Category Archives: Hand Crafted

A weekend’s work is never done . . .

It’s back to Monday folks and I am having crazy crunch time at work.  That is why I value my time at home so much.  So many people in the field I work in are workaholics.  I have always tried to work really hard (and efficiently) while I’m at work, but then leave it at the office.

And come home to . . .

Baby booties?  My Stitch and Bitch project is finally complete . . .

(See this post for the Purl Soho pattern and info.  Super easy to make, just takes a little time — best done in front of Netflix & How I Met Your Mother).

New bamboo shades?  I tried again (very unsuccessfully) to do the black-out cloth on the back of the woven shades we had already.  Total fail.  But they were all pretty busted up anyways (don’t buy cheap!) and afforded zero privacy.  So on a routine visit to Home Depot, we splurged(ish) on new shades for the music room and bedroom.

These are terrible, terrible pictures.  JT speed-installed the blinds on Sunday night as the light was fading fast.  I’m going to take all new pictures of the music room soon . . . .

And new light fixture (coming soon)?  The soffit over the kitchen sink has long had a scary, scary hole in it. . . Hole no more, light fixture to come. . .

Back to the grind.  I’m already looking forward to next weekend and finishing up some more projects (I’m looking at you kitchen soffit.)

Another baby pillow, but for a big boy!

Sometimes my lack of follow through on projects means that instead of delivering a gift at a baby shower, I instead deliver it when the baby is three months . . . or almost two years old.  Yikes!  Better late than never I guess!

So, Jackson is the almost-two-year-old in question and he is adorable.  Since he loves dogs and has a cute little blue and green bedroom, I came up with this . . .

I was thinking about going with J. Dog on the side, but wasn’t sure if his parents were ready to explain rap music and all the surrounding terminology . . . According to some pictures I got from his mom, I think he likes it! My first user review!

Since JT and I don’t have any toddlers of our own, I didn’t think about the ubiquitous child’s show “Blues Clues” although my little sis sure watched it a whole lot when we were kids . . . and my younger cousin looks suspiciously like the boy/man character.  But Jack apparently caught on right away and got his very own “Blues Clues” customized pillow.  Hope you like it little man.

Have a great weekend everyone!  I’m off to finish these baby booties before all these girl babies are born!

Stitch and Bitch Success!

** Content Warning – This is not your Grandma’s crafting! **

Working as a commercial interior designer is a great profession, but it’s not as hands-on as what you see on things like HGTV.  We work in AutoCAD, do Photoshop rendering and pick out materials.  But we also do ceiling plans, coordinate with mechanical/electrical/plumbing, do tedious room finish schedules and even more tedious shop drawings. 

So sometimes we designers want to get hands-on!  Together with some of my designer friends from college, we dreamed up what was at first called “D.I.Y. Day” to be sort of politically correct but then turned quickly into a “Stitch and Bitch” (way more fun).  JT preferred to absent himself (can’t blame him) and us girls took over the Thompson house for a Saturday of crafts. 

I was excited to get further in my New Year’s resolution of “bringing brunch back” so I went to town on that.

I found these great napkins at Ikea that matched the “stitch” theme and also had my beloved blue in them.  And yep, that’s a new rug hanging out in the kitchen — bought for under $30 online.  Sweet.  Ignore the horrible soffit, there’s a new light fixture going in this upcoming weekend . . . .

The girls pitched in with food (and cocktails!) and off we went . . . .

JT had set up the new Ikea Strind coffee table for us before he vanished into thin air and it came in handy having so much more free space in the living room now that the big ottoman has moved on to my brother and sister-in-law’s new house. 

I didn’t get a good before picture of it but Miss K came in with a busted up mirror from Hobby Lobby she scored for $8.  She had a big bag full of stuff and she took her frame to the horribly weedy front yard and made some magic with it.

She made a gorgeous little picture display for her little girl, Mila’s room.  She texted me a picture after, and I think the pictures of Mila with her mommy and daddy are what make it extra cute.  I love the fabric and ribbons and really, the overall pink and brown scheme they did for Mila’s room – very sophisticated but fun.

