Jan 31, 2013

Incorporating Emerald

After sharing our living room reveal, I found myself lamenting over how boring it looked. I thought about painting the walls a different color, but I just don't have the time or energy right now.

I ended up working at my in-laws' store rearranging fabric for their upcoming Shop Hop, and I came across some really great fabrics that fall into the 2013 trends: emerald (Pantone's color of the year), geometric, and gold. I decided to combine all three trends into one pillow cover.

What do you think?

I love the pop of color it adds to the living room!

I also made some covers for our lumbar pillows with just the emerald fabric.

It was such a simple way to add a lot of color without having to go to extremes (like painting the entire room). Have you incorporated emerald into your home yet?

Sharing at:
House of Hepworths
Savvy Southern Style
Tatertots & Jello

Jan 29, 2013

Disney Princess Dresses

Have you ever pinned something based on the caption and then found out later that the caption didn't represent the website's actual content?

It happens to me on a regular basis. In fact, it just happened to me a few days ago when I saw a pin with the caption "one pattern, all the princesses." I thought to myself, "Awesome! You can make all the Disney princesses with just one pattern!" When I clicked on the link, it took me to an online shop that had closed.

But it got me thinking. And planning. And researching. Can you really make all of the princess dresses with just one pattern?

Yes. Yes you can. And I'm going to tell you how!

As I searched the internet for homemade princess dresses, I came upon a common theme: the peasant dress. The peasant dress has an elastic neckline and loose waistline, so it's easy for a child to put on and will fit longer than a fitted garment would. There are also a lot of free peasant dress tutorials and patterns available for free online, so it seemed like an obvious pick to me.

I decided to use the free pattern from Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom. I modified her pattern a bit, as my nieces are tall and skinny, but her tutorial is excellent and includes measurements for sizes 12 mo.- 4/7.

For this tutorial, I chose to share how I made Tiana's dress. If you're not familiar with the newer Disney princesses, Tiana is the princess in Princess and the Frog.

{image source}
Tiana's dress was by far the most difficult and required the most creativity, so if you can make this one, you can make them all!

You will need:
1 fat quarter of lime green for the bodice and sleeves
3 fat quarters in seafoam green tones for the leaves
1 yard of lime green for the skirt
1/4 inch elastic
matching thread

I like to begin by cutting the fabric for my smaller pieces- the bodice and sleeves. Cut out two bodice pieces on the fold.

You can see where I modified the bodice to be a little more snug below the armpit.
I chose to make flutter sleeves for Tiana's dress. For the pattern, I folded a piece of paper in half and free-handed a scalloped edge. You can see the dimensions below. I'd recommend making the sleeves bigger by about an inch around the scalloped side. Hindsight is 20/20...

Finish the edges of the sleeves with a blanket stitch to prevent unraveling.

blanket stitch
With right sides together, sew the bodice pieces together ONLY from the armpit down to the waistline. You can use the blanket stitch here as well for a more finished seam. Fold over the seam from the armpit to the neckline by about 1/4 inch and press. Technically, you should probably fold it over again as you would for a hem, but I wasn't sure if it would affect the bodice size. I just sewed along the raw edge with a straight seam. This is a play dress, after all.

Now you are ready to attach the sleeves. Pin the sleeves to the bodice with about an inch of overlap on each side. Sew the sleeves in place with a seam about 1/8 inch from the top edge.

Fold and press the neckline edge just over 1/4 inch all the way around. Repeat to create a casing for the elastic. Sew along the casing edge, leaving about 1/2 inch to insert the elastic.

Attach a safety pin to one edge of the elastic, and work the elastic all the way around the casing. Stitch the ends of the elastic together with a zig-zag stitch, and sew the casing closed.

The top part of the dress is done! Now for the fun part...

