Hopes and Seams

Crafts, refashions, and sewings to DIY my way through life

Archive for the category “General”

Entryway Mail Holder

Apparently I got lost during the holidays. My last post was about approaching fall, and now… didn’t we just celebrate the first day of spring this past week? 🙂

I haven’t had much time to do anything “extra” these days. Life is full – a happy full! – so I don’t have much to show here. One of the few project I was able to do, though, was to make the perfect little mail holder. I searched high and low, everywhere I went, for something that would hold papers (outgoing mail, coupons, important receipts) on the wall of our entry way. I had really particular dimensions and a craving for something with personality, which was apparently too much to ask because I wasn’t finding anything. Finally I looked at a cardboard box we were throwing away and figured, “why not?”


So a cardboard box, a thrift store sheet, some clothesline and some left over yellow p0mpom trim turned into this funky little thing…


and after hanging a magnetized whiteboard tile above it, our entry way is a heck of a lot more functional 🙂



I have pics of the step by step…but it’s pretty self explanatory, no?

Hope everyone is basking in the goodness of God, manifested in perfect temperatures, happy blooms, and sun-shiny days.

20140310-151602.jpgoh yellow pom poms….you slay me!


Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall – Bleach Dyed Dress

All summer long, I had eyed a number of bleach dyed tops, skirts, and jackets, but didn’t want to spend the cash for anything new. So I put bleach dyeing something for myself on my summer to-do list. By the time I was done, it was fall! 🙂

a blue a linen sack I could find

as blue a linen sack I could find

I started with this linen dress I found at the thrift store for $3. I thought the cobalt blue was so pretty, and the pockets were interesting. But everything else needed some changing…!!!

alterationsI did a number of pretty standard alterations:

  1. marked at my natural waist and cut
  2. brought in the sides and sleeves, trimming off the excess
  3. resized the new skirt by making 6 uniform box pleats. I considered just gathering it like I have before, but the fabric is a bit thicker and I thought pleats would be faster to do

IMG_1909-001After that, I sewed the new bodice and skirt back together: I matched them up at the waist seam, with the right sides facing each other.

IMG_1921-001It was already MUCH improved. But I knew this little gem had more to show!

bleach dye materials

Needed: big bowl or bucket, sponge, GLOVES, straight up bleach, concrete slab or giant table covered with tarp (not kidding)

I got my materials together and found a nice flat concrete area to work on. Some notes on the materials and work space:

  1. I needed a large surface area that was flat, big enough for me to lay the entire dress out without wrinkling
  2. The work space needed to be something I could drip undiluted bleach all over. The concrete outside my front door was perfect after I made sure it was clean of debris, but I would have used a tarp on a big table if I needed an alternative.
  3. I was dip-dyeing my dress first, so I chose to use a smaller, narrower bowl versus a wide bucket because I didn’t want to pour more bleach than I would need to saturate the hem of dress.
  4. I had a big soft sponge, the kind you shine cars with, but a smaller sponge would have been fine too.

Starred Photos5I started with the hem: I kind of rolled my dress up so that it would fit the width of the bowl, being VERY CAREFUL that the hem was uniform all along the bottom, and put my gloves on. After filling my bowl about 4 inches deep with the bleach, I lowered the dress in until it was standing on the bottom of the bowl with the surface of bleach reaching 4 inches up the hem, and “creeping” up. 

One thing I didn’t know about bleach dyeing is that the bleach does not change the color of the fabric right away. I thought that the moment the fabric would hit the bleach, it would turn white. So it was rather anticlimactic when I built up all this courage to finally dip the dress and it didn’t change color at all and just looked…wet. I held it in there for a good 4-5 minutes, and it only changed to a pinkish color! I was bummed. But when I took it out and lay it carefully down, it started to turn whiter and whiter as it dried! So I ended up dipping it once for a few minutes, and then letting it dry for about 10, and then dipping it one more time for another 4-5 minutes to make sure the hem was as white as can be.

Starred Photos6

front and back splatters

I couldn’t get any action shots of the next steps because I was, well, in action 😦 but after getting the hem all white, I wanted to have a splatter effect that grades up the dress. I put my gloves back on, and tried my best to get the skirt as flat and even and unwrinkled as humanly possible. I took the sponge and filled it with the bleach in the bowl – not completely soaked so it’s dripping full, but full enough to squeeze a good cup full at a time.

With my sponge loaded, I held it over the area nearest the hem, and SLOWLY squeezed the bleach out, carefully splattering it in a somewhat uniform way. I did the first liberal squeeze onto the bottom of the dress, and then did the smaller drops for the area a little above, so the drops get smaller and smaller.

