Updating Old Boiled Wool Jackets

I will freely admit that we have done a terrible job clearing out any of my mom’s things since she passed away over 14 years ago. It’s all just sitting in closets and boxes all over the place. Some of this is certainly sentimental, and some of it is logistical – my sister and I lived on the west coast for many years and were seldom back home to go through things. Now, we both have kids running around, and there is rarely a spare moment to sort through the piles. Since my dad sold his house, the piles have just gotten more intense and scattered, so we did do our best to make a little dent in everything this past week.

One of the finds were several boiled wool jackets. I remember my mom wearing these often, and I love boiled wool myself. Unfortunately, the jackets we found are all oversized and boxy – not at all current-looking. I am brainstorming how I might be able to alter these to make them wearable again. I’m not sure how to do it, so ideas are welcome! Here’s what I am starting with:

Classic Geiger boiled wool jacket

These classic Geiger jackets are great, but they are all oversized and boxy.

Classic Geiger boiled wool jackets

Classic Geiger boiled wool jackets

And here are some the more contemporary boiled-wool jackets that are my inspiration. It would be so great to have something that is both fashionable and makes me feel like I’m wrapped up in a little piece of my mom.

teal ruffle collar jacket

teal ruffle collar jacket

red wrap jacket

red wrap jacket from As We Change.

Go to As We Change

Boden Boiled Wool Coat

Boden Boiled Wool Coat

red boiled wool jacket

red boiled wool jacket from North Style. I think the seaming in front and gathers in back could help bring in the boxy style of my mom’s old jackets.

Go to North Style

oatmeal boiled wool jacket

oatmeal boiled wool jacket from Plush Pony

Go to Plush Pony

I’m wondering if I can get away with just adding some darts and seams to these jackets? I think more likely I have to pretty much take each jacket apart and use a new jacket pattern to cut pieces and re-sew. Any other ideas?



Update: Here’s the post on altering the big navy coat, complete with step-by-step tutorial!

Helping Kids Write Great Cards

A brief and belated post from Father’s Day.  I wanted to share the cards the kids and I made for hubby.  This is not an original idea for cards, but I really enjoyed trying it with the boys and look forward to using it for other holidays and birthdays.

We took each letter in “Father’s Day” and wrote an adjective or short phrase about hubby that started with that letter.  I think this project was good for helping the kids expand their writing skills. It was an easy template for them to create something more personalized and creative than a standard “Happy Father’s Day.”

Here’s the example I made:

Father's Day card idea for kids by Jewels at Home

Father’s Day card idea for kids

As you can see, our six year-old started with this concept – he wanted to write “awesome” for the “a” in “dad,” spelled it phonetically as “osum,” and then got sidetracked into other adjectives that started with unrelated letters. The result was very sweet.

Father's Day card by kids at Jewels at Home

Father’s Day card by our six year-old. He did all the spelling himself – “fantastic” came out a little more clearly than “awesome.”

Our eight year-old came up with some cute phrases as well as impressive vocabulary words.

Fun way to help kids write great cards at Jewels at Home

Our eight year-old came up with some sweet and creative words and phrases to describe his dad.

And last but not least, baby J’s contribution:

Baby J's card for dad

Baby J’s card for dad

Some other ways I would love to use this idea would be

  • Using the letters of a friend’s name for a birthday card
  • Finding words and phrases to summarize our year in a holiday card based on the letters of “holiday,” “happy new year,” “joy,” “love,”… the options are endless!

Ensuite with a View

As I mentioned in the room tour of our nursery, we did a major renovation after we bought our house last year. As part of that, we converted the “dressing room” off the master bedroom into our ensuite bath and created a new bedroom where the old master bath was. The new master bath has some of the best views in the house, making it a lovely place to start and end the day.  Links to the DIY projects in this room are at the bottom of this post.


Old dressing room

Before: This dressing room was pretty but not a good use of space.

As the former dressing room, this is not a big space. Still, we managed to fit in our whole wish list: soaking tub, separate shower, double vanity with medicine cabinets and lots of storage. (We just moved from a house that was built with a stand-alone sink and no vanity or medicine cabinet in every bathroom! A cool look in concept, but ultimately, it meant that we had clutter and extra storage crammed into the spaces.

The tour:

I do love the white or espresso vanities that are so popular, but I wanted to do something a little different, so we chose this warm natural oak with simple shaker doors. A secret: the vanity is actually made from Ikea kitchen cabinets!

Master bath by Jewels at Home

Large shower and double vanity fit into this small space.

Master bath by Jewels at Home

Double vanity with Ikea cabinets as base. Mirrored medicine cabinets from Restoration Hardware.

