Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas Round Up: Cat in the Hat Pajamas

The Monkey loves anything Dr. Seuss. Especially the Cat in the Hat. I found some great Cat in the Hat flannel when I visited one of my favorite Atlanta-based fabric shops last fall. I knew right away I had to get some to make pajamas for The Monkey.

I decided to keep it simple and just make PJ pants, and get a simple white tee-shirt for the top. After buying the tee-shirt, I had a brilliant idea: jazz it up with the Cat in the Hat's signature bow tie (or Tie Bow as The Monkey calls it).

I printed out a picture of the bow tie, scaled to the size I wanted it, then played around with the shape a bit to allow for the pleats. I wrapped the center piece around it to appear as if it were "tied." I used fusible interfacing to tack it to the shirt, then stitched it on to secure it better.

He LOVED his new pajamas. He put them on right away, and wears them several nights a week. And it warmed my heart when he gave me a hug and said "Thank you for my Cat in the Hat jammies! I love them!"

Christmas Round Up: Super Hero Cape and Mask

As soon as I came across this blog post, I knew I had to make a Super Hero cape for the Monkey.

I have a stack of old t-shirts in my craft room that have been waiting to be turned into projects. I also have lots of felt sitting around in my fabric stash. So I had plenty to pull from to make this cape.

After cutting out the cape pieces, I found a Superman logo online, and used it as a template to make the "S" for the cape (since the Monkey's name begins with an S). I decided to go with blue and yellow because I didn't want it to be an exact replica of Superman's. The tee-shirt I used to make the cape was an old college shirt that had the name of the school up at the top. So I covered it with the blue and yellow stars around the collar.

He had a Super Hero cape that one of the church nursery volunteers made for him, but he always needed our help to tie it on. Since this one attaches with velcro he can put it on himself!

After making the cape, I came across this post, and realized every Super Hero needs a mask! So I quickly threw together a mask to match his cape.

After opening presents Christmas morning, we took a walk to the park to run off some energy. The Monkey insisted on wearing his new super hero outfit.

Blast off!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Sewing for Monkeys

I've been working on Christmas gifts for The Monkey and Baby Brother.

The Monkey will be getting the Cat in the Hat Quilt, Cat in the Hat Pajamas, and super hero cape and mask. The fabric taggy Grinch book and the iFlirt shirt are for Baby Brother. More on these projects after Christmas when I can get some better pictures of them. Til then, Merry Christmas! (Or Happy Hannukah! Or Happy Solstice! Or Happy December!)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

H & L's Wedding Quilt

My cousin H got married recently. H and I (and my brother and her sister) pretty much grew up together. She's awesome. One of those people that lights up a room the second she walks in. Knowing that H & L love homemade gifts, and that they met in an environmental education program, I wanted to make them a wedding quilt using all (or mostly) fabric from my stash.

A friend of mine once made a crossword baby quilt, and knowing that H and L both love puzzles, I had to steal the idea. I envisioned a traditional looking crossword puzzle, brightened up with a colorful border or orange and green (their favorite colors). The quilt came out even better than I pictured it in my head!

I read through H & L's wedding website, paying particular attention to the "how we met" stories to pull words for the crossword puzzle. Then plugged them into an online crossword generator to get the layout. I had to tweak the layout a little bit to make it fit into the size I wanted, but for the most part, I let the computer do all the work.

The vast majority of the fabric was pulled from my stash (though I had very little orange, so I had to buy some of that). I thought that having the main field completely black would be a little too much, so I scattered in some white-on-black prints to break it up a bit. I think it was able to keep the feel I was going for, without it being too dark.

Because it was all squares, this quilt was very easy to strip-piece. The puzzle is made up for 2.5" squares, while the border is 5" squares. The letters were appliqued using fusible interfacing. I found a font a liked and printed out an alphabet the right size to trace onto the fusible. I adhered the fusible to the black fabric, cut out the letters, then ironed them on. Finally, I finished them off with a zig-zag stitch along the edges.

