Alina Sewing and Design

DIY Mid-Century Console

IMG_7822If this post is about a piece of furniture, but that piece of furniture is for my sewing room, does this count as sewing-related?

Well, at any rate…I made a mid-century-ish console to house the printers in my sewing room. They were previously in a bookshelf in the corner, but I couldn’t raise the printer’s top to use the scanner, which meant the big printer ended up on the floor (where it stayed…because why put it back every single time?). And I almost made it for free! (more…)

How to Make a “Faux-by” (Faux Moby Wrap) + How to Sew a French Seam (Full Photo Tutorial)

How to Make a “Faux-by” (Faux Moby Wrap) + How to Sew a French Seam (Full Photo Tutorial)

**DISCLAIMER: I created my wrap with a triple seam for security,  but know that this seam should be closely inspected REGULARLY.  Repair ANY sign of weakness. Your child’s safety while being worn is far more important than saving any amount of money.**

Hello, friends!

Does it seem a little dusty around here or is that just me? I guess that goes with having a newborn…blogging falls wayyy down on the priority list! Sleep becomes the focus of just about every hour. 🙂

Speaking of both the newborn AND sleep, I’ve found that I can combine both when I wear him. I have an Ergo that I LOVE, but I always hesitate to take it out of the car (because I forget to put it back in there and then I’ve found myself out and about on multiple occasions without it…no bueno…so it stays in the car now) and it also seems a little bit bulky for the house while he’s so small.

Around Thanksgiving, I started to consider purchasing a Moby Wrap. When we were at some friends’ house for Thanksgiving, she let me try hers on when I mentioned it. I was surprised to find that A) I LOVED IT way more than I thought I would, and B) it was only a blooming long piece of knit fabric! I stood there and said, “Ummm, yeah, I can make this for cheap. Can I measure yours?!” So I did. 🙂

Moby Wraps are one long piece of 100% cotton jersey knit fabric that is around 6 yards long (yes, YARDS) and 22 inches wide and tapers at the end (to reduce bulk when tying), then is serged around the edges. That’s IT.

So, I made THREE wraps for significantly less still than ONE name brand wrap would have cost. (I should mention that I took advantage of’s Black Friday sales, so all of my fabric was on sale!) There are other ways to do this, including no-sew options (just google it), but this is how I did it. I found that this method most closely matched the original product while staying the cheapest possible route.

Here’s what you need:

  • 100% cotton jersey knit fabric (this is the one I’m using in the photos below. I also ordered this one and this one, if you want some other options without searching high and low!). I’m 5’4″ and a size 2-4, so I only needed my wrap to be 5 yards long, so I ordered 2.5 yards. Increase to 3 yards if you need a longer wrap. Regardless–look for a 100% cotton jersey knit that only has a 20-25% stretch across the grain; anything else will be too stretchy and not as secure for your babe! Also, the heavier the fabric, the better (don’t order “tissue knit”)!
  • Fabric scissors
  • Coordinating thread (I used white for the purpose of the tutorial so that you could see my stitches…normally I would have used a gray thread for this fabric!)
  • Sewing machine
  • Serger/Overlocker (optional)
  • Yard stick
  • Bowl or plate that is 7″ in diameter (or cut out a 7″ paper circle to use as a template)
  • Water- or air-soluble fabric marker
  • Pins

**DISCLAIMER: I created my wrap with a triple seam for security,  but know that this seam should be closely inspected REGULARLY.  Repair ANY sign of weakness. Your child’s safety while being worn is far more important than saving any amount of money.**

Let’s get started, shall we?

How to DIY or Make a Moby Tutorial

(I want to note that the seam in the middle serves two purposes: 1) original Moby Wraps have a tag on them that marks the middle, which aids in tying it, so the seam marks the middle on these, and 2) it allows you to buy half the fabric!)

