Category Archives: Fabric

Decorating and Updating

We are in a big transition time in our life. Not just the baby on the way, but also the impending Match (the process by which medical students are matched with residency programs). At this point, the most likely contenders are programs in Chicago and Southern California.

If we match in Chicago, then we will continue living in our awesome house. It’s a 1926 Bungalow. We’ve done quite a bit of work on it over the last 2.5 years that we’ve lived here (remodeled the kitchen, removed wallpaper, painted like crazy, etc.), but there is plenty more to do if we will be spending at least 4 more years here (the length of an anesthesia residency).

Last night over dinner, DH and I started making a list of possible updates to the house. There are some big things that need to be addressed, such as “will we remodel the basement?” and “should be try to convert our faux fireplace into something that actually emits heat?” There’s also painting to be done and furniture to buy.

Additionally, I really want to do a better job of decorating. The dining room really needs some attention and the family room/living room/den also needs some TLC.

It’s amazing how expensive things are. Even when it’s worth the investment, I often find myself balking at the prices of various objects and services. Such as, framing art… We have a great Ork poster of Chicago and it is in terrible need of framing. I love the poster and I know that I will love it even more when it’s framed, but I just know that the sticker shock will be painful. But, whatever, I need to just bite the bullet so that I can actually ENJOY my purchase!

I recently purchased the Domino Book of Decorating to help inspire my to update the house. I was very sad when Domino magazine went under, so I’m glad that they left this great book for posterity.

The other two books that I reference periodically are Martha Stewart Living’s Good Things for Organizing and Good Things: A Collection of Inspired Household Ideas and Projects.

As DH and I decide what to do in our home, I’m trying to spend more time looking for inspiration. There are some big things that I’m hoping to accomplish before June when the third member of our family arrives. Plus, I’m guessing that this is also a great opportunity to start the baby-proofing process.


DIY Shower Curtain

*FYI: This is a picture heavy post.

When we bought our house, it was riddled with some ugly wallpaper. I am not in general opposed to wallpaper, however, with champagne taste, I am opposed to cheap looking paper. Being on a beer budget, in general, I opt for paint. Honestly, I doubt that really nice wallpaper will ever be within my budget.

So, last Thanksgiving, my mom-in-law helped me yank down the offensive strips of 1980s water lily border paper in the bathroom and paint the previously navy room a sunny yellow.She really is a champion. She helped me prime and double coat the room as well. She’s the best!

The yellow freaked me out a bit at first because it came out more sunny than buttery (I had expected a more creamy tone). However, I don’t like re-doing work (or re-purchasing supplies), so I figured I should give it a chance to grow on us before I did anything rash. Plus, it was still better than the water lilies. These pictures aren’t great, but I think they show how much brighter the bathroom became with the new paint color.

Before and After:

I really like shower curtains – but not generally the ones I can find at the store (plus, I tend to think that they are overpriced), so I made my own by altering a gorgeous full sized sheet I bought two years ago from Garnet Hill. I had originally intended to make curtains for our old apartment, but never got around to it. I’m glad that I left it in the fabric stash because I really like how it fits in with the sunny bathroom!

Here’s the finished product:

The bathroom is taking on a bit of a California tone to it. I have one of my grandmother’s antique 1940’s California plates on the wall, my old CA license plate, and a funny “valley girl” inspired card on the walls. I also have a collection of succulent plants in there.

Study shows that new Craftilicious Books improve my mood!

In a completely unscientific study I conducted, I treated myself to two craft books to see if it would lift my spirits as final exams and my USMLE Step 1 approach. Result: It did!

Bend-the-Rules Sewing: The Essential Guide to a Whole New Way to Sew

The patterns in “Bend the Rules” are not complicated or revolutionary by any means, but the pictures are pretty and the instructions are clear. There are a lot of great patterns for simple gifts that even a busy medical student may have time to complete.

Plush You!: Lovable Misfit Toys to Sew and Stuff

I love the funky, creative toys in this book! It includes both sewn and crocheted toys. The only problem I have with the Plush You book is that it only includes patterns for 15 of the toys and most of these are the simplest of flat patterns. I was hoping for patterns for a few others, but I guess I’ll just have to wing it and figure out the patterns on my own.

Noli Goods are really super-awesome-tastic!

My friend Kate is the brain behind Noli Goods: Handmade Shiny Goods. This post is really just the shameless promotion of a cool, talented friend and her growing business. Currently, in her shop, she sells handmade double-sided necklaces. I sent her pieces of fabric and paper for the necklaces (she provided the sign language letters). She sent them in lovely, simple brown paper boxes with batting. Kate’s gift to me this year was something new – a neat antique image printed on some sort of fantastic plastic. It show a woman (presumable me) defending herself against attacking animals (presumably medical school). The heart is a nice touch. 🙂

Kate’s Christmas Gift to Me:

Three handmade Christmas gifts:




I love giving handmade, personal gifts and this year, it was even better to support Noli.