With all that she had to do, somehow Miss K even finished up first and came in to give us a hand . . .

Miss E had found some great inspiration images on Pinterest and wanted to do something spring-y for her front door.  Several yards of felt and some hot glue later, her wreath came out so great.

One of the nice things is that the felt flowers are wired on individually so she can change it out for the season if she wants (red flowers for Valentines day or orange and brown hues for fall . . . )

Isn’t it sharp on their black front door? I love it!

Now to me. . . . everyone I know seems to be having a baby girl.  So baby presents were in order.  I saw this adorable felt bootie pattern on Purl Soho’s website and wanted to try it out. 

I was the slowpoke of the group.  By the time brunch had wrapped up, I had only one unadorned bootie to show for all my effort.  I persisted in my hand-stitching and thanks to an extra long finale of The Bachelor, got one pair all the way done. 


Now I only have two more pairs left!!  All in all, the Stitch ‘n Bitch was great fun — it was nice to work on a project and be able to catch up with each other, drink really good cranberry-champagne mimosa-things and enjoy a beautifully sunny Saturday.  This might end up being a recurring event, but I think next time instead of starting off on a whole new project, I need to use these D.I.Y. days as a time to finish up all the ones I have started all over the house . . . .

Thanks to Miss K and Miss E for letting me share their projects!  Cheers – CT

Grow where you’re planted

So many new(ish) vintage/thrift/retro stores are popping up all over St. Louis right now, that it’s making my weekends busy trying to get out and visit all these places (First world problems).  The next shop I was targeting is MoModerne, an antique/retro store down on Cherokee Ave (also spotted through Mr. Modtomic’s blog – he keeps me up to date on local shopping hot spots!).  I started following them on Facebook a while ago and they have been posting beautiful images of beautiful furniture.  I’ve wanted almost every item they’ve posted.   So, out of fear for my wallet, I stayed away for a while.  Then an opening in our calendar popped up this last weekend and I dragged JT down to see the place.

What did I find but a little bullet planter waiting to come home with me. (I’ve been dreaming about them for a while – see my posts here and here.)  Perched high up on the shelf, I didn’t notice it until a second perusal of the place prompted me to snatch the tag off of it before anyone else in the store could make off with my find.  When I checked out, the guy said they used to have a bunch of the big ones too.  Why, oh why did I wait so long?

I don’t know what kind of plant this is and it’s one of the few in the house that I haven’t named, but it’s looking pretty gosh-darn happy in its new home.  It feels pretty good to wish and wish and wish for something and finally find it. 

In related plant news Little Walter, the tree, seems to be doing better.  He finally stopped dropping leaves and seems to have stabilized.  I potted him in the IKEA wicker woven basket/planter I snatched up on our IKEA trip the weekend before last.  It was the only thing like it in the plant area and even the check-out lady seemed a little intrigued/puzzled by it.  All I know is it had a plastic liner for plants but a nice woven white/blue-grey pattern I couldn’t resist.   I keep moving him around the living room, but for now he’s living here:

The height isn’t quite right so he’s perched on one of the Target Alto stool knock-offs.  We’ll see.

What else.  Well, since we were down on Cherokee for MoModerne, we also checked out the Mud House (found through Third Story(ies), another STL blog).  I had a yummy chickpea salad sandwich.  I never would have thought of chickpea salad but I sure am glad the Mud House did.  They also had great interior space and some fun, funky artwork.  Another plus — they play good music.  It can be hard to not run out of a restaurant screaming if they play bad music.  There have been times where we have considered leaving the grocery cart in the aisle and abandoning our grocery shopping because the store used to play such bad music.

And the Oscars!  I made “murder” cupcakes (red velvet) complete with Ryan Gosling’s little face as an inside joke for JT’s movie-watching dudes. They were actually pretty easy to make with my handy 1″ diameter punch (plus toothpicks and some good old-fashioned Elmer’s glue).

