Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Boys' #MugRug Sewing Journey

Check out this gorgeous little ditty my kiddo made! I'm so proud of my Big Boy and the creations we're making together.

With all my work travel -- I've been gone in fits and spurts for most of the last two years -- we haven't done much sewing in a very long time. Still, he hasn't lost a bit of his skill, and with the maturity that comes with being 8 years old, he cranked out this pretty Christmas tree a few days ago. My only contribution: The quilting and binding. Period. He did the cutting, piecing and pressing for this beauty, and he designed the quilting motifs. For the next one, though, I'll let him go to town on the quilting, too. My only regret is that I didn't get a picture of him holding it. (This one was made primarily from leftover scraps of Cherrywood Fabrics from my entry in their August 2014 Wicked Challenge. If you haven't checked that out, whoa. Just whoa. You gotta.)

Two years ago, we made our first #mugrug together, and it's become a holiday tradition for him to make them for his teachers and a few special adults in his life each Christmas.  Here's the star effort from last year (2014) -- he loves doing raw edge applique.

Here he and his brother show off their first effort from Christmas 2013 (before binding):

We gifted them rolled up with a simple ribbon.

I knew your basic scrap, quilt-as-you-go technique was something my little guys could handle, and would be a good way to introduce them to sewing and quilting. When starting kids sewing, it's important to pick a project where precision cutting and sewing aren't required to create a nice final product. Here's how we tackled it in 2013:

At the time, Bitty was only 4 years old, so even the cutting was a bit of a struggle.  He got discouraged pretty quick.

No matter, though. Some colors and a huge post-it pad brightened his spirits... 


...and got him back in the holiday mood!

Big Boy, at 6 years old, was serious about his first real quilting project. 

Wow, he looks SO young in these pictures! He's grown SO much. 

He did a great job cutting batting and backing to the size he wanted.

The strips they cut were pretty ragged, but I didn't want them trying to use rotary cutters or even adult scissors. For what it's worth, even though the kids' safety scissors they used made really short cuts, they did go through the fabric and batting with relative ease.

He did a great job of mixing the colors and values!   

Such concentration!

We started by stitching the batting down to the backing around the outside edge. Then we anchored a strip to one edge through all the layers. After that, we added on by laying a new strip right sides together with the anchor strip and sewing through all layers on the loose edge of the anchor strip. 

He learned to press it open, then to lay the next strip down and keep plugging along across the project.

Over the course of a couple of days, we assembled four of them.

Here's our beautiful mess after the piecing was complete. No need to worry about perfectly cut strips... 

...or perfect sewing lines!

Bitty decided to team back up with his big brother for some clean-up trimming.

They did such a great job making them. All. By. Themselves. (As any parent knows: That's important!)

There was nothing left for me to do except bind them. By the way, these are great projects for flatlocking small scraps of batting. Waste not, want not.

Finally, a picture of the finished product with one of our favorite Christmas decorations...

My sweet mother saw this Christmas display and just knew SuperHusband had to have it. I love it.

Once we finish this year's lot of mugrugs, I'll share some more pictures! Have a blessed Thanksgiving Day and a Merry Christmas. Thanks for stopping in!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Easy Scrap Wreath a.k.a. The Boys' First Video Tutorial!

Check out my cool new wreath on the front door! Doesn't it just proudly proclaim, "A quilter lives here!" I can't remember where I first saw this idea -- somewhere on Pinterest, I think -- but I loved it. A few months ago, I came across a metal ring while going through my mom's sewing things, and realized that it was perfect for this project. It's a simple afternoon craft, and very kid-friendly.

The hardest part was taking the time to cut the scraps. I cut them 1" x 5.5". I cut waaaaaaaaay too many, so I'll probably go on the hunt for another hoop soon.

Once you cut the strips, it's as simple as tying a single knot around your ring.

 Meet my little hams -- they wanted to do a demo for you:

This is my normal front door was made for my mom and dad by my Uncle B. 

For a few weeks, though, I'm excited to show off this beauty!

