Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Morrocan Pouf Pillows (Semi) Tutorial

Moroccan Pouf Inspired Floor Pillows!

I ran into this Moroccan pouf pillow design on Pinterest (which were actually being sold for a LOT of $$$ on Plumo), immediately fell in love and decided that I had to have some. 

For a few days, I filtered through about a billion different design ideas on Google, and finally settled on this one, which came with an actual pattern to follow and some pretty great instructions

Side Note: Finding and using a pattern was actually a bit strange for me, as I tend to just muddle through things on my own, but I guess using a pattern once in a while won't kill me, huh?

Of course, I followed the pattern, but as I made some changes to the directions, I thought I share what I did with you... because these things are awesome.  And you should have a few.  Once cut, it only took half an hour or so to complete. 

Almost makes a window seat out of practically nothing...

But!  I should warn you.... I used nearly THREE giant, 50oz. bags of Poly-Fil to stuff three pillows.  They are LARGE.

I researched using other materials, specifically packing peanuts (couldn't find enough locally, and what was available is the biodegradable kind, which would squish down too much in a pillow) and old, recycled clothing, towels, etc (too heavy).  Neither was what I wanted.  SO.  Poly-Fil it was.

The good news is that I was forced to go to WalMart for something else (I *hate* WalMart for a multitude of reasons and generally avoid it all costs), and thought I'd check for Poly-fil in the incredibly down-sized crafts section.  Huh.  Whaddyaknow?  I ran into a really good deal. 

SO.  FYI, WalMart sells 50ox bags of Poly-Fil for under $9.00 each.  It cost more than twice that at my local fabric stores.  TWICE that. 

Geez.  Stupid WalMart.

I'm not going into major detail here, as it's already been done on the original link.  However, I DID do a few things differently, so I thought I'd share.  Read on.


Yesterday's Teaser... the fabric I chose from my
(Secret Garage Surprise) Dresser O' Fabric Samples.

SO.  Here's how to make Moroccan Floor Pouf Pillows:

Select your fabric and determine the sizing per the above links.  Cut out your pattern.  I used an ad from the Sunday Paper, natch'.


(Top Left and Right) I had to trim my fabric samples to a uniform size, first. Final size for each piece was 10" x 20" for this pouf.  If using store bought material, you'll need to do the same.

(Bottom Left) Trimming to the pattern

(Bottom Right) One piece trimmed, and still folded as per the instructions.

NOTE!  Here's the first time I differed from the pattern... knowing that sewing all those pointy ends together at the top and bottom (think "beach ball) was going to make me nutty, I actually trimmed the pointy bits off (by about 1/2") so that I didn't have to deal with the points.  This left a small, octagonal hole at both ends when complete, but I'll show you how I dealt with that in a bit...

(Top Left) All 8 pieces trimmed and ready for sewing.

(Top Right and Bottom Left) Start sewing, right sides together.

(Bottom Right) Continue until all 8 pieces are sewn together. 

Since I left a hole in the top and the bottom (from cutting OFF the points), I didn't leave a turning hole in any side.  I just used one of the open end "holes" to turn and stuff.  That way, I didn't have to hand-sew any of it.  I hate hand-sewing.  Did I already mention that?

(Top) Inside Out!  Turn it!  (Bottom) Right Side out!  Looks like a Beach Ball!

I also did not use Button as used in the original pattern... I made a "False" one instead by cutting out rounds (four total) and sewing them together like so: 

(Top Left) Cut four circles at once, using a a plate as a guide and fabric folded into four layers.  Easy-peasy.  You'll use two circles for the top and two circles for the bottom.

(Bottom Left) Sew two circles, Right Sides Together, leaving an opening to turn.  Repeat for the other set of circles.  Make little cuts around the each circle (from the edge of the fabric to the seam, being careful not to cut the stitching) so that once it's turned right side out, it will lie flatter than if you hadn't cut the notches.

(Top Right) One circle sewn together and turned, the other showing how I marked my turning opening with chalkmarks, and the notches I've cut.  (P.S. Always cut notches like this on a curve or a corner when sewing something that you will turn.  The notches allow the fabric to lie flat instead of bunching up.  You're welcome.)

