Friday, February 7, 2014

My Blog is Moving!

This blog has moved to WordPress!  Please visit me at Jolene Balyeat Designs!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Bon App├ętit: French Script Napkin Tutorial

My favorite job as a child was setting the table for a holiday meal.  It was an opportunity to go into my mom's linen closet and pick out the pretty things reserved for special occasions.  I can actually still remember the smells of the table cloths, napkins, pillow cases, and sheets mingled with candles and other decor items tucked carefully away.  In 17 years of marriage, I have only once hosted Thanksgiving, as cooking isn't my strong suit and so fortunately our tradition is to share a beautiful meal around a splendidly adorned table prepared by my mother-in-law.  So I find myself making an occasion out of none to prepare a simpler meal, with a lovely place setting, and invite a family over to bless with a spirit of welcome hospitality that says, "You are appreciated, loved, and valuable enough for extraordinary effort and attention to detail."  It is one of the ways I express love.  The pitfall, is sometimes I set up a standard or expectation for myself that is too high, and because I see an event so over the top in my imagination (think David Tutara's  $50,000+ "My Fair Wedding" type events) and want to go all Martha Stewart on it, I don't invite people over as often as I would if I had a less ambitious imagination. In my mind, once I have the table scape designed, I am motivated to create the meal to showcase the table setting.  I realize that this is exactly opposite of all my gourmet cooking friends for whom the food is the focal point, and therefore, I truly appreciate any opportunity to dine at their homes where I don't have to think about what to cook, but can just marvel at the artistry of their flavorful combinations. Regardless of our motivations, Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the countless things we have to be grateful for.  Gratitude inspires the fabric design of this french script, which is translated from the scripture found in Psalm 95:2-3: "Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him. For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods."

This tutorial is for those who would love to make something to infuse their table with a spirit of thankfulness this holiday season.  (For those who need a shortcut, Pier One has a similar napkin available with English words of just needed to be improved by pointing to the One to whom we owe all praise!)

Supplies needed to complete this project:
  • Scissors or olfa cutter
  • Ruler
  • Cutting mat
  • Iron
  • 1 or more yards of French Script fabric in the linen cotton canvas available from Spoonflower
  • Sewing machine
  • Black crochet thread
  • Steel crochet hook (I used size 1.30 mil)
  • Pencil (a fabric pencil or pen is best, but any pencil should work.  I used one like the blue one here this)
  • Needle (optional for making hole in fabric for easier crochet hook insertion)

1.  Prewash the fabric.  All my store bought napkins look beautiful the first time I use them and then when I wash them, they shrink and are no longer square.  The best way I know to have square napkins, is to prewash the fabric and dry it in the dryer. 

2. Cut out your square.  For this particular set of napkins, I was trying to get 6 napkins out of one yard of fabric, so that made my cut 17.5 inches square.  If I was to do this again, I would order more fabric and do a slightly larger square so that the finished napkin could be more like 18-19" square instead of 15.5"

3. I found a fabulous tutorial for sewing mitered corners on YouTube.  I highly recommend watching it before continuing.  Check it out here.  I have photographed my process for mitering the corners below.  Turn over the raw edge of the fabric about .25" and iron.  Turn over another .25" and iron again.

4. Open up the creased fabric and mark the folds with a pencil

5. Cut the tip of the diagonal corner off.

6. Fold down the corner to the bottom point.  I played with this fold until I got it to meet properly and look right when the edges were folded back under.

7. Iron the corner.
8. Top stitch the edge.  At this point you could stop and call the napkin finished. 

9. I wanted to add a little crochet edging.  Place a mark with your pencil every 10 cm along each edge.

10.  Start in a corner and chain (ch) 7, then single crochet (sc) in a mark and then ch 5, sc in the next mark, then ch 5 and repeat around the napkin until you come back to the starting corner.  I joined in about the 2 ch spot of my first chain of 7 and did a final sc to finish it off.  Then I tied a square knot and wove in the ends of the crochet thread.  I found it difficult to puncture the fabric so I used a needle to make a small hole in each mark before doing my single crochet.  This added some time to the whole process, so what you decide to do will probably depend on your personal preference and the strength of your crochet hook and weight of fabric you purchase from Spoonflower.

