Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ikea Hack: TARVA Nightstand

One of my goals this year is to make our house feel more like a home. Or at least as much as I can, given the fact that we are renting so I'm limited to changes that can be easily reversed. I've already managed to remove hideous wallpaper, patch drywall and roll on fresh paint from the two bathrooms. I think I owe you all a blog post on that experience, although it would be more of a "here's what I learned along the way" post rather than a beautiful step by step because let's face it, a lot of documentation didn't happen.

Instead of trying to change everything at once (wouldn't that be nice), I decided to focus on different parts of the house individually, while still maintaining a good aesthetic flow in my choices. The first focus area is our bedroom. I really want to make it feel like a peaceful sanctuary. I realize those two words are almost redundant when put together but when the other 85% of our house looks chaotic (thanks to a cute little boy), I need that redundancy as a reminder.

With so many ideas in my head, I decided to create a mood board on Polyvore. (Side note: For anyone interested in making a mood board, I followed the amazing tutorials by Dana from House Tweaking, which I'll link right here for you: Part I // Part II // Part III // Part IV). 

After creating my mood board, I decided that one of the first things we needed were matching nightstands. For years, we would just plop stuff (i.e. books, phones, etc.) on the floor next to our platform bed. It hasn't been a huge deal, except when you get out of bed and step on all those items. #firstworldproblems

Nightstands can run the gamut from inexpensive all the way to expensive, depending on many factors including but not limited to materials, color, size, and brand name. I knew I wanted a simple design, made of solid wood, large enough to hold a table lamp, and have an enclosed drawer. Picky, right? Well, thank goodness for the internet that is Pinterest! After searching all over, I couldn't find exactly what I wanted. Then, I remembered. IKEA. Oh, Ikea, you are like the siren of the sea. I can't ever resist your maiden call.

Have y'all seen those crazy amazing Ikea hacks across the internet? There are some incredibly creative people out there! It blows my mind and can be rather intimidating, if I let it. This time, I didn't let intimidation stop me. Using a basic piece of furniture from IKEA, I found the perfect solution for my picky nightstand requirement list.

I present you, the humble Ikea TARVA nightstand.

{image source from Ikea}

If you'd like to achieve a similar look, I'll be outlining in 10 easy steps how to transform a plain jane nightstand to something with a bit more flair.

Check it out! I love before and after pictures, don't you?



Things you'll need before starting:
  • TARVA nightstand 
  • 1 quart Minwax Wood Finish (I used Dark Walnut) 
  • 1 quart eco-friendly polyurethane (I used this one in semi-gloss, found at a local boutique) 
  • 8 oz. white paint (I used Behr Premium Plus Ultra Semigloss in 'Simply White')
  • Two 2" foam brushes (here's one similar to mine)
  • 4-inch paint roller (see note below, after step #8)
  • 220-grit sanding block (like this one)
  • Cotton rags (you can upcyle a soft, old cotton tee for this and just cut it up)
  • Decorative dresser knob 

And here's the how-to:

1) Buy your TARVA nightstand and bring it home. Do not assemble it right away, tempting as it may be.

2) Lay out all the solid wood pieces on a long piece of cardboard or surface like a carport or garage floor, making sure there's adequate ventilation. The only pieces you won't be staining or painting is the backing for the nightstand and the bottom piece of the drawer. You'll know which pieces I'm referring to once you unpack the box. *Pictured below are all the pieces you'll be staining for one nightstand.

3) Lightly sand all pieces, front and back, with 220-grit sanding block. Wipe down with a damp cotton rag. Let fully dry. Separate the drawer pieces (there should be 4) into a different pile, since these will be painted white and not stained. *Pictured below are the drawer pieces you'll be painting white.

4) Open the stain container and using a wooden paint stick (or something else), gently stir the stain. These directions and any other important prep steps are also in the back of the container, so make sure to read those carefully before beginning.

5) Begin by dipping one of your clean, foam brushes into the stain. Remove excess stain off the brush by pressing brush lightly against the inside rim of the container. The key here is to give the wood a thin but even coating of stain, so you don't want a super soaked brush. *Note: after much trial and error, I found it easier to stain one side at a time of all the wood pieces rather than try and stain both sides at the same time. So as an example, I stained the backside of all the pieces first. After it had dried according to the directions on the container, I then repeated the process on the other side. You'll figure out what works best for you.

