Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Making a Decorative Pillow (Part 1) and How to Make Piping- by Brazen Jester

Before my son was born, my husband’s uncle passed down a rocking chair to me. While it was a lovely rocking chair, it was quite uncomfortable, and I couldn’t exactly imagine rocking a baby to sleep in it. So I set out to make a cushion for it.

Just before he was born, I then realized that there is no point in having a nice chair in a nursery if I can’t prop my feet up, too. So I upcycled a thrift store end table into a nice, cushiony ottoman, which my cats love to sleep on. As you can see, it’s a lovely set, but something was still missing.

The fabric remaining from my two previous projects was calling out to me. Make a pillow, you know you want to.

So, here we are. While this will be going in my son’s nursery, it is by no means for baby... It’s totally, unashamedly, for me. You can use these basic techniques to make a decorative pillow for any room of the house.

First things first, you’ll need sufficient materials for your project, and a plan. I want my finished pillow to be 12”x18”.

I doodle something like this every time I work on something, even when it’s simple. It helps keep me organized, and helps me visualize the finished product.

You can see that I’ve figured in 1/2” seams. On a typical project, I like to work with 1/4” seams, but with something that is going to be experiencing a tad more wear and tear, a larger seam allowance is a good thing.

First off, cut out all of your fabric. If you’re using a patterned fabric like mine, it’s important to take the design into account when cutting, like so:

Yes, I’m a rebel. I use sharpie to mark the lines on my fabric.


You’ll need:
l  Enough material for both the front and back of your pillow
l  Natural Cotton Piping, the length of the total perimeter of your pillow, plus a few extra inches. (I’m using 3/8” width, but you can use whatever size you like)
l  Strips of fabric, about 2” wide, equal to the length of your piping.
l  Matching thread
l  Stuffing

Now that we’ve gathered everything we need, take a break to pay attention to your attention-starved cat.

We’ll start out by making our piping. Now, you could buy finished piping at the fabric store. But why would you? Making your own is great, for two reasons. One, it’s cheaper! I’m all about my projects being more affordable. Two, it will match your project perfectly.

Unless you bought several yards of fabric, you probably ended up needing to cut multiple strips to get the correct length. That’s totally okay! It only takes a couple of minutes to join them.

Match the ends of two of your strips together, like so:

And sew diagonally from the corners of the short ends of your strips:

Trim off the excess fabric, leaving about a quarter inch. It’s okay if you don’t have pinking shears, a straight cut will work just as well.

Take a moment to iron open the seam.


See how the seam is at an angle, instead of straight up and down? This minimizes the bulk that is created when you are joining multiple layers of fabric. Small details like this will make your finished project look much more professional.

If you’re using dark fabric like I am, take a moment to lint roll away any stray pet hairs or lint.

Now, take your piping, and lay it in the center of your fabric strip. You can pin the length, if you like, but I don’t find it to be entirely necessary.

Fold your fabric over the piping, matching up the edges, and get your sewing machine ready to sew. As you can see, I’ve switched over my standard presser foot for a zipper foot:


Sew along the piping, as close as possible. You don’t need to worry about a lock stitch at either end. Use one hand to feed the piping to the machine. I tend to lead it in from the opposite side of the foot from the needle, to keep my stitches as snug to the edge as possible. It should only take you a couple of minutes to zip along.

Attach the pieces of the front (and back) of your pillow.

Iron your seams open and your fabric flat.

Time to attach our piping! This part is pretty straight-forward. With the right side of the front of your pillow case facing you, pin your piping to the perimeter. Try to keep about a half-inch from the edge. You can measure if you want (I prefer to eye-ball it).

When you reach the corner, bend your piping to fit:

Pin. Make a small cut at the corner almost-but-not-quite up to the stitching of your piping, so that you can spread your fabric flat again. If you were going around a more rounded corner, you could make several of these cuts to accommodate it.

Continue pinning around.

Thanks for reading! That’s it for part 1. Tomorrow, we’ll sew and stuf

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Bastardette's Quick Guide to Bunnies

Bunnies are cute right? With their wiggly little noses.

Their woolly tummies

Their impeccable style

Their beautiful singing voices

And of course, those luxurious tresses.

So majestic.

The truth though? Bunnies REALLY aren't for everyone. They're about as high maintenance as they are cute. Bunnies are a commitment wrapped up in a furry little package. I've had my bun for about 8 years.

Her name is Delicious, because she noms.

 Now, I am by no means an expert or a medical professional, just an enthusiast, but there are some things I'd like to tell you if you're considering bunny companionship. Think of me as that friend you sometimes drink with. You probably didn't ask for my advice, but I'm giving it to you anyway, because that's what "sometimes friends" do.

Most sources will tell you that rabbits live between 5-10 years. According to our bunny doc (let's call him Dr. Fluff n' Stuff) they can live up to 16 years with proper medical treatment. However, proper vet care for bunnies can be hard to come by because they're typically considered "exotic pets", so your average cat and dog vet might not be experienced with rabbits. I got lucky. Dr. Fluff n' Stuff is the goddamn bunny whisperer. Definitely make sure someone in your area practices bunny medicine.

Let's start with the obvious.

No joke. They really do, and the older they get, the more they poop. Luckily, it's alot cleaner than most poops, and you get used to it pretty quickly. Clean their living space regularly, and it it will stay manageable and relatively funk free. Bunnies can be also be litter trained, and they're excellent self groomers. They're smarter than you think! I'm told bunny droppings are good for your garden too!

