crafts, holidays, sewing, style, tutorials

a wearable handmade valentine: minkee heart wristlet

One of my favorite times of year is here—making handmade valentines with the boys! This year we’re going with this supremely cool idea from I am Momma Hear Me Roar. Photos, construction paper, staples, and Pop Rocks:

Jack valentine copyJack rocks with all the energy of a late '80s hair band (without the hair).

Charlie valentine Charlie rocks, too. Straight-up three-year-old grunge. See the angst?

I also took on a handmade challenge at work and made a special valentine gift for… myself!

Minkee heart1

This simple wristlet is made from a scrap of denim and a scrap of fuzzy Minkee. If you have button-sewing, hand-appliqueing, and scissor-wielding skills, you can whip this up in less than an hour.

Seven other staff members joined me in the handmade valentines challenge at work. Talk about getting creative on the job!

Valentinecollage

You can get the how-to for all of these Valentine’s Day projects on Martingale’s Facebook page (scroll down to the February 6th posts). The projects are all of the quick-and-easy variety, which means there's still plenty of time to create something special for your sweetheart. Even if your sweetheart is you.

If you'd like to stitch up a wristlet, read on!

a wildcards tutorial: minkee heart wristlet

Denim heart bracelet
Materials
  • Large scrap of denim from jeans
  • Small scrap of pink Minkee fabric
  • 3 small pink buttons
  • Dressmaker’s measuring tape
  • Washable or air-soluble marking pen
  • Hand-sewing needle and thread to match Minkee and buttons
  • Seam ripper
  • Freezer paper
  • Glue stick
  • Tweezers

Directions

1. Measure around your arm, 4" up from the bottom of your wrist (my measurement was 8"). Cut a rectangle that is 3" wide and as long as the measurement around your arm (my rectangle was 3" x 8").

2. Lay the rectangle flat, right side up. Space the buttons evenly along one short side of the rectangle, 1/2" away from the edge. Mark button placement with a pen; hand sew the buttons to the rectangle.

3. Using the button placement as a guide, mark placement of the buttonholes on the opposite short edge of the rectangle. Make small slits in the fabric for the buttonholes using a seam ripper. (Make the slits small—you should have to work to get the buttons through the holes.)

4. Machine wash and dry the bracelet so the edges fray; clip and pull the frayed edges until you like the look. Clip any stray threads away from the buttonholes.

5. Print out this heart pattern (it should be 2" high):

Heart

Cut it out, trace it onto the freezer paper, and cut it out again. Iron the heart template onto the back of the Minkee scrap, shiny side down. Cut the heart shape from the Minkee, adding a 1/4" seam allowance.

6. Center the Minkee heart widthwise and lengthwise on the bracelet; glue to baste in place. Hand appliqué the heart to the denim, turning the 1/4" seam under as you go.

7. Fuzz up the heart edges by rubbing the tip of your seam ripper quickly and lightly along the appliquéd edges. This releases the fuzzy fibers from the sewn edges and softens the look. Cut a 1/2" vertical slit in the center of the denim on the back of the wristlet where the heart has been appliquéd; pull the freezer paper out using tweezers. Whipstitch the 1/2" slit closed.

If you don't like the frayed-edge look, you can turn the long edges of the wristlet under 1/4" and press; then topstitch the folded edges down.

For more more repurposed projects, check out my book ReSew.

Thanks for stopping by. Cheers to an extra lovey-dovey Valentine's Day!

crafts, crumbs, sewing, thrifted!

Tic-Tac-Toe Game Set from Simple Quilts and Sewing

Simple quilts and sewing
A new issue of Simple Quilts and Sewing recently came out. And I’m in it!

Okay, I have to fess up… by “recently” I mean October. In the middle of our move, copies of the magazine came to me in the mail. I was so thrilled with the results—the folks at QUILT Magazine did such an amazing job with the photos, oh my heck I love them! And then I finished unpacking 178 boxes. I’m a little behind but trying to catch up.

