Monday, January 31, 2011 5 comments

Calendar Challenge: January 2012

Instead of a weekly challenge on Wednesdays, my friend and I decided to go with a different challenge this year. We're making a calendar page each month - for next year. Mine is going to be a gift for next Christmas. Since this is a homemade gift, I'll be adding that as a tag to these posts. However, since this is a challenge, I won't be including "homemade gift" in the post titles.

Supplies: paper (unknown damask from Ollie's, The Paper Company, GP), computer font (Comic Sans), sticker (CM laser cut), Nestabilities Labels One; dimensionals. Size: 5-1/2 x 8-1/2".

I won't be binding this calendar together until it's all done, but I do plan to bind it and give it an easel back so it can stand up on a counter.

January is a pretty "blank" month since there are no birthdays for my side of the family in January. I still wanted to have the calendar grid (as opposed to just numbers with no block to write in), though, since there are plenty of birthdays to note in the coming months. This gift is all about remembering family birthdays, so you'll see some months are crammed full. (If I were making one for my husband's side of the family, about every month would be crammed full, since he has ten brothers and sisters, who all have kids, some of whom have kids ... )

You probably wondered if my paper crafting days were over since I've been sewing for the last two months. I worried a little about that, too, but finally inspiration has struck. Since I've done this calendar page, several ideas have started whirling around in my head. Hopefully I can make some of them and share them with you soon!

Now you'll want to see what my friend has created for her January calendar(s)!
Thursday, January 27, 2011 3 comments

My Well-Trained Husband ...

My husband is one of those few men that actually pays attention to the crafts that I make. If he stops in at a thrift store when he's out calling, he knows the kinds of things I like and will look for them. A lot of times he doesn't even have to call me to find out if I can use something - he just knows (and he's right). If he's not sure, he never passes it up. He always calls and asks. (Aren't you envious?) :)

Anyway, he collects eagles and eagle memorabilia. When he came back from a recent thrift store excursion with these two glass bowls ($0.25 each), I wasn't very impressed. But since they were for his study, I kept my opinion to myself. And then ...

... then he came downstairs with two of the glass candlesticks I had picked up at another thrift store (something like $0.25 each or so), and I realized again what a genius I married. This was his idea, and it transformed those dishes from boring to classy.

He'd like to see if we could add some gold highlights to the glass candlesticks, so I'm trying to find that gold paint marker I had somewhere around here that I thought would stick to glass ...
Wednesday, January 26, 2011 3 comments

Homemade Gift: Another Raggy Star Quilt

While my good sewing machine was at the repair shop for a few days last week, I used my backup machine to quilt another raggy star quilt with the leftover star appliques from the first one.

I like this one even better! I used the same red homespun (that almost has a denim feel to it) and alternated with squares cut from a blue chambray fitted sheet. I backed each square with the opposite fabric to make the weights of the fabrics even out, and I added fleece between the layers of this one.

I absolutely LOVE how those star appliques turned out! I think I'll be trying this with some other shapes, too.

As a side note about my sewing machine ... I found a dear old man in my town who used to work as a certified repairman for Singer. He only charges $40 plus parts to fix sewing machines, and I had my machine back in two days!

I sincerely hope this man has a very long life because he was a huge blessing to me. :) He showed me exactly what he had to fix, so that I would know if it happened in the future. (The little latch that holds in the bobbin case in had somehow gotten "compressed," and he had to "spring it" a little so it would hold properly.) My sewing machine hasn't been behaving this well in years.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011 8 comments

It's Done!!!

First of all, remember that this is my first attempt at machine-quilting a full-size quilt on a domestic sewing machine. Any experienced quilter could have a heyday pointing out all my mistakes, if they were so inclined. :) (Not that I know any mean-spirited quilters; I'm just saying ... )

I designed the quilt around the seashell fabric (actually a repurposed sheet), which was my whole inspiration for making a quilt for my sister-in-law. She recently redecorated her bedroom in a beach theme, and I thought of her when I saw it.

I kept the basic design pretty simple so the seashells would stand out better. I pulled colors from the seashell fabric, as well as the colors I know she uses in her room (which happened to be just about the same).

