Posts tagged sewing
Way back in December, a few days before Christmas, I was at Joann browsing the aisles and came across a cute little kit for a shopping cart cover. Emma wasn’t sitting up yet back then, but I knew she would be soon so I scooped up a kit and put it in Emma’s stocking. Because, you know, it was really a present for HER, right?
The included some pretty adorable animal fabric for one side, and a nice blue and green pattern for the other side — the cover is reversible. It also included a long piece of elastic to make the outside edge conform around the shopping cart, and a set of rudimentary instructions. I had to provide the thread, batting to sandwich between the two layers of fabric, and embroidery floss for tying (vs. quilting) the cover together.
Construction was pretty easy — sandwich the batting between the two layers of fabric and sew the edges. I then sewed around the edge again, about a half inch farther in, to create a casing for the elastic. I measured and cut the two leg holes and secured those edges, and then tied the quilt using floss. I had never tied a quilt and that technique was a little time-consuming, but it worked great. (In fact, I am inspired to FINALLY tie the t-shirt quilt I made almost 10 years ago. Hopefully I’ll do that soon!)
The final step was learning how to make buttonholes! I needed two of them, each ~2 inches long so allow the buckle and straps from shopping carts to pass through so we can still secure Emma in the cart. My sewing machine has an automatic buttonhole feature — but it couldn’t make a hole long enough! I had to go old school and sew the buttonhole manually. Fortunately that process was pretty straightforward.
Once she was able to sit up well enough, we started putting Emma in the car whenever we are out running errands and she loves being able to sit up and look around. Good thing I gave her such a great Christmas present, right?
(Also: Her hair has grown a lot in just the 2-3 months since these photos were taken. Wow.)
A few weeks ago I went to a baby shower for my friend Cindy, who had a baby boy a few days ago! Even though she works for one of NASA’s contractors here in Houston, I first met her through Twitter a few years ago. Now we’re real-life friends as well and I can’t wait to meet her little boy!
I decided Cindy could use a few of the awesome swaddle blankets that we liked so much with Emma, but I also wanted to add something handmade. I originally had visions of another quilt or baby blanket but…I ran out of time, as per usual. (My friends who had babies after I learned how to sew but before I had Emma definitely hit the sweet spot in the gift department!)
So I decided to make a plush toy rocket! This was a fairly easy project, partly because I already had all the materials I needed! I used a tutorial from The Long Thread that I had pinned a while ago, but simplified it by skipping the “astronaut” since I didn’t have the materials for that. I used some very stiff heavy duty interfacing that I already had in the rocket fins instead of cardboard, and that worked just fine. You may recognize several of the fabrics as well — I used scraps leftover from last year’s zig zag star quilt, plus some starry yellow flannel I had leftover from making burp cloths.
The only thing I would change if I made this again would be to put the fins a little higher up on the rocket — so that the bottom of the fins are almost flush with the bottom of the rocket itself. The interfacing in the fins is stiff, but not stiff enough to hold the rocket upright so it would probably be better if it could sit on its bottom.
Ta da! Rocket! To the mooooon!
I generally avoid buying sewing books. I know that sounds strange since sewing is my biggest hobby these days, but it’s hard to justify building a huge library of sewing books when there are so many awesome tutorials available online for free! But I found a copy of Amy Butler’s “Little Stitches for Little Ones” at Half Price Books early last year and, after giving it a thorough inspection in the store and deciding there were multiple projects I was interested in making, took it home.
The first project was a set of 9 soft baby blocks. I started making these for my nephew Lucas way back in June, but didn’t get them finished before Emma arrived. And since Lucas himself arrived so much earlier than planned — less than 24 hours before Emma — I obviously didn’t get them done before he was born either. So instead of a baby shower or “yay Lucas is here!” present, they turned into a Christmas present! I finished the blocks and the matching bag about a two weeks before Christmas, just in time to mail them to Charlotte.
The pattern called for 4″ cubes of foam. I couldn’t find any 4″ thick foam at Joann’s, but they did have 2″ foam so I got that instead and just used 2 pieces of foam inside each block. I used a little spray adhesive to get them to stick together enough to wedge them into the fabric cubes, and that seemed to work just fine.
My brother has both an undergraduate and graduate degree from the University of North Carolina. My mom grew up in Chapel Hill and went there too. My sister went there for grad school. So let’s just say there are a lot of big UNC fans in my family! Lucas is pretty much destined to grow up rooting for the Tarheels, so I figured some Carolina blocks would be highly appropriate. It wasn’t hard at all to find Carolina fabric, so I got two different patterns for the block sides, and then used a Carolina blue flannel for the top and bottom. (I found Georgia Tech fabric too! I didn’t buy any then, but I’m thinking perhaps Emma needs a set of GT blocks. Right?)