10.  Invite someone over for a meal or cup of tea and use your new beautiful napkins, or give a set away as a gift to bless a friend.

Inspirational Scripture:
"Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him. For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods."
Psalm 95:2-3 (NLT)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Coffee Break!

When the circumstances of life push against us, it can take a concerted effort to remain in a peaceful state. This last week was a perfect opportunity to walk in peace in spite of the craziness all around. Although it took a week longer than I had expected, the Coffee Break fabric collection is available on Spoonflower at last! Staying peaceful is always a good idea.

Inspirational Scripture:
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

"This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: 'In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.'"
Isaiah 30:15

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Coffee Cup Cozy Tutorial

October is a big birthday month for us, and Christmas is just around the corner.  This means that gift season is upon us, and because sometimes it can become a challenge to purchase things for each special person, I have put together the tutorial below for anyone who would like to make a gift instead.  It is my first attempt at a tutorial so if anyone gives it a try, please share your feedback with me!  This tutorial is designed to go with my Coffee Cup Cozy cut and sew fabric that is available from  I created the Deconstructed Moss Decor color palette for this design using the Adobe Kuler App.  (The photo in the background is indeed the centerpiece mentioned in the color scheme description.)

To complete this project you will need:

  • the fabric mentioned above
  • eyelets (8 per cozy)
  • ribbon (34" per cozy)
  • fusible interfacing
  • coordinating thread

1. Iron on fusible interfacing for a lining. Dont forget to use a pressing cloth, and follow the directions that come with the specific interfacing you chose.

2. Cut out along dashed lines.

3. Sew the right sides of the fabric together with a 1/4" seam allowance leaving an opening to turn.

4. Clip the corners at a diagonal to take extra bulk away, and then turn the right sides out.

I used a pair of scissors to make sure I got the points looking crisp, but using a pencil might be a better idea so one doesn't accidentally make a hole in the fabric.

5. Turn opening under, iron it & then topstitch it closed.  I love topstitching as it can give a polished and professional look to your project.

6. Insert eyelets.  Lay four eyelets out along the finished edge and marked the placement of each one. (My fine point sharpie worked perfectly).

Eyelets from Hobby Lobby, Eyelets from PaperwishesOriental Trading Company discontinued the ones I used. The Eyelet Outlet has a mix of browns that might work or they also have black. Grommets could be an even better option.  I just used what I had on hand.

Then punch holes and install the four eyelets. (I used my silent setter scrapbooking hole puncher for this step).

Next fold the coffee cozy in half and mark the other side for eyelet placement.  Punch four holes and install four more eyelets.

7. Lace 34" of ribbon through the eyelets

8. Brew or buy some coffee or tea

9. Snuggle it up & enjoy! This makes a perfect gift with a coffee card hiding inside!

Inspirational Scripture:
"You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings." Psalm 23:5

Monday, September 16, 2013

Meeting Bailey Joy...

It has been ages since I have blogged about a project, and so I am very excited to share a sneak peak of my new Good Dog Bad Dog Fabric collection.  Although it is still in the proofing process, it should be available for purchase through by the end of September.

This fabric collection is inspired by our new puppy Bailey Joy. Part Beagle and part mini-Australian Shepherd, she possesses a bundle of energy that constantly tempts her to mischief, but she has a good heart and a desire to learn. The images on the Good Dog Bad Dog print come directly from her favorite pastimes these first few weeks.  As I write this post, she is nuzzling me hoping that I will take her for a walk. I hope that you enjoy her antics, but be advised, if you don’t want the novel image of a doggie doo accident, check out the Good Dog fabric, as it is edited for those who prefer to view puppyhood through rose-colored glasses!

Inspirational Scripture:
"She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night." Proverbs 31:18

Friday, February 24, 2012

La Petite Maison (The Little House)

My son loves Lego® and we build things a lot. I mean a lot. As an example, this week we built the Lego® Creator Transport Ferry #4997, (1279 pieces) [click here for a stop gap animation by Madaboutlego], the Lego® Creator Highway Transport #6753 (1294 pieces), and the smaller Lego® Creator Ferocious Creatures #5868 (416 pieces). This wouldn't necessarily be a lot for an experienced builder, but my son is only 5!