In retrospect, I doubt I would have used quite as much black if I had done a quilt mock-up on the computer first. Since I didn't know how to do that when I started piecing this, I'll just chalk it up to a lesson learned. I'm still pretty happy with it, mistakes and all.

Here it is on our bed, since my sister-in-law's birthday isn't for two more weeks. Our bed is a Queen size, and hers is a Full size, so it should fit hers exactly like I had planned. Fortunately for me, the "plaid" fabric came with matching pillowcases, so I'll be giving her those to go with it. If I have some extra time between now and then, I may think about designing two pillow shams, but I'm not planning on it at this point. I designed the quilt to be big enough to go over the pillows anyway, much like a bedspread.

Since I used cotton and cotton blend sheets for the fabric and backing, I have less than $15 in this whole quilt. Of course, I invested about a month of my life in it, but you really can't put a price tag on that. :)

All in all, I did enjoy it (although I was completely frustrated at times) and it was a great learning experience!
Monday, January 24, 2011 2 comments

A Sneak Peek!

I'm getting closer to finishing my sister-in-law's quilt! I'm excited because all I have left to do is the free motion quilting around the seashells, and then I'm done. So here's a sneak peek, until I'm ready to show you the finished product:

I'm no professional, but I think she's going to like it.
Thursday, January 20, 2011 2 comments

Homemade Gift: Raggy Star Quilt

Since my "good" sewing machine has been in the shop, I've had to set aside my regular quilting for a few days. But I ran across this really neat quilt idea online, and I decided to try it. I don't have a walking foot for my second machine, but these layers weren't very thick so it didn't matter.

I found the instructions/pattern for this online for free. It's called Denim Rag Edge with a Twist. Unfortunately, places that I saw it had broken links. I googled it to see if I could find the instructions and came up with them here (look for "Denim Rag Quilt with a Fun Little Extra"). It is credited to "York St Quilting" and "Sugar Shack" online (two different places), but the file itself is copyright Rachelle Burleson. It is marked as "Personal Use Only," with permission needed from Rachelle for any other purposes. Unfortunately, there is no way listed to contact her, so this is stricly a "personal use" pattern until and unless anyone tracks her down. :)

That's okay, though, because it's perfect for my nephew's throws!

Using my fabrics as an example, the basic idea is to cut a star shape out of the middle of your denim (I used a thick red homespun that has a denim look and feel to it). Then you make a sandwich with your other fabric on the bottom, then a square of denim (to be the color of the star), then the red denim on top. Sew around the star-shaped cutout to create the quilt sandwich. The rest of the construction goes pretty much as you might expect.

What's really neat about this is that you can take those star cut-outs and make another quilt with them. I'm in the process of doing that for another quilted throw, so look for that within the next few days.

I was so happy to find this masculine pattern, since guys can be tricky to sew for. However, the basic idea (cutting out a shape with a peekaboo pattern underneath) could be adapted to any shape you desired - even hearts, if you weren't making it for a guy.

Since I was using pretty thick materials on this, I chose not to use any batting. It makes a nice, lightweight quilt that way.

Enjoy! (And I'd love to see any variations you might come up with.)
Tuesday, January 18, 2011 7 comments

Any more input on the quilt vs matching outfits?

I just learned how to do a quilt mock-up on the computer, and I thought I'd try this one just to see what it would look like. Well, now I'm mighty tempted to make this! See, I told you it was a simple design that I had in mind! (If you're not sure what I'm referring to, check out yesterday's post.)

Each block would be 12" (11-1/2" after sewing together), and the border would be 4-1/2" (4" after sewing together). I would most love to do free-motion meander quilting on this one, block by block, since I want to learn that technique next. Then I would use the "quilt as you go" method to join the blocks. This would produce a twin-size bed quilt.

Do you have any more thoughts on whether I should save that polka-dot for matching dresses or for making this quilt? (I'd have roughly 1 yard of fabric leftover after making this, and I'd have the whole XL Twin flat sheet yet for dresses.)

Thanks in advance for your comments!