6) Brush an even, thin coat of stain on all solid wood pieces (minus the pile you made with the 4 drawer pieces!), making sure to not leave any drips behind. Resist the urge to brush over areas you've already stained. Also, I preferred staining with the wood grain rather than against, but use your own personal preference as a guideline for this. *Below are a few wood pieces after one coat of stain, which will lighten up some after it's fully dried.

7) Let stain cure, according to the directions on the container. Here is a good place to mention that if after one coat of stain, you want a darker stain, lightly sand and wipe down in between each coat of stain you apply. It will make for a much, much smoother end result.

8) After you're done staining, repeat the entire process on the opposite side of the wood. Make sure to also stain the edges because these will show once you've assembled the nightstand. Let the stained pieces cure completely. Cure times vary so read the back of your stain container for the details.

*Note: While I was waiting for stain to dry/cure/etc. I tackled the white paint on the drawer pieces. This step was quick and easy. Paint one thin, even coat. Let dry. Lightly sand and wipe down. Repeat one or two more times, until you achieve the desired coverage. I painted mine with 3 coats. 

My only regret is that I used a paintbrush, which left definite brushstrokes. If you want a smooth, brushstroke-free finish I suggest you use a small 4" roller instead, like this one. It's certainly not necessary but like I said, my personal preference would have been a smooth finish. 

Below, I've pictured the drawer pieces after one coat of white paint (minus the middle left, unpainted piece). 

9) Using the other clean foam brush, you're going to now coat the stained and cured wood pieces with polyurethane. Follow all pertinent directions on the poly container. I decided to go with the optimal finish, which meant applying 3 coats. That's a lot of waiting time while things dry and cure, but it's well worth it. I don't have any pictures of the poly coating but I will say, again the key here is giving it a thin and even coat, each time. Watch for drips although you shouldn't have many if you follow the 'thin and even' mantra. Also, don't brush over spots that have already been coated.

10) Assemble your TARVA nightstand according to the instructions and use the decorative knob rather than the basic one provided. From personal experience, it helps to watch TV and have a glass of your favorite beverage while performing any IKEA furniture assembly.

11) Sit back and bask in the glory of completing a DIY project that took 4 long weeks that you will be proud of, no matter how long it takes you. High fives all around.


I'll be honest - the longest part of this project was having to break it up in chunks and how long it took me. The way I timed it was I would stain one coat during the morning nap, let it dry while the baby was awake and then once he took his afternoon nap, do the sanding and another coat of stain. It took me an entire week of nap times just to get the staining part done on one nightstand, multiplied times two since I had two nightstands to complete. In hours, that was about 30 hours in a span of 2 weeks. It took another week to complete the poly coating and thankfully, just a couple of hours on the assembly. I know it won't take someone without juggling nap times etc. this long, but I just wanted to give you the expectation rather than have you say to me "gosh, this seems easy but it took way longer than I thought!" It was easy but it took a lot of downtime as well.


One reason why I chose an eco-friendly polyurethane coating was to cover up that strong stain smell. I had read and researched a lot about which coating to use, and when I finally made a decision I still wasn't sure it would work. I'm happy to say that we've lived with the nightstands in our bedroom for a few weeks and the stain smell is 100% gone. (It was about 96% gone right after all three coats of poly, before the full cure time of a week.)



Considering this was my first time staining furniture, I would say overall it was a pleasant experience. I wasn't in a rush to finish so that also helped. The only thing that was bothersome (but to be expected) were the strong fumes from the stain. They are pretty strong, in case you haven't worked with stain before. I would definitely suggest doing this part outside or at least, in a covered but ventilated area like a carport or garage and wearing a mask if you'd like.


I love knowing that I took a basic piece of IKEA furniture and gave it a whole new look, personalized to reflect my own style.

Now I kind of want to stain all the things.

And yes, I need help with styling the nightstand. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Banana Chocolate Chunk Muffins

P.s. Don't forget to enter this book giveaway, which is open until next Wednesday! Anyone can enter, so go right ahead.



Out of all the banana muffin variations I have on this blog, I can't believe I don't have one with chocolate. The travesty!

