Fleece-backed Baby Quilt

With two of my friends at work expecting babies, I realize I’ve crossed a strange line. Our family is complete, and while little J is just 3 years old, there is a part of me that feels a bit like a doting grandma, looking back on those long-gone days of pregnancy and first-time motherhood.

In any case, I wanted to make something special for my friend Kate’s baby boy, so I put together this patchwork of whimsical prints and backed it with warm fleece fabric.

Fleece-backed baby quilt with modern, whimsical design | Jewels at Home

Fleece-backed baby quilt with modern, whimsical design | Jewels at Home

Fleece-backed baby quilt with modern, whimsical design | Jewels at Home

Fleece-backed baby quilt with modern, whimsical design | Jewels at Home

Fleece-backed baby quilt with modern, whimsical design | Jewels at Home

 

Congrats, Kate and Rob.  You have a lot of fun ahead!  And try to get some sleep and date nights in…

 

“Jewels”

Cool Tween Boy Room

Oh wow! I did not realize that a whole year has gone by since our oldest moved into his own room. This was formerly J’s nursery, so it is a small space. The bed I built out of IKEA Expedit shelves has been one of the most popular projects on the blog. I’m finally getting around to showing you the rest of the room, now that its occupant is away on a school trip.  He’s actually pretty neat for a fifth grader, but I still needed a little uninterrupted time to make the room blog-worthy.  Of course, this means I will be showing you the younger boys’ room in approximately… never?!

Because I wanted to make the most of this small space, I did buy a lot of the furniture new.  But when I look at the room, I realize there are also a lot of personal home-made touches.  I’ll list the projects at the end of this post.  Meanwhile, go ahead and enjoy looking at K’s room, which will look like this for exactly 13 more days, until he gets home.  I did update a few things, and I hope he’ll think they are a good “welcome home” surprise!

Cool and compact tween boy's room | Jewels at Home

Cool and compact tween boy's room | Jewels at Home

Cool and compact tween boy's room | Jewels at Home

20140330-181039.jpg

Cool and compact tween boy's room | Jewels at Home

Cool and compact tween boy's room | Jewels at Home

Cool and compact tween boy's room | Jewels at Home

Cool and compact tween boy's room | Jewels at HomeSome of the fun projects in K’s room include:

Boy, I miss my boy!

“Jewels”

 

Foyer Table Design Solution

We’re in the early stages of planning a kitchen remodel, and we interviewed several architects. One, whom we didn’t end up hiring, became somewhat fixated with this large picture window in our living room. It’s the first thing you see when you walk into our house, and admittedly, the view is mixed. You can glimpse the western sky at the top, which is often stunning at sunset, but much of the view looks out on our neighbors and also on our own cracked concrete driveway, including parked cars and a basketball hoop. This particular architect couldn’t help himself from repeatedly bemoaning this “tragic” window. He coyly promised a solution, but I guess he’ll never get the chance to tell us about it.

Meanwhile, here’s my decorating solution. I love how this table makes a pretty focal point that screens and distracts from the less picturesque parts of this view.  I realize it’s not technically in our foyer, but the table serves a similar purpose of dressing up our entry.

A vignette with pretty table and chairs | Jewels at Home

 

 

The table is actually a small dining table we had.  Without the leaves, it works as a large display table in this space and doubles as a serving area for parties.  The Craftsman style pedestal looks pretty standing in front of the window.  The chairs are made over from a craigslist find and deserve their own post!

Pretty table and chairs vignette in a Chinoiserie style | Jewels at Home

I can’t say I’m not a little curious what our sassy visiting architect had in mind, but for now, I’m very happy with the way this little vignette dresses up our living room while screening the less attractive parts of our view.

Table and chairs vignette in a sunny window | Jewels at Home

 

More on those dreamy chairs soon!

“Jewels”

 

Chippendale Chair Makeover

I’m a little crazy for these chairs. As in, I told Steve that if I go before him, he should feel free to get rid of most of my stuff, but could he please consider keeping these chairs?

