Wall-Sized Paint-By-Number

Sometime around last March or April, I got a crazy idea to paint a giant paint-by-number image on one of the walls of our bedroom. We’d been talking about how that wall was so blank and really needed something. Then we’d been at a friend’s sister’s house and liked the giant vinyl self-adhesive trees that she had on her wall, so I started browsing the internet for something similar and stumbled onto a couple of blog posts where people had done giant paint-by-numbers (see here, here, here, and here). I quickly became obsessed with this idea.

In all my browsing, the best place to find images was at The Paint By Number Museum, but you can also search for paint by numbers on places like Ebay and Etsy, though the images may not be as clear. I quickly realized that if I had to distort or crop the image to fit on the wall, it usually ruined the aesthetics of the image. So, I measured my wall and then looked for images that were similar proportions. I settled on this image:


I debated several options for getting the image on the wall, including using an overhead projector (remember those?) and projecting the image onto the wall directly from my computer. In the end, I couldn’t figure out how to get the image enlarged to wall size with one of those methods. Nor could I figure out how to do it a piece at a time while making sure it was enlarged to exactly wall size. So I opted to go old school.


I got out the tracing paper from one of my art classes, converted the image slightly to make sure it was the same proportions as my wall, and then traced it using a light box (you can do this on a window as well). Then I created a grid on another sheet of tracing paper marked off so that every box would be a square foot on my wall, except for the bottom and right edges. I then overlaid this onto my tracing. I did this on separate page so I wouldn’t get confused about which lines were grid versus the drawing.


Then I needed to transfer it to the wall. I marked off the ends of the grid lines along the four sides of my wall. Then I used black thread and taped it at the ends to create the grid lines. This way I could remove the grid lines after the drawing was transferred and I wouldn’t get confused about what the drawing areas were.


I then drew the traced image freehand onto the wall by consulting my tracing. I recommend a really hard pencil, because it will leave thin, light lines. Again, I had a nice 2H pencil and kneaded eraser hanging around from an art class.


It was basically impossible to get a picture of the wall with the image drawn on it. It just didn’t show up. But here’s a close up of a little section:


Now it was time to sort out how many colors the picture had and what colors I would need. I started by scanning my tracing and printing a copy on white paper. I then sat down with a big set of colored pencils and started coloring in all the different colors, one color at a time, making sure I got every section. I didn’t aim to to be accurate in the colors I was using — I was more interested in being able to tell them apart later. Here’s the end result with what turned out to be 17 colors.


I thought it would be too hard to work off this dense image, and I didn’t want to label the sections on the wall with the numbers. I was afraid that not all the colors would cover the numbers well. So, I divided the colors up onto six separate print-outs of the tracing to make them easier to see.


Time to choose paints! Based on my calculations, one of these 7.5 ounce test-size containers would give me more than enough total paint. The question remained whether for the colors with more surface area if I would have enough. Turns out I did! I got the eggshell, which has a nice bit of sheen, but not too much.


Choosing paint colors was kind of tedious. I went to the Home Depot and picked up a few (ahem) paint chips.


I compared these to the print out of the image that I had, and picked colors. Here are my final picks.


And here’s the full set of paints!


Some of the info I had seen indicated that people used sponge brushes to put the paint on the walls. I tried this, and it really was awful. It could be because our walls are kind of textured. But whatever the reason, I went with brushes.


I used the two that are second and third from the left for a while until I pretty much destroyed them (those bristles are totally splayed out!). These are all cheap brushes, again from some general purpose set of brushes from some art class. Nothing special. After I killed those, I moved on to the two next to them. Occasionally I needed to paint large sections and I swished the next to last brush. In one tiny section I used the little brush on the right, but I tried not to be that picky about it most of the time.

I used disposable plastic cups for the paint and paper plates for putting my brushes on.



In the end I put two coats of paint on everything, and three coats on the two yellowish greens at the bottom of the second column in the photo above. They covered really poorly.


I estimate that the painting along took me about 60 hours, plus all the hours I spent figuring out the best way to approach each step of the project.


