Category Archives: Holidays

Why We’re Not Decorating for Christmas This Year

Since about a week before Thanksgiving my blog reader has been blowing up with posts on Christmas decor, Christmas crafts, holiday recipes, and more.  To be honest, I’ve skipped over most of them, not out of a “bah humbug” mentality but out of a “they don’t interest me right now” state of mind.

You see, every Christmas Ryan and I end up getting a tree and decorating at the last minute (often with disastrous results), because between work travel, multiple Thanksgivings out of town, and holiday Janery work we’re always too busy to get it done early.

This year I’m feeling more overwhelmed than ever, mainly because a certain awesome doggie takes up a lot of our time, and the house (projects and cleaning) has kind of fallen behind.  I suggested to Ryan “What if we skipped the Christmas decorating step and went straight to the New Years Cleaning step?

You see, early every January we do a big cleanout – clearing clutter, making donations, and reorganizing spaces that get really messy with use.  Mainly the basement work room.  I also have had a ton of projects get stalled, once again, and just like last January I want to start the new year by tackling them.

So now that my business travel is over, Christmas gifts are purchased, and I’m slowing down the shop for the holidays, we’ve started tackling projects and house cleanup.

Today’s tasks: taking donations to Goodwill, and taking some tricky chairs to the upholsterer for a quote.  Sometimes you have to know when it’s best to farm out a task.

I don’t have any regrets about not decorating. We can still look out the window and see tons of lights on our neighbors’ houses, so we’re surrounded by holiday cheer.  And this weekend I’m taking Ryan on a special Christmas-y date.

Holy cow, though.  I think I’m done reading blogs for this month.  It must be tough to be a Jewish home decor blog reader in December.

DIY Fancy Flour Sack Tea Towel Tutorial | The Borrowed Abode

Stitch It: Embellished Flour Sack Towels

If you’re searching for an easy but appreciated DIY hostess gift, this fancy flour sack towel tutorial may be just the thing!

Because these can be made with or without a sewing machine, I thought they’d be the perfect first tutorial to share in the Stitch It series that I’ve been wanting to write for ages.

I whipped these up at Christmas as a gift, but if you just switch up the fabric, you can make these flour sack towels for any season or color palette.

DIY Fancy Flour Sack Tea Towel Tutorial | The Borrowed Abode

I didn’t take photos of the process because I was busy just trying to get them made – but I think it’s simple enough that you can follow these easy steps:

Materials Needed:

  • Flour sack towel
  • Cotton quilting fabric – at least 1″ wider than your flour sack towel
  • Pom-Pom Trim or other trim of your choice – at least 1″ wider than your flour sack towel
  • Iron-on hem tape
  • Iron
  • Sewing machine – OR – needle and thread

Let’s Get Stitching:

1.  Measure the width flour sack towel and cut a 5″ strip of patterned fabric that is at least 1″ wider than your flour sack towel.  For example:  My towels are 30″ wide, so I cut my patterned fabric strips at  31″ x 5″.

2.  Using the iron-on hem tape, adhere the fabric strip to the towel at the spot where you want it to go. Make sure you center the strip so that a 1/2 inch of fabric sticks out at each side of the towel.

  • Sewing Machine Version: I just use a few pieces of iron-on hem tape to help hold the strip in place for machine sewing.
  • No Sew Version: Use extra-strong hem tape to adhere all the edges. Iron on high heat with steam for best adhesion.  See photo below for where to use the tape.

Embellished Tea Towel Tutorial 2 | The Borrowed Abode

3.  Once the strip is adhered to the front, turn the towel over.  Fold the flaps of patterned fabric over and use more iron-on hem tape to adhere them to the back of the towel. Before I iron them on, I like to trim them to be nice and neat, just the width of the towel’s hem.  (See detail photo below.)

Embellished Tea Towels Back Side | The Borrowed Abode

4. Repeat this iron-on hem tape process to adhere the fun trim (pom-poms or whatever trim you choose) to the bottom edge of the towel. Don’t forget to fold over and trim the ends again.   Again, if you aren’t going to use a sewing machine, iron and steam this carefully to get a good adhesion.