The skirt doesn't really have a pattern. The waistline can be a minimum of the bodice width and a maximum of... whatever! The wider the waistline is, the fuller the skirt will be. For Tiana's dress, I wanted a really full skirt. The fabric, once again, was cut on the fold. That made the waistline 28 inches (or 56 if you're counting the front and back) and the bottom of the skirt 40 inches. Yes, it's huge. No, you really don't need to and probably shouldn't have that much difference between the top and bottom of the skirt. Actually, you'd be just fine cutting a straight line. Like I said, hindsight is 20/20. It worked in the end.

With right sides together, sew up the sides of your skirt. Fold and press the bottom edge 1/4 inch all the way around. Repeat, pin, and hem.

This is where your creativity comes in. To make the leaves, I folded over three fat quarters and free handed a fat, leafy shape.

I liked how it turned out with two different patterns, but of course, you could make them all the same or have three different patterns. You can also make them skinnier, longer, etc.

Lay the skirt out and pin the leaves to the front. I pinned the leaves on the left and right at an angle.

If you also pin yours at an angle, you'll want to flip the skirt over and trim off the excess.

This next part may be a little tricky, but hang in there! It's time to ruffle up the skirt waist. Set your machine to the lowest tension and the longest stitch. Pull out about three inches of bobbin thread before you begin sewing. Sew 1/4 inch from the edge all the way around the waist. Do NOT backtrack over your beginning and ending stitches.

To create the ruffle, pull those bobbin threads to scrunch up the fabric. Scrunch away until your waist width matched the bodice width. If I totally lost you on that last part, you can find videos for ruffling on youtube.

Turn the bodice inside out, and pin the waistlines together. I like to leave the ruffle side a little longer to make sure that seam is covered up. Sew the waistlines with a blanket stitch.

I added a white rolled fabric flower (tutorial here), but that is completely optional. Rather than hot gluing the flower, I sewed it together and then sewed it on the the dress.

The finished project:

It almost makes me wish I could be a kid again. Almost...

Here are the other princess dresses I've made so far. I'm still working on Rapunzel, Merida, Alice in Wonderland, and maybe more. I'll share pictures when they are finished. The dresses below are listed in the order I made them. You may notice that they get progressively better. I recommend starting with an easy character and working your way up.

Snow White- closer to the peasant dress style
Mary Poppins Jolly Holiday- split the bodice into two pieces (half white, half red)
Belle- bottom ruffle is twice the width of the skirt
Update 01.30.2013
Merida- peasant with a slimmer skirt, no elastic in the sleeves
Update 01.31.2013
If you have questions, please feel free to ask in the comment section below. I may not be able to answer them, but I'll sure try! If you use this tutorial to make dresses for your princess, I'd love to see pictures!

If you liked this tutorial, we'd love for you to subscribe! More great ideas are on the way!

Subscribe to life {illustrated} by Email

Sharing at:
Skip to My Lou
Savvy Southern Style
Ginger Snap Crafts
The Life of Jennifer Dawn
Tatertots & Jello

Jan 25, 2013

Better than Store Bought {Brownies}

I am not really a junk food or candy lover.

Hard candy? Nah.

Sour Patch Kids? Definitely not.

Pre-packaged cookies? Not on your life.

But brownies, oh, brownies are another story. I love brownies. Even boxed brownies taste good.

The brownie recipe I'm about to share with you is even better than boxed.

"Better than Boxed" Brownies
{click to print}

1 cup butter, melted
3 cups brown sugar
1 T vanilla
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t salt
1 cup chocolate semisweet chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish.

Mix together the butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and salt and add to the egg mixture. Beat on low until just combined.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Bake in prepared dish for 35 to 40 minutes.

Try not to eat them all in one sitting, okay?

Jan 24, 2013

Goodwill Gallery Wall

Have I ever told you that Marshall and I are both musically inclined? I don't think the subject has ever come up. Marshall plays the guitar and mandolin, and I play the flute, mallet instruments (marimba, xylophone, etc.), soprano and sopranino recorders (not the plastic kind), and we both play the piano and sing. Needless to say, when we come across anything remotely music related, it perks our interest.