Master bath by Jewels at Home

Another view of the double vanity made with Ikea cabinets and mirrored medicine cabinets from Restoration Hardware.

Master bath by Jewels at Home

Toilet area and new master bath with tub under the window.

Master bath by Jewels at Home

Deep tub under the window.

With a View…

View from master bath

View from master bath

Sunset view

Sunset view from master bath.

It’s great to have this little spot of peace in our hectic house all finished now.

The DIY projects in this room are:

Hope you are feeling inspired!


Taggie Blanket and Animal Loveys

“Pei-pei,” our second child’s blankie, has been referred to as our third child. That was in the days before we had a third child, and it was appropriate, as he went everywhere with us and is immortalized in countless family photos from all over the continent and the globe! These days, pei-pei stays at home, but he still occasionally will pose for a picture, like this one:

Blankie is a member of our family!

Blankie is a member of our family!

Baby brother has a blankie, too.

Baby brother has a blankie, too.

After seeing how much the boys love their blankies, I wanted to make some of my own. I had this minky blanket fabric that matches our baby’s pei-pei, so I thought I would make some extra blankies for him and for gifts… more on how that turned out, later!

In the past, I had made some little stuffed animals with ribbon “taggies,” since it seems like that is usually little kids’ favorite part of any blanket or animal. Here are a couple of the dinosaurs I made with taggie spines, before they got stuffed.

DIY dinosaur lovey with taggies on spine by Jewels at Home

Dinosaur lovey with taggies on spine, before she gets stuffed.

Dinosaur taggie lovey by Jewels at Home

Finished dinosaur taggie lovey


Our baby’s lovey has a white bear head in the center, but I decided to add some taggies around the edge of the new blankets instead (foreshadowing: this was a mistake!). There are two ways to add the taggies:

  • For a complex shape like the dinosaurs, put the two sides of the fabric with right sides together and pin the taggies in place facing inward. Then sew around the perimeter, leaving a small gap to turn it. Finally, flip the whole thing , stuff it, and close the seam.
  • For a simple shape like a blanket, you can put the wrong sides together and fold under the raw edges, as shown below. Pin on the taggies, and sew around the edge to close the seams and secure the taggies.
DIY lovey blanket with taggies by Jewels at Home

Turn the raw edges of the fabric under and pin the taggies in place before sewing.

DIY lovey blanket with taggies by Jewels at Home

Finished DIY lovey blanket with taggies

I think these taggie blankets will make great gifts. And mnie will have to be gifts, because, as I hinted above, the new blankies did not go over with our toddler. As I mentioned, his blanket is made of the same material, but it does not have the taggies and has a white teddy bear head in the center. When I showed him one of the new taggie blankets, expecting him to grab it excitedly, he instead stared with a look of horror and shook his head, backing away. I can just read his mind: “Oh my goodness! Mommy decapitated my pei-pei and added these horrible garish tags to it! This is an abomination! Help!”

Well, hopefully, some lucky baby will start off with these taggie blankets and learn to love them for what they are.



Buggy Birthday to You! Bug-themed Kids’ Party

It’s so rewarding to throw a kids’ birthday party. Children are so naturally exuberant about their special day already, and you can take your theme completely over-the-top, if you have the inclination, time, and energy!

Throwing a sixth birthday party for our middle guy earlier this year was especially fun, as I had been out of party mode for a while with the baby, and the birthday boy had finally emerged from his terrible 2-3-4s and was busy charming us again, so it felt great to celebrate him. He loves nature – it’s amazing how he will notice the smallest flower or animal and stop to point it out to us – so I wanted to do something with that theme. And I decided to do it at home, which is easier for preparing a lot of decorations and activities, as well as when there is a younger sibling’s naps to work around.

A bug-themed birthday was perfect for our little nature-lover.

A bug-themed birthday was perfect for our little nature-lover.

I did some searches on the internet and found Insect Discovery Lab with great reviews! They have also done presentations at our kids’ school, so I knew they would be well-received. There are other traveling bug shows, and even reptiles, but the latter was a bit much for my squeamish side. Even with Insect Discovery Lab, I had to wonder (but it turned out fine!)

Insect Discovery Lab put on a fun show for the kids!

Insect Discovery Lab put on a fun show for the kids! I watched from a safe distance!