Happy sewing!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tutorial Part 3: Upcycled Finds into Wild Kratts Costumes for Less Than $35

Holy Tamoley! So, yesterday, a lovely lady name Marney commented on Part 1 of this tutorial, asking for a link to Part 2. I replied with the link and then started editing the first two parts to make sure they both had backlinks to one another when - BAM - I suddenly realized, "I never did write part 3 about the gloves!!"

You guys, seriously, I'm crazy sometimes, and the blog has been WAAAAAAY on the backburner for the last couple of years. If you've seen my last few posts, you've probably gathered that I spent most of last year working out of town on reserve duty, and in the meantime, I'm still wading through my parents' estate, almost two years later. (That, blessedly, is soon to come to an end.)

But I'm back now, so, please accept my apologies, and with love, here's the final installment to the Wild Kratts costume!



So, this is the easy stuff. Start with a couple of pairs of black gloves...those dime store one-size-fits-all stretchy ones work great for this. I used one pair of those, plus one pair of old fleece gloves I still had in the box from our Colorado days.

Step 1: From your green and blue fabrics, cut 5 little circles for the finger tips and one larger circle for the palm. The size totally depends on your gloves. I winged it, but my finger tips were about 5/8" in diameter and my palm circles were a shade smaller than 2" in diameter...about 1 3/4".

Use the same fabric glue you used in Part 2 -- (I used Mod Podge Fabric) -- to glue them to your gloves.

At this point, you could go the easy route by skipping to Step 3 and being done. Your kids will be just as happy, and if I had it to do over, that's what I would do. 

Step 2: Not knowing any better, though, I took it one step further, and made the gloves come up the arms a bit like the Kratts, and made a strip of binding from the colored fabric for the edges. That was easy with my old fleece gloves...they were already longer.

It was a little tougher when it came to the dime-store gloves, so I cut two cuffs from leftover fleece from Part 1, and put the green colored binding on the edge.

From there, it was simple. Fold right sides together, stitch a seam, turn them right side out and voila!

No need to finish the top, because the fleece won't fray or ravel. I didn't attach them to the gloves -- they fit nice and snug, so once we put them over the gloves, they stayed in place.

Step 3: From there, I used Tulip Glow in the Dark Dimensional Fabric Paint -- no, I'm not getting paid by any of these companies...just telling you what I used -- to outline the colored circles.

That's really the money step. If your kids are into Wild Kratts, you know certain parts of the outfit glow. I didn't ring every single piece that glows on the Kratts, but you could. The gloves were enough to delight my kids, who holed themselves up in the closet, admiring the soft glow of their fingertips, for the better part of a day. :)

Ta-Da!! You're done! (And I finally got back to finishing this up!)

This has been one of my most popular tutorial series. Thanks for hanging with me, and please share photos of your finished costumes!

See Part 1 of this tutorial series here.
See Part 2 of this tutorial series here.

Into making kids' costumes? Consider trying this Craftsy class:

I have NOT taken this class, (though I've been intrigued by it for a long time!) If you decide to try it out, please let me know what you think!

* * *

As always, the modest revenue that comes from pattern sales and blog ads helps me support my family, as well as my sewing and quilting addiction, which then lets me share those tips I learn and tutorials I write with you. If you find that you want to purchase a class or item I recommend here, please consider using the links I've embedded. And by all means, if you try a class or product I recommended, or have your own recommendation to share, allow the rest of us to benefit from your experiences by sharing them in the comments!

Monday, December 08, 2014

Christmas Pajamas!

Meet the newest project to roll out of my sewing studio.  Drum roll,'s Christmas jammies! 

And really, what could be better than manta rays and bloody-mouthed sharks? The shark fabric's out of print now, I think, but I tracked it down on eBay. (Thank you, once again, Alexander Henry, for another amazing fabric. We're big fans of your designs around here.)

So, I know, I've been gone forever! Total radio silence. Well, for the record, I really HAVE been gone. I've been on orders for months and just finally got home in November. So, the sewing, quilting and blogging fell a bit by the wayside. However, since I got home, I've been catching up on sewing projects...and adding more to the list, of course. In short, I've been sewing with an obsession that would make my friend Tina proud.