I found the painting very meditating to do — a total surprise to me, since knitting and sewing usually involve lots of cursing.

And here’s the final result!


And just for fun, I created this animation of all the photos I took along the way.


How to Hang a Quilt Tutorial

As I was hanging up some of my quilts recently, I was thinking that some of you might be interested to know how I’m doing this without any visible hanging mechanism showing.

I learned this method from the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, and figured if it’s good enough for a museum, it’s surely good enough for me! And that you folks out there might like to know how it’s done as well.

The Alley, versions I and II, hanging in our living room

First thing you’ll need to do is make a sleeve for the back of your quilt. I didn’t take any photos of this process, but it should be wide enough to fit whatever you are using as a hanger, and a little narrower than your quilt. I cut my strips 6 inches wide, then sewed them in half down the long side with a 1/2″ seam allowance. I pressed the seam open so that it was oriented down the middle of the strip, and then laid the strip with the seam side against the quilt. I don’t bother to do any finishing to the seam OR to the short ends of the sleeve. Not really necessary.

Here’s the slowest step: hand sew the sleeve to the back of the quilt. No way around this really. And it doesn’t have to be pretty, it just needs to be secure.

Okay, now here’s what you’ll need to get it up on the wall:

How to Hang a Quilt Tutorial, step 1

1. Quilt with sleeve attached
2. Piece of wood or dowel for hanger. Make sure it is thick enough to put your screw eyes (see below) into. Mine was a piece of pine 1/4″ thick by 1 5/16″ wide. It was less than $1 a board foot. We were able to cut it to length and buy however much we wanted at the Home Depot.
3. Two screw eyes – here’s a photo of the ones I used

How to Hang a Quilt Tutorial, step 4

4. Straight edge
5. Pencil
6. Hacksaw (or your favorite tool) for cutting the wood or dowel.
7. Sandpaper

Step one: Lay the wood or dowel on the quilt to see how long you need to cut it. You want it long enough so that when you screw the screw eyes into the end they will stick out past the hanger but NOT past the edge of the quilt.

How to Hang a Quilt Tutorial, step 2

Step two: Use the straight edge and the pencil to mark a line where you need to cut.

How to Hang a Quilt Tutorial, step 3

Step three: Cut the wood or dowel. Sorry, I don’t have a photo of this step, because I was cutting! This is the most fun step, by the way. Who doesn’t love tools?? Use the sandpaper to sand the cut edges so they don’t snag your quilt.

Step four: Screw your screw eyes into the end of the wood or dowel. I did this with my hands – no other tools required. If you are having trouble screwing them in, try holding the screw eye with vice grips, or putting a pencil or something through the eye that you can use to turn it.

How to Hang a Quilt Tutorial, step 5

Step five: Check to see that everything looks good. The screw eyes should stick out past the hanging sleeve but not past the edge of the quilt.

How to Hang a Quilt Tutorial, step 6

Step six: Put the hanger into the sleeve.

How to Hang a Quilt Tutorial, step 7

Voila! You are ready to hang!

Here’s what you need to hang your quilt:

How to Hang a Quilt Tutorial, step 8

1. Hammer
2. Two nails
3. Level (if you care that much)
4. Oh, and maybe a pencil

I don’t have photos of this either, but all you need to do is take your quilt with the hanger in the sleeve and hold it up on the wall where you want it (this, of course, may require a helper so you can step back and look). Check to see that it’s level, then mark the spots through the centers of the screw eyes with the pencil. Hammer a nail into the center of each circle you marked and hang the quilt on the nails.

How to Hang a Quilt Tutorial, step 9

(You can even see here where I screwed up and hung this one crooked the first time and had to go back and redo it. That’s what I get for doing these without a helper!)

It’s so simple, that I can’t believe I didn’t figure this out by myself. Note that if you are hanging big quilts, you will likely want bigger, sturdier wood. The museum told me they hang big quilts on what is essentially flat baseboard molding. Who knew?

