Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cathedral Window Quilt

I wanted something really traditional for my mother-in-law.  When I saw this post by Amy Gibson on Moda Bake Shop, I knew I wanted to do it in greens for her.

This technique is easier than traditional quilting in some ways, and more difficult in other ways.

In this one, you START with the quilting.  These circles are individually quilted with circles of batting, and then pieced together to create squares on the back of the quilt and cathedral windows on the front of the quilt.  I love the technique; I think it looks so much harder than it really is.

Amy's tutorial is descriptive and easy to follow.  I had a ton of fun learning this quilt. 

I'm not gonna lie, though, quilting down these "petals" was not fun.  Turns out I'm a lot better at straight lines than I am at curved lines.  Feeding six layers through my machine while simultaneously turning the entire quilt at a consistent angle was rather difficult, but I persisted and this is the gorgeous result.

There's no basting, no binding, and it uses a very different quilting method.

It'll look great on her oversized cream-colored chair, and I think the style fits her perfectly.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tiny Playroom on a Budget

We move a lot.  My fifteen-month-old has lived in three houses and several hotel rooms.

All of our previous playroom have been pretty gigantic, and this one, not so much.

The first step, obviously, is to downsize.  We don't need five sets of blocks, four teasets, or hundreds of stuffed animals.

Once we did that, however, I still needed to free up some space.  Walls are where it's at.

For the stuffed animals, I wanted to do this after seeing it on Pinterest, but those planter baskets are expensive, so I had to figure out a cheaper version.

These laundry baskets were three dollars at Walmart, and the pink spray paint was five dollars.  You can cut them in half with kitchen shears.  My husband had some spare wood in the garage and he figured out a way to attach the baskets to the wall to put our stuffed animals in!!

First he drew an outline of the basket on the wall, then nailed the boards to the wall so they would sit just inside the baskets.  Then he used a staple gun to attach the baskets to the wood.  Stuff it with loveys and there you go!!  I think it looks SOO cute!!  Especially under the crayon art, which you can read about here.

For the bookshelves I really wanted to do these, but those double curtain rods are expensive, so I went for this gutter method instead.  The gutters are like 8 bucks at Lowe's.  Cut it in half, screw it to the studs in the wall, load it up with books and you're done!!  Awesome!!

Taking the books and stuffed animals off the playroom floor opened up a world of opportunity in there.  I was able to put all the puzzles in or on the cubby, which freed up the table for Diego's rescue center.  Some cubbies were also freed for baby toy storage.

Getting the stuffed animals out of the toybox allowed me to use the box for dress-up clothes, which allowed me to get the giant basket they were in out of there completely!  It's going to replace the laundry hamper I cut in half (irony?).

These puzzles were like $10 for five at Target, and the puzzle saver comes in seven dollar sheets at Amazon.  Super-cute, super-cheap artwork for any room.

The Hello Kitty shower curtain can't be used on their shower now because the one in this house has a door, so it's gracing their window and couldn't be more adorable.

Take the doors off your closet and it really opens up the space.  The kitchen, shopping cart, and hanging baskets fit there perfectly!  The purple one was eight dollars at Walmart and the orange one was 2 euro in Germany.  The bins on the shelf at the top hold their craft supplies - paint, sand art, scratch art, markers, crayons, you name it.  They were originally purchased to go in the cubbies, but I was able to separate them to get double usage out of it for this room :)

I am just in love with this space :)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pleated Jelly Roll skirt

I am in love with this.

It turned out way better than I could have hoped.

It was inspired by this tutorial at moda bake shop, but I did it my own way and changed a few things.

I got this Jelly-roll at walmart and I think it's just darling.  I decided alternating darks and lights would be best for this style of pleating; I really wanted the pleats to stand out.

I sewed all the strips together first, to create one continuous skirt panel instead of several, and pressed to the lighter side.  Then I top-stitched on the light side of the seam, to serve two purposes:  to contain the inside unfinished seam, and to add further detail to the pleats.  I'm so glad I took the extra time to do this.  I think it really adds to the skirt.

Then you just fold your dark strips in half and press to create the crease you'll use as your pleat guide, and fold in the light strips to create the pleats.  Press and pin, then just stitch all the way along the top of the skirt to set the pleats in place.

After cutting off the sewn jelly rolls at the crease in the middle of them (they're 40" long - too long for a child's skirt), I gave it a big fat hem (and it's still long) and used some of the scraps to create the elastic casing.   You may want to do your measuring first so you know how far down the strips to do your sewing and top-stitching.

So really, I could do the whole thing again with the other half, but I think I'll save it for quilting.

I mean, isn't she precious!?!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Drawstring Playmat Tutorial

I saw these amazing playmats that cinch into bags a little while ago and wanted one desperately.  They're super cool and so practical.  I decided I wanted one for my makeup, for my kids' legos, my daughter's "makeup," my hairclips, etc.  Then I looked at their prices.

They're not THAT cool.

So naturally I made one.

This looks like an honest, family-run company, so I hate to take business from them, but I just couldn't believe the prices.  If you want their heavy duty drawstring and fabric, do order from them, but if you're like me and need a $2- $3 option, here it is.