After that, I literally just cupped a little bleach in my gloved hands and trickled it along the middle – the area between the hem and waist – of the skirt. Finally, for the top part, I wet my gloves in the bleach, and let it drip off my fingertips for larger drops, or flicked my fingers to get the small drops along and above the waistline.

LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES: It’s REALLY IMPORTANT for the dress to be flat!!! The bleach pooled along even the slightest fold and wrinkle, making pooly lines of bleach instead of the more roundish splatters I wanted. I was able to fix it by adding MORE bleach to round them out, but I wish I had been more careful from the beginning.

Again, it only turns white after it completely dries, so after letting it dry, I took another look at it, and did “touch ups” with my gloves until it had just the right amount of splatters. After that, it was another 20 minutes to air dry completely, an express spin in the washer and dryer and…

bleach dress 1

dumb pose #1

my new fall dress with old summer trends! 🙂 On an unrelated note, my husband made the credenza behind me. Isn’t he cool? I always say HE should be writing a blog.

bleach dress back and front

back and front or dumb pose #2 and #3

bleach dress close up

bleach flowers

I reallyyyyyy LOVE how the splatters look up close. There’s something almost floral about the pattern!

before during after

before – progress – after

The end! Husband always chides me for taking “ugly” before pictures and then trying to look super great in the after pics. He says it’s manipulative. So here’s a before/during/after pic to fairly represent the state of things. See – I’m happy allll the way through!

little boy bloopers

🙂 and this makes me happy too.

Pink Granny Dress

Anyone who knows me knows I like ugly things I have an unconventional aesthetic. “That’s really ugly/weird,” they say, “but somehow it suits you.”

So when I saw a pale pink, polyester dress with granny pleats past my knees, long sleeves with not one, but TWO sets of shoulder pads, and a neck hole that barely went over my head with a lace bib attached, I literally gasped in glee.



I LOVED the pleated skirt, the blouson quality of the top, and the vintage look of the fabric/print, and I knew all the things I didn’t like – the neck line and the sleeves – could easily be changed. Do you see the potential?!


I have to tell you, though, that lace bib is destined for greatness.

With scissors and seam ripper in hand, off came the lace bib, the sleeves, the 2 sets of shoulder pads

DSC_0665 (2)

I opened up the front and back of the neck hole, following the line of the existing interfacing as a guide. You could also use a shirt you already have as a guide to make sure the neck isn’t cut too big.

in z formation - finished arm holes, paper fabric and interfacing cut, interfacing ironed on to fabric, finished neck hole

in z formation – finished arm holes, paper fabric and interfacing cut, interfacing ironed on to fabric, finished neck hole

I finished the open arm holes by rolling over twice, pressing, and stitching in place. I decided to finish the neck with interfacing (my first time!) so I made a paper template for the front and back, used it to cut my fabric (I used the extra fabric from the sleeves) and the interfacing, and ironed the interfacing onto my fabric. I then lined it up with my neck hole, right sides together, sewed around the edge, then folded the interfaced piece so it was on the inside of the garment with the wrong sides together, pressed, and topstitched in place. It turned out well!


and I was DONE!

Starred Photos2

the deets

light, summery, pretty!

Starred Photos

Happy either way 🙂

Starred Photos1

before and after

The end!

Painted Ombre Curtains


The very first thing we did when we moved into our house was paint all the walls. Every room was painted a different color (bright blue bedroom, pink bathroom, peach kitchen, green master!) so to unify everything and establish a neutral palette I chose to sweep everything in the neutral paint color du jour – grey. Convinced there would be pops of color elsewhere, we proceeded to get the rest of the big furniture in the living room – a sectional sofa, a large area rug, and book cases/expedit shelving units. What colors did those end up being? Dark grey, grey, and black, respectively. Even my sofa “accent” pillows ended up being grey. I was starting to feel very drab indeed.

I searched and searched for some bright cheery yellow curtains but I learned quickly that I’m painfully particular – I wanted a print, but I didn’t want it all over. I wanted ombre, but I thought it too plain by itself. I wanted a bright, loud color, but didn’t want it to be solid. And underlying it all was the painful squeeze of now paying a mortgage through our noses.

Amidst my woe, I serendipitously checked the “As-is” section at IKEA and found a pair of these for $5!(!!!!!) After reading a bajillion tutorials on how to dip dye fabric AND how to paint a pattern onto fabric (like this one), I just jumped in and tried it myself. For the most part, I’m pleased with the end product, but there are DEFINITELY things I wish I had done differently.