After "shopping" (which is what he calls it when I help sort out the pieces for each step) so he can assemble, I get a little crazy and just want to have the satisfaction of putting a few pieces together myself! I didn't ever get to play with Lego® as a child (I know, I was totally deprived!) but as an aesthetic child, the primary colors of red, blue and yellow, must not have called to me from the store shelves. So as a grown up, I decided to build my own model inspired by a vintage set (Lego 560 Town House) resurrected from my husband's Lego® collection. Only, of course I had to redesign it to be more appealing to the little girl of long ago that liked more feminine colors.

This project has taken a few months of the middle of the night hours. It was a bigger challenge than I anticipated, because I was building virtually and have no background in 3d software or code of any kind. I'm not gonna lie, the learning curve is not for the faint of heart!

Lego® has a section on their website that lets a novice user design their own creation by downloading their free Digital Designer software, but I soon discovered that you couldn't control how your instructions were going to look, and were limited only to standard pieces that are available on their sight for the moment. So I researched other options and discovered Lpub, Ldraw, Bricksmith, LdGlite, LDview, and Brickstore, all programs that could help me with the challenge at hand.

I should pause here to mention that there is a very large and brilliant Lego® community in this world, that I had never encountered before, and these devoted souls are creating amazing things, both in terms of models, and programs, and videos of their creations. My little 621 piece model with its step by step instruction book, and xml file that automatically fills your Lego® wish list at Bricklink is merely an attempt to put a little something within the reach of the girl who might enjoy building, but wouldn't have considered it before.

I am excited to report that I was able to purchase most of the pieces from Lego® and the rest from Bricklink and build an actual physical model to test out the instructions. I have found that many people outside the serious Lego® community, are unaware of the Pick a Brick section on the Lego® website where you can individual pieces for your own building projects.

For fun, a listing for a PDF of the Instructions, parts list with part numbers, color quantity and description, and a Bricklink XML file is available for purchase on eBay, just in case someone else wants to build La Petite Maison. Interestingly, in January, Lego® did finally introduce a line of product for girls!

Inspirational Scripture:
"For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God." Hebrews 3:4

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Building a House

When our son was just about to turn four, he was ready to graduate from his toddler bed to something larger. His room at the time was very small, so I wanted to come up with something that would maximize the available space, fit a twin size mattress, and double as a play area. When I discovered the company Tanglewood Design, I was thrilled to learn that in addition to selling kits, and ready made beds, they also sold the plans for the DIY family to customize and create their own masterpiece. I absolutely fell in love with their philosophy and designs, plus they were personable and helpful as well, so I highly recommend them!

My husband agreed to take on the building project. In his spare time over the next few weeks he borrowed a friend's wood-shop and tools. When he was done cutting out the pieces, he rented a truck and brought them home for me to paint. My original idea was to make a giant tree for the corner of the room, with a rounded door in the trunk, so that our son could go into the trunk to climb into his bed. I wanted LED lights to hang in branches over the roof line to twinkle as a nightlight, but I couldn't find a tutorial anywhere to create such a thing, and as our budget and space were limited, that part didn't come to fruition. However, months later, I stumbled on an article that featured just such a tree (albeit in a beautiful fairy tale girl's room) designed by Kidtropolis. Feel free to check out their link so that you can imagine the complete concept!
Below is a view of the inside of the bed where our son sleeps. The brilliant part about this design is that the space under the bed is big enough for a double mattress, if a family has more than one child or prefers a bunk bed option. We elected to stage it as a little man cave, and set it up like a miniature living room. We added a door (not in the original design) so that we could close in the bookshelves, and keep the space from looking cluttered. Instead of a tree, in keeping with the play house theme, we had a steel plate made for an exterior park light (so that it can't tip over).
Our son still absolutely loves his bed. I never tire of hearing him tell someone he meets for the first time, "I have a house bed that my dad and mom made...and I got to help!" My husband and I joke that we always wanted to build a house together someday. Now we can cross it off our "bucket list".

Inspirational Scripture: Psalm 127 & Joshua 24:15

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