Easy Sew Slip Cover For a Piano Bench

Posted by Julie Prescesky in , , , , , , , , ,

We are borrowing a wonderful keyboard piano from some friends while they are away for six months in France. We had it only one day before my husband looked at me and said, "The cat is going to destroy that bench. You saw what she was like with our leather couch."  MmmHmm.

I immediately set to action. I grabbed some jacquard fabric I happened to have on hand.

Materials needed:

Fabric - enough to cover the bench and and extra to fold a couple of inches around the bottom.
Safety Pin

*Tip: How To Get A Straight Edge on Jacquard (and other fabrics).

This works for any fabric that you cannot simply snip and rip to get a straight edge. Use on jacquards, linens, brocades and any delicate fabrics that might stretch out and warp if torn.  
Step One - snip in the direction you want to create the straight edge.
Step Two - find a loose thread or two inside the snipped area.
Step Three - pull the thread gently. As it comes loose, it'll leave a beautiful straight line across the width of the fabric.
Step Four - cut along the line.

Bench Slipcover Tutorial

Drape the fabric, wrong side out, over the bench top and pin each corner as shown in the images below.

Sew each corner along the line of pins. 

Flip the fabric to right side out. 

Trim the edges so that they are the same length all the way around. 

Trim away the excess fabric at the corner seams.

Turn up the hemline/bottom of the cover to make a casing.  First, I finished the raw edges with a serger, but if you do not have such a machine, you can first fold under a 1/4" and iron, then fold again another 1/2" and stitch close to the fold all the way around the hem to make the casing. 

Leave an opening in the casing and feed your length of elastic through using a medium/large sized safety pin to inch it along.

Place the cover, right side out, over the bench and pull the elastic so that the hem tightens around the bottom.  Pin the elastic at the desired length, remove the cover and sew the elastic together, trimming off the excess. 

Slip the cover over the bench and enjoy. Easy to slip on, easy to slip off and wash. 

And look, kitty likes it too.

Find more practical and easy sewing tutorials here.  Leave links to your own sewing tutorials in the comments section. 

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Make a Custom Bookcover for a Spiral Notebook

Posted by Julie Prescesky in , , , , , , ,

I picked up this spiral notebook the other day and wanted to stiffen the covers and customize it for gift-giving.  It took me about an hour to put together once I had all of my materials.

empty cereal boxes (2)
spray glue
rubber cement
fancy paper
spiral bound notebook (flexible cover)

To make, cut out four pieces of cardboard (cereal boxes) the size of the cover PLUS a 1/2 inch or so to extend over the spiral, and two cardboard pieces for the spine - as wide as the spiral diameter. Glue the two spine pieces together to make one sturdy spine strip. 

Use spray glue to affix the 2-ply spine and only two of the cardboard covers to your chosen fabric or paper. Use a medium to heavy weight fabric and spray the glue in a light even coat over the cardboard (ventilation is important too). If you spray too much it may bleed through the fabric/paper (see a few pictures down to see how I ran into this problem and how I improvised around it). 

*NOTE* As in the image below, notice I cut another strip of fabric and glued it over the spine piece before affixing the book to the cardboard cover.

I used rubber cement to glue the front notebook cover to the cardboard. Spray glue would suffice, too, but I opted for the rubber cement for better control (no over spray). Make sure not to get glue on the spiral. 

Press together making sure to match up the outer edges. The cardboard will overlap the spiral on the opposite edge. 

Miter the corners of the fabric and glue it inward around the the inside cover (on both the front and back covers). 

Partially close the book and place glue inside the spine and tuck in the remaining raw edges. Allowing the rubber cement a few moments to become tacky before pressing together helps avoid frustration.  It's okay to get glue on the spiral at this stage, but be careful to confine it only to where the spiral meets the spine and not near the the area needed for free turning of the pages when the book is in use. 

Notice the glue stain on the front cover, due to my overzealous attack with the spray glue.  I sewed up a long rectangle of textured fabric and affixed it over the stain and made like it was meant to be. 

Next, cut approximately 1/4 inch from one (long) side of each piece of the remaining cardboard pieces.

Choose your contrasting paper or fabric (I chose this lovely paper - take care to notice the direction of the pattern - as you can see above, I forgot to and had to re-cut).

Miter the corners and glue the edges to the inside of the cardboard. 

Glue the the freshly paper-covered cardboard onto the inside of the front and the back covers, taking care to avoid getting glue on the spiral. The inner cardboard will jut out past the outer cover a slight bit, giving a lovely contrast , as seen below.

Enjoy for yourself or give this thoughtful gift to someone you care about. 

Also, you can make a book from scratch!  See my post on my first go at it, including the tutorial I used (and rather enjoyed). 

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Upcycled Slippers

Posted by Julie Prescesky in , , , , , , , ,

I've made these slippers before. You can see the tutorial here, and all my various slipper making posts here.