I used 1 entire package of RIT Golden Yellow, and dissolved it with a cup of salt in about 3 gallons of boiling hot water. In retrospect, I wish I had done 2 packages? Or maybe tried mixing it with the tiiiniest hint of orange, just because I wish the yellow were just a tad bit more saturated. I think my curtain fabric (a sort of canvas-y material) was too thick to take on the dye to the degree I wanted. Oh well!

house stuff-001

I then lowered the ends of my curtains into the bucket until they skimmed the bottom. I let the ends steep for about 15 minutes, and then lowered another foot into the bucket. I kind of twist scrunched the fabric to make it fit more efficiently in the water and make sure the dye line would be level horizontally across the fabric. I repeated this process of lowering a foot of fabric in and letting it soak for 15 minutes about 4 times. For the last “wash” where the yellow is the lightest and transitions into the white, I just dipped it quickly a couple times instead of letting it soak.

When I pulled it out, the end at the bottom of the bucket was the darkest shade of yellow since it had sat in the dye for more than hour, while the part right next to the white was the very lightest since it was just dipped really quickly. I carefully hung the curtains across my fence (making sure the color was at the bottom!) and ran cold water with the hose from the top (white) to the bottom (yellow) until the water ran clear. I let it air dry, and then threw it in my dryer to set it!


What did I do during those 15 minute intervals?


With some left over wall paint, a homemade stencil, a sponge, newspaper, spray adhesive, scotch tape, and a couple paper plates on hand, I started figuring out how to paint the pattern onto my curtains.

I sketched out a few patterns that I thought I might like, and once I decided on one, I drew it out on some stencil material and made my cuts with an Xacto-knife. I sprayed the back with spray adhesive (it gives the back of the stencil some tackiness), and also stuck four pieces of scotch tape on each side to help secure it and keep it in place.

house stuff2

After practicing on a tote to get the feel of things, I laid newspaper under the curtain fabric and got to work. The process was to position the stencil, stick down the scotch tape, load up my sponge and blot off excess on a paper plate, apply onto the stencil evenly, carefully peel off and wipe off the excess paint on a paper plate. Rinse and repeat.

photo (3)

I’m not going to lie, the stenciling and painting was a PAIN and it took forever (forever = maybe 4 hours?). There are a lot of things I would do differently if I were to do this over.


This was a roll of “make your own stencil” material from Martha Stewart that I got from Michaels. I would NOT (!!!!) recommend using this!!! It was rolled so tightly, that once I tried to unfurl it to use for myself, the dumb thing would NOT lie flat, even after rolling it as tight as I could the opposite way. If I were to do this again, I would definitely use some sort of mat or waterproof paper (I’ve heard contact paper works)

The tutorial I mainly followed (the one I linked to earlier) said to use a foam roller. I tried that on my tote and it stunk. So I tried a foam brush, but that was really bad too! I finally settled on the round dabby sponge that’s in my picture, which I think was ideal. Messy on the fingers, but the best of the bunch.

I would draw grid lines for myself to help guide the placement of my stencil. I considered this but didn’t do it because I thought it would easy to just match up the edges of the pattern to keep myself straight. NOPE. My pattern started getting all wonky near the end of the second row, with the edges not matching the way they were supposed to, and by the end, I had to fill in the spots where the ends weren’t matching up.

I would also make my stencil WAY bigger, like at least four times bigger and just have the pattern repeating within my stencil. The whole process got tedious really fast, so making a bigger stencil would have saved some pain.

Regardless of how things could have been done better, I still get to see this every day

New folder2and it does make me happy 🙂

IMG_1792these curtains cost about $7! and a million bucks of my TIME.

A Lot Can Happen in a Year

Bloggy Dearest,

I’m sorry for neglecting you so.

But please do understand, because this year has been quite the whirlwind and I really have been unable to extract myself from it all to attend to you.

See the thing is, right after my last post, this happened

New folder7-001

and after that, we packed up and moved into our new place, which of course led to endless house projects

New folder8

I spy 7 DIYs….and those are only the ones I took pictures of

and THEN, we thought it would be a good idea to tackle this by ourselves

house stuff

was this a good idea? I still don’t know

Besides all that, we did some traveling and spent time with family and friends.

New folder9

graduation, oregon, tahoe, socal

But all of the above wasn’t even the crazy part. THIS was the crazy part


Needless to say, I stopped timing them because I had other things on my mind

and wham-bam-slice-of-ham! he was here 🙂

New folder10-001

and the thing is, he’s been here every day.