5. Stitch it!

  • Sewing Machine Version:  Use a regular presser foot on your machine, and set the machine to a medium-width and length zig-zag or overlock stitch.  Sew along every edge of the patterned fabric to attach it well and prevent fraying.
  • No-Sew Version:  If you’ve used heavy-duty hem tape and have ironed it really well with steam, it technically should be fine.  However, I’d recommend threading a needle and just putting a simple running stitch along every edge.  This is easy to do while watching TV, etc.

6:  Iron it and admire your work!Embellished Tea Towels 4 | The Borrowed Abode

I hope you found this tutorial useful.  Please, if you have any questions or are confused, let me know in the comments below! I promise I’ll answer – if not today, within a few days. :)

New to sewing and wondering what supplies you need?  Check out my fabric bunting tutorial for a list of my must-have sewing supplies.

No Sew Holiday Pillow Tutorial | The Borrowed Abode

DIY: Easy No-Sew Applique Pillow Covers

Did you know you can DIY a totally awesome appliqued throw pillow without sewing a stitch?  It’s true! 

As part of my January goal to “finish abandoned tasks” I’d like to share with you how I made my no-sew Modern Christmas Tree Pillow cover shown in my Holiday Home Tour 2012.

No Sew Holiday Pillow Tutorial | The Borrowed Abode

But before you rag on me for posting a Christmas decor tutorial after the holiday, let me promise you that this DIY is applicable to any season.  Better yet, this one’s gonna be a quickie, because it’s so easy.

Supplies Needed:

  1. Iron
  2. Solid Color Pillow Cover (I used an Ikea one)
  3. Thermoweb Heat’n Bond Ultra Hold Iron-On Adhesive
  4. Patterned Fabric
  5. Scissors or a Rotary Cutter

(Cost:  about $20 for the webbing and pillow cover, but I have a lot of fusible webbing left for other projects.  If you use fabric scraps it helps save!)


This project was totally inspired by the solid green velvet Ikea pillow cover that I found in my Christmas decor stash.  I looked at it and thought “hmm, what could I do with this to make it more exciting?”

Enter the fusible webbing (Thermoweb Heat’n Bond) and the patterned fabrics.  Once I determined that I wanted to applique some simple triangular “trees” for a modern Christmas tree look, the steps were simple:

  1. Place the patterned fabric, pattern side down, onto the ironing board.
  2. Set the Fusible Webbing on top of the fabric, with the paper side facing up.
  3. Iron on top of the paper, leaving the iron in place for 6 seconds on each spot.
  4. The fabric is now adhered to the fusible webbing.  Cut out your fabric shapes.
  5. Peel off the paper.
  6. Place the fabric shapes, patterned side up, onto the pillow cover.
  7. Iron to adhere.

Voila!  Those may look like a lot of instructions, but they’re really simple. I promise.  My pillow cover took me about 10 minutes to make.

Christmas No Sew Pillow Cover | The Borrowed Abode

I wasn’t sure how well the Fusible Webbing would work, but now I can tell you – this stuff is supremely awesome!  I used the light Heat’n Bond, because I’m going to machine-stitch the edges of the “trees” for a more decorative look (just need to find the time!) but if you don’t sew, go ahead and use the Heat’n Bond Ultra, the strongest strength.  This will give you a great hold that will last for years to come.

I hope you liked this mini-tutorial.  I love that the fusible webbing makes it easy for anyone to make a customized decorative pillow cover.  Monograms?  Animals?  Geometric shapes?  The possibilities are endless!!

The Halls are Decked: Our Christmas Home Tour

Christmas Holiday Decor Tour | The Borrowed Abode

Welcome to the 2012 Borrowed Abode Holiday Decor Tour.  I’d like to thank Jen on the Edge for hosting a Holiday Homes Tour, which helped motivate me to actually decorate this week.

