Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Fabric-Covered Egg Shaker Tutorial

Hello! Well, we love music at our house, and as I was trying to think of something other than candy to put in little Charlotte's eggs I thought about egg shakers. I have tried to make my own in the past, but they look ugly and the tape comes off and I end up with rice or beans all in my carpet :( So the best solution I could think of was of course...fabric! So here is a tutorial for making musical egg shakers that are covered in fabric. The fabric I am using is vintage knit- my grandmother actually found it in a barn behind her house! You could also use felt or some other fabric that has some stretch in it. These eggs come together really quickly so you still have plenty of time to make some before Easter :) Ready? Here we go.

Step 1: Create the template. Draw a vertical line 3 1/2" long. At the midsection draw a perpendicular line 1 1/2" long. (These measurements will work for the average plastic egg-I got mine at Wal-mart.) Draw a football shape around the cross that you have drawn.

Step 2: Cut out the template and lay it on your fabric. Cut four little "footballs".

Step 3. Sew these right sides together, using a 1/4" seam. Leave one seam half way open - this is where you will insert the egg. Turn right sides out.

Step 4: Fill the small part of a plastic egg with dried beans - I used Great Northern. You could also use lentils, black-eyed peas, etc.

Step 5: Close the egg tightly, tape the seam well with duck tape, and insert it into your fabric shell.

Step 6: Using a needle and thread, hand whip the opening closed. Voila! Get out your other instruments and have a musical Easter!


Monday, March 29, 2010

Coming Soon... DIY Fabric-Covered Egg Shakers!

I Heart Pillows

Pillows are one of the simple things to make that can really change the look of a room. My love for pillows began when my mom started sewing custom pillows for designers - they go in model and residential homes in Orlando, FL. She is wonderfully talented and makes some amazingly intricate pillows! I worked for her for several years when we lived there. The thing about pillows is, they don't take much fabric, i.e. they are inexpensive to make, and they don't take very long, i.e. instant gratification sewing (my favorite kind). My couch was looking very sad and blah so I decided to take off the back cushions, that were the same color as the couch, and make these 4 pillows to add some color to my den. So here are my pillow tips for the day:
  • Find inspiration: my favorite place to look - anthropologie.com
  • Make a pillow form: use lining fabric, or some other inexpensive fabric and make a form to stuff that will go inside your finished pillow- not only does this make your stuffing look more uniform, it makes it easier to take off the outside and wash.
  • Don't make them too small- I think the smallest a pillow should be is 15". You don't want your pillow to look dinky- also make your pillow form an inch larger than your pillow cover- this will ensure that your pillow will be pleasantly plump.
Have fun brightening your home with pillows today!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Things that make me happy

Happy Friday everyone! You must drool over this gorgeous quilt made by Jacquie over at sewmamasew.com. Wow-I love the selvage thing - mom wouldn't this be a perfect design for you to use? She has been saving selvages for quite some time now. Anyway, this is amazing.

Selvage Quilt by Jacquie

I also wanted to inspire you to cook something amazing this weekend - my sugggestion, Bruschetta from Julie and Julia. This is so easy and sooooo delicious! The most important ingredient is the bread. Be sure you buy some really fresh, really good bread. Then buy several tomatoes of varying kinds and chop them up in a bowl. Add a little salt and fresh basil, and then pour olive oil over it. Let it sit while you heat a skillet. Put a generous amount of butter in the skillet and grill your bread slices on both sides. When they come off the skillet, top them with the tomatoes. Oh so good!

I also wanted to say that this weekend I will be endeavoring to make my first item of clothing for myself using a real pattern with expensive fabric.

