If you can’t find what you want…

…make it!  I’m a DIY kind of girl, always have been. I’m frugal, and learned many skills from my mom; ours was a big family with a limited income, she made do, did a lot of the projects around the house, figured out how to fix things herself. I still tend to do things myself rather than pay someone to do it. Last weekend, I tore the mantle and fireplace surround (with trim all the way to the high ceiling) off my fireplace by myself rather than pay the contractor to do it. Last Fall, when I moved, I wanted a jewelry case to hang in my walk-in closet, that would protect my silver pieces from tarnishing. There are lots on the market, but they were not for my frugal self. And, I decided I didn’t need a large one.

So, I went to Hobby Lobby, bought a 10″ x 20″ shadow box frame, and pulled out the poorly installed canvas backing. I couldn’t find a white frame, so I bought a black one and spray painted it with white enamel that I happened to have on hand. I didn’t take the glass out, I just very carefully taped newspaper over both sides of the glass.

Cut a piece of mat board to fit, and covered that in batting and fabric to match my paint color:JewelryCase1 First, folded in and glued the batting…JewelryCase2 Then did the same with the fabric. The front side looked like this when I was done:JewelryCase3 I glued this into the bottom/back of the shadow box, then drilled holes for cup hooks that I had also spray painted white. (If I were to do this again, I would have used an awl to make my pilot holes–the drill bit got wrapped in batting each time and was a bit of a pain):JewelryCase4 Once the cup hooks were all screwed in:JewelryCase5 And voila! The finished project hanging on the wall of my closet:

JewelryCase6 The wire rack below it is what I have used for years for my necklaces/chains, but anything silver always tarnished quickly hanging out in the open air. Really, a fairly easy project that cost me about $22 total. JewelryCase7Now to get that fireplace surround re-done…

Happy creating,



December Drumroll…

I have to share my last few finishes of 2012, including a big one… but, it wouldn’t be as fun if I gave it away right up front, right? So a quick December recap first:

Every year, my girlfriend’s an I have a favorites party, you know, like Oprah’s “My Favorites” giveaway episodes? Only on a smaller scale, but same idea. We give the exact same gift to each of the women at the party, something that we consider a “favorite” from the year. None of these five friends are quilters, so no sewing themed gifties. 😉  We started the “My favorites” party tradition last year, and I think it’s going to stick!

This year I gave them each an Aveda gift bag containing Aveda Foot Relief and Hand Relief Lotions:Aveda-Hand-Relief-Gift-Set

My favorite Aveda product, period.  Especially for Winter dry hands, it’s a Godsend.  From my five friends I received:


From Michelle: her favorite car freshener and a Jason’s Deli giftcard

From Kelly: her favorite Gold Canyon candle, Vanilla Rum

From Carisa: her favorite Tea and a statement “Hope” bracelet

From Tonya: an Angel ornament, Lindor Truffles, and an Orange Leaf giftcard

and from Carrie: her favorite Bath & Bodyworks Candle, MERRY MISTLETOE and Pretzel m&m’s

I didn’t have much of a chance to create gifts this year, aside from the Baby Cheetah onesie for Carrie’s baby:

Baby Cheetah Applique Onesie and sweaterI made Frank a photo frame that I painted a pale pink and embellished with type stamps to read “Grandpa’s Girl”, since his first grand-baby was due to arrive on Christmas Eve.  She arrived promptly on her due date, so I let him open that present right away — She was framed and on his end-table before she turned 4 hours old:

Gemma Frame Grandpa's Girl

If you’ve been reading this blog for a little while, you know we spent much of 2012 first moving my Mother from her house 100 miles away (selling the home, cleaning out, packing, garage selling extra stuff, etc.), to a very nice retirement cottage community only 19 miles from us, and THEN, helping my MIL clean out her house (of 58 years!) to move into an Independent Living apartment at a new retirement community.  That was a huge task, and it is still ongoing (she is moved into her new home, but the old house is not completely empty, yet – a saga in itself, but I’ll spare you the details).

We have made three, 3-day trips to the St. Paul, MN (about a 4.5 hour drive one-way) since Thanksgiving.  Sweetie even made one day trip in between without me along.  That is A. LOT. OF. DRIVE. TIME. my friends, or riding time for me, as my sweetie does about 65-75% of the driving on these trips.

But, do you know what that means?  You all know what I do when a passenger on a road trip, right…?  Hand-piecing.