Your average fabric from Joanns or whatever will run around 42" wide, so that's as big as you could make this unless you piece some fabric together, which you could do.  Your playmat would then have a seam in the middle of it, but it could be ginormous.  I started small with the owl fabric, and then made a large one with some striped Jersey.

To start, you need a circle of fabric.  It doesn't have to be a perfect circle, just a rough one.  You can trace something circular or you can do this:

Fold up a corner of your fabric to create a square and cut it out.  (Similar to the way you would make a square out of a rectangular piece of paper.)

Fold it in half diagonally several times to get a little triangular shape like this.

Measure from the center point to the edge at the shortest side, then move your tape (ruler, yardstick)along the fabric, marking every half inch or so, keeping your left thumb tightly down on the center point of your circle.  You should have a little arc marked.

Cut along this line and unfold.  It should be pretty much circular.

Then you just hem the entire edge at about a half inch, leaving a small space at the end for the drawstring to poke through.  I did this without pinning or pressing, but you could press and pin first if you want it perfect.  As long as you can get a drawstring through it, it will work.  Even if you have to bunch it up like this in a few places, it will be fine:

I had enough scrap fabric to cut a long piece like this from the fabric, to use as the drawstring. 
You can sort of see I cut it in a "U" shape ( up the right side and back down the middle) because I needed it to be nice and long and didn't want to piece it together.

Then attach a safety pin to one end and feed it through the casing you created.  You'll bunch the fabric around the safety pin and slowly feel your way through to the other side. 

Then lay it out flat to see if you have any excess drawstring.  Keep enough to tie a knot.  Tie it in a knot so the child won't lose the string inside the casing.

For a more durable drawstring, you'll want to cut it about 3 inches wide, then fold the raw edges into the center.  Fold in half again and sew all the way around the edge.  This will create a more finished look.

You're done! 

The owl one is for my daughter's nail polish, and the other one is for blocks.  I try to keep them in their various boxes, but I *might* be able to train them to play ON this mat and keep it a little more contained.  Maybe :)

Fat quarters would be IDEAL for little bags like this.  I'm going to make one for makeup so I can spread it out on the counter in the morning and then cinch it back up :)

Project HOPE

Pardon my absence in the early part of this month....Desperate Housewives took over my life for awhile but I'm better now.  So:

A few times a years, volunteers with Project HOPE hand-deliver handmade items to children in need in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  Check it out here.  A friend of mine organized a night for us to all get together and sew up some dresses for the project.

We used this free pattern from Oliver + S.  It's a great little take on a pillow case dress, with some extra detail at the top and armholes but still totally simple.

I made two so I could take one home to my little living dressform :)  It's perfect for this warm climate, even in October.

Something like this would be extra-fun for someone who doesn't have girls and never gets to make dresses!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bubble Dress!!

I was just starting to see and hear of bubble dresses this summer when I came across one in a little expensive boutique for, like, eighty percent off, so I snagged it up.  When I brought it home to my daughter, I thought she'd never take it off, so I set out to make one.

This tutorial by Straight Grain recently popped up on pinterest and has received a lot of positive feedback.

Here's my take on it.

I added ribbon at the waistline to improve the look of the seam on the large print (which is Michael Miller Andalucia Dots).  The dress is a little shorter than I like, so I'll make the next one longer.  Once the pieces were cut from the pattern, it went together in a little over an hour, and she's crazy about it :)

I used a snap to close it at the top instead of a button.  I'd like to use a zipper next time.  The dress made its debut at the pumpkin patch this morning to rave reviews :)

Serendipity Quilt

I love quilting.  I love everything about it.  I love picking out fabrics.  I love cutting into fabrics.  I love watching online tutorials and sewing and cutting again, and piecing and basting and backing and bordering and binding.  When I finish one, it's right onto the next.

I like pre-cut fabrics because they give you a wide variety of fabrics that still go well together, and are already cut into perfect little pieces for you to play with.  I also love the amount of tutorials online you can find for precut fabrics.

This one comes from Jenny at the Missouri Star Quilt Company.

A lot of precut tutorials leave you with a scrappy look.  It's busy and a little messy and it's not my favorite look, but I was dying to try this serendipity quilt.  She calls it a serendipity quilt because, by nature of the construction of the block, you get another block, almost by accident, completely different from the first.

It was really fun to construct and piece back together like a puzzle.

I was really good at geometry in high school and was always disappointed that you had to take two years of algebra but only one of geometry.  Now I finally get to use all of that and make pretty things :)

I had some leftover blocks that I couldn't get to look right on the front, so I put them on the back.  In hindsight I should have purchased two charm packs to go with my one jelly roll, which I ended up using as the sashing.  It turned out nicely but I could have had a lot more blocks to work with if I'd had an extra charm pack.  Then I could have used white sashing and it would be less busy.

I'm going to bind it in white and let it hang out on my middle daughter's bed.  It's not quite a twin size but I think it will work just fine on her bed.

This was a really fun, really quick technique and Jenny is so much fun to watch.  You can get lost forever on her YouTube channel.  Check it out sometime :)