Happy Hanging!

Mosaic Piecing Tutorial

First off on this Monday morning, I wanted to tell you that I’m *definitely* participating in Project Selvage.You’ve heard of it by now I’m sure, but Spoonflower and Michael Miller are teaming up to find the next fabric designer for Michael Miller fabrics. It’s very exciting, but I think the theme (Baby Boy) is pretty challenging! I already have ideas swimming around in my little brain.

What I really want to talk to you about today is the mosaic quilt that I’ve been making. I actually have it AND it’s partner quilt — a second quilt based on the same photograph — ready to have the binding hand-stitched to the back. I don’t have any photos to share with you right now, but I thought it might be nice to post a tutorial on how I did the piecing.

I spent HOURS arranging all these little 2″ squares, and I was concerned that I would make myself crazy trying to keep them all straight as I was piecing the quilt, so I devised this little plan and wanted to share it with you.

Mosaic Piecing Tutorial

In order to keep the order and orientation of the pieces straight while I was piecing them, I used a masking tape system that worked out great. I put a tiny piece of masking tape on each of the 20 squares in the first row. Each piece of masking tape had a little folded over tab at the top that made it easy to take off later. I put the labels in the centers of the squares (approximately) to keep them out of the way of the stitching. I could easily tell which way was right-side up, because the little tabs were at the top.

Masking tape works great because 1) it isn’t very tacky so it doesn’t leave weird residue on the fabric, 2) it’s tacky enough to stay put for the time you need it to stay put and to reuse multiple times, and 3) it’s cheap.

Here’s a close-up of the masking tape labels.

Mosaic Piecing Tutorial 1

And here’s the first row all labeled up.

Mosaic Piecing Tutorial 2

Once the row was labeled, I moved it over to my ironing board that sits next to my sewing machine.

Mosaic Piecing Tutorial 3

I sewed all the squares for this quilt together using chain piecing, which requires you to just keep sewing between the pairs and not cut the seams. You should check that your machine is okay with this before you do it (my Viking doesn’t mind a bit). Also, I always start and end on a scrap so that I only really start sewing one time. This saves a lot of time and eliminates a lot of problems that can occur at the beginning of your stitching.

Here you can see my starter scrap in the back — the little yellow piece with multiple lines of stitching on it — followed by the first pair of squares.

Mosaic Piecing Tutorial 4

I chain pieced pairs together for the entire row — square 1 to square 2, square 3 to square 4, etc. Here they all are laid out on my ironing board, still attached to one another with the starter scrap on the left. The scrap I used at the end is still under the presser foot on the sewing machine.

Mosaic Piecing Tutorial 5

Keeping them all in order, I clipped them apart. (By the way, I could not live without these 4″ Gingher snips. So wonderful!)

Mosaic Piecing Tutorial 6

Here they are all cut apart.

Mosaic Piecing Tutorial 7

Then I opened up the pairs and sewed pairs of pairs together. So, I sewed the 1/2 pair to the 3/4 pair.

Mosaic Piecing Tutorial 8

Then the 5/6 pair to the 7/8 pair, and so on. I continued chain piecing throughout.

Mosaic Piecing Tutorial 9

At the end of this round of piecing I had 5 sets of squares. Here they are still attached to each other and the starter scrap.

Mosaic Piecing Tutorial 10

Opened out they look like this. Note that I haven’t pressed any seams yet! This makes the sewing way faster and lets me keep all my labels on without having to worry about avoiding them with the iron.

Mosaic Piecing Tutorial 11

Next up, I sewed the first two sets together and the third and fourth set together. The fifth set had to wait out this round.

Mosaic Piecing Tutorial 12

Then I sewed what are now the second and third sets together (squares 9-20). The reason I didn’t just attach the two larger sets to each other is that I think piecing goes more smoothly if the two parts you are sewing together are closer to the same size. If I piece the 1-8 section to the 9-16 section, I would have ended up with one section of 16 pieces and one of 4 pieces. The way I did it keeps it slightly more even.