Little Folks Voile VAH01-Berry Voile Fabric by Anna Maria Horner
The lovely Anna Maria Horner's voile! I am trying to not be nervous - no fear! I will post about that later next week I am sure!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

How Does Your Garden Grow? - Fun Felt Magnets

So I am trying to be more creative with my crafts and not just copy something someone else has done...although there are amazing projects out there! It is nice to push myself and really tap into my creativity. I was also trying to think of something to make for Charlotte's Easter basket. We only have a sad little collection of letters on our frig, so I decided to make her a magnetic spring garden! These have been so fun to make! I gathered a bunch of felt scraps, and pencil, and started drawing little creatures and flowers - only using the ones that I could draw really well (I tried a caterpillar, which seems like it would be simple - not so much). I resisted the urge to reach for my trusted friend the glue gun, and got out my embroidery needle and floss instead. I decided that since these would be handled often, stitching would hold up better than glue. I went to Michael's and bought some small craft magnets to put inside my little critters. I cut two of everything - a front and a back. I stitched them halfway around and then stuffed them with a small amount of batting and a magnet. Then, I finished out the stitching. They were really fun to make and Charlotte loves them ( I put them on our fridge just for today, because I was so excited!) So you can be creative and make any little animals you choose - if you can perfect the caterpillar, let me know - I also thought a snail would be cute, or some clouds. Really just use your imagination- the sky is the limit! If you have trouble drawing, look in some of your kids books for inspiration - you could even trace them and make their favorite storybook characters into magnets. Have fun!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Quick gift idea: custom pillow case tutorial

A childhood friend of mine recently had a baby. I was sitting at home, trying to think of a practical gift that I could make out of things I had on hand-when i thought, what do you want most when you are a new mom? SLEEP!!! So I found some soft cotton and set out making a cute pillowcase to lay her sleepy mama head on. I combined it with tea and coffee and it makes a perfect care package!
Step 1: I used a pillowcase I already had as a pattern, matching up one edge to the fold of the fabric. Add 4 1/2 inches to the edge to fold back.

Step 2: Cut out the rectangle - mine ended up being 34x19. (One of our cats, Pouncey, loves to help:) )Step 3: Open your fabric and fold up 1/4 inch on one the edge you will use for the opening of your pillow case. Press.
Step 4: Fold back 4 1/2 inches on the same edge to make your pillow case opening edge. Press.

Step 5: Now is the time to do any embroidery or embellishment you would like to the edge of your pillow case. I am certainly no expert on hand-embroidery. I simply draw a picture on the fabric with pencil, then fill it in with embroidery floss- I use three strands and use a backstitch.
Step 6: Now topstitch the folded edge down to the pillowcase.

Step 7: Turn your pillowcase right sides together and stitch the long edge and the other end, using a 1/2 seam.

Step 8: Trim the edges of your seams with pinking shears, or zig zag stitch them.

Step 9: Turn the case right sides out and press. All done!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Easiest Chicken Pot Pie Ever. It is also delicious!

I don't know about you, but chicken pot pie is one of my comfort foods. This one goes together so quickly and is always a hit - whether at a pot luck, when guests are over, or like tonight - Friday night in, just my little family. Here is what you will need:

Two frozen deep dish pie crusts
Bag of frozen mixed veggies
Can of cream of chicken soup
Shredded chicken (either boil some chicken breasts, or buy a rotisserie chicken and cut it up)

Mix the last three ingredients together - add some salt/pepper. Pour into the first pie crust. Top with the second pie crust. Bake in your oven at 375 for 30 min or until the crust is golden and the inside is bubbly. It doesn't sound impressive, and I'm sure Martha would frown upon the store bought ingredients - but when you are busy and want some yummy food in your belly, this does the trick. If you are not busy, feel free to make the pie crust (pate brisee) from scratch (which is not very hard) and cut up fresh vegetables (which my mom does). The result will be even better. Bon Apetit! and have a lovely weekend.