ETA: Here's the link to the tutorial I used for the digital quilt mock-up. I used Paint Shop Pro, but she uses Paint (the free one on Windows-based computers) in the tutorial. Since I'm using sheets, I couldn't search for a fabric sample online. I just took a closeup digital picture of each fabric and used that.
Monday, January 17, 2011 2 comments

Need your help deciding how to use fabric

I know I said I was going to be machine-quilting my sister-in-law's quilt for a few days, but my machine has decided to give me so many fits that it has to go to the repair shop for a good tune-up. I suspect something is bent inside, and I just can't find it myself. Hopefully it won't cost too much or take too much time because I really, really want to give her that quilt for her birthday in a few weeks! I have about half of it done, so at least I was able to make some progress.

However, the good news is that I have a back-up sewing machine. It's nothing fancy, but it sews and I don't have to put the whole bobbin casing back in every time I sew one seam, so that's great at this point! :)

That also means that I've turned my attention back to my stash of sheets, which is why I need your opinions.

I've had this striped fabric for a few months now. I just found the polka-dot fabric last week. Since both sets came with pillowcases, I think I'm going to combine these two on another reversible apron for my sister-in-law. It reminds me a lot of what she likes!

But I have a bit of a dilemma on the rest of the fabric. See, I have these three fabrics that I'm not sure about combining:

(I told you that I'm not that great at combining patterns.) I probably wouldn't have put them together except that they all happened to be in my pink/red stack and I noticed that they all had the same colors in them.

I have two flat sheets of the top one, two flat sheets (I think) of the middle one, and a flat and fitted sheet of the one on the bottom.

The other idea I had (and it's really tempting me right now) is to take that polka dot fabric and make my daughter and I matching dresses for Easter or Mother's Day. Wouldn't that be cute?!? I'm thinking of something with a flared skirt (and possibly some tulle worked in underneath to fluff it properly).

So, what are your thoughts? Should I go with the quilt or the matching outfits?

Thanks in advance for your help!!
Friday, January 14, 2011 0 comments

Another big sheet project in the works

I don't have any pictures to share with you today because I'm knee-deep (at times it feels like neck-deep) in the middle of another big sheet project.

I'm making an honest-to-goodness pieced quilt for my sister-in-law for her birthday next month. I'm machine quilting it, and my machine is being really annoying and acting like the teenager that it is. I think I've figured out what every part of my sewing machine is supposed to do now - and how to fix it when it's not cooperating right. I guess that's a good thing, right? :)

I have about half of it quilted so far, which is no easy task since I didn't hear of the "quilt as you go" method until it was already put together. Rest assured, I will be quilting as I go from now on. It's 100% easier and less frustrating.

Hopefully I can share it with you sometime early next week. So if you don't hear from me for a few days, you'll know where I am - sitting in front of my sewing machine!
Thursday, January 13, 2011 0 comments

Homemade Gift: Fancy Apron

I made another apron for my sister-in-law. This is a fancy design that I admired from an Etsy seller but wanted to make in my own fabrics. I checked out the seller's shop, but she doesn't sell the pattern and it's not a commercial pattern, either. (I checked all the big names.) So ... I did some more reverse engineering and figured it out myself. :)

The hardest part of this apron was the neckline. I had never done a neckline like this before, and I spent two whole days figuring it out. In the end, I'm probably the only person that does it the way I did it. I used a combination of stay-stitching, clipping, ironing and sewing onto the next layer. (Does that make any sense?)

The picture makes this look like it's a solid yellow and solid white apron, but it's not. What looks like white is actually a white/yellow gingham from my first quilt project. This was also made with all scraps, so it was essentially free ... if you don't count my time figuring out the pattern. :)

I love this style, and I'll probably be making more of them as I find fabrics that I'd like to put together.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 2 comments

Homemade Gift: Reversible Adult Pillowcase Aprons

You've probably seen the idea of making aprons out of pillowcases before, but I thought I'd share a few of mine with you.

My sister-in-law has a job slicing meat for a bulk food store. She always has to wear an apron, but she's allowed to wear her own aprons. If you knew my sister-in-law, you'd know that she enjoys clothes, so when I showed her some apron ideas I had been thinking about, she told me that she would love to have some pretty aprons to wear to work.