When I found this orange fabric with trees on it, I knew it was the perfect backing fabric for this quilt. H & L love nature and the outdoors, so I wanted to incorporate that into the quilt. The green trees brought that element of nature, and the orange allowed me to keep it with the color scheme of the quilt.

I knew that this quilt was an ambitious project, especially with a newborn in the house. So to make it a little less insane, I opted to tie the quilt, instead of stitch it. I found some orange and green embroidery floss in my stash and tied it up. I like the little bits of color the floss adds against the black background.

With a simple, black binding, this is a quilt I can be proud of!

I asked H & L to open the gift at the wedding, because I wanted to see their reaction.

First peek at the quilt

Taking it all in

H & L loved the quilt. And I LOVED making it for them. I hope it will be well loved and well used throughout their marriage. Congratulations H & L!!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Patchwork Penguin Baby Blanket and Plushie

Some friends of ours are expecting a baby next month, a little girl. I wanted to make something fun, and decided that a nice monogrammed taggy baby blanket would be just right.

I love making taggy toys for babies. From the very beginning, the Monkey has loved the tag on his little stuffed dog, Spot. When he was younger he would suck on it. As he grew, he started playing with it and putting his fingers in it to hold it close as he sucked on his fingers. In fact, Spot's tag got so much love that it fell off, and the Monkey said he didn't like Spot as much without the tag. So I made spot a new tag with some soft satin ribbon. There's just something about tags that lots of babies seem to love.

I figured a taggy blanket could provide warmth over a car seat, be a good tummy time floor mat, and also be a good toy, with all the tags to pull on, suck on, and twiddle.

I wanted the blanket to have a patchwork feel to it, and I wanted a mixture of fabrics and textures. I also knew the mom-to-be dislikes pink as much as I do. So I walked into JoAnn's looking for some really cute, fun, not-boyish, not-pink fabrics. After loading up my cart with a bunch of different things, I found this wonderful patchwork penguin fabric. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was a winner!

The fabric included some woven cotton, some flannel, and some nice soft minky. And since it was already pieced together, it saved me from having to patch something together myself. With such a fun patchwork fabric on one side, I felt a nice, simple, coordinating solid flannel would make for a good backing. After finding the off-white flannel, I found the black ribbon with white polka-dots and knew I had everything I needed. I pulled some solid black fabric from my stash and some nice fuisible to monogram the blanket.

When I went to the cutting table, I discovered that there was just over a yard left, and the remaining end-of-bolt 15" would be half price. I couldn't pass it up! That was just enough to make a couple of plushy toys!

I free-handed a penguin shape and cut it out of the fabric. I pulled some orange fabric out of my stash and made a diamond for the beak and free-handed some feet. I then stitched it up, stuffed it, and closed up the opening, and I had a cute little penguin plushy to go with the blanket. (There was even enough fabric left that Baby Brother got a penguin too!)

This was a fun project, and the blanket with matching plushy made a great gift for a special little girl.

Ring Sling

I love baby carriers. I carried the Monkey in my Ergo from the time he was big enough to fit in it until I got pregnant again with Baby Brother. We'd use it to walk the dog every morning. And it made travelling so much easier!

When baby brother was born, I got a Moby. I love how close and snug I can carry him in the Moby. Especially when he was itty bitty. There were times I even slept in the Moby because it was the only way Baby Brother would sleep. But as much as I loved carrying him nice and snug in the Moby, it took a long time to get on properly. And sometimes it didn't work right the first time and I'd have to start all over.

I wanted a carrier I could get on quickly, and wear comfortably. For those times when Baby Brother was fussy and needed to be held right away, but I needed my hands to play with the Monkey. Or do dishes. Or cook dinner. I started checking out ring slings, but didn't want to pay $85 for essentially a piece of fabric and some rings. So I decided to make one.

There are lots of tutorials for making a sling. I read through tons of them then got to work. I chose a cute little puppy fabric in a heavy weight cotton, and lined it with a coordinating gingham. I ordered some rings online. Then followed the instructions for one of the pleated sling tutorials. I was almost done with the project when my sewing machine (which was badly in need of repair) gave out on me. Fortunately, Suzanne at Hip Stitch let me spend a few minutes on one of her machines to finish up the project. And while I was there, another customer/friend came in to chat. Turns out she used ring slings for all of her kids, and gave me a few pointers on how to use it.