Point number two: bunnies need mental stimulation. You read that right. Bored bunnies do bad things. You remember that kid you grew up with who had that rabbit that just glared at you and bit you when you tried to pet it? (Everyone knew that kid, right?) Yeah that's what happens when bunnies don't have enough stuff to do. Imagine being stuck in an airplane your entire life without so much as a crossword puzzle. You'd be pretty grumpy by the end of it. You'd be the guy who drinks all the mini vodka bottles. Don't let your bunny be that guy. Let them hop about when you can. Keep an eye on them, and keep your space free of nommables like electrical cords and houseplants. Trust me, the first time you see a "binky" (a sort of happy bunny twisty dance) everything will be worth it. It's the BEST. Unfortunately alot of people think of a pet rabbit as cage animal that you can just feed, and then walk away from.  

Bunny brains have needs, so give them things to play with! When Delicious was a baby, she loved wooden blocks. I'd stack em up, and she'd knock them over. (Side note: If giant bunnies invade our cities and enslave humanity, the destruction will be devastating, but so ADORABLE.) I personally will never waste another dime on commercial bunny toys, because Delicious turns her wiggly nose up at them. She prefers crumpled up paper, cardboard boxes, and toilet paper tubes. My bun is a cheap date. Some bunnies like rattle toys they can toss about.  Most importantly, INTERACT WITH YOUR BUNNY! That's why you want one, right? Ok, so maybe they're not always up for a snuggle, but they sure do love head scratches! They're social creatures! 


Let's talk food. Rabbits eat carrots like humans eat ice cream. Sure we love it, but until someone invents a pill that keeps it from becoming tummy flub, we shouldn't eat it all day every day. (Get ON it, SCIENCE!) Healthy adult bunnies eat lots of fresh hay (timothy hay is popular) plenty of dark leafy greens, and pellets in moderation. The amount depends on the bunny's age, weight and eating habits. Delicious will graze all day like a little lady, while my sister's bun Captain Cosmo will wolf down everything you give him in one sitting. It's cute as hell, but mind the bunny pudge . Carrots and fruits are treats, and are great for training. Obviously, make sure they have clean water. Bunny diets can be pretty complicated, so I STRONGLY recommend following House Rabbit Society for more in depth information. There's no way I can fit every single bit of research on bunny care in this post, so study up! 

Get your rabbit fixed. I'm serious. Get. Them. Fixed. Commitment, remember? I bought Delicious from a pet store when I was a dumb teenager. DON'T DO WHAT I DID. Buy your rabbit from a reputable breeder (especially for special breeds like Angoras- see Why You Should Let Knitting Ruin Your Life), or ADOPT. Then snip 'em or spay 'em. Girl bunnies are at high risk for ovarian cancer, and if they have babies, her and her female decedents can produce up to 1300 BABIES IN A YEAR. Intact boy bunnies spray (ew) and WILL...HUMP...EVERYTHING.  

 I'm about to get serious for a second. If you EVER start to see your rabbit's head tilting, even if it's just at a quirky little angle, TAKE THEM TO A VET ASAP. 

Not good.

Head tilt can be a sign of something very serious. It could be an inner ear infection, which might not seem like a big deal, but for rabbits can be devastating. It could be a nasty brain parasite called EncephalitozoonosisIt could be trauma, stroke, or cancer. It could be a number of things, and they are all bad news. If your bunny develops head tilt, you may see them start to "roll". Head tilt messes up their equilibrium. It's hard to watch. Until your rabbit is diagnosed, stay away from  other rabbits. If it is a parasite, guess what? You could be carrying it around with you.  
Delicious developed a head tilt a few months ago. 

                                                       ^ See that? ^  That's bad news.

Luckily, we'd seen it before in our friend's rabbit, so we knew to look out for it. We got her to Dr. Fluff N' Stuff the very next day and he set us up with antibiotics. This is what a doped up rabbit looks like. 
I call this piece "Sick Bunny Cradled by Tattooed Hunk"

 Three months of weekly vet trips, syringe feedings, and one surgery later, I'm happy to say my bunny finally has a clean bill of health, all thanks to Dr. Fluff N' Stuff and his amazing staff. It was a tough and expensive emotional roller coaster. Her head tilt is now barely noticeable, but her personality has changed a bit. She's no longer fastidious about her cage arrangements, (interior decorating used to be her favorite thing) and she's a much pickier eater. She won't touch pellets, and she'll nibble at hay, but she spends most of her days luxuriating in a bed of leafy greens, looking down at us like the peasants we are. 

                                                        I call this piece "Spoiled Brat." 

Someone once asked me, in regards to my lagomorph friend, "what's the appeal?" I shrugged. To me, the appeal is pretty darn obvious. Just look at this picture of a bunny in a mug!


So how about a recap?
1)Bunnies poop. Alot. All the time. 
2)Bunnies need mental stimulation.
3) Bunnies need timothy hay and fresh veggies. Carrots are a sometimes food. 
4)Adopt if you can, and get your bunny snipped or spayed
5)Head tilt is scary and should be treated immediately. Take it from someone who knows. 
6)Bunnies make great friends if you treat them well, but make sure you know what you're getting into. 

So I hope I didn't scare you away from Bunny adopting, but if I did, then maybe consider a nice goldfish? 


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