This is my Tic-Tac-Toe Game Set, a simple project made from three pairs of thrifted jeans. It includes a foldable game board and ten bean-bag style game pieces.

Game

The game is a hit at our house. The boys love to play tic-tac-toe, but more than that they love to toss those game pieces around—into buckets, through hoops, at each other. At me. And me at them. Gotta love games that pull double duty.

I paired the game with a bag made from the same pairs of jeans as the game set. The bag also includes pockets for pens and a small notebook. Just in case the game gets serious and someone wants to keep score.

Bag

The bag really helps with keeping all the pieces together when clean-up time comes. The nice folks at the magazine made the bag into a bonus web pattern.

This part-sewing, part-quilting magazine flies off the shelves when it hits, which is only two times a year. The comments on this page are mostly like, “Aaah, aargh, I can’t find a copy!” Since it was published in October, you may not find a copy at your local grocery store anymore. But if you are interested in getting a copy online, you can order one on their “Back Issues” page. This issue is #122, the Winter 2011 issue of Simple Quilts and Sewing.

I have one more project coming up in the Spring issue of the magazine, which I will certainly share with you on time. We can fit one car into the garage now—I say we’re officially moved in.

Thanks to the team at Simple Quilts and Sewing for taking on this little project!

crafts, family, holidays, thrifted!, tutorials

a wildcards tutorial: hand-wrapped snowman ornament

Snowman1
Last Saturday was a lazy one. How nice are those? Me and the boys were looking for something fun to do at home. Jack said his teacher brought a Christmas tree into the classroom, and she'd asked the children to bring ornaments to decorate it.

Ornaments? Hey, that’s what we can do! I thought.

I looked to our own tree for inspiration. I found this:

Snowman9

My brother made this when he was in elementary school. Somehow I lucked out and now I own it. It's precious to me.

Geez, it must be blankety-blank years old. (You’re welcome, Jason.)

Anyway, my brother’s ornament got me thinking about snowmen and pom-poms. I didn’t have any ready-made pom-poms, but I had an old skein of wool yarn that I’d thrifted long ago. How do you make a pom-pom from yarn? I wasn’t entirely sure.

After a quick online search, I realized that the task was more difficult than the boys wanted it to be. Wrapping yarn around doughnut-shaped cardboard didn’t seem like a big deal to me, but it sounded like a major chore to the boys. I decided to try their hands as a template instead. And on that lazy Saturday, two little “hand-wrapped” snowmen were born.

If you like, follow along below and I’ll show you how we did it. It’s super simple—and if your kids are like mine, they’ll get a kick out of being wrapped up in yarn.

a wildcards tutorial: handwrapped snowman ornament

Snowman10What you’ll need: yarn, scissors, a yarn needle, buttons, a glue gun, and scraps of fleece. In place of fleece you can use felted wool or any other bulky-type fabric that will hold its shape. Oh, I almost forgot—you also need little hands!

Snowman2

Here’s that old yarn I mentioned earlier—it needed winding. The upside-down barstool worked pretty well (although one day I hope to be like normal knitters and own a swift).

Snowman3

1. Leave a 6" to 8" tail to start. Begin winding yarn around two fingers.

2. Wind the yarn until you find it difficult to keep the yarn on the fingers—the more yarn you wind, the fuller your pom pom will be. Cut the yarn, leaving a 6" to 8" tail.

3. Use the end of a spoon or fork to push the tail through the two yarn-bound fingers. (Charlie’s mitts were too small for this step, so I just wiggled the loops carefully off his fingers.)

4. Wrap beginning and end yarn tails around the center of the loops once. (If you wiggled the yarn off fingers, lay the loops in your lap and carefully wrap the tails around them). Tie the beginning and end tails together in the center of the loops. Tighten and knot the yarn.

Snowman4

Cut through the center of the loops.

Snowman5

Cut yarns until you end up with a spherical shape.