This round of slippers is for my three bambinos. Winter is upon us, and they are finally old enough to care if their feet are cold. For the longest time, they'd rip around the house barefooted on cold floors, slippers be damned.  I'd make them some and one would always get lost, maybe under a pile of lego instruction manuals they never used but I was never allowed to get rid of. So, I rejoice when I see them wearing their new winter comfort footwear, which seems to be pretty regularly.

For these slippers, I dismantled old sweaters, blue jeans, and fleece blankets.  No need to visit a fabric shop - you probably have everything you need at home already. Okay, maybe you could pick up some puff paint to create non-slippery soles.  I use Tulip brand, it dries well and stays put.

I also cut them out some felted wool inserts that they can slip into their slippers for extra warmth, or put them in their shoes for some extra insulation.  Just cut up an old wool sweater that you've washed and dried (defying the what it says on the fabric care tag) so it's shrunken and tight like felt.  Simply trace around your child's foot and cut it out. Easy peasy. Inexpensive. Warm.

Go make some. These would make a great gift for someone you love.

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Make Candy For Bees

Posted by Julie Prescesky in , , , , , , ,

Winter is coming and I've been augmenting my bees' food supply with sugar syrup for the last few weeks. I lost my last year's colony to starvation, I believe, so I'm trying to give them more than one back up plan this year, should they not have collected enough honey through the summer, hence also making some candy to tuck in the hive.

Over the summer I did not harvest honey from them, except when having to remove some comb to make room for them to prevent over crowding. I'm glad I kept up on thinning comb from the hive as there were no suggestions of them wanting to swarm this year, and I'm convinced overcrowding was the main issue last year when they did swarm (you can read about that here).  If they do have honey left in the hive when spring arrives, I can take some then, and probably more in the height of the summer, since they will hopefully be a much stronger colony in their second year. We'll see how that plays out.

Right now, the main concern is survival of Montreal's brutally long winter.

The candy recipe I used is from beehivejournal.blogspot.ca.

Quick bee sugar cake

5 lbs sugar1 cup cold water with 1.5 tsp vinegar added and mixed inMix together in large pot well.  Place mixture on a candy board or in another container.  This will turn into a hard block of sugar much like when a bag of sugar gets wet. No cooking required

I took some tips from Beverly Bees and added some pollen into the center of the fondant. I happened to have some kicking around from one of the many times I had to remove comb to make more space for the bees mid summer (I try to take the least needed comb in the hive. Sometimes it'll have pollen or honey in it).  I simply broke the comb apart and flicked out the pollen pieces. Easy to do with comb from a top bar hive because they don't have frames. Top bars are just bars that lay on top of the hive base and the bees construct their own shape, which usually follows the interior shape of the hive.

I have a large, wonderful dehydrator, so I spread the fondant on a frame over a non-stick tray liner that came with my dehydrator. I put it in the machine and made sure not to have the temperature set too high (or it would just melt the sugar). The point is to get rid of the moisture and create a kind of puck - the sugar equivalent to a salt lick for cattle. I left it in there for about 6 hours and let it cool.

You do not need a dehydrator for this, however.  You can let it sit our for about 24hrs, as noted by Beverly Bees, and it'll do the trick.

I decided to break up the bee candy and slide it along the bottom of the hive before my husband and I prepped the hive for winter.  The explanation of how we did that is here, with the modification of using 2" thick pink styrofoam insulation this year. The roof doesn't fit on properly now, but it's secured fine with help from a bungee strap.

Do you have a bee candy recipe to share? Add your link in the comments.

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Creamy Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

Posted by Julie Prescesky in , , , , , , ,

Tis the season for all things pumpkin spice, and since Canadian Thanksgiving has just danced past us, I had some fresh pumpkin puree kicking around. Of course, I'm a smoothie girl, so, naturally, this happened.

The spice combination is taken directly from this pumpkin pie recipe (which also talks about how to make pumpkin puree) because when you know something is good, why mess around with it?

Creamy Pumpkin Spice Smoothie (family sized)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup coconut milk (use from the can - it's the creamiest)
1 banana
20 dried dates
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
2 trays of ice

Blend it all up!  *Pro tip: for blending ease, make sure you place the liquid and soft foods at the bottom and the ice on top (last in).

Here's an illustrated recipe card (check out others here).
Feel free to print out for personal use.

What kind of pumpkin concoctions have you dreamed up? Leave a link in the comments.

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Damn Good Pumpkin Pie

Posted by Julie Prescesky in , , , , , ,

Okay, so I haven't actually tasted the pie as a whole pie experience yet, but I have tasted the filling on a spoon and it is delish!

This recipe comes to you from my friend and fellow homeschooling mama, Rowan Smith, and is perfect to try with your favorite pastry recipe.

Read: FRESH pumpkin, coconut milk and all the things that make you go mmm.

