Alina Sewing and Design

How to: Paint a Herringbone Pattern

First of all, I’m sure there are hundred of tutorials on this very thing and many of you will scoff at the fact that I even took the time to write this out because OBVIOUSLY you already know how to do this. Wellll….I wrote it anyway. 🙂 While sorting through before-and-after pictures of furniture I have re-done (for the upholstery & sewing services page!), I realized I had taken photos of my herringbone dresser during the painting process, but never had time to share. So, since I already have the photos, I’m writing the tutorial. I hope it’s helpful!

Let’s back up…some of you may remember the red dresser with hand-painted herringbone drawers I did back in April for The Red Barn Outdoor Market. Some of you might be newer than that. So, here she is…seriously one of my favorite pieces! It sold to a lady who was putting it in her son’s nursery, which makes it that much easier to let go of!

And this is what she looked like when I picked her up…

Not pretty, but she had good bones! So, I sanded her down and painted her red (with a coat of mint green underneath to peek through!). Unfortunately (or so I thought at the time) there was some graffiti in the bottom of one of the drawers, all done in permanent marker, and even three coats of Kilz Stain Blocker wasn’t doing the trick. So, I decided to camouflage it and really go the extra mile on the drawers! I thought about doing a chevron, but wasn’t sure if customers would be completely tired and over it, so I decided to go slightly different and do herringbone.

I sort of made it up as I went, but it worked well, so here’s how I did it!

  1. Choose your two colors. In my case, I wanted white and gray, so I painted the bottoms and sides in white.
  2. Decide how big you want your pattern to be. In my case, I made wanted the colors to alternate every 2 inches from top to bottom and every 4 inches from side-to-side. So, I measured out my pattern, marking every four inches on the top and bottom. Because I wanted to paint on one side of the tape first, I didn’t center my tape on the lines every four inches, but rather placed my tape to one side. It will look uneven! The concept is the same as if you were painting stripes on a wall. Once those “vertical” pieces of tape were in place, I marked every two inches down the side of the tape where I would be painting the herringbone. I then took smaller pieces of tape and placed them on a diagonal from one mark on the left to the next 2-inch mark below on the right Once I had everything taped off, I painted! It took two coats to get enough coverage, but I removed the pieces of tape while the second coat was wet and set them aside to reuse. You now have half of your herringbone!
  3. Once the second coat is dry enough to place tape onto (I waited until the next day so I wouldn’t have to worry about pulling it up), repeat the process, filling in between the first round of diagonals. You’ll now want to make your diagonals go down from right to left, opposite of what you did the first time. And make sure you’re painting the “off” rows, otherwise you’ll end up with a chevron, which is fine, but definitely not a herringbone. Your tape should look like this before you paint:

And voilá! Does that make sense? It was a pretty “quick” process once I had done my math and figured out what I was doing, so you might just have to DO IT for it to make sense, but I hope this takes some of the guesswork out of it and provides some direction!
Are you guys still loving chevron? After spending HOURS familiarizing myself with the construction of the herringbone, I feel a certain attachment to it, but it’s definitely not caught on in the fabric world (which, obviously is the main medium I’ve been working with lately). Well, I should clarify that I haven’t found any modern takes on the herringbone. Always a classic, I suppose. 🙂

Hannah & Richard’s Leopard Side Chair

Hello, friends!
Today I wanted to share a quick before and after of my latest upholstery job. I’ve known Hannah since high school (her dad drove us and her sister to the Cornerstone festival one year!). Hannah & her fiancé, Richard, are tying the knot in late December–just days after mine and Cowboy’s first anniversary! I may be partial to December weddings, but I’m really very excited for them.
This sweet little side chair is a family heirloom and will be moving into their newlywed house, but, overall, they wanted it updated (and some kitties had left their marks on the top left corner!). Their wedding colors are leopard and green, so when Hannah saw the leopard print fabric I was using in another client’s slipcover, she knew just what to do with this chair and enlisted my help!

Pretty awesome, huh? I love the bold fabric.

I’m booked through mid-November with upholstery jobs, so if you’d like to get a piece done before family starts coming in for the holidays, contact me for a quote and I’ll get you worked into the schedule!

