Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Five minutes equals quick baby girl gift...

Got five minutes? Perfect -- you can make a quick baby gift! When I found out my last baby was a girl, I was a little overwhelmed with all the fun girly accessories you can get, especially when it comes to headbands. But I think these are my favorite. Not even sure what to call these, maybe elastic ribbon? You can order it online in several places. I bought this from Pick Your Plum when they had a deal to get several colors at once.

I love this stuff because it's really soft and very stretchy. Then you can add whatever flower/clippie you want. Plus, I've sewn a little pocket into it so the metal clip only has to touch baby's head a little. That always seemed so uncomfortable to me. Plus it will hide your seams under your accessory. Nice...

For a newborn size, I cut this 13 inches, which worked perfectly. I would add one inch per size you want to go up (about 14 inches for 0-3 months, 15 inches for 3-6 months, 16 inches for 6-12 months, etc).

I also decreased the stitch length on my sewing machine a little to sew this (it's usually 2.5, this is one setting down at 2.0).

Now, making sure your elastic is straight, you're going to overlap the ends about 1 inch with the right side facing out.

Stitch the two sides together close to the left side, so you're stitching the underneath side close to the edge and you have the top still long. I stitch down, backstitch all the way up, and stitch it again.

The arrows mark the edge of each side in the picture above. The bottom piece is stitched close to the edge on the left. Now, with the right side, you're going to fold that edge under...

You fold under just a tiny bit, just enough so you can hold it in place. Then you'll stitch that side down (so you'll be stitching through three layers). I use a wooden coffee stirrer to hold it in place while I stitch it down. And no worries if you accidentally stitch through it -- I've done it plenty of times. Your fingers are safe, it won't hurt your machine or your project.

And that's it! Then you have something that looks nice from the outside if you decide to do a plain headband, or you can easily hide underneath a flower or bow. Just slide the clip between the stitches in between your two layers of elastic ribbon.

Here's the outside...

And the inside...

Sweet! I whipped out probably three of these in my five minutes. The longest part is changing your thread on your machine. :)

Quick announcement: My life is super topsy-turvy right now because we're getting ready to move, but it's going to be a crazy, spread-out move. We're probably leaving in June but won't get to our new location (New York, baby!) until August. I have so many fun tutorials I want to share, but I honestly don't know if/when I'll be doing anything on this blog in the following months. So thanks for stopping by, and I'll see you when I see you. :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

What's in your bag? Sewing needles...

So, what's in your bag?

This is my little sewing buddy. I absolutely love this organizer (from Hobby Lobby, but I've seen it at other craft stores, too); I love it so much I got two, one for sewing and one for other craft tools. And I keep all kinds of goodies in it.

One of my favorite little things? This sewing needle organizer:

And please ignore this crazy tablecloth; I needed a new one for my craft desk and this is what was on clearance. Not much to look at, but it's not covered in paint or melted by the hot glue gun.

Anyway, this little thing has been a life saver; now all my needles are in the same place -- it has a section for sheer, ball point, regular and heavy duty.

What the what? (As my son would say, and too often, starting to drive me a little nuts...) Um, ball point needles? Sheer? If you're new to sewing, this probably sounds completely weird; however, head over to this website I found that has an excellent list of sewing needles, what all the numbers mean and their uses.

Needle side note: Don't think you need to run out and buy a new needle for every project; I have tried most of these needles. And for the most part, I use my universal and my ball point (for stretchy fabrics) the most. I just bought stretch needles for some swim bums I was making for my daughter -- didn't see a difference and totally broke one two seconds after I started sewing with it in my serger. So maybe try something you already have on some scrap fabric before you run out to buy a specialty needle...

As I was saying, love my organizer. It's so nice having all my needles in one place. But I've had one little issue: While ball point and heavy duty needles are marked by colored bands across the shank so I know what size they are, my universal ones aren't. Yeah, yeah. The needle says right on there what size it is, but they're so hard to read if they're printed on the rounded side. Apparently my almost-30-year-old eyes ain't what they used to be. :)

The solution? Make some shank markings of my own.

I'm too lazy/get annoyed if I have to stop in the middle of a project to squint at my needles until I find the right one. So, using a Sharpe, I came up with my own marking system. I marked my 75 with a vertical line straight up the backside of the shaft. I marked my 80s with two horizontal lines, and I left my 90s blank. Now no more squinting to see if I'm grabbing the right needle. A little time saver and maybe saves my eyes, too. :)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Lovin' me some Voodoo salad...

So, the hubby and I are on a mission to be healthier; part of this whole endeavour includes eating at home more. Now, I love eating out. I know a big part of that is that I don't have to cook. However, I've talked myself into learning to cook better and eating at home more by trying some of my restaurant favorites. And I have to share this one, because it's so ridiculously good!

