Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

May 31, 2016

DIY Fabric Clothespin Bag

Wayfair recently posed a challenge: tackle a DIY project that makes life easier!  One of those, "why, oh why, didn't I do this sooner?" type of projects.  I had just the project: a DIY clothespin bag!

DIY Fabric Clothespin Holder
How to sew youe own clothespin bag

Truth be told, last spring I had one:

But it was a disgusting one that came with the house.  It smelled bad and was filled with spiders, but it was better than the torn plastic bag my Mummu was using to hold her clothespins.

Hanging laundry outside is something the women in my family are fanatic about.  My Mummu, like a good Finn, hangs her laundry outside all year round.  My Mom and I, while still deeply committed to outdoor line drying in the warmer months, stick to indoor clothes racks and lines as soon as the snow flies.  Thoroughly disgusted with both of our clothespin holders, last spring my Mom volunteered to help us each sew a pretty cloth clothespin bag.  Before we had completed the first bag, my Mummu gleefully threw out my skunky old bags and pins.  (I don't think she appreciated that I had set them on her dining table).  She scooped the first clothespin holder bag we sewed and we made plans to get together and sew a second clothespin holder later that week.  Well, life imploded and we never made that sewing date!

So I resorted to using an old plastic bag.  Cue the sad trombone.

On the bright side, we learned that the clothespin bag we sewed weathered living outside really well.  Sheltered under the eaves, it looks brand new a year later!  Confident in the design, my Mom and I finally whipped up a clothespin bag for me!  Below is the how-to, but I will warn you that my Mom is an ambitious DIYer and she's upped the ante by making this clothespin holder self lined - with a pattern that lines up perfectly!  The end result looks beautiful, but it has a few extra steps which I've tried to explain thoroughly.  Just let me know in the comments, though, if any of the directions don't make sense and I will happily clarify.


How to Sew a Self-Lined Fabric Clothespin Bag:

To determine the shape, place the hanger on the fabric, near a corner so as not to waste fabric, and measure the center of the hanger.  Approximately two inches below the bottom of the hanger, use a bowl to trace a circle for the opening - choose a size that fits your hand comfortably.  We used a bowl with a 5" diameter (the overall diameter of the finished opening is 5"):

DIY Clothespin Bag Tutorial

Using a gauge, mark 1" all the way around the hanger and then draw a straight line down from the outside edge of the hanger.

Using a Sewing Gauge

The idea is to create a snug fit around the hanger, and then allow for 5 to 6 inches below the opening.  My finished clothespin holder is 17" tall and 12.5" wide. 

With the shape cut out, trace and cut out three more identical clothespin bag shapes so you have four in total.

Place the piece with the circle and one of the other cut outs together, right sides facing in:

Making your own pattern

Pin around the circle and sew around the circumference:

How to sew a circular opening
Sewing a circle

Tie off the thread, cut out the middle, and then snip in toward the sewn line, careful not to cut the thread:

Tips and tricks for sewing circle openings

Reach through the circle and pull one layer of the fabric inward, to turn the hole inside out:

Create a self lined clothespin holder

Ta da!  Next we'll pull a rabbit out of a hat...

Iron the fabric to smooth out the circle opening and then pin down and sew the circumference once again - this will help it lie flat:

How to sew a circle opening

And that's the front, which has two layers: 

Make your own clothespin holder
Outdoor fabric clothespin bag

To attach it to the back, grab one of the remaining two cut outs and place it right side up, underneath the front half you sewed earlier:

Make a self lined bag

Pin the top layer of the fabric out of the way, and sew together the bottom layer and the additional piece, leaving a small opening at the very top for the hanger to poke out:

Lining a bag

Then place the fourth cutout on top of the front of the clothespin holder, right side facing down.  Pin it together with the side you pinned out of the way earlier, and sew it together.  This is my Mom sneaking it into place to demonstrate:

DIY Clothespin Bag on Hanger

Now then turn everything right side out:

DIY Clothespin Bag on Hanger Tutorial

See how the hole now has the right side of the fabric showing behind it, as opposed to the wrong side of the back showing?  Self-lining it took a few extra steps and twice the fabric, but the end result looks so good!

For the top, you can hand sew the opening, try adding a grommet, wrestle with it under the machine to do a button hole, throw in the towel and just apply some fray check, or ram in under the machine and sew around the opening - much like you would around the slit of a wrap dress - which is what my Mom did.