I was at a garage sale this past summer, and I came across some beautiful, vintage sheet music. It was only 10 cents apiece. I thought I had died and gone to Heaven! There were a lot of classics and show tunes, and I snatched up a whole bunch, not quite sure what I'd do with it.

We also recently acquired a piano (thanks, Aunt Susie!), and I thought that a little vintage sheet music gallery wall would look really cool above it.

The only problem?

I couldn't find any frames to fit the music for less than $20 per frame.

So, what do you do when you can't find new? Go to Goodwill!

We have been searching Goodwills all over for quite a while for three matching frames that would work with the sheet music. We could find two but never three.

The answer to my dilemma? I bought three completely different frames...

 ...and spray painted them the same color!

I made my own mattes using gray and white striped paper.

I put up some love songs for Valentine's Day. After that, I'll probably replace them with classics.

Of course, the best part is how much money I saved. It just so happened that Goodwill had their frames 50% off when I bought these, so I bought all three frames for less than $5!

I'd say it was worth it.


Savvy Southern Style
Tatertots & Jello

Jan 23, 2013

More V-Day Inspiration

Can you tell I'm a little bit excited about Valentine's Day? I don't normally go this crazy over it, but I often have our church banquet on my mind. It's kind of like planning a wedding reception, only more fun. It's way less pressure and a much smaller scale. There are so many decorative ideas floating around pinterest that would not be practical for a crowd of 250 people, but for 20... I can handle that!

That's how I felt when I made these tissue paper pom poms.

I thought I would test out our banquet decor at home to see if I need to change anything.

So far, so good! I found an excellent tutorial for the tissue paper pom poms here. I hung them at various heights and depths, and I love the look it created.

These are Martha Stewart's napkin heart doilies. I found her tutorial a little hard to follow, so I made a diagram of the how-to.

Finally, I have collected quite a bit of milk glass and milk glass look-alikes over the years, and I am planning to place them on the tables with candles inside.

I found the idea in a magazine way back when I was in high school and have loved milk glass ever since. It gives off such a pretty glow!

I think it would be really fun for a girl's birthday party, too!

Savvy Southern Style

Jan 22, 2013

Valentine's Banquet

*Update: Click here to get details on our Valentine Luau!

We're putting on a Valentine's banquet for our church this year. This is our first event that we are organizing completely on our own. And neither one of us have ever been to a Valentine's banquet before...

The good news is that our church, to our knowledge, hasn't ever had one.

There is a lot of planning involved, but we've been having a lot of fun with it. We probably aren't the only people planning a Valentine's banquet, so I thought I'd share some of our ideas here.

We have quite a few people who are widowed, so we want our banquet to be both couple and single friendly. We made sure to announce that in church and also to print it on the flier.

We are charging $5 per ticket, which will cover the cost of the dinner. I've been tossing around several different ideas of what that dinner will consist of, but here's what I have so far:

{Image credit: cheesecake, salad, green beanschicken, rice krispie pops, strawberriesbreadsticks}
How am I keeping it at $5 per plate?  Aldi.

I'm either making the decorations myself or using things I already have on hand.  This is what I have in mind:

{Image credit: pom pomsheart doiliesrosette ballvasesmilk glass}
Marshall will give a short message at some point during the evening. And, of course, no banquet would be complete without games. We are going to do guess-how-many-are-in-the-jar, a Bible verse and reference matching game, and The Newlywed Game. Gift baskets will be awarded for the latter two games, and then we'll do a drawing for a third gift basket. Everyone will have a chance at winning something. We'll also give away some small favors; nobody will leave empty-handed.

I'm really looking forward to it! I think it will be a fun evening for everyone. Have you ever thrown a Valentine's Banquet?  If so, I'd love to hear some of your ideas! Leave a comment below!