The book also included instructions for making a cool drawstring bag to hold the blocks in, complete with a big initial on the front.The L is made from the same flannel I used on the block, and the lining and drawstring (which I neglected to photograph) are made of a light blue cotton. I really liked how this bag turned out — it’s nice and thick and sturdy, so Lucas should be able to use it for his blocks or for anything else. I am definitely bookmarking the bag pattern for future use! It would be a great gift for adults and kids alike.
Overall I was thrilled with how these turned out! Making the blocks was a little more time-consuming than I had anticipated, since the final two sides of each block had to be hand-stitched closed after inserting the foam, but it was worth it. According to my mom, my brother was pretty impressed that I made them myself!
Over Christmas break, I decided to tackle another project from the book and made a fabric “family album” book for Emma. The book pattern involved using 12 photos to make 6 double-sided pages which were then connected in the middle to make 3 leaves. Fortunately for Emma, 12 pictures was enough to capture herself, 2 parents, 2 grandmothers, 1 grandfather, 4 uncles, 2 aunts, and 2 cousins. (Sorry Katie and Joel, and Brian and Cindy — you guys had to share a page with your spouse to make it all fit!)
Did you know you can buy sheets of fabric that you can run through your printer? Neither did I! They were actually pretty neat — the fabric is attached to a paper backing which helps it feed through a printer without issue. The print quality is so-so, and several of the photos came out a bit lighter than I’d expected, but overall it was acceptable for a project like this. After printing, you remove the paper backing and rinse the fabric sheets with cold water to help set the ink and ensure that it won’t bleed in the future. After that, I cut out the photos and used it just like normal fabric!
This project got challenging at the end, primarily because of how thick all those layers of fabric were once the leaves and cover all got piled together. I could barely get my sewing needle through all the layers, but I persevered and it worked out in the end. (I’m not sure what I’ll do when Emma has more cousins and/or siblings. Make a “Family Album, Part 2″ I guess, because there’s no way I’d be able to get my needle through the fabric involved in adding another leaf to this book!)
I was excited to see what Emma would do when I gave her the book. As you can see, she immediately shoved it in her mouth, which these days should be construed as high praise. She tried to eat it! That means she likes it! Hooray!
The one complaint I have about the book is that it doesn’t include enough photos — the instructions are all conveyed with text and a few illustrations. I’m used to the web, where most tutorials have tons of photos showing all the steps, and trying to read the instructions and interpret exactly what it means I need to do was difficult sometimes. But if I read the step two or three times, I would always figure it out in the end.
There are several more projects that I’d like to try, including a cute little kimono top that I may tackle with help from my serger to fulfill one of my 2013 winter goals.
I’m still a little intimidated by my new serger, so last night I had the urge to go back to my normal sewing machine for a bit and make something quick and easy. One of the items on my (very long) project list was a nebulous idea to make something I decided to call “emergency diaper bags.” (Really, it’s just a simple DIY drawstring pouch — but doesn’t emergency diaper bag sound more exciting?)
There have been a couple times in the last few months where we picked up Emma from daycare but didn’t go straight home. And each time, my brain hasn’t worked well enough to actually remember to take the diaper bag (as opposed to my normal purse). This means our adorable baby turns into a ticking time bomb. At some point, she’s going to need a diaper change — and we just have to hope it doesn’t involve a poop explosion!
Therefore, I’ve been meaning to put a small bag in each car just big enough to hold a few spare diapers, a small travel pack of wipes, and a roll of small plastic bags for trash.
Ta-da! Last night I made a cute little drawstring bag, and I even was able to do it using scraps of fabric that I already had so it didn’t cost a penny! I’ve sewed enough now that I didn’t really use a tutorial for this one, although I did use a mis-mash of ideas I saw online.
One of those ideas was using a piece of grosgrain ribbon to make the casing for the drawstring. I had plenty of ribbon left over from a plushie toy I made for Emma for Christmas, and this blue polka dot seemed like a good fit.
The outer and lining fabrics were leftover from the card wallets I made over a year ago, and I used basically every single bit that was left . The drawstring is made out of the white fabric, since I didn’t have any cording. To be honest, the drawstrings are way too short — as you can see in the photo above, the bag can’t quite be fully opened! But I decided I could live with that.