Since her birthday is coming up, I immediately went to work creating as many as I could with what I had on hand.

This is just a basic chef's apron, but it's reversible. This side is made from a king-size pillowcase, taking advantage of the hemmed pillowcase edge at the bottom. The pocket is from the decorative edging of a vintage sheet that I used on the back.

See? I got to use more of that decorative sheet edging that I have fallen in love with. For this side, I made a pocket out of the fabric from the other side. Again, I took advantage of an already-hemmed edge (although this one was the leftovers of a sheet from my scrap bin instead of a pillowcase).

This is another design that she loved - the same basic chef's apron, but with a circular ruffle at the bottom. (It's the same concept as a circle skirt, only it's not as big.) I would have made that ruffle a little bit longer, but this was made with two regular-sized pillowcases, and I only had so much fabric to work with.

Here's the other side, made completely reversible.

These were a lot of fun to make, and they have the advantage of being a lot easier to assemble than a traditional chef's apron that uses bias binding at the edges. For this, you just make two apron fronts and then sew them together, right sides together.

Another advantage of these aprons is that you don't have to buy a pattern. If you already have a chef's apron on hand, trace it for your pattern. If you don't have one on hand, you can probably wing it. The rest is pretty self-explanatory.

Of course, you could buy fabric for these aprons, too. You'll need about 1 yard each of two different but coordinating fabrics. That's always an option, but it will cost a little (sometimes a lot) more. Each of these aprons cost me $1 to make, and it's really hard to beat that. In fact, the yellow one didn't even cost that much since the vintage sheet was just scraps from a quilt project!

Enjoy - and please don't tell my sister-in-law yet! :)
Tuesday, January 11, 2011 1 comments

More 18 in Doll Clothes to Share

I finished some more 18" doll clothes, and they're in my Etsy shop. I thought I'd share pictures of them here, too. Please excuse my model's hairdo. She has needed a good brushing for awhile now, but my daughter decided to take the ponytail out of her hair, and it really looks frizzy now! :)

A lady who knows that I sew gave me this fat quarter that she had picked up somewhere. It's a neat print, but I couldn't figure out what to do with it. It didn't match any of my other fabrics, and there wasn't much to work with. So I went ahead and made it into a doll skirt. I liked it!

Because I was a little more limited with the size of the fabric, this skirt is made to the original dimensions of the wrap skirt pattern. It's about 1" shorter than the other ones I've made.

Since the wraps skirts are reversible, it's yellow gingham on the other side:

I made another really cute ragged jean skirt, too. This one is a bit darker than the other ones I made. This is also the only skirt in my shop right now that is not reversible. It's just a lot easier to keep it one-sided when working with denim.

When I did the front and back pairings for these reversible wrap skirts, I decided to go with a solid and print combination for this batch. So this light blue solid is backed by a blue plaid:

And since I had a bit of the blue plaid fabric, I made up a few more skirts with it. The other skirts are backed with solid black ...

... and a nice cream color.

I had some more of that lovely red gingham fabric leftover, so I made a skirt with that and backed it with a black solid.

These are a lot of fun to make, and they're also a great way to use up fabric scraps. I already have several in my gift stash for the year ahead (not including the ones I've listed in my shop). Enjoy! :)
Monday, January 10, 2011 2 comments

Homemade Gift: Upcycled Receiving Blankets to Baby Quilt

One of my former Sunday school students and his wife are expecting their first baby in April. Since we don't know the gender, I'm planning to make one of each specific gift and store (or sell) the second one.

I've been keeping my eye out at thrift shops for more cute receiving blankets, and I found another treasure trove at Salvation Army last week. I made this baby quilt out of the six receiving blankets I got for $0.50 each.

For this one, I went ahead and backed each square with the same fabric, like most rag quilts are done. I think I'll plan to do this in the future, since I really like the reversible aspect of it that way.