In planning activities, I had in mind that I wanted to make the birthday boy a quilt. Long-ish story, but we ended up unexpectedly buying a class quilt for our oldest at the school fundraising auction a couple of years ago. It was definitely not premeditated, more like second-degree over-spending. In any case, having just bought a fixer-upper of a house, I had to tell our birthday boy that we would not be buying his class quilt this year (unless some form of auction manslaughter were to happen), but I promised him I would make him a quilt instead. I cut blank quilt squares for his friends to draw on using fabric markers, and I’ll be joining them into a quilt, hopefully some time before his next birthday!

Each party guest can decorate a quilt block - by Jewels at Home

Blank quilt squares for the kids to decorate with fabric markers.

The other activities were found at Oriental Trading: we had were insect tattoos – some of the older kids helped out with this – and suncatchers. I set up the tattoos and wet towels, and some of the older kids helped the younger ones get tattoos. The suncatchers were popular but a bit messy. I later read a tip to use markers, which would have been neater, though probably not as colorful. Next time, I would put them on individual paper plates for people to paint and transport home, because the paint does take several hours to dry.

Temporary tattoo station

Temporary insect tattoos. I provided some damp towels, and the older kids helped out.

Suncatchers from Oriental Trading Company

Suncatchers from Oriental Trading Company

Suncatchers from Oriental Trading Company

As I mentioned, for someone who works in a biology-related field, I’m pretty squeamish, and a lot of the ideas out there for bug-themed birthdays are a bit gross (think plastic bugs in food). So, I set out to find ideas that were more abstract and focused on the “cuter” insects like ladybugs, while not being too cute for a six-year old boy.

Some of the best ideas I found were those around Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It’s a bit young for the six-year olds, but it worked. These apple and cheese caterpillars were inspired by Cute Food for Kids, where there are many more great ideas. I dipped the apples in orange juice to keep them from browning during the party.

Hungry caterpillar apple and cheese snacks by Jewels at Home.

Hungry caterpillar apple and cheese snacks.

The cake was inspired by a beautiful one posted at Week of Menus. I loved the look and taste of the whipped cream and fresh fruit, and it seems healthier than a standard frosted cake, even if it is still, you know, cake. I used the same idea to make a baby shower cake with a ducky for my friend.

Whipped cream and fresh fruit for a bug-themed birthday cake by Jewels at Home.

Whipped cream and fresh fruit for a bug-themed birthday cake by Jewels at Home.

We also served farfalle “butterfly pasta” with cheese and hot dog-spaghetti bugs.


For the treat bags, I used these cotton drawstring backpacks, also from Oriental Trading Company. I’ve done this several times, and I think the quality has gone downhill a bit in the past few years, but they still make nice reusable bags. My kids often pack their “going out” toys and activities in here, if they need to be occupied at a restaurant or accompanying one of us to work for a few hours.

I used puffy fabric paint to personalize the bags and added iron-on appliques to fit with the theme. These iron-ons were adorable, but I actually did have some problems with them falling off with some wear from the kids. In the past, I used appliques made with fusible backing on plain fabric, which I outlined in puffy paint, and they held up better.

Drawstring backpacks decorated as treat bags by Jewels at Home.

Drawstring backpacks personalized as treat bags.

Iron-on insect appliques

Iron-on insect appliques

For the party favors, I lucked out and found some inexpensive bug-themed books and pencils. I also made little snack bags filled with cookies and dried fruit and pinned with a clothespin, to make the look like butterflies. I first saw the idea on this board on Pinterest.

Inexpensive finds for party favors

Inexpensive finds for party favors

Butterfly snack bags for party favors by Jewels at Home

Butterfly snack bags for party favors.

It turned out to be a very fun birthday party!  There are so many great ideas out there, and I didn’t have time to do them all, but I collected some more options on a Pinterest board that you can check out, if you are looking for ideas to do your own bug birthday party!


Fabric Banding on Bath Towels

Do you have some plain towels calling out for a bit of interest?  Adding some ribbon or a beautiful fabric – or both – to some towels is an easy way to transform them. The finished products make great accents for your home and would be great housewarming gifts! The sewing is all straight lines, so a forgiving and doable project. These plush towels were lovely already, but I felt like dressing them up a bit. I used a band of fabric and some bias tape.

Before you start this project, prewash the towels and fabric, so they won’t pucker later, if they shrink unevenly.

I started by cutting strips of each fabric to the width I wanted and joined pieces end to end to make a long strip.

Make long strips of the fabrics you want for the towels

Make long strips of the fabrics you want for the towels

Then, I joined the strips of different fabric to each other and ironed down a seam allowance on the top and bottom.

Sew together the different fabric strips

Sew together the different fabric strips

Finally, I cut sections a bit wider than each towel and pinned it onto the towels, folding a seam allowance on the ends before sewing the fabric to the towel.