Sewing project ideas

With the bottom still open, slide the hanger into the clothespin bag up through the body of the clothespin holder through the hole left in the top.  Then simply pull the bottom edge back up through the hole, stitch it closed, and push in back in.

Whew!  You're done!  Now stuff it with pins:

DIY Self Lined Fabric Clothespin Holder // Beginner Sewing Ideas
Sewing Projects for Beginners

By using indoor/outdoor fabric, this clothespin bag can definitely be kept outside, but it's pretty enough to hang on a hook in a laundry room to keep it bug-free until laundry day.

Make your own clothespin bag with leftover fabric

I'm pretty thrilled!  Living lakeside, it can be pretty windy some days, which totally messes with my hair but, combined with a gloriously sunny day, dries my laundry in a snap so I can't complain. 
Clothespin bag tutorial
This post was sponsored by Wayfair.  Any thoughts or opinions expressed are my own.  P.S. if sewing your own clothespin holder looks like piddly work, you can always just buy this cutie from Wayfair.  Just sayin'.   

How to sew your own self-lined fabric clothespin holder by @danslelakehouse

May 26, 2016

Just Dreaming About Concrete Swimming Pools...

Whenever I fly in or out of my city, I'm always surprised by how many swimming pools I spy from the air!  Adding a pool is a fabulous way to make home feel like a retreat.  I spent my childhood summers in Toronto, where we would often gather at my great Aunt's home to cool down in her backyard swimming pool.  Everyone's birthday from June-August was celebrated poolside, with a BBQ and tons of food, so most of our family photos from those years feature us contently smiling, sunburned and in our bathing suits.

It's amazing how water - whether a beautiful backyard pool or a lakeside cottage - can bring people together!

Although I live on the lake now, I still dream of having my own pool so I can enjoy a swim when the lake isn't quite warm enough yet.  There are so many days when I long to be on the water but I dip my toes into icy Lake Superior and shiver.  It's shallow where we are, and once we've had a few sunny days the water becomes enjoyable for swimming, but I just love being in, on or around water so much and a pool would be lovely for those cold water days.  In our first apartment, we we regulars at the pool we shared with two other buildings - I even wrote much of my MA thesis poolside (shhh) and then in Ottawa we often walked to a community pool nearby.  With Canadian summers being so short, I look for any way to squeeze as much warm weather fun as possible. 

It might take us many years to save up, but adding a pool is definitely one of my long term goals for our house.  I toggle between mooning over gorgeous in ground pools, like the ones featured here (designed by award-winning Betz Pools), or sketching plans for rebuilding the deck and adding an above ground pool there. 

This is why I'm very curious about the kinds of pools people have in my city - and why I crane my neck from the plane, relishing the chance to peek inside backyards.  Capturing that same feeling, I was riveted while I watched the short video below.  But I will issue a warning: I definitely felt serious house envy because the video features stunning landscaping, a gorgeous luxury home, and the pool to match - which can even be enjoyed year round!  So dreamy...

It's the kind of home you see in the decor magazines, where every detail has been thoughtfully designed.  I appreciate how Betz Pools, the company who created this backyard oasis, designed and executed not only the pool and hot tub, but also the surrounding landscaping so the pools feels like an integral element of an overall soothing backyard environment.

Do you own a pool?  Do you think about adding one, like I do?  If you're in the market, I highly recommend checking out Betz Pools for inspiration and info on pool construction.  This article about shopping for a pool, from EIEIHome, is also incredibly informative, with different experts weighing in on what kind of materials to use and how to know what company to hire  - I especially loved seeing the photos of the construction process because now I have a better idea of what to expect!  It's a great read if you're just curious about pools or thinking about adding one to your own backyard.

Happily armed with a little more knowledge about pricing and options, for now I'm content to keep dreaming...

This post was sponsored by EIEIHome, a great place to do research on swimming pools and other home renovation topics, home repair or home decor.
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May 24, 2016

Decorating Our Sailboat Interior: Inspiration

The boat survey for our new sailboat came back and, although there are a few things to fix/repair before we set sail, there was nothing to deter us from moving forward with buying the Ticon 30 we found.  We are making things official - as in, officially draining our bank accounts - tomorrow!  It's currently stored in a boatyard, where we hope we can keep it while we tinker.  I'm not sure how long it will be before we can sail it home, but as soon as the boat is ours (and I can remove the tarp shelter and give it a good scrub), I'll share a full tour.  I'm so excited!  In the meantime, I wanted to chat sailboat interior decor...