All-in-all a good weekend.  On to a great week, right?  I had a small epiphany this weekend.  A little late but here’s what I realized:

Life is what you make it.  So be sure to make it what you want.

Another (little) project

My sewing machine and I are getting better acquainted day by day.  Soon, very soon, my sewing machine and I will be learning how to do zippers. 

Another new baby has come into our lives, this one is the son of one of JT’s band mates.  He is named Harrison after the best Beatle and I couldn’t resist a little Beatles’ inspiration.

“Here comes the sun. . . ” Little darling.  Harrison is pretty darling.  His nursery is all grey and yellow which is very sophisticated and fun.  Methinks the Eames rocker might look pretty good in little Harrison’s nursery as well.  I was digging the yellows together when I photographed it.

It started out the same way I did my monogram pillow (see instructions here) – normal acrylic paint mixed with fabric medium.  This time I used three different shades of yellow to give it a “beachy” feel.

The best part was how the sun really started streaming in when I was taking these photos.   I think George is somewhere up there smiling down on little Harrison . . .

May everyone have a little sunshine in their life.  Cheers!

Feels like Monday . . .

JT and I took a little “staycation” day yesterday.  Being neither government employees or educators, it was not a work holiday but rather our personal holiday from work.

Really, I kind of needed a couple of days of recovery and rest following a Saturday “Ikea-or-bust” road runner trip. 

There’s more info on what I picked up at Bolingbrook to come (see the new home for Little Walter on top?) . . . some of it is making it’s way into the kitchen, which is slowly making it’s way to blue . . .

It kind of looks like a Smurf was murdered in there right now.

One little project I did tackle was some “T” hooks gifted to us (once again — did I mention they give good gifts?) from JT’s brother and sister-in-law.  I had them hanging around for a while in their original orange . . . .

And then got all “crafty” on them and went for two shades of blue . . .

It didn’t really do it for me, I wanted something simpler and cleaner so I undid my blue handiwork and painted them with the Sherwin Williams Shoji White instead.

Much better and now Sophie and Shenanigan’s leashes are always on the ready.  Pretty much just like Sophie and Shenanigan themselves whenever we put on our running shoes and grab a plastic bag . . . “The shoes and the bags!  They mean business!”  (My very poor  memory of a Patton Oswalt stand-up about the dog figuring out it’s going for a walk)

And more sewing . . .

I’ve had my trusty old Kenmore out and rigged up and ready to go for some sewing work sessions this past weekend.  Let’s see what I battled out . . .

Cue scary music for “before” image of kitchen — specifically the back door.

Can’t you just picture ax murderers lurking in the dark, waiting to kick in the door and cut you into pieces as you do dishes?  No?  Me neither, really — there’s a sun porch outside the back door so the ax murderers can’t get too close.  But we were getting a little “too close” to the neighbors who could see right into our kitchen (and vice versa – but actually from our kitchen door we can see into their bathroom . . . .)

So (sew!) cafe curtains were born!

I found a nice polka dot at Hobby Lobby and bought 1-1/2 yards.  It was a little light so I also bought a light white cotton to use as an interlayer.  Since, in theory, we will use the sun porch (right now it is a storage room for fun things like firewood and weed wackers and recycling bins), I wanted both sides to be nice.  I doubled up the polka dots and added in the interlayer and sewed a pillow case (for all intents and purposes).  Then I folded up and ironed both of the open ends of the “pillow case” (really the bottom of the curtain here) and finished it off with a heavy zig-zag/interlock stitch in white. 

I wish they were a little fuller and had a little more movement, but they’ll do for now.  For about $10 in fabric and a curtain rod and clips I already had lurking in my Hoarder’s-style basement, it’s a nice privacy solution. 

As you can see from the photos, the kitchen is about to be “smurfed” into the same blue as the music room.  I struggled along for a while, thinking I would keep it white one day, then convincing myself to go for blue on others.  Finally I couldn’t handle the indecision any more and emailed some of my college classmate/fellow designers for advice.  They steered me right and we’re going for broke with blue.  (Thanks Erin and Kristin!)  Even as a design professional myself, there are some decisions I will just over-think and over-think until nothing happens. 