**DISCLAIMER: I created my wrap with a triple seam for security,  but know that this seam should be closely inspected REGULARLY.  Repair ANY sign of weakness. Your child’s safety while being worn is far more important than saving any amount of money.**

Sorry, no, I didn’t change out of my running pants or t-shirt…and I had no make-up on, so you don’t get to see my face. 🙂

As for how long this takes, it SHOULD take less than an hour. However…there’s a chunky little 8-week-old person living in my house that refused to nap yesterday and preferred to alternate between crying and feasting on his fist, so this took me a couple of days, working in 5-minute increments. 🙂

DIY Moby

P.S. These are the tension settings I used for my Brother 1034D. It took quite a bit of trial and error to get it set right for knit fabric, so I thought I’d share in hopes of saving you some time (and so I can remember next time)!

Brother 1034D tension setting for sewing jersey knitHappy sewing and Merry Christmas from ours to yours!

Alina-signature-1480Merry Christmas Baby

The Ultimate Power Moisturizing Oil Combo

Skin Oil 1

Today, I’m sharing my favorite power-oil combination! I keep each of these oils on hand for their various uses, and at one point, decided to combine them and their super properties. I apply it right out of the shower after lightly toweling off to lock in the most moisture, but it’s great for use throughout the day as well. I’ll let the individual oils do the talking and convincing, so let’s take a look at their properties and uses…

Sweet Almond Oil: high in vitamin E, extremely moisturizing–great for dry, itchy skin, and even eczema, great for sore muscles and joints and more, if a food-grade oil is taken internally!

Grapeseed Oil: Used to treat and great for…arthritis, edema, dermatitis, acne, wrinkles, dry and itchy skin, age spots, sun burns, chapped lips, wounds, bruising, stretch marks, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, chronic venous insufficiency, premature aging, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), dandruff.

Coconut Oil: Oh, don’t even get me started! Coconut has been made popular enough by now that if you’re interested in this blog post, you are probably quite familiar with its uses and qualities. But, just in case you aren’t…The health benefits of coconut oil include hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental care, and bone strength. These benefits of oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial and soothing properties.

Vitamin E Oil: Best known for its antioxidant properties, which fight against free radicals that cause damage to cell structure. It provides protection against toxins such as air pollution, premenstrual syndrome, eye disorders such as cataracts, neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes, healing scars, including those from acne, intense moisturizing properties (best used with a carrier oil if used daily), minimizing brown spots and wrinkles and more!

Skin Oil 2As you can see, I use a small travel-size plastic bottle, but you can keep it in whatever you like. The only thing you eed to know is that sunlight can damage these oils, so if you’re not going to keep the mixture in a dark cabinet (like I do), then you need to store it in either a dark/opaque container OR a container that blocks UV rays (many of the bottles that these oils come in are treated to block UV rays)!

This mixture will keep for a long time, though I recommend mixing it in smaller batches that can be used within three months.

Skin Oil 3**Please note: I am not medically-trained or qualified to give medical advice for treatment of diseases or ailments. My knowledge is simply from my own research, so I encourage you to do your own research as well. I have included some of my informational sources (though this is not an all-inclusive list, these are the articles I used to put this post together). Please contact your doctor for their professional opinion in treating any specific problems you have or think you have!**

Sources for further reading:

Health Benefits of Vitamin E Oil for Scars

16 Proven Health Benefits & Uses of Coconut Oil

9 Health Benefits of Sweet Almond Oil


Shelbi’s Side Chair and Shara’s Wingback: Before & After (+ a Custom Roman Shade)