(Middle Right) Tuck in the opening you left for turning and stitch the edges. I seamed about 1/4" from the edge.

(Bottom Right) Completed "False Buttons" for the top and bottom of the Pouf.

And if you are Four, and it's lunchtime.... Then it must be time for a PICNIC BREAK!  Hello, little kitty!  Don't drink momma's coffee!

Miss M enjoying her picnic in the living room while Momma takes oodles of photos of the ensuing cuteness.  Look'it that face!!!


Since I hatehatehate Hand Sewing, and there's NO WAY I'm going to get those circles sewn on there neatly by hand or by machine... I pull out the hot-glue gun.  Works.  Totally.

(Top Left) Place a folded sheet of wax paper between the layers so that you don't accidentally glue the top to the bottom!  Go around the circle with your glue gun, and press the Fake Button on.

(Top Right) Lift the edges of your circle, and glue it until it's completely secure, all the way around.  No empty spots.  None.  Glue it.  Glue it GOOD.

(Bottom Left) STUFF!  Go to the store and buy more Stuffing!  Stuff some more!

(Bottom Right) Glue the bottom Fake Button on as you did the top "Button", covering up the stuffing hole entirely.


OH!  Before I forget!  The top Pouf in the photo below only has SEVEN sections... It was an experiement.  I cut the pieces to the exact same size as the others, but with one less section, it's TALLER.


I suppose if I were a mathematical genius (or even sliughtly mathmatically inclined), I could have forseen that.  I didn't. 

But it's cool.  Variety is the spice of life.

NOW!  Make two more Poufs and Stack 'em Up!  Everything is better in Threes, you know...

They look pretty in this room, too....


Who's going to clean up this mess?


It's Me?



Monday, October 24, 2011

Secrets in the Garage

I have this dresser in my Garage - and while I'm totally embarrassed to be posting pictures of old, ugly things relegated to my dusty garage, there's a good reason that I share this with you. 

If you care anything for fabrics... anything for design and/or textiles... anything at all... I'm about to blow your mind.

Don't believe me?

Peek inside my dresser-drawers....

SEE?  I told you so.

It gets better.
I didn't pay for ANY of it, and these sweet bits of heaven are an extinct breed.

A few years ago, the US based Textile Business went completely Belly-Up, thanks to cheaper labor and fabrics now being made elsewhere.  And it's sad to me, because an entire branch of my family tree made it's living in the textile mills of North Carolina, from running the machines to filing orders -- not to mention the fact that it's damn near impossible to buy fabric milled in the US anymore.  Those days are gone (if I am mistaken in this, please tell me.  I'd really like to know where I could buy fabric made here.  I  truly would).

The death of the textile industry meant that my cousin, a textile salesman, was forced into retirement, leaving behind a storage shed full of decorator fabric samples in all shapes and sizes.

He gave them to yours truly. 

Wasn't that just the NICEST thing???

"Meh.  It's just fabric", you say.

IT IS NOT. This is luscious stuff. The "hand" (the feel of it) is AMAZING. Many pieces are triple-loomed and woven into the loveliest of designs. It is truly a wonder, I tell you.

And hey, if you like patchwork, and I DO, I DO, then it's a durn near-miracle.

It's a dresser-full of dreams.

Some of the pieces have gooey old pricing labels attached, and many are priced as high as $40/yard. 

That's 20 year old pricing, too. 

It's Nice Stuff.

This particular drawer housed the bits and remnants from projects I've already completed. 

For awhile, I was piecing and sewing patchwork bags both for myself and for sale.  They are lovely.  I still have a few, and will likely make more in the future.

The bottom drawer holds large swatches of textiles cut into 24" x 24" squares. 

Lemme tell you-- There's a LOT you can do with a 24" x 24" square.

These pieces are about 18" x 18".  Again... tons to do with them.

It's practically unending... and seeing as I've already been the caretaker of it all for more than 5 years already, I anticipate it will take a lifetime for me to use it all.

The top-right drawer is full of pieces I started cutting for a quilt.  Turns out, I don't have the patience to make an ENTIRE quilt. 

Oh.. I should've KNOWN better....

