Halloween Pillow Tutorials

Hello! I am back from the good ‘ol city of San Fransico. My brother got hitched and I can’t wait to share all about it. However I will wait another week on that, as we have one more reception to get through. Meanwhile lets make some Halloween Pillows shall we?

Last week I showed you around the house in this post.

I made a promise at that time, and now I will follow through on that promise. See in The Smithocracy, all Smithocrats come through on their promises.

My favorite and easiest way to spruce up for the Holidays, is to use slip covers on my current pillows. As seen here.

It is easy and quick to do. Plus it saves on storage space. Rather then keeping a bunch of pillows around, I just remove the slip covers and fold them up till next time.

So I made three pillows this year for Halloween. Actually 4, but I am only going to demo three. The 4 is the Chevron pillow you see below.

It is just fabric, no decor. Each pillow was sewn using the tutorial I gave here. So I am not going to explain that again. For the benefit of the tutorial I am assuming you have already chosen the material and sewn your slip cover. You are now ready to decorate it Halloween Style! Shall we begin?

First up…Web Pillow

I used a white canvas for the material of the slip cover. It is super durable and I liked the corduroy like texture.

I gathered my supplies which included the items below.

I was so excited to find these chargers!  My original plan had been to find some black felt and cut out my own web. That would have been a huge pain, but I was willing to do it. However, the second I saw I could skip that step I jumped on it!

First I placed the Charger on my slip cover and cut it down to size, like so.

I then used some parchment paper to line the inside of the case. I was not sure if the glue would seep through or not.

Then I covered the back of the felt charger with the liquid stitch and used my finger to spread it around.

Once that was done, I pressed it down into place. It grabbed rather quickly, but I still pressed it down really well just to make sure. Once I felt confident it was on there good, I set it aside to try.

There was a tiny scrap left that I glued on the bottom corner and  TA DA! I am done!

Next is the Skeleton Hand PIllow

I used a flannel material for this project. For the pillow and the hand. I wanted this one to be soft and fuzzy.

I like textures.

Supplies were the same liquid stitch, some white flannel and a skeleton hand stencil I sketched out on paper.

Using the paper as a stencil, I cut out each piece individually. This is why I don’t have a copy to share. Sorry!!! All cut up now.

I actually ended up not pinning each piece. I just used my hands to hold the stencil on the fabric, and cut it out that way. No picture though as I needed both my hands! :-)

To keep track of the pieces I assembled the hand as I went.

Then I used the liquid stitch again and glued each piece in place. Again I lined the pillow case with parchment paper.

Only a little dry time and that was done as well.

I was bummed that the hand covered the smaller web on the other pillow, but I got over it. Just something I didn’t think about in the planning stages. Oh well.
Last but not least is The Skull Pillow

This pillow was easy because I already had the stencil from this project. Many people mocked me for using an actual stencil blank rather than freezer paper. However, this post justifies my actions. :-) I use this stencil a lot, so freezer paper is a no go for me.

Here are the suppliesThe stencil, the shirt form and the slip cover. I also used some silver spray paint, but the picture did not turn out.

This slip cover, I made from a linen type material. I wanted a rougher feel for this guy. Then I inserted the shirt form inside, to protect from seepage. Any thick material will do, I just happened to have this one on hand. I placed the stencil on the slip cover and took it outside for the rest.

**HINT** use a light spray adhesive on your stencil to help it stay in place. This also prevents clouding.

Make sure every inch of the fabric that you don’t want sprayed is covered. Otherwise it will get some spray dust on it. This time I used an actual t-shirt spray paint. I have used regular spray paint in the past and that works just as well, as long as it is glossy. Any other spray tends to wash out.

Once sprayed, I let this one dry for most of the day and then…

Done! A new skull pillow for my couch.

If you want to make this one you can get a skull template from this post. The skull and template were designed and made by me.
So there you go, some fun and easy ways to make your house a little more Halloween fun.

Let me know if you try any of these! Good luck!



Touches of Halloween

It’s October and that means time to get your Halloween on.

In fact, I just realized that if we are talking about Halloween, then that means The Smithocracy has officially been around for a year! Sweet. My first tutorial was a Halloween craft. It was a rather silly one, so I hope that we have improved since then. :-)

I love this time of year. I also love Halloween. I think I love it because it is the first of the Holiday Season. It tells us that it’s time to cool down and look forward to fun!

And fun we are having. :-)

Smithocratic style.

First we hang our ghosts.

Then we wrap the web.

This is a Must for the boys each year. Otherwise, for them, it is NOT Halloween. I still need to put the spiders up.

Next we move inside.

I found these awesome towels at Target.

And Mr. New Table gets a little Spooky Decor as well.

Again thanks to Target.

And now for the Crème de la Crème. The Living Room gets a little boost.