New folder6

So you see, I’ve been busy, bloggy blog. But now that things are starting to settle, I have so many things to update you with, my phone is going to run out of memory! 🙂 So I am planning on coming back with some good stuff soon, k?


– skwuns

Random Side Projects Part Deux

These last few weeks have become an unplanned break from my blog. The holiday season has been full of exciting announcements, travel, and sweet times with friends and family. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been keeping busy!

For Christmas, my sister wanted to surprise her little girls by doing a super darling makeover of their room! She had bought this tree wall decal, so my job was to spruce it up with paper flowers to give it color and texture.

Check out this post to see the rest of the room 🙂

On holiday days (holi-days? holidays?) my local goodwill sells all their apparel for 50% off! So I snagged a bunch of stuff, including this groooovy shirt, and did some easy refashioning by bringing the sides in and shortening the sleeves.

Before and after!

linky link!

My brother's small group bought a niiice (Pitt-Minion) Bible for one of its members, so I made a cover for it as a birthday gift! This little sucker took me four tries, but NOW I know what I'm doing.

Before and after!

Details: elastic closure with button, fabric faux spine, inside pockets to hold index cards, ribbon book mark

While making a couple of baby headbands for a friend's friend, I was reminded of my first love: felt flowers. (Sigh) ❤ ❤

And finally, new year = a new Bible reading plan. My family has loosely been doing it together thus far. We randomly text one another with the verse from that day that stood out to us. Little sweet blessings from a heavenly Father that I pray I don't take for granted.

Check out the plan here

This past Christmas also marked my one year anniversary with my dear sewing machine. As I look back at this past year and remember the frustration, tears (YES literal tears my friends), excitement, and JOY of learning how to sew, I am delighted and dismayed at what I have done. I feel I have come a long way, but there are still so many things I do not know how to do! So, here are my new year sewing….goals. heh.

1. make a piece of clothing from SCRATCH (no refashion)

2. learn how to use a pattern (so scary)

3. be more “legit” with techniques -__-

4. make other stuff (hats, shoes?)

5. learn how to sew tricky fabrics, like chiffon (scary)

6. learn how to hem pants legitimately

and most importantly…

7. be like Tabitha. Use gifts for the building up of the body of Christ, and not for selfish gain.

Keep me accountable friends!

A Crisis and a Question

A veritable holiday crisis: wrapping presents at some crazy hour after midnight, and realizing you don't have that gift bag you urgently NEED! All you can find are empty cereal boxes! How many times have you wished your cereal box would magically turn into a gift bag?

Well wish no more! Simply trim one of those cereal boxes to the height you need...

...and wrap it in wrapping paper, glueing down each surface as you go. Leave about 6 inches of paper at the top (the opening).

After wrapping around the entire box and securing all edges with glue, snip the wrapping paper around the opening down to the four corners to make four flaps.

Fold each flap in half, then fold again to lie flat on the inside of the box. Glue down and repeat on all four sides!

Makes a niice neat opening 🙂

Don't forget to make the bottom nice and tidy!

Use a straight edge to carefully and cleanly to make side creases (side note: I would NOT recommend making it completely gift bag-gy by quashing the bottom rectangle flat against the front of the bag. I tried this and the paper wrinkled terribly waaah)

Hole punch and hole puch. Repeat on other side!

Thread ribbon through...

..and double knot, double knot!

Throw your present in and you're DONE! Crisis averted ha-HA!

Now for a random question: I've made my first baby head wrap. That white material is the super soft stretchy part that wraps around baby's head. Ok, my question is, would you let your baby wear this? Making accessories for babies makes me nervous because I feel like there is so much...at stake? Err...does that make sense?

Thanks for your input in advance. Happy wrapping and have fun everyone! 🙂

Random Side Projects

Stuff I’ve been making…

I have a thing for hippos. It’s my dream pet, but Arthur won’t let me have one. At least not in the apartment.
So I made a coin purse instead. I think it looks a lot like my niece, Abby! heehee!
and then I went crazy for coin purses! -__-
Isn’t it funny? 🙂
Here’s his little brother
Doesn’t this remind you of when Peter found the coin for the temple in the fish’s mouth?
I needed a big bag for my trip to Paris a few weeks ago.
The best part of it are the crazy orange pom poms! I love pom poms!!
I’m also making hair flowers for a wedding coming up

That’s it!

Random thought: WordPress is crazy confusing to use! Is it just me? The formatting of the posts, especially with pictures, never turns out the way I want unless I center all the pictures 😦 WordPress, please make yourself more usable for dummies like me. Or find me a WordPress tutor.


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