February 29, 2012

Winter White Decorating

The look of Winter whites is different than summer whites;
they are more off-whites like ivory and cream and
have more beige tints.  The feel of winter white fabrics
needs to have a warm cozy touch,  too.

After the Christmas decorations came down and it was time
to put the painting back over the mantle, I felt like it
was time for something different in the frame.

While I was looking in the poster/print section at
Hobby Lobby, a birch tree print appealed to me.
As it turns out, it was the basis for the rest of the
decorating in the living room for Winter.

The print got a new finish on it to try to
make it look like an actual painting.
There is a blog post about how that went

To further the birch idea, I put birch branches
in the off white aged urns beside the "painting.

The battery-operated candles seemed like a
good place to expand on the birch mania.
They got birch branch disguises.  The blog post 
about how I did that is Faux Birch Candles.

All the various-shades-of-white candlestick holders
came out to hold up the birch candles.

The birch bark that I found was just so interesting
to me so I also piled some into the footed urn
(hoping that others would pick it up and
admire it too but I don't think that happened).

To bring some Winter White onto the upholstered pieces
in the room, I made pillows using warm and fuzzy fabrics.

There are a couple of posts on that project. 
One is about the things I learned about fabric rosettes.

Another pillow post is

The cane back chair usually holds a rectangular pillow
with a needle point frog pattern on it.

The back of the frog pillow is a beige color so I just
 flipped it over and hand stitched some left over
fabric rosettes onto it.

The dining area and living room are very open to each
other so I added some winter white in there too.

For a small dinner party in January I brought out a
centerpiece holder that I had purchased at Kirkland's
several years ago...

...gave it a couple of different white shades of
Annie Sloan Chalk Paint...

...and added cream colored roses and candles
for a centerpiece.

The picture above also shows tan and beige herringbone
table runners that were made for the dinner.
( I use the words "table runner" and "made" very loosely.  When I realized that I couldn't get
paint splatters and other craft-related goobers off the table in time for the dinner, I rushed to
the fabric store and bought this upholstery material.  I cut it into runner sized  pieces
but didn't have time to actually hem the fabric.  They did a good job of covering the paint,
and I don't think anyone really noticed that the runners were really just fat strips of fabric)

After the dinner, one of the runners came into the kitchen
area to be used under the terrariums and orchids.
The light color of the runner served to act as a visual break between the darkness
 of the table and the brown soil in the terrariums.
There is a blog post on how to construct a terrarium in Terrariums Tips.
If you would like to see close up pictures of the white orchid in this
vignette, you can click on The Opening Orchid.

When I wasn't happy about the way the fabrics I had chosen
for the pillow rosettes was working out, another runner
got cut into smaller pieces and made into rosettes
to join the solid color ones already made.

I feel like we have hardly HAD a winter here in
Alabama this year and now Spring is upon us.
But, just like the Jimmy Buffett
song "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere", I know
that it IS Winter somewhere on earth right now.


Faux Birch Candles

When my winter living room decorating took on
a birch theme after I hung a new birch tree "painting" over
the fireplace, I decided my battery-operated candles
could dress up for the occasion and try to look birch-ish.

I don't think birch trees are native to my area.
The ones that we mostly see are brought in by
landscapers and I know them just as River Birches.

They are skinny trees so they are usually planted in
groups of three.  Here are some river birches near my
house that I went to study to learn how to try to
make my candles look like birch logs.

There was some shed bark on the ground so I
gathered it up. There was not enough shed bark to
cover the candles so I looked for some paper to
mimick birch bark too.  The closest I found was at
Hobby Lobby in the scrapbook section.

The paper was cut to fit around the battery
candles.  The paper was only taped around the candle
since the birch disguise is only temporary.  The pieces of
 real birch bark were then glued to the paper.

They looked pretty good during the day but the
paper kept the "candle glow" from being seen very well.
I rubbed linseed oil on the birch bark scrapbook paper to  make
the paper more transparent.

The imitation birch candles were grouped with some
actual votive candle holders made of small logs by my
son and his wife for my Christmas present a few
years ago.  I'm not sure what kind of wood they used.

Some real candles in the dining room also got the
birch treatment.  A fire marshall would not approve of
these little candles (with the paper being so close to an open flame)
but I never left them burning unless I was in the room.

Making the "birch" candles made me really study
the birch trees nearby and for the first time
appreciate how beautiful the shaggy bark on the trees is.

February 28, 2012

Making Faux Turkish Corners on a Pillow

I have trouble keeping enough stuffing in the sharp
corners on a traditional pillow. They start looking
like dog ears to me so usually when I make a pillow
I put faux Turkish corners on it.

It is a super easy technique that gives a pillow
a pleated and soft rounded corner.

High Street Market Blog did a post on these type
pillows and showed several pictures of the velvet ones
that are all over Kevin Sharkey's home.
Kevin Sharkey is Editorial Director of Decorating at Martha Stewart Omnimedia.
Here's a photo of him with his dogs and some of his many velvet Turkish corner pillows.