Quilts for Nicaragua

One of the members of our local congregation goes to Nicaragua several times a year and works with the Christians who live there. These people have very little, but are striving to do what is right and love the Lord. My friend Heather, who also loves sewing, had a wonderful idea about how to help our Nicaragua family while using our skills as seamstresses. Below is Heather herself- sewing away!This past Thursday several of us got together at her house to make baby quilts for some of the families there. It was a great way to make use of our hundreds of scraps of fabric - and a great way to spend the day! When I arrived at her home the air was abuzz with children playing (9 total :) ), sewing machines whirring, women talking, and colorful scraps of fabric spread all over the floor being carefully sorted into coordinating stacks. It was really a lovely sight. I must say it was very nice to be in the presence of 5 other women, doing something uniquely feminine, enjoying our young motherhood, and hoping to share some of our enduring comfort to those who live in less fortunate circumstances. I thank God for these women, Stephanie -ironing below-Heather, Tamara, Crystal, and Jesse who are so uniquely beautiful and so willing to give of their time and resources. We were able to make 6 quilt tops that day and are still in the process of finishing them. We also plan to make some stuffed animals out of our scraps, because the children have nothing to play with (unlike our homes which are overflowing with enough educational stimuli and imaginative creatures to occupy one child in Nicaragua for a year). I am so grateful for all that God has blessed us with, and I am grateful to be living here in my cozy home in Gainesville. So please stop and say a prayer for these Nicaraguan women, children, and their hard-working men, who in the midst of great poverty are singing praises to our God and, like us, counting the days 'til Heaven.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Kiss me- I'm Irish!

It seems that the cold weather is dragging on and on this year! I don't know about you, but it has greatly affected my skin this year. I especially have a difficult time keeping my lips soft and shiny - so in the spirit of St. Patrick's Day here is a simple lip scrub to exfoliate those lips! This combination of ingredients works because the sugar sloughs away dead skin, while the honey, which is a humectant, helps your lips retain moisture. The Olive oil is also moisturizing, while the peppermint and orange lift your spirits out of the never-ending winter gloom! Just mix these ingredients together, massage into lips and wipe with a warm cloth. Follow with your favorite lip gloss!

1 Tablespoon of Sugar
1 Tablespoon of Honey
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
3 drops of sweet orange essential oil
2 drops of peppermint essential oil

Essential oils should be available at your local health food stores - if not, you can buy some at my favorite shop, Cosmic Flower. Have fun and go kiss your sweetie! (only if they're wearing green of course! :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Family of Quilters

I am descended from a long line of quilters. The women on my mother's side quilt. In my home right now I have a quilt from both my great-grandmother and grandmother. My mom just joined the quilting scene, and my sister has been quilting since highschool. When Charlotte was born and I became a stay-at-home mom, I too decided to take up the craft. My goal is to make one quilt a year. Last year I made a quilt for myself. It is feminine and just my size :) I used fabrics from Anna Maria Horner's "Drawing Room" collection, and I also used her Garden Wall pattern. It was really fun to cut out and piece, and I hand-tacked it as I currently do not have the patience to hand-quilt :) This is the finished product- I actually finished it by July, so it didn't even take all year! I also embroidered this quote on the sashing at the bottom left corner: "A life lived in fear is a life half-lived." That quote helped me a lot last year and has become one of my mottos. This year I am making a quilt for our master bedroom, but more on that later. So may you all be encouraged to take up quilting - there is something so comforting about being wrapped up in a handmade quilt. They are durable and will last many lifetimes- something your family will treasure for a long time. So much time, energy, and love are devoted to quilting that I believe they are woven into the very threads of the fabric. When I snuggle under my great-grandmother's quilt I feel like I am a part of her-and she a part of me-our lives being connected by the colorful threads woven into the fabrics she chose.

Pretty deep for a Tuesday night :) Hope you all are as inspired as I am!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Men's Indian Kurta Tutorial

Hello! This is the beginning of my first tutorial :) These are the directions for making a tunic, specifically an Indian Kurta, but you could adapt it for any tunic top. These are the supplies you will need: Fabric marker or chalk, pins, yardstick, 4 1/2 yards of fabric (and 4 1/2 yards of lining if you want to line it), thread, scissors, sewing machine, and machine embroidery floss (if your machine has an embroidery feature).