Look how cute and cuddly he is snuggled in there! This sling has been wonderful. So easy to get on and off, and Baby Brother is happy and content held tight against my chest. It's been a life saver on many occasions. And I like having a one-of-a-kind sling for my little guy. I've gotten lots of compliments on it, and love wearing him in it.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Kitchen Storage: A Fabric Box Tutorial

Last Christmas, Santa brought the Monkey a kitchen, and lots of food to go in it. He loves his kitchen, and is actually rather particular how it's "organized" (Gee, I wonder where he gets *that* from...). So, I decided to make some boxes for him to put his food and kitchen stuff in.

I knew I wanted food-related fabric, so when I saw this fruit fabric at JoAnn's I couldn't resist. It was even on sale! The Monkey picked out the cherries, grapes, and bananas for his kitchen boxes. For the lining, I found an old canvas curtain I'd saved, figuring it would make its way into a craft project sooner or later. It was perfect for this project.

While there are many different fabric box tutorials out there, I figured I'd throw my own into the mix. So, here goes...

Outer Fabric
Lining Fabric
Stiff, heavyweight interfacing (I used fusible, but you don't have to)
Needles, thread, sewing machine and other sewing essentials

1) Determine the size of your box. Then, from the outer and inner fabrics and interfacing, cut panels the size of your box plus one inch. (For example, my boxes were 8"w x 10"d x 9"h. So my box had a base of 8" x 10", two sides of 8" x 9", and two sides of 10" x 9". So I cut a base of 9" x 11", two sides of 9" x 10", and two sides of 11" x 10".) It's not as confusing as it sounds.

(Base and sides cut from outer fabric, inner fabric, and interfacing)

2) Fuse (or baste) outer fabric to interfacing and set aside.

All fused together

3) Take your lining fabric. With right sides together, sew sides together, leaving 1/2" seam allowance. Stop sewing 1/2" from the bottom edge of the box. (This will become important later). Press seams open.

Fold in half and sew ends together, leaving 1/2" seam allowance, and again leaving 1/2" at the bottom.

Look, you have a bottomless box!

4) With right sides together, pin the base to the sides. This is where that 1/2" you left at the bottom comes in. Start sewing, with a 1/2" seam allowance, leaving 1/2" at the beginning and end of the seam.

Getting ready to sew, starting 1/2" in

Sew each side of the base to the sides in the same way. The 1/2" you left on each seam will make it much easier to maneuver the corners of the box.

Look, you have a box!

Repeat the process with the outer fabric/interfacing. Turn box right side out.

Look, now you have TWO boxes!

5) Here's where it gets fun. Place outer/interfacing box inside the (inside-out) lining box. Make sure side seams are aligned, and pin. You may have to do a bit of pulling and tugging to get seams and edges to line up.

6) Stitch around top edge with 1/2 seam allowance, leaving 5" - 6" open. Reach in through opening and turn box right side out.

Your Box is almost done!

7) Tug lining down a little and top stitch around the edges. This will keep the lining in place and close up the opening you used to turn the box. Top stitch again about a 1/2" away. You can match your thread to hide the top stitching, but I thought it would be neat to use a contrasting thread and use some decorative stitching to jazz it up a bit.

You're done! Enjoy your box!

This is how I intended the boxes to be used.

But this is how the Monkey likes to use them :-)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Trick Or Treat Bag

(I wrote this post in October of 2009, but with Halloween coming up, I thought it might be a good time to repost. Once the Halloween fabric goes on sale this year, I'll be picking some up to make one of these bags for Little Brother. Enjoy the pictures of the Monkey as a little 15 month old!)

We took the Munchkin trick-or-treating this year, and I wanted to make him a bag for the occasion.

You will need:

--primary (outside) fabric
--liner fabric
--applique fabric
--fusible web
--sewing machine/needle/thread/other sewing basics

How much of each fabric you need depends on the size of the bag you want to make. I bought a yard each of the orange fabric and the black skeleton liner fabric, and was able to make three bags, measuring about 9 1/2" x 11 1/2."