Fortunately for you, I'm prepared to make amends today. Forgive me?


I present you with a heavenly combination of overripe bananas, coconut oil, and chocolate. Seriously, it doesn't get much better than this. This is a good time to mention that as much as I'm obsessed with all things lemon, bananas come really close so it was a no-brainer to bake muffins when faced with overripe bananas.


You want to make sure your bananas are soft, mushy and brown. In other words, the opposite of these pictured below. The more ripe the bananas are, the more naturally sweet these muffins will turn out and that's a good thing.


Second, make sure to use unrefined coconut oil. Sure, you can use refined (and if that's all I had in my pantry, I would certainly not discriminate) but in my experience, unrefined takes these above and beyond taste wise.


Finally, use whatever chocolate you prefer but honestly, dark chocolate is the way to go with baked goods. Plus, dark chocolate is a total health food because of all the antioxidants. Which means you can have several muffins, right? Dessert math, it's a thing.


Let's get this party started. p.s. This post not an ad for Trader Joe's...I just happen to shop there.

Banana Chocolate Chunk Muffins
makes 12-14 muffins
time: 30 minutes
an original recipe

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder 
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
100 grams dark chocolate bar, chopped into small chunks
3 medium size ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 1/4 cups mashed)
2 tbsp ground flaxseed meal plus 6 tbsp warm water
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. In a bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients plus the chopped chocolate until combined. Set aside.
3. Measure out the flaxseed meal into a small bowl (I used a 4 oz. ramekin) and add the warm water. Let sit for at least 5 minutes. The consistency should be gel-like after the flaxseed meal absorbs most of the water.
4. Using a fork, combine the mashed bananas, coconut oil, brown sugar, and flax mixture. Add in the vanilla extract mixing until throughly combined.
5. Add the dry mix slowly to the wet mix and mix with a spoon or fork. Use a rubber or silicone spatula if that's easier.
6. Line a muffin pan with liners and lightly spray liners with canola oil (or other nonstick spray). Pour batter into liners, filling them about 2/3 of the way.
7. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. 
8. Enjoy these warm out of the oven, with a glass of milk! Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Callie Grant Book Review {plus a giveaway!}

**Update: According to random.org, the winner is comment number 4. Congrats, Carmen! I'm sending an email your way. Thanks to everyone for entering!**
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There was a time many years ago, where if you asked me about whether someday I would read books to my kids I would have probably given you a blank stare. I'm sure my Mom is rolling her eyes right now.


Fast forward to life these days and things look a lot different. You'll find me reading books to our son, pretty much any time throughout the day. I think he probably has more books than toys right now and that's not a bad thing at all, especially since I'm such a bookworm myself and I hope to instill the love of reading in him from an early age.

More importantly, we want our son to learn about God and really, there's no easier way than to read him books that teach him about God. Apart from reading the Bible as part of our nightly bedtime routine {we have this children's Bible, which is awesome}, having a few extra books to supplement is just icing on the cake.


When I was contacted about reviewing these children's books written by Callie Grant, I didn't hesitate for one moment to say "yes, please and thank you!"

From the moment they arrived and our son saw them (have I mentioned, this kid LOVES books?!), he wanted to sit down and read. So, we sat on the floor and this happened. Be still my heart.



The first book we read was Jesus Saves Me. This book is centered around the following Bible verse:

"I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me 
and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 
And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, 
and they will listen to my voice. 
So there will be one flock, one shepherd."  
John 10:14-16 

The book is geared for ages 0-7 and there are pictures on every page. On the back inside cover there is a page titled 'For Your Grown-Ups', which has helpful tips on how to lead your child (Baby, Toddler, Child) into understanding more about what a life of following God looks like.

My favorite aspect of this book is the option for me to just read the bigger, main text and gloss over the smaller more in depth text, since our son wants to turn the pages really quickly. That's the great thing, since I know this book can grow with our son and as he gets older we will be able to spend more time reading the rest of the text.