Snowman6

We made six pom-poms–three from each boy’s hand. I wound the first pom-pom using two fingers; then three; then four to get a small-to-large look. Jack’s pom-poms are on the right; Charlie’s are on the left.

Charlie’s pom poms all turned out to be about the same size. I’m okay with that. So is Charlie.

Snowman7

Using a long length of yarn and a yarn needle, sew three pom-poms together from small to large. Poke right through the center of each pom-pom and pull the yarn through.

Snowman8

Stitch through each pom-pom again, this time from large to small. You should end up with both ends of your yarn coming out of the top of the snowman's head. Knot the two ends at the head; then knot the two ends again 3" to 4" above the head to create a loop for hanging.

I used a hot glue gun to adhere buttons to the snowmen. I cut two layers of fleece into identical triangle shapes and glued them together for the hat. Then I ran a strip of glue along the bottom of the hat only, and pressed it onto the head.The sides of the hat are left loose.

No hot glue for the boys. But they did get to choose colors, sift through the button jar, and watch mom hot-glue herself to the table. Only briefly.

Snowman1

Our pom-poms aren’t perfect, but they sure made for a lazy Saturday well spent. Charlie's ornament is pictured; Jack's is now proudly hanging on the classroom Christmas tree.

Thanks Jacky, thanks Barley—let’s give ourselves a "hand," shall we?

And thank you for dropping by. Happy holidays!

crafts, holidays, sewing, thrifted!, tutorials

a wildcards tutorial: happy towel-o-ween!

Towel16Several years ago during the Halloween season, I drove by a house that had spooky paper ghosts hanging from the rafters. Back then I didn’t have children; I didn’t really *do* Halloween. But the fun, floaty look of those ghosts stuck in my mind. When Halloween came around after Jack was born, I remembered the ghosts. I wanted to make them. But you know how life gets in the way sometimes? Yeah, that.

Fast-forward seven years. During the craziness of our recent move, I came across a pile of old towels. I had planned to cut them up for cleaning. Somehow the idea of the ghosts matched up in my mind with the towels. What a great stroke of luck—at that very moment, I was able to hold two thoughts in my head! And these quirky little “towel-o-ween” ghosts were born.

Towel13In this tutorial I’ll show you how to make two small ghosts from one towel. I also made two big ghosts; they each got their own towel. So I made one ghost for each family member. I’m thinking they’ll last for several Halloweens—maybe even until I go back to not really *doing* Halloween again. Which I will. (I like the wacky parts of Halloween, but not the spooky parts. I scare easily.)

Want to learn how to make ghosts from your old towels? C’mon! It sounds kind of weird, I know, but let me show you how—it’s easy!

Happy Toweloween! tutorial

Towel1What you’ll need: A towel, a ruler, a marking pen (I used a yellow, washable Crayola marker), fabric-cutting scissors, a spoon, one 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper. (You don’t need a squash. I just thought it made the ingredients look festive.)

Towel2Cut away any embellishments/special stitching from both short ends of the towel.

Towel3Fold the towel in half widthwise; cut along the fold to yield two smaller rectangles of the same size.

Towel4On one of the rectangles, mark 3 1/2" from one short edge; repeat on the opposite short edge. These will become the arms of the ghost.

Towel5Fold your  8 1/2" x 5 1/2" sheet of paper in half widthwise. (Or use anything around the house that fits that measurement, like your 2nd grader’s weekly reader from school.) Center the short edge of the paper in the center of the rectangle, along the same short edge where you made the marks for the ghost’s arms. Make marks at:

  • the top edge, on either side of the paper
  • 1" below the top edge, on either side of the paper
  • the bottom of the paper, 1" away from either side of the paper

Towel6Cut out a rectangle shape from the top center edge, following the four dots you made. This will become the top of the ghost’s head. Now, connect the remaining dots you drew, curving them a bit as you go, to create the arm shapes.

Towel7Cut out the arm shapes.