On this tour we’re pretty much going to stick to the living room, because – what with my not being Martha Stewart and all – I haven’t made enough decorations to include other rooms yet.

2012 Christmas Living Room | The Borrowed Abode

This year’s tree is not the best we’ve ever had.  Ok, it’s really the worst.  It’s been shedding needles like crazy, and it’s fat and awkward – a sharp contrast to our overly skinny 2010 tree – and poorly pruned.    That’s what we get for going to Home Depot late at night.  I first dragged Ryan to a small, family-owned tree market in our town – but the trees we liked were all so expensive.  I couldn’t justify spending $90 on what was, essentially, a dead tree that would end up being mulched in a few weeks.

Fat Christmas Tree 2012 | The Borrowed Abode

Because the tree is so fat, it looks bare. I don’t have that many ornaments – or lights – for it. I’m working on collecting the vintage glass Shiny Brite ornaments.  The ones I have now were my grandmother’s, and even though the paint is wearing off they are my favorite.  Favorite Vintage Christmas Ornaments 2012 | The Borrowed Abode

I have a few other special ornaments, too – I love the spun glass iridescent ornaments in the top right.  Then there’s the white “repurposed” leaf that I gave to Ryan as a joke, and a new addition – the Canon Memorial Chapel from my college (shown with the white leaf).

There was no good place to put such a fat tree, so it’s in the weird space between the dining ‘room’ and living room.  It makes for an awkward transition, and pretty much dwarfs the dining table.

Christmas 201203

I attempted a little festivity on the dining table with my favorite white wood-grain candles and some snowman votives.  Boy, does the winter table runner bring back memories.  I sewed it with a broken sewing machine about 10 years ago, when I was dying to learn to make home decor.

Christmas Tea Lights Wood Grain | The Borrowed Abode

Now I have a kickass sewing machine, I’ve created Janery, and I can whip up some pillow covers with invisible zippers (like those below)  in no time.  (The smaller sequined pillows are from last year at Crate and Barrel.) 

Christmas Pillow Covers Invisible Zippers | The Borrowed Abode

The little red shoes on the end table are vintage candle holders that first belonged to my grandmother.  I made the wreath by wrapping leftover pine garland in a circle, securing the loop with a few pieces of fishing twine, and adding a bow I saved from last year’s wreath.

For those of you who don’t sew, I made these easy no-sew Christmas tree pillow covers by using fusible webbing to adhere fun fabric to an existing Ikea pillow cover.  Tutorial coming this weekend. You can do it in 10 minutes, flat.

Christmas No Sew Pillow Cover | The Borrowed Abode

Behind the chair you see our Christmas Stocking Wall.  It was my solution to our lack of a fireplace mantel in our rented home.

The entry wall has an empty space behind the front door, so that’s where we’re hanging our Christmas cards this year.  The entryway table displays a few of my yarn trees from three years ago, as well as a huge pine tree candle I splurged on at Crate and Barrel this year.  I will not be burning it – it’s a perfect decor piece.

Christmas Entryway Front Door | The Borrowed Abode

When it comes to Christmas decorating, it’s definitely the little touches that I enjoy the most.

Christmas Accessories | The Borrowed Abode

Above, clockwise from top left: 

1.  Loving the handmade candles from Sydney Hale – the amazing scents are totally worth the splurge.  2.  A tiny vintage Santa is climbing my yarn tree.  3.  Love my red yarn trees in my coffee-table-scape. This year I added some green pine tree candles from Crate & Barrel.  4.  The candle lanterns looked a bit bare, so I added some small silver ornaments and glittery pears as filler.

I’m so glad I did finally decorate this year.  Last night I came home from work, determined to get it done.  I put on my striped Santa socks and a dorky red sweater vest, and stuck some glitter twigs out of my pony tail.  It helped me get in the spirit.  I powered through, and Ryan loved the results.
If you’ve shared photos of your holiday decor, please leave your link in the comments! I’d love to check it out!