A Kate Middleton-Inspired Knit Shawl

I’m a bit of a Kate Middleton fan, but I hide it really well by trying to dress like her always and writing for a Kate Middleton style fan blog in my free time (it’s actually really good and you should read What Would Kate Do? every single day!). For my most recent blog post, I decided to combine interests and knit myself a replica item of Kate’s (or repliKate, as we in the know call it): a knit green shawl she was photographed wearing to the grocery store a couple of years ago.

PIC BRUCE ADAMS / COPY SCHLESINGER - 5.5.11 NEWLY MARRIED DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE KATE MIDDLETON WITH SHOPPING AT THE MENAI BRIDGE BRANCH OF WAITROSE SUPERMARKET, ANGLESEY.

Via Bruce Adams, Daily Mail

The clincher? I found this replica pattern of the exact shawl by Cat Wong on Ravelry!

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Via Cat Wong, Ravelry

It started super easy and I was like, oh yeah girl, you’ve got this. Cruisin’ USA, right? But since triangles start small at one point and then get larger towards the opposite side, each consecutive row took longer to knit. (I realize this is an obvious fact, but it really took me by surprise, so if I can help one person, this PSA is worth it.) But after some late nights and sore arms (don’t laugh), I finished it!

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Overall, the pattern was pretty easy to follow (just a little time-consuming) and turned out really great. There are a few different pattern options for the ruffle. As opposed to Kate’s, with ruffles on all three edges, I toned it down and just added the ruffles on two edges of the shawl.

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I’m also a fan of how this can be worn as a shawl or a scarf or a wrap. The possibilities are endless if endless equals three possibilities!

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Please give me a haircut someone.

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Sewing a Floral Sundress

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via Boden.com

I decided I wanted to sew a dress Saturday and it was done by Wednesday! This was seriously such an easy pattern and quick dress to make (and my first one ever) that I had to share! My inspiration was the below dress from Boden. I was aiming to replicate the shape (I love the summery shirtdress with a full skirt look) and the fabric too, to whatever extent I could. The first step was finding a pattern similar to that dress. It was a lot harder than it seemed! Every pattern seemed to be missing an important detail, like the collar or full skirt. Thankfully my mom had an extra 4 hours to kill, in addition to way more sewing experience and patience than I have (always a good thing—I wish I could rent her out to all of you for your own projects). The terribly frumpy fabrics they show on the patterns do not help in picturing the final product so you have to use your imagination. I landed on this one, deciding to use the pattern for the pink dress, minus all the ribbons and crap. Bonus: I love some of the other variations included, too! Extra bonus: All the patterns from this brand are only about $4! Some others I looked at were $30.

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Next, fabric. The fun part, right? Actually this was another tedious process, as, of course, I am not going to find an exact replica. Again, you really have to use your imagination to envision what the final product might be with all your tweaks. And speaking of tweaks, I bought extra fabric (a skirt’s length) so I could make the skirt fuller (because who doesn’t want a spinny skirt?). To do this, I added about 4 inches to the front and back pieces (on the waistline) to gather more fabric. Here is the fabric I chose (the top one) plus another close contender I loved.

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Time to sew! Once I got everything cut out, I spent most of a day sewing and finished everything but the buttons. You really can make this in a day! (I recommend living in the Midwest because I have zero interest in going outside in this windchill.) Here are a few fun incremental progress shots I was sending to a friend and a name for the corresponding apparel I’m modeling:

1. The sassy school board mom vest:

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2. The ultra-conservative Duggar prairie dress:

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3. The thank God it’s starting to look like a normal dress:

image1-5 Enough talk! Here it is! The finished product. It amazingly fits pretty perfectly, especially when I added a belt to cinch in the extra fabric and create a waist. (I cannot stress this enough if you are new to sewing—go by the measurements and NOT by the size number! I started making a dress in my normal size once and was halfway through before I realized it would be a better fit for a doll. This one I made is a size 12…don’t let the size scare you! Although, come on pattern-making jerks. No one wants to be a huge number of sizes larger than they really are!) Sorry I look so awkward in this picture. I am so bad at taking self timer pics. image4 I love the cute little cap sleeves. That’s what’s so nice about sewing your own with a pattern like this; you can customize however you want to. The only thing I was not a fan of is the collar. It’s a little long and large for my taste. image3 image2-2 Here’s a closer look of the details on the top and skirt: image5 I didn’t add up the cost to the penny but it was all only about $30-$35, compared to the Boden dress at $118. Needless to say with how quick and easy it was, I am mildly obsessed with this pattern! Expect another post soon as I am already started on another one. This time, it will be the sleeveless version with the sash at the waist, tweaked to make the collar smaller and less stiff by not including interfacing on that part. Check back soon! Happy sewing!