I have a faux bamboo fetish that includes these Chippendale chairs. They are a good match for the chinoiserie theme in our living room. I had been scanning craigslist for a while when I scored these great chairs. They weren’t exactly cheap, definitely not free like the Queen Anne chairs I found, but they were still a good deal for well-made pieces in this classic style.

I still have four side chairs waiting for their Cinderella moment, but the three armchairs in this set are ready for the ball:

Sharp-looking Chippendale chair makeover with glossy black paint and a geometric seat fabric | Jewels at Home

Sharp-looking Chippendale chair makeover with glossy black paint and a geometric seat fabric | Jewels at Home

http://jewelsathome.com/2013/03/26/living-room-tour/

http://jewelsathome.com/2013/03/26/living-room-tour/

Sharp-looking Chippendale chair makeover with glossy black paint and a geometric seat fabric | Jewels at Home

Easy DIY Lined Tray

This project was so quick and easy that I almost didn’t post it… And then I thought, if something is so quick and easy, and I love it, that’s all the more reason to share!

I was in a rush, so I forgot to take a “before” picture, but just imagine a plain wooden tray. And then look at this!

Easy DIY Lined Tray | Jewels at Home

The inside of this tray had a few water stains, and I was trying to think of an easy way to make it pretty and also more water-resistant for serving drinks. I remembered I had some of this Laura Ashley Self-Adhesive Shelf Liner leftover from laminating recipe cards at Christmas, and ta-da!!

Easy DIY lined tray | Jewels at Home

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Easy DIY lined tray | Jewels at Home

 

That’s all – except now I want to do a dozen more trays with a dozen other pretty patterns. I should add it to my collection of ideas for decorating trays. It may have taken longer to write this post than it took to line my tray!

Get to it, fellow DIY friends!

“Jewels”

 

Big Fleece Blankets for Little Superheroes

My little guy, L, just turned eight, and he’s been planning his first sleepover party for most of the past year! I like to make a special gift for our birthday boy and guests, and L requested a reprise of the fleece blankets I made for his big brother’s party a year and a half ago. He calls his “super,” and sleeps with it every night. I wanted to grant his birthday wish, but I didn’t want to make the exact same project, so here’s this year’s superhero version of our fleece blankets.

Superhero-themed monogrammed fleece blankets for a boys' sleepover party | Jewels at Home

Instead of fringed blankets, I trimmed the fleece in binding. L loves the superhero action words on his original blanket, and that’s no surprise, given he’s such a bundle of energy. I found the same print in a cotton fabric, so I used that for the binding. For each large blanket (60″x72″), you’ll need:

After prewashing the trim fabric, I ironed it and cut 8″ wide strips. I joined the strips and ironed it to make 2″ wide double-fold binding.  I then sewed this to the edges of the fleece blankets that were each 2 yards long.  L requested this longer blanket, since he sleeps with his, but you could use  1.5 yards of fleece for a throw blanket.

To add the monograms, I sketched each boy’s first initial and a large circle (I traced a plate) onto Heat’n Bond, ironed on to some other and bright and superhero-themed fabrics, cut them and appliqued onto the blankets (instructions in the post from our onesie decorating party).

Here are some more pictures of how they turned out.  The boys love them!

Superhero-themed monogrammed fleece blankets for a boys' sleepover party | Jewels at Home

Superhero-themed monogrammed fleece blankets for a boys' sleepover party | Jewels at Home

Superhero-themed monogrammed fleece blankets for a boys' sleepover party | Jewels at Home

Superhero-themed monogrammed fleece blankets for a boys' sleepover party | Jewels at Home

Superhero-themed monogrammed fleece blankets for a boys' sleepover party | Jewels at Home

Superhero-themed monogrammed fleece blankets for a boys' sleepover party | Jewels at Home

Hope you are staying warm as winter warms into spring!

“Jewels”

Striped Felted Bag

I may need to have a new series called “Felting Fanatic.” Since raiding my mom’s stash of yarn over the Christmas holidays, I’ve been so excited to try making some felted projects. The first was a felted basket to my knitting. Steve calls it “Knitting Inception,” because of the yarn within the yarn thing… he’s a bit quirky that way. The next project was this felted shoulder bag.