When we got home from our trip to Utah for Christmas, one of the first recipes I wanted to try was a new favorite at the fantabulous Rumbi Grill -- the Voodoo Chicken Salad. Oh, this is one of the best salads! I found the original recipe on the local Utah ABC channel website (from the CEO of Rumbi Grill himself!), and I've adjusted some of the ingredients (it called for chili paste, but the paste I found made it too spicy, and I thought the dressing was more sweet) as well as cut the recipe down to a quarter. This dressing makes 1 1/2 cups and is good for about six to eight salads.

1 TB Dijon mustard
1 TB lime juice
1 TB chili sauce (look for the sweeter kind)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
a little less than 1/2 cup sesame oil
2 TB rice vinegar
2 TB soy sauce
1/2 cup white sugar
1 TB minced garlic
1 TB and 1 tsp pureed ginger (I found this in the produce section)

Place all ingredients except ginger in a bowl and mix with electric mixer for about 1 1/2 minutes. Add the ginger and whisk until fully mixed.

I stored the leftovers in an empty dressing bottle, and it has stayed good for at least two months now. It might last longer, except I finish it up before that. :)

For the salad, start with some mixed lettuce (we like iceburg and Romaine), then top with diced tomatoes and feta cheese. Grill up some chicken (Rumbi Grill has jerk chicken, but I also like chicken marinated in Lawry's Hawaiian sauce) and fry up some corn tortilla strips; drizzle on dressing and welcome to salad heaven. Yummmmmm... Enjoy!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Perfect present: Baby tag blanket...

I am in baby present heaven right now! My bestie is due any day now, and another good friend is due only a few days later. So I've had two showers in the last few weeks -- I love baby showers! Making baby gifts are some of my favorite things to make. And that's good, because I have three sisters-in-law, my Vegas bestie, a cousin-in-law and another Okie friend that are all having babies this summer, all due in July except for one!

Today I'm sharing a tutorial for one of the easiest baby gifts to make: A tag blankie. Seriously, if you've got an hour, you've got a baby present (maybe even less time if you're speedy and don't have any interruptions)!

Another great thing about this? It's very beginner friendly, and you can make it pretty inexpensive. You can make these any size you like, in any shape you like. And the great place to pick up materials for this project is in the remnant bin.

I used black minky that I found in the remnant bin, and then, because I wanted a really specific fleece, I had to order the soccer fabric online (why don't the fabric stores have any soccer fleece right now????). You could also use soft, baby flannel for a lightweight blankie, but I love the fleece and minky combination. Then you need ribbon, but you can make them all different or do a pattern like I did. This is a great time to dig into your scraps.

Cut out one each of your front and back in the desired shape/size you want. I made mine 20" by 20" because that's how wide my minky was, plus I thought it was a nice size (just big enough to put the baby on for some floor time or to cuddle with in the car seat without being a full blanket). I used a 1/2" seam allowance, so my finished size was 19" by 19".

Next, you'll determine how many ribbons you want. I had six picked out, but ended up using only five just for looks.

I cut my ribbons to 5" each. They'll be folded in half (2.5") and you'll lose 1/2" with the seam allowance, so this makes the ribbons 2" when finished.

Now you'll lay out your ribbons on top of your bottom piece to get a general idea for how you want to arrange them. I ended up with this pattern.

Once I figured out where I wanted my ribbons, I folded them in half -- right sides out -- and pinned them in place (make sure you're pinning them to the right side of the bottom). For this size, I put the middle ribbon at the 10" line, then put the others 3 inches apart. So I had a ribbon at the 4" line, 7" line, 10" line, 13" line and 16" line. I like to put them a little further in from the corners, so this worked out perfectly!

Now before you put the top on, you'll do something that will make finishing the project much easier. Pick one of your middle ribbons and stitch it down, just less than your seam allowance. I used my blue ribbon...

My seam allowance is 1/2 inch, so I stitched at about 3/8 inch from the edge; I sewed the ribbon down, backstitched across it and sewed it down again.

Now you'll put your top piece of fabric face down, so the bottom and top are right sides together with the ribbons sandwiched between. Transfer the pins holding the ribbons to the outside of your fabric sandwich, making sure to pin the ribbons securely again, and add a pin to hold the corners in place.

Next you'll stitch the whole thing together, using your 1/2-inch seam allowance.

You'll start sewing just before the ribbon just south of the ribbon you stitched down (bottom arrow in picture below); the ribbon you stitched down will be in the middle of the opening you use to turn the blankie inside-out. Make sure to backstitch well. Sew all the way around and finish just after the ribbon to the north of the ribbon you stitched down (top arrow in picture below), again with a good backstitch. The opening is between the arrows.