Let’s take you around the room, shall we.

If you find yourself admiring my pillows, well you are in luck! Consider it a sneak peak into next weeks tutorial. Yep, all those pillow were made by me, and you can make them too!

My favorite way to spruce up a room is just covering you current pillows with slipcovers.

So stay tuned for the next few posts, where I will show you how to make the pillows as well as some spooky ghosts to hang in your own tree. Perhaps even your own Spooky sign to hang.

Happy weekend!


Those Beachy Waves

Good Tuesday to you all.

I hope each of you enjoyed this three day weekend as much as The Smithocracy did. We received tons of inspiration and motivation this past General Conference and are ready to Go Forth and Do!

Today I am attempting to share my first ever Video Tutorial. This has been kind of fun. “Kind of” because, while it is fun and fast to shoot a video, the editing is slow and boring. So this is how I discovered that I do not like video editing, and I didn’t even do anything amazing with the video!

Having said that, I think it is safe to say that video tutorials will be few and far between.

I decided to do this tutorial on How To Get Those Beachy Waves.

I won’t type too many details, as I cover most of it pretty well in the video. I will say a couple things.

First, I chose the WRONG shirt to wear. Vertical stripes on a video = a much wider Tannie then real life calls for.

Second, I am suffering from crazy bad allergies. So please forgive how much I touch my nose. It was itching like CRAZY!  Just know that it was not runny or snotty in any way. Just dry and itchy. So I am not smearing snot all over my hair as it appears in the video.


You can’t see the final result very well in the video, so here are some pictures to help.

These two were taken immediately after the video was shot. So this is how it looks fresh.

These two are later that night. I am heading to bed. So the curls have had a whole day to fall. And the boys have had a chance to leave a lego in my office.

Pretty good right!

Now here is the next morning, after having slept on it. I have not done anything, just crawled out of bed and took a picture.

So if I wanted to, I could touch it up a bit and be good for another day.

Good luck and let me know it you try this method!

**UPDATE** I forgot to mention in the video that the curling process, when I am not talking to a camera, takes me less then ten minutes. So it goes pretty quickly, which is why I like it so much! Then once done, I just got put jewelry on, or load the dishes or something to give the hair time to cool down completely. Then I do the whole flippy thing you see at the end.

Another important thing to mention is even though you see me put quite a bit of hairspray and product in my hair, it does not feel like I have product in my hair AT ALL. It still feels soft and natural. Which is why I use the products I do!

Here is the product list and links in case you missed it or want it.

P.S. Did you like this? Did you like me? Then like The Smithocracy on facebook! You’ll be glad to like so much. :-)

Pillow Time

Hello. Today we are going to learn how to make pillows. Oh joy!

I love sewing pillows. It is literally the easiest sewing project on the planet. If you think that you are a person that can’t sew, well you are wrong. You can sew a pillow. My 6 year old could sew a pillow. Surely you are more skilled then a 6 year old. :-)

So lets begin.

First, a big question. Why did I need to sew a pillow? The answer to that question lies in this oft seen photo.

I first showed you this photo in the Small Changes post. I revealed that I had gotten some new bedding. Mostly a duvet cover and the matching pillows, shown in the picture. Ever since I have made this upgrade, I have felt that the bed looked wimpy in some way. I cannot have a wimpy bed. So I analyzed the situation and noticed that the addition to one more euro pillow in the back would be just the thing to beef things up. Now I had made the bedskirt and the Euro shams and small pillows years ago, when Austin was a baby. So I knew (or thought I knew) I still had the pattern. Also I had plenty of leftover material. So it was just a matter of purchasing a euro pillowform.

I then gathered all my supplies, only to discover that something was missing.

No pattern!

Somehow in the last 8 years, I have lost my pattern for the bedding I made. So bummer for me, but woohoo for you. Why? Because that meant I had to wing it, and by winging it, you get a tutorial on how to make a pillow case, without a pattern.

So first step, I grabbed one of the old pillows and stripped it of it’s casing.

So if you have a pillow that is the same size you want to make, just take off the current casing and use it as a pattern. If not, then just use the pillowform you bought/have. I have done this in the past as well.

Next lay your pillow case, inside out, or pillowform on top of the fabric you are using. Do not double the fabric. You only want one large square. This is for the front.

If using the pillowform, make it as flat as possible, and be sure to give yourself  3/4 to 1 inch out. That way you have room for your seams. If using a pillow case already laying around, make sure it is inside out. That way you have the seams included. However I still went about 1/4 inch out, but definitely not more than that.

Next, cut.

You should be left with a large square for the front. Now my pattern is random, so I didn’t need to think too much about direction of the fabric, except for up and down. Make sure you pay attention to how you want your fabric to be, once the pillow is complete. Especially if using stripes of some sort.

