Wednesday, September 29, 2010


It's been a crazy few weeks of birthday parties, KCWC, Celebrate Yellow (all of which are still on the cutting table thanks to KCWC:), custom orders, and beach trips!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Making Do Monday - Shell Collecting Bag

First, let me apologize for skipping Making Do Monday last week. This is where I was...

Watching this...
And more of this...
And some of this...
So once again, I'm sorry!
But, at least I road-tested this week's project:)

Belle has a thing for bags...and HOARDING! So the night before we left for the beach, I thought she might like a new vessel for collecting shells. I raided the stash as usual and here's a quick how-to for a Shell Collecting Bag (or rock/leaf/flower/stick/gum wrapper/fabric scrap/ collecting...we've done it ALL!).
Finished Bag measures approximately 10"x12".
You will need:
Fabric Scraps
Cotton Quilt Batting Scraps
All seam allowances are 1/2" unless otherwise noted.
1. Cut pieces.
Outside: Cut two 10.5"x9.5" (top sections-Fabric A). Cut two 10.5"x3.5" (bottom sections -Fabric B).
Batting: Cut two 10.5"x13"
Inside: Cut two 10.5"x13.5" (Fabric C)
2. Make Outside Panels: Assemble one panel at a time. Sew one piece of Fabric A to one piece of Fabric B along 10.5" side. Press open. Top stitch close to seam. Place panel on one piece of batting. Be sure to line panel up with bottom edge of batting. Machine quilt in desired pattern. I simply stitched diagonal lines zigzagging back and forth across the panels. Repeat for second panel.
3. Assemble Outside: Place two panels right sides together and stitch down both sides and across bottom. Flatten corners and sew across to "box" the bottom of the bag. Clip excess fabric out of corner. IF YOU'VE NEVER "BOXED" THE CORNERS OF A BAG, YOU CAN SKIP THIS STEP...OR WAIT FOR A BOXED CORNER TUTORIAL COMING LATER THIS WEEK!
4. Assemble inside: Place two Fabric C panels right sides together. Sew down both sides and across bottom. Flatten corners and sew across to "box" the bottom. Be sure to sew at same distance from corner as you did for the outside. Clip excess.
5. Create straps: Cut two 3" wide LONG strips (I used remnants from my window treatments:). Drape these across your child (or yourself if you are making a bag for you) and cut them to the desired length. I left mine pretty long so the bag could grow with Belle. Place the strips right sides together and sew down both of the long edges. Turn strap right side out and press. Top stitch both edges.
6. Attach Strap: Place strap on one side of outer part of bag with right sides together and sew using 1/4" seam allowance. Flip strap to other side and repeat. If you pick the bag up by the handle you should be able to see what it will look like when it is finished. Be sure your strap isn't twisted!!!
7.. Assemble bag: Turn outer bag right side out and slip down inside inner bag. Right sides should be facing each other. Line up end seams and pin bags together all around top edge. Be sure strap is completely tucked down in between the layers. Sew around the edge leaving a 3" opening for turning. Turn bag right side out and stuff liner down inside outer bag. The liner is slightly taller than the outer bag so it should form a pretty little border almost like quilt binding around the top. Press a crease into this top edge. Fold the strap up into place and press well. Top stitch at top and bottom edges of liner border. You will be top stitching over the outside of your strap securing it in place.
DONE! Now go collect something:)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

KCWC - Project #3

Wait! What happened to Project #2???
No you haven't missed anything, but a second Pintuck Sweatshirt in a lovely shade of orchid just didn't seem worthy of its own post, no matter how sweet the fabric color. So, we've moved on...

Remember those stacks of colorful squares that opened KCWC for me??? Well, here they are!

This was a total experiment! There are so many things here that I've never tried before.

1. Quilt as you go: I joined up with other quilters over here for the second round of Quilt As You Go Challenge. Never have I ever, but it looked like fun. And since we have absolutely NO need for yet another quilt in this house I really wanted to do something that would be more practical.

2. Quilted Clothing: When I started quilting in the 80's, quilted clothing was not so lovely:) And for the last 20+ years it has left a bad taste in my mouth. But since Belle prefers to wear skirts every single day, I figured I had better start figuring out some warmer versions.

3. Machine Quilting: I'm a purist! Quilts are pieced by hand, quilted by hand, and bound by hand. Now don't get me wrong, I have occassionally pieced on the machine when I was working on a time-sensitive project....but QUILT on the machine...NEVER! But since this isn't actually a quilt, I don't feel as much guilt about breaking with tradition here.

So how'd I do it???

