Author Archives: Lisa Hightower

Saturday Quick Fixes

I’d like to say that I’m starting a new feature here… But my skill of posting every week is obviously not up to par for the life of a weekly feature. So, lets say I’m starting a semi-regular feature for when I can come up with something appropriate.

What is a Saturday Quick Fix? It’s something that you can do all in one day, and that will make a difference in how you feel about your environment/wardrobe/life. In essence, it’s something small you can do that will give you a bit of pleasure to know that you’ve done it.

Before and after of ironed curtains hanging side by side.

Today’s quick fix is something that took me over a year to do — ironing my curtains.

When the mister and I moved into this apartment, we scored big on clearance curtains at Bed Bath and Beyond. $300 curtains for $30. They were in exactly the right color and the perfect price point. They cover both windows in the front room, using six panels total. All I did was take them out of the package, shake them out, and hang them up, secure in the idea that they wrinkles and creases would let themselves out because these are heavy curtains and gravity was going to work for me.

Of course, it didn’t work that way. My mom had come to visit and told me I should iron them. I completely ignored her. A year later though, I couldn’t have her over for dinner commenting on how my curtains were still wrinkly. (Yes my mom comes over to visit very seldom; she’d much rather I make the drive to visit than have to drive over to my place.)

The only way to remedy it? To pull them down an iron them. Now, if you had a stand up steamer, that would work to.

The curtains look 100% better now. It took me the better part of a day or two to get all six panels done — two for the small window, four for the window above. It may have taken me awhile, but it really was a quick fix. The curtains look better, pool at the floor better, and don’t look like my home had been attacked by a wrinkle monster.

If you haven’t ironed (or steamed) your curtains since you took them out of the package, do it! You’ll be pleased at how much better they look, and wonder how you lived with them looking like the did for so long.

At least, I wondered. A whole year? That is some crazy wrinkles.


Turning a hardly worn scarf into a new favorite accessory.

As it turns out, one seam can take a scarf from hardly worn to a must-wear.

In the before photo, I’m wearing a scarf I made probably 5+ years ago. It’s the only handmade scarf I have, and I never wore it. Maybe once a season. Why would I not wear it? Because it’s wool, 10 feet long, wrapped around my neck 3 times, and the ends of the scarf would always get in the way.

This winter, scarf cowls are all the rage. One of my favorite blogs, Adventures in Dressmaking, recently posted two different tutorials on how to change up a scarf to a cowl.

The mechanics are simple: sew the ends of the scarf together with a matching yarn/thread, and wrap around your neck as loose or as tight as you want.

In the after photo, I have it wrapped around three times. I love this scarf now. It makes a huge statement when I wear it, and I can wear it all day long without getting too hot or the ends getting in my way. I get compliments every time I wear it, and it goes with so many more outfits than it used to. It looks good under coats, or on top of a short sleeve silky top (how I wore it to work yesterday). I did this in the beginning of December (the photos were taken by a co-worker now on maternity leave) and have worn the scarf at least once a week since then.

I definitely recommend this for any scarves you have that you never wear. It’s such a simple change up. And if you don’t like the way it looks, easy enough to revert back to the way the scarf was before. Just rip out your seam.

Making a list for the new year.

I was lucky enough to get gift cards to both Amazon and Barnes and Nobel for Christmas, which means that there is an influx of new craft books in my life.

Every time the calendar rolls around to a new year, my mind always rushes toward setting new goals. I didn’t make any resolutions, but I did spend time on new years day thinking about what I want to craft for myself, my friends and family, and my home in this coming new year.

The first four months I imagine will be a frenzy of crafting. My sister is expecting her first child in April, and there is just too much I want to make for my new nephew. I also really want to attempt to create stuff for my home that I love, that will be whimsically stylish, and that will really improve the function of our space. And finally, I want to get a head start on Christmas crafting (really? already?), as there are many people who deserve hand made from me, and some have already requested finished goods.