The second book we read was Close as a Breath, which is a short story about a girl asking her dad questions about nature and why certain things happen. Careful attention is put to the way in which the story explains God's all-powerful nature, so that a child can understand it. This book is centered around the following Bible verse:  

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities 
-- His eternal power and divine nature -- 
have been clearly seen, 
being understood from what has been made."  
Romans 1:20

This book is also geared for ages 0-6 and is beautifully illustrated. There's a whimsical feeling to the artwork, which I really enjoy. Another enjoyable aspect of this book is the rhyming text. It's not so much that it becomes distracting, but rather adds to the flow of the story. 


Finally, we closed out our reading session with the book Little Seed: A Life. This book is geared for ages 0-5 and uses symbolism to explain the cycle of life. For each of the four seasons, you get to follow how a seed planted in the ground grows with each season. This book centers around the following Bible verse:

"For as the soil brings makes the sprout come up, and a garden causes 
seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make 
righteousness and praise spring up before the nations."  
Isaiah 61:11


The illustrations in this book are reminiscent of a Van Gogh painting, which says a lot about the artist (well done!) and follows along nicely with the text. Out of all the books, this one was my son's favorite. Maybe it was all the pretty, bright colors! Either way, I feel good knowing that not only is he getting exposed to beautiful art but more importantly, he's learning about God.


Finally, one really great thing about all these books is the fact that they're sturdy, board books. I can't tell you how important this is to me, since our son loves turning the pages by himself and the hard, thick pages are perfect for his aggressive page turning little fingers. I can definitely see these books withstanding many years of use in our household.


If you're interested in reading more about Callie Grant, you can find her bio here. The books are available for purchase on Amazon, as well as retailers across the US.

Now for the GIVEAWAY! 

If you (or someone you know!) are interested in having this set of books, just leave a comment on this post. That's it! As a bonus, I'd love to hear about some of your favorite books or genres to read.

For extra entries, you can follow me on Bloglovin'Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Leave a separate comment for each, which means you have up to possible entries. 

The winner will be randomly selected and announced on this post on Wednesday, April 9th. The winner will also receive an email, so please make sure you leave the best way for me to contact you. Best of luck!


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*Disclosure: These books were kindly provided to me by Shelton Interactive for my honest review. No compensation was received and all opinions are my own.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Stitch Fix Review #3

If you're new to the bandwagon that is Stitch Fix, take a look at my first post. You can go ahead, I'll still be here when you get back.

Now that you're all caught up, let's take a look at my latest fix. After my previous fix, I definitely had higher expectations this time around and was hopeful that I would love this fix just as much.

Here are my 5 items, all wrapped up. I love that Stitch Fix makes the effort to tissue wrap the items instead of just throwing everything in a bag or box. With client service, it's the small stuff like this that stands out.


Unwrapped....and ready, set, go!

Since I'm all about full disclosure, I'll just say that when I first saw the purple color in my stack of clothes, I sort of winced a little. Violet, purple, lilac...any shade of purple is never my first pick for anything. But, I have to remember that sometimes what I think I won't like may actually work for me. (Ah, what a great life lesson.)


Oh, this dress! I seriously had such mixed emotions about this dress. I truly, truly wanted to love it and keep it. First, let's start with the obvious. I'm short. In case these pictures don't convey my height very well, I am 5' 3" on a day where I have good posture. All the stripes made me feel even shorter and also wider than I really am. Second, the color of the stripes were brown. Most certainly not my first choice and I tend to stay away from brown because, well, my skin tones are on the brown side. I just felt like too much brown washes me out.

That being said, the dress had a lovely cut, it was the perfect length, and was made out of a very sturdy material with an interesting patterned layer of lace on top. It fit me perfectly and the zipper up the back wasn't a struggle, which can sometimes be the case because of my broad back and shoulders.

Verdict? As much as I wanted to love it, I decided it wasn't for me.

{Mystree - Bellflower Sleeveless Striped Lace A-Line Dress}

Let's chat about this blouse for a minute. I love black. My wardrobe is mostly made up of dark colors, so one thing I've been trying to keep in mind when searching for new clothes are to get outside my comfort zone. That being said, I am a firm believer that not every black item of clothing is the same and with that thought in mind, I gave this blouse a chance. The material is exactly as stated in the description. Honest to goodness silk, which feels oh-so-good but when you're wrangling a 10 month old baby like I am, it is definitely not practical. I felt the blouse wasn't sexy enough for a date night, although it would be perfect if I was still working a desk job.