DIY Custom Camera Bag, Take 2 (Built-in Padded Insert)

Remember when I made my sister a custom camera bag? Well, specifically, I found a bag and then made a custom, removable padded insert, so she could take it out if she ever found a bag she liked more or if the one we found her gave out. I also made an insert for myself…but the problem was that I made one that would kind of fit into a few different bags…none of which were ideal for carrying around several pounds worth of camera gear. Straps too narrow = aching shoulders, bag too short/shallow = no room for anything else (particularly when traveling), bag too deep = too hard to see into when carrying.


For the last couple of months, I’ve been carrying this one around, with my insert inside. Beautiful bag (Fossil leather found for $2 at Goodwill last year…who gets rid of this stuff?!), but just not meant to be. It was both too deep and the strap too narrow. So, my brain wheels have been turning and my eyes have been on the lookout for something different. Then, last Saturday, my father-in-law went skydiving outside of Wichita (more on that in another post) and, as we were driving back into town, we passed their (very large) Target and I sighed, saying, “Ohh, how I love Target.” And to that, my sweet husband pulled into the parking lot, saying we would just go in so I could browse the aisles for as long as I wanted, in that case. Yes…I did marry a good an amazing one. So, together we meandered the aisles, playing with toys in the dollar spot, trying on atrocious hats, eyeing new fall clothes (which he did actually get–see his stellar new pants below?) and slowly taking in all of the “stuff” that I derive a little too much satisfaction from.

Oh, my handsome! Can you believe this month we’ve been married for 10 months already??

Anyway, Target has a TON of stuff on clearance right now as they clear out summer items. I’ve already scored a few awesome things, including the blue checked dress I’m wearing in the picture above (regular $24.99, I paid $7.48!). They also have some pretty sweet bags on clearance, so I walked over to check those out and saw this one…

And, more importantly, checked out the price tag. Once I saw it was 50% off, I continued to check out the rest of it. Awesome and wide strap: check! Outside pockets for lens caps, filters, keys, phone, etc.: check! Inside pockets for other misc. items, including a zipper pocket, check! Wide and long enough to accommodate all of the padding, plus camera body + at least three lenses: check! I still hemmed and hawed over spending $12.50 on a bag until it was time to check out (I know…such a cheap-o), but the more I processed it and checked it out while Cowboy was trying on clothes, the more I decided that bag was perfect for how I needed to use it.

First, I had already decided that I wanted to make my padding built in for this bag. Since this bag had a divider down the middle, I was killing two birds with one stone when I ripped out the seam holding in the divider. This both took out the divider that was in the way AND it opened up the lining for me to add the padding.

I made my padding the same way as before, only this time I didn’t need to sew a bunch of individual pieces into covers….so, basically, this was WAY faster. I cut out my plastic canvas, double-wrapped it in headliner fabric, sewed that shut (this time with my sewing machine, which took three minutes) and then hand stitched all of the pieces together, just so they wouldn’t shift around once I stitched the lining back up. (It doesn’t have to be pretty!!)

Before I stitched the lining closed, I machine-sewed the “loop” side of my velcro onto the lining, exactly where my padded dividers (I re-used the ones from my removable insert) would sit.

Then I blind-stitched the lining closed and was done! Seriously, this took me less than two hours, start-to-finish, and now…NOW I have a bag dedicated to carrying around camera equipment AND it’s still large enough to accommodate my laptop, iPad, wallet, phone, extra memory cards and more. This will be especially handy on my trip to San Diego later this month, as I’ll be carrying around all of that stuff all day long for ten days (and I’ll have to have all of that stuff in my carry-on, which I found out on my trip to Virginia in August that that is easier said than done).

I love it!

(Make sure you read this post from January, since that was a more inclusive “how-to” on everything I referred to for this one!)