The other day on the Colette Patterns blog, the Coletterie, Sarai asked her readers if they had any sewing goals for the new year. I realized I did, but not like her list. Hers is a list of goals to improve sewing techniques. Mine is more a list of things I want to make sure I make time to make.

For the rest of the month, in between knitting a baby blanket for my nephew, I’ll be scouring my books and magazines to come up with a master list of must-makes. For now, I’ll probably keep them all together on a google docs spreadsheet, so I can list what it is, where the pattern is, when I need/want it by, who/what it’s for, and any other pertinent information I can come up with.

Then, I’m going to share it all with you, so that you can keep me honest about what I am (or am not) working on.

Now, to be sure, I will want to make everything on the master list. But I’m sure I’ll come across projects that are screaming to be made that I didn’t know about in January. I may make stuff that isn’t on the list, and I may continue to add to the list. But there will be a list, and I’m going to attempt to use it to force myself to not procrastinate.

Do you have a list of stuff you want to make?

Gearing up for Christmas

No pictures today… I don’t get home until after dark and didn’t have time last weekend to take pictures of my current projects.

I’m currently planning for Christmas, and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s the first Christmas that the mister and I will be spending the whole day together (he doesn’t work, yay!) and our first Christmas on our own in our apartment.

This all means that I’m serious about getting my crafty on this year. So far, my plans include Christmas stockings (in progress), ornaments (some supplies procured), and a new faux fireplace (pipe dream planning stages).

I’m planning on this weekend beginning the Christmas craft craze in earnest with a trip to JoAnn’s and possibly Michael’s on the horizon to get the rest of the stuff I’ll need.

What are you most looking forward to making this season? Least looking forward to?

And does anyone have any must-make Christmas ornament tutorials? It’s handmade or nothing on the tree for me.

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Halloween Recap

I’d been so busy planning a Halloween party that I had no time to write about it!

Blood Spattered Halloween Invites

I invited four couples over, and everyone RSVP’d yes minus one husband who was buried in Physics homework. I had a lot of fun pulling together a bunch of different tutorials to decorate for the party.

Clothspin Bats on curtains and lamps.

I did the Clothespin Bats from Martha Stewart, the Bloody Invitation from HGTV, and Bat Straw Name Tags from Scrapbooks Etc., though I modified it and did it tied around the wine glass stems so that people would know which glass was theirs.

Wine glasses with bat nametags.

I also did a Henna Pumpkin from Think Crafts Blog, but I didn’t get a photo of it, and I wasn’t too thrilled with my work, even though it was really easy to do.

For costumes, the Mister bought a Robin Hood costume (minus the tights), and I made myself a regency dress to be Elisabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. I used Simplicity 4055, with View A, except no overskirt.

It came together really easy. It took me probable about 8 hours total between cutting out pieces on a Friday, Sewing about 5-6 hours on Saturday, and all of the hand sewing and finishing that I did on my downtime in the week leading up to Halloween.

Liz and Lisa dressed up for the Halloween party at work.

Liz and Lisa dressed up for the Halloween party at work.

Project Notes:

  • I lengthened the pattern by 7 inches because I’m ridiculously tall, and ended up turning up the hem 2.5 inches.
  • I cut out a size 16, and used size 18 for the sleeves because I am not a fan of tight sleeves.
  • I left off the overlay dress for view A, lined the top, but didn’t line the skirt.
  • I really should have paid attention to the notes on PatternReview because the top really could have used lenghthining. The bust line hit just under the swell of my girls, and the bust seam would creep up while I was sitting so I spent a lot of time at the party and at work on Halloween making sure that it was pulled down.
  • I finished off the costume with a long strand of pearls and long white gloves.
P.S.: Standing next to me is my co-worker and friend Liz. She made that costume all by her self after I sent her a picture of a pregnant skeleton. She cut-out a freezer paper stencil by hand (no printouts) and painted it onto her shirt and leggings. I think she might be craftier than me!