The interior cushions are trashed, so I'll be having new ones made and I'm currently trying to narrow down my long list of fabric contenders (I'm looking at the marine upholstery fabric from Sunbrella).  The problem is, there are a few aqua fabrics and they're calling my name!  I love, love, love the interior of this retro houseboat and it was originally going to serve as my inspiration, but the houseboat (below) has huge windows and a lot of white, which looks fresh and cheery with the bright aqua and orange.

Colorful aqua and orange houseboat tour from HGTV
Aqua boat upholstery
Our boat, on the other hand, has a beige fabric headliner and beige fiberglass.  As much as I desperately want to pick out some striking aqua for seat cushions, I'm actually leaning more toward a warm grey, smokey blue, or even - gasp - navy!  The beige interior is calling out for a cozy, muted scheme - something to make all that beige look intentional and earthy (not old and 80s).  

In the lakehouse, I've eschewed a nautical vibe (navy stripes, anchor motifs, and chunks of coral) and pulled my colour inspiration from the water, layering in subtle textures inspired by the surrounding nature ("beach glass" finishes, soft white and wood stains, etc).  Combined with mid-century modern teak and walnut, the overall look isn't your typical lakehouse decor.  With the sailboat, however, I'm leaning toward a slightly more nautical palette of blues - with some classic coastal touches, because I'm sure our yacht club membership will be revoked without at least one requisite anchor motif (ahoy!) 

I created a secret Pinterest board for boat stuff and I've been pinning any rooms/images/colors that in some way evoke the look I'm after.  Unless I cave and just buy aqua upholstery (no promises), this is what is inspiring me right now:

Earthy modern dining room in shades of blue and grey
Grey blue and teak dining room decor
Grey and cream bedroom with earthy touches
Uncluttered bedroom with soothing color palette
Amber Interior Living Room // Love the Live Edge Coffee Table
Amber Interiors
Emily Henderson bedroom
Emily Henderson
New Darlings Boho Bedroom
New Darlings
Modern living room with dark grey rug and TV built in
Earthy living room with neutrals and blue
New Zealand Design Blog
So what am I teasing out from all of these beautiful spaces?
  • Teak and walnut wood tones (check - we've got lots of beautiful teak woodwork in the boat)
  • Beige and earthy hues (a departure from my love of white walls!)
  • Rich blues and greys (maybe a pop of cobalt, definitely some indigo)
  • Lots of natural elements (think: rattan baskets, jute runner, macrame fruit basket)
  • Brass (yup, I'm embracing brass on the boat)
  • An uncluttered, mid-century feel
  • Textiles with a watery, organic feel (tie dye, shibori, ice dyeing, velvet...?)

I just love these pillow by Rebecca Atwood (that gold zipper detail is perfection):

Rebecca Atwood pillows
Rebecca Atwood
Rebecca Atwood Shibori pillows
Rebecca Atwood
It's a seriously different look for me!  I'm excited to try something new - and kind of trendy - but I'm also incredibly tempted to get bright turquoise upholstery.  Seriously.  I know I keep harping on this, but it is a struggle for me to choose a non-aqua something, when aqua is available.  I think I might need an intervention here...

Hubby, meanwhile, is thrilled by my newfound desire to embrace nautical design - he's even eyeing up our mantle in the lakehouse for a miniature version of our new boat.  So maybe I should forget the aqua and just get fully on board (pun intended) with this new look:

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May 20, 2016

Do You Love/Hate Truncated Posts? P.S. Dans le Lakehouse Has Moved!

After way too many years of forcing people to type "" - which really made no sense once we moved from the townhouse to the lakehouse - I finally, finally switched to my own domain: ""!

Celebrating a new URL on Dans le Lakehouse @danslelakehouse

It's so much easier to type and remember - plus it looks pretty.  Is it a sign that you've been blogging too long when you think a URL is pretty??

For you, nothing will change.  All of the old links and the former URL redirect.  But from now on, if you're someone who types in the URL, you can type, instead!

In other news, I'm experimenting with truncating my posts (which means including a photo and only part of the text before imploring you to click "read" more to see the rest, instead of leaving posts whole so you can land on the blog and just keep scrolling).  Bloggers and blog readers often have strong opinions on the topic of truncated posts, so below is my reasoning - but then I'd love your input!

Reasons FOR Truncated Posts

After I bought my new blog template, I realized that the mobile version defaulted to truncated posts and I immediately liked how chic the mobile version looked.  I've even been considering a different template that is much more like a clickable Instagram feed with only images and post titles on the main page, because I really like how it looks.