Painted Champagne Flutes

I’ve been really into with outfitting my bar cart for a while now and got to thinking that gold decorated glassware would be perfect for it! After researching some designs that were simple but way too expensive, I decided to make them myself with the champagne flutes I had lying around.

I found some tips for painting glass on Pinterest (this site has the basic steps, too) and used those to guide me. Here’s what I did:

  1. Wash and rinse glasses with soap and water. I let them dry overnight.
  2. I wiped the outsides off with vinegar (the other option was rubbing alcohol and unless they mean vodka, I honestly don’t know what that is) with a cotton ball and let them dry again.
  3. Time to paint! I used a gold enamel paint (Folk Art brand) and ended up doing 2-3 coats on the glasses. It really depends on the design if this is necessary or not. Some of the glasses could have gone without a second coat.
  4. Bake the glasses to seal the paint. I baked them for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. According to the directions, the important part is the put the glasses in a cold oven and let them preheat and cool down with the oven temp.
  5. The big reveal:

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And now for the best part…the cost!

  • The champagne flutes were freeeee! (Tip: Find an older brother who is giving his away. Seriously, who was he ever kidding owning 12 champagne flutes? Then again, who am I kidding? Oh wait, I’m too lazy to wash them! That’s why!) You could definitely find some at Goodwill or a thrift store though. I bet a handful of mismatched glasses would look like a set once they’re painting similarly.
  • The paint only cost $2-$3 from Walmart. And that was it!

Looking at the glasses now, the dots and vertical lines definitely turned out the best. The horizontal lines got thick and goopy and the paint didn’t cover as well as the other two. If I did it again, I’d do all polka dots—I think they look the cutest and turned out the best. Cheers!

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A Throwaway Bulletin Board Becomes Pretty

It’s like a modern-day Cinderella story! OK so it’s actually just a super simple, no-brainer project that made my old bulletin board, that I was going to dump, look like a pretty picture frame! I feel like Nate Berkus could have designed it for his Target collection. Here’s the before picture:

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Boring, right? Nothing exciting or terrible about it but I am to the point where an old bulletin board no longer fits in with my post-college style. (Don’t worry about my Rubbermaid bedroom shelves…I’ll get to those.) But when I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo (look it up! It’s awesome! And I’m going to post about it in my other blog!), I had a need for somewhere accessible to post things up again. But how to make it look adult, elegant, and like part of the decor instead of a messy dorm room accessory? PAINT.

The best part about this project is that it was entirely free. I already had the old bulletin board and used the white and gold paint I had lying around too. I’m sure you could get all of these things for just a few bucks. So I plopped a bunch of white paint onto the board and went to town with a foam paintbrush. (P.S. there’s a sale on onions. Take note.)

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Then I painted the whole darn thing, including the frame. I decided a white frame would help the gold color pop more and also I am messy and it was hard to keep the white off of the frame.

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Then I pained the frame gold! I just love how the color turned out. I had to do maybe 3 or 4 coats but it went really fast with the foam brush.

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And ta da! The finished product. The white could use a few more coats but I think with things pinned to it, it will look just fine on the wall.

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I think after I use it for the month, I may repurpose it because I like it so much. I was thinking to add tacks and hang pretty necklaces inside the frame or neatly pin some pictures or mood board items. Any other ideas? Tell me! What would you use it for?

Art + Wine Classes: Yay or nay?

I think because I like to pretend I’m a true artist I was a little apprehensive and judgmental about those wine and art classes. The fact that everyone does the same exact picture makes them seem non-artisty to me. All the art classes I’ve taken as an adult have been ones where you can do whatever the hell you want without being instructed. Which is maybe why half the time they make me so stressed out and hate myself. And, I don’t know if you’ve heard, there’s a BAR at these trendy classes! I could be convinced to take a calculus class if they told me there was a bar there.