I obsessed about the "right" size for a baby quilt and then realized that almost any size can work for this, so long as it's bigger than a baby. :) I used 7" squares (because of the dimensions of the flannel receiving blankets), and made the quilt 7 rows long by 7 columns wide. It worked perfectly, since it used all the blankets. The finished dimensions are 42x42", not including the outside ragged edging.

For $2.50 plus the price of the batting (I used a thrifted fleece throw), I have a lovely baby gift. If I bought the flannel on sale at $2.50/yard (a great price for flannel), I would have spent $9.34, plus the batting. That's still not a bad price, but $2.50 is even better! :)

In case you want to make one from flannel, I would recommend you change it to seven fabrics. In that case, you would need 5/8 yard of each fabric. You would also need about one yard of 58" fleece for the batting. Of course, if you have batting or fleece scraps, they would work just as well.
Friday, January 7, 2011 0 comments

Homemade Gift: Tea Towels from a Tablecloth

I'll have some more doll clothes to show sometime next week (I'm working on some outfits), but for now I have another project to share with you.

I was recently at a Salvation Army store that had 50% off all blue tags in the whole store. That's rare around here, where it's only the clothing that's on sale (if you're lucky enough to find a store with colored tag sales).

So you know I went looking through the sheets and such ... and found a cotton tablecloth. My mom and sister have bought some tea towels made with this kind of fabric from Pampered Chef, I think. They're not the nubby kind of tea towels, but the fine-textured cotton. I'm sure you'll know which kind I mean when I show you the pictures.

Anyway, it was a blue tag and ended up being something like $0.75. I couldn't pass it up, so I bought it and made eight tea towels out of it. That's less than $0.10 a tea towel! I don't currently need any, so I'm putting these in my gift stash. I can always pull them out if I need them before I give them away! :)

Here's a quick rundown on how to miter the corners, in case you're interested in making some, too.

First of all, press down your whole hem allowance. I was doing 1" hems, so I pressed all the edges at 1". Then, on each corner, you want to fold a triangle in right where the pressed lines meet. It should look like the picture above.

Then you snip off the very bottom of the triangle (not too much!), since you don't want raw edges peeking out of your nicely-mitered corner.

Fold under your hem allowance on one side, making sure that you're tucking it in at the corner, too.

Repeat for the second side, and you should have a nicely-mitered corner.

Tablecloths are hemmed around the edges, so I took advantage of that, too. If it already had one of the sides hemmed, I ripped open the seam only enough to be able to miter the corner.

These tea towels were about 14x23" finished. They weren't exactly the same dimensions as my mother's (I had my niece measure those for me), but they were close. You can fudge the numbers just a little and you won't really notice it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011 1 comments

Homemade Gift: 18" Doll Long-Sleeve T-shirts

Yes, there are more doll clothes today! I can see why some adults get hooked on making clothes for these dolls. It's almost as much fun as making outfits for yourself - or your daughter! :)

I don't know about you, but I've always been a little intimidated by knit fabrics. The stretchiness has always made me think twice about sewing with them. Well, no more. Check this out:

I have to say that this is one of the easiest shirts I've ever made for anyone - myself included. I made this one with a t-shirt that was stained beyond rescue for anything but the smallest projects. In fact, if you look close enough you might find a pink and blue smudge near the seams of this one. My daughter loved it, though, so it was too cute to pass up. I just centered the front of the t-shirt around the small heart design on the original t-shirt.

Here is one that I made from one of my son's old t-shirts. It had a design on it, but I managed to make two of them by working around that design. One of them has already been a gift to a friend's daughter. I let her choose an iron-on applique to go on the front, and she was pretty happy with it.

T-shirts are so basic that you could probably make them without a pattern if you really wanted to. The sleeves are the hardest thing to figure out, but there are ways around that (i.e. don't set-in the sleeves). If you're just making them as a gift, here's a free pattern from Liberty Jane, but you can't sell any of them.

I'm working on a t-shirt pattern of my own so I can offer them in my Etsy shop, though, so keep checking back. I have the perfect fabrics in mind for outfits! :)
Wednesday, January 5, 2011 2 comments

Homemade Gift: 18" Doll Jean Wrap Skirts

Yesterday I shared several reversible wrap skirts for 18" dolls. (Remember, the pattern is available at You Can Make This. It's not my original pattern.) I made a few more, but I figured they deserved a post all of their own.