Cat and Bird Scarf

I have a friend who always send me a little handmade gift for Christmas. I had been looking around hoping ot find her something handmade, but not necessarily by me (2007 was a crazy year, to no avail). So, a few days before I left town for the holidays, I decided I would make her something simple, easy to construct, but still special. Well, I’m finally done! I hope she’s a patient girl…

It’s a simple project – two long pieces of fabric (one flannel, one smooth cotton) with two cute cut outs attached with Heat N’ Bond. I hand stitched the cat and bird onto the fabric. I wanted the cat to look a little more camouflaged, and the bird to pop out brightly. I think I accomplished that pretty well. I used fushia thread on the bird – it’s a minor detail that’s hardly noticeable unless you’re up close.

I love the details in the fabric. Plus, the flannel is very soft and lush. I bought quite a bit of fabric when I picked up this stuff – hopefully there will be more lovely little projects to come.

Here’s what it looks like around one’s neck:

Burda Style: Open Source Sewing

My mom used to sew the majority of her clothes (and mine) back in the day. I’ve always wanted to emulate her and her mad sewing skilz. However, I don’t know when you were last in a fabric store, but goodness gracious, there are some terrible patterns out there and many of them cost a fortune. I swear, it’s as if a bunch of bitter old stitchers from McCall’s banded together to determine exactly what no-one-in-her-right-mind would wear and make patterns for her. It’s like they think that the only people who sew are teachers who still only wear jumpers and poor souls stuck in an 80s time warp. It’s enough to drive a girl nuts – you’ll know it’s happened when you see me wearing high waisted pleated pants. (OK, it’s not really that bad, but it can seem like it at times. To McCall’s credit, they have lowered many of the pattern prices from the $15 to $2.99. Most of the patterns are still stuff I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing.)

Anyhow, I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to find this site, but I’m pretty excited about it. Burda Style is a resource for clothing sewing patterns. What’s even better is that most of the patterns are FREE and you simply download them to your computer and print yourself. It’s still young, so there aren’t TONS of patterns, but I’m hoping that as the sewing movement follows the knit/crochet movement, that it will grow.

Some of my other favorite sewing resources include:

Amy Butler Design: Her patterns and gorgeous fabric are pricey, but I don’t care because she’s so cool.  All patterns are printed on 100% post-consumer waste. I made her Nappy Bag (with some functional changes) as a giant tote for school supplies. I’m looking forward to making the Lotus Tunic at some point.  I also have her book of simple patterns, In Stitches.

Purl Bee: This blog, run by Purl Soho in New York, has “project journals” (in the right column) with instructions for patchwork, knit/crochet, and embroidery projects/techniques.

Sew, Mama, Sew: A fabric store out of Beaverton Oregon with a large online following, SMS has a great tutorials section.

Fitz Sewing Patterns: Home designed patterns ready for download. Some freebies are available and the for sale patterns are inexpensive.

Favorite Things Patterns: These prairie inspired patterns are lovely, but more on the pricey side.

56 Free Apron Patterns:  Seriously, there’s 56 of them!

The Purls SoHo Bag revealed!

OK, I know. I’m terrible about keeping up with this blog. With school and the myriad of technical difficulties that arose, it’s taken me a while to get my business in order. However, it seems that order has arrived and simplicity with it.

I finished this bag back in January. I really enjoyed the whole process of making it. I was determined to make it something special. The cost alone made me more dedicated to it than many of my other, less extravagant projects. Plus, the fabric really inspired me. I’m a very nature loving, wildlife hugging, granola eating kind of girl, so this fabric was basically made for me. The bag also ended up reminding me of several literary works and inspiring me to add little bits of embroidery. I have tons of embroidery thread that I inherited from my late great grandmother, Susie. I love adding bits of her craft stashes to my own creations. It makes them seem more lasting and more important, tying me to the projects. The same is true of my Singer Featherweight sewing machine, which belonged to my grandmother and then my mother.

Without further adieu, here are the photos (many!) that we’ve all been waiting for (although Fiber Fiend more than most!):

Full View of the PSB

Hope is a thing with feathers

When I saw the bird, I immediately thought of Emily Dickinson’s famous poem, which also happens to be one of my favorites:

“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul.
And sings the tune
Without the words

and never stops at all.”

I heart Spiders

“When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.” ~Ethiopian Proverb

I’ve always had a thing for spiders. It might have stemmed from “Charlotte’s Web” or the fact that they are truly graceful creatures. I find Black Widows to be particularly interesting. I have a healthy fear of them, but still love those red triangles on their backs – like a badge. I thought that a friendlier looking spider would be worthwhile on this bag, so I gave it a heart instead.

Cell/PDA pocket

The original pattern for this bag had a cell phone pocket on the outside. Right before I started constructing the bag, however, I got a Treo 650 which was too big for the recommended pocket. I decided that I would rather have a larger pocket on the inside in a contrasting fabric.

Inside shot


I’m really proud that I was able to finish this project. It was quite and accomplishment for me. It was also really fun to use my sewing machine again.