Next is for the back. For this pillow, I am using an overlap method. So we will be cutting out two rectangles. I like this method, because it is easy to insert and remove the pillowform. You also have the choice to include, or not include buttons. With this pillow, I am doing buttons. Only because the other pillows have them. Otherwise I would normally skip that step.

So for the back, I placed my fabric on top of the back of the other pillow case I am copying. I then folded the fabric back, until it lined up with the other panel.

If you are using a pillowform, or your sample case doesn’t have the overlap insert, then here is what you do.

You want two rectangles that overlap in the back. You do not want them to only come half way. So do not just make a second square and cut it in half. Each rectangle should cover about 3/4 of the back. This leaves room to not only overlap, but also for the seams.

Once I figured my correct rectangle length, I cut again.

This is what I ended up with.

You will notice that one of my rectangles is longer then the other. Don’t worry, I trimmed it up later on. It just has the printed “made by” info on the bottom.

Once that was done, I pieced it together, as if it were already a real pillow. So not inside out…yet.

Since my fabric does have an Up and Down to it, I needed to make sure everything was going the right direction. I then was able to decide which sides of the rectangles were going to get seamed. Hint: it is the overlapping sides that you see folded up in the photo.

I took it to the ironing board and prepared it for the good ‘ol double fold that I talk about in this post.

Only this time, I made the double fold a bit wider, to make room for the button-holes. If you are not doing buttons, then make it whatever thickness (or thinness) you want.

Once ironed, I sewed a straight line to make the seam. Now I did not do this method when I first made these pillows. I just sewed it once. Now I know better. You can see the difference here.

On the left is the new pillow, with the double fold. The right is the old one. If you look closely you can see the fraying fabric. Now, on the new one I did a double seam. One on the inside, and one on the outside. You can see it in the picture above. Again, this is for the button-holes. You don’t have to do this, but it does make it twice as tough.

Next, it was time for button holes. This part is not so easy, but is doable. I went to the manual on this one.

You can find button-hole instructions on the internet, or your own sewing machines manual. I would give the instructions, but they are specific to my machine. I use a Brother, and the directions were rather simple. So hopefully yours are as well. But like I said before, you can totally skip this step and not use button-holes at all. The pillow case will still work great.

So lets see how I did?

It’s ok.  A little wobbly. But it will work.

Once the button-hole is sewn, you get a seam ripper, and rip ‘er new one. Don’t rip your new seams though.

And voila!

A quick test to see if it worked.

And it did.

Now to sew the pillow and be done. So this is when we want to do everything backwards. Imagine your pillow case is inside out.

I have laid everything out, all facing inward. The panel with the button-holes on it, is the one underneath the top panel. When the pillow is the correct way out, we want the button holes on the outside. If you didn’t do button-holes, then no worries. It doesn’t matter which panel goes on bottom. Just as long as they overlap.

Next pin, pin, pin. You want everything to hold while you sew. Sorry, I got excited and forgot to take a picture of it pinned.

Then you basically sew a giant square. Just place a straight stitch about a 1/4 inch in along each length of the square.

You people without button-holes, you are done! Just flip it back out, and stuff the pillowform inside like so.

You have a new pillow! Yipee!. Side note: how awesome does that pillow look on my couch? I may have to explore this a little.

Button-hole people, do the same, but you are not done yet. We are still going to place the pillow form inside, but we need to sew the buttons on.

Using the button-holes as a guide, hand sew your buttons onto the lower panel. Make sure it is in a place that lines up with the button-hole above.

Once the button is sewed on, button it of course!

There you go! A beautiful new pillow. Lets see the shot again.

This project took me about an hour. If it is your first time, give yourself a little longer. But once you have it down, you can get these guys pumped out pretty quickly.

So lets see how it looks on the bed!


Another angle.

Much better, I think. Can you tell which is the new one?

I feel much better now that the bed is beefed up a little. A headboard is still needed…badly! It is on the list, and hopefully coming soon. Dan and I finally came up with a plan and look that we are both happy with. So hopefully the Build a Headboard bill will pass soon. :-)

Happy pillow making and good luck!

P.S. If you make a pillow, please share it with us on facebook. We would love to see!

That Dirty Microwave.

Well No More!!!! Here is another handy cleaning tip for you guys -Straight from The Smithocracy.

One of the worst chores ever is cleaning the microwave. It is so annoying that most people put it off until it is covered in more food then you are heating up. Well this is a simple way to get that gross grime off. I have used this method for over 8 years. So it is tried and true.

The short version.

Fill a bowl with water and microwave for 20 minutes. Wipe out with sponge.

Now for the long and more visual explanation.

First you need a dirty microwave.