I had some worn-out jeans in my cut-up stack, so I cut a wrap skirt from the top of each leg (adult size only, since the kid sizes are too small). As I contemplated sewing those flat seams with yet another seam for hemming, I realized that I could "rag" the edges and not worry about making it reversible.

It worked wonderfully! What you see above is the skirt before I put it through the wash (to rag it).

Here are the two of them after going through the wash. Here's another time-saving tip for you: The one on the left was the easiest because I simply used pinking shears on the edges. There was no clipping involved, and I actually liked it the best.

Of course, you'll want to sew 1/4" around all the skirt edges before attempting to rag the skirt, or you'll have a huge mess on your hands!

Here is the skirt on the doll after it was washed.

And the second one. It makes a big difference, doesn't it?

I've listed some of these doll clothes in my Etsy shop, in case you're interested. Enjoy! :)
Tuesday, January 4, 2011 1 comments

Homemade Gift: 18" Doll Reversible Wrap Skirts

Yesterday I showed you the 18" doll twirly skirts, and today I'm going to show you the wrap skirts. They're really quick and easy, but they're adorable at the same time!

Do you recognize this fabric? It's one of the vintage sheets I used in my yellow quilt. Since the skirt is made to be reversible, I backed it with a pale yellow:

See? You get two looks for the effort (and price) of one!

Here's a gingham one I made - black and white gingham on one side ...

... and red and white gingham on the other. If you're interested in making a few, I found the pattern at You Can Make This (look for the wrap skirt pattern), but I lengthened it since I didn't want it to be a mini-skirt.

And here is the secret that makes my life so much easier - FabricFusion Velcro. I've used sew-on Velcro before, but it always (yes, always!) messes up the tension in my sewing machine. I wasn't looking forward to that again, so I was thrilled to find that the Velcro company finally figured out a way to make iron-on Velcro for fabric. The bonus: there are no stitching lines on the outside of the garment.

I've listed a few 18" doll clothes in my Etsy shop, in case you're interested. I browsed around and looked for the "going price" on them, but I thought that was a bit high, so I've adjusted my prices accordingly. As always, if you have something specific in mind, I don't mind taking special orders.
Monday, January 3, 2011 4 comments

Homemade Gifts: 18" Doll Twirly Skirts

I'm planning to make a lot of the birthday gifts and such that we give this year, so I'm going to extend my "Homemade Christmas" theme into a "Homemade Gift" theme. I have a few posts to kick this off, and then I'll use the header "Homemade Gifts" as I showcase more throughout the year. I hope this helps fellow readers who need to save some money or simply want to give of themselves at gift-giving occasions.

The first homemade gift I'm making for this year is an assortment of doll twirly skirts, made entirely from my scrap bin. I have a niece and a good friend who both have 18" dolls, and the outfits for them can be pricey if you're buying them.

These skirts were made with a free pattern available from You Can Make This. (Browse through their patterns; they have lots of good ones!)

These are so easy to make, and they're quite fast, too.

I adapted the pattern to the fabric squares I had: 4" instead of 5". If you want to do the same, just use 6 blocks for the top row, 10 for the middle row, and 14 for the bottom row.

These are the scraps I saved from a quilted rag purse I made. I thought it made a pretty cute, bright skirt.

These were some miscellaneous scraps that just happened to look pretty terrific together. The print is an apple print, and the other two are (obviously) ginghams. Since I had only a few of the apple print squares, I chose to use them only on the middle layer where they would get the most attention.

And here is one done without the patchwork. All I did was figure out the length of each panel and cut it out of a solid strip of fabric. I loved how it turned out!

Now here's an added bonus that I never knew: Toys for Tots accepts these skirts for their toy drives! If you'd like to make some for next year, there is a form at the end of the pattern (from You Can Make This) that you can print out and include with each skirt. So if you're like me and would love to participate in the toy drive but don't have a lot of money to blow, this is a great option!