Next, you'll clip your corners; get close to your stitching but make sure not to cut into it. This reduces your bulk and gives you nice, pointy corners.

Reach in through your opening and grab one of your opposite corners and pull it out. Continue to pull the fabric until it's right-side out.

Grab a pencil or crochet hook and put your hand back through the hole. Use you pencil or hook to push out your corners. (I've got a crochet hook in there...)

The last step is to hand-stitch your opening closed. Line your blanket edges up with 1/2" folded under, matching up with the stitched edges.

Pin it in place, then using this stitch to hide your thread, stitch the opening closed. I also went back and forth a little over the ribbon to make sure I stitched it down well since baby boy will probably be tugging on them.

Done! Great gift to keep those little fingers entertained with something soft to cuddle. Happy sewing!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A little note...

If you've been reading this blog, thank you so much! I am soooo enjoying doing this, but my life seems to be getting crazier and crazier by the week! I will still be posting, but I'm cutting back to the second and fourth Monday each month. And if I have time, I'll share little craft/sewing tips on the other Mondays.

I've just joined a new website, AMomKnows.com, and I would like to leave myself a little time to write for them as well as enjoy the rest of our remaining time at dental school (which is quickly running out). Please come see me here and come back for lots of fun projects!

Thank you, thank you!

Monday, February 13, 2012

A special Valentine for my little cupcake...

I am soooo excited to share this little project with you! It turned out almost as good as I hoped, and it was really quick and easy! So here's my special Valentine for my little girl...

She got a little kitchen for Christmas (it's the Little Tykes cupcake kitchen). We also bought her a small food set (the kind that has velcro and you can "cut" apart), and my husband made her a little table. Well, I thought my tiny chef could use an apron to wear while she's whipping up something to eat. She's almost 18 months, and she likes to dress up and she already knows to put the plates on the table, and put her cupcakes on the plates. It's ridiculously cute!

Ready to make your own? You're gonna die at how easy this is...

First off, I didn't make the apron; I found it at Hobby Lobby ($2) in the aisle where they have plain bags and shirts and onesies. For the price, it was totally worth just buying it. You can also get it 40 percent off with their coupon, so super good price! If you wanted to make one, it wouldn't be hard; but I'll save that for a later tutorial. :)

I really love B's clothes that have little letters or flowers sewn on them, so I thought I would do the same with the cupcake. At first I tried to draw my own outline, but I'm not much of an artist. So I found some clip art online to give me my cupcake outline. (The heart came from the clipart in Microsoft Word.)

I cut the pieces apart, then I pinned them to my cupcake fabric. I already had some white and pink knit on hand, and you need such a small amount, this is the perfect time to use up some scraps. You could use whatever scraps you wanted, but I picked knit because it doesn't fray and unravel.

Now, when you cut these out, make sure to leave about 1/4 inch extra around the edge. You're going to use the edge of your paper pieces to make your sewing lines and you want some extra fabric...

Next, take your fabric marker -- make sure it's water dissolvable or air dissolvable -- and mark around the edges of your pieces. This is where you will sew. Then I put the fabric on top of my clipart and traced the inside lines.

Once you've got your pattern on your piece, place it on your apron and carefully smooth it out without stretching it. Pin it in place and then get sewing on those lines! Make sure to start with whatever piece needs to be underneath, in this case the cupcake liner.

I started by stitching the outline to get the edges tacked down, then I went back and did the lines in the middle, making sure to backstitch at the beginning and the end. (This shot is from the back so you can more easily see my stitching.)

And here's a little note that will make this a little easier and look better: Because my apron is a twill or light canvas and doesn't stretch, and my knit is really stretchy, it's easy for the knit to get bunched up. The way to avoid this is to not just move the fabric around curves like you normally would. When you need to adjust the angle at which you're sewing, lift your presser foot and readjust the fabric. It was the presser foot that bunched up my knit, so if you lift your presser foot any time the fabric looks like it's stretching or you need to curve your line, it will look much better.

Of course, I figured this out on the frosting part, so I have a little bunching on the cupcake lining. Go figure. :) This technique also helped me get my lines just right. On parts of this and especially on the heart, I basically sewed one stitch at a time, lifting my presser foot and adjusting my fabric after every stitch. A little labor intensive, but I was so happy that my heart looked like a heart!

My fabric marker is water soluable, so I got the corner of a washcloth wet and dabbed my fabric; the blue lines came right off (thank goodness! This was the first time I had used it and I didn't test it first, haha...).

I also wanted to write B's nickname, sugar baby, below (it fit so well with the cupcake, too). My first idea was to use my new sewing machine to sew it on; it came with three fonts. But I think I'm still a little intimidated to try that -- I was afraid I wouldn't like it and it would mess up my project -- plus I wasn't crazy about the font styles with this particular project.