And y’all know what I have been hand-piecing forever, right…?  (or at least since July 4th, 2010)…

Candied Hexagons in Nov 2012

Candied Hexagons!  These are a few I made on the Thanksgiving Weekend trip… and those I made in med-December….

Candied Hexagons Dec 2012

and on Christmas Eve, I sewed the last blocks up while relaxing at home watching Downton Abbey Season 2 on DVD (possibly the only blocks I made outside of a vehicle!).  I finished the final one up just before the ball dropped at Midnight, and now have all 104 full blocks and 12 have blocks pieced!

Ta-Da!!! (insert drumroll, here):

Candied Hexagon blocks

Here they are unceremoniously laid out on my studio floor.  I have them all organized to start sewing into rows… My sweetie came in while I was arranging these on the floor and he said “wow, I wasn’t sure I’d ever see the day when you had these all made.”  I had doubts myself…

I’m considering alternatives for the border, debating whether I want to stick with the original border design or create my own. Decisions, decisions….  but I think I have a day or two before I have to decide. 😉

Happy sewing,


Cheetah Girl

A friend of mine is expecting her firstborn any day now… for her baby shower a few weeks ago, I wanted to create a unique onesie to match these sweet Cheetah print legwarmers from her Target gift registry:

Onesie Leg Warmers

My idea was to create a cheetah cub similar to this lion I created for the onesies I made for my Etsy shop a few made months ago:

Lion Onesie

So I sketched a cub/kitten…

Kitty Sketch

Transferred it to the onesie by tracing it with a fine tip Micron pen…

Transferring Design onto Onesie

Painted it with glitter fabric paint, and adding some details with a black paint marker and blending/mixing paint:

Painted Cheetah Cat On Onesie

All of my one-of-a-kind onesies have an element of applique to them; since she is expecting a little girl, I selected some pink fabric from my scrap bin, ironed a piece of stabilizer to the back of my painted cheetah cub (inside the onesie)…

Prepping Onesie for Applique

and gave the little girl cub a bow around her neck (the pink fabric is fused with Heat n’ Bond Featherlite, and satin stitched over the raw edges):

Applique Done

Her is the ensemble, complete with a wee cardigan sweater to match:

Applique w/ Sweater and Cheetah legwarmers

I also purchased some bedtime lotions, etc. from her gift registry, so I bought a basket to gift them in, pulled out a lavender fat quarter from my stash (her nursery decor is primarily lavender) and sewed up a quick and easy basket liner.  I’m hoping she can use this to hold supplies near the changing table:

Basket Collage

Her is the gift, ready to give (I wrapped it up in a lavender polka dot swaddling blanket that can be reused as well:


Looking forward to meeting this little lady soon!

I have a major finish (my final 2012 finish!) to share with you soon — when I have pics to show! Until then, a very Happy New Year to you and yours!

Little Monsters

On Friday the 13th, my business partner and I co-hosted a baby shower for our friend Dawn. The theme was Little Monsters, based on this quilt, by Kellie at Don’t Look Now:
Dawn is decorating her son’s nursery with a quilt made from this pattern; and making window valances, a bed skirt and accessories to match.

We went all out with the theme, and we even made our first “diaper cake”… bought a pack of 36 newborn Pampers, rolled them, tied them with a small strip of fabric:Stood them on end, wrapped them tightly with a band of fabric around a plastic container (it definitely took FOUR hands to do this!), and made a second smaller layer atop the first:We bought the few “monster” themed baby items we could find, and decorated the cake with them:a bib, a monster onesie, a teething ring (I think it’s an octopus, but he looks kind of monster-like!), linky rings, and Cookie Monster and Murray Sesame Street plushies as cake toppers.

I found a “happy birthday” monster tablecloth that I cut the monsters out of, used Mod Podge to glue them to cardstock and added colored rings of paper around them to make them look like Kellie’s Little Monters. These served as table and wall decor, as well as decorated the food table. (I was glad I had the chance to recycle them for my nephew’s birthday party again the following weekend!)

My favorite decoration might have been the monster cupcakes I made and decorated the night before:I had a lot of fun creating all those different faces and looks!

Trina, my business partner, made this sweet banner that Dawn will hopefully be able to use in the nursery:
It’s appliqued, and uses some of the same fabrics in the quilt. It hung above the gift table, along with the baby’s Little Monster quilt:We had fun putting this together, and I think everyone had a good time at the party!

