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!

family, sewing, thrifted!

halloween 2011

This year, I finally took pictures of the boys in their costumes before nightfall. Daylight sure does help. Thought I’d share before we head out to trick and treat tonight!

Two weeks ago:
BeforeThrifted pieces for costumes.

Tonight, Charlie debuts as:

Charlie1

THE LAST AIRBENDER.

Charlie2
Charlie3
Charlie4Lots of cool karate moves included.

Jack debuts as:

Jack1

FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER.

After the karate hero and scary monster encounter a flying bug. . .
Bug1
Bug2
Frankenstein shows us his fascination with rocks.
Jack3
Jack2Rocks good.

Halloween1
Halloween2

Halloween3Looks like it’s gonna be a fun night . . . as long as those spooky, evil, scary flying bugs—otherwise known as flies—don’t take over. I’m sure the boys will brave the danger for the rewards ahead.

Happy Halloween!

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!

quilting, sewing

sewing it: the denim sheet quilt

Denimquilt1
Quilting is a huge industry today. I think it’s like, B-B-Billions of dollars big. But when it was just a start-up, it was practiced pretty much out of necessity. Little bits of leftover fabrics sewn together to warm bodies.

The origin of quiltmaking is, somehow, insanely romantic to me.

The quilters of yesteryear probably wouldn't be very happy with me about the romanticism. I’m quite certain they wouldn’t describe it that way. But I’ve read lots about American quiltmaking history. It’s fascinating. For me, the whole idea for making the very first quilt could be pared down to this little rhyme:

Use it up, wear it out
make it do, or do without.

I’m not sure who originally said this. I googled it and came across pages about getting the last of your lipstick out of the tube, raiding the fridge instead of eating out, and fixing a broken strap on a mary jane with a heavy needle and fishing line. All 21st-century ways of living the old adage.

Good on you, 21st-century people.

I guess I’m just in love with the idea of getting creative. Instead of running out to buy something you want or need, you find a way to make what you want or need using what you already have.  

That said, I’m starting up a new quilt. Putting that old saying to use. One striped sheet and four pairs of denim jeans. To start.

I wanted to make one block design to repeat throughout the quilt in an interesting way. This is what I came up with.

Wallpaperborderblock1It’s inspired by a wallpaper border I spotted, sitting rolled up on a shelf at a dollar store years ago. I remember sketching what I remembered of the design later that day in the car. My memory of it was, well, sketchy.

Let’s just say it was a mistake not to spend the dollar.

Anyway, I’m calling it the “Wallpaper Border” block. Certainly not as inventive a name as “Monkey Wrench” or “Nonsuch” or “True Lover’s Knot” or “Arabic Lattice” or “Devil’s Puzzle,” but it’ll do for now. After all, I’m just at the beginning.

When I get the blocks completed, the inevitable question pops up: how to set them?

Setting1I like the simplicity of this setting.

Setting2I think this would turn into a bunch of letter H's. So, probably not.

Setting3Rows like this could be a bit of a mind boggler, but maybe in a good way.

Setting4How about pairing two different ideas? Hmmm…

Setting5On point?

Setting6Maybe a weaved, lattice-y look?

Setting7Oooh. Me likey.

I haven’t made a quilt in a while. I forgot how fun it is. It's also quite maddening.

Any setting you like best? Or perhaps you have a smarter suggestion for a block name (please)? I’m all ears.

Setting8Ah, yes. Quilting. Very romantic indeed.

ReSew, sewing, style, thrifted!, tutorials

a wildcards tutorial: the t-skirt

I’ve been playing around with the idea of morphing a t-shirt and skirt into one piece for a while now. I finally tried it. This is the result:

T-skirt12I’ve hung on to this skirt for several years. I love the print but the skirt just didn’t fit me quite right after Jack was born. Bummer. I saved it hoping my body would return to its former shape. No luck.

This turned out to be a pretty easy project. If you’d like to know how it was done, read on!

The TSkirt Tutorial

Here’s what you’ll need:

T-skirt1One lightweight, elastic-waist skirt. Make sure it fits comfortably around your chest and you can take it on and off over your head.

T-skirt2Mine has thin elastic around the waist.

T-skirt3One form-fitting t-shirt. This one has a bit of spandex in it.

You’ll also need thread to match your t-shirt and your skirt. (You might need one more t-shirt to get the job done. Or not. Keep reading, and then decide.)

And that’s all you need.

T-skirt4Put on the t-shirt; then put the skirt on over it, right where you want it to rest around your chest. Safety pin the front; ask a family member or friend to help you safety pin the back. (If you’ve never met your neighbors, now’s a great time to break the ice.)

I am digging the photo above. I never look busty.

T-skirt5Remove the shirt/skirt and pin well so the layers don’t shift. You can make the job easier by placing a large rotary ruler or a book in between the layers (see next photo).