1. Quilt as you go blocks: I created a stack of blocks using the method described here

2. Then I stitched them all together to form the main panel of the skirt.

3. Quilt it - The skirt was already round, so this was a bit trickier, but still not too bad.

4. Bind the bottom edge - just like you bind a quilt.

5. Create a waistband - I made the wasitband separately then stitched it on...afterwards, I wished that I had done the extra seam allowance math to put in a French seam...then the skirt would have been totally reversible, but alas, I didn't, so I couldn't, so it isn't.


Definitely NOT a project I would ever undertake again, but fun and interesting and worth the effort ONCE:) Will I ever "quilt as I go" again??? Probably! It's a great technique for small projects or a speedy method for large projects, as long as I can get past the machine-made aspect of the whole thing:)

Two days of KCWC still to come...lots of ideas, lots of new fabric choices, not enough hours in the day:) Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

KCWC - Project #1

I started the Kids' Clothing Week Challenge with a doosy of a project. After my first night's hour of work, I had...well...a stack of colorful squares:( More on that later...

So for day 2 I decided to tackle something that could actually be finished in an hour.

A while back I purchased several patterns from including this pintuck sweater pattern I have been collecting fleece sweatshirt material ever since, but had yet to manage to even get one cut out. So for KCWC Day 2 I pulled it all out and decided to make a winter top for Belle (we're headed to Niagra in November, so warm clothes are much more crucial to us than normal at this time of year).

Let me say that I LOVE Heidi and Finn patterns. They are typically fairly simple for someone with basic sewing knowledge, but the results have that little something extra that makes them stand out in your child's wardrobe. And this pattern definitely lived up to my expectations and then some:)

In just under and hour I was able to put this cutey together...and plan for about a gazillion more!!!

Oh, and hopefully I'll actually get that first project finished this week too:)

Friday, September 17, 2010


Belle is:) Literally and figuratively! She was terrified of this costume and wouldn't go near it for weeks. On the BIG day, I was convinced that we would never get it on her. Our back-up plan was to carry the costume around on a hanger and make her wear a sign that said, "I'm too chicken for my costume!" Thankfully, we distracted her enough to get it over her head and once she was in it, she loved it:)

Quick Halloween Costume Tutorial - THE CHICKEN!

You will need:

1 super large hooded sweatshirt...ours hangs past Belle's knees
several feather boas - the number will depend on the size of your sweatshirt and how closely you stitch them on...we used 6
an outside space to me on this one!
dye (if, like me, you can't find yellow or orange tights)
yellow felt (the stiff kind)
red felt optional (also the stiff stuff)
1/4 elastic

To make the chicken:

Optional Comb - Cut a comb for the top of the head from red felt. Stitch it to the top of the hood. It doesn't matter that the bottom edge is won't be soon:) Our comb doesn't even really show, so you may want to make this pretty large if you want it to show out from under the feathers...or skip it altogether.

GO OUTSIDE (or in your garage)! Stitch the end of one boa to the bottom edge of your sweatshirt. Snake the boa up and down the sweatshirt, tacking it in place as you go. There' s no easy way to do this. You will itch, you may sneeze and you will be covered in feathers. The floor will be covered in feathers; the chair will be covered in feathers; your toes will be covered in feathers. If you are inside your house, your husband will NOT be happy! Keep stitching anyway. Be sure you are snaking up and down, NOT around the sweatshirt. Otherwise, all your little tacking stitches will tear out when the shirt stretches. When the sweatshirt is covered, use the same method to cover the hood.

To make the legs/feet:

If you couldn't find yellow or orange tights, then you will need to dye some. Follow the package directions to do this. THEY WILL BLEED IN THE WASH! No matter what the package says, you will find yellow spots on your favorite dress, the cutest pajamas in your house, and that adorable little skirt you made for going to the pumpkin patch.

For the feet - we magically had a pair of yellow fake Crocs (Thanks, Neeny!) already in our house. I used stiff yellow felt to cut out feet. I attached a piece of elastic to the edges of each foot so that it would slip over Belle's shoes.

The matching baby costume was a simple onesie with "egg" appliqued to the front. She got her own yellow tights too:) At just 6 weeks old, this was as close to a costume as she needed! But isn't she the cutest...I miss my BABY!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Making Do Mondays - Basic School Skirts

I spent an entire afternoon, a couple of weeks ago, taking inventory of the girls' closets and drawers. I pulled out all the hand-me-downs and last fall's clearance purchases for Bee and dug out all the spring clothes that I thought might still fit Belle. I laid them out all over each respective child's floor (I should have taken a picture of THAT!) and made a list of what was missing. Here's my list:

Bee: NOTHING! Between Belle's hand-me-downs and the super amazing deals I found at the end of the season last year she has pretty much everything she is going to need this fall. I'm sure she'll get a few new appliqued long-sleeve onesies too, since there just happen to be several in her size waiting in my stash, but all in all, she's set:):):)

Belle: Long-sleeve tees, leggings in basic colors, warm "comfy" pants in basic colors, and heavier "comfy" skirts. We don't even bother to buy this kid jeans anymore because she flat-out refuses to put them on...I'm still wondering whose kid this really is!