*PHEW* I’m finally back! A couple of weeks ago, I decided to go ahead and update my Mac OSX to Mountain Lion (I was still running Leopard!), which means I was three system updates behind! It had gotten to the point where I couldn’t play videos or music because my browsers weren’t supporting flash or java without updates that required an updated OS. So….I finally did. What.a.mess. It crashed my harddrive. Luckily I had backed up with Time Machine a few days before, but when I restored everything, it had somehow managed to NOT capture any of my photos from the last two months. Then, I couldn’t back up anything with Time Machine using my existing external harddrive without completely erasing it and reformatting it (so now I have nothing saved that I don’t already currently have on my computer…I hope there’s nothing I needed!). THEN, none of the programs in my Adobe CS4 Design Premium would run. No Illustrator. No Photoshop. Nada. I uninstalled everything and was going to reinstall with my original disks, but they wouldn’t run the setup.exe file. I contacted Adobe multiple times and they were maddeningly unhelpful (and this is coming from someone who is very calm and kind to customer service reps…I know it’s not their fault!)….long story short, it was a long and arduous battle, but I finally got CS4 reinstalled this morning, so I can finally edit/watermark photos for blog posts again! So, you may be happy (or maybe not) to know I have a lot of backlogged posts coming this week. 🙂

So, first, I bring you two more recent upholstery jobs done!

This side chair came to me in the below shape. it was fairly obvious that it had several layers of paint on it, including green below the cream. Structurally, it was in great shape, it just needed a cosmetic update!

Shelbi Chair Before

And here she is after fillings in some cracks with wood putty, a few coats of glossy black paint and some luxe gold & cream fabric!

Shelbi Chair After

Just goes to show you how far some vision can go!Shelbi Chair Before and After


When Shara’s husband dropped off this wingback chair, it had definitely seen better days. Turns out, she had seen it while driving through a local neighborhood having an estate sale. And it was $5! She convinced her husband to buy it and have it reupholstered and it would be more like a $1,000 chair! Shara Wingback before

It had definitely seen better days; something (cats, I think) had clawed the life out of it, and it must’ve sat in the same place for many years, because one side was severely faded compared to the other side (that’s not just the lighting in the last picture above! It was really that faded!).

After spending a couple of days with it, it was a brand new chair! It got a brand new cushion, the wood got a refreshing coat of oil and, obviously, new upholstery.

Shara Wingback AfterShara Wingback Before and After copy

Some seriously dramatic differences, huh? I love my job!

Oh, also, if you follow the MYU facebook page, you’ve already seen this, but I also finished and sent off this custom roman shade for a client last week! The wide white and red canvas stripes are going into a little boy’s pirate-themed bedroom. So fun!

Justin Roman Shade


P.S. Here’s a sneak peak at what’s coming tomorrow! My favorite natural moisturizing oil combo + recipe.


What have you guys been up to?! I, for one, am glad to be back!


Thrifted Coffee-Table-Turned-Ottoman Gets an Update!


Do you guys remember when I turned my $20 thrift store coffee table into an ottoman a couple of summers ago? If not, let’s refresh our memories.

When I finished college and moved to Kansas City to start my first “big girl” job at an ad agency, I didn’t have much in the way of furniture. OR much money. That’s where thrifting became a huge part of my life (and subsequently, the current content of this blog). When it comes to thrifting furniture, it MUST be solid wood. I can’t claim I’ve never bought a rickety chair, but it was ALL wood, goshdangit. 😀

So, I found this coffee table for $20 one day and brought it home (in my tiny little 2-door ’99 Honda Civic!). I lived with and used it for quite awhile (over a year) before attempting to change anything about it. I never really loved it, but I wasn’t going to change it until I thought of something I could do that I did love. If you remember the story (or just read through the old blog post, linked above), you’ll know that one day I DID figure out what to do and I was inspired out of my mind. I’ll quote my old post here…

When I moved to Kansas City (two years ago this past Monday!), I didn’t own a coffee table. In classic Alina fashion, I stalked Goodwill until a decent one showed up. It was solid wood and heavy as all get out (a requirement for me to buy a piece of furniture from Goodwill. It MUST be solid wood. Pressed wood and particle board make me shudder). It was in pretty good shape with only some minor wear and tear on the top, it was mostly modern/clean looking, it was simple and it was marked for $20. But I didn’t love it. I never have. It’s just kind of…blah. Nothing inspiring about it, you know? And I don’t like to be surrounded by things that stump my inspiration. ;) (Additionally, the lip around the edge makes it painful to rest your feet on since it cuts into the backs of your ankles. No bueno!) I’ve toyed with the idea of painting it, stripping and re-staining it (to take care of the damage on top), and I’ve even thought about tiling the top with some kind of glass tile. But none of it really struck my fancy.