So after my failure with my son's shirt, I was thinking this was the perfect time to learn how to use fabric paint (which is what I should have used for his project). So I picked up a small thing of white fabric paint at Michael's ($2). I looked at their stencils, and they were too big/wrong font for what I wanted, so I decided to stamp the letters on -- easier, faster and I already had several alphabet sets on hand.

I put a little blob on my plate and smeared some on my foam brush. You really need just a tiny bit! I also counted out how many letters and figured I needed the center line to be between the r in sugar and the space before the second word. I started with the second word, then did the first word, working backwards, to place my letters just right. Now, if you use clear stamps, it will be that much easier because then you can see exactly where you're putting them. And no worries! This won't ruin your stamps; the fabric paint came right off when I rinsed them in water.

Notice my b and a are a little weird looking? That's where I started; after that, I made sure to stamp it once on the plate before putting it on the fabric. I think I had too much paint on there and that's why it blobbed a little. It turned out much better if I stamped it once -- lightly -- before stamping the fabric.

I let it dry overnight, then presented it to the little lady for her approval (and get some pictures, of course).

I feel like this is taking longer to explain than to actually do. :) I love the way it turned out, especially since I hadn't really done stuff like this before. I loved the fabric paint; I'll probably add some fancy sprinkles to the frosting with some pink fabric paint, too.

Happy Valentine's Day from me and my sugar baby!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Valentine's Day sale...

If you need something special this Valentine's Day, then today is your lucky day! I'm having a sale on all my Valentine's cards in my shop, but it's only today and tomorrow. They're a whopping 50 percent off, so hurry! Just click on my etsy shop box at the left...

Happy 100th!

My son is in his first year of school (pre-K), and he absolutely loves it! And this last week they celebrated the 100th day of school. He was sooooo excited for it. And as part of the celebration, each student created a 100 shirt. When I set out to do this, I wanted it to be really cool but really easy at the same time. He was pretty happy with it.

I just used an undershirt I had (I had bought a pack for his pirate costume). I'm glad I had white because then we could use any colors we wanted, but it was a little thin. So maybe next time I would buy a plain shirt from the craft store.

He loves writing, so I wanted it to actually have the number 100 on there. I started by printing out the one and the zero in Freshman font from my computer. Then I cut them out and used them as templates for my blue felt.

I fiddled with these a lot, getting them placed just right and pinned down where I wanted them...

Then I opened the shirt from the bottom and slid the shirt under my machine's presser foot and needle. It was much easier working with the opening on the bottom because it's bigger. Even so, the last zero ended up a little crooked. I was having some trouble with the inside stitching on the middle zero (just me getting used to my new machine), and I think when I was trying to fix my machine, I pulled on the shirt too much and moved it. Oh well, my son still loved it...

I had several ideas for how to put 100 things on this shirt. I wanted to do baseballs, but the idea I came up with for that would have involved drawing the red stitching on 100 buttons and sewing them on. Yech... Even hot gluing them seemed like too much work, and then I'd worry about washing it.

When wandering the aisles at the craft store, I found some ink that said it was permanent and worked well on fabric. It also happened to be right next to the foam stamps (NOT in the scrapbooking department). They had some sports stamps. That screamed easy and boyish to me...

So last Saturday, I put down a bit of vinyl to protect my table and we grabbed the ink and the stamps. In reality, my son didn't get to help as much as I had hoped. I handed him a stamp and showed him how to ink it, but he got the (permanent) ink all over his hands. So I ended up inking it and he told me where to put it, then we pushed on it together. So just watch out with this project! He did enjoy making it though. He got 25 footballs, 25 soccer balls, 25 baseballs and 25 stars.

**Okay, sad note: Somehow this got in with the wash (I am glad my little man is learning to put his dirty clothes in the hamper), but so much for their permanent, fabric ink. Washed right off! So now it just says 100. So just know if you use stamps, don't wash it!

Even sister was pretty impressed with his shirt...

My son is 4, and as I said, we had a bit of a mess with the ink. But if your child is a little older/more inclined toward arts and crafts, this would be the perfect indoor project. And he loves this shirt because he helped make it.

He wore it to school and proudly showed it off to his friends. As part of the celebration, they also made necklaces with 100 beads, got a 100 celebration rub-on tattoo and made hats. He loved it!

So maybe if you have a special occassion or trip coming up, this is a fun, little idea to help them get excited about it. It would also be a fun Valentine's craft -- make a felt heart and sew it on then let your little one add their own embellishments. You could also do this with an apron, a super hero cape, etc. Actually, I'll share a similar project (hopefully next week) of something I'm making for the little sister for Valentine's Day. :)