When you host parties, do you plan around a theme, food, decor and the works? Or do you just put out the food and drink and go with the flow?

Easy DIY Design Wall

In all my years of quilting, I’ve only ever used a design wall when sewing at a retreat or a friend’s home.  I’ve often referred to my floor as my “high-falootin’ design wall” here on the blog.  I decided it was about time I had something I could hang blocks and WIPs from to stand back and get a good look at…

To make your own, all you need is:

  • 1-4 pieces of 32″ x 40″ foam core (foamboard) depending on how much wall space you have.
  • 1 yard of white or pale grey cotton flannel (PRE-WASH) per foamboard
  • Duct tape
  • Sticky back velcro (approximately a half yard per board)
  • Kitty to help with the project (optional)

ImageStart by laying a yard of white cotton down on a flat surface, make sure all fuzzies and threads are removed.  Lay the foam core board face down (if one side is smoother or nicer than the other, use that as the face).  Start at two opposite sides, pulling taut and taping edges of flannel around the back side with duct tape, approximately 3″-4″ at a time.  Conitnue to tape these two opposing sides until you get about 2″ from each edge.  At that point, move to the other two opposing sides, and repeat the process. ImageThe corners are finished off by tucking the excess fabric in at a diagonal, just like you do when wrapping a present.  Secure corners well with duct tape.  Cut 9 pieces of sticky-back velcro approximately 2″-3″ long.  Place one at each corner, one at each side center, and one in the middle (use the white rectangles in photo as a placment guide)  When placed, remove the plastic that covers the sticky part, line it up where you want it on your wall or door, and press firmly in place.  (Don’t worry, the adhesive can easily be removed later when you take the boards down with Goo Gone).  Here is my first board finished, attached to a clost door in my studio:

ImageI decided pretty quickly that I was going to need more than one, that wall space to the left of the door is just the right size for a second board… so… before long I had a second board hung and was making good use of it:ImageIt filled fairly quickly with the scrap sewing I was doing last week, these strips are going together with a couple of different projects in mind:ImageI’m so happy to have a space I can just walk away from, leave what I’m working on there, and not have to worry about them being in anyone’s way, cats sleeping on them, etc…

Thanks for finding your way to my new website, I’m working to build the number of followers back up, the soone it gets back over 200, the better the giveaway celebration will be!  Just click “follow” up there at the top…

You can use this link to subscribe to my RSS feed: https://madebyabrunnette.wordpress.com/feed/

A Bed with 9 Lives

Well, okay, maybe three or four lives…but who is to say how many more it will have?

My “Gramma B” is who I get my love of all things handmade, my desire to remake everything I get my hands on, and my DIY instincts from.  There are many other traits and characteristics I received from her, but for the purposes of this blog, we will leave it at that.  ;->

We sold her house a few years ago, before she died, and almost all of her belongings went to family members.  One of the items I asked for was the iron bed that lived in their spare bedroom.  I wish I had a before photo, it probably looked like this at one time:

But I’m only guessing, and going by my Mom’s description from memory.  You see, my Grandma and Grandpa lived in small farm houses, the kind with slanted ceilings and low walls on the second floor.  So, my Grandpa, being a resourceful farmer, took the ornate Victorian style iron bed and cut it down, so it would fit under the slanted ceilings.  I remember it looking something like this in my childhood, (minus the vertical rods on the foot board, as Grandpa had cut those out, too) in chipped white paint, and almost always covered with one of Grandma’s quilts:

It was not quite full size, but still too big for me use in any of my recent homes.  We needed a guest bed, and I really, really wanted to use my Grandma’s bed.  So…  we had a blacksmith cut it down to twin size, add the vertical supports back into the foot board, and then had it sandblasted, which brought back all it’s cast iron glory.  The bed came back to us looking like this: 
This is the bed in raw metal form.  We had to be careful about touching it without gloves on, and prime it within a few days to prevent it from corroding quickly.  My sweetie spent about two weeks meticulously priming and spraying it, until it finally looked like this:
Yes, it is red, because it is going into my sewing studio, and the accent color is red.  Painting it red was my sweetie’s idea, and I had reservations all along, in my mind it was, it is, a white iron bed. But now that it is done, and in place, I love it!


Bright red paint, and all.
Gramma B would definitely approve of the DIY project, and love the idea that this silly old bed has been given yet another life…