In the interest of Pinterest.

This month–okay, the last six months–have just been killer on my crafty endeavors.

I haven’t managed to finish anything I’ve started except for Cecil, the chair covers, and a few other bits and bobs. I’m still working on a summer dress that is now past it’s prime season, and I haven’t started working on my halloween costume at all.

All this to explain why this is a craft-less post. Instead, I want to talk about the site you never knew you needed, Pintrest.

Why do you need Pintrest? Mostly because I bet right now, lurking somewhere on you hard drive is a folder of images saved from the web. My folder is named “Inspiration.” I save photos of rooms, of locations, of beautiful things I want to make. The big problem with this system, though, is sourcing it. If a picture has been in your folder for a year, or even a month, you might be hard-pressed to remember where it came from.

Pintrest, then, is your inspiration folder on steroids. When you “pin” a picture, you get to choose which “board” it goes to, can add a note about what you like, and it gives links back to the source and where you found it (say, if you repinned it from a friend).

Right  now, I’m using it to pin inspiration for my Halloween party, my bedroom redecoration, and fashion that I wish I could incorporate into my daily life.

If you have an inspiration folder, you’ll love Pintrest. And feel free to follow me and/or my boards. I think I do a pretty good job of curating my stuff.


Gift giving, only a few weeks late.

So, the Mister and I have been dating for three years now. We don’t have an actual anniversary date–just a general idea of when we first started dating. This means that sometime by the end of September, we’ve given each other our “anniversary presents.” Now, this is never on the same day from year to year, nor do we exchange presents on the same day.

For example, in the middle of September he bought me a new tire for my car that I needed desperately (which also matched very nicely with the tire that he gave me for Valentine’s day. It may not be romantic, but it’s practical and my job requires me to drive a lot, so it’s definitely welcome). I in turn make him something every year. For our first anniversary, I made him a camp fire. For our second, a small computer.

This year? A monster joined our menagerie.

This is Cecil. He’s a monster from The Big Book of Knitted Monsters by Rebecca Danger. He took me forever to make, seeing as I can only knit on free time when the Mister isn’t around, and that only happens on my lunch break. I started him in August, and didn’t finish him until October 7th. I probably would have finished him loads sooner if I had taken him to Texas with me, but I didn’t want to deal with knitting needles on the airplane coming home (I know you can take them through security, but metal needles in Texas seemed like something that would get me pulled out of line.)

Cecil was a really easy project. I had originally thought I would use different feet for him than his pattern said to, but when it came down to crunch time, I followed the pattern exactly as written. And this pattern is very well written, as is the rest of the book. Each monster is laid out row by row for exactly what is happening when. I am definitely planning on making a few more monsters and sending them on their way.

As I took Cecil’s photos yesterday evening, he was very chatty.

“Grrr grrr gggrrrrrrrr grr grr, ” he said.

He thinks he’s going to be a celebrity and has chosen the stage name Stripy McEarballs for all his cameo work. When he’s not posing for photos, I usually find him working on the small computer that I made for the mister last year. All of the other boys in the house seem to really get along with Cecil, and they all cuddle together to watch Sunday football.

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What I’ve been working on.

Ally has been gently nudging me for oh, only a month or so now, to finally get a blog post up.

It seems that I manage to let the world get at me far too much (witness the eye twitch that will.not.quit. for the last four day), in between regular summer plans, and emergency “lets get the little sister married and moved to Texas in three weeks–with only three days for the wedding” plans.)

I made this chair cover much earlier in the summer, but I’m so inordinately proud of it. The pattern comes from one of my favorite sewing books, One-Yard Wonders. (Please see the other projects I’ve made from this book, such as the dog jacket I made for my sister’s dog and…. oh, I guess I should post about all the other stuff I’ve made).