Verdict? Not this time, thanks.

{Daniel Rainn - Rylin Pintuck Detailed Silk Blouse}

Ah, the purple blouse! This is quite amusing, because looking back on the pictures of me wearing this blouse as I was writing up this post, made me realize that this color actually works on me. (If it doesn't, please don't tell me and let me continue in my ignorance.) I can't believe I admit it, but there you have it. I still cringe at the word 'purple' but whatever the proper name for this color is, I like it.

Most likely, you can't tell very well in this picture, but when I turn to the side the sleeve opening came down too low, exposing my bra. I didn't feel like wearing something underneath the blouse was an option, since that's just my personal preference. Otherwise, the material was light & airy but felt solid enough for a nice lunch date or play date chasing after a crawling baby, if I'm being realistic.

Verdict? Sadly, sent back because it was too big.

{41Hawthorn - Natasha Front Pocket Sleeveless Blouse}

From the moment I tried on this top, I knew it was going to live in my wardrobe. The green-gray color and black stripes had me at hello. This top is absolutely comfortable, which is key for doing things like wrangling a baby or doing groceries while carrying said baby who loves pulling down on your tops. Real life, people.

It's the perfect size, warm enough for a cold day and light enough for a cool to slightly warm day. The three-quarter sleeves and slightly ruched sides are nice details, too. This top also easily converts from 'mom' mode to 'wife' mode. Just throw on a long statement necklace and I'm ready to hit the town with my Red Beard. What can I say, I love multitasking clothing items!

Verdict? It's a keeper.
{Pomelo - Corinna Striped Dolman Top}

Finally, last but not least are these boyfriend jeans. I've already worn them more and washed them less than I care to admit. (My skinny jeans from my last fix are taking a well deserved vacation.) This was the first pair of boyfriend jeans I tried on in years and I have to say, I was pretty impressed. My expectations were low based on my previous experiences with boyfriend jeans but I'm so glad I gave them a second chance.

Side note: I don't know how you ladies take those awesome and perfect self-timer photos of yourselves. Seriously, there was a good mix of frustrated grunting and fake smiling going on with me by the time I was done, which was one hour entirely too long. Also, I can't seem to get a full body shot so this horribly cropped picture below will have to do for now.

The jeans fit perfectly all around, including the right length for my height (hallelujah) and are a nice relaxed fit compared to my skinny jeans, which is important to have in a well rounded wardrobe, am I right? They're a great dark color, which I'm also partial to in jeans and the distressing is very minimal unlike those distressed jeans where you just see a lot of loose threads and you may as well not be wearing pants.

Verdict? Keep, of course!

 {Just Black - Rogers Distressed Boyfriend Jean}

Overall thoughts on my third fix? I would say keeping two out of five items wasn't spectacular but it wasn't that bad either. I'm still loving the benefits of having a personal stylist pick out stuff for me that I normally wouldn't (hello, purple blouse) and also being able to try it on at home while the baby is napping.

Fellow Stitch Fixers...what's been in your box lately? I love hearing what other people get in their fixes, since each fix is unique. If you don't use Stitch Fix, what are some of your favorite go-to pieces of clothing? Mine would have to be jeans and tees. Gosh, I'm so boring and predictable.

*Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I purchased the Stitch Fix box with my own money and all opinions are my own. This post does contain referral links for new sign-ups that gives me a small credit towards my next fix. Thanks!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

no-sew DIY changing pad cover: a tutorial {part 2}

Last week, we left off with a fabulous Lego shaped piece of fabric, which didn't quite look anything like a changing pad cover. If you missed it, click here to read the first part of this tutorial. Today, we're going to turn that piece of fabric into a changing pad cover.

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Now comes the tedious fun part! Wait, it should all be fun, right? Go ahead and do some quick prep work before you jump into this next section. It just makes things go a bit quicker once you get going. 

Prep
Cut four 8" pieces, four 30" pieces, and four 14 1/2" pieces of Stitch Witchery. (Pictured just below.)

Cut one 52" length of elastic.  

Cut one 12" piece of thread and thread onto the needle. Make sure you knot at the bottom once threaded.