Note: I inherited a “gross” of safety pins from my mom years ago. Sometimes I just want to use them so I can justify keeping them. How much is a gross, anyway? A LOT. Anyway, in the step above, regular straight pins would have worked just fine.

T-skirt6
Use thread that matches your skirt to sew around the bodice, following the existing stitching lines on the skirt waistband. My skirt had two lines of stitching, and I sewed along both of them.

At this point you can either 1) turn the piece inside out and cut away the length of the t-shirt to about 1/2" away from the seam you just sewed, or 2) leave it as is and wear your t-skirt with the full shirt underneath. I had planned to cut away the shirt length, but when I tried the piece on the spandex held in my two-baby stretch a bit. So I kept the entire t-shirt intact.

If you cut away the t-shirt length, congratulations—you have fabric to embellish your t-skirt. If you decide to leave the shirt intact, you’ll need to round up another t-shirt for embellishment. I chose this one:

T-skirt6.5Now, lets add a few details.

There are lots of ways to embellish with the t-shirt fabric or with any skirt fabric you’d like to cut from the length. This was my initial sketch of the project:

T-skirt14I decided that although I like this sketched design in theory, I wasn’t sure I would end up wearing it. So I changed my mind. Be sure to change yours too, if you like. But here’s exactly what I ended up doing.

T-skirt7Just below the skirt’s elastic waist, I sewed a 1" band of t-shirt fabric around the chest. I cut two 1"-wide strips from the width of the t-shirt—one about 1/2" longer than the skirt front, and one about 1/2" longer than the skirt back. No need to measure; just cut strips from the t-shirt, lay them across the front/back widths of the skirt, and cut the strips at least 1/2" longer than that.

Pin the back strip to the back of the skirt. Using a 1/8" seam, sew along the top of the strip. Repeat along the bottom of the strip. The strip should reach past the side seams of your skirt by about 1/4". Pin and sew the front strip to the front of the skirt in the same manner, overlapping and sewing over the back strip at beginning and end.

T-skirt15Sew a tight zigzag stitch to connect the front and back pieces together.

When I tried on the piece again I decided the skirt was a bit too long for me, so I cut away 1 1/2" in length from the bottom. To do that, I measured 1 1/2" from the bottom hem all around the skirt, making dots with a washable marker every two inches or so; then I cut along the dots with scissors. I tried it on and liked the length better.

I added a thick, doubled black border to the bottom of my t-skirt. I cut two 4"-wide strips from the width of the t-shirt—one 1/2" longer than the skirt front, and one 1/2" longer than the skirt back. Again, no need to measure; just cut strips from the t-shirt, lay them across the front/back widths of the skirt, and cut the strips at least 1/2" longer than that. Press the strips in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and then unfold.

T-skirt8With right sides together, align and pin one long edge of the border along the back of the skirt; sew using a 1/4" seam. Repeat to attach the front border to the front of the skirt, overlapping and sewing over the back border at beginning and end. Press the seam toward the bottom of the skirt.

T-skirt9It should end up looking sort of like this on the outside.

T-skirt10Pin the short sides of the two overlapping borders together, making sure the seam you pin is perpendicular to the border seam you just sewed. Use a tight zigzag stitch to connect the short edges of the borders. Clip any overlapping fabric on the wrong side to 1/4", if needed.

Fold the border to the wrong side of the skirt, using the fold you pressed in earlier as a guide; pin. Change the thread on your machine to match the skirt. Sew the border layer to the bottom of the skirt using a 1/8" seam.

T-skirt16When you’re done, it should look like this on the wrong side of the skirt.

T-skirt17This is how it should look on the outside.

Now, I know I’m not model material. (Reason one: I’m 39. Reason two: I wear glasses. There are more reasons, but I’ll stop at the main two.) At the same time, I love to sew things to wear. When I see what others have sewn to wear, I really like to see the project on a body; it helps me envision what it might look like on me if I make it. I think others who sew might like that too. So, a bit uncomfortably, I asked Bretty to take some pictures of me in my t-skirt.

T-skirt13I wanted to try different backgrounds to get the best picture, so we took pictures in three different places. After a while, I started to get self-conscious. I asked Bretty for inspiration.

T-skirt11Me: “Bretty, I don’t know what to do with my hands.”

Brett: “I dunno. Just do something else. Look in the pot. Imagine that you love the pot.”

Me: “Okay.”

I look down into the pot.

Me: “Oooh, I love the pot!”

Click.

And that’s the end of my t-skirt story.

There are many variations for playing around with this basic idea—as many as there are skirts and t-shirts! If you make one, I would love to see it. You can upload your photos here.

Hope you enjoyed your visit here. For more refashions you can check out my book ReSew. Thanks for stopping by!

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.