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!

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!

style, thrifted!

Thrifted!: five quirky dresses

It’s 6:58 am. Thirty-eight people shuffle their feet in front of a store, waiting for the doors to unlock. They’re sleepy, but poised for a treasure hunt. I’m standing with them. I'm stealthily dressed in a loose tank dress and slip-off shoes. A small purse with a long strap is draped over one shoulder and across my body, holding only a debit card, a finely curated shopping list, and Burt’s Bees lip balm.

I had my morning shot of Diet Coke. I listened to loud, happy music on the drive in and I sang along, loud and happy. The anticipation amplifies. I’m pumped.

I hear the theme from Rocky in my head.

Okay, now you're just getting weird, I think to myself.

The doors open. It's time to play.

It’s 50% off day at the thrift store. I’m ready!

Amidst the fun of the 4th of July weekend—filled with food, fireworks, and a mass of mosquito bites (welcome back, little Beelzebubs)—I found a bit of time for a cheerful jaunt to the thrift store.

It was what I call a “jackpot” day.

Five summery dresses. Five. In my size. In my style. And most certainly in my budget. None made more than a $6 dent in my debit card.

I brought my dresses home to my three boys. The response? Kind. They care, of course. But they don’t care, you know, like dress hoarders do. Any dress hoarders out there? I need a little share 'n care.

Dress #1: the doily dress

Dress1What a unique mix of woven and knit fabrics, stripes and piping. And then they go and throw in a doily.

Dress1detail1and2

Right side, left side.

Dress1detail3

The dress had ties sewn into the side seams. Didn’t like ‘em. Took ‘em out. Now it’s just right.

Dress #2: the linen flowers dress

Dress2
An everyday dress for summer. Such a pretty pattern, I think. I love that linen doesn't like to hug your curves too much. Thank you, linen.

Dress #3: the girly-girl dress

Dress3This dress is frilly, no doubt—more frills than I’m used to. But it was unusual enough to catch my eye. I love the texture of raw edges, and this has lots of raw-edge and machine-embroidered detail. I played down the girly-girlness a bit by pairing it with jeans and heavy shoes.

Dress3detail1

A close-up of those pretty details.

Dress #4: the mod-pod dress

Dress4Holy bizarro. I could not NOT take this dress home. The outside layer is cotton cutwork; the inside layer is a white cotton tank-style slip. I figured, why not bizarre-it-up even more with polka-dot leggings?

Dress4detail1

Here’s hoping I’ll find a way to pull this dress off, sometime, somewhere.

Dress #5: the date night dress

Dress5detail1

Bretty likes it. Enough said. Now we just need find a date for a date!

A quick thrifting tip: if you live near a Savers or a Value Village thrift store, they announce 50% off sales a few times a year. You can sign up for their newsletter to get reminders about their sales. Next one is around Labor Day.

Thanks for letting me share my finds. I hope you had a happy weekend!

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!

style, thrifted!

Thrifted!: Hand-embroidered flowers. With love from Taiwan.

I love dressing up. On any average day, it’s unlikely that you’ll find me in sweats. I don’t typically head out (or stay in) in a t-shirt. And I never, never wear shorts. Long story. (We all have our body-image issues, right? ‘Nuff said.)

That being said, I’m no girly girl. I’m not into ruffles, or puffy shoulders, or lacy edgings. Flowery feminine flourishes aren’t really my style. But when I noticed a big, bright bouquet of fuzzy flowers on a sweater at my local thrift store, I stopped. I swear that sweater was pointing and giggling at me. I just had to point and giggle back.

Perhaps it’s a bit too flowery; a bit too feminine. But to me, it’s hand-embroidered happiness. And I just can’t say no to wearing that!

Flowersweater2

Flowersweater3

Flowersweater4

Flowersweater5

Flowersweater1

Ah, yes. A good thrift.

Next on my thrifting list: sweatshirts. Lots of them. I’ve been told I’ll be sharing a few of my sweatshirt refashions from ReSew on the PBS show Sew It All. I’ve got some major sweatshirt shredding to do before taping time come October. Get ready, rotary cutter.

Happy weekend—thanks for letting me share one of my favorite thrifts with you!