Thursday, January 31, 2013

Grocery Bag Holder

I've had my hands full with a few somewhat complicated projects recently and I was in need of a break and a quick sew.  As I ran down the mental list of simple projects I could tackle, I decided to finally make a plastic bag holder!  This is one of those little things that I've always wanted and just never took the time to make.  Our grocery bags have been stashed in a sad looking and rather old plastic bag that is tied around the closet rod in our front closet.  It's not like anyone sees it, but it's a bit disorganized and just looks ugly.  But now...

Much better!  I grabbed a fat quarter and Jess' super simple tutorial and got to work.  Seriously, about 15 minutes later, I was done.

I did make one modification to the holder because ours doesn't hang on a hook, but over a closet rod.  I took a strip of canvas and folded and ironed it as if I were making bias tape.  Then I sewed one end to the top of the bag at the seam.  Directly opposite from that, I added a snap to the top of the bag and the other half of the snap in on the canvas handle.

Now it hangs neatly over the closet rod and our bags are organized and much better case anyone cares to look!  There's nothing like a quickly completed project to perk up a gloomy winter afternoon!

Monday, January 28, 2013

My (Massive) Project for the New Year

The girls will be turning 3 soon (envision this mama crying inside as she types this...they are growing up too fast!).  They are actually still in their cribs and quite happy there.  Actually, everyone in the house is happy with it, so we're sticking with it for now.  Eventually I know we're going to have to make the switch to big girl beds, so enter my big undertaking for 2013. 

I saw this gorgeous tutorial for a gathered duvet cover on The Train to Crazy when Andrea posted it last summer and I was in love.  The style is so perfect for the big girl room I envision for my babies.  When it comes to colors, I'm more of a shabby chic kind of girl, though, so I wanted to make it from vintage linens.  I love the gorgeous florals you can find with vintage linens!  I was totally shocked and so thrilled when I opened up a big box from my best friends on my birthday and found it chock full of gorgeous vintage fat quarters!!

There are a couple of sheets I need to cut up myself, but a bunch of them are already cut into fat quarters, which will save me a ton of time.

The colors are so gorgeous!  I am so excited to start putting them all together and see the final blend of these pretty fabrics.

Also, I apparently need to iron them, haha!

This beauty here is my flat out favorite.  I love them all, but this  I could look at it all day.  And when the day comes (possibly months from now!) that I finish these quilts, I can do just that!

Perfection.  I'm so excited to see the finished project, but between then and now, I have a lot of work in front of me.  I'm super grateful for my serger right now because it is going to seriously speed up the gathering process.  I will post some WIP pics as I get going on this.  I can't wait to share!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Itty Bitty Gift x2

It's probably not much of a surprise that I have a bit of a soft spot for sewing for twins.  I was super excited for a sweet friend of mine from church when she learned she would be having twin girls!  They arrived last week and they are just as cute as can be.  It brings back sweet memories of my tiny duo...and then I'm so grateful they are nearly 3 and can do so much on their own, LOL.

I've had this darling fabric in my hoard stash for a little while and have used some of it here and there, never quite ready to part with the last of it!  I had just enough left to make these two little pillowcase dresses and I couldn't think of a better use than for these two little baby girls.

Of course babies need headbands!  I made a couple of fabric rosettes and mounted them on an elastic headband.  Simple and so sweet.

Welcome to the world, sweet girls!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Laminated Cotton Pocket Bibs

I've been selling these fun little pocket bibs in my Etsy shop for awhile.  The front is laminated cotton and the back is super soft minky.  I recently had a customer ask if I could make them with the laminated fabric on both the front and the back.  Huh...never though to try that!  The verdict?  Awesome!

Fabric: Lila Tueller Bohemian Pink Damask
The Amy Butler laminated cotton I had been using states it shouldn't be machine washed, but I'll tell you...I'm a rebel and totally put it in the machine.  Without trying to be overly gross, the flu happened around here, and sometimes it inconveniently manifests itself while your kids are eating.  So, the bibs had an odor that was NOT going to come out with basic wiping.  I think Amy Butler needs to give her fabric more credit, because it washed up beautifully!  The bibs my girls were using during this incident are the laminated on one side/minky on the other kind.  I'm thinking with laminate on both sides, the unpleasant smell probably wouldn't have penetrated, therefore saving me a lot of trouble!