1. Determine how big you want you bag to be. I decided that 10" x 12" was about the right size and the numbers were easy to work with. Cut primary and liner fabrics to measure the width of your bag (plus ~1/2" for seam allowance) x two-times the length of the bag (plus ~1/2" for seam allowance).

Here are my primary and liner fabric, cut to 10" x 24" and then folded in half to measure 10" x 12"

2. Fold fabric in half lengthwise, right sides facing, and sew along the outside edges of the fabric, leaving 1/4" to 1/2" for seam. When sewing the liner, leave a hole at the bottom corner of one side (In the picture below, you can see the orange fabric sticking out of the hole at the bottom of the liner).

3. Turn liner right side out (leave outside of bag inside out). It might help to iron the liner at this point to crease the bottom and flatten the seams. Place the liner inside the bag, so that the right side of the liner (outside) faces the right side of the bag (inside).

4. When placing liner fabric inside of bag, line the seams up as best you can (This is where ironing the lining fabric really pays off. When it's flat and well shaped, it's much easier to slip it into the bag). Sew lining to bag along the top of the bag, leaving 1/4" to 1/2" seam allowance.

5. This is where the magic happens. Reach into the bag and pull the bag and liner out through the hole in the bottom of the liner.

6. When you are done turning the bag inside out, sew up the hole in the bottom of the lining, then insert the lining back into the bag. Iron the bag to flatten seams and shape the bag. You now have a lined bag.

7. At this point, use the fusible web to applique whatever design you like. I chose this happy Jack O' Lantern Face. (Follow instructions on whichever fusible web product you are using to complete this step).

8. Now it's time to make the handles. 1) Determine how long you want your handles to be. Cut the fabric equal to the length of the fabric x 4 times the width. My handles were 14" long by 1" wide. 2) Fold strip of fabric in half, and iron to press crease along center of the fabric. 3) Unfold fabric, and then fold edges of fabric into center and press creases into fabric. 4) With edges folded in, fold fabric along center crease, and you have your handle!

9. Determine handle placement and pin handles to bag. Sew handles onto bag using a criss cross pattern to add extra stability. Don't forget to keep the back of the bag away from the sewing machine! You don't want to sew the bag together when sewing the handles one. We'll just pretend I didn't learn that one the hard way ;-)

Now your Trick-or-Treat bag is finished. Hand it off to your favorite little Munchkin and enjoy your Halloween!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Silent Auction Sewing

A member of our church will be leaving later this month for South Korea as part of the Presbyterian Church (USA) Young Adult Volunteer program. However he is responsible for raising the money necessary to get him there (and back). The church has been holding a variety of fundraising events for him, and one of the last ones is a talent show and silent auction. I don't have much to offer for the talent show portion of the evening, but I figured I could put together a few things for the silent auction.

Apron and Pot Holders

I decided to make an apron with matching pot holders. The apron is an Amy Butler pattern, made from a Michael Miller fabric I found in my stash. I can't seem to remember what it's called. I've made a few of these aprons already. I LOVE them. They pattern is pretty simple and I just think they're so cute!

Potholders are another quick, easy project. I thought it would be fun to make some to match the apron.

Taggy Cubes

Since I already had the fabric for these cute little baby toys already cut, it was nice and quick to just sew them up and stuff them for the auction.

I love the sock monkeys. As soon as I saw this fabric, I knew I had to make some baby toys out of them. They're nice and soft, and have bells in them for added fun. And as you can see, they are Baby Brother approved!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Party Favor Bags

A couple of weeks ago, The Monkey turned three. I still can't believe it. He's growing out of toddlerhood into a little boy. Given his love for all things Dr. Seuss, we had a Cat in the Hat themed birthday party. Mostly, we just had his friends over to run around in the sprinkler and play in the kiddie pool, but we made Cat in the Hat invitations, and the cake (which I forgot to get a picture of) was the Cat's hat.