Take one of the 8" pieces and lay it on one side of the fabric where you cut out the 8" x 8" square. It doesn't matter if you place it on top (as pictured below) or if you place it on the side. Either way, you'll be folding over the opposite side onto the Stitch Witchery.

Here's a blurry action picture of laying one 8" side on top of the opposing 8" side. All I did was grab the left side without the Stitch Witchery (as seen right above), pull it up and over to lay it on the opposite side. Make sense?

And this is what it looks like right before ironing down.

Following the directions on the Stitch Witchery package, cover the seam with a damp cloth. Using the steam setting on your iron, press down for 10 seconds on each side. Do not slide your iron! There are very clear instructions on the Stitch Witchery package. The key to a successful bond is following these directions. I thought I would be clever and save some time and effort by skipping the damp cloth but learn from my mistake....don't skip it even if my picture below doesn't have the damp cloth.

Ok, now you're all done with following the directions (I think I've gotten my point across?) on the Stitch Witchery package and you have a lovely finished seam like so.

Repeat this same process for the remaining three corners of your fabric. 

You're more than halfway done now! If you see step 4 in the picture right above, you'll notice the edges of the cover are unfinished. In other words, there is no hem yet. We're getting to that in this next step. 

Measure a 3/4" to 1" section out around the entire diameter of the fabric. In the picture below, you'll see it's right at 3/4" but after snapping the picture I decided to go ahead with a 1" hem because it was easier to work with. You're going to include the corners in this as well, so make sure you fold it down evenly. This part is easier to do as you go, since you'll be ironing the hem before actually securing it with Stitch Witchery. Having a pre-ironed hem makes it lots easier!

This is what your ironed 1" hem looks like before affixing the Stitch Witchery. By the way, if you wonder why I use a 1" hem it's because the Stitch Witchery measures 5/8" wide and I want to make sure my hem is wider than the bonding web. If not, you will have a sticky mess when the iron touches the Stitch Witchery if it's peeking out under the hem. Trust me, that's not fun to clean up. 

You can start with the longer side or the short side - it doesn't matter. Remember those pieces of Stitch Witchery you cut earlier? Yup! Now is the time to grab a piece (let's say you're starting on the long side first -- grab one 30" piece) and slip it underneath the pre-ironed hem you've just made, starting at one corner. Below, my pointer finger is at is right at the corner seam.

Iron that bad boy down, bit by bit. Remember what I said about using a damp cloth? Do as I say write and don't do as shown below. Place the damp cloth between your hot iron and 1" hem on the fabric, press down for 10 seconds on both sides and continue doing the same thing along the perimeter of the fabric with the precut Stitch Witchery piece you are using.

For the sake of more brevity, I've left out pictures of hemming each side but I think you get the point. Just know that you will repeat the same process 3 more times, using the precut pieces of Stitch Witchery. This means you will use two 30" pieces and two 14 1/2" pieces, total when making this first hem. 

This is what your finished 1" hem will look like, once you've ironed the Stitch Witchery into place. It's hard to tell in this photo but the corners (from the pre-ironed hem) aren't actually set in place. This is because the precut Stitch Witchery pieces were just long enough for all the sides, intentionally leaving out the corners (about 1" to 2" in length). So, don't worry about these for now...we'll get to that in a minute.

Grab your elastic which hopefully you've already cut into a 52" length. If not, now is the time to measure and cut it. The reason I chose the wider elastic size (3/8") instead of the smaller size (1/4") is because after making a few covers with the smaller width, I found the 3/8" elastic gave the cover a better shape at the end. Really, it's just personal preference so you can use whatever size you have because the length isn't going to be affected.

Step 1: Start with a 52" length of elastic and two large safety pins. 

Step 2: Make a small fold on one end of the elastic and pierce through both layers with a safety pin. Repeat on the other end.

Step 3: Now you have a 52" length of elastic with two large safety pins attached on each end.

Set aside your prepped elastic for a minute. You need to create another hem, in order for the elastic to have a tube to sit inside. Think of this tube as one of those tube slides (the ones that are fully enclosed) at the playground or a water park. The elastic is going to be encased inside a tube and we need to create another hem to make this happen. The picture below illustrates how the first hem (on the bottom) is going to be folded over the elastic and placed on the Stitch Witchery (on the top of elastic) creating your new hem. Essentially, your new hem is going to measure about 1 1/2" to 2" wide if you are using the 3/8" elastic as pictured in this tutorial. Just make sure you have enough room for the elastic to be threaded but do not iron the hem with the elastic inside of it! (The picture is just for illustration purposes.)