There are lots of tutorials out there on how to make a pillow
covers. Liz at "Love Grows Wild" blog has a good tutorial on how
 to make an envelope-style pillow cover like I make mine also.

While the pillow cover is still inside out before you
 turn it, pinch pleat each corner with your fingers
about 1.5" to 2" away from edge.
The material of this pillow cover is felt and very stiff.  A softer fabric would
make more and softer pleats.

Wrap the pinched fabric with string or
thread several times around tightly and knot.

You can use a sturdy rubber band instead of thread
to wrap the corner.

This is what your pillow cover will look like
with all the corners tied off:

Just turn the pillow cover to the right side and
put regular pillow forms inside.  The pointy corners
of the pillow form fill the rounded corners up.

This pillow cover turned out too loose for the form.
I'm going to pull out the form and make the cover
a little smaller but here's how it looks for now:

I hand sewed on fabric rosettes to the pillow cover once 
it was turned inside out.  To make the rosettes see

Here's a close up shot of a faux Turkish corner
on a pillow I made several years ago.

These octopus pillows that I made to give the living room
 a summer feeling have the faux Turkish corners. 

The large square pillows on my bed also
have the same type of corner.
 The faux Turkish corner doesn't change the look of
a pillow that much but it is an easy way to add
an extra detail to your square or rectangular pillows
(and eliminate pointy "ears" on your pillows).

I am sharing this post over at 
The Sewing Challenge at CSI Project

Size Matters...with Fabric Rosettes

Really, I had not planned on posting anything
about how to make fabric rosettes when I began
making them for a pillow.  There are good directions
on the internet already such as the blog post at
and the You Tube video by Jen of

When I was buying the fabric for the pillow and the
rosettes, the only considerations I had in mind
were the texture and the colors. 

I wanted warm and fuzzy feelings fabrics in colors of
 ivory, cream and beige to go with my Winter White theme.

What I should have also considered
(and I'm sharing with you so you can keep
this in mind too if you make fabric rosettes)
is that the size of the length, width, and weight
of the fabric that you use makes a big
difference in the look of the rosette.
For example, in the above photo, the rosette on the left is made with a strip of felt 1" wide 
and about 40" long while the rosette on the right is made from a strip of felt 2" wide and about 20" long.
They turned out about the same diameter but the skinnier and longer strip produced
a rosette with more detail.

This is a side view of the two felt rosettes:
The rosette on the left did take longer to make since it had more twists to hot glue but
 I think it is prettier. If you are in a hurry or want a thicker rosette, go with a wider strip.

These rosettes were made with upholstery fabric:
Both of the rosettes were made with 18" long fabric but the smaller one was made with
fabric 1" wide and the larger one's strip was 1.5" wide.

They look like cinnamon rolls, don't they?

These rosettes are made of fleece fabric:
The length of the strip of fleece for both is 22" but the width of the smaller one is 1 1/4"
and the larger width is 3".  The fleece and the felt fabric did not fray on the edges so if
you don't want a rosette with the frayed look, those would be good fabrics to use.

This is a side view of the fleece rosettes:

My least favorite rosettes were made with
a wimpy flannel fabric.
The rosette on the left was made with a 2" wide strip and the one on the right was made
with a 4" wide strip.  Both the flannel strips were 22" long.

Because I was planning on putting these on a pillow,
I initially thought hand sewing the rosettes would
be better so that they would be soft.
This is a photo of the underside of some of the hand-sewn flannel rosettes. 
I had cut a pile 2" X 22" strips of flannel to hand sew while I would be waiting in a doctor's office.
Not only did they take longer than I thought to hand sew, the fabric looked kind of like
strips of pre-loved tan panty hose...I was almost embarassed to be sewing them
in the waiting room.  I had to wait a long time at the doctor's so I ended up with lots of
my least favorite rosette to use on the pillow. I used the hot glue method
for the rest of the rosettes when I got home.

  Hand sewing the rosettes would be an option to keep in mind when
you  want to make some rosettes for a project but you
are going to be at a place you would be "unplugged" and away from your glue gun
(like at a child's baseball practice, etc.)

If you are using different fabrics for your
rosettes, play with their placement before attaching them.

After I got the pillow covers made I did hand sew
the rosettes on for softness' sake.   I thought the
dried hot glue might make the center of the pillow hard.
If you are going to be attaching your rosettes by hand sewing, be sure to hot glue the
rosettes only on the SIDE of the rosette while twisting and glueing and not on the
bottom like a lot of tutorials instruct.  It would be hard to get the needle through the dried glue.

Like a lot of my projects, the pillows didn't turn out
as well as I thought they would.  With the pillow form being
so large, I think it needs more rosettes which I may
add later.  At least now I know which size of strip
to cut to make my favorite ones.

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