I hate the idea of single-use plastic goodie bags that would just end up in a landfill somewhere, so when I saw some left over red and white felt in my stash, I decided to make the bags myself. They were quite simple to make.

Cut strips of fabric 2" wide and 6" long, and sew strips together. Fold in half, right sides together, and stitch up the sides. Turn inside out. Cut slits along the top, 1" apart, with the first one about 1/2" in from the edge. Weave ribbon through the slits, and tie off in front. Voila! Cute little bag!

(The felt I had was about 20" wide, so I cut my strips the full 20". After all 1o strips were sewn together, I cut them into three 6" bags. Saves a lot of time and effort).

I filled the bags with some Dr. Seuss stuff I picked up in the dollar aisle at Target -- small notebook, markers, book mark, and silly band. I also picked up some Dr. Seuss pins, and decided they made a cute embellishment on the bags.

These bags were lots of fun to make, helped tie together the theme of the party, and I like knowing there are fewer plastic bags making their way into landfills.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Big Brother

Last year, when we found out that the Monkey was going to be a big brother, I wanted him to mark the occasion with a new shirt that was as special as he is.

I scoured the internet and I just couldn't find what I was looking for. So I decided to make it.

It was quite simple. With a fat quarter and some fusible webbing, I transformed a plain white shirt into an adorable "Big Brother" shirt!

He loved his new shirt!

Now that Baby Brother has arrived, the Monkey is a wonderful big brother!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dishtowel Bag Tutorial

Three years ago, after the Monkey was born, I returned to work for a short period of time. Knowing I would be pumping, I wanted to find a good way to transport my pump parts to and from work that was more sanitary (and environmentally friendly) than a ziplock bag. I turned to Google and found a blog post about a little bag made out of a dishtowel. It was just what I needed. When I found out that a friend of mine was pregnant, I decided to make a set for her. Since each dishtowel makes two bags, I decided to make a couple different styles. One is more of a pouch style, the other more of an envelope style.

1. Start with a single dishtowel. I found this at Target. The friend I made this for likes red, and I loved the apples!

2. Cut the dishtowel in half. I cut the hemmed edges off the towel first. It's not necessary, but it reduces the bulk in the seams.

3. Fold the top and bottom edge in 3/8" and press.

For Pouch Style: Attach a strip of velcro to the inside (wrong side) of the top and bottom edge of the towel, overlapping the pressed hem. Velcro should be placed 3/4" in from each side, and as close to the edge as possible.

Velcro should align when towel is folded in half with wrong sides facing.

For Envelope Style: Place one strip of velcro along the inside (wrong side) of the top edge as described above. The second strip of velcro should be placed on the bottom edge on the outside (right side) of the towel, 3/4" in and as close to the edge as possible.

4. Stitch up the sides.

For Pouch Style: Fold towel in half with right sides facing. Pin, and sew up the sides leaving a 3/8" seam allowance.

I finished off the edges using a zigzag stitch. It's not necessary, but it will reduce fraying.

For Envelope Style: With right sides facing, fold so that bottom edge is about 1 1/2" below top edge. Pin and stitch up the sides to lower edge, leaving 3/8" seam allowance.

5. Flip right-side-out.

For Pouch style: You're done! Enjoy your bag!

For Envelope Style: You're almost done. When you turn the bag right-side-out, the edges of the envelope "flap" will be unfinished. Press the bag flat, and while doing so, press in the edges of the flap where they naturally turn in, about 3/8". Then top-stitch around the edges. You could jazz it up a bit by using a decorative stitch here.

You're done! Now you have two bags for the price of one dishtowel. These bags worked great for my pump parts. They're machine washable, and since you get two out of a single towel, I always had one to use if one was in the wash.

They're also the perfect size to hold a diaper, a few wipes, and maybe a small bit of hand sanitizer and diaper ointment for a quick diaper change kit. Or, if like me, your diaper bag doubles as your purse, you can put your wallet, keys, phone, etc. in it so they don't get lost in the depths of the diaper bag. I'm sure there are many other uses as well! I love these bags and they're such a quick and easy project!