Thanks to a neighbor who "drug" me out to the outlets at 9pm on tax-free weekend (she really had to twist my arm!), the tees, leggings, and pants were taken care of in less than an hour...primarily because the stores closed at 10:) But there was still the issue of the skirts that are Belle's preferred daily attire.

I raided the fabric stash and cut out a gazillion skirts. I was amazed at all the fun fabric combinations I was able to come up with. And because a size 3T skirt takes less than half a yard, I could have kept cutting for days. But since, I actually had to sew all of them I decided that 10 was my limit...yeah, I know that's a little ridiculous, but she LOVES skirts and I LOATHE doing laundry.

So here's the basic tutorial for the skirts.
1. Measure the length that you want the skirts to be. In our case, 11 inches from waist to the middle of the Belle's knee.
2. Add 3 inches (1.5" for hem and 1.5" for elastic casing). This is the total length of fabric that you will need for the skirt. In our case 14". Commit that number to memory and you can start playing.

3. Basic skirt:
a. For a basic skirt, cut a piece of fabric that is 14" long and the width of the fabric. Be sure that you have trimmed the selvage off.
b. Fold the fabric hamburger-style with right-sides together. Sew using 3/8" seam allowance down the short side.
c. Turn right side out and press in hem and elastic casing. To do this, along both the top and bottom edges, first fold in 1/2" and press. Then fold in another 1" and press.
d. Hem the skirt on the bottom edge. I like to add two rows of stitching just because it looks a little more professional.
e. Stitch the bottom edge of the elastic casing, leaving a 1" gap to insert elastic.
f. Use a safety pin to thread elastic through the casing. Elastic should be 1-2" smaller than your child's waist.
g. Sew ends of elastic together and tuck into casing.
h. Finish stitching last 1" of casing closed.

4. For Hem-Band Skirt (see Cow example):
a. Cut main skirt piece that is length minus 3 (in our case 14-3=11) inches by the width of the fabric.
b. Cut hem band that is 7 inches by width of the fabric.
*** At this point, be sure that your hem band and skirt pieces are EXACTLY the same width. You may need to trim one a little.
c. Fold hem band in half hot dog style (or lengthwise) and press fold well.
d. Make skirt using Basic skirt directions, but omit hem.
e. Open fold of hem band and refold hamburger style with right sides together.
f. Stitch short sides together to form a large cylinder. Be sure to use the same seam allowance that you used in making the body of the skirt. Refold hot dog style with wrong sides together.
g. Slip skirt into hem band with raw edges matched and folded edge up toward top of skirt.
h. Sew around skirt 1/2" above raw edges. Finish raw edges with tight zigzag stitch or serger.
i. Fold hem band down into place and press well.
j. Top stitch just above hem band, all the way around the skirt.

5. For Skirt with Pockets:
a. Make skirt using Basic Skirt Directions.
b. For EACH pocket - cut 2 rectangles 1" bigger than your desired pocket size (you can make the pockets any size you want). If you are making 2 pockets, then you need 4 rectangles.
c. For each pocket, put the 2 pieces right sides together and stitch all the way around the 4 sides, leaving about 2" open for turning.
d. Turn each pocket ride side out and press.
e. Pin pockets in place on skirt. PIN WELL!!!! Be sure that the opening in the seam is on any side of the pocket EXCEPT the top. It will get stitched closed when you attach the pocket.
f. Sew around the two sides and bottom of the pocket. I like to backstitch a few times on both of the top corners so they are less likely to pull away from the skirt when little hands and shoved down in there.

You can continue making variations...patchwork, stripes, pocket styles, etc. until your stash is destashed or your machine is kaput:) Just stick to the length measurement that you committed to memory at the beginning of the process and have fun!

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due: The artwork on the pocket skirt is NOT my original creation. I borrowed the design from which sells adorable hand-carved stamps. I fell in love with this Super Girl, but preferred embroidery to stamped design for this particular project. I never intended to display her, sell her, advertise her etc. and only shared her today to illustrate the pocket design.

Friday, September 10, 2010

And how old are you today???