Again, I've left out pictures of hemming each side. Just know that you will repeat the same process for each side, using the precut pieces of Stitch Witchery. You will use the last two 30" pieces and two 14 1/2" pieces when making this second hem. 

When you are ironing the hem, you are going to leave the corners without hemming. This makes sense because the precut lengths of Stitch Witchery should only extend between the corners. It's just long enough so that you leave the corners exposed. Ok, so you're all done with ironing the second (1 1/2" to 2") hem. Go ahead and grab your prepped elastic and find one of the exposed corners on the cover. Take your safety pin and insert the elastic through the corner, into the tubing you've just created. The exposed corner where I inserted the elastic is just outside the frame of this picture below, to the right of my thumb.

Start sliding the safety pin across the tubing, using your thumb and pointer finger on one hand (for me, this was my left hand as pictured below) to pull it gently through the tube while using your other hand to spread out the fabric as it bunches up. Continue doing this until you've threaded the elastic through the entire tubing.

When you have finished threading the elastic, both ends with the attached safety pins should be touching, as pictured below. This means you've successfully threaded the elastic along the entire diameter of the cover.

Remove the safety pins and make sure you don't let go of the elastic ends. I repeat, do not let go. Otherwise you will find yourself with elastic that has slipped back inside the tubing and is lost for all eternity. Ok, it's not really that drastic but still....just don't let go. Hold them like pictured below, so that both ends are slightly overlapping each other.

Using your prepped needle & thread, insert the needle through both layers of the elastic in the middle and pull all the way up until the knot in the thread doesn't let you go any further. This part is much like sewing a button, but if you've never sewn a button that is okay...I'll explain.

You are simply pushing the needle through all the elastic, pulling up and down with the thread and repeating this across the width of the elastic. When you finish, you will have sewn together both ends of the elastic. It should be tight enough that if you were to try and pull it apart, only the elastic will give but not the actual part that's been sewn.

Below is a picture of the finished and sewn elastic ends. Trim any excess thread if you'd like. 

Now you can let go of the elastic! Remember the four corners you left (intentionally) exposed all along? You are finally going to close those off now. Below, you can see the elastic is inside the tubing and how it's exposed at one of the corners. Each corner will look like this until you iron the hem down with more Stitch Witchery.

This is the only part where your measurements may be a bit different so for the sake of avoiding any confusion, I left out my particular measurements. Just eyeball and measure how big of a piece you need and then, double that length. Why double? Because after making four of these covers, I realized that I would rather have the extra "insurance" by doubling up on the corners since they are thicker than just the regular hemmed parts. The picture below only shows one layer of Stitch Witchery, so do as I say and don't do as pictured. Double it up on the corners!

Iron down each corner, again making sure you use the damp cloth method as described earlier. Reinforce the corner seams as much as needed, so if you need to iron them down several times go ahead and do so. Again, this picture doesn't show the damp cloth but don't forget to use it!

Guess what? You are all done! Here's what your finished changing pad cover looks like from the bottom. 

And a view from the top. Enormous shower cap, anyone?

Of course, it looks much better once it's modeled on the actual changing pad, right? Note: no baby model was included in these photos due to safety precautions. Obviously.  

In case you're wondering, there isn't anything special you need to do for the safety strap to fit. As you'll see in a few pictures below, the edge of the cover doesn't cover or inhibit the straps on either side. 

This is a standard contoured changing pad, which measures 32.5" (length) x 16.5" (width) x 4" (height/thickness) and the cover fits just right. If your changing pad isn't contoured, just make sure it isn't any higher/thicker than 4" or else this cover may not fit properly. 

See what I mean about the safety straps? Not one bit bothered by the changing pad cover, and you can just slide them over the cover and use as normal. 

And that is all! You've made it through two very long and detailed tutorials (thank you!) on how to make an easy changing pad cover, without a sewing machine

Please let me know if you have any additional questions, but I'm hoping that being long winded has finally paid off. ;)
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