At this point I decided I wanted the ghost’s head to be a little more curved and concave, so I dotted and cut the fabric on the head sides one more time. You can see the concave dots above, on the left.

Towel8For the eyes and mouth I wanted to have more of an oval shape than a circle shape. Couldn’t find anything oval to trace in the spice cabinet or the fridge. But ah, the silverware drawer! A common spoon did the trick. Trace the spoon onto your paper to the handle; remove the spoon and connect the lines together. Cut the shape out.

Towel9Lightly trace the oval shape on the head to create the eyes and mouth shapes. I used a pen, as it’ll let you get a little more detailed than a marker will.

Towel10(This is a creepy photo. Even though creepy is fitting for Halloween, apologies.)

To cut out the eyes and mouth, simply make a slit in the center of the shape, cut out to the edge, and then cut around the shape. Make sure to cut just outside the drawn lines so the pen marks are cut away, too.

Towel11To make the second ghost, lay the first ghost on top of the second rectangle shape. Trace the arms, head, eyes, and mouth, and cut out.

Towel12Second ghost is even easier than the first!

A quick note: If you used a washable marker and can see still see some markings when you're done, simply run those edges under water to erase them. Let your ghosts air dry before hanging.

Towel13The toughest part of this project isn’t making the ghosts—it’s hanging them. My ghosts are rigged up with thumbtacks, twine, and safety pins.

Towel14I love how they sway with the breeze.

Towel15Here’s a bit of swaying, see? Whooo-ooo-o-oo-ooo! (Trying to spell out the sound a ghost makes just then. Not very successful.)

Towel16Perhaps you can see a little more spooky swaying here.

Towel18Oooh. Spooky at night. But in a cute way.

BOO TO YOU!

As always, you can find more recycled/refashioned/revamped projects in my book, ReSew.

Thanks for dropping by. Happy Towel-o-ween!

crafts, family, sewing

learning to fly

I fell in love with a sewing project recently. I found it at Artful Parent, who found it at Prudent Baby, who found it at Llevo el Invierno. So, from North Carolina to Texas to Mexico comes the Utah version of fabric wings. Made for my niece’s 4th birthday.

Wings
The process is very simple—you can find different versions of how to make these at all the links above. I hand-drew a scalloped template, traced it onto the back of different-colored fabrics again and again and again, cut the fabric out on the way to Heber City to see Thomas the Train, and sewed them onto two sorta triangle-shaped background fabrics. Then I bound the wings together quilting-style and tacked on some lengths of twill tape for the neck and wrists. Plus a bit of velcro at the neck.

Wings8
Basically, I winged it.

My niece was feeling a bit camera shy when I gave the wings to her. But I think she liked them. Time will tell. My boys pleaded to try out fabric flight before we gifted them to Willa for good. Willa obliged.

Wings2
Wings3
Wings4
Wings5

Wings6


Wings7
Flapping.

The boys want yellow/orange/red/brown/black wings for themselves. Jack wants to be a bald eagle or a raven or a hawk. Charlie wants to be “a birdy.”

Wings1Big requests from my little birds. My scissors better get ‘flyin.

crafts, crumbs, sewing

the makings of many little monsters

I have a monster story to share. (Don't worry. Not scary.)

Since announcing the goals of this humanitarian group a few weeks back, I’ve received many emails from people about the endeavor. Some wrote to share their own experiences with similar undertakings. Some suggested easy projects that could be made in multiples. Some offered help in making items with their own hands. One is even sending dozens of books all the way from Pennsylvania to help fill our welcome bags (thank you again, Liri!). And some just dropped a note to say they think we are doing a good thing.

For those of you who have reached out, you know who you are. Thank you, YOU!

One friend of mine sent me a pattern, offering to make several of these projects if I thought they would be a good fit for the welcome bags. The project is simple. It is economical. And it is adorable. So after telling her yes please!, I had to make one too.

Mabel Meet Mabel. The Positive Attitude Monster.