This one measures about 8″x11″ and was limited by the amount of fabric I had leftover from the card wallets. I’m going to make another one for Jose’s car, and plan to use two fat quarters that I’ve had for a while. That will let me cut each piece a big larger, so I can make a bag that is more like 10″x12″.
Fits perfectly in my glove compartment! And now I can be confident that even when I forget the diaper bag in the morning, we can survive spending an hour at the doctor’s or at happy hour without fear!
p.s. I have a few other sewing projects I did for Christmas that I’ll try to share soon.
I went into labor with Emma on a Sunday — the exact Sunday, in fact, that I had planned on finishing up a couple projects for her nursery. I cut the fabric and made the bias tape for a crib skirt at the end of July. I finally sewed it together in October. And yes, I’m finally blogging about it in December!
I found several good tutorials for making crib skirts, and chose to go with a pretty simple technique. Instead of making a full, four-sided skirt with a swath of unseen fabric in the middle that sits under the mattress, I “cheated.” My “crib skirt” is really three separate pieces — one for the front and one for each side. I didn’t make anything for the back, since the crib sits against the wall and you wouldn’t see it anyway.
Each piece is attached with a combination of sew-in and self-adhesive velcro. The loop side of pieces of sew-in velcro is sewn to the fabric, while the hook side of pieces of the self-adhesive stuff is stuck to the crib. For the front, the hook pieces are stuck to the metal mattress springs and on the sides, the pieces are stuck to the wood. Since it’s on the inside where you’ll never see it, I wasn’t worried about leaving sticky residue on the wood.
But the best part of making panels instead of a more “traditional way” crib skirt is that this one can be easily adjusted when we have to lower the crib mattress in the future! For the front panel, instead of having to re-hem the whole panel, I can just relocate the velcro so that more of the fabric is tucked under the mattress. The side panels can stay right where they are, since they’re attached to the crib frame itself. Clever!
I also taught myself how to make an inverted box pleat to add a little detail. There are two pleats on the front panel and one on each side panel. This technique was really easy — the most challenging part is just making sure to measure correctly. I made 2-inch pleats, which means adding 8 inches of fabric to whatever the desired finished length is.
Ta da! Even though it took me 6 months to finish this project, the true time spent was only a few hours. I loved the way it turned out and it makes Emma’s crib look so much cuter.
Today is a BIG DAY for our little family — it’s Emma’s first day at daycare. Jose and I drove to work together this morning, so we dropped her off around 8:30. We left her sitting in a bouncy chair, awake and looking a little confused but generally content. As we drove away, I only cried a little bit so I’ll consider the day a success. I hadn’t expected to cry at all, actually — I mean, I’ve never had any intention of staying at home with her, so it’s been a given all along that she would go to daycare. But something about leaving her with strangers for the first time ever made me teary, even though I know they’ll take excellent care of her. At lunchtime, they even emailed me this photo of Emma and Miss Jasmine. So nice of them! My login for the video viewing takes up to 24 hours to get approved so I haven’t been able to cyberstalk my baby today. Woe.
Jose’s mom did a wonderful job taking care of Emma last week. (Not that there was ever any doubt that she would.) It’s funny, but it wasn’t until we actually had a baby in our arms that I fully realized the advantages of living near your extended family — and bemoaned the fact that even our nearest family members are still a 4-hour drive away. When my mom was here, and when Katie and Joel were here, and the few times that Jose’s mom has been here… I mean, WOW, it’s just incredible what a difference an extra set of hands makes, especially when that extra set of hands belongs to a doting grandparent or aunt or uncle. It’s not really in the cards for us to move to Charlotte or Corpus Christi, or for our parents or siblings to move to Houston, but I’m thankful for the visits we’ve already had and definitely look forward to more.
When Jose’s mom is here, she insists that we go on a date night. Who are we to argue with that?? When we realized that her visit would coincide with the Houston Zoo’s annual Feast with the Beasts on Friday night, we snapped up a pair of tickets and had a lovely evening of eating, watching animals, and riding the carousel (see crappy photo above). This event always provides a healthy dose of nostalgia, since they seem to be working their way through bands I remember from the 90s. In the four years we’ve attended, we’ve seen Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Spin Doctors, B-52s, and — this year — Blues Traveler. We stayed long enough to hear them play “Run Around” and then headed for the car. It was only 10:30 but we were both totally exhausted! Still, it was a fun night and I’m glad we got to go out. Emma’s 3 months old and we’ve been on 3 date nights, so I think we’re doing pretty well.