Fabric: Amy Butler Alchemy Imperial Paisley
I found this great Etsy shop called Laminates that sells laminated cotton and she has an amazing selection!  I'll give her a plug because her service was great and I'm always glad to share a good resource with my blogging friends!

Fabric: Riley Blake Fall Decadence Pears
This is starting to look like a bunch of mug shots of my kids, LOL.  Anyway, working with the laminated cotton is fairly simple.  My best tip is when you are topstitching, put a piece of tissue paper between your presser foot and the laminate.  Sew as usual and then simply tear the paper away when you are done.  Works like a charm!  I can't remember exactly where I read that tip...I'm thinking Me Sew Crazy

I love this Amy Butler fabric from the Lark collection.  

And this one - Amy Butler again from the Cameo line.  

Sandy Henderson for Michael Miller Secret Garden collection...divine.  I'm thinking the girls are going to need some new bibs soon :)  

Monday, January 21, 2013

Skirting the Issue Part 2

This past summer I had so much fun participating in the Skirting the Issue event, hosted by the lovely liZ and Elizabeth from Simple Simon & Co/Project Run & Play.  When I went to donate the skirts, I had such a nice conversation with the ladies at the local foster care agency.  We talked about how such a simple thing as a new skirt can really boost a young girl's self-esteem and make her feel valued.

This year I have the joy of being the co-creative activities director for my MOPS group.  One of the visions my co-director and I have for the year is to make creative activities about more than just making something cute for yourself or your kids.  We want to use our gifts and abilities to reach out to the community.  As such, we decided to host a sewing night with two purposes in mind.  First, we would teach some basic sewing skills to anyone who wanted to learn to sew.  Secondly, we would all make a simple skirt and donate it to the foster care agency.  A total win-win in my book!  

The sewing night was so much fun!  I wish I had taken pictures, but I was sewing and teaching, so I didn't really get around to it!  Between the ladies at the sewing night and a few extras done by me, we finished 11 skirts to donate!

When I went to donate this fabulous pile of pretties, I was able to meet with the same woman from the foster care agency I spoke with before and she said the skirts would be used as Christmas gifts.  They make sure each child who goes through their agency gets a gift, which I think is so awesome!

Just a few of my favorites:

The last one is my first try at something a tween girl would least I hope so!  I took a poll among my facebook friends with tweens and got a positive response, so I hope there is a girl who is feeling awesomely stylish now :)  The fabric is a stretchy denim with a bit of a sheen to it.  I thought it was a little bit punk but still age appropriate.

I just want to thank Elizabeth and liZ again for their awesome idea and big hearts!  The moms in my group were thrilled to be able to learn some sewing tricks and help girls in our community at the same time!  If anyone is interested in doing something similar, I have a basic instruction sheet I made and you can download it here.  Have a great week, everyone!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Making a Formal Dress

My husband's company has their annual Christmas/Holiday party each year in mid-January.  Because of the industry they are in, Christmas is a very busy time of year for them, so it's just easier for everyone to gather after the holidays.  The party is quite an affair - it's a semi-formal event and the company owner is always in a tux, along with a few other very formal souls!  

Last summer I was given several yards of this black and white dot satin fabric so I decided I would test my skills and make my dress for the party.  This was the first time I'd ever tried to make a formal gown (not to mention the fact that I rarely sew for myself).  The result?  I love it!

Yeah, one of my friends already pointed out how awesome the play kitchen looks!
I started out with McCall's M6283, originally intending to alter the length and make the pinched skirt floor length.  Once I got the news I'd be having gallbladder surgery, that plan was set aside!  Yes, I am blaming that pesky gallbladder for pretty much everything lately!

In the end, I cut the pieces for the pinched skirt and extended them to floor length.  Instead of doing a lining layer and then pinching the top layer, I only made one layer and just let the panels swirl out around the bottom and they are nice and full!  I loved the little swish while I walked :)

I also self-drafted a little jacket since I'm not really comfortable being out in a strappy gown!  The jacket is fully lined and has short little sleeves.  The flower pin is just some tulle wrapped a bunch of times in a flower-ish shape and then pinned with a lovely antique looking brooch I salvaged from an old sweater.