As a voracious blog reader, I've started to prefer truncated posts because I can breeze through posts that aren't my jam without having to slog through endless steps/photos/jibber-jabber about topics or projects that don't interest me.  Instead, I quickly skim content, open posts that seem interesting in new tabs, read them at leisure, pin my heart out, and move on.  Truncated posts make pinning so much easier for me (and at 14,000+ pins, I'm a pretty enthusiastic pinner!).

Because I like truncated posts, I recently switched Dans le Lakehouse to a format with page breaks.  I feel like the blog looks much tidier now and I enjoy that new readers can see so many posts at once and immediately get a feel for my aesthetic and content.

Pros and Cons of Truncated Blog Posts

And, this might make me seem overly sensitive, but I feel inspired to blog more freely now.  There's so much pressure to create perfectly curated, pinnable content and to ensure that every photo is styled to perfection - even in-progress shots, which tend to be messy by nature.  Sometimes this pressure is a creativity-squasher.  I have actually decided not to post some projects because, although the "after" photo looked good, my progress photos didn't turn out well (maybe too messy, poorly lit, etc), and I didn't want to put those photos on the blog because anyone who landed on my blog would see them mixed in with better photos as they scrolled.  I've been really struggling with wanting to share stories and make things with wild abandon, but then feeling this defeating pressure to constantly produce really amazing photos, every step of the way - and it's difficult for me to take a magazine-worthy shot when I'm covered in dough or paint, or feverishly working on a project in the wee hours. 

With this new layout, though, only my favorite photo shows to anyone skimming through so I feel like I can make a great "first impression" and, once someone is hooked (mwahaha) and starts delving deeper into posts, seeing some imperfect progress photos won't ruin the overall aesthetic.  I feel so much more motivated to make and share - which is a surprise!  I really just wanted to make the blog prettier, but I think it might actually have a big impact on my creativity and passion for blogging.  Maybe.

There are other, less emotionally-fueled reasons for the switch too:  the site should load faster, an issue I've had because I always include a ton of huge photos and probably way too many meandering digressions.  As well, truncated posts supposedly deter scraper sites that steal content, which is a good enough reason for me because it's been disheartening to see so many of my posts stolen verbatim by these sites.  I'm not writing Pulitzer-worthy material here, but I log a lot of hours on each post - no matter how mundane it seems.

Reasons AGAINST Truncated Posts

Blogging experts have long advocated truncated posts for boosting pageviews, but because truncated posts can be off-putting for many readers, I wonder if that's even accurate.  Perhaps each person who lands on a blog will generate more coveted "clicks" for a blogger, but what if the overall number of regular readers shrinks as a result? 

I don't want to make visiting the Lakehouse less fun for anyone!  I love chatting with you and hearing your input.  I'm so grateful for your support and encouragement.  In return, I hope I can make you laugh from time to time, or spark an idea for a creative project or budget-friendly room makeover.

I know that truncated posts can be cumbersome if you read a blog regularly, because you're not scrolling through like a new reader - you just want to read the newest post, without having to click twice.  Which totally makes sense!  An extra click is frustrating when every single blog makes you do it - on top of annoying pop up adds and pop ups begging you to subscribe by email when you've barely made it two sentences into a post.  It can slow down and make reading blogs so much less enjoyable for some.  Ideally, I'd love for the first post to be regular and the others truncated, but I can't figure out how to do that and although I found code to truncate all posts at once, and fiddled a bit with that for an evening, I'm not savvy enough to figure out any tweaks beyond that.  I can't even get the truncated posts to look exactly how I'd like (I'd prefer a full size image and the first few lines of text below, not to the right).    

What is Your Take on Truncated Posts???

I'm not fully committed to this new format, although I do like it quite a bit, so while I noodle on it, please do chime in: do you love or hate the new truncated posts!  Or perhaps you're completely ambivalent and you just want more posts?  Less jibber-jabber?  Let me know!  

First and foremost, I really want this blog to be easy to use and enjoy - because it's nothing without you! - so please feel free let me know if there's anything I can do (or should stop doing) to make your visit easier and more enjoyable.

(And if you want to be really honest and candid, you can always leave an anonymous comment and I'll have no idea who you are.  Seriously, I appreciate the feedback - big time!)