But! Should the notion strike, I have plenty of squares and rectangles of multiple sizes to piece together for smaller projects that won't make me crazy. 

A nice stack of 12" x 12" squares.

As with the best things in life, it isn't all perfect, though... to use it, you have trim the zig-zagged ends, and watch out for staples. 

There is also the little matter of the glue-gun glue which used to hold sample color-ways together.  I seem to spend the first half hour of any project ripping out staples, peeling off labels and sometimes biting off old glue (ew! But it's the only way!).

This is what I pulled out this morning for a little somthin'-somthin' I'll post tomorrow....

I've already made it and photographed it and everything, but this WAS getting a little on the long-winded


See you tomorrow....


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

$4.00 Off Sale

In a fit of sheer madness* I have reduced the price of all pebbles in my etsy shop by $4.00.

See?  Now everyone is happy!

And then I got even crazier and marked TEN of them at 20% off.  That's on TOP of the $4.00 thing, in case you're wondering.

Whoa Nelly.

Go and getcha some.

*Not to mention the discovery of the awesome Craftopolis "Edit Express" batch editing tool for Etsy shops - Love it.

Oh.  And there's a cat living at my house now.  Wally the (sweet but not so smart) Dog is not sure what to do about this.  What he really needed was an alpha dog to tell him what to do now that Jack is gone.  Cat is not helping with that.  Hmmmm....


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Another Week, Another Eulogy.

Momma and Jack, October, 1998

The horrible thing. 

The thing I can't talk about.

The thing I knew was coming and dreaded and could not bring myself to face, has happened.

My darling Jack The Dog has gone.

Cancer sucks.  Lymphoma sucks.  Even when it's just your dog.

On Friday evening, he seemed much as he had - declining, but not broken -  but when we awoke on Saturday morning, we knew that the time had come.  He was suddenly no longer interested in eating and his legs could no longer support him. 

His girlfriends (see below) came and spent the better part of the day with him and with us, all of us lying with him on the floor, petting him, loving him until the time came to let go.

The vet made a house call, armed with her pink syringe, and Jack quickly went to sleep in my arms. 

It was horridly painful.

It still is.

It seems absolutely mad that just last week he was insistently barking for Pumpkin Cookies.

How in the world does time just keep moving on? 

I couldn't write a word at first, but, as I'd felt compelled to write a tribute to Cosmo J. Bird less than a month ago, I now feel an even stronger urge to share the story of Jack The Dog with you.  I don't need sympathy or comments or any of those things.  Just, please, read on to share the life of one, very loved, Jack Dog.

Jack the Dog at 2 years old.


When my husband and I were first married, we lived in an apartment, but finally got enough saved up to buy a small house in a bedroom community, about 40 minutes north of where we worked. 

My husband has always known that I simply can not live without dogs, and he had always promised me that we'd get a dog as soon as we had a house.  He kept his promise.

Within two weeks of moving, I was reading the paper in my new dining room, sipping coffee and probably having a bagel, when I spied an ad in the local paper advertising three litters of puppies available in a nearby desert-ish town for $25.00 each. 


That's IT?

Suffice to say that I didn't have too much convincing to do, and being childless at the time, it was easy enough for us to hop in the car and drive 20 minutes or so to Anza.  As soon as we stepped out of the car, we were immediately swarmed with puppies.

Swarmed, I say.

There were SO MANY puppies-- three mothers, two fathers--all living on a working farm, puppies spilling out of the barns, puppies romping in the grass, puppies yelping, puppies panting, puppies running to the water dishes... it was sheer madness and hilarity. 

The mother of one of the litters was a beautiful Chow and Shepard mix, the father, mostly Australian Cattle Dog.  Most of her pups looked similar with crazy-fluffy long, thick under-coated fur, black and tan markings and purple spotted tongues.  I had my eye on a little boy with the cutest curly fur, and I followed him around for a little while, attempting to catch his eye, when I noticed that his straight-haired brother was following ME. 

I couldn't shake him.

No matter where I went, or which puppy I played with, this guy wouldn't let me go.

That's right.  We didn't pick Jack The Dog.  Jack The Dog picked US.