I wanted to post this now so you Canadian folk can try it out in time for Thanksgiving, and you sweet American neighbours can get our feedback in the comments before your Thanksgiving (or make it for Columbus Day, or for a special day like Monday, because even Mondays deserve pie sometimes. And right now you are snickering at me thinking, silly Canadian girl. Monday is Columbus Day. Boom. All the more reason for pie).

I plan on making this for our Canadian feast this Sunday.

Canadian Thanksgiving celebrates a lot of different things, including traditions from the Americans brought up after the American Revolution (thank you for turkey and pie). The first thanksgiving after Canada became Canada celebrated the Prince of Wales.

The first Thanksgiving Day after Canadian Confederation was observed as a civic holiday on April 5, 1872, to celebrate the recovery of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) from a serious illness.  

It wasn't until 1879 when it was moved to the Autumn and declared an official holiday.

The theme of the Thanksgiving holiday also changed each year to reflect an important event to be thankful for. In its early years it was for an abundant harvest and occasionally for a special anniversary.

But, I digress. Pie. Eat more pie. Eat more pie and enjoy knowing stuff about Canadian History.

Find the recipe here, on Rowan's blog. Make it and come back to me and tell me how it went!

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Cleavage Saver Sewing Tutorial

Posted by Julie Prescesky in , , , , , , , , , , ,

Yes, you read that right. Save your cleavage, baby.

Okay, so if you are a dude, or a woman with small perky breasts, you probably have no idea what I'm talking about. I'm just a crazy lady making accessories for boobies. In fact, a very similar product was featured on a website under the heading,

           The 6 Most Ridiculous Things Ever Made for Boobs. 

Ridiculous? Bring it on. And I am here to say, for all of the big bosomed chikas, that cleavage wrinkles are a thing. And the struggle is real. I gasped when I looked in the mirror one morning and saw an array of creases radiating out from my cleavage like a Japanese fan. Something had to be done. That night I grabbed a pair of rolled up socks and adjusted my sleeping situation. It was pretty comfortable, if I do say. You should go try it right now. Go ahead, lay down for a nap and bring a pair of socks. Comfy?

(image from www.intimia.com)

The other option was to just sleep in my bra. But that's not comfortable. And if you are like me, you have three million bras, but only one fits well, and you can't very well go on wearing that thing day and night for very long before it starts becoming part of you, kind of like a rope that's been tied around a tree for too long and the tree just grows over top of it.

So I made this. I call it The Separatist, because, if you know anything about Canada and the province of Quebec (where I live) you'll know that that word is very politically charged. And if you can't have fun with politics, politics will drive you mad.
My breasts and I may not share the same political opinions, but if anything is happier separated, it's my boobs.

The Separatist is great for reducing cleavage wrinkles and will probably be useful for pregnant and nursing mamas, who have ridiculously engorged watermelon-like breasts, seeking a little comfort.

Supplies list

-fabric (cotton)
-sewing supplies (scissors, pins, thread, machine, etc)
-butcher or freezer paper (waxed on one side)
-glue stick
-x-acto knife
-acrylic paint
-iron/ironing board
-poly fiber fil

Firstly, find the pattern here. I sewed up one of each size. It takes hardly any time at all. Then follow the steps below. If you don't want to stencil on your fabric, skip directly to step #7

1. Figure out what design you want to stencil on it. Print it out. No need to reverse it. Glue the stencil onto the butcher/freezer paper's non waxed side. Pro tip: keep your stencil simple unless you want to spend a lot of time cutting it out (ahem, like I did). 

2. Cut it out carefully, reserving any spots you want to add back in when placing on the fabric (like the insides of the letter a, e, etc.)

3. Find your fabric.  I made the small one entirely out of the same cotton. It seemed smooth and airy. It worked well, but was a bit slick and I found myself adjusting The Separatist once or twice in the night. For the larger size, I combined the cotton with another textured fabric, probably also cotton, in hopes the combination of increased size and varied fabric texture would serve to keep The Separatist in place better. 


4. Iron the stencil to the fabric using a hot iron for about 10 seconds, or so.

5. Use the sponge to build up scant amounts of acrylic paint over your stencil. Don't use globs of paint. It will bleed through the fabric and run, causing your carefully cut out stencil lines to blur. You can see in the close up below I used a bit too much paint and the lines blurred slightly.

6. You can remove the stencil immediately after you are done with the paint. SLOWLY. Remove the small bits with the tip of a needle, avoiding smudging the wet paint. Let it dry, then iron the design for 10-20 seconds to set the paint.

7. Cut out the pattern.

8. Sew the pieces together along the side seams, starting and ending about 1/4" from the ends. 

9. Sew the ends on. Clip the corners. 

 10. When sewing the final end on, leave an opening so that you can turn it right side out.

 11. Stuff with filling and hand stitch the opening closed.

12. Sleep well and have happy breasts.

Sometimes ridiculous is just what a girl needs.

Is this something you would try?

Sewing Supplies at Craftsy

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