Over the weekend, I had time for some crafty pursuits. Jose borrowed my old Kindle to use to read during lunch while I was on maternity leave, and he liked it so much that he wanted to keep it — so I recently got a new Kindle Paperwhite! It needed a case, of course, so I made one on Saturday night using some fabric I bought a while ago and hadn’t used for anything yet. I based it on this Dixie Mango tutorial, but made a few minor changes to the inner structure of the case to stiffen it. Yesterday, I started working on a cross stitch Christmas stocking I got for Emma. There’s a lot of stitching involved so the chances of me actually finishing it by Christmas 2012 are slim-to-none, but it can’t hurt to at least get started!
(The other random photo is my new piece of office decor, courtesy of Cari, who brought back a pack of vintage space-themed posters from her trip to Russia a couple months ago. Покорим космос = Let us conquer space!)
My friend Stephanie is pregnant with a baby girl due sometime around Thanksgiving. Yesterday was her baby shower and, as I’ve done for many other pregnant friends this year, I wanted to give her something handmade. With Emma taking up most of my time these days, I knew there was no way I’d be able to make even the simplest of quilts, so I decided to make a blanket inspired by a myubby blanket that one of my high school friends sent for Emma.
Emma’s blanket has minky on one side, fleece on the other, satin binding and was embroidered with Emma’s name and birthday. For my version, I used yellow minky on one side, a light blue animal print flannel on the other, and yellow polka dot quilting cotton for the binding. The dimensions were determined by the width of the flannel, so the finished blanket ended up being about 40″ square. I bought half a yard of the yellow polka dot fabric for the binding, assuming it would be plenty but it was close — it produced juuust enough. I cut it on the bias in 4″ strips for a finished double-fold binding width of about an inch.
Overall, blankets don’t get much easier than this. It took me about 3 hours spread over the last week to put it together, and the most time-consuming part may have actually been pinning! Fresh from my first experience with minky fabric (when I made the car seat cover), I knew that pins — and lots of them — would be crucial to keeping the two layers of fabric together when I sewed the binding.
I think the blanket turned out great. And I ended up loving the pairing of yellow and light blue. From my own recent experience, I know Stephanie will get PLENTY of pink from other people, so I wanted to give baby Fiona something a little different.
I forgot to buy a card to go with the gift, so I dug into my rather large stash of scrapbook paper and cardstock and threw together this little elephant card. I cut out the elephant shape to match what was on the flannel side of the blanket! I should make little cards more often. It’s a fun thing to do, and only takes about 10 minutes!
p.s. I shared this on Sew Much Ado’s We Did It Wednesday on October 2.
Top Left: Jose went to Barnes and Noble last weekend and came home with a few books for Emma, including a thick board book of high contract black and white patterns meant for infants (who see contrast better than anything else at that age). A couple days ago, I put her down on her play mat for some tummy time and let her “read” her book at the same time. Multitasking already! That’s my girl.
Top Center: This afternoon we took Emma to Panera! It was only her second outing to anywhere other than the pediatrician and the mom’s group at the hospital. She slept in her carseat the whole time, covered up by a blanket, and Jose and I had a lovely relaxing lunch.
Top Right: Biiig yawn.
Center Left: When I went into labor, the dining room table was still covered with fabric and materials for some of my sewing projects. I usually set up my cutting mat there since it’s the best large, flat surface available. I kept thinking I’d clean it up after Emma arrived, but then I realized it’d be a lot easier to just accept that as a low priority task during maternity leave. So I went all in — I moved my sewing machine from the bonus room upstairs to the dining room table! Now I can do a little sewing while Emma naps without having to carry the baby monitor upstairs.
Center: Emma’s first trip to HEB! We took her on a quick grocery run on Thursday night. We just put her carseat right into the cart, which severely limited the available space for groceries but fortunately we didn’t need much.
Center Right: The rug that I ordered for the nursery back in May FINALLY arrived! It’s nice and soft and super cute but guess what? No flying pig! What the heck! That was one of the biggest selling points of the whole design! Upon further investigation, it seems like the flying pig is only on the larger versions of the rug. LAME. Oh well — the 4×6 size that we got is still cute.
Bottom Left: Emma screaming. Yep. That about sums it up.
Bottom Center: I’ve been happily partaking in an appropriately timed (i.e. between pumping sessions) alcoholic beverage from time to time now that I’m no longer pregnant. I was very excited to find St. Arnold’s Oktoberfest already available at HEB. Yay!