So that was it, then.  He was coming with us.  Aside from finding Jack (or the other way around, if you must), the most amazing part of the day was when his mother followed us to the car, stuck her nose in, gave it (and us) a good inspection, and then finally nudged Jack one last time and turned back toward the barn. 

It was amazing.  I'd never known a momma dog to say goodbye like that. I'll never forget Jack The Dog's Dog Momma and her goodbye and well-wishes. 

He was named on the drive home - 'Jack', for the everyman.  'Jack' for the great Jacks in history and literature and song.  'Jack' is a good name for a dog. 

And that is how I came to be the Momma of a $25.00 desert dog-boy.

It wasn't all roses and sonnets, of course.  He was a bit on the aggressive side, a bit too crazy when people came to the door, but he was the smartest dog I've ever known. 

He considered it a personal affront that cats and rabbits exist in the world, and had a special bark for each of them.  In fact, the only not-so-smart thing I ever saw from him was the time when he was still less than a year old, and he was so intent on running after a cat across the street that he didn't notice that there was a car coming.  Fast.

He ran smack into the side of the moving car, bounced off the door, and rolled in a fuzzy ball down the street.

He was fine.  The driver was a little shaken.

Opening Jack's Stocking, Christmas, 2010

I've never known another dog to love Christmas as much as I do.  Jack did.   He loved sitting under the Christmas tree, he loved presents and insisted that HE have presents to unwrap at any gift-giving occasion.  Sounds expensive and spoiled, I know, but he was perfectly happy if I wrapped his old toys in newspaper, which is exactly what I did. 

My husband and Jack used to stare out the front window on Christmas Eve, waiting for Santa Claus.  I made him a Christmas stocking, and I'm pretty sure that he waited all year long for me to bring down the boxes of Christmas decorations so it could be ChristmasTime again.

Waiting for Santa.
My mother, the Saint, fed Jack his very first people food, when she came to visit my house for the first time during Thanksgiving.  Of course, she gave him turkey.  Right off the platter.  Which spawned a lifelong infatuation with deli meats.  Try making a sandwich with a barking dog at your heels.  Every.Day.

He was my first child.  The first dog that was ever really mine - not my parents' dog, not my family's dog.  MY dog.

Jack gets his first look at Miss M, April, 2007.

When my actual children came along, Jack was always right THERE, inspecting new babies, keeping watch over baths, supervising the putting into car seats and encouraging both of my kids to run after him long before they should have started walking.

The first time we took him camping, he had a blast exploring around the campground, until it was time to settle in for the night, and he spent hours looking from us at the campfire to the car and back again, clearly wondering what the hell it was we were thinking and why weren't we getting in the car and going home?

Run, Run as far as you dare.... then run back to Momma.
At the Salt Flats, near Anza-Borrego State Park, California.

As long as we lived in that first house, every year after we'd unwrapped our Christmas presents, we took him to the mountains to find some snow.  He reveled in it.  He darted in and out of the snow, burying his nose deep into the white, snuffling forward and sideways, making long, winding trails under the trees.

Building Snow Dogs with Daddy on Christmas Day.

We took him for walks in a nearby desert-y meadow, under a bridge with fantastic graffiti, and he would rurunrunrunrun through the flowers and scrub and sand as fast as he could, ears back, fur flying, tail straight as an arrow.

Under his favorite Bridge.

My best friend, Laurie, lived nearby with her two gigantic wolf-mix dogs, Mitoc and Teemo.  They were the best of friends.  Jack would lick poor Teemo's often infested ears, taking care of his older brother and running in and out under the legs of Mitoc the Lumbering Gentle Giant.  He loved them so much, that when Laurie and Mitoc and Teemo moved away to Virginia, we didn't DARE mention their names, or Jack would go tearing around the house searching for them for hours.  For ten years, this continued, until fate brought Laurie back home to San Diego just this past year (her dogs having made their own journey's across the Rainbow Bridge), and while Jack clearly wondered where Teemo and Mitoc were, just having Laurie back made him happy.  I'm so glad Jack lived long enough to spend time with his girlfriend again.  Ah... First love...

Miss Laurie comes to visit, Christmas, 2010.