The fabric came from Ikea, and cost almost as much as the chair it’s covering, also from Ikea, the Jeff folding chair. It’s the same chair pictured in the book, so when I saw the pattern, I absolutely knew I was going to make it. The whole thing, chair and fabric cost me $14.

So far, I’ve covered two chairs, and these chair covers were super quick, once I figured out how to fold the fabric for the top pleated portion. It took me two nights (one each night), and probably about 1-2 hours each, longer for the first one, shorter for the second when I knew what I was doing. I managed to make them in time to have my sister and her now husband (then boyfriend) over for dinner in July when he was home on leave.

The only complaint I have is that the ties are not exactly perfect for this chair. I put the forward ones–the ones for the front legs–exactly where the pattern said to, and they’re a little too far back. It was good that I had left the ribbon really long, and was able to still tie it around the front leg to stay.

I have two more chairs to cover, and will probably use a stripe pattern I saw at Ikea, or a faux bois that I saw. I’m still undecided, which is why I still have two more to cover.

As a final note, the photos in this post were taken by my mister as he has decided to make photography his hobby, and he loves encouraging me so he’s going to (hopefully) be taking my finished object pictures for me. We’re still working on the concept of photo styling, but without his help I’d have no photos to post tonight.

And now, I leave you with the sickeningly sweet photo of my sister and her new husband. Worth all the stress that I’ve had for the last month. Love you!

Finally, someplace to work from.

Insert the sound of my hysterical laughing.

As usual, I come back after a six (seven?) month absence, and my previous post is about how I’m going to make more time for blogging.

I guess this post could essentially be the same as the last one, minus the bit about being able to blog on my lunch hour. I still work at the same place; I’m just not allowed to eat lunch at my desk. Which bites, really. But I don’t want to get into that.

In the time since I last posted, anniversaries and holidays have passed, the Mister and I have finally moved out into a place of our own, and I’m slowly getting used to feeling suspiciously like an adult.

The current desk set-up.

The current desk set-up.

I have been unpacking and organizing and trying to get our household all set up. I’ve got my own desk for the first time in four years, and it’s big enough to hold my computer, the sewing machine, and the serger at the same time–though for obvious reasons I can’t use them all at once.

Pincushion close-up.

Close-up on the badly made pincushion.

My first project in the new place was the Weighted Pin Cushion, from the tutorial over at Sew, Mama, Sew.

I saw it first over at Noodlehead, and I liked it so much it’d been on the top of my to-be-made list since October.

I really didn’t take the care like I should have for the project, but it started with not especially liking my fabrics. I made it because it was useful and because I wanted to try it with not-good stuff before I ordered fabric specifically for it.

I really like the design, and if I hadn’t half-assed it, I’d really like this one. I could see making this for a few of my friends who sew; I think it’d make an excelent gift. When I’m ready, I plan on making matching machine covers and an ironing board cover (matching in that I’ll make those, and a new pincushion, in specially picked fabric), if only to girlify the office that I share with the Mister.

The hardest thing to get used to in the new place? His interest.

I’ll be sewing and all of the sudden he’ll be hovering over my shoulder, watching what I’m doing. It could drive me batty. I’m not used to anyone taking an interest in what I’m doing. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, though.

And he might hover less if I fix the pocket in his favorite shorts.

A Quick Update.

I seriously can’t remember the last time I posted, which is a terrible, terrible thing.

My life has gotten infinitly busier than it was last time I was writing. I now have a full time job working at a law firm, and an insatiable addiction to World of Warcraft.

Which means that I have barely any time to think about crafting, let alone do it. But I think I’m getting into the groove; I’ve been working for a month now and am not exhausted when I come home. There are things I want to make to add to my wardrobe. And I’m so much happier now than I was for the last year, that I finally feel like it’s okay to indulge in new supplies to make things.

I’m going to try to be more regular around here—or at the very least not dissapear for months at a time. Especially since I have a lunch hour in which to expound upon my recent crafty endeavors.

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