Knitted felted handbag with colorful stripes | Jewels at Home

I was having a lot of fun with the big needles and chunky yarn, because everything came together so quickly. I had learned a little bit about the proportions from making the basket, and so I adapted my plans for this bag a little bit. It’s a simple shoulder bag. The main color is dark blue, and I used a mix of many colors for the stripes in between. Like the basket, I was able to mix different types of yarn by doubling or tripling the ones that were thinner.

Like with the basket, I knit on my chunky needles with a gauge of 3 stitches per inch.  I cast on 90 stitches and knit in the round with stocking stitch until the bag was 22″ high, finishing with 4 rows of garter stitch at the top of the bag, so it wouldn’t roll over.  The shoulder strap is 8 stitches wide in garter stitch, and I sewed this onto the top outside edge of the bag and started as 47″ long.

To assemble the bag, I sewed the handle onto the sides of the bag, overlapping the pieces by about an inch.  I used a whip stitch to close the bottom of the bag from the inside.

Before felting, the bag was 21″ wide by 22″ long, and the handle was 47″ long. It was comically enormous, as the boys modeled. K said, I should go into business making bags for giants. If I ever meet a giant, I’ll think about it.

Knitted and felted handbag with colorful stripes | Jewels at Home

Knitted and felted handbag with colorful stripes | Jewels at Home

Knitted and felted handbag with colorful stripes | Jewels at Home

Thankfully, the finished bag is a much more comfortable 13.5″ wide by 11″ high, and the strap turned out about 30″ long.

Knitted and felted handbag with colorful stripes | Jewels at Home

As a finishing touch, I made a lining for the bag out of some vintage fabric, also from my mom’s stash.  I sewed a simple rectangular lining, with some pockets on one side.  I then folded down a hem along the top and hand-sewed it into the felted bag.Knitted and felted handbag with colorful stripes, lined in vintage fabric | Jewels at Home

Knitted and felted handbag with colorful stripes, lined in vintage fabric | Jewels at Home

I’m excited to use my new one-of-a-kind bag with all its fun colors!

“Jewels”

Felted Wool Storage Basket

I’ve been admiring felted wool bags and projects for some time now, and I was finally inspired to take the leap into felting after unearthing old sweaters and knitting wool at my parents’ place.

My first project was this felted basket that I’m using for my knitting projects. Steve calls this “Knitting Inception,” because of the knitting within the knitting… you know… well, there’s a reason we were meant for each other, and it may be because I’m the only one who appreciates his humor.

Felted wool storage basket with instructions | Jewels at Home

I used this pattern as a foundation for my basket. I wanted to make my basket larger, so I experimented with the dimensions.

To knit the base of the basket, I cast on 35 stitches of 100% wool “Iceland Lopi.” From that, I knit a square in garter stitch (about 45 rows) that is 14″ by 14″, leaving the stitches on the needle.

Knitted and felted wool storage basket | Jewels at Home

Knitting the base of the basket.

The next step is to pick up stitches from the other three sides of the square. I found it easier to pick up the stitches on separate knitting needles (or in this case, chopsticks!) and then join them as I knit the first row of the sides of the basket.

Knitted and felted wool storage basket | Jewels at Home

Picking up the stitches to knit the sides of the basket.

To create the sides of the basket, I continued to knit a large circle in stocking stitch, switching colors every 2-6 rows. I knit 14″ of stocking stitch and then cast off.

Knitted and felted wool storage basket | Jewels at Home

Before felting

Knitted and felted wool storage basket | Jewels at Home

Before felting

Now the part I was waiting for: felting! There are lots of tips on felting available, and I found a good summary of felting techniques on the Lion Brand website. I found I needed very hot water (used the “sanitize” cycle on my machine, after “hot” only partially felted the basket), and I preferred to felt the items loose, rather than in a bag, because I found that they felted more evenly.