Mosaic Piecing Tutorial 13

Then, I pieced the very last seam. Note that I am still doing the chain piecing at this point, with a starter scrap, my single pieced seam, and an ending scrap.

Mosaic Piecing Tutorial 14

Once I had the row finished, I transferred all the masking tape labels to the next row on the design wall. You shouldn’t need the labels on the pieced row any longer because you’ll be able to double-check the proper orientation for it against your photo of the quilt laid out (you do always take a photo when you’ve decided on your layout don’t you? I refer back to these photos often to make sure I haven’t switched anything around).

It’s finally time to press. I decided at the beginning of this that I was going to press all the seams open. That’s because 1) the pieces were such different values that I didn’t want them showing through light fabrics in places, 2) I had already developed a quilting plan that meant I was going to be quilting across all these open seams multiple times to help reinforce them, and 3) it would allow me to save all the pressing to the end!

I recommend first either finger pressing all the seams open…

Mosaic Piecing Tutorial 15

…or using a hera marker to do this. I chose the hera marker because my wimpy fingernails would never have made it through the entire quilt finger pressing! I don’t usually do this step before pressing with the iron, but I thought it would make the iron pressing go a lot more smoothly because all these little tiny seams are so close together.

Mosaic Piecing Tutorial 16

Then, I pressed all the seams with an iron on the back side…

Mosaic Piecing Tutorial 17

…and flipped the finished row over and pressed it from the front.

Mosaic Piecing Tutorial 18

Once I completed sewing each of the individual rows together, I switched all the labels to the first square in each row and assembled the rows. I’ll admit to you that I did not pin this quilt at all. I just matched up each of the seams as I went. It turned out pretty well!

I opted to press the longer seams to one side, because I wasn’t going to be sewing across them. When pressing to one side, I find it easier to press as I go, so after each seam. Since you’ll keep the masking tape labels on throughout this assembly (or at least one label per sewn-up section), be sure when you press these seams that you do not press the masking tape label on that first block, as it can get very yucky when you do that!

Questions or anything you think is unclear? Let me know!

Light Me Up Lamp Shade Slip Cover Tutorial

This is so easy you’ll be making these in your sleep!

Lamp Shade Slip Cover Tutorial 18

As part of my Open House preparations I wanted to do a quick reversible makeover of the lamp shades in our bedroom. What better than little slip covers? These were SO easy to make that I’m now tempted to cover all the drab off-white lamp shades in our house. I have not yet tested this on the more squarish lamp shades, but I have a feeling that it will work pretty much the same.

Basically, these are little bands of fabric with elastic at the top and bottom. I went with a slightly unorthodox method of not sewing the side seam until after I made the casings, because trying to fold under the hem for the casings after it was already a circle was way too hard. I’m all for making it easy!


Light Me Up Lamp Shade Slip Cover Tutorial

  • One piece of fabric big enough to trace your lamp shade plus about 4 inches. This will depend on how big your lamp shade is, so you’ll just have to test it. My fairly small lamp shade required about 3/4 of a yard.
  • Thread
  • 1/4 inch wide elastic — measure the circumference of both the top and bottom of your lamp and add them together. You’ll need about 2/3 of this length.

1. Trace your lamp shade onto the wrong side of your fabric. Start with a point on your shade that you will recognize when you get back to it again — I started at the shade’s seam. Roll the shade over the fabric, tracing the arc that the top of the shade makes as you go. Stop when the point on the shade where you started is back to the fabric again.

Lamp Shade Slip Cover Tutorial 1

2. Then roll the shade back and trace the arc the bottom of the shade makes. Or you can trace them both at the same time by rolling the shade and tracing a few inches at a time of both the top and bottom, then rolling the shade a bit further, tracing some more, etc.

Lamp Shade Slip Cover Tutorial 2

3. Once you have the outline of the shade, draw lines to connect the ends of the top and bottom arcs. In the photo below, this is the inner shape. We need to add some extra for seam allowances and casings, so add 1/2″ to each short end and 2″ to each of the arcs. The outer shape below is your final pattern piece for your slip cover.