This fun monster sewing pattern comes from Rebecca Danger. She’s a knitter by passion and author of the Big Book of Knitted Monsters. I imagine she created this sewn monster design, Max the Monster, for her fans who don’t knit. (Or for her fans who don’t knit well. Like me.) The pattern offers three monster sizes (just one fat quarter needed for the littlest), along with scores of possibilities for personal touches. I chose to hand-embroider around the heart and added extra-large perle cotton eyes.

Heart Whenever I see that wonky red heart and that gentle grin, I get a happy little charge. So lately, she’s been following us around the house. In her happy-little-charge fashion, she’s been encouraging us all the while.

Drawers
Guitar
Laundry
Painting
Legos Superhero She’s just a sweet, upbeat kind of gal. Rubs off on ya.

(I think she needs hair… agree?)

In addition to simple, economical, and adorable, I can also add addictive to the cast of supporting words for this little sewing project. I’m already making space in my sewing room for the impending monster metropolis. For the humanitarian project, of course. But each family member will own a Mabel of their own soon. Even the awesome painter.

I just can’t help myself.

Do-your-bestYou bet I will, Mabel. You bet I will!

crafts, crumbs, sewing, thrifted!

hoping for bags and bags of … bags.

I was recently invited to become a committee member for a humanitarian group. Their goal this year? To help people locally. By sewing stuff. Invitation accepted!

Several years ago I spent some time volunteering locally at a domestic violence shelter. So when we were brainstorming at our first committee meeting, the shelter immediately came to mind. We came up with the idea of “welcome bags” for children who enter the shelter. When a family first enters the shelter, Mom has lots of paperwork to fill out and lots of talking to do with the shelter staff. It can take a long time. Kids who enter the shelter will receive a welcome bag as soon as they walk in the door, filled with items to occupy their time while Mom sorts out the details of their stay.

Since this group has no budget to speak of, we came up with an idea for making the bags for free (aside from the cost of time and thread). We are sewing bags out of people’s donated jeans (or other pants made from sturdy fabric, such as canvas or corduroy). I designed two bags—one for girls, one for boys—made entirely out of denim for the project.

Girlbag

The girl bag uses the bottom half of each pant leg, the back pockets, and the waistband from one pair of jeans.

Boybag
The boy bag uses the bottom half of each pant leg, back pockets (or side cargo pockets—the committee chair’s cool idea), and strips of denim for the bag tie and back strap.

Boybagback

Here’s the simple two-layered back strap for the boy bag.

I wanted to make these bags as simple as possible to sew so even beginners could join in. And really, who doesn’t have a pair of jeans that have been hanging unworn in their closet for six, eight, or twelve months (or, for us clothes hoarders, two years)?

The bags will be filled with items that are age and gender specific. We’ll have bags for 2-4 year-old boys, bags for 12-14 year-old girls, and for everyone in between. Still in the planning stage, we’re not quite sure what will go in the bags just yet. Cheap, clever ideas are welcome.

Our goal is to sew and gather contents for the bags over the summer, and then present as many bags as we can to the shelter in the fall. Interested in joining in the fun? If you are, you could participate in a number of ways:

  • Sew bags (instructions available)
  • Donate denim or other sturdy fabric pants
  • Make toys to fill bags (we need toy makers and ideas for making small, inexpensive/free toys)
  • Gather supplies to fill bags (coloring books, crayons, pencils/pens, and journals to start)
  • Donate toward the purchase of items to fill the bags

I am so excited to be a part of this project. When I volunteered at the shelter, I remember the faces of children walking through the front door for the first time. It was heartbreaking. It didn’t matter their age—innocent preschooler or tough teenager—you could see it plain as day. They were scared. I believe these bags will help, even if just a little, with the first few moments of what could become a huge time of transition in their lives.

Really, these bags are just a little something. But to a kid who has just fled his or her home with nothing, for children who just left everything they used to call theirs behind, these bags will be something they can immediately call their own. I hope it helps. Even if just a little.

If you want to help—even if just a little—please let me know.