As for proportions, I’m sure these will vary greatly with each wool and machine, but as a guideline, the garter stitch shrank to about 60% the original dimensions and shrank evenly in length and width. The texture of the garter stitch was still noticeable after felting.  The stocking stitch shrank to 50% its original height – actually, even a little shorter because the top folded over. The width of the stocking stitch shrank to about 60% the original size.  Overall, the basket held it’s shape very well.

Pretty knitted and felted wool storage basket | Jewels at Home

The last step on the basket was to sew on handles. These are cut from an old scarf I found at my dad’s that was accidentally felted. Cutting into the felted material was the weirdest sensation – like defying a basic law of physics! I sewed on the handles using embroidery floss.

Instructions for knitting a pretty felted wool storage basket | Jewels at Home

Instructions for knitting a pretty felted wool storage basket | Jewels at Home

Instructions for knitting a pretty felted wool storage basket | Jewels at Home

Instructions for knitting a pretty felted wool storage basket | Jewels at Home

My sister asked if I’m pleased with my first felting project, and I am. It takes a little bit of letting go of expectations, because you can’t control the outcome that precisely, but I am happy with the result, and I’m using my new basket already!

I promise more felting ideas will be posted soon!

“Jewels”

Christmas Mantel in Wintery White

The mantel is a natural focal point for Christmas decorating.  After all, that’s where the man in the red suit makes his entrance!

This year’s mantel matches the rest of our house, with white decorations setting a wintery scene.

Christmas mantel that lasts all season long with a wintery white theme | Jewels at Home

Stockings

These felt stockings in a lovely natural cream felt on sale at West Elm. I added felt circles with our initials to personalize them.

Simple felt stockings with initials.  Christmas mantel in wintery white | Jewels at Home

I set up some of my feather boa Christmas tree and felt Christmas trees I made last year.Winter wonderland.  Christmas mantel in white | Jewels at Home

Winter wonderland.  Christmas mantel in white | Jewels at Home

These little wooden houses are actually a work in progress. I’ve always wanted to have a Christmas village display, but I wanted to do something a little out of the ordinary. When my manager at work found these little bird houses at our local craft store, I knew they would be the foundation for my village. So far, I’ve painted them white. I want to add some wood embellishments, but we had some company this weekend, so I put up them up as-is. I’ll show you the finished village when I’m done!

Winter wonderland.  Christmas mantel in white | Jewels at Home

Winter wonderland.  Christmas mantel in white | Jewels at Home

By night, the candles light up our little winter village!

Winter wonderland.  Christmas mantel in white | Jewels at Home

Winter wonderland.  Christmas mantel in white | Jewels at Home

Winter wonderland.  Christmas mantel in white | Jewels at HomeWinter wonderland.  Christmas mantel in white | Jewels at Home

Winter wonderland.  Christmas mantel in white | Jewels at Home

Wishing you happy holidays!

“Jewels”

White Chocolate Cranberry Cake – A Modern Fruitcake

When I got married, my mom gave me a little notebook with favorite baking recipes from our home.  Last year, I shared our childhood banana bread recipe from this book.

Another favorite is this recipe for a cranberry white chocolate cake.  It has the perfect blend of moistness with sweet and tart flavors, and it’s always a hit at the holidays.  It originally came from a Baker’s chocolate ad in an magazine, though we’ve tweaked it a bit over the years.

Ingredients:

  • 7/8 c butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp grated orange rind
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups cranberries
  • 6 oz white chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Grease and flour a 9″ tube or  bundt pan
  • Beat butter and sugars with electric mixer
  • Beat in eggs, orange juice, and rind
  • Beat in flour and baking powder
  • Stir in cranberries and chocolate chips
  • Bake 1 hour
  • Cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Turn onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

A book of family recipes makes a gift that will become a family treasure | Jewels at Home

I make this cake every year for our holiday party, and it has become a popular tradition!

Modern fruitcake recipe: Cranberry white chocolate cake | Jewels at Home

Modern fruitcake recipe: Cranberry white chocolate cake | Jewels at Home

What are some of your childhood holiday favorites?

“Jewels”