Adding fabric border to towels by Jewels at Home

Pin the fabric in place, turning under the raw edges.

This was really an easy project, and I think it makes a big impact! I used a little bit of the green and white fabric to decorate a basket in the vanity, to tie the room together.

DIY fabric border towels by Jewels at Home

Finished towels with new fabric border in our master bathroom.

DIY fabric border towels by Jewels at Home

New fabric border on master bath towels.

A funny story along the way: ever wonder what the kids think of all these craft projects? Our six year-old saw the fabric pinned to the towels in my sewing room and asked, “But won’t the pins hurt?” It reminds me that all my great ideas might seem a little crazy to others.

Now that I’ve decorated these towels for our master bathroom, I’d love to try some more. I’ve seen some very pretty versions of this idea on tea towels or burp cloths, all of which would make great and special handmade gifts.

And with these towels, our master bathroom is pretty much done, do that room tour will be coming up soon!


Kindergarten Graduation Party!

School is out! I feel sad about this, but there were points this year where I began to resent the winter holidays and the end of the school year. Somehow, the things that I normally love – like preparing gifts and planning parties – just became too much of a good thing. There were too many late nights and deadlines. But, we survived, and we did have some fun along the way, too, of course! I’m thinking about how to make the next rounds less hectic, and I have to say that traveling right after school ends may not be the best idea. No point in adding packing suitcases to the already long to-do list!

One of the big events of this month was planning a Kindergarten graduation party with my friend Ari. Our children just completed their K year, and we wanted to celebrate this big achievement with them. We started with some ideas from this article Ari found over at Yum Sugar: Fun Party Ideas for Your Little Graduates. Plenty of inspiration there, though we didn’t want quite that much sugar!

We held a small park playdate for our kids and their closest buddies after the half day of school.


Yummy Treats

Since, it was after lunch, we didn’t need a lot of food, but we knew the kids would need some fuel after all that running around.

We had fruit in ice cream cones, an idea I had spotted on Pinterest:

fruit in waffle cones

Serve fruit in waffle cones for a healthier snack. You could add chocolate or nuts to the cones for a treat! We served the fruit on the side, and let each person scoop their own, so the cones wouldn’t get soggy.

Cupcakes were the sweet indulgence.  I made the cupcake toppers using coffee stir sticks and paper.   You can download the PDF I created in Powerpoint here: Kindergarden graduation cupcake toppers. It’s actually in color, but I didn’t have easy access to a color printer, so I printed them in black and white and added color in the background papers.

Cupcakes with Kindergarten graduation toppers by Jewels at Home

Cupcakes with Kindergarten graduation toppers.

Download printable: Kindergarden graduation cupcake toppers

Decor and Favors:

These bubbles were Ari’s idea, and it was brilliant and adorable!  We made the hats out of construction paper and yarn, and it looks like the little faces are wearing graduation caps!  A lot of the parents were taking pictures of the bubbles, since we certainly had no hope of getting the kids to line up for a picture.

Bubbles decorated for Kindergarden graduation at Jewels at Home

Bubbles decorated for Kindergarden graduation.

The party favors had a school theme, with these bookmarks that Ari created to give along with some pencils and notebooks.

Bookmark graduation gift at Jewels at Home

Bookmark graduation gift.

Kindergarden graduation favors at Jewels at Home

Kindergarden graduation favors

Looking back on the chaos of the week, I’m really happy we did this for the kids.  Once the planning and work was done, it was a fun way to unwind at the end of the school year.

Welcome to summer!


How to Fix Sagging Drawer Bottoms

It’s just too tempting to buy inexpensive furniture. A lot of it looks good, and for a fraction of the prices of higher end pieces, we’ve definitely acquired several dressers from Ikea and similar places.

It seems as if even when these relatively cheap dressers hold up well overall, the drawer bottoms always end up sagging. You know what I’m talking about – the thin, flexible panels are just barely held in place by little grooves, and after your stuff sits on them for a while, the bottoms bow and come out of the grooves.

Thankfully, there’s an easy fix for this problem, so you don’t need to be annoyed or get rid of your furniture.

Tutorial for repairing sagging drawer bottoms:

You’ll need:

  • square wood molding.  We used some that is about 1/2″ on each side.
  • strong glue, such as wood glue
  • saw for cutting molding
  • hammer
  • fine nails, like brads
  • optional: woodworking clamps

    Tools for reinforcing sagging drawer bottoms.  Tutorial by Jewels at Home.

    Tools for reinforcing sagging drawer bottoms.

This is not a big carpentry job at all, and once you do it, you’ll be so much happier!