When we went on vacations, family friends, Jule and Bob, would come over every night night to feed the dogs and birds and fish, and ended up liking the menagerie so much [Ok... maybe not the birds, which Bob nicknamed"Ted (Bundy) and "Jeffrey (Dahmer)" for their propensity to bite the hands that fed them] that they stayed for hours every night, lying on the floor, covered in dog hair, stroking fur.  Jack adored Jule.  Adored her.

In the backyard of our first house, before we had landscaping.

But I think what Jack loved most of all - and what we loved most of all - was just spending time with us. 

He had a job to do... the Chow in him made him an excellent protector, and the Cattle Dog kept him from being a "One Man Dog" as a Chow often is.  Any friend of mine was a friend of his, and until he was an old-man-dog, there was just no way to keep him from jumping up on people when they came to the door.  No way.  He was too happy to see them.

Such a beautiful boy.

Ohhh.... It's still too soon.

I've been on the verge of tears for days.  The worst is leaving the house, only to come back and find him missing.  No Jack to greet me.  No wagging tail and doggie grin.  No soft ears to stroke before bedtime. 

His absence is palpable and our collective heart is broken.

We are empty.

We Miss you.

Sleep well, my friend.

My heart will always hold you, even though my arms no longer can.

/Jack The Dog's Momma

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lavender Hill Pumpkin Farm

I think I might have mentioned how much I love this time of year.  Maybe once or twice.  Or Thrice. 

We had planned to visit the Pumpkin Farm on Saturday, but a very serious and awful thing happened on Saturday instead, (more on that later, once I can bear to speak of it... right now, I simply can't... so...) and we didn't make it.

However, we were able to gather our wits about us on Sunday morning, and in fact were in need of a diversion.

Lavender Hill Pumpkin Farm it was, then.

Miss M asked us before we even left the neighborhood if it was "Very Far Away, more than a mile?"

Yes, dear.  More than a mile.  In fact, 15 or twenty miles.  We even have to get on the freeway and go up a few exists to get there. 

But, we made it ALL THE WAY there without catastrophe, fighting, biting or screaming, and the kids were super excited when we pulled into the parking lot. 

Miss M immediately says, "Hey! I've been here before! They have a SWING here!" which always surprises me, seeing how she's all of four years old, and just HOW MUCH can she possibly remember?

Quite a bit, it seems.

She ran immediately to the swing, which required copious numbers of photographs, like SO:

They must have put that swing there just for HER. 

My sweet boy was also in his element, as he spends his summers in Ohio on Grandma and Grandpa's Farm, and is love with all things that grow.  He was astonished to see what appeared to be GIGANTIC Italian squash - some were almost as big as he is - but in fact, were something else, although likely related.  he was sorely disappointed when I didn't buy one for him.  But what was I going to do with a zucchini (nearly) the size of a small automobile? 

He did find solace in the other varieties, though, so don't feel too badly for him. 

Sweet Boy points the way to the pumpkin patch.

In among the various squashes.

Isn't she the cutest thing?

"This little one?  Or.... whatever it is over there?"

Cut off the vine and ready for your wheelbarrow!

Mmmmm.... white pumpkins....
Not so many "Polar Bear" pumpkins left...
But plenty more pumpkins up the hill....

At the checkout stand, a Pumpkin Museum featuring quite an array,
but I have no idea if these are actual known varieties or special Lavender
Hill names or what.  They were pretty creative.
Clockwise from top left:
"EthelPink The Almost Ready", "Tiki Tiki Tembo No Sa Rembo Chari
Bari Ruchi Pip Beri Pembo", "Rumplstiltskin", "EthelBlue the Unsure"

The apparent Literary/Historical Pumpkin Section included: "Alice",
"The White Rabbit", "Pippi Longstocking (I put that in there just
for you, Miss Pia!), "Sacajewea and "Jabba The Hutt".  And yes,
I realize that theRikki Tikki Tavi Pumpkin could have gone here
as well, but you know... the pictures didn't arrange nicely in a
group of fives and threes.

See you next year, Mr. Swing.

And THEN we went to get Frozen Yogurt and hit up the local Street Fair.

Pretty successful day, all things considered.