I'll fill you in on more of the projects over the coming days, because, I'd like to do something of a holiday sewing series.

From the time I was a little girl, my family always opened presents on Christmas morning, but to ease us into the fun, we were allowed to open a single "December 24th" gift. Inside that box, without fail, was a new pair of pajamas. I always loved curling up on Christmas Eve in soft new jammies, waiting for Santa. It's a tradition we've carried into our own little family.

The hard part is always finding good PJs. Clothes for kids always seem to be made so cheaply these days, and we consider ourselves fortunate if we can find anything that isn't covered in licensed characters.  

So, this year, I decided to make the jammies.*HUGE GRIN*

Here's Big Boy's set...

...and Bitty's.

I drafted my own patterns for everything and used my own assembly methods. I've made lots of PJ pants before, but this time I tried a new approach for the drafting that started with this tutorial. Even though it's easier to cut the front and back pant legs the same, I'm not wild about the fit. If I make jammies for SuperHusband and myself, I'll be ditching pretty much everything from this tutorial except the cuff idea and going back to the original method I learned for drafting drawstring pants. Oh, and pockets. Must add pockets for the adults.

I decided do a few fittings along the way, so the kids have already seen them. (I'm confident, but not that confident.) When I finished them last night, they begged, BEGGED me to let them sleep in them, and -- guess what -- I'm a total sucker.  So these have already been laundered and worn, and they're holding up great!

So here's where I would love a few do-overs:

When I attached Big Boy's red cuffs, I sewed the cuffs on, then completed the side seam, (similar to the way I attached the band on the pillowcase in this tutorial). This process is easier than the alternative -- sewing the leg up first, then attaching the cuffs afterward -- but it doesn't make for a pretty turned-up cuff, as you can see. Thankfully, his pants are the right length without folding the cuffs up, so everybody's still happy.

When I made Bitty's, I did the opposite: sewed the side seams first, then attached the cuffs. Voila! No exposed seams.

This was also my first foray into making knit t-shirts. The knit sewing and working on the serger went quite well, thanks to this really helpful Craftsy class. However, since I drafted my own patterns, the first one is always apt to need some adjustment.  Bitty's neck was a bit too big, so Big Boy's shirt -- my second go 'round -- fits much, much better.

I'm super proud of my finishes. Every one of my knit attempts prior to this project, unless it was from fleece, (which is heavy enough to sew like a woven), was a disaster.

Check out that neckband application!

Here are the inside seam finishes.

And the bottom cover hem. I recently sold my Babylock Imagine Wave from several years ago and upgraded to a used Babylock Evolution that I found from a delightful woman on Craigslist who had given up learning to use it.  I'm thrilled to have a machine that can do this stitch! (We have SO many tshirts laying around that need to be altered, fixed, shortened, etc, etc.)

Let me pay this fantastic tip forward that someone else gave me: If you don't want to pay an arm and a leg ordering high-quality knit fabric when you're just learning to sew on knits, go to the thrift store and shop in the oversized men's shirt (XXL, XXXL, etc) section. I bought a red Alexander Julian Colours mock turtleneck at the thrift store for $4, then cut it apart to get the yardage for Big Boy's tshirt. He didn't want the little embroidered logo, so I cut around it and pieced in the racing stripes. He's in love with them and so am I!

I'm going to start doing a bit more blogging on serging with knits. In my own sewing and quilting journey, I've found there's woeful little out there for people who want to do serious serging, (or any serging at all, for that matter). Don't worry, I'm still primarily here for the beginners. :)

You probably won't see a full-blown tutorial on these pieces. I want to keep sharing projects with you, but in an effort to make my little "negative-profit" more sustainable, I'm going to start offering more patterns. My Halloween costume patterns did pretty well this year, and I'm encouraged. So, that's yet another step that makes me all giggly inside. :)

Is this a project you might like to see in my Etsy shop?

Thank you for stopping by and for not forgetting me after all this time away. Despite all the down-time, the blog's audience has grown considerably over the last few months. I appreciate you, sooooo much, and I'm so excited to be back home and sewing again!