I also added a solid black band between the bodice and skirt.  I felt it added some visual interest, although it was a bit tedious to put in!  I hand stitched it with a blind stitch on both the top and bottom edge to keep it from flipping up and so no one would see the stitches.

It definitely came out slightly different from my original vision but I was so happy with the result!  As a bonus, it was super comfortable to wear!  

I suppose in (MANY) years, the girls will have grand schemes for formal dresses they want mama to pull off, so this was a good first try!  I know I saved some serious cash doing it myself and it's always nice to be able to fit something to yourself exactly the way you want.  Has anyone else ever made a formal gown?  I'd love to see some!  Link up in the comments so we can all ooh and ahh!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Upcycled Sweater Dress Tutorial

Sometime last summer, I saw the cutest little dress on Pinterest.  I thought the sweater bodice completely adorable and was struck by what a great winter dress it would make with long sleeves!  The best part is, this dress is a great upcycling project!  Just grab an old sweater (or oh darn, make a trip to the thrift store!) and get cutting!  

It's perfect for these chilly winter months, or you could make it sleeveless if you live in a warmer climate!

The full skirt has some great twirl factor - a must for little girls!

The back closes with a simple button closure.

And yes, I made this dress and took the pictures while everything was still green and blooming!  The best part of sewing for 2 year olds, though, is that I did the photos and then wrapped the dress for Christmas and they didn't even remember it!  

To make an upcycled sweater dress, you will need:

- An old sweater
- Skirt fabric (I used about a yard for my 3T will depend on how long you want your skirt)
- Scrap of 1/8" elastic
- Coordinating button
- Sewing stuff (machine, coordinating thread, scissors or rotary cutter/mat, hand sewing needle)

You will need a pattern for the bodice.  You can either use an existing pattern that you know fits your child, or you can make a quick pattern by folding a t-shirt in half and tracing around it, adding seam allowance.  Trace both the front and back neckline. I wanted an empire waist, so I ended up cutting my bodice off about 2" below the armhole.

Also trace the armhole and make a long sleeve pattern.  For more detailed info on this, check out this tutorial.

Once you have your pattern, take your sweater and lay out the pattern pieces.  Cut out one front bodice piece and one back bodice piece (both on the fold) and two sleeves.  I cut my sleeves on the fold of the original sweater sleeve.  If you are wise with your cut, you could even use the existing sleeve hem and save yourself a step!

Now place the front and back bodice pieces right sides together and stitch together at the shoulders.  Although this is knit fabric, I would suggest using a zig zag stitch or this is a good time to use your serger.  The sweater fabric might unravel if you don't use a finishing stitch and the zig zag or serger stitch will help maintain the stretch.

Set your sleeves in and pin in place.  Sew the sleeves in and finish the seam.

Once your sleeves are in, your bodice should look like this.

To make the button closure, I took a scrap of knit fabric or you could use a piece from the sweater.  If you use a piece from the sweater, I would finish the raw edges.  Cut a small piece about 2 - 3" wide by 4 - 5" long (depending on the size of your bodice).  Draw a vertical line down the center of the piece and pin it in place, right sides together, in the center of the back of your bodice.  Sew down each side of the line, about 1/8" away from the line.

Now cut straight down the line and then flip the knit to the inside of the bodice and press in place.  Hand tack it down, if necessary.

Sew up the sides of the bodice going all the way from the bottom of the bodice to the end of the sleeve.

Cut a piece of sweater fabric long enough to fit around your neckline and about 4" wide.  Fold it up as you would bias tape (fold in half, then unfold and fold the raw edges in to meet the center crease...more info in this tute) and tuck in the raw short edges.  Pin in place around the neckline and pin a small loop of 1/8" elastic in one end.  Sew the "bias tape" in, encasing the raw neckline edge.

This is what you should have now.

For the skirt, cut two rectangles of fabric from selvage to selvage as long as you want your skirt.  Mine was about 16".  Sew up the two short sides to make a tube and then gather the top edge to fit your bodice.  Place the skirt right sides together with the bodice and sew in place.  Finish the seam.

Your dress should look like this when you are done.  Hem the skirt and the sleeves and sew on your button and you have a beautiful dress for your little winter sweetie!

Happy sewing!