Bottom Right: I bought a Moby wrap a few weeks ago, but then was slow to try it out because the instructions said baby should weigh at least 8 pounds. So after getting confirmation this week that Emma has busted that milestone, I tried it out for the first time on Friday night. (After testing it with a teddy bear, I might add!) Emma seemed to like it all right — she sat in it for about 10 minutes before starting to fuss. But she’d been fussy before that, so it may not have been related to being in the wrap. I liked it a lot, and plan to give it another try tomorrow. I really like the idea of being able to put her in there while walking around the house or even running an errand. We’ll see!
I realized the other day as I was finishing up Kaylynne’s baby blanket that it’s been a whole year since I took my first sewing class last July. As a kid, I loved drawing and making things, but as an adult, I’d shifted more to digital forms of creativity like graphic design, web design, and some dabbling in photography — so my “return” to crafting, and to creating things that I can actually hold and give, has been a lot of fun.
I skimmed back through my “crafts” category for the past year and WOW! I made even more cool things than I remembered!
Pouches, Bags & Other:
- Hipster bag
- Fat quarter purse
- Fabric trays
- Card wallets
- Quilted placemat
- Half tote
- Nook cover
- Burp cloths
- Small zipper pouch
Quilts & Blankets:
These were all such fun projects!
Favorite? That title goes to the appliqued MIT onesie I made to give to Jose on Father’s Day — not because it was easy (because it wasn’t thanks to a steep learning curve) but because it has the most sentimental value at this point.
Most rewarding? This has to be the zig zag quilt I made for Erin’s son Keagan. It was the second quilt I made, but the pattern was just complicated enough that it posed a LOT of challenges for a newbie like me. I was so proud of myself when I finished it, and found that it actually looked good.
Most useful? Probably the card wallet, actually, even though that’s a little unexpected! I carry it in my purse every day and pull it out several times a week to dig for my Jimmy Johns punch card, or Bullritos card, or (these days) Babies R Us membership card, or whatnot.
My current “to sew” list is long and even more varied than the first year. Predictably, there are a lot of baby items on it but I’ll try to work in some other things too. And hey — if there’s something out there you’ve seen, maybe I’ll sew it for you. All you have to do is ask!
Clockwise from top left:
1) Last Sunday I decided to try out some of those nail stickers that have become popular. I’d bought them at HEB several weeks ago out of curiosity but hadn’t gotten around to actually applying them because I was waiting for my nails to all get to a decent length. (Supposedly pregnancy is supposed to strengthen nails, but I think it’s made mine more brittle!) They weren’t too hard to apply, but it did take longer than I expected since there’s not really any room for error once you start to stick it on your nail. I could’ve gotten 10 nails done a lot faster just painting them like normal — but then of course I would’ve had to sit around waiting for them to dry. So that’s the big advantage of the stickers! No drying time!
I get pedicures all the time, but I don’t paint my fingernails very often because they chip so quickly. (I’ve been wanting to try one of those gel manicures too, since they’re supposed to last longer.) I was interested to see how long the stickers would last, and I’m happy to report that they are doing pretty well 5 days later. I didn’t have a single chip until last night, and at that point it was only on my thumb. We’ll see how they do through the weekend. I consider 5-7 days pretty darn good, considering that I am not gentle with my hands at all.
2) My OB moved to a new office at the beginning of the month, so when I went for my 35-week appointment on Wednesday I was greeted with a new layout, new furniture, and new accessories in the waiting room like this very colorful pillow. It was made out of a slick taffeta-like fabric so it wasn’t exactly a comfortable throw pillow, but I liked the design of it and couldn’t help taking a closer look to inspect how it was constructed. I concluded that it would actually be pretty easy to make a pillow like this on my own, and just use more desirable materials. And yes, this is how my brain works these days — I see something, and inevitably start to wonder how I could make one myself!
3) It has rained basically non-stop all week. We got 5 or 6 inches here at our house, but other areas to the southwest of us and on the northwest side of Houston got 10, 12, even 15 inches of rain over the last several days. I have not complained one bit and don’t plan to start! After last summer’s horrible drought, I’m kind of enjoying the deluge. And more importantly, it’s keeping the temperatures down — we had several days in a row where the high barely broke 80 degrees! Ahhhh. Heavenly.
(I am, however, reserving the right to complain about the inevitable clouds of mosquitos that will follow all this rain.)
4) I was at Joann a few days ago — because yes, I go there more often than pretty much any other store these days — and was just wandering around when I came across several cute baby items in the cross stitch section. I was very tempted to buy this cute baby announcement to make and hang in the nursery but in the end I managed to resist. When it comes to cross stitch, I’ve learned that my eyes are most definitely larger than my stomach. It takes me forever to finish anything.