So I’m excited to kick off the next phase of kitchen reno – painting, painting and painting!  First the walls, next the cabinets and finally the doors and trim.   The cafe curtains may have to get moved out of the kitchen temporarily to avoid being splattered in blue, but we’re enjoying them for now!

Snow Day Sewing

Last year we had a big snow day and inspired by Anna at Door Sixteen, I started on dog sweaters for Sophie and Shenanigan.  Because, you know, it’s natural for dogs to want to wear sweaters when it snows . . . .

I had picked out two 100% wool sweaters at Goodwill a long, long time ago.  I remember the pickins’ were suprisingly slim — I was kind of hoping for a Cosby-esque sweater for Shenanigan but those were all blends.  The reason for the 100% wool is Step #2 — I felted them.  It was simple, I just washed the two sweaters in as hot water as my washer would supply and dryed them at high heat as well.  Twice.  The result was little doll (and dog) sized sweaters.  Since they are felted, you can now cut them up without any unraveling at the edges. 

Step 3 involved butchering the sweaters and terrifying the dogs while chasing them around and trying to fit these pieces together.  I jazzed Shenenigan’s sweater up by adding a hoodie component made out of a Snuggie he had destroyed. Sophie’s has a fold-down collar/neck.    And then it was spring and there was no need for dog sweaters.

Fast forward to more than a year later and St. Louis received another brief but pretty snowfall last night.  The dogs hadn’t yet been able to wear their snow day sweaters because I had never finished them – they didn’t have belly bands or any fastening system.  (The story of all my craft projects – half baked.)  I garnered some inpiration from Young House Love’s “Dude Get On That Already” challenge and last night I whipped out the sewing machine, attached the belly band and sewed on some velcro.  Project complete.  They’re kind of a mess but I don’t really care – they’re done!  Neither does Sophie, she loves hers and Shenanigan just kind of tolerates it.  It makes him look like a hobbit, poor guy.  But he bravely wore it out into the snow.

PS – I promise this blog hasn’t gone to the dogs.  I have a few little house projects to share and JT has some guitar news as well so we’ll get around to posting those up too.  Those little furry faces are just so hard to resist . . . .

Monograms and sheepskins

For those of you who have been reading this for a while, you know about my (slight) obsession with the letter “T” and also with sheepskins.  They are addictions I’m not sure I want to cure. 

Imagine my surprise when my family and friends picked up on these idiosyncratic obsessions of mine.  Maybe that puts them in the category of enablers.  At any rate, it makes me one lucky lady.

For Christmas this year we did a name swap/draw on my side of the family.  It turns out my mother drew my name. (Hi Mom.)  Great gift #1 was a large “T” for my growing collection on the mantel.  I wanted to customize it a bit more so it paid a visit to my backyard spray booth (which is a cardboard box top.  Fancy.)

That little black handle is the best $3 I ever spent.  I got it at Home Depot and it clips onto the top of a can of spray paint so you can grip with your whole hand and get a nice easy layer of spray paint. 

Et voila . . . . . it is now the new theme color of teal/sapphire blue and proudly displayed on my restyled mantel.

It looks so happy against the new white wall.  On the ottoman you’ll also see the big  red book of “Design*Sponge at Home”, another great gift from my mom.

See anything else new on the ottoman?  Remember a few posts back when I was agonizing over the Anthropologie $800 fleece flounce throw?

JT was a good husband and got me the Z Gallerie alternate and at about $50, it is so much more affordable.  I didn’t have to promise to wear it as a coat every day and sleep under it every night.  I can’t put it on the bed or the sofa because Sophie and Shenanigan will do inappropriate things to it.  So for now it is adorning the ottoman where I can rest my feet on it at night and revel in its sheepy softness (and it’s actually faux so no real sheep were harmed.  Win and win.)  And it’s teal/sapphire. 