My baby is! I'm really not sure where the last 365 days have gone. It seems like just minutes ago that her curly little head made its way into the world (with black hair!!!). And suddenly she is walking and talking and causing trouble. Whoever has the remote for our little world - will you please push rewind, or at the very least, pause? She's my last baby and I would really like some more time to enjoy her soapy smell, wobbly waddle, squishy thighs, and sweet giggles.

In honor of Bee's birthday - A BIRTHDAY DRESS! So your little gal can tell the world exactly "how many" she is:)

1. I used the Tuesday Top pattern from The body is a gorgeous turquoise damask print and has sweet grass green dot flutter sleeve.

2. For just a bit of additional interest, instead of using a solid panel for the back I added a narrow 1.5" strip of the sleeve fabric down the middle. To do this I cut a long strip of green and sewed it between two rectangles of blue. Then I made sure to center the pattern piece over the stripe before I cut the back panel.

3. When the dress was finished I added the applique "1." I played with the direction of the stripes and eventually fell in love with the diagonal placement...kind of a men's necktie style stripe:) I drew the number on paper, then created a mirror image. The easiest way for me to do this is to go over the outline in dark, heavy marker. Then I can just turn the paper over and trace the outline on the back of the paper. I traced the mirror image onto iron-on fusing paper, cut around the image and followed the package instructions to fuse it first to the wrong side of my fabric then to the dress. I used a wide zigzag to stitch around the edges.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Making Do Monday - Birthday Bash!

It's Making Do Monday again and we just happen to be celebrating Bee's 1st birthday, so I thought a Birthday Bash theme would be appropriate:)

On Wednesday of last week I realized that little Bee's birthday party was on Saturday and, well....ummmm....I was TOTALLY unprepared. I had made no plans, bought nothing, made nothing, and was basically in denial of the fact that my baby was turning 1. It was time to get busy!

Belle helped me decided on a theme. Can you guess????


In our family, we don't do big parties with lots of little munchkins until the age of 3 (totally arbitrary rule that we created completely on accident, but we like it, so we're sticking with it), so I didn't need crazy numbers of things to occupy 20 little tyrannosauruses. Just a few party favors for the kids in our life who qualify as "family" even if they aren't actually related. The backyard, all the new toys, not to mention the pizza and cake would provide plenty of entertainment.

We decided that a dinosaur party needed to be green, but then added in a little pink to make it more girly. I raided the stash and came up with a pile of pink and green fabric that was taller than Bee. During nap on Wednesday I drew a few big dino pictures for Belle to color while I cut out all the things we would be making (more on the magic dino pics in another post) .

After 2 days of cutting, pinning, sewing and stitching we were able to put together an entire party with just the things on hand. That's Making Do at its best, if I do say so myself!

As always, if your stash isn't as generous as mine, all the directions below include general guidelines for what you might need to buy.

Table Bunting:

You will need - lots of pieces of fabric (you can make as many flags as you want in as many different fabrics as you want...mine has 15 flags of 15 different fabrics all backed in white), a long piece of ribbon
1. Create a triangle pennant pattern. I did this with a large sheet of paper. Fold the paper in half hot dog style but crease only about one inch at the edge of the paper. Make a small mark at the very edge of the paper right on your crease. That mark will be the bottom point of your pennant. Then using a straight edge, draw a line connecting that point to each of the top corners of the paper. Cut the excess smaller triangles off and discard (or give to your child to color).
2. Trace your pattern onto the backsides of your fabric pieces. You will need TWO triangles for each flag. You can make the front and back match or pick coordinating fabric for the back sides (I just used white).
3. Place each pair of traingles right sides together and pin down the two long sides.
4. Sew down the two long sides of each traingle, then clip the point at the bottom off (be careful not to clip your stitches) and turn the flag right side out.
5. Press the flag and, if necessary, trim so that the top (RAW) edge is straight.
6. Line the flags up and put them in the order you want them to hang. My flags are all about 1 inch apart. Place the ribbon over the top edge of the flags and pin in place. Be sure that the raw edges do not show above the edge of the ribbon.
7. Use a wide zigzag stitch to sew each flag to the ribbon. If you are using satin ribbon, as I was, it is easier to sew each flag on separately and clip the threads between each one. If you are using grograin ribbon you can sew one long stitch line down the entire ribbon.
8. Be sure to clip any loose threads or strings from the raw edges.
Your bunting can be secured with packing tape to your table, high chair, or mantel. It can also be tied to deck rails, fence posts etc. for an outdoor party.