Total cost breakdown:

  • Bag: $12.48, Target clearance
  • Plastic Canvas: $1.99 per sheet @ Hancock Fabric (I only used one since I had some left over from Nicole’s bag, but my bag would have used a bit more, being so tall)
  • Headliner Fabric: $6.49/yard @ Hancock Fabric (I had a 50% off coupon, this is regularly $12.99/yd)
  • Velcro: I used one 3-foot package, which is $1.99 regular, I got it for $1.39 on sale @ Hancock.
  • Thread: I just used a bit of some I had on hand!
  • TOTAL: $22.35
Yes, for $22.35 and a 2-hour investment, this bag was TOTALLY worth it. Moreover, this can be done to absolutely any bag, whether you already own it, or find a great deal on it!
It’s been awhile since I posted my original insert tutorial–have any of you guys tried your hand at it? I know a ton of you pinned it on Pinterest! 😉
P.S. I’ll be attending Sally Manlove Photography’s Moms with Cameras Workshop this weekend. Anyone local attending as well?? (And yes, I realize I’m not a mom. No, I’m not pregnant. *mom*)

Lemon Peel Concentrate

Do you guys remember back in July when I was talking about how I would be aiming to bring some simplicity back into my life? Well, I’ve made it through nearly all of those books and have read some additional as well. One was called Easy Green Living, by Renée Loux. So far, it’s one of my favorites for its all-encompassing and easy-to-understand chapters. (My other favorite is
Skinny Bitch: Home, Beauty & Style: A No-Nonsense Guide to Cutting the Crap Out of Your Life for a Better Body and a Kinder World, by Kim Barnouin – again, remember my disclaimer on her colorful language!) Both books break down words like dioxins, parahydroxybenzoate, phthalates, and perfluorinated compounds in ways that make sense, that I can remember and that help me to understand their impact on my health. And EASY ways to remove them. I still have a lot of studying to do, but my ultimate goal is to put together a guide on easy ways to be green and why it matters (like buying unbleached coffee filters–bought for the same price at the same place–instead of bleached coffee filters for a dioxin-free cup of coffee…EASY and IMPACTFUL).

So let’s talk about organic produce. Everyone has unique budgets and priorities, but for me, I’ve been sticking to EWG’s “Dirty Dozen Plus” list (top 12 produce you should buy organic if at all possible, as they are the top pesticide-sprayed fruits/veggies and buying organic therefore reduces your overall exposure to pesticides by leaps and bounds!):

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Sweet Peppers
  4. Peaches
  5. Strawberries
  6. Nectarines – Imported
  7. Grapes
  8. Spinach
  9. Lettuce
  10. Cucumbers
  11. Blueberries – Domestic
  12. Potatoes

    Plus…
    + Green Beans
    + Kale/Greens

They have a free app you can download for both iPhone and Android, which is really handy if you’re in the grocery store and don’t remember if it’s imported or domestic blueberries you’re supposed to buy organic! You can check out their web site or their app to see where all produce is rated. They also have a “Clean 15” list, which are the lowest in pesticides and therefore you can save your sweet grocery budget on conventionally-grown versions of these items!

Anyway, moving on to what this post is actually about; whether you’re buying all conventional, all organic, or a mixture of the two, you need to clean that produce when you bring it home, right? And you probably don’t want to clean it with something that has more questionable chemicals in it than the pesticides you started with, do you? And if you guys know me, you know I’m not spending a chunk of change on a “natural” produce wash from a natural food store when I know I could create something out of the stuff in my pantry.

Renée Loux includes three different produce washes in her book. One is called, “Extra-Strength Lemon Peel Produce Wash.” It calls for 4 cups of filtered water, 3 tablespoons of white vinegar, 2 tablespoons of Lemon Peel Concentrate (which is below and is the whole point of this novel!), 2 teaspoons of baking soda and 4 drops of grapefruit seed extract. You mix them together until the baking soda has dissolved and can put it into a spray bottle to spritz your produce or a bowl to dunk it all together.