Shenanigan will still do circus dog tricks sometimes and stand on the ottoman so I put a tray on top of my new throw to protect it a little better.  I used to have a long rectangular dark brown tray on the ottoman which popped nicely off the white vinyl.  I had to switch it around a little and mixed in a white round tray instead to give some contrast off that teal fur goodness.  The tray also is an old friend who visited the backyard spray booth — it used to be red.  I’m telling you, I’m crazy with the spray paint. 

And back to the monograms we go – did you think we were done with “T”s?  My mom has a friend in Kansas City (Hi Barb!) who is a whiz with a sewing machine.  She has one of those uber-fancy digital ones that I dream of owning someday after I learn to master the Kenmore basic model I have now.  Mom sent Barb some plain napkins and Barb sent these beauties back . . .

(PS – I took approximately 29 pictures of these place settings to find one picture that I liked.  JT saw the table set and asked if we were having a dinner party he was unaware of.  Just staging things for the blog hon. That’s normal, right?)  They’re very subtle which I like, kind of tone on tone.  Barb made us a set of white monogram “T” napkins for use at our wedding (7 years ago!) and I still have them but white is a bit unforgiving for daily use so I’m happy to have a set of the tan color as well. 

So that wraps up the story of monograms and sheepskins.  I am enjoying them all thoroughly.  My other great gifts will be the subject of an upcoming post — it involves artwork and I’m trying to get them all framed and hung before I post but I may just give in and share before I can get it done.  We’ll see.  Have a great weekend everyone!

It’s 2012!

I decided to have one last adventure in (hand) sewing to finish off 2011 and ring in 2012 with a bang.  JT was taking me out for an anniversary/New Year’s Eve dinner and I had the perfect dress but it was a little blah.  Inspired by the corsage, I thought I would try to see what I could whip together.

(Image above from’s website — you should check it out.  I especially love the sequined heart pins.)

I rummaged through my basement “craft” room (aka where I put odds and ends I don’t want to get rid of because I might make something with them someday) and came up with some black tulle and Haworth mesh chair back fabric from our work runway fashion show.  (A little more on that here.) While catching up on Season 2 episodes of “How I Met Your Mother” I began cutting, folding and stitching the tulle.

I cut out a backer from the Haworth fabric and stitched it onto a pin I already had (and I can simply clip the stitches off and wear the star pin by itself again someday.

I used the leftover cut tulle and stitched and hot glued the mess onto a hair clip for an extra accessory.  The hot glue didn’t really hold so I ended up stitching it up as JT waited patiently in his nice clothes to go out.  In the end my tulle corsage resembled one of those shower scrub poufs a little more than I would have liked.  I think it would have worked better with organza.  Oh well, what’s a girl to do.

We went to Brasserie by Niche in the Central West End.  The food was so good and Fraanch (as JT likes to say).  I asked our waitress to snap a photo to which she was very obliging and all we ended up with was a very “How I Met Your Mother” photo in a dark bar kind of picture.

So I photographed my outfit again this morning for your viewing pleasure.  If only my waist were that small in real life!

JT put up another of his guitar hooks on this little piece of empty wall which is pretty perfect actually.  However he found out the adjacent vent throws hot air right to that spot and de-tunes his guitar so I found some other uses for the guitar hook. . . .

For now the hook will stay because it’s an ideal spot to photograph JT’s guitars.  The one above is another that he made and is about to post for sale.  It’s gorgeous although I’ve never been a huge fan of the SG body style — those two points look like devil’s horns to me.  The best use of the hook has been this large clock we got as a one year anniversary gift to each other (because that’s the traditional one year gift along with paper I think.  I didn’t even bother to check and see what the seven year gift is.  Yikes.)

I have so many more posts coming your way.  Resolutions and little projects I am working on around the house.  I also need to post some of my awesome Christmas gifts — here’s a hint — there are monograms, faux fur and artwork.  Oh my!