Gift Bags:

You will need - large rectangle of fabric (2 per bag), ribbon or cord
1. Decide how large your finished bag needs to be. Mine are 12x16, but you will not likely need one that large for most types of party favors.
2. Add seam allowances...this is a bit of tricky math so I'm going to show you mine:
a. Double the length 16x2=32
b. Add 2 inches to the length for foldover 32+2=34
c. Add 1/2" to the length for seam allowance 34+1/2=34.5
d. Add 1 to the width for seam allowance 12+1=13
e. Cutting measurements are now 13x34.5.
3. Cut TWO rectangles for each bag.
4. Place the two rectangles right sides together and using a 1/4" seam allowance, sew all the way around the edges leaving a 4" opening for turning.
5. Clip the corners and turn the bag right side out. Press flat and be sure to press the raw edges of the opening under so they will be sewn closed in the next step. Fold the short ends down 1" to form the ribbon casing and press in place. Then fold the bag in half hamburger style and will now see what your finished bag will look like.
6. Sew across the bottom edges of the ribbon casing. Then, using a 1/4" seam allowance, sew down the two sides of the bag from the bottom edge of the ribbon casing to the bottom of the bag. DO NOT SEW THE RIBBON CASING CLOSED!
7. Cut a piece of ribbon that is the width of your bag + 6 x 2 (12+6=18, 18x2=36, so cut 36" of ribbon). Use a safety pin to thread it through the ribbon casing. Tie the two ends of the ribbon together in a small knot. If you are adding a bag tag - wait to tie the ends together until after you have put it on.

Bag Tags:
You will need - small scraps of felt, embroidery thread, small piece of ribbon

1. Draw the shape of your tag on a piece of paper and cut it out. Use this to trace a front and back for each tag you want to make. Mine were dinos, of course.
2. Cut out an initial for each tag if desired.
3. Stitch the initial (or other design) to the front of the tag. I used a back stitch, but you can just use a regular running stitch if you want.
4. Put the front and back together WRONG SIDES TOGETHER. Fold a small piece of ribbon in half and insert the raw edge end between the two layers of felt at the top of the tag. Pin in place. Stitch around the outside edge being careful to use neat, even stitches.
5. Slip the ribbon loop over the ribbon of your gift bag and then tie the bag ribbon ends together.

You will need - fabric scraps, felt scraps, stuffing, embroidery thread
1. Design a simple outline on paper. Cut out your pattern and use it to cut two pieces for each softie. Use felt to design embellishments if desired (eyes, spots, spikes etc.). You will need to stitch all embellishments to each piece before putting the softie together. Things like plates or spikes will be sewn in during the final construction step. You can also embroider eyes, patterns etc. at this point.
2. Place the two pieces right sides together and pin. If you are adding spikes they will need to point down into your sandwich and be tucked in completely before sewing. Sew all the way around your softie leaving a 2-3 inch opening to turn.
3. Turn your softie right side out (your spikes will stick up now) and stuff well. Fold the edges of the opening under and slip stitch the opening closed.

Applique T-Shirt: I decided to try to protect the party dress (I'll do a dress post later...I think you'll LOVE it!) from the mounds of cake icing, so I put this together for Bee to wear while she ate her cake.

You will need - a oneise or tee (I keep a stock of the plain white Carters onesies in my stash, but you might need to buy one of these), fabric scraps, iron-on fusing paper (available at craft stores)

1. Draw out your design on plain paper. Be sure that it fits on your tee.
2. Trace each individual piece on the iron-on paper. This will actually end up as a mirror-image, so if you are doing a name or something else that is direction specific, be sure that you create a mirror image of what you want the finished project to look like.
3. Cut around each don't need to cut on the lines at this point, just cut close to your piece.
4. Place each piece on the WRONG side of the fabric that you have chosen for that part. Follow the package instructions to iron onto the fabric. Now you will need to craefully cut all of the pieces out on the lines you drew.
5. Peel the backs off of all of your pieces and arrange them on your tee. Follow the package instructions again to iron the pieces to your tee.
6. Use a straight or zigzag stitch to sew around the edges of all of your pieces. When you need to make a sharp turn, be sure that your needle is all the way down in your fabric, then lift the presser foot, turn your fabric, and put your presser foot back down before continuing to sew. If you have a lot of small pieces it is easier to use a straight stitch. Large, simple pieces look cute with a zigzag.
TIP - you can use the hand wheel on your sewing machine to sew one stitch at time in small sections if necessary.
Add some ballons and a few pizzas and have a blast at your birthday bash!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

And sew it begins...

Today is September 1 and the first day of my Self-Stitched September challenge. So far, I have TWO items to get me through the month:( I won't bore you with a daily report of what I'm wearing, but I will keep a list and update you every once in a while.

And if you see me around town, you can bet I'll be wearing that khaki yoga least until I get something else made!

Sept. 1 - Khaki yoga skirt