So, if you’ve read this post thus far, congratulations. If your eyes skimmed past all of the words and straight to the pictures, hello and welcome. 🙂

Lemon Peel Concentrate

You need:
– 4 organic* lemons
– 1 cup vodka (cheap is fine)

*No, you wouldn’t normally buy lemons organic, but you’re using the peel, which is where the pesticides are, in order to make a produce wash to remove the pesticides from your conventionally-grown produce. So, yes, organic is important…otherwise, you’d be rendering this produce wash pointless. 🙂

1. Give the organic lemons a good scrub in a water bath.

2. Peel away the yellow part of the peel, leaving behind the bitter white pith. I started this with a paring knife, but after the first half of the first lemon, I realized I didn’t have all afternoon to sit around carefully peeling lemons. I remembered that Pampered Chef Apple Peeler/Corer we got as a wedding present that we haven’t used yet and set it up. It worked like a dream!

3. Place your lemon peels in a jar and cover with vodka.

4. Sealing the lid tightly, let stand for 2 weeks in a dark & cool place.

5. When the concentrate it ready, strain out the solids and store, for up to a year, in a cool, dark place.

6. Wash some produce and read the health benefits of citrus peel extracts here (yep, this can be consumed and used in a recipe much like vanilla extract would be!)

Speaking of which…vanilla extract is made almost the exact same way, only it sits for 2-3 months. My first batch is close to finishing!

And you know what to do when life gives you lemons, right? 😀

DIY Wedding Details

Hello friends!

After showing you how we DIY-ed our entire wedding (along with my top 10 tips), I’ve shown you, more in-depth, how we DIY-ed our wedding invitations, the programs, guest cards and sparkler holders, cupcake stand, and the ringerbearer pillow. These were all ideas that I came up with completely on my own.

Today, I’m going to round up all of the details that came directly from a tutorial or “Pin”spiration. This includes:

  • Handpainted banners
  • Flower girl dresses
  • Flower pomanders for flower girls to carry
  • Faux craspedia for boutonnieres and bouquets
  • Twine globes
  • “Cards” suitcase
Handpainted Banners
There wasn’t one particular “pin” that inspired this, but rather, it was the theme of weddings I’d been seeing recently. I love the use of props in photos, so I knew I wanted to make a couple of banners–that way, they would double both as wedding decoration and photo prop. I had leftover cotton duck in a cream color (you could also used bleached drop cloth), cut out the pieces in the sizes I needed, then used iron-on adhesive to to wrap and hold the fabric around the twine. For the large banner, I actually found an advent calendar hanging from a small decorative dowel rod at the dollar store, so I bought it solely for the dowel rod and replaced the hanging ribbon with twine. From there, I just measured out my letters, sketched them in pencil and then painted them in with charcoal acrylic paint. 

Flower Girl Dresses

These came directly from a tutorial at Me Sew Crazy. Her “20-minute ruffle dress” took me longer than 20 minutes, but it was fairly simple for a sewing novice like myself!

Flower Pomanders

I found the tutorial for paper flower pomanders on Once Wed. Their photo below shows how easy this project was!

Pinned Image

I also added wooden tags to ours; you can purchase wooden tags from Hobby Lobby (or other places, I’m sure) and 25 cents. I then stained them and wrote our initials on one and our wedding date on the other. After drilling a small hole through each, I attached them to the pomanders with some yellow thread and called it done!

Faux Craspedia and Wedding Flowers

When looking for flower inspiration, I ultimately decided I wanted my bouquet to be ranunculus and baby’s breath, while I wanted the bridesmaids’ bouquets and and the boutonnieres to be baby’s breath and craspedia (a.k.a. billy buttons). However, what I didn’t want was to special-order more off-season flowers than I really needed. So, when I saw this tutorial on Design*Sponge for faux craspedia, I knew I had to at least try it. Guess what! It worked, and we saved a lot of money as I spent less than $10 on the materials for all of them. We made 43 total, which required two packages of yellow wool roving and two packages of wire flower “stems,” and I bought all of it with coupons (of course) from Hobby Lobby and JoAnn. Maybe people could tell they were faux, maybe they couldn’t, but I thought they lent themselves well to our handmade wedding theme.