Begin by taking these 4 measurements:

  1. Shoulder to knee=_____, then add 1"
  2. Shoulder to wrist=_____, then add 3"

  3. Shoulder to hip=_____

  4. Hip measurement=____, then add 5" (measure around largest part of hips.....really fun:)
So as an example my hubby's measurements were: 1. 46" 2. 27" 3. 26" 4. 48"

Step 1: Find a loose fitting t-shirt to use as your pattern for the bodice. Fold your fabric, selvages together - then fold the t-shirt in half, and lay it on top - the fold of the t-shirt should line up with the fold of the fabric.
Trace with fabric pen around the front neckline, shoulder seam, and armhole.

Step 2: Remove the t-shirt.
Measure from the shoulder seam straight down to the hip (measurement #3) - in Ryan's case, 26 inches. Make a mark with a fabric pen.
Take the hip measurement (measurement #4) and divide it by four. At the mark measured from the shoulder seam, draw a line from the fold 1/4 of your hip measurement. In Ryan's case, I measured from the fold, 12 inches.
Next measure from the shoulder seam to the knee (measurement #1) , in Ryan's case 46 inches. Make a mark.
At that mark, measure from the fold 1/4 of the hip plus two or three inches (depending on the flare you want in your tunic) - I added two inches, so I measured straight from the fold 14 inches.
Then connect the bottom of the arm hole, to the 12" mark all the way down to the 14" mark. It should look like this (the colors of the lines in this picture correspond to the colors in the directions):

This is the front of your tunic.
Step 3. Cut out the front, and lay it on top of the fabric for the back(still folded in half ) with the front fold matching the fabric fold. You can use the front as a pattern for the back. It will be the same, except for the neckline, which barely needs to curve at all - you can use the back of your t-shirt if you need to - this is a picture of the front laying on top of the back showing the difference in necklines:

Cut out the back, and now you are ready to cut the sleeves.
Step 4: Open the back and front pieces and lay them on your fabric, shoulder seam to shoulder seam. Use the curve this creates as a pattern for the top of your sleeve. Trace the curve of the armhole onto your fabric. Next, measure from where the shoulder seams meet, straight down your fabric, the length of your arm ( measurement #2): Ryan's was 27". Make a mark there.
Step 5: Draw a 14" line at that mark, making sure that the center of that line is even with the center of your sleeve top. Next, draw two diagonal lines, one from each side of the 14" line, to the bottom of the armholes. It should look like this:

Cut out another sleeve by this same pattern.

So now your entire tunic is cut out. I chose to line Ryan's tunic. If you want to do that, just use these pieces as your pattern, and cut out the exact same pieces from the lining fabric.

Step 6: With right sides together, sew your shoulder seams together front to back. Open and press. Cut a straight slit, about 4" long in the center of the front piece neckline- this will allow it to go easily over the head. Now is the best time to do any embroidery around the neckline. Since my fabric was very thin, I used some register tape on the back of my fabric as a stabilizer and then ripped it off when I was finished embroidering.
Step 7: Once you have finished your embroidery, pin together the neckline of your lining and outer fabric, right sides together.

Step 8: Stitch around the neckline using a 1/2" seam. Clip the corners, and turn right side out and press. Now it is time for the sleeves!
Step 9: Right sides together, pin the curve of the sleeve to the armhole - if you lay it out, the sleeve should lay under the bodice like this:

Step 10: Stitch arould the armhole using a 1/2" seam. Repeat on the other side. Press the seam toward the bodice. When you turn it right side out it should look like this:

Step 11: Right sides together, pin from the wrist all the way down the sleeve seam and side seam. Stop when you get to the point you want the slits to come to. My slits came up about 12 inches from the bottom of the garment.

Step 12: Sew together using a 1/2" seam. Repeat for the other side. You're almost done! Turn right side out and press.
Step 13: Press the raw edges of your slits in 1/4" and topstitch in place. If you lined it, press the lining toward the outer fabric and topstitch them together.

Try it on and pin up the hem. Press it - I hemmed it about an inch. Topstitch the lining to the outer fabric. Repeat in the back.

Step 14: Try it on and pin the sleeve hem to the length you desire. Press it under and topstitch the sleeve hem. If you would like to add any embroidery to the sleeve you can do it now. And that is it! congratulations - you finished it! Have fun and don't be too much of a perfectionist!

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