Now I know that the microwave does not seem THAT dirty. However it took me forever to get my microwave this dirty and I didn’t want to wait any longer. This method works so great, that my microwave is always clean. So I had to tell everyone to start on purpose letting their food explode. So this is as good as it gets folks.

But lets pretend that this is more like College Microwave dirty. You know. Red-hot-pocket-sauce-crusted-allover dirty. Maybe yours is not so clean right now and you are feeling a little guilty. So that brings me to the next thing you need.

A microwavable bowl filled with water and some lemon juice. Although you don’t really even need the lemon juice. It just makes it smell nice.

Fill up your bowl about half way. I think I have about 2 quarts there. And then I just pour some lemon juice in. Maybe like 2 or 3 tablespoons.

Next stick the bowl in the microwave.

And microwave on high for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile you can load the dishwasher, or wipe the counters, or read a book. That is really up to you.

Once the 20 minutes is up you remove the bowl and just wipe out the microwave with a sponge.

It really is that easy. You just wipe it off.

And then it’s beautiful!

So easy. Now you have no excuse for putting it off any longer. You can have a clean and lemony microwave too!



How to clean Stainless Steel…for real!

*Heads Up Update: I am told this does not work on the brushed stainless steel appliances. So be aware!*

I just discovered this today and I couldn’t wait to share it! Here at The Smithocracy we believe in sharing with others. Something that my 5-year-old is trying really hard to comprehend.

But I digress.

Today as I was cleaning, I discovered the most amazing way to clean my stainless steel appliances. This may not be a secret to some of you, but it is new to me. And it works!

First a little history.

I love the look of stainless steel. And I believe so do most people. Although since owning it, I have often wondered where the “stainless” comes from. As far as I could tell, you could never quite get it all the way clean. There always seems to be that one finger print that just won’t go away. Or in my case, a slight sheen from where the sticker was. So I was a little bothered by this. In fact I was planning on putting forth a motion to have an official name change. Perhaps Stainable Steel. Or Slightly Smudgy Steel. Anything but Stainless Steel.

Until today! From now on it will remain Stainless Steel in The Smithocracy. This was achieved by only changing one thing in my cleaning routine.

I use Pledge (thanks to a recommendation from a friend) to clean my Stainless. I find that it works much better then any Stainless Steel cleaner I have tried.

I also like it because I don’t have to worry about overspray ruining my cabinets. Pledge is made for wood as well. So I just polish the cabinet up too. I prefer the Dust & Allergen Pledge, but Orange is nice as well. I also use a microfiber cloth. The one above was purchased at Target.

I had just finished cleaning my fridge and it looked pretty good. But there was still some smudges, that have been their since we bought the fridge last summer. It is hard to show in pictures, since it is so reflective, but I did my best.

The discoloration that is in the circle is left from the sticker. There was also a bunch of discoloration alongside the water dispenser. It is not in the picture because I had already used it to test my idea at this point. And since you don’t see it, it obviously worked!

“Tannie, your killing me, just tell us already!!!!!

Okay, okay. Here is it.

1. Spray spot with pledge

2. Let it sit about 1 minute

3. Wipe Clean

That’s it. Before I would spray and then instantly wipe. That took up most of the marks, but left behind some that seemed to be impossible to remove. The stainless cleaners were even worse, always leaving streaks and barely cleaning it. But today, I had accidentally oversprayed on my stove top while polishing the hood. I decided to ignore it until I was done with the hood. When I got to the overspray on the stovetop I noticed that a cooking stain disappeared with it. One I had resigned myself to living with forever. I tried it again, and another one was gone. I went to the fridge. Sprayed the side next to the water dispenser that was REALLY bad. Waited a minute and viola, Gone!

You can see that the sticker stain is gone in my after.

Well you could tell better in real life. But I hope the picture shows a little bit of a difference for you. Looking at it, you would have no idea that dirty small children touch it every single day…a lot…

Anyway I am so happy to learn that all I needed was a little extra patience. So now every stainless steel item in my kitchen is officially stainless once more.

Do you have any cool tricks you’ve discovered. Feel free to share!

***UPDATE*** So I still stand by the pledge method, however in order to stay on the up and up with all you Readers, I need to update what I am doing. I love the Pledge way, however I do not love the waxy buildup that occurs on my tile floor from the spray falling. For a while I placed a towel down. And that worked ok, but my laziness kicked in. For the last few weeks I have switched too Weiman Stainless Steel cleaner. It works really well so far. So I kind of go back and forth. With the Wieman I have to watch for overspray on the cabintes, Pledge I do not. So anyway, now you know all and my guilt is now relieved!

Also there are a ton of other good hints down in the comments section. So try them out and let me know which method you prefer! I am so glad that I am not the only one on a mission to make Stainless Steel stainless once more!

Want more cleaning tips? Check them out here.