So I decided to give it a try. With my mom and older sister in tow, I showed up for a Wednesday night class to paint an autumn scene. First thing’s first, we got wine at the bar. (They were out of champagne, exCUSE me?! Whatever.) Then I started sizing up my competition. For some reason, arts and crafts makes me super competitive (wouldn’t it be nice if work or real life did that to me?) so I wanted to make sure mine would be the best. Or better than my sister’s at least.

Here we are, just the happiest little family of painters.

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The weird thing about the class is that I kind of felt like I was painting blind. It was a much different experience than when I sit down to paint at home or in a class. The actual picture we were copying was about the size of a postage stamp and hung on the wall .5 miles away so that wasn’t much help. Mom kept freaking out about this fact. She also started adding cobblestones without being told and totally going AWOL on her picture and then everyone loved it. I had half a mind to tell on her. But I actually found the experience liberating. Since I just did what I was told and had no idea what I was really supposed to be doing, there was much less to stress out about (except when the goddamn bar was going to be open for service again). The process is a little dumbed down and not every single detail is included but I think that definitely helped make the project easier and completable in a few hours. I can’t remember the last time I finished a painting in that amount of time…or a quarter of that amount of time. So yay for finishing one!

Overall rating: An A! It was fun, so much less stressful than normal, fun to hang with the fam, drink, and accomplish something.

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Lessons learned:

  1. Just always be drinking when you’re painting. Just do it.
  2. Not every detail needs to be painted.
  3. Frequent cheese breaks are a must. (My sister’s snacks totally helped my…inspiration, or whatever.)
  4. There’s always someone whose painting is worse than yours to make you feel better.

You can buy my picture for $5,000. I swear there are only like 50 others like it out there.

Ta da!

Sewing A DIY Sewing Machine Cover

Whoops, it’s been awhile! Don’t worry, I wasn’t not crafting, just failing at it. I don’t know about you but most Christmases I get myself in way over my head with some elaborate project and end up holed away at 3 am on Christmas Day trying to finish something that the fun wore out of weeks ago. So why wouldn’t I go for it again this year?! Long story short, I decided to knit my brother-in-law socks and even started in November and gave myself deadlines. However, when it came down to crunch time I realized I had fatally flawed the first sock so…I scrapped it all and enjoyed my Christmas instead! I will make those socks though, if it kills me.

Onto what I actually did make! I got a sewing machine for my birthday a year ago (ahem…feel free to post birthday wishes) so right on time, I decided it was time to make a cover for the thing. I felt bad for it gathering dust all year. For some reason I had the fabric in my head immediately so that was the easy part. It was surprising difficult to find a simple, non-cheesy pattern though and I felt I shouldn’t wing it. I used this pattern from McCall’s, minus the horrifying cat motif. It only took like a half yard of fabric and some cord to line the ends. An easy afternoon project and another way to keep dust off the sewing machine (other than actually using it…get it?)

Front view.  It looks a little lumpy because of the machine underneath...and the lumpiness of the cover. Good excuse.

Front view. It looks a little lumpy because of the machine underneath…and the lumpiness of the cover. Good excuse.

From the end.

From the end.

Quick Sunflower Oil Painting

Oil on canvas. That’s about it.

There have been a lot of oil paintings lately but with winter and Christmas coming and my job not doubling my salary, I have a feeling I may be sharing some lovely homemade knit gifts soon! Until then, here’s an oil painting I did a couple weeks ago of sunflowers. I really enjoyed doing this one because it only took me a few hours to complete (compared to the painting I’ve been working on for a couple of year that is approximately the size of a postage stamp) and I was able to be pretty loose with it and not such a perfectionist. I think the style turned out kind of cool and more impressionistic than many of mine that get too precise.

If you want to finish a painting quickly, I recommend painting something you don’t care much about! Someone else gave me this picture to paint and since I needed a break, I went ahead and did it. So here are the sunflowers – and it’s up for grabs! Sorry for the icky photo quality.