Enter Pinterest. There I was, sinking deeper into the abyss, when I saw this: [enter picture from Pinterest of a DIY-ed tufted ottoman]

I stopped everything and immediately straightened up from my slumped position (I might have even stopped breathing for a second). I looked at the blog post behind the pin, looked at my coffee table, looked at the picture, looked at my coffee table. And the biggest light bulb to date arose above my head. I immediately pinned it, “DIY Tufted ottoman…yes, I will!!!”
And yes, I did. Within five days, I had started this project with no intention of stopping.

Ottoman Before 1

And LONG story short, that’s how that^ coffee table became the below ottoman.

Ottoman Before 2

Now…fast-forward a couple of years. Overall, the ottoman is still in good shape. It’s sustained many a dirty shoe, stinky sock, entire cups of spilled coffee (itwasntme), wet dogs, being used as a make-shift couch between weekend moves back and forth from KC to Wichita last year, holding pilesandpilesandpiles of stuff, and more. Really, I could not have asked for this ottoman to be in such great condition after all we’ve put it through.

Ottoman 1Ottoman 2

But, it was beginning to show some wear, in form of sagging, loose fabric. I had been noticing it for awhile, but didn’t think about updating it until Saturday morning.

I had just finished with Ginger’s chair the night before and was still swooning every time I looked at it. I wanted something fun, too! All of the sudden, those wrinkles and sagging fabric were a bigger issue than ever before.

And when that inspiration hit, it hit fast and hard. I mentioned it to Cowboy…”I’m thinking about reupholstering this ottoman…” I said into the morning quiet. “Mmhmm, OK,” he said, without looking up from his computer screen and coffee.

And, just like that, a sly smile crept onto my face. My mind started racing…”but what colors, what kind of fabric? Why did I choose this weird, gray microsuede? Oh, yes, it was on clearance. I need real upholstery-weight fabric this time. Maybe in black and white? Maybe a fun color and pattern like Ginger’s chair?”

And like a flash, I was out the door to go check out all of the local fabric shops to see what would strike my fancy.

Aaand, three fabric stores and two hours later, I was still empty-handed, unsure and uninspired.

One thing my mom taught me was to always have neutral furniture than can be updated with pillows and throws. I wanted to like a bold print & color combo, but I just couldn’t commit. Later that afternoon, I was back home and I remembered one of my favorite pieces of furniture. The Erin chair from World Market.

Erin Chair 2VIA

 So I took it to the mattresses went digging for fabric scraps in my studio and to see how much canvas dropcloth I had in stock (yes, the kind you buy at your local home improvement store…it’s what I make my grocery bags out of).

Ottoman 3.5

I had plenty of dropcloth (furniture looks great upholstered in it! It’s a durable and is a superdupercheap alternative to upholstery-weight linen). And within a few minutes, I had picked out enough scraps to recover the buttons and was pulling out all of the staples.

Ottoman 3
To recover the buttons (and this is totally and completely NOT professional, nor how I would do someone else’s piece of furniture…but it was for me and it was free and it worked, so it won out):

1) I cut out all of my circles (using the template that I still had from the first time I covered the buttons) from scraps.

2) Using the plastic button-covering kit that comes with the buttons, I placed the fabric wrong-side-up on top of the plastic piece, placed the button on top of that…

3) Pushed it all into the plastic piece, ran a line of hot glue around the back of the button…

4) …and pushed the fabric down.

5) Voilá…recovered buttons.

Ottoman 4

And then came the tufting and upholstering! I started working on this when Cowboy left to hang out with his brother for the evening. And it was back in the living room, finished, by the time he got home at 11.