  • cut sections of square molding a little shorter than the width of your drawer bottoms
  • push the drawer bottom into place and glue a piece of molding under it to add support.  Here’s where the woodworking clamps might come in handy, if your drawers bottoms are really sagging and won’t stay in place.
  • nail brads through the molding and into the drawer front, to hold the molding in place.
Sagging drawer bottom reinforced with molding, glue, and nails.  Tutorial by Jewels at Home.

Sagging drawer bottom reinforced with molding, glue, and nails.

Hope that helps!  I wish that I could do fun stenciling and painting projects every day, but some days, I just need to get boring repairs like this one done.


Inspirations from Daily Life – June 2012

I’ll keep updating this post through June and plan to start a new post each month with some of the photos I’ve taken of inspiring projects and scenes I’ve encountered in daily life.

Coffee can napkin holder

This would be great for a picnic buffet. The Cafe du Monde can is especially cool, but you could print vintage labels for a similar feel. Could also cover cans in coordinating labels for utensils, and your casual summer party is complete!

Low water landscape
We only have a small patio at home, but here’s how to add a ton of beauty and charm with little maintenance. It’s a dry creek with grasses and a pergola above.


More ideas to come!


Ribbon Border Window Panels ~ Master Bath

When I bought the roman shades for our master bedroom, I almost ordered one for our bath, too. I’m very glad that I decided to go with something lighter. I ended up making a sheer panel for the bottom half and a matching valance at the top. This gives privacy while still letting in light and our view.

Since I do a lot of my projects after the kids are in bed, I got to see the nighttime view first, and I am so excited that I wanted to post it right away, so here is how our master bath window looks with the new window panels:

Tutorial for adding ribbon to window shades by Jewels at Home

Finished window panels with ribbon detail in master bath.

tutorial for adding ribbon to window shades by Jewels at Home

Finished window panels with ribbon detail in master bath.

Daytime view is pretty foggy outside, but I’ll keep trying!

tutorial for ribbon border sheer panels by Jewels at Home

Ribbon border shade tutorial:

You will need:

  • plain shade or panel: you could use a ready-made shade or sew a simple panel.
  • ribbon: I used bias tape/ ribbon, because I had it around the house. Grosgrain ribbon would look beautiful, too.
  • Heat’n Bond Liteiron-on adhesive. You can buy it in strips, but I cut my own strips from a sheet I already had

Lay out your pattern:

  • Here’s the pattern I used. My bias tape was 1/2″ wide. There are lots of variations, some of which I’ll show below, so go ahead and get creative!
  • Once you know what pattern you want to use, measure out a length of ribbon, including a little extra just in case.
Ribbon layout for shade by Jewels at Home

Ribbon layout for shade

Apply the ribbon:
  • Apply the Heat’n Bond Liteto the back of the ribbon according to the instructions on the package.
  • Peel off the backing in short sections and iron onto your fabric, following your pattern.
  • Mitre the corners by laying the ribbon up to your corner, then folding it back on an angle.
  • I cut tiny triangles of Heat ‘n Bond and slipped them under the mitered edges to help the corners lie flat. You can see in the second picture the difference between adding the extra triangle (left) and not (right)
Heat 'n Bond applied to back of ribbon - shade tutorial by Jewels at Home
Mitered corners on ribbon shade

Mitered corners. On the left, you can see that adding a small triangle of Heat ‘n Bond helped the corners lie neat and flat.

More inspirations!

Here are some other great examples of ribbon borders on window panels and shades. There are so many possible patterns and techniques.

pottery barn ribbon border roman shade

These ribbon border roman shades were sold by Pottery Barn a couple of years ago. I like the use of the wide ribbon and simple pattern. This will be the inspiration for our boys’ shades.

valance with ribbon border

Another simple and elegant ribbon border by Wendy at The Shabby Nest. I would love to do something like this in our kitchen, too!

Go to The Shabby Nest

bathroom with ribbon border shade

I fell in love with this beautiful picture on Pinterest, but I cannot find the original source. If you find it, please let me know, so I can give proper credit. I love the detail on the ribbon border. It was too ornate for our bathroom, but I am looking for a place to use it!

roller shade with border by What the Vita

Pretty shade with border by Elisa at What the Vita. I love the orange ribbon and the way the shade looks layered with the drapes. She used glue to attach grosgrain ribbon to a plain roller shade! I’m going to look at her tips when I do my boys’ shades, since I won’t be able to iron directly onto them.

Go to What the Vita

Some other ideas would be to

  • add a ribbon border along the bottom or
  • add two rows of ribbon around the border, in different colors or widths.

Let me know what you come up with for your windows!


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