Oh, and if you're interested in the really great Craftsy class I took, here's the link:

Craftsy Sewing Fashion Knits Class

This is a sponsored link, but my opinions of the classes are genuine. I will not promote a class or product that I haven't personally tried and don't believe in. I may occasionally link to classes I have not tried, but I'll be up front about it. If you want to know more about sponsored links on my blog, check out this posting, On Advertising and Integrity in this Blog.

I will add one more thought to what I wrote nearly three years ago: The modest revenue that comes from pattern sales and blog ads helps me support my family, as well as my sewing and quilting addiction, which then lets me share those tips I learn and tutorials I write with you. If you find that you want to purchase a class or item I recommend here, please consider using the links I've embedded.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The QuiltWest tribute ... One year later

One year ago today, 12 first responders gave their lives in an attempt to save others in the small town of West, Texas.

QuiltWest was born of a desire to give whatever small gift I could to comfort the family members of these men.  I wanted to wrap them with quilts and the warmth of knowing other people felt their loss.  I knew I couldn't do it alone:  In all, 18 ladies from across the nation have opened their hearts and given of themselves to make 12 quilts for the families.  These quilts have taken us on a journey of love, compassion, relationships and hope.

I grew up the daughter of a first responder.  You can learn a little more about my mother's legacy as a paramedic and public servant here and hereShe also loved quilts and quilting, and understood the treasure of a gifted quilt.  I lost her just one month before the events in West, and throughout the project, I carried in my heart a quiet dedication to her.

The families who live in West will receive their quilts today.  My heart broke when I realized work and family schedules simply wouldn't flex to allow me to deliver them personally, but my contact with the City of West has put me at ease.  The fire chief has graciously agreed to pass them along and to see that the remaining quilts are sent to the out-of-town families who couldn't make the trip for the memorial gathering. 

As QuiltWest winds down, it's extremely hard to put my emotion into words.  If you'd like, you can read an excerpt of my letter to the families here.  It's really my best attempt to explain all this.   Thankfully, I have many, many photos of this wonderful journey and the lovely ladies who stitched their love into every quilt.

I truly hope you'll check out the QuiltWest Collection on Flickr for more photos of the quilts, the process and their makers.

If you'd like to learn more about QuiltWest, check out these previous blog postings:

Calling all quilters!  QuiltWest for First Responders' Families - April 25, 2013
Update: QuiltWest - Quilts for West, Texas first responders' families - May 7, 2013
Tutorial:  Basic Jelly Roll Quilt - QuiltWest - May 21, 2013
Today's Photo Journal:  Over the QuiltWest Hump - October 21, 2013

Our love and prayers remain with the families of West, Texas -- all the families of that community -- as they take time today to look back in tribute...and forward with hope.  May God's blessings be with you. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Basics: The Great Fabric Stash Organization project

Okay, so I have a confession to make:  I'm a fabric hoarder.  No, not like those gross people on TLC, but I really do struggle with throwing away bits of fabric, let alone yardage(!).  I just can't stand the waste.

If you sew you know how it is -- when you first start sewing, you don't have a stash, so you have to buy new fabric for every project.  Depending on the project, you may have a few bits let over, or you may have quite a lot of fabric left at the end.  It's not just a quilter thing:  Home dec and especially garment sewing usually leave larger, more holey, and funky-shaped scraps. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Basics: Flatlocking and our 100th Day projects!

Whoa.  Apparently, the 100th day of school is a big, big deal these days.  Okay, confession time:  I kind of dreaded this assignment.  We didn't do anything special for the 100th day when I was a kid, and really, who wants to walk around finding 100 different objects, sticking them to a piece of paper and watching them fall off?

I looked around the house and found a large piece of white paper, but my very serious artist explained he wanted a colored page.  Then I found construction paper, but he said that wasn't big enough.  (Some of the kids were using poster board, but it was too late in the day to make that happen.)  My attitude started looking up when I figured out that it didn't have to be a piece of paper, though -- fabric stash to the rescue!  Then Big Boy got jazzed about designing his own custom background.