hold, like when you attached the elastic. Sew close to the elastic as you can.


12. Pull the two together and sew, as you did before, making sure that they match up, again as close to the elastic as you can.

13. With the right sides together sew up the “under” part of the skirt, making sure not to sew the gathered skirt to it. Sorry I forgot to take a picture.


14. When you turn the skirt, right side out, it is nearly done. So cute!


15. As a final touch, I added little red bows. I safety pinned mine to the back so I can remove them in the wash, but they can also be sewn into place.

I also made the girls a reversible headband with some of the scraps. Here is the link to that tutorial.


Nifty 50



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It is January 30. Not only is Valentine’s Day just around the corner, but I was (until today) one post away from my Nifty 50 goal this month.

I love holiday time. The kids love it too. My little girls are crazy about Valentine’s Day. As I was pulling out my items I made from last year, I realized that the attic is not good to crafts made from paper.  Here are a few things I made last year…

This fall I made a banner for the porch. Although the weather is not any where near as lovely, wait a week and it will be. (That’s how we roll in OK.)

You can make this banner with paper and glue as well, but since it was going outside, I thought fabric would be better. Also the one I made this fall I cut the burlap pieces out. This is no easy feat, because burlap has all those strings. However now you can buy neat burlap ribbon with many different designs on it.

To make a banner you need: burlap ribbon, scrap fabric, ribbon, and a sewing machine or hot glue.

Step one, determine the size banner you need. The burlap ribbon i used is 5 inches wide, with about two inches between each piece plus 4 inches on the end… or you could just cut several pieces, which is what I actually did. 9 to be exact.


Now, to make them look less rectangular, and more banner like, you will fold each rectangle lengthwise.


Hold the fold, and with scissors about an inch from the bottom, cut at an angle towards the bottom of rectangle.

IMG_0549With the scrap fabric, cut out various shapes to be sewn (or glued) onto the burlap. I went with hearts and XO. You could do anything (arrows, pumpkins, Christmas trees, anything).


Sew around the fronts of each shape, securing them into place. I used a contrasting grey thread and various decorative stitches, none of which is really seen, unless you look closely.


Once all the pieces are set, cut your ribbon to the length you need to hang. Be sure to leave room on the ends to tie. Determine the center of you ribbon. It is much easier to work from the center out. Because I had an odd number, I sewed the 5th piece to the middle of the ribbon.


After the 5th was set, I moved to the 4th and 3rd piece. I placed them about two inches apart from the one prior, any width is fine. I went old school and used my thumb for measuring. It was handy. (Pun intended)



See all that extra ribbon to the left of the “O”. This is why you start in the middle and work your way out. After I sewed on the 4th and 3rd, I added the 2nd and 1st, and then moved to the other side of the 5th piece and sewed on the remaining pieces.

IMG_0563Almost done! To finish the look, sew on some ribbon or trim on top.


Here is what ribbon would look like. I didn’t have enough, so I used pom-pom trim that I had on hand. I love pom-poms.


You can sew the trim just on top of each burlap, across all the burlap (which is what I did) or the entire length of the ribbon. It’s all about your preference.



I couldn’t get a good picture of the whole thing. (slacker) Plus it was cold. Using some of these same fabrics, I am going to make a pillow for my porch as well.

Happy sewing! or glueing.

Nifty 50

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