Thanks for reading!
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May 19, 2016

How to Ice Dye | Easy DIY Ice Dyed Napkins

I mentioned in the post about dyeing my damask table linens that I was getting experimental with fabric dyeing.  I have so many ideas swirling around in my head but, before attempting some more complicated projects, I wanted to test different brands of dye.  Having been a dye hard fan of Rit Dye for so many years, I was especially intrigued by cold water dyes and the beautiful patterns ice dyeing can create:

Ice Dyed Napkin DIY | @danslelakehouse
How to Ice Dye Fabric | @danslelakehouse

Aren't my new ice dyed napkins beautiful?  I'm so mesmerized by the organic feel of the design!  I originally wanted to try ice dyeing in the winter, with snow, but Szuka and a pair of neighborhood foxes are in this hilarious peeing competition and so there was so safe snow for me to use.

Ice dyeing is SO easy - the hardest part is making and stocking piling enough ice (I highly recommend just buying a bag).

Ice Dyeing Supplies | Jacquard Products Procion Four Color MX Dye Set with Soda Ash


I bought an awesome cold water dye starter kit, with four colours of dye (turquoise, lemon yellow, fuschia and jet black) and a small packet of soda ash, on Amazon.  It was a great way to do some experimenting without committing to - or being overwhelmed by - the huge selection of Procion dyes available!  If you want more colour variety, this pack of 8 colours looks good - but you can also buy colours individually.

Blue and Grey Ice Dyed Napkin | @danslelakehouse
Ice Dyeing Tutorial by @danslelakehouse
Fabric Dyed with Powdered Procion Dye and Ice

How to Ice Dye Fabric:

First wash the fabric to remove any sizing, oils from skin, etc.  You can use a fancy textile detergent, to help prepare the fabric for dye, but you can also just toss it in the washing machine as per usual - which is what I did.

Mix 1 cup of soda ash in a bucket with 1 gallon (4 liters) of water and stir until dissolved.  Submerge the laundered fabric and let soak for about half an hour.  This stuff burns the sinuses, so use a dust mask and gloves!

Meanwhile, set up a basin with a cookie rack propped up on some empty water bottles - or anything to keep it up.  You want enough room underneath the dry rack so that when the ice melts and the basin is filled with water, the fabric doesn't sit or dip into the dye bath that's created.

Ice Dyeing Tips

Remove the fabric from the soda ash, wring out the soda ash solution, and scrunch it up, as randomly as possible.  Place it on the cooling rack and cover with ice.  (Save the dissolved soda ash for future projects.)

Ice Dyeing Tutorial
Ice Dye Steps

Once again don that dust mask and gloves, and sprinkle the ice with powdered Procion dye.  I used a couple teaspoons of turquoise and lemon yellow for my first set, and a couple of teaspoons of turquoise and jet black for the second.

Procion Powdered Cold Water Dye Turquoise
Ice Dye Instructions | @danslelakehouse

Set it aside and wait patiently for the ice to melt!  When the ice has melted, rinse the fabric in cool water until the water runs clear.  Then launder with like colours.

Ice Dyeing Results

I made the yellow, aqua and green design first but at first I didn't love the shade of green that the lemon yellow and turquoise mixed - it was a smidge more lurid than intended, but it grew on me and I think the set of four napkins will be fun and summery for patio dining.

I tried too hard to control the design with how I scrunched the fabric and where I sprinkled the dye and it didn't turn out how I expected.

Colorful Ice Dyed Napkins
Easy DIY Dyed Napkins

With this project, you really have to let go and learn to let the dye work its magic while you sit back and enjoy the surprise. 

The second design, with a more muted turquoise and grey color palette, is definitely my favorite.  I scrunched the fabric in more of a ball and sprinkled the two colours liberally and randomly.   I relaxed and didn't try to encourage any dye patterns or designs.  It worked!  I love the smokey teals and layers of soft grey that emerged, with pops of my favorite aqua - of course.

Turquoise and Grey Ice Dyed Fabric Napkin by @danslelakehouse
Easy DIY Fabric Dye Craft Idea // Ice Dyeing
Modern Ice Dyed Napkin DIY // Teak Flatware

I also tried ice dyeing with a single colour, which turned out to be quite striking!  The Procion Fuschia is really quite vibrant.  I want to experiment a little more and try using just the jet black.

Ice Dyeing - Fun Craft for Kids!
Fuschia Ice Dyed Napkin and Basket of Lemons

I really want to get my hands on some pretty lightweight cotton for a dress or blouse.  I'm hopelessly addicted to ice dyeing - nothing is safe in my house!

Ice dyeing instructions - Easy, kid-friendly craft idea!
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