Ottoman 6

Best part? It was F-R-E-E! I used dropcloth and fabric scraps and buttons I already had. And well, I do this for a living, so I obviously had plenty of button tufting twine and cotton to pad the sides with. If I had to count up the materials I would have bought though, it might add up to $10. Maybe.
Ottoman 7 Ottoman 8Ottoman 9

Amazing, right? I’m so glad I spent my Saturday night updating it. I realized while I was working on it that it was literally the only thing in my house that I had upholstered. Consequently, anytime someone was over and found out what I “do” and asked to see some of my work, it was the only thing I could point to. And, while it was just fine, it was my first-ever upholstery job. It did need to be brought up to current “standards,” just like a graphic designer would update their business card as they gained more experience.

So let’s see the lifetime of this coffee table all together now…

Ottoman 9.5
Worth the $80 I’ve now invested into this coffee table/ottoman, right?!

I try to not work-work on the weekends, but do projects for us instead. It keeps me inspired and fresh. Other times, I just need a rest and spend the weekend hanging out with awesome people. 🙂 What did you guys do this weekend?

Fabric Quote Canvas (Upcycled Thrift Find)

Hello, friends!

I hope today finds you well and off to a productive start to your week. And, well, if not…that’s OK. Tomorrow’s another day. 😉

I finally finished a project last night that’s been in the works for awhile. A few months ago, I found a black & white canvas that was covered in what I considered “encouraging” sentiments. You know…like, “Follow your dreams,” or, “Be true to yourself.” I really like having “words” around me…especially those that are encouraging, so I brought it home. I tried to hang it and was swiftly stopped by an unhappy Cowboy. “Follow your dreams? What about following the will of the Lord?” he said. And I knew he was right. (His brother was there and quickly agreed with him…that one did not go over as well.) SO…the $5 purchase sat in my studio for a couple of months. Last weekend, I pulled it out and decided to give it a makeover. So, I pulled out a tube of paint (DecoArt Metallic Acrylic in “Glorious Gold,” if you’re wondering) from my stash, and painted away, giving me a beautifully gold slate to work with.

Quote Canvas 1

I love the sentiment of “Be open to whatever comes next.” If I have a glaringly obvious weakness, it’s that I don’t LOVE change. I do…but I don’t. You know what I mean? I just like my routine. And, if things are going to be changing, I like to be forewarned with enough time to prepare and adjust. Or, I like to be the one behind the change (which means I’ve had ample time to process it!). And, if you’re a regular reader or a friend/family member of ours, you know that we have A LOT of change happening in the upcoming year. Medical school ends, we move across the country (which entails not only moving our possessions but also moving my business), finding a new church, finding new friends, trying to launch my business there, J starting residency. All of that hard work to change and move and adapt everything and we might only be there for 12 months or less. And then we do it all over again. So, the reminder to be open to whatever comes next is EXACTLY what I need in front of me, especially during this season of life, lest I get too wrapped up in wanting to “know.” We never really know.

Anyway, if you’re wanting to recreate this look, here’s how I did it:

1. Figure out, in Word (or whatever word-processing program you have), what font and font size you need and want.

2. Print them out in a light gray to save ink. To save myself time and ink/paper, I only print one of each letter. (See how the quote is incomplete below? That’s because I only need to cut one out of paper, which I can then reuse to cut multiples from fabric.)

3. Cut them out of the paper and use that as a template to trace onto the back of your fabric (make sure the “right” side of the letter is facing the “wrong” side of the fabric, so you don’t end up with backward letters), and cut them out. Keep going until your quote is complete, then decide how you want your letters arranged.

4. Once you have everything arranged, use modpodge both on the canvas (underneath the letters) and then over the fabric letters.

5. Let it dry and admire your handiwork!

Quote Canvas 2.2Quote Canvas 2.1 Quote Canvas 3 Quote Canvas 4

I already had the paint, Modpodge and fabric, so my only cost was the $5 for the canvas! This idea definitely isn’t original–have you guys done something similar to this? I’d love to see them!


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