Lamp Shade Slip Cover Tutorial 3

4. Cut out your slip cover along the outside lines.

Lamp Shade Slip Cover Tutorial 4

5. Turn up both the top and bottom arcs 3/4 inch.

Lamp Shade Slip Cover Tutorial 5

6. Press.

Lamp Shade Slip Cover Tutorial 6

7. Unfold that 3/4 inch and press under 1/4 inch. If you really wanted to you could press under the 1/4 inch first, followed by pressing another 1/2 inch. I just find pressing the full amount first is more accurate in the end.

Take your time with the turning and pressing. Because of the curves this is kind of fussy, but it’s the only hard part. After this, you’re practically home free!

Lamp Shade Slip Cover Tutorial 7

This is what it looks like when both curves have been turned under twice and pressed.

Lamp Shade Slip Cover Tutorial 8

8. Pin. I recommend pinning here, since the curves and the bias edges make this not want to behave so well.

Lamp Shade Slip Cover Tutorial 9

9. Stitch both of the long curved edges near the folded edge to form the casings for the elastic.

Lamp Shade Slip Cover Tutorial 10

10. Cut two pieces of elastic to 2/3 of the circumference of each circle. If the top of your lamp is 21 inches and the bottom of your lamp is 30 inches, then cut the elastic for the top casing to 14 inches long and the elastic for the bottom casing to 20 inches long. Insert the elastic into the casings. I stick a safety pin through the end of the elastic and feed it through. If you actually own a bodkin, please feel free to use that!

11. When you get the elastic through, line up the end of the elastic with the end of the casing and pin about 3/4 inch from the end.

Lamp Shade Slip Cover Tutorial 11

This is what it looks like when you have all four ends pinned.

Lamp Shade Slip Cover Tutorial 12

12. Fold the slip cover in half with the right sides together so that the two short ends are lined up with each other. It should look like this.

Lamp Shade Slip Cover Tutorial 13

13. Sew a 1/2 inch seam. This seam will also secure the elastic.

Lamp Shade Slip Cover Tutorial 14

14. Finish this seam allowance. I used the seam/overcast stitch on my machine. A zig-zag is good too. This just makes it look neat and keeps it from unraveling when you wash it.

Lamp Shade Slip Cover Tutorial 15

15. Press the seam and turn right side out. Slip onto your lamp shade. Here’s the top view on the lamp shade.

Lamp Shade Slip Cover Tutorial 16

And here’s the front view.

Lamp Shade Slip Cover Tutorial 17

And here it is on the lamp. Pretty cute, eh? And super duper easy!

Lamp Shade Slip Cover Tutorial 18

Please let me know if you need any clarifications.

This was really fun and could easily be customized with all kinds of trims. You could also trace the shade onto paper (tape pieces together to get something big enough if you need to), and sew strips of fabric together until you have something big enough to lay your pattern piece on. Like an improv quilt as a lamp shade! I might have to try that! This time I was aiming for simple and not too attention-grabbing, since I want the focus to be on the quilts!

This tutorial and loads of other free tutorials are indexed at Kostenlose-schnittmuster.de. The site is in German, but you can view the category list in English, and the tutorials are in a variety of languages.

Linda’s Laptop Sleeve

Another awesome reader, Linda, has made a laptop sleeve using my Laptop Sleeve Tutorial. And she sent me photos to put up!

She also made a pouch for her extra battery and a draw-string bag for her mouse, powercord, and other accessories. Cute!

I love seeing all the different closure methods people use for this. Linda said she “used Velcro to fasten the flap and sewed buttons on the flap to somewhat hide the zigzag stitching on the outside.” Great idea!

Linda says, “I think the construction of the lining and flap is so clever and makes such a neat finish. I’m really happy with how it came out – plus, it is so functional!”

Thanks, Linda! I’ve been pretty happy with the response to this little pattern. It’s already one of the most popular pages on my blog!

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