P.S. Yes, I did end up putting all of the boutonnieres and bouquets together myself two days before the wedding. I’ve never put any kind of bout or bouquet together before, so I definitely learned as I went. By the time I was working on my bouquet, friends/bridesmaids had arrived and they help me eyeball it, telling me if it was too “mountainous”! Also, I mentioned in our first wedding post that I special-ordered the ranunculus. This is the only thing I would change. Special-ordering flowers means expensive and I think I could have achieved a just-as-beautiful white bouquet by picking up whatever they had in stock that day. The ranunculus ended up being over half of our flower cost ($120 total) and they were so small that I ended up having to pick up what they had in the store anyway (which is also what I used to fill out the bouts and bridesmaids’ bouquets). At $3 a bunch vs. the $3/stem I paid for ranunculus, I would have been much better off skipping the ordering and using what they had in stock!

Twine Globes

This is another that didn’t come from a specific place, but rather I gathered information from various sources and put it all together. We ended up using a cornstarch/elmer’s glue/water mixture. We found that dumping the twine or string in to the mixture and letting it soak for a bit helped when wrapping. Also, two people are definitely necessary! One needs to be wrapping the balloons and one needs to be feeding it to them, squeezing out the extra liquid as they go. After we allowed them to dry and cure for a couple of days, I gave them a coat of clear spray paint (so any amount of water wouldn’t cause them deflate in a matter of seconds). We made them back in November and they’re still holding up great around our house!

“Cards” Suitcase

 I saw this pin on Pinterest (only sourced back to a google image, so if you know where it’s from, please let me know!) and wanted to re-create. So, I found a suitcase at Goodwill for a few bucks, spray-painted it gray (it was blue) and then lined the inside with a cute yellow-striped fabric and pom pom edging. I then picked out a font I liked, printed the large letters on cardstock at home, cut them out and glued a textured scrapbook paper to the front. Hot glue and mod podge were the only glues I used! This project cost less than $10 and we got a ton of comments and compliments.

I know that’s a lot of information to handle, but I hope it’s helpful! There were so many hours and so much love (and frustration) put into our projects that it made our wedding that much more special.

As we get into wedding season and many of you are in this “detail” mode, what are you working on?



P.S. ALL images, unless otherwise noted, are courtesy of Jackie Cooper Photo.
P.P.S. BIG news and exciting changes come to MYU in the month of April! Stay tuned!!

Our [sort of DIY] Wedding Album

“IT’S HERE! IT’S HERE! IT’S HERE!!!”
That’s what I was thinking as I heard the mail arrive a couple of weeks ago. I’d been expecting something I was super excited about, and one of the perks of working from home is being able to check the mail as soon as it arrives.
Low and behold, it was waiting for me in front of the front door.
And not only was I elated to find it there at all, I was also delighted by the adorable packaging, which I’m also a sucker for.

What was it, you ask?

Our wedding album. 100 pages beautifully showcasing the best day of my life.

 [Front]
 [Spine]
 [Back]

 And here are a few of my favorite pages…

[If you want to see all of the pages, you can check it out here.]

It’s exactly what I wanted. I used My Publisher, which has a free downloadable program where you can decide the book size, hardback vs. paperback, the type of cover (you can go more professional with leather or linen, but I loved having one of our photos as the cover, spine and back!), the layout and design, and you can add wording to the pages. And 100% bleed (the pictures go all the way to the edge of the page). Ours is pictures only and the quality is incredible. Best part is that they’re always having sales and e-mailing out coupon codes. I got one for 60% for anything over 60 pages and, since I knew I wouldn’t have a problem doing that, I jumped on the opportunity, got it done, and ended up with a 100-page, 8×11 hardback and professionally-printed album laid out exactly how I wanted for $55 (including shipping). [I couldn’t have even printed all of these pictures at Wal-Mart for that price.] Without my 60% off coupon, this book would have cost $135, so I am definitely glad I had the coupon! Based on this experience*, I will definitely be ordering books like this in the future. I really like the idea of yearly books as Cowboy and I start this life together! Also, heaven forbid, if anything ever happened to this book, it’s saved on my “bookshelf” within My Publisher, so all I would need to do is hit the “order” button again (and pay for it, wah wah, but at least I wouldn’t have to re-create it!).

*And noooo…My Publisher is not paying me to say any of this. They have no idea who I am. 🙂

Have you guys used a printing service like this before? Or did you go the more traditional route and place printed pictures in a photo album?

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