Growing up, my brother and I dished out quite a bit of abuse on the living room furniture, from building forts to playing Hot Lava. I came across a fort building kit on one of the craft blogs I read and thought it would make a great children's gift. Of course my three nieces are always the guinea pigs lucky recipients of my handmade children's gifts, so this year for Christmas I made them their very own fort kit.
I bought all of the supplies, except the sheets, at the dollar store. Then, during a trip to IKEA (to buy the bins for our laundry room), I was super excited to find three cute curtain panels in the clearance section. I hadn't thought to use curtain panels but they ended up being better than sheets, with the added bonus of tabs at the top, which meant more places to attach the ties and clips.
I made bias tape out of some cotton fabric I had on hand, and used it to add looped ties to each curtain panel.
In my ever-expanding stash of fabric I had some vintage linens, including a small floral printed pouch and an embroidered pillowcase. The pillowcase was turned into a tote bag to hold the "sheets" and supplies.
I opened up the top hem of the pouch and added a ribbon, turning it into a drawstring bag to hold all the supplies.
Using a black paint pen, I wrote inspirational words on the clothespins (idea found here).
I also included a tag to explain what the gift was. I pretty much copied the tag from the tutorial, but changed up the font and colors a bit.
For the past two years I've made hand stamped postcards for Christmas. This year I decided to do cards. For the cover, I drew a picture of Zach and me decorating a Christmas tree.
We picked a quote by Frank McKibben for the inside:
"This is Christmas: not the tinsel, not the giving and receiving, not even the carols, but the humble heart that receives anew the wondrous gift, the Christ."
I took the design to FedEx where I had color copies made. The copies lost some of the detail of the original, like the metallic gold I used for the garland and star, but I think they still turned out pretty cute.
I made a sleeve for my laptop using this tutorial from Sew, Mama, Sew! Zach suggested adding a pocket to the front to hold the laptop charger. This seemed like a good idea but was more difficult than I expected. My first attempt was a complete failure; the sleeve was too snug and the pocket design just wasn't working. I ended up having to take apart the entire thing and start over, letting out the seams by 1/4" so that the laptop would fit more easily. With a lot of help from Amanda and Jenn, I finally came up with a pocket design that worked. I gathered the bottom of the pocket and sewed elastic onto the top edge. This added more volume to the pocket and allowed it to stretch open so the charger could be put inside. I added a button and loop to close the top and keep the charger from slipping out.
I've been meaning to make a travel laundry bag for the longest time. I usually just grab a plastic grocery bag and stuff it in my suitcase, but I wanted something that was reusable, and of course, pretty. I had a couple of yards of blue linen left over from another project, which I used to sew a simple drawstring bag. (here's a good tutorial if you'd like to make your own). The lace panel on the front is actually a piece of fabric from an old blouse.
I also created a smaller version for my shoes, because who wants their dirty shoes packed next to their clean undies?
I used white cotton twill tape for the drawstrings and embroidered the word "laundry" onto the larger bag.
Zach laughed when he saw these and said they were very "Sarah."
A couple months ago Zach and I went into World Market during their "Rug Caravan" sale to look for a rug for our master bedroom. Unfortunately, when we got there, we found they don't carry any rugs larger than 5' x 7'. Turning to leave the rug section, we passed by the furniture and I saw an armchair with a sign that read "Sarah, buy me." Can you believe it? Ok, not really, but it might as well have said that. I'd been looking for chairs for our bedroom since June and this one had everything I was looking for. I wanted something comfy with arms that had a traditional shape and patterned fabric, preferably in a shade of blue. The "Reading Chair" met all my ridiculous specifications, and as a bonus, the fabric had a vintage feel, reminding me of the fabric on my grandmother's armchair, (which has been retired until we can have it reupholstered).
And as a super bonus, it was on sale for $240. Unfortunately, they only had one in stock, and it was already on hold for another customer. However, they told us they would be getting a new shipment in soon and gave us a rain check for two chairs at the sales price.
I eagerly waited for our new chairs to arrive, but after about a week with no news I called the store, only to find out they had been discontinued! I was frustrated. Why the heck did they issue a rain check if there were not enough chairs available? They were completely sold out online and none of the stores in Texas had any more in stock. After talking two three different managers I finally found two chairs in stock at a store in California. So I had them call California and see if they would ship the chairs to the Houston store. (At this point I'm sure a sign went up on the store front with my photo that read "Do not do business with this woman".) Sure they'd ship the chairs, but I would have to pay for the shipping. 'Ok', I thought, 'I can live with that, I really like these chairs and they're on sale'. That was until I found out freight shipping through UPS would cost around $500, at which point I knew I was defeated. Ready to give up I tried one last desperate google search and ended up at uShip.com. At first I was a little skeptical, having never heard of the website, but checked it out through the BBB and found that it was a legitimate company. With uShip you can create a free account and get competitive shipping bids from multiple companies. I posted a request to have the chairs shipped from California to Houston and by the next morning had three bids to choose from! One of these bids came in at about half of the UPS price, so I went for it. We got World Market to give us an additional 25% for all our trouble, so even with shipping we still got a pretty good deal.